Can.Do.

I can. I am. I do.
The past year I have tried to live consciously concerning myself with how I finish these sentences. Far to often I’ve allowed word combinations like “should have,” “could have,” “wouldn’t,” and ” what if?” dictate my thought patterns and actions. While reflecting on the past and anticipating the future have valid purposes, I have come to believe concentrating on how I am living in the present moment is of greater importance.
Life is an opportunity. It is a gift. HOW am I living? WHAT am I doing? WHAT can I do? Answering these questions changed my priorities.

I want to live with purpose. I want to act with intention. I want to see the unseen. I want to love the unloved. I want to serve others.

Currently, 598million individuals do not have access to clean water. Each day they walk for miles to bring home water for hydration, sanitation, hygiene. For those that search in vain–disease and death tolls constantly grow. For those that successfully meet their daily need, tomorrow brings the same challenge, and the next day and the next. Little time is left for education, household and community advancement, future opportunities.

I can’t end the clean water crisis. Not on my own.
But I CAN DO something.
I CAN run a marathon.
I CAN tell you about the clean water crisis
I CAN uncomfortably ask you to help.

$50 provides clean water for life.

I believe clean water is not a privilege, but a human right.
I believe clean water saves lives. Will you consider providing access for another?
Link-http://www.teamworldvision.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=66531
Maybe you are working to make the world a better place in some other way–I support you. I want to hear about it! There is nothing more encouraging for me than hearing about HOW others are changing lives and communities. Never limit the extent of your reach because others are reaching too and suddenly the impact changes the world.

2017.

img_7773Hi and Happy New Year!
2016 was one of the most important and transforming years of my life. It began with a decision in early January to run the 2016 Chicago marathon for Team World Vision. In April I was given the opportunity of a lifetime and flew to California for a trapeze lesson (an item on my list of dreams.) While there, I was inspired to further develop my life goals list with raising $10,000 for Team World Vision claiming the #2 spot. My inner dialogue went something like this–
“Wow, that will be cool to pursue in a few years”
“Why wait?”
“This is crazy! There is no way I can do that right now!
“Why not?”
“I don’t know enough people and my social demographic consists of young professionals, college and graduate students”
“Excuses”
“Fine”
“Why NOT?”

$10,000 equates to 200 individuals with clean water access for life. Sustainable projects extending beyond collapsible wells and enabling community leadership to preserve and maintain is something I’m all about.

Clean water is a necessity I take for granted every day. Access to an unlimited supply has ensured I have every opportunity for hydration and am spared from the disease and death associated with unclean water. Unfortunately, this privilege is not granted to every life in our current world (hence why I use “privilege” in place of a spot I believe is best described by the definition of “human right”)

The journey to #200 was challenging, inspiring and life-changing. It was a leap outside my comfort zone and forced me to grow mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

I grew in appreciation for my circumstances, I grew in physical and mental strength and stamina. I grew in the embrace of my limitations while embracing a limitless lifestyle through faith in the One above. I became more willing to ask for help, admit my weaknesses and more readily see the possibility in the word “WE

Afterall,
$10,000 didn’t happen because of ME.

Thanks to the compassion and generosity of 168 individuals from all over the world, 200 more individuals received clean water for life last year. As a team, this number climbed to 38,000.

INCREDIBLE. This number impacts CITIES, VILLAGES, and FAMILIES from an INDIVIDUAL core.
2017 is starting off with every impression of having an impact of similar caliber. I’ve signed up for both the Boston and NYC marathons with TWV in hopes of providing clean water to 100 more individuals, and raising $5,000 for child protection services.

I’ve never trained for two marathons in one year. I’ve never trained for a marathon in Winter. I’ve never trained for a marathon in another country (or LIVED in another country.) I’ve also never desired to run for causes more dear to my heart. Im thrilled to see what will happen, nervous about the challenges ahead and incredibly grateful for the opportunity to combine my passions for adventure, running, and helping the less fortunate in their most basic of needs.
Once again I realize I can’t meet these goals on my own but am ready and willing to move these clean water mountains (REALIZING the Man upstairs will orchestrate the move) Will you be a mountain mover too?

Go to teamworldvision.org to learn more about their clean water projects. Search for “Leah Nichols” in the fundraiser search tab to join me in fighting against the clean water crisis.

Cheers!

To Run

Running FOR instead of FROM

My history with running is emotionally complicated. I began the summer before my senior year of college, for all the wrong reasons. At the time my life was spiraling out of control and running became a physical manifestation of my mental and emotional state of being. I was running scared. I was running FROM. Research has shown in stressful or dangerous situations, our body has an uncanny ability to “fight” hard, or “flight” fast. I spent two entire years in “flight” mode, terrified of what might catch up if I stopped, terrified of the fight I set myself up for. Though avoiding all opportunities to confront my chaotic reality uncovered a hidden talent, eventually the flight had to stop. The fight I faced was the hardest challenge I have experienced up to this point my life, but the freedom that came with conquering the battle was more than worth it.

2015-

When Michael Chitwood came to speak at my church last spring, I had only JUST begun running a few months earlier due to a two year injury-related hiatus. I WAS TERRIFIED. Physically, I was unsure of my newly refurbished body’s ability to handle the grueling training. Mentally, I was nervous of any circumstance that may trigger unwanted memories or emotions. Something started tugging on my heart however, and it just WOULDN’T stop. Images of my sponsor child kept appearing in my mind. “Do her friends have clean water to drink? Do they get to go to school…or must they spend their day hiking 6K with 40 lbs of water on their back?” These questions and more rattled my mind. So I signed up–still scared, but determined to try and make a difference in a child’s life. After 18 weeks of training I did get injured, not serious enough to preventing me from finishing the marathon but enough to slow me down the last few weeks of training. Mentally the training helped me rediscovered a passion of mine– running. A REALLY COOL thing about this experience is the transformation that occurred as I started living my life RUNNING FOR. No longer a safety escape, running NOW provides a physical opportunity for me to improve the life of someone else. Running FOR instead of FROM– pretty darn cool idea right there.

Guess what else? THE COOLEST THING.

Our team raised over 1.5 MILLION dollars, bringing clean water to 30,000 individuals!!!!!

It took time, energy, and dedication on days I wanted to sleep in, but joining Team World Vision changed my life. TWV opened my eyes to the clean water crisis and gave me the opportunity to HELP make a DIFFERENCE all while welcoming me into a FAMILY. The friendships made will last a lifetime. 7am Saturday morning runs were EXCITING to wake up for–the positivity, encouragement and compassion this group possesses is CONTAGIOUS. Welcoming runners of all sizes and PR’s, the focus never shifted from the goal of RUN. WATER. LIFE.

So here’s to another marathon season of running FOR. I am SO READY to use my passion to run to help someone else. Because WATER not only improves lives, it SAVES lives. Join with me?

 

 

 

 

TWV

The water crisis is killing. But it does not have to.

Lack of clean water is the #1 cause of death worldwide. Statistics from most regions of the world report 50% of children under the age of 5 will die from lack of clean water. A LACK OF CLEAN WATER. The average distance an individual across the globe must travel to obtain clean water is 6 kilometers, roughly 3.76 miles ONE WAY. The average weight of a full water jug is 40 lbs. Typically, the women and children of the household are assigned this daily chore. Fetching water is physically demanding, but the real terror of the daily task are the shadows lurking in the morning and evening light. The journey for water is a vulnerable time for water fetchers, and the #1 source of slavery and trafficking worldwide. Picture it. A young child waking up before sunrise, trekking through remote areas. Realizing their chore is necessary for their family to live, they do not have a choice but to swallow their fear and tired muscles. This morning I woke up to my alarm, drank some coffee and got ready for school. I did not fear the water in my coffee maker would make me sick. I was not scared of the possibility that at 9 in the morning, on a busy street, in a safe neighborhood I may be kidnapped, raped or killed.

In this age of science and technology, it seems rather anti-climatic that the majority of mortality is claimed by a basic necessity I take for granted every day.

For the past decade, Team World Vision (TWV) has been dedicated to eliminating the clean water crisis. In fact, through TWV efforts a new individual is provided with access to clean water every 30 seconds. Working with native engineers and community leaders, TWV water projects are more than just water wells. Depending on the geography and community needs, unique, sustainable and comprehensive water projects are developed along with sanitation and hygiene community education. HOW COOL!

And so I will run. For though I may not be able to relieve the inequality or injustice in this world, I CAN RUN. And through this ability I have the opportunity to tangibly improve the lives of others, TO SAVE the lives of others. I refuse to be discouraged by the many troubles in this world because I CAN make a DIFFERENCE RIGHT NOW. And I refuse to wait. Because no child should fear the consequences of a sip of unclean water, no child should daily face the vulnerability of being attacked. Because every child deserves clean water.

 

Tomorrow

Millions all over the world lack the basic necessity of clean water. And its killing them. We have the opportunity to make a difference.

Tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the day.

Tomorrow I will be signing up for the 2016 Chicago Marathon.

Last time this year I was terrified. Terrified of the number 26.2, terrified of the very real possibility of injury, terrified of juggling the hours of training against a hectic schedule. THIS YEAR, I AM ECSTATIC. Yes, I am still terrified of getting hurt and nervous about balancing training with clinicals HOWEVER  I have realized over the course of this past year the impact a transparent liquid can have. Suddenly fearful thoughts of 26.2 miles, the possibility of injury and time management are overshadowed with the reality of the opportunity I have to make a difference. Because for every mile I run, every dollar I raise, a child in Ghana, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda or Zambia is one step closer to sipping this refreshing liquid. One step closer to living free from fear of getting sick, fear of losing a loved one due to sickness, fear of the dangers prowling in the darkness of that long, long trek for water. So Chicago Marathon, get ready! Cause I WILL be at that starting line, and I would LOVE for you to join me there! $3000 dollars, 60 people. LETS DO THIS!

http://www.teamworldvision.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=cms.page&id=1106