A few weeks ago, something really cool happened. I returned to my office from lunch to an email from one of my bosses saying, “Come see me. We need to talk. Needs to be today.” I kinda freaked out. Did I screw something up? Was he going to ask me to take a new case (which I already way too busy for)? I nervously walked down the hall to see what was going on.
“Have you ever heard of an organization called Back on My Feet?” he asked. “Yes, of course.” I replied, now even more confused. As if I was being tested, I proudly explained: “BoMF is a non-profit organization that helps homeless people by engaging them in running to build confidence and self-esteem. They started a Dallas chapter last year, and RunOn! — the store where I got my start as a runner and coach — has been very involved their programs from the beginning.” He gave me a distinct wow-you’re-a-dork look, and explained: “One of the partners in our Philadelphia office sits on their National Board of Directors, and is looking for someone to become more involved in the Dallas office. I know you aren’t required to take on non-billable work (like other ‘partner track’ associates), but I immediately thought of you and wanted to at least see if you were interested.” I quickly replied: “Sure! I’ve been wanting to get involved somehow, so I’d love to learn more about it.”
As it turns out, BoMF wasn’t just looking for ideas on how the law firm could become more involved in the Dallas chapter, they were looking for a new Advisory Board member. I talked with the Dallas Executive Director to learn about the program, their fundraising needs, their long-term goals, and the obligations of board members. Before I signed on the dotted line, so to speak, he suggested I meet him for a run. Now, that’s my kind of meeting!
Last Friday, I participated in my first BoMF run. I dragged myself out of bed at 4:30 a.m., wondering how in the world I had done that four days a week for two years straight. I got lost trying to find the The Bridge, thanks to some unexpected road closures. I learned that it’s still 89 degrees at 5:30 a.m. And I left energized and excited about doing it all again!
I’ve always loved the fellowship of running. Nothing highlights this fellowship better than BoMF. It brings together people of all walks of life. Fortune 500 CEOs run alongside people who just the spent the night in a shelter. Wearing the same gear and united for the same goal, we run, we talk, and we share.
In running, we are the same. For at least 30 minutes, no one is worrying about work, home, or where their next meal is going to come from. Instead, everyone is struggling in the heat, talking about how they started running, and wondering who put that hill there or how far it is to the finish. Before and after we run, everyone hugs everyone. And I mean everyone. There’s something undeniably genuine about sharing a sweaty embrace with someone you just ran with. You can’t help but feel like your family has grown exponentially. Without BoMF, these connections would never happen.
For me, these connections touched another, even more personal chord. When someone asked me how I got involved with BoMF, I realized that my ‘work life’ and my ‘running life’ had just intersected in an incredible way. Two years ago, this opportunity never would have presented itself because I felt like I needed to keep each part of my life in its own little box. It’s not that I was pretending to be someone I wasn’t; it’s just that I somehow thought I couldn’t (or wasn’t supposed to) be a serious lawyer, a fun-loving wife, a dedicated runner, a food lover, etc., etc. all at the same time. Thankfully, something snapped, well really lots of somethings snapped … I turned 30, I had a rocky year in my marriage, and I wasn’t taking the time to be curious and creative to continue grow as a person. Today, I’m not afraid to be myself. As a result, crazy opportunities — like BoMF — present themselves. My 30’s have been pretty darn good, my marriage has never been better, and my dreams keep getting bigger.
Lesson learned :: Unexpected intersections are the basis of some of the most meaningful connections life has to offer. But they won’t happen if you aren’t comfortable in your own skin.