how a passion pause reignited my purpose

how a passion pause reignited my purpose

passion pause - purpose

Running | November 18, 2015 | By

We’re taught to follow our passions and told by doing so we’ll never work a day in our lives. In some ways, this is true. In many ways, this is the story of my career development, but I recently went through an eye-opening, professional experience that felt worth sharing. I took a “passion pause“. It’s a story that follows my passion for running, but my need for self-love. I’ll warn you this is going to be a long post without fun pictures, but the story feels like it needs to come out of me because there might be others who can benefit.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize I’m a runner. Look at my blog, my Instagram feed, my closet, and my accomplishments, and you’ll find they are are filled with everything running. My dresser spews ridiculous quantities of wicking shirts, my running shoe collection is out of control, there are GU’s in my purse, and if you meet me at a party I’m most likely talking about something running related. This might be boring to most, but I geek out on it! If you’ve ever read my About Me page (most of you probably haven’t and that’s okay), I mention that I recently left my corporate job — well, that’s what it used to say. But what I didn’t share was that I left my corporate job at Brooks Sports. Yes, I left a dream job with a dream company in my dream field of work to go off and dream. WHAT? REALLY?! Who needs a pause from that?! It sounds crazy, but I’ll explain why this time off provided the perspective I needed to become a better employee.

A resume glimpse beyond my 5 years with Brooks reveals almost 16 years of working in the running shoe industry — approximately 9 years with Finish Line and then almost 2 years with Fleet Feet Pittsburgh before Brooks. It’s been a long time and by far the greatest experience for my professional and personal growth. It’s taken me places and given me opportunities I could have only dreamt about. I’m a runner who followed my heart and landed in a running company. What could be better?! Well, yes, to an outsider this is the perfect match, but inside I began having feelings of self-doubt and unhappiness. What happened to me was what I’ve heard happen to so many others. I worked hard — really hard — and found myself moving into roles that left me feeling empty. I was grateful every day that I was employed with a company whose purpose I embodied, but there was something that wasn’t clicking. I was frustrated with myself and couldn’t stop moving long enough to figure out what was causing this uneasy feeling. I needed to step outside my own head to gain a better understanding of where I was in my life.

There was NO plan for what was going to happen next, but I knew if I followed my heart I would end up finding it. I turned in my computer and brought all my belongings home on my last day at Brooks, but my mind and heart never fully separated. I reflected back on why I was in this profession, and what it was that made me so happy when I began this journey 15 years earlier. It didn’t take me long to realize that my calling to this industry is bringing excitement and energy to running, and being on the front lines and engaging with people is where I thrive. Nothing makes my heart happier than watching someone cross the finish line of their first race or to support someone in taking their first leap from walking to running. The energy I receive from being around people who share the same love for the runners high is indescribable. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

Four months after my passion pause began, the perfect opportunity to return to Brooks presented itself. My energy was full, and I was ready to lace back up with Brooks. This time, in a completely different role than my previous. Now my focus is centered around building community programs through the Brooks flagship store in Seattle. A match made in running heaven. I’m working to build upon the affinity for the run: inviting people to run with us and commune with us around what makes us all live happier lives.

Running is a metaphor for life. It’s long, surprising, exhausting, challenging, rewarding, humbling, and exhilarating. Our experiences shape our lives and continuously change our perspective. From time to time, it’s a natural feeling to want to stop the world and get off. Remember the race is still going to keep running without you, but take that porta-potty break, high-five a bunch of friends and dance with the bands. (In other words, be still, reconnect with friends, and have some fun!) Don’t be afraid to re-find who YOU are! And then remember to get back on this ride called life. I did, and I learned a lot about myself.

What I now know to be true:

  • My desire to welcome others into the running lifestyle is strong.
  • Outdoor industry folks are my people.
  • My blood is Brooks blue.
  • I’m a work-a-holic.
  • Life needs a balance of work and home, and it’s up to me to create it.
  • Not having a plan is a plan in itself.
  • Eat Happy Run Healthy was part of this adventure and will continue on!

If someone sat me down and asked me to state my purpose in life, I would have to say that I feel it is to be on the welcoming committee of the sport of running, to encourage others and coach when needed, and to be a cheerleader for the Brooks brand. There’s no way to give back to running, so it’s my job to pay it forward.

I’m blessed that I have family and friends who supported me, thankful that my husband allowed me to leap without fear, and grateful for doors that reopened. Hope to see you at the Brooks Trailhead soon!

QUESTION: Have you ever taken time off to rediscover yourself?


  1. Leave a Reply

    November 19, 2015

    You are so lovely Jess. Thank you for sharing your story. Shine on sister!

  2. Leave a Reply

    Tamara Hills
    November 19, 2015

    I continue to be inspired by you every day, Jess. I’m so proud of you and could not be happier that your heart is again getting filled. You are sunshine to me–no SPF required. Cheers to you and all the miles and miles yet to unfold…

    • Leave a Reply

      Eat Happy Run Healthy
      November 19, 2015

      Thank you, Tam! With you by my side, those miles keep getting faster and faster. Your support and friendship have been so strong this whole time, and that means so much. Love ya!

  3. Leave a Reply

    Mary Wiegand
    November 19, 2015

    Jess, I admire your courage. Wish I were as brave!

    • Leave a Reply

      Eat Happy Run Healthy
      November 19, 2015

      Hardest decision of my life, Mary! Definitely some sleepless hours in there, but so ultimately worth the peace that the decision provided. I bet you some brave superpowers in you as well! 😉 They tend to show up when we need them most.

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