It’s summer! For this teacher, it means the chance to run in the mornings. I just can’t seem to get into a morning exercise groove during the school year. I’ve tried! Believe me- I’ve tried. I’m just not an early riser. It’s that simple. I do like to get in a workout before my day starts, which is a perk of those summer months.
Summer mornings go something like this: wake up, drink some coffee as I put on my running gear, stretch while watching The Today Show, and drive my teenage daughter to athletic practice. I love the fact that I don’t really have to get up and prepare for the day immediately. There’s a bit of downtime–or me-time– to my summer mornings. While my daughter is sweating for a couple of hours, I do the same thing. One of my favorite places to run is a park that was once the site of a medical complex in our town. The hospital was destroyed in an EF5 tornado several years ago. The site is now a beautiful park complete with fountains, paved paths, and these killer stairs. I aim for 2-5 miles per day. Some days, two seems like a lot. Other days, five doesn’t seem like enough.
I like to think that my mission field for sharing light and love is anywhere and everywhere- like a park that was once a hospital. I also like to smile and talk to strangers- I’m one of those people. I decided that I’m going to greet every person that I meet while I”m running those paths this summer. I want to say hello, but I want to go one step further. I’m tossing a compliment to everyone I pass as well. I’m not being creepy–if I’ve already greeted them, I just run on by the next time we pass. No need for overkill.
There’s a wide variety of people at the park each morning. There’s a gentleman who goes up and down the stairs slowly as he holds the handrails. There are moms with little ones. There are older folks with walkers and canes. Some people are walking dogs. There are singles, pairs, and groups. Some are dressed for a workout. Others are dressed for the day. There’s a lady who is there most mornings who dresses in clothes that look like they would be far too warm with a purse hung around her neck that she guards close to her body as she walks. There are city landscape workers who take care of the beautiful garden areas. It’s a busy place!
This is my running mission field every morning. I hope to start off the days for my fellow park patrons with a friendly hello and something positive. The compliments aren’t difficult. I just look at the person and offer up whatever comes into my head.
- I love that straw hat!
- Your hair is gorgeous!
- I’m impressed with the way you’re training that puppy.
- Look at those adorable kids!
- You’re working up quite a sweat- that’s awesome!
- That carved wooden cane is so cool!
- You have a Dalmatian! Dalmatians make everyone happy!
Nothing difficult about it. But- you should see the looks on the faces! With the exception of one woman who always looks the other way when I say hello, every other person greets me back. As soon as they hear the compliment, those smiles grow! Many of them have started to anticipate our quick conversations as I run by–even greeting me first sometimes!
I look forward to seeing those faces as I run. Before the summer is over, it’s my goal to have that “one woman” actually look me in the eye and say hello back.