Go read this first: http://gotrkc.org/ . Then come back. I’ll wait.
…Are you back? Did you check out Girls on the Run? Did it inspire you to the very core of your being?
If for some reason you couldn’t get the page to load, or don’t have time to read a whole other website, or have the site blocked by an overexcited workplace, I’ll give you the short form: There is a program nationwide called “Girls on the Run”, with a chapter near me. Its goal is to provide a place where “through interactive activities such as running, playing games, and discussing important issues, participants learn how to celebrate being girls”. Participants are 8-12-year-olds (though there is a separate organization for girls in middle school), and they meet twice a week with volunteer coaches to train for a 5k run/walk while talking about the various issues/concerns that impact their lives and receiving support from a grownup who’s in absolutely no position to judge, grade, or ground them.
For those of you who don’t know this about me, my background is in childcare. I taught the kindergarten/after-school program at a daycare center for several years, and won awards at it (I left that position to go into center management, which was one of the dumbest moves of my life). I love kids, love working with kids, love being the person who teaches kids life skills and nifty party tricks and silly jokes and inspiring stories and how to do basic math. I’m not a schoolteacher because I have a little too much anti-authority in me to really be a good sport about jumping through bureaucratic hoops; but I’m considering becoming a school librarian, because then I get to be around kids and books, which is pretty much a Christmas-every-day sort of scenario for me.
So when Funky Peacenik–my good friend, motivator, karma-encourager, political educator, social-issue pointer-outer, and person-who-planted-this-whole-cockamamie-jogging-idea-in-my-head-in-the-first-place–told me about Girls on the Run, I got a little excited. “Here’s my chance,” I thought; “here’s where I can make a difference. Who better than me to show kids by example that you can do anything you set your mind to, and that it’s ok not to be exactly like what the tv shows? I’m a great big ol’ out-of-shape woman who’d be showing up to coach their running club, fer cryin’ out loud, which is just about the last thing you expect to see. I could teach them about acceptance and about trying new things and about going for your goals even if they’re far away; and they could support and encourage me, ’cause kids kinda do that innately”.
So it was decided: I’m going to volunteer to be a running coach.
There’s just one small hitch in the getalong. Well, two, actually, but one is far easier to fix than the other:
1. I volunteer at the library on Mondays from 2:30-4:30, shelving holds. Most of the local chapters meet on Mondays. But I can always rearrange my library schedule. This is the easy-fix one.
2. I’ve been smoking since I was 19, and part of GOTR’s core values is a commitment to be drug- and tobacco-free.
I’ve got plenty of reasons to quit–I’ve read the pamphlets, seen the PSAs, gotten the lecture from my doctor, etc. But it’s like we talked about the other day with the weight warnings; after a while, the Dire Predictions of Doom and Gloooooooom!!! just become background noise. Blah blah blah lung cancer blah blah blah heart disease blah blah blah you’re going to die tomorrow and it will be all your own fault. Guilt is a less than useless tactic with me on this one (“If you die tomorrow, your nieces and nephews will grow up without you!” / “Yeah, well, we’re all gonna die sooner or later, and frankly, I could quit smoking and still get hit by a bus. Go away.”). Fear is also less than useless (“You could die a slow agonizing death from lung cancer!” / “I could also fall into deep water and drown, but that doesn’t seem to stop you all from suggesting I might enjoy going boating.”). And shame is completely wasted on me (“All you filthy disgusting smokers have to go stand outside to consume your cancer sticks!” / “Works for me. A lot of my friends are smokers, so we’ll all go together and talk about you behind your self-righteous backs.”).
Really, about the only thing that motivates me is a good strong sense of righteous indignation. And I may have just found the spark that gets my tinder going on this one. It’s one thing to hold myself back out of fear or shame or whatever–ordinarily it would never occur to me to even think about being a running coach, except that I’ve kinda sorta started jogging and I love working with kids and I think I could be really good at this. But to have something outright prohibiting me from participating, especially when it’s something I can control? Ohhhhh no you don’t. Tell me I can’t coach some running. I’ll coach some running all day long! I’ll coach the heck outta some running! I’ll coach running in ways you’ve never seen, bub!
All I have to do is kick this one habit. And since the fall training season just ended and the next session doesn’t start until spring, I’ve even got a little bit of time in which to do it at my own pace. I can do the “gradual cutting back” thing which has gotten me closer than any other approach (cold turkey doesn’t work for me, because again, it kicks off my rebellious streak–“Tell me I can’t have a cigarette. I’m a grown woman. I can have whatever I want. Shoot, I think I’ll go chain-smoke just to prove my point”). This is something I can do. I’m sure of it. I just have to make it happen, because this time, the one big thing standing between me and my chance to do something really great is myself. And that just isn’t going to fly.
Besides, lord knows I’m revising myself nowadays anyway. May as well see what life as a non-smoker looks like while I’m at it.