Sunday, June 11, 2017

Keep Moving Forward

A month ago at our school district's meeting of the Board of Trustees, our teacher's union president presented on various clubs our teachers sponsor at our elementary, middle, and high school campuses.  She showed photos of the students and teachers in action, building robots, playing board games and bonding at lunch, providing community service, and jogging.  The elementary school running club was the one that stuck with me, though; they meet in the mornings before school with the simple goal to "keep moving forward for 30 minutes."

I love this idea of focusing energy positively for a discrete period of time.  It seems so doable.

But truth is, in my non-working hours the past month or more, I've had trouble moving forward.  Household chores, social events, exercise--even my own soccer games--have felt undesirable and inordinately challenging.  Depression does that.  Anxiety ups the ante.

I haven't gone running in a couple weeks.  Running is a solo venture, and it requires my own motivation.  I easily recall a few years ago, when I attempted to jog in the nadir of my post-partum depression and I ran/walked and cried, fantasizing about lying down on the side of the road and just staying there.

Busy weekends and weekdays have provided ample excuses for not even trying to venture forth.  Nervous and anxious energy, coupled with an increased resting heart rate and blood pressure, made it seem safer to Just Not.

But this morning we would arrive early for Big Sis's soccer game.  And I felt like running.  So I wore sweats and running shoes and low expectations.  I gave myself plenty of outs.

Big Sis's soccer tournament was at a park on a big block.  I could just run around that block. One mile, max.  So I started out slowly.  I hit half a mile, satisfied that to get back to our parking spot would be about one mile, a distance that I could nod at.  I kept going.  And all the way around the block turned out to be 1.5 miles.  Do it one more time, I urged myself when I was back at the start.  And I felt like it.

Not all runs are equal:  I've run marathons and logged qualifying times.  I've run cross country races and half marathons.  I've run fast and free and jubilantly.  Today I ran a slow 5K by myself on suburban streets, cautiously, but with increasing speed and confidence.  I didn't break any of my own records and I impressed no one but myself.  But my little run today made all of today so much better.  I felt strong and accomplished, and then unusually normal later today, without even noticing.

Tonight at dinner, instead of sharing The Best Part of Our Day, we told each other what made us each most proud today.  Big Sis, who scored a goal in one of today's tournament games which ended with her team as champions, shared that welcoming a new teammate and befriending her made her most proud of herself.  I talked about my little run.

Pride is relative, we are reminded.  The moments of which we are most proud don't have to be fastest times, goals, or championships or awards.  They're best when they're acknowledgements of when we are reaching outside or beyond or despite ourselves or the doubt of others.

I won't fit in a run tomorrow morning.  It's Monday and I have carpool and a parent meeting in the office first thing and then Senior Awards and a long to-do list in between.  I hope to draft off yesterday and feel good about myself but I know it's not that simple.  Nevertheless, I have proof it's possible and within reach of running shoes.  But I'm not going to pressure myself.

In the meantime, I will keep on moving forward for the next five minutes.  Or four or three or two or one.  At least.

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