Saturday Spotlight- Rebecca Cypher

Name: Rebecca Cypher
Nickname: Becs or Becca
Hometown: Port Jefferson Station
Current town: Bellport
Occupation: Private piano and vocal teacher; owner and operator of Musical Journeys

I am very honored that Lou asked me to be WOTW and hope that my story and what running means to me will resonate with and encourage someone! It’s not always easy to share the things that made you who you are but, to quote Brene Brown’s definition of courage, “Courage is telling the story of who you are, with your whole heart.”

The day I became a hillbilly, I had no idea what I was in for. I had been running for several years, done a few half marathons and 2 marathons but was losing my running friend to her Crossfit obsession and getting bored with my neighborhood routes. I had always seen the Selden Hills Warriors at local races; they looked liked they were having a blast. I had no idea who they were or how to get in or where the hills were even located. I found a Facebook page and messaged the admin asking how to join. Lou messaged me back stating you just have to run the course. Ok, cool. I was in. Then he sent me some cryptic messages about how my life will never be the same and although he sent me a course map, strict instructions not to drive the course beforehand.

Despite all this, I bounded out of bed at 4 am for probably the first time ever in my life, on Wednesday 7/12/17 to make the 5 am vampire run. I’m really not sure why I was so excited but I was. I pulled into the Aldi’s parking lot and had this realization of how crazy this was. I was about to run in the predawn darkness with total strangers. As I parked my car, I see all these neon-clad super fit people by the lightpole. Like the people who actually line up at the start of races. I had this moment where I planned to just drive away, like I accidentally drove into the wrong Aldi’s parking lot at 4:55 am in the morning wearing running clothes. “Get over yourself, Cypher” I mentally rebuked myself and got out of the car with a forced smile. That day I met the sweetest, most encouraging people including Azad Gucwa and Karen Shaughnessy Audia who helped me get through that day and made me want to try again the next week. I immediately fell in love with this running community and the amazing people. Shoutout to my Monday Turtle crew, Nicole Fariello and Tom Tuna who have become amazing friends and Mike ( Kathy Jezewski) who is the best “coach” 😊

Several years ago, Rebecca would have not had the courage to try anything new or put herself out there. So I’ll share a little of how I got started runnng!

I was born January 7th, 1991 to Mark and Heather Cypher. I’m the 2nd of 8 children. Yes, 8. One marriage, no twins or adoptions! I have an older sister Sarah (29) and six younger brothers, Mark (26), Matthew (24), Michael (20), Joseph (19), Jonathan(18) and David (17). I loved being apart of a large family and appreciate everything my parents did to keep us fed, clothed and happy. I grew up in a very conservative Christian home. We were homeschooled for 6 years and then attended a private Christian academy until graduation. Organized sports were not a big part of childhood. I played soccer at 4-6 years old I believe, and my parents have stories of me with a flying brown ponytail and beet red face taking ownership of the soccer field. Growing up we were always outside. My mom loved taking us to local parks to walk and we always had a football with us wherever we went. We could play an entire game with just our family. The older I got, I became more of an avid reader and less of that fierce little soccer player. Fast forward to my teenage years, my dad quit his job at Verizon and decided to start a cleaning franchise, ServiceMaster. He had big dreams for our family and wanted us to have a family business. For 4 years, we tried to make this business work and spent our afternoons and weekends working for him. This was an invaluable part of my growing up, because it taught me a serious work ethic and time management. My life seemed different from my friends but even as teenagers my siblings and I realized that we were doing something bigger than ourselves, we were helping our family and we truly tried to make the most of it. We turned our long nights of cleaning into something enjoyable by singing as we worked or turned taking out the garbage into a race. We learned how to work together, to be a team. If one person needed to study or was not feeling well, the others chipped in. I have some of my greatest memories from those years. I graduated from high school the same year my sister got married and my mother went back to work. It was a difficult year because the business wasn’t profitable and my dad sold what was left of it. Then began a serious financial struggle for my family. I stayed home because I had no plans for college and my family needed me. My younger siblings needed care and my mother needed to work. I worked part time for a piano tuner at the time as well. My family was my life and I loved them fiercely.

Shortly thereafter, I was faced with the single greatest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life. My family was still deeply struggling and as our house was going into foreclosure, my parents decided to move to VA. I won’t go into all the details but as I said before, I was raised in a Baptist church and my faith has shaped my life. I am deeply commited to what I believe. My parents decided to renounce their faith. This was devasting to me because it is who I am. Their lives were going in a direction that I did not want to join. I was 18 and scared and heartbroken but I knew that there was no way I could move with them and join the lifestyle that they were living. This ensued an 8 year seperation from my biolgical family with the exception of my sister Sarah who was married and stayed here on Long Island. Again out of respect for my family I won’t go into details but needless to say it was devasting. No one ever pictures being seperated from the people they were born to love. I never stopped loving or caring about them and the misunderstanding and judgement and critcism I received from others for wanting to live my life differently from my family was a crushing blow I almost didn’t recover from.

My sister’s inlaws were very dear friends who offered me a home. I lived with them but truly I was an emotionally damaged person who had no idea what I wanted to do or be in life. My family was my identity and my world. Now what? There were days that I didn’t want to live. The pain of what I lost was unbearable. Thankfully I landed in a safe place with good people because I was not prepared to be an adult at that stage and I appreciate the opportunity to grow and heal in a safe environment with people who loved me and wanted the best for me.
I started teaching music at a local music store and also working for a friend who was a chiropractor. I soon became office manager and enjoyed being finanically independent and used this time in my life to work hard and further my music education by also taking private piano and vocal lessons. But I was not a healthy person, emotionally or physically. I was always a chubby kid but in my early twenties I was certainly at an unhealthy weight and had no good eating habits and a non-existent exercise routine. I tried to re-create my life but I wasn’t facing my pain. I ignored it and developed an “I’ll be fine” mentality to whatever came my way. I am a deeply passionate loyal person, but for that time in my life. I was incredibly apatheic. On the outside, I seemed fine but I was numb to joy, pain, love and happiness.

Enter running. My friend challenged me to a 5k. I said yes initally because I was tired of being overweight and wanted to try something new. The first few mile attempts were awful. I basically had an asthma attack the first mile I ran.

But there was something about running as painful as it was that drew me back. It was more than burning calories and losing more weight than I ever had in my adult life. It was more than the sense of being alive and free. It was more than the challenge of doing something new. Running taught me to face pain. To actually acknowledge those deep hurts and bruises in my soul that I tried to ignore. Somehow, when your body feels as broken and beat up as your heart, there is a healing that takes place. I realized that the pain I faced, physically after a run or the heartache I couldn’t get rid of, was not something that defined who I was. Yes, it hurt. But tomorrow, I would get up and face a new chance to run, to beat my time, to run just a little further. My body would become stronger and eventually I could run 26.2 miles and live to tell the tale.

And as far as my heart, it became wiser and stronger too. I learned to talk to good people about my problems, to receive wisdom and direction. I learned to let go of things that I didn’t have control over. To choose gratitude and forgiveness over bitterness and anger. That I didn’t have to believe what others said about me. I began to dream again. I saw the possibilty of who I could become and to go just a little bit further, every single day.

So that is the very short verison of my 27 years of life. I currently live in Bellport and share an apartment with my sister and her two kids, Johnny (8) and Carter (4). They are the sunshine of my life. I’ve been teaching piano and voice for 8 years privately and in January of 2017 launched my own business, Musical Journeys. I love every minute of what I do. Teaching children music is pleasure and a privilege and I‘m thankful every day I get to do this for a living. My business is expanding in several new directions and it’s been an exciting adventure.

Basically, to sum me up as a person, I believe that every person on this earth has value and worth and a plan for their life. I’ve had people value and believe in me when I didn’t think I was worth anything and now it’s my personal mission to do the same for others. I believe there is always hope. I believe that the choices we make individually determine who we will become more that the circumstances we were born into, or the family we have been given. And always, that the best is yet to come.