Since starting Fellow Flowers in 2012, over 25,000 women from across the country and world have joined our movement. Our mission, from the beginning, was to create a space where women could honor, share and celebrate the reasons why they put one foot in front of the other, in running and also in life. Our flower – a simple yet unmistakable symbol of connection – is becoming a familiar addition to races all over the country, worn by women who – like us – believe there is more to running than just our miles.
We are a running community that believes it is not just about the miles, but more so about the moments of transformation that running gives each and every one of us. We believe that every woman – no matter if she’s running her first 5K or if she’s been a runner for years – has a story. And we are on a mission to create the space where those stories can be shared.
In January of 2011, Tori sent her friends an invitation: Run with me.
Her birthday wish was to run through the streets of Green Bay in the CellCom Half Marathon with her tribe of girlfriends. Thirteen of us responded. Why not? Okay fine. I need a reason to get in shape. I’m in. Can’t say no to a party. She’d do it for me. Bring it on.
Thirteen friends. Thirteen miles. Meant to be.
Despite similar circles, we needed some welcome love. Tori introduced us in an email: Wife meet mother. Teacher meet doctor. Nurse meet businesswoman. Working mom meet working mom. It could have ended with that. Great, we’ll see you all on race day. Good luck to you.
But it didn’t. One after another, we began sharing stories. Then reflections. All over email – a clumsy yet effective way to rant, dream, reflect and cheer. It was honest. It was heroic.
Usually, we consider time to be the key ingredient in building trust. Yet in 16 weeks, we covered topics like infertility, the loss of a child, abuse and abandonment, the pursuit of happiness, the realization of dreams, admitting fears – big fears – and releasing dreams – epic dreams. And we trained. Amidst juggling kids, families, coaching, jobs, dreams, sleep, making dinner and drinking wine, we trained.
On race day, May 15th, we had shared hundreds of emails. Poured out thousands of words. And rallied around one common understanding. We were not running a race. We were celebrating a journey.
And the flowers. Oh, our beautiful orange flowers. One might think it was an intentional effort. An orchestrated plan to unite. Hey, we need to make sure everyone knows we’re together – flowers, yeah. Flowers!
Nope, we can’t take the credit. A friend of Tori’s knew about our training and in the 11th hour (as in, the week before the race) she handed Tori 14 orange Gerber daisy flowers, lovingly hot-glued with barrettes and clips. You need to be able to find each other. People need to know you’re together. She was genius. Yes! Of course we do.
So in a moment’s notice, Fourteen women – powered by friendship – ran with flowers in their hair. Big ol’ orange flowers. We could spot them 100 yards away. And so could hundreds of others. The journey of a flower began.
Flash forward to October. Tori runs her first full marathon in Chicago. Running to the beat of a play list inspired by her 13.1 crew. Surrounded by friendship, flowers and signs, and inspired by the pride-filled shouts of her oldest son. Go, Mommy! To him, she is a superhero. Amidst 45,000 runners, a determined bright orange flower crossed the finish line and crushed preconceived notions. She rocked it. Emotions stirred. Feeling the love. Selfless-joy kinda love. This is so much bigger than me.
One week later, Mel ran a half marathon to celebrate her October birthday. Women watched in the bathroom as she snugged a big orange daisy into her running cap. Looking fierce, girl.
Life had been nudging Mel. Passion had started to call. She was starting to listen. A few meditative moments before the race, channeling the intention of her flower, she told herself, Make a plan. Dream the vision. Uncork the crazy. Lay it down. For the next two hours, she mentally mapped out a business plan in her head. She crossed the finish line with two new lovely and beautiful items – a rose from her oh-so-sweet husband and a razor-sharp clarity of purpose.
Later that night Mel texted Tori. I have an idea. Imagine if we could create a way for other women to take this journey?
Friendship + Running = Transformation. Are you in?
She was. Head over heels in. And here we are. Sharing the journey of the flower with you, with everyone.
A dream becomes a goal when you say it out loud. It becomes a plan when you write it down. It becomes your Anthem when you embody it and accept its presence as your destiny.
Bloom, baby. Bloom.