I’ve been living in Birmingham, Alabama since January 2013. I transferred mid-year during my sophomore year of college from Kennesaw State in Georgia(where I am from) to UAB where I ran XC and Track. That was my life. My whole world was my team and school and running.
Then, I graduated in Spring 2015 and was released into the real world where I stayed in Birmingham and started working full time in production while trying to juggle training full time as well.
When I realized I wanted more than working 40 hours a week in a cold dark building, I left after seven months when I got sponsored by Skechers Performance for running(who I am no longer under contract with).
I knew I wanted to run and keep getting faster and devote more time to my training. I really looked at work as a way of survival so that I could run and compete. I know I’m not super-elite yet. More like a sub-elite pro runner. But I have big dreams and live my life the way I want for a purpose.
I started working part time and training “full time”. I continued with the thought that I would sacrifice my broadcast career and dreams for a few years for my running for now while I could.
I started working at a golf course- Robert Trent Jones at Oxmoor Valley; little did I know what a great impact that place and the people there would have on me. Then I got certified through AFAA in personal training in the fall of 2016. This was a great way for me to use my own fitness and over eight years of being a competitive athlete to share with other people.
Personal Training became a way for me to be used to bless other people, not just with showing them physical training but showing them love and kindness. I really feel like personal training is a way I can use my spiritual gifts in one place mixing my physical strength, encouragement, kindness and communication all in one to shower people who need it most.
Now, I’m about three weeks away from moving to Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve honestly been praying about this move for a little over a year shortly after my first “elite” race at Gate River(which I ran injured and didn’t shine as much as I had hoped..) I felt called to Jax, similar to the way I felt called to Birmingham upon transferring in college.
I’ve been in Birmingham about 2 years post collegiate now. I’m not married, no kids, no contracted full-time job. I have friends in Jax, a new and friendly running community with others to train with, blessed with hopeful and exciting new job opportunities already in place for me, and an amazing living situation God provided for me just when He knew I needed it.
I love Birmingham and I know I’m not the same Lauren I was when I came here from Georgia four years ago. I know I won’t be the same as I head to Jacksonville soon. I’ve been through so much in this city and met some of the most incredible people in my life here. Birmingham has so much I will miss and so much I’ll be leaving.
Things I’ll Miss about Birmingham-
- All of my FRIENDS. Especially my running family here, collegiate and post collegiate. I honestly don’t talk to many of my teammates anymore from college. Regretfully, we’ve grown apart quickly and life happens so fast and everyone has their own little world to tend to..But I’ve developed several close knit friendships with many of the local running groups here in Bham that I will miss.
I also have many great friends from college that I still hang out with and am still close with who I’ve known since I transplanted here. I have other friends and acquaintances I’ve met along the way through my journey here that have been constant in my life. (Y’all know who you are..Kyle, Derk, Sara, Lynne, Jordyn,Porter,Eli..just to name a few).
- My RTJ FAMILY- Okay, so my golfers..my regulars. You guys literally made it possible for me to pay my rent, save up for this move and I’ve made some awesome connections and friends at the course. You all make me feel so pretty and loved and special, even just kindness and a smile on a rough day meant the world to me. My bosses and co-workers at RTJ, y’all showed me what hard work really is and how to adjust to circumstances that aren’t always in your favor. I respect you all so very much(in every area of work..cart boys, f&b, pro shop, cleaning,cooks). Working with all different personality types and backgrounds teaches you patience, humility, the importance of trust and kindness. And Erin, you’ve become like a sister to me; not just a superior. We are so similar yet different but I am so glad we’ve become good friends.<3
- My YMCA Greystone Family- Andrea Pindroh has to be the most compassionate, patient, understanding fitness director and person on the planet. I am so incredibly grateful to have come under her watch and leadership during my 6 months now as a trainer at the Y. All of the trainers at my branch are amazing people with such diverse and rich attributes. Don and all of the front desk staff, Leonard the director, all of the members, and of course my CLIENTS!!! You have all impacted me more than you know and I have learned a lot from each one of you. I’m so blessed to have started as a new personal trainer at such a caring and rewarding place as the YMCA. It’s not just a gym, it’s truly a family and a culture filled with intent on making people better beyond a healthy and fit lifestyle.
- My Starbucks– Greystone, no one will ever make an iced-white mocha with 6 scoops of matcha like you do for me on a rainy-busy Monday Morning in between clients or notice when I wear normal clothes. Y’all constantly save my life.
- First Watch– Literally has become a brunch/post workout addiction and I am so happy Jax has one of these. But you’ll be my favorite always.
- Avondale and SATURN– BY far, my favorite spot to hang out, be a hipster and sip local craft beer and make new friends.
- Railroads– OK, so Jax definitely has it’s own railway system too…but something about driving past Sloss, sitting on top of Carrigan’s at night or driving to the golf course and hearing the CSX roar by..is just mesmerizing to me. I absolutely adore it.
- All of my running trails- Oak mountain, Heardmont, Veterans Park, Jemison, Railroad and downtown by UAB. All of my memorized routes, I’ll have to make some new ones now.
- The People and the City- Most people in Birmingham are very friendly and I’ll miss the familiarity of the people here. Also, it’s easy to navigate anywhere within 30-40 minutes. Homewood, Vestavia, Mountainbrook, Avondale, Greystone, Cahaba..ect. All the little niches are easy to travel to throughout the city and have their own charm.
Church of the Highlands- I started attending Church of the Highlands when I was at UAB and became a member and completed the growth track this past winter. I love Highlands and Pastor Chris Hodges is so down to Earth and is a great speaker. Highlands reminds me of my home Church where my family goes in GA-12Stone Church. I discovered my spiritual gifts and grew in my faith at Highlands. My only regret was not fully devoting my time and focus to serving while I was here, and not getting involved as much as I wanted because I was so “busy”..that’s something I’ll be talking about in my next post-“A Promise to Jacksonville”. One of my top priorities will be to get connected at Celebration Church and start intentionally planting seeds and impacting wherever I’m placed.
Being fearful to go all in or to not get too attached to people or put yourself out there because you’re too “busy” is a lie. I admit I did that a lot the past year and a half in Birmingham because I was afraid to get too close to people because I didn’t want them to hurt me like I had been hurt before or what if they let me down or didn’t like me?
I realize that’s hard for me to actually admit. It took some reflection and handing that fear over to God, because I know now that he can’t use me and work through my gifts to reach other people if I’m not willing to trust Him with that. That’s probably my biggest lesson going foreward with this move. Which brings me to the next topic!
What I’ve Learned from Birmingham-
- Rely on yourself and God– Trust God and go where He leads you first. Trust me, just do it the first time and don’t look back. It will save you trouble, second-guessing and heart ache. Do things yourself and handle each day for what it is. Life can seem overwhelming if you look at the whole picture all at once. Take it hour by hour and conquer each day. Breathe.
- Friends come and go– You can still love and care for people that come and then go out of your life but you don’t have to let it break you if they disappear on you. Everyone has a purpose in your life and some weren’t meant to be there the whole way. It’s okay, accept it for what it is and move on. The important people will stick around and be there in the end.
- Be ambitious and don’t get wrapped up in what’s expected of you– If i’ve learned anything just from being a human for 25 years now it’s that EVERYONE has an opinion and will always have something to say about what you decide to do with your life. So..live in a way that pleases you and God. Anyone else’s opinion isn’t yours and it doesn’t matter what they think. I think that if you do something that goes against the norms or “cookie-cutter” societal preferences for today, that’s totally FINE. As long as your lifting others up and chasing your dreams and using your gifts, why does it matter how or what or when or where you do it?? Dream big and just DO IT already. It doesn’t matter what Bob on Facebook comments or what Linda gossips about. Don’t even be bothered as long as your focused and driven.
- Don’t be afraid and don’t wait- I waited almost 2 years after graduating college to pack up and move to a different state because of new opportunities, prayer, a new adventure and because I was too comfortable and “afraid” of the unknown. Life is too short to wait for something you want. If you’re able, go for it. Tomorrow isn’t promised and good things don’t come to those who wait..you have to make moves and get after it if you want it, Now.
- Don’t take people or anything for granted- Like I said, Life is a “mist”..don’t ghost your friends all the time(I know I’m horrible at returning a text). But seriously, you’ll miss your friends always bugging you to hang out or the casual acquaintances you make small talk with during the week or all of your normal people that are placed within your circles each week. They’re there for a reason, how are you leaving them..?
Things I’m Leaving in Birmingham-
- Toxic Relationships- I’m not in any right now, thank the Lord. But I have been, and those scars I’ll have. The people, the hurt..those are in the past and I’m leaving that part of me here to stay.
- My Friends and home- Well for my friends-Physically at least for now!! But my home will no longer be here, I’ll be making a new one. I am both nostalgic and frightened.
- All the amazing food and local breweries!! Melt, Mugshots, Avondale, Urban Cookhouse, just a few of my fav cheat spots. 😦
- Experiences- the good, the bad, the heartache, the scares, the victories, the defeats.
Overall, my four years in Birmingham, Alabama have been the most challenging, growing, and wonderful years of my life. I met some of my best friends here, had the most heart-ache, transitioned from a student to a full-blown struggling millenial “adult” here, fell in love with Running more here and became more independent and secure in my identity in Christ here, even alone at times.
Goodbye for now Birmingham.