Many things inspire me, great books, accomplishments of others, a great story and even photographs. While perusing old photos one day I came across one that always grounds me. This photo of my daughter reminds me that no matter how “tough” I believe my obstacle is, someone out there may have you beat when it comes to the challenge they are facing.

The photo was taken on a bitter cold December morning when you can literally hear the sleet peppering the bedroom window and you cringe at the thought of venturing beyond the warmth of the covers, much less out into the icy atmosphere of what this coastal native considers his version of Hell! I checked my phone, hoping it would give show a glorious notification that I would get a reprieve of what must happen. No luck. It was 5:32 am and nothing would save me from the torture of starting the car in the freezing cold.

As I stumble through, adorning myself with every layer of clothing I can possibly find to make the 25 ft walk out the door and down the driveway, my cohort in this torturous mission is bouncing down the stairs with a smile wearing a “hoodie” and some warm ups. The bounce in her step and aura of confidence assures me she has a better attitude than anyone I could imagine about to face the certain misery we are destined for.

My passenger and I journey down the slippery sidewalk hoping the car is 1/10th of a degree warmer than the air. Ha! No way. The temperature reads 28 and the sleet continues to fall on the shell of my Jeep sounding like an army of mice scurrying across the roof to seek refuge from this abysmal weather. My passenger and I drive out and notice there are not the usual lights glaring from the football field and decide that even the mighty 5A State champions have decided that practice was not necessary. Smart I thought.

We round the corner hoping for yet a sign to turn back! Nope. The cars in the parking lot are a clear sign that this mission is a go! As we pull up to the entrance my passenger smiles with her big blue eyes and says “see you later daddy” as she bounces out of the car and towards the outdoor swimming pool her regional gold medal and state qualifying relay team is practicing at……

As the sleet continues to fall I feel guilty as I head home to sanctuary inside my warm house. A few minutes later my phone chirps with my firstborn’s text tone and a picture comes through. My beautiful girl and her teammate are posing in a selfie about to begin their 2500 meter “warm up” to prepare her body for the next 3 hours of practice. They’ll start just as soon as they finish getting the ice scraped off the blocks……

The picture is one I will cherish, as it helps me keep things in perspective. My challenges are not as bad as they seem.

– Damian Squires