07.15.13 – 09.07.20 (YEG)

Some final words from Jen and Nadim.

To my community:

I could have never predicted what saying yes to helping Andrew with November Project would bring into my life. July 2013, I’d just gotten engaged, finished my secondment at Alberta Education, and Andrew was moving back to Edmonton after having lived away from “home” for 19 years. He was returning after living in Boston, where during a period of time in the NHL lock out he began running Harvard Stadium stairs with a group called November Project. I knew nothing of this at the time but when he was coming into Edmonton for a week to look for a new house he shared with me that he wanted to see if there was an appetite in the city for a free fitness community similar to what he’d experienced in Boston. And so he sent a tweet inviting anyone who wanted to join to meet at Kinsmen Park on Monday, July 15 at 6 AM.

I remember sitting at the dinner table on Sunday night knowing that Rob and I were definitely going and Andrew saying, “well, there could be just the three of us or could be 100…who knows!” As it turns out, 19 people were at the first ever Canadian November Project workout. 

I didn’t really understand the NP concept but when Andrew left that week he asked if I’d keep “hosting” workouts until he returned and I agreed. I’d always been a morning workout person and it was my summer break, so it all worked. I didn’t intend for it to be long term and when he returned in August wondering who might be able to take the lead when hockey started I suggested this guy named Nadim who’d been showing up consistently for the whole summer. 

Andrew talked this guy Nadim to ask him to lead and then we all met up for dinner where somehow I ended up agreeing to “help” as well. And the rest is history. 7+ years of leading an inspiring community – cheering you on and feeling your support in my personal pursuits. I have thoroughly loved every moment of the last 7+ years.

I am honoured to have had the privilege of co-creating a space in Edmonton where, through fitness, an incredible community has been built. I am most proud of the relationships that have been fostered and nurtured because of early morning workouts. We’ve been witness to beautiful friendships being formed, families bonding, families created, and communities sparked.

I will always be grateful that for each morning of the 1118 mornings someone showed up. It is not lost on me that there would be no NP without you. And you all showed up for different reasons. I am proud that the space and community was there for you in times of personal celebration, sorrow, joy, or pain. That I could be there to see you, smile for you, light up for you, and I trust that you know that it was my goal that each and every one of you left our mornings feeling seen, welcomed, cared for, and hopefully with a bucket a little more full than it was when you arrived.

I often reflect upon my purpose, my why, and for me, showing up each morning filled my bucket as much as I hope I was able to fill yours. My why has always been about the community, about lighting up for others, about celebrating your successes, and being a safe place for comfort when that was what was needed.

Thank you for every hug, high 5, smile, cookie, last burpee, turn around at time, stair, and morning you gifted me with. I look forward to our paths crossing and sharing the pavement/trails with you. This is just a farewell to leadership, not to community. Today, it’s time to run off into the sunrise…

Until next time…SMILE!

J

Do you know the exact date, time and place your life changed? I do. It was Monday July 15th, 6:30am at Kinsmen Park. 

1118 workouts later, and I still remember it like it was yesterday. 

November Project came at the perfect time for me. I was a few years into my career in HR but also a few years removed from any community involvement. Since I was 9, I had found a way to build teams and support others. But in those few years before November Project came along, it was void waiting to be filled.

For the first while, I felt fortunate to be given the opportunity to do something fun for the group of people who showed up at 6am to workout with us. What ended up happening was beyond my wildest imagination. 

While I thought I making an impact on others, it’s very clear that I was the one who was being impacted more than anyone. There are very few things in my life that I’ve done for more than 7 years. November Project I one of them, and it changed me. 

First and foremost, at the very first workout, I met my partner, Dayle. We say that the workout is always better when you’re there, and yes, the workout was always better when she was there. I also met Jen who has been along side me through all of the highs and lows of November Project and of life. I can’t imagine how different my world would have been without her. I’ve made so many new friends in Edmonton and beyond who I  hold near and dear to my heart. They have inspired and helped me accomplish things I never new I wanted to do, like run a marathon. I fell in love with Edmonton all over again from exploring and scouting so many different locations. I also got to see all of those locations through a different lens. The love for my city lead me to a new career where I get to wake up every day and create memorable Edmonton experiences for people from around the world. This community has been beside me through the mistakes and the successes as we learned and grew together. 

A few years ago, someone got injured at a workout and I had to take him to the hospital. When we got there, I was explaining to the nurses what had happened. He got an injury while tobogganing at 6am. It all seemed straight forward to me. While I was in the waiting room, a nurse wanted to talk to me about what happened. Thankfully, I knew her and the second she saw me, she knew exactly what was going on. You see, the nurses didn’t believe that two adults – in January, at 6am, wearing running clothes – truly got hurt while tobogganing. The story just didn’t make sense. It really only made sense if you’ve ever been to November Project. I can’t think of a more fitting story to sum up my years with November Project. It only makes sense if you were there. Many years from now, I’ll be telling stories of the absolutely crazy things we got up to while the rest of Edmonton was asleep. Here are just a few of the memories that we’ve shared: 

  • We turned on the Christmas lights at the Legislature by bouncing
  • We almost got a TV morning show host fired because of a We Missed You post
  • The rap battle at the talent show
  • We setup a slip n slide with some tarps, a couple hoses, hockey tape and Dr Bronners… multiple times! 
  • I played with a mariachi band on the field at Commonwealth Stadium
  • We almost ruined Canada Day because we created a tidal wave at the legislature. I then had to explain what happened to their maintenance manager
  • We once stopped a workout because we had to herd goats.
  • Speaking of goats, we also had reindeer and a turtle at workouts
  • After hearing that we were doing a bottle drive to pay for access to Commonwealth Stadium, the city decided to renegotiate our agreement
  • We had a doughnut company sponsor our blog! #PerformanceEnhancingDoughnut
  • We dressed up as Oompa Loompas and gave out golden tickets
  • We raced in a corn maze… twice
  • We worked out in a castle of ice
  • We held a workout on a beach… in Edmonton…
  • We’ve had the mayors of 4 major cities in Canada doing a Rock Paper Scissors battle
  • I’m quoted and my picture is in a book… which you can buy at Chapters.
  • We once invited a random person into our group photo. Months later, after I started a new job, I saw the photo again and realized that person is the security guard where I work
  • We crowdsurfed our friend, Bill, on his 91st birthday
  • Bridge Month became a thing
  • We incorporated the Grey Cup into a workout
  • We crashed or didn’t crash a drone #donttelljen
  • The 1000th workout morning still seems like a dream
  • We convinced a ridiculous number of people that they WANT to work out when its -30 outside
  • The black buff we designed ended up travelling around the world on The Amazing Race.. and then I got to meet the team! 
  • We held a screening for our movie at the IMAX!
  • There are NP Awards named after Jen and I 
  • I somehow made it without a We Missed You post
  • We made buttons cool again #WhatsInTheBag 
  • We held a surprise wedding at 6am
  • There’s this thing… it’s called the Old 96er…
  • And of course… Jen’s gotta go to work

Let’s be honest. If someone came and told you these stories, you’d think they were pulling your leg. The only reason you aren’t questioning my sanity right now, is because we shared those memories together. And the best part about all of these memories is that, we had so many talented photographers volunteer their time to capture these memories on photo and video.

None of this would have been possible without each and every one of you. Every time someone accomplished something they didn’t think was possible, it gave us energy to keep going. You lifted us up. You held us accountable. You laughed at our bad jokes. You trusted in whatever we were doing, even if we had no idea how it’d turn out. You froze in very, very cold temperatures with us. You sweat with us. And you grew with us. Thank You.

November Project has never been about the people telling you when to start and stop your workout. It has and always will be about the people that show up to the workouts. Those are the people who hold each other accountable and inspire each other to be a better version of themselves. Those are the people who come to a judgement-free zone and welcome and support you when you need it the most. They’re the ones you know you can count on. Those people are each and every one of you. And the future lies with all of you. What we’ve created during our time as leaders will live on in how you show up at November Project and how you show up in other areas of your life. You can do that by:

  • Being kind
  • Keeping an open mind 
  • Bringing more fun into the world

As November Project heads into its next evolution, you will be the ones who shape and elevate it to something even greater. It’ll be up to you to create an even better experience with the guidance of a new leadership team. I can’t wait to see where you take it from here.

This has been the  greatest adventure of my life. Thank you.

Until then, it’s time to run off into the sunrise…

Find the Good,

Nadim

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