14 Things I Learned (or re-learned) in 2014

It’s been a while and this is long overdue.   No excuses.  Keeping my blog current fell down a few notches on my priority list.  While I do not make specific New Year’s resolutions (I am a strong advocate of goal setting though!) I have spent a few weeks reflecting over the past year.

2014 was a memorable year for me.  It was a year of joys and sorrows.  I feel that I learned and relearned some valuable life lessons this past year.  So here are 14 things that I learned, or relearned, in 2014.

Improvement takes time and persistence.

This rings true in running and in relationships.  It is so easy to become impatient in my training and desire to be better, faster and more fit…right now.  Progress takes time, and it is important to enjoy the process and celebrate the little victories.   It really is all about the little victories.

God holds me in his grip and has a bigger plan for my life.

Aly Howisey and I after Canadian Xc nationals
Aly Howisey and I after Canadian Xc nationals

This truth was exceedingly evident this last year.   I met more people who have influenced and spoke truth in my life this year than ever before.  I have made new friends whom came along side me in some dark moments, in just the way that I needed.  I have new friendships that run deep and will undoubtedly be lifelong.  Details of these are for another future post, but these moments and relationships could not have been woven in my life by my own design.    I am humbled daily by the reminder; it is not what I can do in this life, but what God can do.

Fighting perfectionist tendency takes consistent, conscience effort.

I have known for some time that perfectionism is not healthy for me.  It’s an easy trap for me to fall in.  I continually have to remind myself and keep myself in check.  Is this healthy striving?  Or am I being a perfectionist?  Brene Brown says it best :

“Healthy striving is self-focused: “How can I improve?” Perfectionism is other-focused: “What will they think?”

Perfectionism is suffocating, defeating and not sustainable. I much prefer healthy striving.

Life if short; Spend more time with family.

I love my family.  I feel blessed that I have such a fun, weird, loving, strong and neurotic family.   We have had our times of strife and struggle, but over this past year my gratitude has grown immensely for my family.   Over the past two years, we have become considerably smaller.  Between July 2013 and November 2014, my family lost my Uncle Bill (cancer), my Grandma Robbie (pneumonia), my Grandpa Judd (pneumonia) and my Uncle Rick (alcoholism).    While we lost several loved ones in what feels like short period of time, we grew closer and deeper in our love for each other.  Family events are no longer endured, they are enjoyed.  Stopping by relatives house is no longer a “have to” rather a “want to”.   Advice from my parents is welcomed and sought, rather than dismissed.  Maybe this is part of growing up, but the fragility of life became real for me this year.


Vulnerability does not equal weakness.

Exposing my need for help and being honest about my feelings does not make me weak.  There is great strength in vulnerability, owning my own imperfections and honoring my need for guidance from others.

Marathons are hard.

It’s not like I ever thought they were easy…

I am not the exception to the rule when it comes to injuries.

Unfortunately, I am not immune to recovery process and timeline of injuries.   I think I have re-learned this about 100 times in my life… but I learned it again this year.   It’s important to not push the timeline when recovering from injury.   Mind over matter won’t always heal me according to my timeline.  If I get injured again, I will be more patient.

Taking some “me” time is not selfish, it’s necessary.

Life gets crazy, and it’s easy to not prioritize some ‘me’ time.   A solo run to clear my head, journaling, reading, praying, etc.  It’s important for me to keep that as a priority because it’s easy to pile on the distractions and float through life without intention.

 It is incredibly rewarding investing in the leadership potential of others.

I have the privilege of coaching some fantastic individuals in my job.  This year, it’s been an amazing and rewarding experience watching them grow and flourish as great leaders.  Their hard work, trust, openness and driving desire to be better, has propelled them into success in their roles.  I love watching others succeed and grow, and this year, my job has been particularly fun!


Fear of failing can never be a barrier to taking risks.

This concept is nothing new, but fear holds me back more than I like to admit.  (Probably has to do with those awful ‘perfectionist’ tendencies 🙂

This year, a group of incredible women decided to start a competitive running team in Bellingham.  What started as an idea, blossomed into reality in April of this year: The Bellingham Distance Project.   It was risky.  What if it doesn’t work? What if we don’t have time? What if we don’t generate interest? What if we don’t raise any money?  What if we fail?  So many what ‘ifs’ that could have stopped us from moving forward, but we would not allow it. Our team is comprised of some of the most amazing, inspiring and hard working women I know.  We have big goals for this team, and I am thrilled to be part of the journey.

I have a lot to be thankful for.

I have an amazing support system, amazing friends and family.  My husband lost his job of almost 10 years in 2014. A tragic situation is turning into something beautiful.   I am thankful for his vision to start a new company and pursue his dreams.  He launched his own company, My Non-GMO Box, with a vision and mission to connect consumers with non-GMO products.

I am thankful that I still have an amazing job, I have roof over my head, a dog on the floor, running shoes to run in and friends to connect with.

Every individual’s story is valuable.

I have learned to pull strength and hope from others stories, which encouraged me to share mine with others.   Being that vulnerable is scary, but it’s also liberating.  I often keep my story and experiences to myself and those in my close circle.  Sharing moments of darkness, growth, shame, and struggle used to scare me because I was it felt like I was reliving the past and admitting weakness.    I am hoping in 2015 to continue to share more of my experiences with others.

The gift of experiences is one of the most valuable gifts.

In 2014, I had the privilege of watching my favorite team, the Seattle Seahawks, win the Super Bowl in New York.  I yelled, I laughed, I cried.  I cried a lot actually….before the game with my aunt, during the game with my sister, and after the game with both of them.  It may sound cliché, but it was truly magical.  The energy of the 12’s and the emotions poured out on the field was overwhelming.   I have so much gratitude to be able to experience those moments with my Aunt and my sister.

Super Bowl
Seahawks Win the Super Bowl!!

In December of 2014, I headed to Portland with my mom and sister to the Women of Faith conference.  An empowering weekend, filled with inspiration and encouragement from some of the most amazing women leaders.    It was a great bonding weekend for us.  These moments are cherished, and I want to give more experiences to friends and family in the coming years!

Giving my best is all I can do.

I have always had high expectations of myself, and that will never change.  Having high expectations sometimes comes with great disappointment.   The key for me is to not be overcome by the disappointment and allow that to keep me from moving forward. I am my own worst critic and I am often hard on myself, but this year I realized that if I am truly giving my best, than that is enough.   If I am running my best, giving my best, doing my best, then there is no need for me to hold on to disappointment.   If I gave my best, then I need to focus on I learned from races and life situations, and move on.

2014 was a big year, but I am stoked for 2015 and everything that I will learn.

Cheers to a New Year!


3 thoughts on “14 Things I Learned (or re-learned) in 2014

Add yours

  1. Very well written Alyson. I have re-learned many things also over the years and could identify with much of what you wrote. Have a wonderful trip to England. And, have a wonderful birthday over there. You may not receive your card from us before you leave, but know that you are in our thoughts and prayers during your travels! Love from Mom & Dad Klein/Jim and Alice

    Sent from my iPad


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