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We took their leashes off and watched as they bolted across the sand splashing in the waves, sunlight on their backs, running as fast as their legs would take them. Their excitement over their newfound freedom filled me with happiness. The pups I once held in my palms were now ninety-pound dogs ready to explore the world. They kept going and going until all we could see were two wagging tails in the distance. Worry seeped in. Maybe we gave them too much freedom? What if they got lost or hurt?

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When I said the class could work in groups a smile stretched across his face. He looked as if I had just told him we were taking a trip to Universal.  He grabbed his backpack and darted over to two other boys.

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Let’s face it. There are a lot of things in this world that need to be fixed! Only sometimes the problems seem so big I have no idea how I can make a difference. I donate, I volunteer, but lately I’ve come to understand that the biggest impact I can make is being a conscientious consumer. I really should know where my food, clothing, and everyday purchases come from because I could be contributing to the very same problems I want to help solve.

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I was seventeen surrounded by strangers on a busy London street. A sidewalk painting of Bob Marley had caught my attention and when I looked up my group was gone. At that moment, instead of panic, I felt a rush of excitement. Suddenly, I was on an adventure. I had to find my way back to our hotel, but first I had to remember the name of our hotel!

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Why March?

A wise kindergarten teacher taught this lesson every January. She would gather her students to play a game. Then she would have them look at their shoes. She’d tell them if they had any blue or red on their shoes they weren’t allowed to play the game. They had to sit and watch. Of course, the students that had blue and red on their shoes got very upset. The teacher would introduce a picture book about Rosa Parks or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and read the story to the children. They’d discuss how it felt to be excluded, not accepted, not equal. Then everyone was welcome to join in on the game.

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There are two things I must do. One is write, and the other is run. The problem is there are days when I don’t feel like doing either.  On days when I accomplish both, I feel complete. I feel like me. Yet, for as many miles as I’ve run each time I begin, I must fight the demons that tell me to stop. Every step I take fuels me to keep going until I reach a stride where my mind focuses, and running is enjoyable. The first two miles are always the toughest. It’s the same for writing. Getting started can be a battle. I’m working on my third novel, and it’s not any easier than the first. Actually, it’s harder because I’m learning more. When I sit down to work on my manuscript or to write a post I go through an entire Facebook, email, Pinterest ritual before I begin. The longer I wait, the more I torture myself until finally, I focus. And it is torture because I let the fear swirl around in my mind growing more intense with every minute.

The lesson I’ve learned from writing and running is the importance of doing something–anything when faced with fear. Taking that first step toward doing the very thing that frightens you is empowering. It teaches you to get up, get courageous and go! It’s not easy. The things we feel the most fearful of are the things that are the most important to us. We can choose to let fear immobilize us or we can walk confidently in the direction of our fear and do something.