I’ve been asked by several people, “why do you do it?” Why do I take on challenges instead of living my life with a perpetual routine? Right now, I’m training for a marathon, teaching, and editing my novel.

I guess it has something to do with the life change of being months away from an empty nest. I’m searching. I’m trying to find the right balance that allows me to do what I love without becoming stagnant or overwhelmed. Life lessons weave through running, teaching, and writing. For example, when I’m faced with a fourteen-mile run I have to break the miles down in my mind to make the goal seem attainable. Instead of telling myself I’m running fourteen miles, I’ll think of it as running two miles seven times. After I complete two miles, then I complete two more. Before I know it I’m done. I’m amazed. There was a time I believed I could never run more than five miles. Now, anything under ten doesn’t faze me.

I took this lesson into the classroom. A student sat overwrought with the amount of work he had to do. He was supposed to read seven questions and then go back in the story, find the answers, and then write them down. He sighed. He gave up. He told me he hated reading. His mind saw a mountain of work and he wasn’t going to tackle it. I sat down next to him and told him my trick for running. I told him we were going to answer just two questions. He did. Then he answered two more. Next thing I knew he was helping a classmate by explaining the story and helping her to answer the first question. He faced his mountain.

As for my novel, what I’ve learned is that even though being in the classroom exhausts me it also sparks creativity. There are times when I need to complete a scene. I know something is wrong yet I’m not sure exactly what. When I’m able to walk away, let the scene go, and fill my mind with running goals or teaching, suddenly the answer I’ve been waiting for appears. Often in the waking hours of the morning when I jump out of bed and write it down before losing it.

So why do I do it? I do it because I’ve learned that life is precious. It craves experiences that fill my heart with joy. This helps me grow. With each experience comes a new understanding. I push myself so I can be free from damaging beliefs that can hold me back. I would say there are more lessons in the journey towards the goal than in reaching the goal itself.  Why do I do it? It’s the teacher in me teaching myself.

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