She was the best of us

This world, our FFCrew community, and those of us lucky enough to call JulieAnn a friend, lost the brightest of lights yesterday.

When I think of Fellow Flowers, I think of JulieAnn, because there was no one who lived our mantras truer or deeper than her. Courageous, brave, joyful, a dreamer. And also, showing up when life was hard, being a steady and fiercely united friend, and finding her way through unfair storms without losing hope.

She kept showing up, even when the world gave her reasons to be angry. She stayed open even when she had the right to shut down. She taught me that you can stand on the battlefield and still remain soft and filled with gratitude.

Whether it was at Rock Retreat Run, Declare It Day, Her Madison Half, FFCrew book clubs or zoom chats, many of us in this community were lucky enough to call her a friend. And being her friend meant YOU also had to show up. She had no time for pretending or asking surface-level questions. The deeper, the better.

This community and the friendships with many of you meant so much to JulieAnn. She would often talk about Rock Retreat Run 2015, in that hotel ball room in Arizona, where we shared stories of grief, joy, loneliness, healing and everything in between. She told me how much it meant to find a community of women who could honor both grief and joy together.

The ocean is where I will always remember JulieAnn … connected to herself and alive with purpose. In our retreat sessions, she always asked the follow-up questions, and the group loved her for them. The photo shared here of JulieAnn and I in the kitchen is one of my favorites. She was talking about her values and her need for authentic connections. Her need to be seen and loved and that she wasn’t ‘too much’ and that her dreams were valid. My friend Angie snapped this of us … if you look closely, you can see her emotion and my awe. She was so, so wise.

I will see her everywhere I look from here on out, and I will hear her voice, her humor, her questions in every moment I want to quit, retreat, or have a pity party. I will feel her presence when I see purple flowers lining my run path and when shades of purple take over evening sunsets. I will see her every time I pick up a fiercely united, gratitude or no excuses flower for my run or when I wear my Forward Is A Pace tank top. I will think of her when I’m too harshly judging someone without knowing their whole story, and I will channel her when I see a woman showing up to an event, all alone and nervous, hoping someone will invite her into conversation.

When I hear ocean waves, see funny cheer signs at races, or when it’s Chicago Marathon time … I will think of her.

She was the best of us.

She would also tell all of us, directly but with so much love, to keep fucking going. All gas, no brakes. Big dreams only. No time for doubt. Why the hell not. Give it a go. Courage is in the try. Cheer loud. Take good care of yourself. Ask for help. Take photos every chance you get. Tell your story. Say yes. Book the flight. Check in on each other. Climb to the top of the mountain, you won’t regret it. Wear the ball gown. Order dessert first. Make the memories. Chase the waves.

Holding all of you who are feeling this profound loss alongside me. Go make a great memory today and do something you love with the people who matter.

Rest in power, sweet friend.


For more about JulieAnn, please read her blog post from September 2021, a blog post by Mel about the PowHERful collection launched in JulieAnn ’s honor in 2021, or JulieAnn ’s obituary, shared by her dear friend Connie.
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