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“You can do it!”

What does this mean?

Today I took my usually walk in the woods. With a difference. Within minutes I wasn’t alone.

One of the  elementary school classes was “running” the path for cross-country. I put “running” in quotations. Most of the kids were out of breath and had to walk. Now this is an entirely different post, so back to the question.

A few of the kids asked:

“What are you doing?” or “Are you taking pictures?” or “What are you taking pictures of?”

A few of the kids said,

“It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?”

Two kids weren’t even pretending to run. But they reminded me to “walk my own path in life.” They checked out every bug and egg and mushroom … they could find. These kids haven’t had the joy of science tested out of them or their thinking standardized so that they ignore the beauty of what is in front of them.

The statement, “You can do it,” came about when the first two kids (boys) raced by me. And then came a young lady. She got near me and started to walk, trying to regain her breath. I smiled at her as she walked past me. The boys shouted back at her and she rallied and started to run again.

I said, “You can do it.” And she dug in and ran faster and faster and faster.

But here’s the thing “it” really has no meaning.

I always told my science students on day one of class that the word “it” was banned from my room. Someone always asked why? I told  them I would give them a million dollars if they could go get IT.

Obviously, they couldn’t because they didn’t know what IT was.

That young lady in the woods could have taken my words to mean:

You can quit.

You can do a cartwheel.

You can skip.                                              

You can decide you’re a girl and you’re never going to catch up to the boys.

You can dig in and run as hard as you can and beat those boys.

Why this so struck me is because all the time growing up, I was told “I could do it.”

“I could get great grades.”

“I could graduate high school/college/master’s program.”

“I could be anything I wanted to be.”



I don’t think anyone in my family or my teachers ever set out to make this happen. But it did. It didn’t help that the man I married told me every chance he got that everything I did was wrong. It didn’t help that my interests seemed so very different from most of my family.

So today, I looked in the mirror and said to myself. “YOU CAN DO IT!”



 Okay. Maybe a little fear. But NO apologies.