13475191_1039241649490403_2489205656826162425_oI walked alongside a marathon with my six week old baby on my chest. I admired the runners, and thought about all the hard training–the effort, the emotional fortitude, the physical exertion. I enjoyed watching those who lined the road, cheering and celebrating.

I am not a runner, and don’t aspire to be one, but as I watched people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and speeds, I was inspired by their choice to challenge themselves, to do something hard.

I didn’t stay to cheer, but I loved how those on the sidelines were there to celebrate the accomplishment of others. They weren’t threatened by the accomplishments of those running. They didn’t feel inferior for not running themselves.

I thought about the importance of doing something hard. Of choosing to do something hard.

Our lives have lots of hard things in them. Sometimes we even feel guilty for struggling with our “first world problems”, but a sobbing baby at midnight and a big kid who has just wet his bed, with a bunch of immovable obligations looming in the morning to come, those are still real problems, and still hard things. Parenting is hard. Balancing parenting with the cultural expectations and obligations that keep life moving and on track is super hard. Choosing to do something hard for the sake of challenging yourself is different.

imageAs I watched the runners, I did not resolve to do a marathon. I did, however, resolve to pick a goal, something hard that I would feel proud to accomplish.  I will pick a hike, set a date, and tell my support crew that they need to cheer me on and encourage me, just as they would if I were working towards a marathon.  I want to have my partner encourage me to train, to take time to take care of myself and meet my goals, to take initiative with the kids so that I can do what I set out to do. I want him to convince me that I can do it, even when I feel like I can’t. I want to take a glorious photo after achieving my goal, or a tearful, determined photo if I am not able to do so.  I want to do something hard for the sake of doing something hard because I deserve to feel proud of myself, to challenge myself, to become stronger, healthier, happier, and more balanced in my life.

I also want to root for those in my community who are choosing to do something hard. I don’t need to feel threatened by those who can do more, hike faster, go farther, climb higher. I can cheer them on from the side lines or along side them, helping them accomplish their hard things, and feel stronger, healthier, happier, and more balanced.

Now I just need to decide which of the many amazing places I want to set as my goal, pick a date, and make a plan.

Top Photo Credit: Megan Bilby

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