This morning my Girls on Track team practiced gratitude: every time they ran a lap, they had to name something for which they were grateful.
H., in her stylish Halloween mini hat was grateful for the vastness of space, all the planets, and Doctor Who. Y., all bundled up in her blue parka and track pants, walked slowly, contemplating the characters of Percy Jackson and their order of importance. L. and S. were grateful for their parents, their parents' bosses "who pay them," their siblings, their cousins "because they made the second cousins." J. gave profound answers: "I'm grateful for having the opportunity to get such a great education." "I'm grateful for living free in the U. S. of A."
I. arrived late and I knew she was having a bad day from the start. She sat on the floor of Mrs. W.'s classroom, head leaned against a desk, avoiding the conversation. She was the first out the door, the first to finish stretching, the first to take off flying. There aren't many times I wish I could run, to keep up with these wildly precocious sixth-graders, but today I wished I could have run alongside I., as if I could even keep up with her. Instead, I chose to engage her in conversation about her gratitude. "My laptop." "Good one, I'm grateful for my laptop too!" "My roller skates." "Like, in-line skates, or old-fashioned roller skates?" "The old ones, with the rollers at the four corners." On her last lap, rounding the corner on a full two miles, she looked up at me and said, "I'm grateful for the athlete that I am." I could feel her digging deep into her own strength and for a moment I wanted nothing more than to pull her into a big, quiet hug, but instead I tousled her short hair and said, "Good job."
As it turns out, I needed this morning, with these kiddos. I needed a reminder that we can all dig deep into our own strength, that we can choose to feel, choose to change, choose to make our lives happen, regardless of who else is affecting us, what else is going on in our lives. I needed a swift, light kick in the butt that I haven't been taking responsibility for that, in my own life. It was a good morning.