On Monday I ran five miles. On Tuesday I walked four. Wednesday, for many reasons, I took the day off which carried over to Thursday. Today, I got up at 6:00 am, prepared to go for a run. That didn’t happen for a long string of sad reasons. What did happen is I met Betsy who was sitting on her front porch in Gainesville, Florida.
Since the age of 14, running has been Betsy’s thing. What started out as something to do in her small seaside in Massachusetts would quickly become a daily ritual for her. Some 25 years later, her passion for running has become much more than a ritual or discipline.
Running is more than a passion for Betsy, it’s her business as well. This self-made entrepreneur owns her own business – a mobile shoe store called Suda’s Fit Foot. The idea was inspired by her grandmother who, in her 96 years, only complained about one thing: the pain in her feet. Betsy would bring her shoes to her nursing home for her grandmother to try on. “Church groups would come to sing for them, why couldn’t I bring shoes for them?” In 2018, that brilliant idea became a sustainable reality.
Her business is a long way away from where she saw herself when she studied chemistry in college and researched biodegradable polymers in grad school. “But it’s an interesting way to interact with humanity.” And there it was. Our connection wasn't running, it was our love for interacting with life.
That was the purpose for this exercise in the first place. I am always moving forward, finding new pand interesting pathways to interact with people. Especially strong people like Betsy, people whose daily breakfast consists of dark chocolate and coffee. I like meeting people who I can identify with Fraggle Rock – a Muppet inspired musical group that Jim Henson once described as "a high-energy, raucous musical romp of silliness.”
Betsy is also creative like the show. In fact, she recently wrote a parody song set to Culture Club’s Karma Chameleon that is about Sen. Kamala Harris. It was written from the male perspective to talk to men who were still undecided, voting 3rd party, or turned off completely from voting. This past weekend she recorded it with some friends. (Note: she sent me the video of them recording it and it’s awesome).
Although she’s never shot a crossbow, she does play the ukulele, violin, an cello, and has done ballet since she was a little girl. And her first drink was a gin and tonic, which she got while visiting her brother in Scotland while he was studying Theology at St. Andrews!
The most surprising question she had for me was when she asked if I like David Sedaris, the famed humorist. “This reminds me of him. He always likes to ask strangers questions.” She then told me about a time Sedaris got in a taxi at the airport and asked the driver if he has ever petted a monkey. The driver, sniffs his hand and asked, ‘Can you smell it?’” Like me, Betsy loves dry humor and dogs doing silly things. “I like it when nature looks like us.”
There’s a lot more to talk about, as there always is, but this is what I ran with when I went for a mental and emotional jog with Betsy. So many of us are too busy running away from thing or chasing after something with no real purpose. Not Betsy. She sets her sights on the goal she wants to achieve and runs towards it – focused and determined.
Like the words written on her website, "Our goal is to create a world with people living and moving freely, enjoying life." Life, like running, is relational. I am grateful Betsy took the time to move me and our conversation from strangers sharing small talk to friends sharing life.
While it might not have been a marathon, I kept pace with Betsy (who I am sure slowed down for me) as we jogged down the road of life, just beyond the bushes in her front yard.