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Barriers: What My Son Reminded Me About Life

My son is a college frosh, who after successful cross country and indoor track seasons, surprised me at a recent meet by showing up at the line of the 3,000 meter steeplechase.  It’s tough enough to consistently race running events at that distance — without barriers.

Don’t mistake this message as a bragging opportunity. We lost his father unexpectedly to a heart attack just four years ago during his frosh year of high school.  We have met a number of barriers since that day.  My message is about how we continue to support and teach one another beyond the loss.

I have always credited my many years of long distance running as the training for my ability to breathe deeply (long before I tried yoga) to steadily plow through work that had to be done, both at home and professionally.  What I had forgotten is how each of the other events I tried taught me something.

I didn’t run at states with my high school team that year my dad lost his job, so I quit because I thought I could only focus on helping my mom pack up for the family move to another state during the semester break. What I learned in the first track season after that move is why I embraced the Triple Jump in my new home state. It taught me that sometimes you have to hop and skip before you can soar.

So this past week in my professional life I attempted crossing a mental barrier, with both metaphorical hurdles and water pit I had placed in my path.  I may have surprised a couple teammates and certainly need to practice, but I know I have what I need in me to cope with the barriers as well as stutter steps yet ahead.

What I also try to remember is that every week as we educators interact with our students and peers, we need to find opportunities to cheer them on because we don’t always know all the barriers that are on their path.  Instead of labeling them, we need to meet them where they are. Too often we may only view them one dimensionally instead of on a path of growth.

Just another reason why I’ve always touted that track & field offers something for everyone — even the spectator.

steeple at MuhlBarriers: my son taught me