My friend Wendy is a transplant from Chicago. She told me once that one of the first things she noticed about Seattle is that we are the ‘land of the INGs’. In the Midwest, it’s very common to see groups of folks out in neighborhood and city parks playing pickup games of football, softball or other team sports. But in Seattle, everyone is INGing: RunnING, hikING, cyclING, snow and water skiING. Seattleites like to ING. I couldn’t argue.
By and large these are all somewhat solitary endeavors. I, myself, enjoy running.
Running is my “ING”
I run to U2, Journey, the best of Chicago and sometimes Watermark and Whitney Houston will make it onto the iPod. The music helps me to forget I’m running.
I run mostly on my treadmill, but this past year I began running short routes around my neighborhood. I’ve run in a couple of sponsored ‘races’ around Seattle and hope to do more, although I don’t run for time. You’ll find me and my muffin top at the very last time group to cross the start line, along with the rest of the slow pokeys. If someone were to ask me what ‘time’ or ‘mile pace’ I was targeting, I would have to be honest and reply: “I hope to finish standing upright.”
I run because I’m heading toward 50 in high gear and I’m striving to keep my ‘muscle-to-cellulite ratio’ at some kind of respectable level. I run because I had a baby at 40 and I don’t want to be the old, tired, fat mom. I run because I had a baby at 40 and, unfortunately, I have a wall-sized mirror staring at me when I first get out of the shower and with one glance I can hear my Arkansas-born grandma’s voice saying: “theeee Loooord Gaaaahd have mercy, what happened?” Talk about motivation.
I run, I run, I run, I run, I run, I run!
I began running when my husband, Jaz, and I began our journey through infertility. I found it kept my head screwed on right and my chin off the floor through our many expensive and often disappointing procedures. When I first started running I would celebrate running a quarter mile without stopping. And, usually, celebrate with ice cream. More running.
I have to admit that while I am a highly social creature, running is one of the few solitary activities I do enjoy. I like that there’s no competition, no pace I need to keep, and I’m alone with my thoughts. However, this past year I began occasionally running with my friend, Nina, because she lets me ‘not talk’ and she is always gracious when I need to walk up the hills or otherwise stop and puke.
So, what’s a BING?
As I’m on this mission to see how intentional I can be to get to know my neighbors better as well as explore the many ways for Seattleites to increase connection, I’ve been thinking about how to turn an ING thing into a BING thing?
You know BING, of course. BING is Microsoft’s search engine, designed to get you connected to what you’re searching for. Get it? BING. Connected. (Work with me here.)
A lot of people in Seattle love to ING. Almost every weekend there’s a huge turnout for a sponsored running event. (see: http://seattleruns.com/) On the Seattle runs website, in fact, you will find several running clubs. I recently saw a post on Reddit Seattle that someone was looking for some running partners in the North Seattle area (check it out if that’s your ‘hood).
There are also area cycling clubs (cascade.org; cyclistsofgreaterseattle.org; seattlebicycleclub.org), snow skiing clubs (snojoke.org, nwskiers.org), and let’s not forget The Mountaineers. Joining one of these organizations is an excellent opportunity to have regular connection with others who love what you love. You already love to do it, so why not BING – get connected with others with a shared interest to see if it creates more opportunities for friendships?
How do I convert my “ING” to a “BING?”
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be featuring stories of people that I know that have, in essence, “traded up” their ING for an opportunity to BING. But, as I never want to recommend anything that I haven’t tried myself first and as I’m on this quest to focus on getting to know my neighbors, I was thinking, ‘how can I turn my ING – running – into a potential neighborhood BING?’
Recently, my friend Nina and I were running and I asked her if she thought we could get a group from our neighborhood to sign up to do a race together some weekend. But she came up with a better idea. Why not see if we could start a neighborhood running club? A neighborhood club has no entry cost and can be totally flexible to busy schedules. You post up running dates and times and whoever can run, runs. Maybe it could be a tool to facilitate neighbors meeting neighbors?
So here’s what I’m thinking. This month I’m going to float the idea of a neighborhood running club by either sending out an email through our HOA, or just posting flyers onto our group mailbox sites. I’m thinking that fall is the best time to launch something like this as summer is vacation time and it’s common for folks to be out of town and not want to ‘start anything new’ until the school/fall season gets everyone back into their routines.
I am adamant about inclusion so I’m going to promote that walkers and walkers with strollers are welcome! I’ll send out/post up the invitation, and see who might be interested. It’s worth a shot and it’s certainly not going to hurt my feelings if neighbors aren’t interested. I already love to run.
So, how about you?
What is your ING? How could you take what you already love doing and turn your ING into a BING to open up your friendship circle and invite greater connection with your neighbors, co-workers or others in your local community?
I’ll keep you updated on my ING to BING experiment and I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks about others who have already “traded up” and have found great friendships as a result. As always, if you’ve already done something exactly like this, would you send to me your story? I’d love to share it to give others a roadmap of how to use their passion as a springboard to greater connection.