3 Ways My Wife Inspires Me to Get 20,000 Steps Every Day

I didn’t see it coming. The sun was shining, The Ravens were winning. I only needed a few hundred more steps to reach my goal and it wasn’t even 2p yet. I could sit and enjoy the game. It was shaping up to be a really good afternoon.

Then it happened.

Ava said something. I took it the wrong way and I reacted poorly. She reacted to me and we had a moment. Not a good one, either.

That’s how Week 13 of my 20k One Year Step Challenge started.

Ava and I have been married 34 years. It’s been a good ride. There’s no one I love more. There’s no one I like more. It’s a relationship forged through not always easy circumstances. We raised six kids. Did it mostly on one modest income. Now, she’s dealing with breast cancer. The prognosis is excellent, but this new part of our journey hasn’t been stress free, obviously.

We’ve had our share of bad moments over 34 years, but they have become far less frequent. That’s one blessing of time and wisdom. Still, it feels like a fracture when a moment happens. Even with healing the site of the fracture is sore a bit longer. I’ve learned that can be a sweet space of reflection.

As the days of this week passed I thought about how this woman has changed my life. Probably a little deeper reflection than usual, but a diagnosis of cancer will do that, I suppose.   

Ava has changed me in so many ways, but three in particular stand out.

It’s OK to Lean Into The Hard Things of Life

For 15 years Ava was the administrator of a small two day a week private school. The students did home school the other three days. She handled student discipline issues along parent concerns and sometimes even complaints.

Mon 12.3.18b

There was one student issue severe enough it required a special meeting with the parents and members of the school board. The father was so angry at Ava he sat stone faced the entire meeting glaring at her. But, Ava did not waver. Her desire was to help this student and discipline was needed to move forward. She leaned into the conflict. She was gracious, yet firm. The father left the meeting as angry as he arrived…maybe more so.  Years later, on the night his son graduated, this father apologized to Ava and thanked her for caring enough to take action even though he made it nearly impossible to do so.

Ava has always understood that real transformation occurs when we lean into the hard stuff of life and not run away.

Commitment Matters

A few years ago Ava suffered a knee injury. This is not a good thing for a long distance runner. In fact, whether she would ever be able to run again was in question. To recover she had to use crutches and not put any weight on the knee for six weeks. In other words, her foot could not touch the ground. Period. Oh, and all this happened just before we left for a two week vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Take a moment, if you will, and imagine being at the beach and not being able to walk anywhere without crutches. Imagine the difficulty of walking across the sand…walking poolside on the wet and slippery concrete…and sitting while your family and friends are having a great time swimming in the ocean or playing corn hole.

Oh, and did I mention that Ava could have done all this. Her knee still worked and the pain of doing any of this would have been minimal at most. In other words, she could have started the whole crutches thing after we got back from vacation.

But, she didn’t.

Mon 12.3.18dTo give herself the best chance of a full recovery, Ava did exactly what the doctor suggested. For six weeks her foot NEVER touched the ground. Not even once. After she got off the crutches she had two months of physical therapy. She is fully recovered and has finished multiple marathons and half marathons. She’s now training for a 50 mile run this coming spring.

Time after time, Ava has demonstrated that commitment matters. And, even more significantly, commitment is a matter of the will, not emotions.

People Are Worth It

The night before an important appointment with her cancer surgeon, Ava got a call about someone in crisis. She immediately changed her evening plans and drove an hour to be with this person, not knowing how long she would be needed, or even if she would get any sleep that night.

I’ve seen Ava do this so many times. She doesn’t weigh the cost…she just goes. A couple years ago, Ava had a gall bladder episode that landed her in the emergency room on Christmas Eve morning. While we were there, our daughter went into labor.

Mon 12.3.18cAva got herself checked out of one hospital and drove to another to be with Grace. It was a long labor and Ava didn’t get any sleep until she returned home on Christmas afternoon. And, then only for an hour.


As the week moved beyond that moment on Sunday and I thought more about this amazing woman I married I realized this 20k Challenge is really a reflection of her impact. She inspired me to pursue this.

I used to lean away from hard things. Give me the Easy Button, please. Getting 20,000 steps every day for a year is not easy. (click HERE for a daily update) I want to be like Ava and lean into something hard.

I marvel at Ava’s ability to set emotions aside and stick to her commitments. Guess who’s sticking with this challenge even on those days when I don’t feel like it.

I’m an introvert. That means I get my energy from being alone. My comfort zone is doing this challenge quietly, but people are worth it. I made not be ready to lose sleep, but I decided to make the Challenge public. If even one person is inspired and motivated to move more that will be a big win.

The rest of Week 13 proceeded without any more moments.That’s good because I’m all “reflected out”. You can see the final totals below. 

Are you ready for Winter? No, not that one…the other one. That’s the question for Wednesday’s blog post. Also on the way…we’ll examine why New Year’s Day may be the most dangerous day of the year for your step goals and should your step-goals take a break during the holidays.

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