jess barnard oiselle

Feeling icky over the holidays is okay. In fact, it’s common.

For those of you who feel that way, let me assure you, you’re not the only one. For me, it’s the pressure of… I am supposed to be happy. I am supposed to feel joyous. I am supposed to be with family right now. I am supposed to be in a relationship… buying thoughtful gifts… feeling festive… wearing cute outfits… posting to social media in said cute outfits. You get it.

But let’s be real. For some of us, this time of year can be a trigger for feelings of isolation, disconnection, and other bah-humbug vibes. Anyone who has suffered any type of loss in their life may feel this sense of loneliness during this season. I’ve gone the last 10 holiday seasons telling myself and everyone around me that I was “totally fine”, “doing amazing”, etc. This year I am taking a different approach…

I made a list:

  1. Feel what I actually feel.
  2. Practice self-care and self-compassion.
  3. Spend time with my people.
  4. Be intentional with my time and energy.
  5. Give back.

My intention for this holiday season is to spend my time doing new things + things that I am proud of. Something that betters me and the lives around me. And something that gives back to the sport that has given me so much.


When the opportunity to work with Kayla Nolan (Executive Director) at the Girls Gotta Run Foundation in Ethiopia came up, I had to say yes! Well, I basically met with her for coffee, made her tell me all about the trip, and insisted she bring me on to her team because…  a chance to renew the international mojo of Oiselle's #BrasForGirls program? Yes. A chance to run the first ever 100-mile ultra-relay (all female organized!) in Bekoji, Ethiopia? Yes. A chance to explore Ethiopia’s food, people, culture? Yes. The chance to help photograph, document, and spread the word on all that GGRF does? YES. You know I am in.


Okay, so GGRF. They’re the only non-profit organization in Ethiopia using the national sport of running as an innovative approach to creating safe spaces, preventing early marriage and are currently expanding access to secondary school girls. GGRF has been investing in girls and their families to creative long-term paths for self-reliant and financial resiliency in Ethiopia since 2006. Click that hyperlink to learn more about them!


Okay, so this relay. It will feature girls from the GGRF Program in Bekoji and some incredible athletes from around the world who will run together from the peaks of the Bale Mountains through the agricultural heartland of the Oromia Region and to the iconic running town of Bekoji. I’ve teamed up with #BrasForGirls (who have donated bras for every girl) to help bring breast education and some O #runlove to this relay party. This will be the first time the girls have conquered such a distance... together. Wow. Girls + sports = a beautiful world.      

Spending time with my people, planning, raising money, running 100 miles with GGRF in Ethiopia - this is how I will spend my holiday season. Pass the eggnog, I am feeling pretty damn good about that. Just kidding, I am lactose intolerant. 

Questions or want to get involved? Contact me here.

Want to help me get there? Donate here

Head up, holiday wings out.



Primary Subcategory

Social - Giving Back
December 14, 2018 — Allyson Ely

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