Its just five o’clock in the morning and I’m waiting outside of the local Crossfit Studio in town. Our YMCA gym shuts down for a week each year and I’m determined to continue working out this week. I’ve had several people, my wife included, remind me not to re-injure myself. All well-intended advice, but after seven years of a variety of injuries I am committed to maintain some kind of physical activity. I may sound confident, but I’m having doubts and begin to sweat as I step out of the car. All of those doubts and words of wisdom crashing down tying my stomach in knots.

I’m greeted by two gym regulars, laughing at how predictable our group is by arriving early waiting for the doors to open. We are all ready to work out. As I listen, I realize most of the group has anxiety about trying something new. Will I be able to keep up…”this is CROSSFIT”?! This is a comment passed around the small group. Personally, I’m afraid I’ll embarrass myself by acquiring yet another injury. I almost forget that there is an added fear that I will not be able to keep up with everyone in the class.

My daughter has the same fear. After a nightmare last week, she let my wife know she was worried she would cry at school and be forced to leave the class. “Taking a rest” has been a standard intervention for her when she gets upset. She has learned to wipe furiously at her tears and say, “I’m happy…I’m happy”. In those moments she’s not happy, but its her attempt to offset the response her emotions have in front of others. As the doors open to the workout studio, I am intimately aware of how scary that feeling is for our little girl.

My wife talked through our daughter’s fears with her usual response. “And then what will happen?” A line of questioning that ends with the same question, “…and then what will happen?” Core to this response is the understanding that our worst fears can happen and ultimately, you’ll get through.

She tempers this with lots of cuddles, reassurances, and a confidence that makes it okay to be imperfect in a way that both of our children respond to well. In the darkness of morning, I use the same line of questioning. If I am unable to keep up…what will happen? I’ll take a break. And then what will happen? I may try again, sit through class, or ask for help. And then what happens next? I’ll try again. And so on and so forth, with the same gentle response to myself.

I wonder if this line of thought is how Sharlene has made it through her own challenges. From couch to 5K, several 10Ks on her way to her first half-marathon, and most recently her second triathlon yesterday. I’m often inspired by her dogged insistence to keep working towards her health and well-being.

Congratulations….here’s to another year of health and happiness!