Moving the Goalposts

As I was brushing my teeth this morning, I looked at the unidentifiable goop on the right shoulder of the sweatshirt I was wearing. I looked at my hair, that I pulled up into a knot right after my shower at 11 a.m. yesterday, and thought about how it would likely be a full 26 hours in total before I untangled it again.

I have been trying to sit down and write – a form of therapy sacred to me – for months. My thoughts and feelings turn into insecurities if I don’t periodically dump them out of my head. Lately it seems like there is never enough free time to even begin to wrangle all of these words that are fighting with each other to come out into complete sentences.

“I just want to find something to be proud of,” is what I told my husband Ben at the beginning of 2021 when I told him about my goal of running 1,000 miles for the year.

Jack and I running through the seaweed at the Little Rock Zoo’s GloWILD exhibit. Ben is pulling Ellie and Gus just ahead in the wagon. Photo credit: Sally Searcey

To date, I have only officially put about 850 running miles on three pairs of shoes. He suggested I change my goal to include less mileage when I told him this news over supper last night.

I thought that was a ridiculous idea. I argued that lowering my goal to meet what was actually achievable made me feel like I was giving up. Rather, I wanted to add in all of the other exercise miles that I had put behind me this year.

Most weekends, I choose to walk 9 miles with a friend instead of running my usual route. Partly used as rest and partly to change things up, but mostly to solve all of the world’s problems and feel connected to a human who knows I am capable of more than just changing a million dirty diapers.

Perhaps the most impactful exercise that I logged in my life happened this year on a trail in the mountains of Montana where my walking buddy and I stopped often to take in the view, check for bears and count the deer. The more we walked and talked, the more I felt like I could finally breathe.

And, shouldn’t I get some sort of credit for the miles that I didn’t get to run while I was wringing my hands and fretting over my daughter in some hospital room somewhere?

“Each day that I hit the pavement is a day I can feel good about at least one thing I have accomplished,” I told Ben.

So much of my day isn’t up to me. The one thing I can control is setting that goal and making it happen. I can log the time and distance and watch myself improve.

My son Jack wanted another cookie before bed. “Why?” he asked after I denied his request.

“You have had enough cookies today,” I told him. I didn’t know how much sugar he had already eaten, but I knew it was plenty.

“I still have a cookie-sized hole in my stomach,” he whined.

“Listen, it is my job to keep you healthy and happy, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I gave you more cookies,” I said as I looked unmoved into his most affected pitiful eyes.

“No, your job is to love me,” he said. “Your only job every day is just to love me. Just. Love. Me. Every. Day.”


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Lee Lee Doyle says:

    I cannot tell you how much I enjoy your posts. You are a wonderful writer and make it so real I feel like I’m part of your family.


  2. Betty Herron says:

    I just love Jack. He has it all figured out. You have taught him what is important. You are doing a great job. Thank you for sharing.

    Sent from my iPhone



  3. Vicki Burge says:

    I. just. love. .this. post. Jack amazes me and you do too! You a a great mom and an awesome mother. You always have something to be proud of by just being Heather.


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