Our Not-So-Imaginary Friends

Hi BAMs, Ruth here. I thought I’d tell you about our BAMily reunion and share how much fun it was! Grab a cup of tea and a cookie and have a seat. I’ll wait.

OK. Ready? Here goes:

Last week at this time it was raining. Hard. Sheets of rain were coming down (or across, really), and as I stood in the hotel doorway the doorman looked at me and said “you know, we have a great fitness room on the 2nd floor. You don’t have to run in this.” He went on to tell me that this wasn’t “Seattle rain.” Apparently it’s much more friendly on most days–a little downpour here or there, mostly just a fine mist–you understand. Being the friendly sort I am, I didn’t tell him that all rain is hateful when you have to be outside. Instead I smiled and told him I was about to do the 5K St. Patrick’s Day dash, with thousands of other people, and that I was walking to the start line to meet some BAMs. Er, friends. He looked at me like I was bananas. “You know the race comes right by here, right? So you’re going to walk all the way down to the start, then back up here and back down there and then back up here again?”

Later when I got back to the hotel, looking like a drowned rat, he asked me how it went. “AMAZING,” I said. Because it was true.

I really should start at my beginning, which was the Friday before race day. I flew into Seattle and rented a car to drivScreen Shot 2015-03-22 at 10.17.01 AMe up to First Lady Sarah’s place. I checked into the cutest hotel, and then ran down the stairs when Sarah texted me she had arrived. I may have squealed as I hugged her, and she said, “you’re a real 3-D person!” We had dinner and talked nonstop for a couple of hours–no awkward silences or weird thoughts of “wow, she’s not as funny in person.” (Yeah, that happened to me on a blind date. Long story.)

Linda and Sarah and I have texted each other pretty much every day for the last six months. We have struggled to tell our friends and family about our new Twitter friends (or whether to tell them at all), and dealt with questions like, “how do you know they’re even REAL?” Whenever you try to explain, “So, we met on Twitter,” you are generally met with snickers or quizzical looks. So we started referring to each other as our Imaginary Friends.

Of course, over time, we exchanged pictures which proved, at least to each other, that we were living, breathing, BAMming human beings, and we got to know each other over the months. What did Sarah’s kindergartener say at school today? Did it involve pineapple? Whose birthday is it in the Sherrill household? Can you name all the kids? In age order? Which one of Ruth’s sisters or nephews or nieces is visiting today?

The experience of meeting Sarah in person was dulled only by the fact that Linda wasn’t there. Thankfully, Sarah created “Pocket Linda,” who we carried with us throughout the weekend. It was a (very) poor substitute, but better than nothing at all. Also, she was laminated, which rendered her far more weather-proof than the rest of the BAM squad.

Saturday I got to meet Sarah’s family and super-nice husband Matt (who, by the way, is such a great supporter of BAM). We had a fun morning and I entertained the kids (a bit) while Sarah and Matt packed for the overnight trip to the city.

When Sarah and I arrived at her hotel in Seattle, we were crossing the street and a car swooped up to us, honking and scaring us half-to-deScreen Shot 2015-03-22 at 10.18.09 AMath. No fears ladies, it was Kristin and Nancy, fellow BAMs who recognized us and were as excited as we were to make the connection! We headed off for an early dinner and a big chat, and made our plans to meet again the next morning for the race.

Again, the connection was instant. Even without daily texts, we were able to build on what we already knew about these two members of our BAMily, and soon it was like reuniting with old friends. (Not “old” old, just “long time” old.) I can’t find words to explain how wonderful this is – Kristin said it best, I think, when she remarked, “you know, we are all so different, and yet we have this common theme.” I think she was referring to our desire to be fit and strong, and most importantly to be kind and supportive of one another. It’s a value that, unlike basic personality traits or lifestyles, can easily unite people. It enables us to celebrate our differences and be happy for and interested in each other.

Finally it was Sunday, and after braving the rain with a stupid little umbrella (for which I was gently teased – apparently Seattleites just don’t “do” umbrellas) I met up with my BAMily down at the Seattle Center. We had a terrific time, with Matt, Sarah and Nancy running and Kristin and I gabbing and walking behind. The biggest thrill of the race was watching Nancy run the entire 5K–a feat she admitted she knew she could do but wasn’t ready to say out loud. Nancy has committed to 2015 being her year to rediscover her fitness and strength and it was such an honor to join this generous, fun woman as she knocked down another target on this journey.

After the race, we warmed up with some Starbucks, wrung out our clothes as best we could, and then headed to Portage Bay Cafe (whose slogan is, “Eat like you give a damn!”) for a MOST amazing brunch! (Thank you to Matt for the pitcher of mimosas and for picking up the tab!) The post-race festivities wound down with a quick shopping spree at REI, for no other reason than it was close, had cozy clothes, and a roaring fire in the middle of the store.

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Sarah came by my hotel after showering and putting on warm cozy things, and we had a nice FaceTime First Ladies Summit chat with Linda, prepping for the next few BAMchallenges, blog posts, and activities, and reflecting on this little thing that we created together.

That night, after a sad goodbye to Sarah and her family, I met up with Nancy and Kristin in the marketplace and we introduced Nancy to the joys of great Pho (Vietnamese soup, for those who are wondering). We wandered (through the rain) to the original Starbucks, to the “gum wall,” and had a great time playing tourist (thanks K6 for chauffeuring us around!). I had the biggest smile on my face as I walked back (through the rain) to my hotel and packed for my early flight.

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So BAMily reunions work, people. We encourage you all to try it an any opportunity. If there’s an event in your city and you can get a couple (or one) BAM to go with you, DO IT. If you need support or help to achieve a goal, ASK BAM. If you want to share something you’re proud of, TELL US. It’s not bragging, it’s celebrating with BAMily.

It has been so humbling to be a part of a community where women who have never met before come together to support and encourage one another through their fitness goals and life’s many ups and downs. It can be hard to explain until you experience it. When trying to understand why I flew across to Seattle for the weekend, my nephew summed it up pretty well, “So–let me get this straight: Book…TV show…Hot Actor…T-shirt company…BAM? It’s weird. But it’s cool.” It such an unlikely beginning, but I have to agree: it IS cool. And we will continue moving forward together, encouraging and supporting one another no matter what we are watching on TV, whether our workout clothes match, nor how many time zones separate us. We are BAMstrength and we are here for you.

Here’s to a successful first six months of BAM, and to many more to come. Thank you all for being our Not-So-Imaginary friends!

Love, The First Ladies

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Linda, Ruth & Sarah

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