The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to show up and start.
I feel very strongly about the idea and act of, “Showing Up.” It is a basis for how I live my life and part of the foundation I continually impress upon my children. Life can be difficult. We experience many challenges, fears, and doubts. We are confronted with defeat, pain, shortcomings, failure, loss, illness, death, and whatever else one may consider a battle to overcome. We witness others, firsthand, as they choose to fight and push through or we witness the allowance of fear and weakness to dominate as they succumb and surrender. I am not using the term surrender here to say that we should never surrender or that it is a sign of weakness. I am expressing that when challenges present themselves, we have choices. We can do the hard work and the hard things; even when we don’t know exactly what to do or how to do it. We can choose to see, even what appears to be an obstacle or darkness, as an opportunity. We don’t have to embrace it as truth or in a negative, dreary light and we don’t have to let the hard things take us down. Sometimes, the most important and the most courageous step we can take in a moment; is to SHOW UP.
My oldest son is a cross-country runner. He just entered ninth grade. Running several miles or more a day, usually uphill, is not a simple feat. The training I am witnessing with my son’s team, is on another level. I have such respect and admiration for him and for these kids. My son is intensely driven and focused and he gives 100% of himself to everything he does. I clearly recognize the balance running provides for him. It is so healthy and rewarding, for so many reasons. He shows up in ways, every day, that would inspire and uplift anyone. He leads as a strong example and at the precious, young age of fourteen, he is already so clear about his intentions and about who he is. Of course, he will continue to develop, grow, change, and evolve but who he is already, who he shows up as today and every day, is truly extraordinary and inspiring.
My other son is so inspired by him. He is a lacrosse player but has been going on long runs, almost every evening, in the name of “showing up and keeping up” with his big brother. After a long day, to set out for a several-mile run, at 12 years old, of his own volition, is admirable. I see him sprinting, as he approaches our home, just as Pierce sprints to the finish line at a race, and I stand there in amazement each time. He is also such a driven, determined, hard-working, inspiring leader, fighter, and young man. He and his brother just blow me away with their focus, discipline, passion, and mindful efforts. These boys show up.
Just stick with it. What seems hard now will one day be your warm-up.
I have such gratitude and respect for the amazing coaches who show up for our kids. There are so many lessons and gifts revealed in this sport and within the framework of the team they are all building and thriving within together. There is support, love, and encouragement. These kids stand on the sidelines before and after their own races, enthusiastically cheering each other on, because that is what a team does. The coaches gear them up before the race and then they run from the starting line to the finish line and every viewing point in between so that they can cheer on each runner through their race. That is support. This alone speaks so much about the connection these coaches have with our kids. They show up to teach, inspire, motivate, protect, lead and guide. The athletes show up for themselves, their own personal records, races, and reasons. They show up for their coaches and for each other at each practice and each race. My son considers it a badge of honor when the coach tells him he can run back in 104 degrees, after what he thought was the end, because he’s “earned” it. When my son hears that the race will be on a flat course and fewer miles, he says, “That’s okay, I’ll give my all and do my best but I much prefer the longer runs and the bigger hills.” The daily ice bath is also welcomed and enjoyed.
It is all in how you look at things.
These kids show up for each other as they do the hard work, as they inspire one another to fight, to continue, to hang in, even when they don’t believe they can. I witness the natural runners and the kids who struggle. The ones who maybe aren’t as fast, or naturally as strong. Regardless of their experience, strength, or ability, I witness all of them showing up. They put in the work. I get to see them running at a race or if I’m lucky enough, I’ll catch a glimpse of their training during practice as I drive by after school. I will get to be a witness on this journey through high school as I see them improve and overcome what maybe someone told them they couldn’t or perhaps conquer what they didn’t believe they could. They just do it. Every day. Tears come to my eyes as I witness perseverance in another.
A lot of people run a race to see who’s the fastest. I run to see who has the most guts. ~ Steve Prefontaine
When you ask for more in this life; the longer runs, the bigger hills, more homework in order to really grasp the concepts, more knowledge, understanding, clarity, and more practice just so that you can improve a little more every day, you are a fighter. You show up. You face whatever is in front of you, and you thrive. You overcome. These are such amazing qualities and I am so proud of both of my boys for being the fighters that they are and for always showing up.
I know and have lost dear and deeply loved adults and teens who were or are still, struggling with mental health issues. Ones who have committed suicide and succeeded, and ones who attempted and didn’t. One of the ways, in which my boys and I show up for these people we care so much about, is by being resolute, tenacious, strong, and loving. I find that we also must be firm in our love and in our stance. We can wake up, feel gratitude and show up or, we can choose otherwise. It is up to us. Most visits with those we know who need to be uplifted, begin with my boys and I showing up and kindly demanding a, “We’re not taking no for an answer,” RUN. This is where it begins. Get outside, breathe in the fresh air, sing as loud as you can, and don’t worry if anyone is listening, fly like the birds, take one little step at a time, and just…
One run a day can change your day; many runs can change your life.
Lastly, I want to applaud the parents who show up for their children. It is a choice and an honor to provide unwavering LOVE, strength, peace, support, guidance, transportation, meals, commitment, presence, and time to our children. It is the greatest gift and privilege to be a parent.
The root and heart of this intention to run long distances, and every intention we set forth in our minds for ourselves and others in this life, first begins with Showing Up.
To my precious sons and to all of you dear young men, women, and coaches, who are showing up and running with all of your heart, dedication, and strength; you are truly an inspiration to me. I am grateful to be a witness to your determination, your steadfast spirits, and the mighty courage and fight I see within each of you.
Thank you for showing up for your life, for each other, and for us, the obliged observers.
I am so deeply proud.
Maybe life isn’t about avoiding the bruises. Maybe it’s about collecting the scars to prove we showed up for it.