Believe it or not, I was the captain of my Varsity Cross Country Team in high school. I attended a tiny, all-girls boarding school just outside of Baltimore, Maryland, filled with rolling hills and scenic trails through deciduous forests. I like to tease that I led from the back because truth-to-be-told I struggled and wasn’t all that good.
Our coach was a Vietnam Vet and also our American History teacher who completely filled the giant wall-sized chalkboard with keywords he would use to tell the story of the battle, using a broken golf club to whack the board and grab our attention when necessary. He walked with a limp, a war injury, and during our running practices would scream, “UP THE HILL, DOWN THE HILL, CAN’T GO THROUGH IT, MUST GO OVER, JUST KEEP GOING.”
I found myself chanting this long after our meets were over. After high school, after an abusive relationship in college, as I worked 60+ hour weeks into the weekend as a teacher, during labor, and now, as a mother of four children with a marriage, house, and part-time sales job to tend to.
Do I want to quit? YES. So many times! So many days! I’m too tired to get over this damn hill and I just want to sit the hell down. But in the midst of consideration, I can so clearly see and hear Mr. Bailey barking orders at me. I can only imagine what he endured to conquer his hills and in my weakest moments, I scrape the barren remnants of my energy reserves and find the strength and will to carry on.
To Just. Keep. Going.
Because the view from the top, I know, is amazing.
Camille Vaughan Photography