Danyka is a ball of laughing, bubbly enthusiasm, who lights of a conversation with her big smile and big beautiful hair. She laughs at all your jokes, which is a confidence booster. She rallies the people around her for a good cause. Danyka builds community because she has a strong sense of curiosity – she wants to learn about other people and she isn’t afraid to share her heart, thoughts, struggles and lessons learned. We learned this on the 14-hour drive to Milwaukee for Summit last year (when she wasn’t snoozing or sniffling her allergies away). She brings love and connectedness to this community and we are grateful for her. Meet Danyka.
Community: A group of like-minded individuals who meet regularly to practice something they all have in common.
My community: A strong group of like-minded individuals who meet regularly to connect over the benefit of fitness, to feel purposeful from their passion for a healthy and active lifestyle and to strive to build and maintain connections with the familiar and unfamiliar faces who catch themselves waking up a little earlier on Wednesday mornings.
One of the many communities I belong to is the November Project Ottawa tribe, which so happens to be celebrating its second birthday. In dog years, November Project Ottawa would have been 14 today. When I was fourteen, I was starting high school. I was nervous but excited to tackle a whole new world of obstacle (big wins and even bigger losses that miraculously taught me the majority of the lessons I still use today). Very similarly to my first experience at November Project Ottawa. Anyways, here are a few of my favorite lessons:
Lesson #1: Every day you will learn something new, so just be open to it.
- At the November Project, I’ve learned that there is a right way of taking the stairs and an even better way to crush the stairs. The right way is to just show up. The minute you’ve set your alarm, pre-chosen your gear to face the sunrise and have left your home in a panic to find yourself at the bounce .5 seconds from “bringing it in”, you know you’ve already won that day and probably have made someone else’s by just being there.
- The even better way of taking the stairs is on anything but your tippy toes. Not only will you feel motivated, well supported and so very accomplished for owning the stairs, but you will feel so relieved that your calves aren’t reminding you for a minimum of 7 days beyond the original stair conquering that you’ve crushed the stairs.
Lesson #2: Practice Makes Perfect.
- Sure! It exists to be naturally gifted. Some of us have great pace, great jeans and have been blessed with the gift of opportunity. We’re fortunate enough to have been tossed into every extracurricular activity under the sun and have put that platform of self-discipline and inner desire to succeed to good use. This may not be the case of everyone. However, I’ve learn that often there is a key ingredient missing in the fitness industry that November Project facilitates (FOR FREE). It’s inclusion. Studies have proven that a sense of belonging has impacted a person’s journey in the athletic community, and you know what – I believe it.
- It can be intimidating to participate in physical activity. On the big screen, it’s only for future professionals or for those who strive to overcome illness or adversity, before it gets to them first. On the small screen, it’s based on legacy. If you’re being encouraged to join a team and/or to be coached to develop your skills, it’s not because you weren’t already a member of that community (E.g. School, local teams, family/friend’s teams/activity, etc.) November Project offers a wide range of fun physical challenges regardless of your history with sports and your current level of fitness. All we care about is if you’re having fun and what would make you have even more fun (as long it’s within the scope of our possibilities). I’ve been showing up to November Project (inconsistently, but smiling) since July of 2018, and I think my favorite part is meeting the many different faces of our community and seeing what we’re all capable of doing when we’re together. It’s even better when we measure each other’s personal growth and celebrate the many changes we’ve made for ourselves, for our community and, sometimes, for each other. November Project isn’t always about being the strongest, the fastest, the loudest, etc. It’s mostly about being grateful for what we have – strong leadership, funny jokes, yummy bagels, soft dogs and big laughs, and for who will be there to help continue to build on that.
Lesson #3: There is no “I” in team, but there is in win and there is in community.
- Feel free to quote me on this, but no need to fact check, but I believe that there’s an “i” in both the words “win” and “community” because both the drive for positive results and a sense of purpose start from within. If I hadn’t chosen to show up to a Wednesday morning featuring Liz and Lauren, I wouldn’t have been able to call myself a member of the November Project Ottawa community. Maybe I would have crushed my day, but the people who cheer on my name when I’m two-stairing all the way up to that classic Sparkette high five would not have been there to see or to celebrate all of the great things that were accomplished. Maybe I wouldn’t have even recognized that my day was filled with success, but all it took was some words of encouragement and a few well-deserved bagels to seal the deal.
I just wanted to give a big shoutout to the November Project Ottawa for showing me what it means to bond with somewhat complete strangers by riding in a van for 14 hours straight to go see some other strangers who have minimum 1 thing in common with us. We know how to rally, because we have a ton of practice, because we do it every single Wednesday morning.