Running Lesson- Be Present

I’ve been on a bit of break from writing, but I have been maintaining my runs. Today was a long one, which was six hot sweaty slow miles.

While running, I couldn’t help but list in my mind all of the things that I should’ve done last week.

The Should’ve Done List:

  • Gone to yoga
  • Read more to get ahead for next week
  • Eaten cereal instead of fast food tacos that night after class
  • Drank less coffee
  • Ordered Ningxia sooner
Road Behind

Then, about mile 3, I realized I was categorizing the in the wrong direction. I mean, I can’t go back. How was shoulding on myself a productive use of this beautiful run?

Much of the work I do with clients in my counseling practice involves past events and the regrets that have followed. Some of the work is anxiety about the future often based on past events.

This got me to thinking. If we continue to look back in regret, do we miss the enthusiasm for the good that might be up ahead while simultaneously missing the joy in the present?

What might staying present have looked like instead during those first three miles of mustabatory thinking?

Perhaps…

A Doing List:

  • Observing nature
  • Enjoying a playlist I chose
  • Breathing deeply
  • Mindful gratitude
  • Feeling fine
  • Worship

The irony does not escape me. I do see that I’m currently making a Should’ve List for my Doing List. But hear me out, I am hoping to create more awareness about the present and all it has to offer.

Yoga is helpful but it can become a chore for me especially during busy times.

It is definitely more than asana.

With my wiring, staying present takes practice, grace, and the creation and appreciation of space, time, and opportunities.

I will definitely be on the lookout. Passively of course.

What do you do to stay present?

Road Ahead

Running Lessons- Cross-training

Cross-training.

There is a day in my training schedule that calls for cross-training. Confession- I did not do this well my during training for my last half-marathon. I did a bit of yoga but that was it.

This time around I have included indoor cycling. Last winter we discovered Peleton and I fell in love with the classes, music, and instructors. Specifically, Ally Love. This lady is an inspiration and I find myself thinking of her words throughout my day too.

“Yes or yes?” She asks and this helps me stay on track and not quit even when my legs are burning and my eyes are filled with sweat. Then, later in the day, those same words help me do the things, adult, and get my life done.

Yes and yes, I also realize that this is a bit of a bougie bike, and no we are not rich. But, I felt that investing in something that improves our health and mind was worth it! And, it has been.

As for effectiveness, both Tom and I have felt really good on our long runs, and I have noticed less joint pain. I imagine this is due to the variety of motion I get now in my cardio sessions.

Today, I will be heading out for a run and tomorrow yoga. Funny thing is now that I follow the schedule, I’m not running all the time to train for running.

The goal of cross-training is to improve overall performance.

This got me to thinking.

Everything we do in life is actually cross-training for our other activities. What I learn in yoga I use in life. I breathe through difficulty and stretch myself mindfully to avoid harm. Eating teaches me the power of choice and temperance. Friendships teach me the beauty of connection, sameness, difference, and a hundreds of other meaningful things I couldn’t possibly capture here or maybe not even in words.

This week I’ve been back at school. Specifically, I started a class regarding human systems. From what I’ve learned so far, everything is connected and no action within a system goes without impact.

I’m venturing to say this concept as a construct is the reason for mindfulness in regard to our actions. Or perhaps it’s because of this concept that there is something to for which to be mindful.

See what I did there?

Some might call this overthinking. Gallup Strengths might call this Input and Intellection. Both could be correct.

For me, today, I believe it might be better described as savoring each moment of my existence in this divinely orchestrated universe.

In which types of cross-training do you participate?

Magnolia: The Rescue

We adopted the sweetest 8 month old puppy yesterday! Magnolia is believed to be a mix of Great Pyrenees and Australian Shepherd and she is smart, obedient, and fits right in here.

Many of you may remember the loss of our puppy Harmony in June. Harmony was a planned and purchased pet. She was specifically chosen for her breed’s characteristics, and we had a vision for her to become an assistive therapy dog for my counseling practice.

But parvo.

Following Harmony’s loss, we continued to take her sister, Willow, to training which they had started together. Since Jonah, my 10 year old, is Willow’s trainer. I spent my time waiting for them walking through Petsmart and it’s rescue shelter.

I wasn’t necessarily looking to fill Harmony’s spot. I was just curious, but quickly overwhelmed by all of the little faces in cages. Following a difficult puppy-free exit, I began googling and reading more about animal adoption and rescues.

Turns out, Harmony’s breed, Goldendoodle, has a rescue center filled with puppies to seniors, who need homes. The more I looked, I discovered rescues across North Texas and beyond whose sole reason for existing is to identify specific breeds in shelters, rehabilitate them, teach them love and good manners, and then conduct a strict process for rehoming these sweet abandoned pups.

I had no idea.

I will spare you the hundreds of horror stories I encountered, but if you are curious, simply google pet rescues or click on some of the links in this post. There is a rescue for most any breed of dog you can think of and they don’t stop there. Cats, bunnies, donkeys

You name it.

I was heavily convicted about our failure as a human race to properly care for the animals with whom we share this planet. I won’t get preachy and have no right at all to judge, but I can tell you, I’m not the same regarding the way I see animal ownership any longer.

From this divinely designed experience, I realized Harmony never really belonged to us, but rather we had the privilege of caring for her and all of the joys, and yes sorrows, that came with that.

We had a hole in our family and in our hearts from the loss of Harmony. Although she can’t be replaced, the truth was we had room for one of these sweet abandoned animals. We have love, hope, and healing that could easily flow out to another little spirit.

Back to Magnolia.

When Magnolia was just a few months old she was found wandering a roadside with broken hip. Thankfully, SPIN rescue organization took her in, paid for the surgery she needed, and nursed her back to health.

Her full story is here.

We spotted Ziggy, now Magnolia, on the SPIN website and inquired. After a long application, home visit, reference and vet checks, we were approved to meet her. Ziggy/Magnolia’s foster mom/rescue/hero brought her to us to ensure our current dog and home was a good fit for her.

Ziggy/Magnolia ran right in the house and found the one toy Harmony had left behind. She won our hearts and said goodbye to her foster mom.

Magnolia is home and we are so grateful.

She was not planned, we have no experience with this breed, and the timing is not logical with school starting tomorrow. Still, I am confident she was meant for our family. She rescued us!

Side note:

Interestingly, today is Clear the Shelters day in North Texas. This means adoption fees are waived and many pets will be adopted. Knowing what I do now about the return and discard rate following these types of events, my prayer is that the right furever families show up for these animals today.

If you are looking for a pet, I would love to share what I’ve learned about adopting a rescue. Magnolia is house trained, slept through the night, is incredibly loving, and has been a perfect addition to our family. She has a bit of recovery left on her hip but we’ve already ordered YL Sulfurzyme and Animalscents Mendwell to help support that process!

Here are some other rescues we worked with to find our furever pup:

Allie’s Haven

Doodle Rock Rescue

Doodle Dandy Rescue

Running Lessons: Planning

The school year is upon us and our family schedules are changing.

During vacation months, I enjoy the time with my kids but simultaneously want more order and structure. So, the end of the summer is generally both sad and exciting for me. See, the fall quickly provides that structure in which I thrive, but it also creates an empty house.

As my family heads back to school, my daily company becomes Willow our black lab. I see clients on weekends and attend classes for my doctoral program in the evening, making my schedule opposite to that of my people.

Wellness will require some planning. Less sugar for healthy bodies, warm potted meals due to less produce and prep-time, and supporting immune systems and spirits with warm scents of Young Living Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg, Ginger, and Thieves. Even when I’m gone I can leave these investments for my family.

Running during this season is a perfect reminder for how to adapt.

The trees lead by example and remind me to change gracefully, conserve energy, and shed unnecessary attachments. The cooler temps remind me to add useful layers and purpose to connect with others to stay warm. Rising heat in the afternoons, remind me that the summer will be back sooner than I expect.

Time.

Next week, I will begin taking later morning runs and eating earlier dinners. Both will be alone, as I we all complete another semester.

I am preparing my heart for this gift. I know it’s exactly what we need. Still, I am grieving another summer, another year with my small but growing boy and the young lady who is no longer little. Meanwhile, celebrating and still missing the oldest whose away at college. I know time can’t stand still, but I wonder if has to go so fast?

Gratitude and praise.

Here’s to another school year. May it bring friendships, knowledge, health, opportunities for service and a gentle practice of training through change.

How are you preparing for fall?

Running Lessons- Don’t run alone.

Accountability is one of the many reasons for this series. I’ve committed to run and write about running and the life that follows. Although this has been a great practice to keep me both consistently moving, thinking, and writing, I can’t help but be grateful for the person with whom I am running this race.

On long runs, I follow my husband. I learned this practice several years ago. Honestly, it was in the practice of running that has God shown me how to follow my husband.

Tom’s top five Gallup Strengths are Empathy, Harmony, Communication, Arranger, & Maximizer. Mine are Strategic, Restorative, Input, Achiever & Intellection. You might say he’s all heart and connection, and I’m head and execution in this marriage, but that wouldn’t be completely true.

With Restorative qualities, I also have a deep desire to heal what’s broken in the world and with Arranger and Maximizer strengths he loves his work as a public educator and leader.

We are both soft and steel; we are murky-deep and still transparent. Our strengths characterize how we make things happen, but our passions dictate which things.

With Strategic as my number one, I rarely enjoy being told what to do. Years ago, I fully understood following my husband to be just this. I struggled because 1.) He didn’t often tell me what to do. 2.) When he did, I rarely listened. This caused some problems early in our marriage. I won’t sugar coat this- I was wrong.

And we almost didn’t make it.

Still, somewhere around year eleven, after Tom had torn his Achilles’ heal/tendon. Our marriage and his ankle healed. He did the work. Physical therapy, exercise, ate right, took his supplements, and began to rebuild his lifelong running practice.

Meanwhile, I had begun running 5Ks with my newly found health. I was new to running, but Tom coached me from the couch as he recovered.

Now, we began running together. As he recovered, he began to pass me. I followed begrudgingly and only because he was faster. After awhile though, I began to love the security I felt following him.

With his strengths of empathy, he signals when bikers are near, checks for me when I slow, and paces our race based on both of our needs (mostly mine). In life, I continue to watch for his signals and do my best to follow.

I am the weaker vessel, and I am fine with this.

I’m grateful for my husband and his leadership on and off the road. I’ve learned that one of my best strategies, is to defer to him. He understands what I need before I do and this is a gift for my highly driven and Achievement oriented design. He also helps me finish what I start because he believes in me while I’m still stirring the excuses in my prayer closet and strategizing.

This practice keeps peace and passion alive in our marriage. It is organization, not control. It’s by design, and I absolutely adore it!

I am beyond grateful for my running partner and the God who orchestrated every step.

Who or what keeps you going?

Curious about strengths in your marriage? I’d love to help! Click here for more information on Strengths Finder.

Running Lessons- Guilt

My mother says, “Guilt is a useless emotion.”

I am not sure about the psychological truth to this statement- yet. I do know that guilt tends to surround my efforts in health and fitness. You know the shoulds and oughts that linger the minute you’ve eaten off plan or rested on a non-rest day?

Maybe it’s just me.

Yesterday, I had a three mile run scheduled, but I also had some unscheduled insomnia the night before. Sleeplessness shows up from time to time and does it’s best to wreck my plans for productivity. I’ve learned many tricks that help: yoga, essential oils, good nutrition, and supplements. Still, I have off days of little to no sleep.

Progress not perfection.

Instead of a run, I slept late. Then, I took my son to the aquarium, where we met our aunt, uncle, and cousins. We ate lunch at the cafe instead of at home as planned and ended with ice cream.

It’s been some time since we’ve seen this part of our family and it was fun to catch up while exploring. I absolutely loved this day and the time spent with my sweet boy and our family.

It was a treat.

Guilt lingered in the background to be sure it wasn’t left out, and pestered this morning as the sun came up.

And today, I’m back on schedule and headed out for a run. I intend to eat better too- again.

I wonder if guilt is what gets me back on track? I also wonder if grace could be a better more kind and edifying encourager?

Off to pound that out. Wishing you a day filled with guilt-free joy!

Running Lessons: A snake…

Remember the snake fear that came to mind at my 5:00 am alarm last week? Well, that became a reality during yesterday’s 5-mile long run. So in defense of the psychological immune system, it does know things. However, the moral of this story up front is, I survived.

Snakes are a real possibility when you run on a trail in North Texas. This one was of the rat snake variety (according to a biker who passed it when we did) and was long enough to stretch the width of our paved trail.

It was harmless.

Still, I think I stopped breathing for a minute or two following the sighting. Which, in my defense, could have been deadly.

But, it was not.

One of my big fears came to be yesterday and it wasn’t that bad. As I finished my run, with improved pace time, I couldn’t help but think about how this relates to most of the fears that have held me back in life. Maybe you too?

I literally have the word Courage tattooed on my arm and have spent the last several years perfecting the art of “doing it scared”.

I took my first yoga class, because I heard it could be helpful in practicing bravery. (It is!) I discovered essential oils to help support my emotions and overcome other fears. Hiking has become an effort in intentional adventure and running has helped tremendously too.

As a therapist and coach, I work with others to help them overcome the scary and live a life they love. As a student, I study resilience and the power of mind. I guess you could say I’ve learned to leverage this challenge of mine and use it to add value to my life and that of others.

What I continue to discover is that fear is indeed a liar or an exaggerator at best. Rotten things do happen but most of the time they don’t. Leaning into difficult experiences builds strength for that which lies ahead.

Running trails and life have unexpected challenges, but I wonder, if we don’t take those trails, how can we truly know our fullest potential? I still hesitate. I will probably always need to breathe through scary moments. It’s my wiring, but it is no longer my cage.

Today, my challenge was a friendly snake, and I’m happy to report I lived to write about it.

What would you do today if you knew you would succeed? I say go for it! I can’t wait to hear about your success.

Be well,

Franchesca