In the Saturday afternoon cool sunlight, my girls and I mostly walked, but also jogged, for two and a half miles yesterday. The idea was to get some exercise, some fresh air, some sunshine, and spend valuable moments together.

Personally, I am contemplating doing a 5K with a couple of friends. And, upon seeing other friends post pictures on social media pages of them in marathon gear alongside their daughters in same attire, it dawned on me that exercising together could make us a healthier family and find new ways for precious one-on-one time.

At first, the girls resisted the push to jog at intervals. But once we did it for a stretch, the adrenaline and endorphins kicked in, and we all had more energy, more enthusiasm, more stamina.

When we left the house, Eliana was on the fence about running a marathon with me and Grace was adamantly opposed. By the end of our excursion, Grace was enthusiastically on board.

Because we’d already done just about the distance of a 5K. Because we felt better than at the outset. Because we’d had a great time together in the bright day.

We talked about adventures Up North and how they can’t wait for this summer’s family trip to our usual place. They pointed out cuts in the road, paw prints in cement, architectural details that they liked and those that they didn’t.

Passing observant families out for a Shabbat walk, I recounted stories from my religious years. We talked about the upcoming Passover holiday, the different ways to observe it, and what we believe.

We broke open the mold of superficial conversation to get to the deep, where we looked at what feels right for us and what we believe. That doesn’t happen in a quick conversation with an iPad shining brightly on their laps.

It’s what happens when we put down outside influences (aka distractions) and spend time together with clear focus on just being in the moment, with one another. I left my phone at home. Eliana only brought her iPod to measure her steps. No music. No text-beep. Nothing but the clear day and the blood pumping in our ears and the feeling of exhilaration that we could do this, right now, right here, together, and we are so much better for it.

In the morning yesterday, we visited my grandmother. Sweet Gigi, quiet, loving, glad to see six of her 20 great-grandchildren. An administrator at the rehab center walked by and said, “You are so blessed, Sheila, to have such a crowd of visitors.”

Truly.

And because we know acutely that a sudden change can introduce limitations to even the most vibrant among us, we treasured our afternoon walk more than we might have otherwise.

I am so glad I invited my girls to exercise with me. It wasn’t so much to get our bodies in shape (though God knows I could use that!). It was to refocus our energies on what really matters and tuck away what really doesn’t for at least a little while.

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