Jennifer is a runner, her goal is to live in the present, she’s a mother and inspiring friend, and she also happens to be blind. Jennifer knows how important it is to live now, that you can’t get moments back again, and that finding moments of joy through your day makes all the difference.
I met Jennifer through another friend that had run with her. Hood to Coast is a huge race here in the Pacific Northwest and Jennifer was part of a relay team this past year. The other friend who had run with Jennifer, came to me speaking so highly of Jennifer and the group of women that she runs with. I am grateful for the opportunity to highlight the powerhouse that she is and share her story.
Jennifer is joining the Carrot Bowl community of Dynamos. These are powerful people. These are people making a difference in their lives and consequently setting a huge example for others. Whether or not we recognize it or they recognize it, our stories and work empower other people. That’s what Dynamo is about. Inspiring and empowering each one of us to keep moving forward in our own story. This is physical, mental, and spiritual work. This is a journey of mindful and intentional living. Jennifer, you are Dynamo. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Thank you for your example of healthy living.
(Pictured above with her husband Mark and guide dog Fred).
(This is the Hood to Coast team, A Baker’s Dozen. Jennifer is in the back row, far left.)
How has your example of healthy living impacted your family?
I like to think that they have an awareness of basic nutrition – salad – good, Twinkies – bad – that sort of thing. I also encourage them to move their bodies, to get outside and run around.
Have you always been a runner? When did you start?
I ran a little in middle school, off and on in my twenties, but I was always keen to find a running partner. I didn’t need a guide in middle school, as I could still see the track pretty well. My parents were marathoners and always super encouraging. My husband has done a little guided running. I was invited to join a running group in a friend’s neighborhood about three years ago now, and a few of the womens’ strides matched up with mine. More importantly, they were willing to guide 🙂
Can you describe how you are able to run as someone who is blind?
I run by holding lightly onto my partner’s arm. She gives me cues about speed bumps or terrain changes. If we’ve got a curb, she stops and walks down or up it. Wendy, my friend with whom I’ve run the most, just seems to know what sort of info to weave into our conversation. Natalee, another running buddy, squeezes her arm a little against her side to let me know a sidewalk bump is coming up, or that the trail is a bit narrow. It seems to happen organically.
You run with a group of women. How has your influence affected them?
My running group has called me amazing and happy, but they are the amazing ones. I would be speed walking without their selflessness.
How have they made you a better person?
One of the group jokes is that running with a gang of supportive women is like cheap counseling. I would say that I’ve learned so much, from parenting advice to book recommendations to a positive approach to life in general. I greatly look forward to our morning runs.
What is one of your challenges?
I think my challenge is feeling satisfied that I’m doing my best, that I’m giving 100% in all realms.
What is one of your biggest physical accomplishments?
I can narrow this to four experiences – natural delivery of my three kiddos and completing the Helvetia Half a couple summers ago.
Who is your hero?
The hero role is filled by various people, depending what I’m struggling with at the time. When I’m frazzled as a mom, it’s the few friends who mother five kids each with poise and calm. When I’m struggling with professional direction, it’s my writer friend who also rocks the domestic scene who inspires. When I’m feeling down, it’s my mom and dad who are constant cheer leaders.
How has being blind made you more compassionate?
I guess I’m really hesitant to judge others because we never know what challenges they are facing. I always think of the adage – don’t judge a book by its cover, when the judgment beast raises her ugly head.
What advice do you like to share?
Make a brief but sincere list of what brings you joy and look at it daily. Make sure and complete one of these things from the list every day. Also, be as present as possible in every moment because we can’t rewind and capture these again.
What has running taught you about yourself?
Running has taught me that a great deal in life requires mental stamina, much more than physical. Mind over matter is hugely important in powering through to achieve goals.
What are three goals you have right now?
1 Connect with people in a genuine way throughout the day.
2 Mindfully shift to work more this fall, when all kiddos will be in school all day.
3 Train for another half marathon.
What do you want to be remembered for?
I think I’d like to be remembered for being a present, fun, and engaged human being, for positively impacting those around me.