Last year at Rock Retreat Run, we focused on our black flower and the woman who inspired it, Tara Hartman. With the name ‘rock star’ we’ve seen this flower worn and loved because it conveys a certain loudness and boldness and a ‘watch me rise’ mentality. And Tara, the woman whose story inspired rock star, is certainly all of these things.
But my heart broke when I heard women say they didn’t feel like a rock star, thus they could not imagine wearing this flower.
Oh my goodness. There was a whole other side to this flower that women weren’t seeing! While I could understand why, I was determined to shine a light on the whole story of this flower. The bigger story.
The quiet strength.
The enduring through storms.
The willingness to show up.
The I am the storm message that so many women have come to know and love? THAT is the black flower. It is standing in the raging storm of life and not backing down from the cruel elements thrown at us. It is standing taller and stronger despite the winds of change and hardship.
Defiance at its best.
More than anything, this flower is about two very important words – resilient spirit.
The true meaning of Tara’s story and the rock star message lies in the everyday resilience of women who show up to life’s circumstances and simply don’t quit.
This is Tara. This is the gritty fighter I know and love so much. From our college basketball days together to watching her fly like the wind on the pavement. To taking on the physical and emotional pain of endometriosis. To watching her navigate the journey of infertility, allowing herself to be angry – at both the world and her body – yet never giving up in the journey to motherhood. Then, witnessing her cautious joy of getting pregnant with twins through in vitro.
A boy and a girl.
Drew and Katie were born at just 25 weeks, certainly not the timeline of what was planned. Drew, much sicker than Katie when they were born, earned his angel wings after just 11 hours of life. As Tara says, “For Katie to have even survived is a miracle in itself, but even more astonishing is the fact that her heart, lungs, brain, vision, hearing, motor skills, you name it – are all just fine. Other than being small for her age, Katie is a normal girl with a whole lot of spunk. And for that we are eternally grateful.”
I will say the line ‘rule breaker’ is dedicated to Miss Katie. Defying the odds in the best way possible. A little defiant rule breaker who wouldn’t stop fighting.
Tara’s reason for running Cellcom in 2011 (when our flowers debuted) was very, very personal. It had nothing to do with PRs or pace or being a rock star, so much as it was honoring Drew’s life and as she says, helping her and her family heal.
It was her decision to rise – to show up – despite so much pain and heartbreak that defined her journey. It was her bravely walking through the immeasurable joy and pain of motherhood in a way she never envisioned. It was her teaching me – and so many who know her – what grace, hope and unconditional love looks like.
After Katie was finally able to head home from the NICU, I remember visiting her and Tara at their home. I brought Allison with me, who was just five weeks old at the time.
I’ll never forget our conversation that day. I told Tara how in awe I was of her strength, and how I didn’t know how she did it. Managing the grief and joy all at the same time. Pushing through even when she was mentally exhausted.
She replied, “You just do it. You aren’t even thinking about whether or not you can, you just do whatever it takes.”
She will be the first to tell you that YOU would also rise just like she did. She will be the first to tell you that YOU would also find the strength you didn’t know you had.
She would also be the first to tell you that showing up is the only requirement of being a rock star.
A few short days later, my newborn Allison got very sick and nearly died. It was surreal and tested every single part of me. I do not consider it coincidence that I had Tara’s words to guide and remind me of how strong I could be in those very hard days.
Adversity is what builds our resilience.
We do not become strong without our struggle. We do not see our boundless capacity to endure unless we experience grief and hardship. And our ability to hold up those who are in the storms comes only from our wisdom of once being in its fury.
And while we may all long for a different path or lesser of a storm, we get to decide – day after day – how to use those lessons for good and keep showing up in our hard yet beautiful lives.
In the coming days I’ll share our internal script from Rock Retreat Run. I wrote much of it throughout the weekend – early in the morning and late at night – reflecting on and recognizing the stories of each woman who was present there. In my eyes, it was the defining moment of our retreat.
It reminded every woman that our resilience lays before our very eyes every single day… sometimes we just have to stop and look at it.
Big love to all of you.
P.S. Public registration for rock star is now open! Register here.
If you didn’t plan on registering because you didn’t think it fit you, I ask you to rethink its definition. I ask you to look at your everyday resilience and give yourself some credit. xo