Here it is, the end of another week and time for me to reflect on my training. And I will get to that, but what is on my mind is a race of a different kind: the presidential race. I’ve spent this past week trying to wrap my head around how we are where we are today. My mood swings from sadness and despair to anger and frustration, not finding much hope in between. What I do hope for is the strength to stand up against tyranny and bullying and injustice. I won’t stand by and watch my rights as a woman, or the rights of people of color, or immigrants, or people with disabilities, or LGBTQ, or Muslims, or any marginalized group be taken away.
The day after the election I had to go to work as most of us did. I didn’t want to. But I did. And the very first question from a student (who is deaf) was:
Donald Trump called deaf people “retarded” and made fun of people with disabilities. What is going to happen to me?
The only answer I could think of was to say that we don’t honestly know. But we have to do what we can. We all must pay attention. Get involved. Don’t stand by while someone is being mistreated. It’s what we teach children in order to stop bullying. And yet, here we have just elected the biggest bully we have seen in a long time. These students of mine are the future. What is this next 4 years going to teach them? How will this administration shape their world view? Will they become more tolerant of diversity or less? Will men become more respectful of women or less?
There are lots of articles out there in the interwebs about how to be safe as a woman when we are out on a run. There are all kinds of new products women can use to ward off an attacker. I saw one this morning that looked like a Wonder Woman bracelet with Wolverine-like claws that shoot out of it. This doesn’t make me feel empowered. It makes me so sad. That said, I must accept the reality that a misogynist was just awarded the highest office in the land so I will admit that I am planning to get a can of pepper spray (despite the fact that I do love bracelets). And I do carry a billy club in my car. Have been for years, thanks to my husband, code name: Cobra Strike. I never thought I’d need it. It seemed unnesessary. Not anymore.
The world feels like a very different place than it did just one week ago. My safety is not assured. And I suppose I knew that it never really was. I really believed that we as a nation would value respect and tolerance and diversity. I feel so naïve. But I am a hopeless optimist and I work with high school students so I do have to believe that everything will be ok. I’m pretty sure it’s in my job description.
I said I would get to the workouts this week, so here they are as promised. Probably the best thing I did last week was work out everyday. I did not want to, especially Wednesday, but that run really helped me exorcise (word play, ha!) some of my negative thoughts and frustration. It helped me figure out that we have to do what we can to make our small part of the world a better place. Sometimes that means just working on our own heads. I am a role model for my students whether I want to be or not. They are looking to me and their teachers for guidance. I can’t give them the answers but I can help them figure out how to think for themselves.
My coach had me cycling twice, swimming twice, and running twice. That’s 6 workouts in 6 days, people. And that is 2 solid weeks of following the training plan to. the. letter. I am telling you having someone I must be accountable to makes all the difference. That, and I paid him real money. I highly recommend this if you struggle to stay on track as I do. I will let anything and everything derail me if I’m doing this on my own. I’m not proud of that but I don’t think it’s terribly unusual either. It is hard to get out of bed at 4:30 in the morning to put on a bathing suit and go for a swim. It’s cold and dark outside and my bed is toasty and warm. But I can’t blow it off and then try to explain that to my coach. I’m not gonna be that gal. Plus the upside to forcing myself up and out in the dark is that: a) I get my exercise done before 6:30 am, and b) I feel fantastic for the rest of the day. Plus it’s only a half hour earlier than my normal wake up time, so it isn’t as awful as it seems. Honestly. And if you’re committed you do what it takes, right? Right.
So what is the moral of this week? That I can be angry and sad and scared and anxious, but that just means I have to work harder. I can’t give up and I won’t give up. I’m accountable to my students, my coach, and myself. And having backup – someone who is checking on me and making sure I am ok – means that I am not alone in this. And neither are you. I have your back. We are in this together and we are strong. Getting stronger.
So get out there and be a force for good in whatever way you can. Go for a walk. Talk to your neighbors. Read the news from actual journalists. Pay attention. Help other people. Get involved. Find a way to be positive and bring some light to the rest of us. We need it now more than ever.