A Letter To Genealogy Jen

Dear Genealogy Jen,

I just got back from an exhilarating run and thought this was the perfect time to write to you! Actually, that’s a lie. I’ve been sitting here for a while. I didn’t go for a run. I’m also not sure if “exhilarating” is the correct fake adjective that I should use. 

“Exhilarating” seems like one of those words people use after they jump out of an airplane, or one reporters will say with a straight face and no enthusiasm. Am I right?

Yes. The answer is yes.

I’m not much of a runner, Jen. Never had the stamina for it. Running 800 metres in Grade 9 gym class was hard. Heck, getting to the 200 metre mark without wanting a nap was hard. To this day, I still use the excuse that it was an 8am class and I was tired.

Hey, there’s a reason why I played baseball. Short spurts of running followed by a lot of standing to recover. I’m no dummy. I’m The Dummy.

No clue what that means, but it sounded accurate.

In my final year of university, I went running with my roommate on the 200 metre indoor track at school. The most laps I ever did without walking was eight. I was proud of myself.

That’s 1.6 kilometres! I don’t know how many miles that is in America, but it converts to 1600 smiles at McDonald’s.

Yup, you read that correctly. 

I’d go to the track, almost kill myself (the track was above the gym floor and the railing always scared me. What if I ran sideways and fell over? Would’ve plunged to my death. Oh and the running tired me out, too), and then stop at the cafeteria for some much needed chicken fingers and fries.

Then I’d go back to my room and eat them while flat out on my back and imagining leprechauns dancing on my ceiling. 

Some parts of that last sentence may have been exaggerated.

I tell you this because you have asked me for an inspirational letter, since you are running a marathon on October 1st. Surprise!

That is only 12 days away, or is it 13 days away? Hey, it might even be 14 days. It depends how you count them and if you include today and October 1. Can we get an official ruling? How many days away is it?

I’ll guesstimate. Don’t worry, I learned how in school. 

Based on my calculations, your marathon is tomorrow! Ahhhhh panic!

No, it’s still October 1st. Let’s move on. My mind is doing somersaults with a 3/4 twist. Whatever that is. 

Time for the inspirational part of this letter. Or is is perspirational? Ahaha aha ha…Don’t mind me, I’m a nut.

Let me ask you a question: On the night of October 1st, when your marathon is over and you’re back home ready to go to sleep, how do you want to fall asleep? Do you want to fall asleep with a smile on your face, knowing that you completed a marathon? Or do you want to go to sleep with your eyes open, regretting that you didn’t make it to the finish line?

I’m thinking you want that smile on your face.

That being said, let that motivate you. The marathon will end, whether you cross the line or not. The event will end. The day will end. What you do between now and then will determine how you feel.

When I hear the word “marathon”, I think of a never-ending task that I’d rather not do. That goes for “movie marathons”, as well. However, I don’t want you to think that. 

When you hear, think, breathe, or even sniffle the word “marathon”, I want you to think, “One foot in front of the other.” Because if you think about it, that’s all it is. All you’re doing is putting one foot in front of the other.

Math tells us that those individual steps will eventually add up and cover the distance. So don’t worry about how long a marathon is, or how far, or how much further you have to go. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and let them add up.

I know you’ve been training the last few months and I regret not writing this letter sooner. That being said, every day between now and October 1st (however many you decide there are) is an opportunity to prepare yourself to put one foot in front of the other.

Can you tell I’m trying to get those words stuck in your brain? I believe it’s called using repetition for rhetorical effect. My high school english teacher would be proud. 

If there are days you don’t want to wake up and go for a morning run because your bed is too comfortable, I’ll be disappointed in you. Do you want to disappoint me? NO!

Wake up, Jen!

Splash some cold water on your face and have a server from Pizza Hut drop some ice cubes down your back!

Sorry, I was speaking from experience.

Heck, splash cold water on a family member’s face if you have to. I hear that could be exhilarating. 

You can sleep after the marathon. The bed ain’t going anywhere. Your feet, however, must. One in front of the other. Train them for what’s to come on October 1st.

You cannot run this marathon if you are not prepared. Don’t sit on a couch and eat potato chips until they get stuck in your teeth. That’s what I do. But I don’t intend to run a marathon in 12, 13, or 14 days. You do!

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was, “Whatever you do, be the best at it. No matter how big or small it is, be the best at it.

Now, I’m not saying you have to be the best marathon runner the world has ever seen. What I am saying is I want you to do everything you can to prepare yourself for success. Just think of how happy you’ll be when you cross the finish line. 

And, if you must, think of how happy I’ll be when you cross that finish line. I’ll be eating pizza and attempting cartwheels at the same time. It’ll be a hoot. 

You can do this. 

Nay! Said the horse.

You will do this.

You know how I know that? Because you signed up for a marathon. Which meant at some point, you told yourself that this is something you can do. 

The only thing between the words “can” and “will” is you. Actually, if you want to get technical, the word “and” is in the middle of those words. Whatever.

I don’t know if any of my advice has been helpful, but I have one more piece to throw on the fire.

At some point before October 1st, I want you to sit in a quiet room and visualize how you want the marathon to go from the moment you line up at the start.

You may visualize a mob of people crammed together, pre-perspiration. Everyone will have a different look on their face, some might be squinting at the sun. Regardless, I want you to feel confident. Maybe have your favourite song playing on loop in your head.

And when the race starts and people start running, focus on you. One foot in front of the other.

If you ever feel like quitting, cough up that quit into your hands and throw it to the side of the road. Yes, it’ll look weird if people are watching but you can play it off as you were pretending to throw down a banana peel like in Mario Kart. They’ll understand that.

The symbolism of throwing that feeling away, will keep you going. Trust me, I’ve tested this theory on monkeys. (They threw banana peels, too).

If there is ever a moment between now and the end of the marathon that you feel unmotivated, visualize what you want the scene at the finish line to be. 

You are the director of your own movie, Jen. Scream “Action” and don’t call “Cut” until you’re satisfied. 

I believe in you and I’m sure your family and friends believe in you as well. 

So believe in yourself. It’ll be worth it. 

Now go make yourself proud! 

One step at a time,


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17 Responses to A Letter To Genealogy Jen

  1. Thank you Paul! This is perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jess says:

    The night I finished my marathon, I sat in the hotel room in the dark, unable to fall asleep due to hydration and shaky legs, wanting desperately to eat my pizza but too tired to remove myself from the bed. I don’t think I went to bed with a smile on my face. But I finished, so that counts for something right?! GOOD LUCK, JEN!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This is indeed inspirational. Hope you and Jen don’t mind if I use those words of wisdom for myself (For a totally different purpose, though. Not much of a runner. Haha!). 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Isabella S. says:

    You make me laugh every day. It’s a complement, by the way.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: The Little Gen-Jen That Could | Repurposed Genealogy

  6. I wrote you back. Thank you so much for taking the time to write me such a beautiful letter. I really appreciate it so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: A Letter From Jen | The Captain's Speech

  8. Pingback: I Thought I Could, and I Did | Repurposed Genealogy

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