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Why I Run

June 6, 2022 | by Gila Ross

Yes, it makes me a better wife and mother, but there’s a deeper explanation for self-care.

As I was getting ready to run my seventh half marathon, my daughter asked me what I was going to get for running the race. I told her that not only was I not going to get a prize but in fact I had paid a fair bit of money to enter the race.

“Why would you pay money to run a half marathon?!”

Her question got me reflecting on my personal journey as a mom.

I took up running 10 years ago when I was a busy mum to four young children. Life was busy and demanding. It was very much centred around the kids, their needs and wants. Add to that were the demands of my career as a Jewish educator. I felt guilty leaving my kids when it was ‘just’ to take care of me.

Eventually, I discovered that there’s truth behind the saying: you can’t pour from an empty cup. And I came to understand how necessary it was for me to fill my own cup, so that I could keep on giving in my personal and professional roles.

Our lives are busy and demanding. There’s a lot of pressure – pressure to be a good parent, financial pressures, pressure to be active in our community. To be able to show up well in all these different areas in my life I needed to take care of me.

That’s when I started to take up running. It was a much-needed outlet, a space from the daily pressures. It had all the benefits of exercise and being outdoors – it got me moving, it improved my mood and my mental health. I could fit it into my schedule as a busy mother and Jewish outreach professional. I didn’t have to schedule childcare or work around a gym schedule. I could lace up my trainers when I had a free 30 minutes and go for a quick run.

Since I saw the benefits that running was bringing to my life, I could quiet that voice of guilt that crept up when my running meant time away from the kids or things not getting done on my to-do list. After all, I was taking time out so I could be a better mother, a better wife, and show up more efficiently at work. It was a good investment.

But recently, it hit me: This mindset isn’t good enough. I was missing an essential piece of the self-care puzzle.

Yes, taking care of myself will probably make me a better spouse, mom, and person, but the reason I deserve self-care is because I am inherently worthy.

It’s not enough to take care of myself so that I will be a better spouse, a better mom, a better educator. I deserve to take care of myself simply because I have inherent value. Just like every other human on this planet who has a divine soul and inherent worthiness.

I need to start changing the narrative from “I am taking care of myself so that I can show up better” to “I am worthy of self-care.” Yes, taking care of myself will probably make me a better spouse, mom, and person, but the reason I deserve self-care is because I am inherently worthy!

This message of self-love is critical to convey to our kids. We wish our kids could look in
the mirror and see what we see – their charisma, their kindness, their sweet sensitivity to others – to see their inherent beauty. Not just because of how well they are doing socially or academically or something they did, but simply because of their inherent worthiness. We want our children to connect to the words of the morning prayer, “God, the soul that you have given me is pure.”

The best way to give our kids this gift of knowing their own intrinsic value is by us modelling it ourselves. It’s by deeply connecting to our inner soul and recognizing our infinite worth.

So I take the time out and pay good money to run a half marathon because I’m worth it. And no further justification is needed.

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