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2016. For many, it’ll be a year we’ll certainly remember. Emotions ran high. Change happened. And everyone reading this got one year older. But one thing was consistent as we meandered through this year:

November Project.

It was still here. MWF. Week after week. Ready. For what you ask? For you to JUST. SHOW. UP. Ready with open arms to give you a hug and tell you I’m glad you’re here. Ready to make you laugh and smile. Ready for new friends, stronger friendships, and real human interaction.

157. That’s how many workouts we had in 2016. Each unique. Each fun. What were some of your top moments? Feel free to share photos, stories, and emoji two hands up about your favorite moments of 2016. Here are our favorites:

 

Maria

I just want to start my portion of the blog by saying choosing a top three is almost impossible because every morning at NP is truly a gift- I know it’s corny as fuck but every single workout I have ever been to has been incredible. I leave having learned something new, met someone new and just overall feeling better than I did when I got there. The return to the stairs, the Showing Up premier, Good Morning America, celebrating 3 years of NP_DC, it’s all been amazing. But without further ado, here we go:

March 16 or 23 – The date here is disputed because after 30-45 minutes of thoroughly back-stalking the November Project DC Facebook page, I can’t figure out where I am in the group photo, which is weird because I have an enormous head that should be easily spotted. But, because I only went to 5:30 and the picture(s) are very dark. Regardless, I had moved down to DC in the beginning of March and was a cheapskate who didn’t want to spend my hard-earned paycheck on a gym membership, so when a coworker mentioned NP I figured I would give it a shot. I honestly don’t remember the workout from that day, but the thing that sticks out was the feeling I had biking home afterward (that’s a Maya Angelou quote, right? Close enough). I was aggressively happy heading into work that morning, and I couldn’t stop smiling- the endorphins will do that to you. It felt like I had found a space to occupy in this new city. Like I really, genuinely belonged somewhere. I had found my people, my Tribe if you will. I couldn’t wait until the next Wednesday to be back near this buzzing, vibrant community, to race up the steps of Lincoln and watch the sunrise over the city. To have that sense of belonging back. I was a little slow on the uptake to realize the magic of Monday and Friday workouts, but once I found them the magnitude of love I had for NP grew exponentially. 

June 6- The United State of Women workout. I mainly loved this day because there were no dudes there to fuck everything up. I jest, I kid, I dig you guys. BUT this day was really special because 1) it was an NP workout taking place outside of the Monday/Wednesday/Friday parameters, only known to happen on rare occasions and 2) the sheer VOLUME of ladies who came out. Check that group photo, it’s fucking huge. Being surrounded by so many bad-ass, strong women was inspiring. We sang Single Ladies, we partner-planked, hoistied and sweat all over the lawn of Carnegie Library for all of the other bad-ass ladies in line at the Convention Center to see. At the end of the workout, we yelled “YOU’RE FUCKING BEAUTIFUL” to everyone across the street. Seeing them smile with amusement, and then respond in kind, is to this day one of the most empowered feelings I’ve ever had. 

November 9– NP is not political. NP is not political. NP is not political. Ya dig? We want everyone to show up, no matter who you vote for. Sitting up watching election results come in, I kept telling friends and family that whatever happened, the sun was still going to come out tomorrow. The sun did not in fact come out that morning, it actually pissed rain which meant we couldn’t use the stairs. A Wednesday at Lincoln without stairs, fucking great. It was the only time ever going to NP where I really didn’t know if people would show up. Of course they did, we ALWAYS show up. I led the Tribe in quite possibly the most tone-deaf rendition of What a Wonderful World because I thought it would make people laugh, but also I wanted people to examine the good that exists all around us, even on rainy mornings when you’ve had too little sleep and things seem shitty. We did a very badass workout called Civil War which involved a lot of laying on the ground getting soaked. It was rad. We also took what in my mind is the undisputed champion of Mannequin Challenge videos (hat tip Steve for expert sound mixing). Riding home, I was thinking that this had been a true testament to the NP movement. Yes, we could have stayed in bed, pulled the covers up, closed the shades, and buried our heads in the sand. INSTEAD we got up, got after it, and quite frankly, felt a whole lot better because of it. I don’t look back on that workout with the same fondness I do for the others; but I list it as a top moment because I began to understand the power, fortitude and intensity of this movement and the entire reasoning behind #justshowup. 

So there you have it, my top three. Check back in 2017 for more highlights from the growing, loving, wonderful, human smile factory that is NP_DC. 

14753460_559192324271269_7710940473449117183_oJake

July 13 — The return to the stairs. I don’t remember a whole lot from the actual workout (maybe we did NBA Jam?), but I’ll never forget what preceded this day. For over a month, we hadn’t been allowed to run the stairs at the Lincoln Memorial, the hands-down favorite part of my every week. I was devastated. Others, too. But the weeks that followed early June’s initial punch to the jugular were the most uplifting of my November Project experience. I read 70-plus incredibly well-written, personal and inspiring stories of how the tribe and specifically the Lincoln Memorial had changed people’s lives. Not that I didn’t know before, but I fully realized the lengths to which so many people would go to do anything to help. I maybe somewhat started to understand just how much energy, effort, enthusiasm and, yes, work our leaders, Steve and Kaelan, put into their non-paying November Project leadership roles. One thing I know for sure — if not for everyone’s contributions, small and large, I wouldn’t have kissed the stairs, thankful to be back running them, on July 13.

Sept. 23 — My first workout as a leader: It felt surreal, standing there in the center of the basketball court at Janney Elementary School surrounded by my favorite people. I tried to explain the workout, turning to my left or right with each sentence. It was a rookie performance no doubt, but minutes later I was reminded — as I’ve been on so many occasions since — of how our tribe runs itself. The workout was happening — people hopping up stairs, running down a ramp, dipping on a ledge, wheelbarrowing across the field, sumo-ing across the blacktop. Smiles and laughter were ubiquitous. Just another impeccable day at November Project DC. 

Nov. 20 — Yes, this was a Sunday, but it was special for a couple reasons. For one, yes, as the tribe knew from announcements many weeks prior, it was my dear mother’s birthday. I called her in the morning. In the afternoon, though, I found myself fighting back tears as I sat next to Steve in the Smithsonian Castle’s theater watching the November Project movie “Showing Up” by Dooster for the first time. It was powerful, poignant, motivating, all-encompassing and much more. And to be able to share the experience with hundreds of other NP_DCers made it all the more special. Getting to stand up in front of everyone and answer questions about my November Project experience after each viewing was memorable, too. To steal a line from Steve, This Shit was GOOOOD. 

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Steve

In no particular order:

  1. The stories/letters During the months of June/July, we were in talks with National Park Service (NPS) about our use of the stairs. They said no. And instead of getting angry, indignant, or frenzied about it, the tribe responded with kindness and pleas, writing letter after letter (that made many of us wipe our eyes) emphasizing the impact that November Project has on not just their life but their relationships, the city, the community. As tough a time as that was, the outpouring of written emotions sparked real emotions. We became closer as a tribe. No, not everything is as it was, but what truly matters (the community) persisted through the turbulence and came out even stronger.
  2. The laughs Knowing that the tribe will laugh at my terrible jokes gets me out of bed EVERY TIME.
  3. These three moments The epitome of every incredible sunrise we see (left), the willingness for the tribe to try anything and everything new (middle), and the epitome of no limits to who can #JustShowUp.

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Here’s to one crazy year. Cheers 2016. Thanks for spreading that crazy wild love and those good vibes.

November Project DC 2016 Recap
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