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Kelley Peterson

You never know where motivation or inspiration will come from. Sometimes it can come from the most surprising and unexpected places, as I was reminded by a middle schooler last week.

I was at the end of a run at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, and was ready for it to be done, when I ran by a class of middle schoolers from The Greenspire School. I often see them out on the trails when I run. On this day, when I got to the last two kids in the group one of them yelled to me “keep going, you got this!”

It surprised me but I also thought it was really sweet.

I smiled, waved, said thanks and kept running. I was kind of chuckling to myself about those words of encouragement and thought “yeah, I do have this.”

I picked up my pace and finished my run strong — a minute before I was ready to just plod along and get it over with. Five words from a middle schooler totally changed that.

Our words have power. In this age of social media it is easy for people to forget this. People engage with complete strangers and sometimes say horrible things, things they would probably never say to a person’s face, let alone to a stranger, but on social media this has become commonplace and even acceptable.

You never know how your words will land and what effect they will have as you send them out into the social media stratosphere.

We are in the midst of a mental health crisis. Just about every friend I have has a child with one issue or another or knows someone who does, and there is no doubt social media helps feed this.

Our words have power. We can choose how we use them.

Sometimes words from a stranger can change your whole day for the better, give your run a needed boost or put a smile on your face.

Think of the last time you received a random compliment or words of support or encouragement out of the blue and how good that felt.

Did it put a smile on your face and a spring in your step?

Was it something you needed to hear or be reminded of like “you got this?”

Words of kindness have a ripple affect because it is a feeling you want to pass on.

We can get so caught up in our own lives that we forget it can be the little things that make a bigger difference then we realize.

So tell the woman you pass on the sidewalk her boots are cool, or the guy that his dog is well behaved or your server that you appreciate them.

More then ever, a little kindness can go a long way.

Kelley Peterson is an avid trail runner and cross-country skier. Contact her at

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