I rounded the corner into the driveway at the end of my usual 4.5 mile run. The three cars were parked in their prescribed positions. The two cats perched in their ordinary look out spots awaiting my return and their evening meal. But one thing was very different. The gate of the Toyota was open and its contents announced the achievement of an important milestone.
Inside the trunk of the car were well organized and neatly stacked plastic containers filled with the essentials an eighteen year old needed to start a new phase of their life. Clothes, books, personal care items, small fridge and athletic equipment, you know the basics. It was the pair of boldly displayed bright blue Nikes that triggered the flashback and a moment to remember.
It was 1997 and a hot July 4th morning. Her big brown eyes were adorned with long lashes and always smiling. Two pig tails swept her blonde streaked hair to the top of her head and bopped with each step she took. Sporting shorts to just below her knees and a white imprinted t-shirt almost as long, she ran her first official road race. The race distance was about 100 yards, perfect length for a four year old. She gave it her all and walked away a winner.
It was also the day of my first official road race. Mine was longer though, two miles. I was able to complete the entire distance, mostly walking. Needless to say, I didn’t place in my age group, but I too walked away a winner because in the weeks that preceded this milestone, I had taken action to begin to improve my health and focus on becoming a positive role model for my daughter. It would be the first of many road races for both of us during the next 14 years.
Although I suspected my role modeling of healthy actions and choices would impact both of my girls, it wasn’t until several years later when they began to make their own sports and activity choices, the significance of the role modeling became evident. Healthy snacks preferred to junk food, after school clubs, involvement in sports and community activities chosen over hours of endless TV.
When I jogged around the corner on Tuesday and saw the car in the driveway packed with all her gear ready for the 750 mile road trip that would begin her college adventure, her imminent departure became a reality. But even as the lump in my throat grew and I swallowed hard to fight back the tears, I knew she was well prepared for the journey and ready to face new challenges.
About the Author: Jill Hart, Project Management Professional (PMP) and owner of Brain Logic, LLC helps companies integrate the voice of the customer into their design products, technology and processes. When she’s not focused on her business or family, she enjoys running, biking, blogging, teaching and cooking.