Running Lessons- Donโ€™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: 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

Harmony Doodle

You may have seen there is a new furry member of Wander in Harmony Inc.

Harmony was 11 weeks old on Wednesday. She is an F1 Goldendoodle. Which means her mom is a Golden Retriever and her dad a standard poodle.

Harmony has been under consideration for many months now.

See, we lost our 12-year-old poodle a year ago last October. This left a hole in our hearts and made Willow, our black lab, an only dog.

Willow has actually become the best-dog-ever after several years of trying our patience and growing out of puppyhood. So, adding a new puppy to a very stable and entirely potty-trained family was a huge decision.

Here’s the thing. I grew up with eight dogs. Five were German Shepards and the other three poodles. I was an only child until I was six, so these pups were not just pets, they were my pack.

As a toddler, I learned a lot about love from my animals. They were fiercely loyal, kind, and always interested in me. I could get them to do just about anything for a Cheeto. As I grew, they let me dress them up, and they were the best students when we played school. Protection was a natural instinct for them, and several of the older humans learned quickly not to reach for me or try to pick me up in the presence of the pack without careful warning. They were easily the best part of my childhood.

Back to Harmony.

As a therapist-in-training, I am fascinated by alternative therapies that help people heal. This is why oils and yoga will always have a place in my practice. As designed, while interning with an advocacy agency for children, I met a therapy dog. Watching the dog naturally and instinctively work with and love on these children was powerful. To watch the children, respond with smiles, touch, and trust, impactful.

Harmony has a long way to go, but we hope she will have a heart and disposition to tend to the hurting. Willow has a beautiful disposition, but some bad manners and is now eight-years-old. Still, Harmony and Willow began training last Saturday. As I said, we have lots of work ahead of us, but I hope to have two new furry therapists in our office in the near future.

I believe the love and protection of dog has the power to grow and heal hearts.

On a personal note, our family is smitten over our new puppy, Willow has a playmate, and everyone has an abundance of love and sloppy kisses.

Follow Harmonyโ€™s training on Instagram @harmonydoodle