I spend a fair amount of my life on the road traveling to events all over the country. It's become a part of who I am and it's a very comfortable place for me to be. It doesn't matter to me whether it's a 6,000 plus people at a Team in Training pasta party or 10 people in a running specialty store. I like being out there and talking to, and with, other runners and walkers.
This week, though, I am going to Lima, Ohio to talk to a group of elementary students - and I am scared to death. OK, not to death, but I am much more nervous about speaking in front of a bunch of kids than adults. Kids, you know, won't let you get away with anything. If you're not "getting it done" they will let you know in a hurry.
It's an interesting group, though. The school has a "positive addiction" program in which the students train for a 5K. Guess that's why they think bringing in a running guy makes sense. So, at least I'll be able to relate to their experiences getting ready for the race.
I've been trying to find a way to package the "penguin" message into something that works for a 5th grader and it's not that easy! I don't think many of the kids at that age will have struggled with cigarettes and booze! At least I hope not.
But, I think, one of the essential elements of being a "penguin" is learning to define yourself FOR yourself. Many of us - and I suspect so many of them - have been defined by the people around us that we have no idea who or what we truly are. And if we start buying into other's expectations as children it's nearly impossible to break free of those expectations as adults.
So that's my plan; to help them learn to be strong in themselves and what they want to be. Wish me luck.