Lead with joy

After years spent cultivating joyful energy, Margaret Bussan now shares her sunshine with everyone she meets. Read on for how the Lancaster, Wisconsin, teacher connects and runs with her “joy crew” and find her top ten reasons for loving summer!

How’d you become a runner?  

Running didn’t come naturally to me. I had always enjoyed walking and fitness classes (cue step aerobics, Jane Fonda and Denise Austin) but I had never even been an athlete of any kind.

In January of 2010, a 24-hour gym opened up a block away from my house. On opening day, I went in there at 4 a.m. so that I could get a workout in before my morning work commute. That 4 a.m. time was perfect to start my fitness journey, which revolved around miles on the treadmill at first. I started with walking. By mid-February, I realized that I could get my four miles in faster if I would bump up the speed a little bit on the treadmill. I started sleeping in about fifteen minutes more and jogging my miles instead of walking them.

In July, I saw a sign up for a half marathon on Labor Day. I signed up. Labor Day was on September 6 that year. I had been consistent with my treadmill mileage from January through August but I had NEVER run outside until race day! That half marathon was an experience. I quickly realized how much more enjoyable running outside was compared to the treadmill. I still love the occasional treadmill miles but have tried to make more of my runs on the road and with friends.

What’s your current relationship status with running? 

I have come to truly find JOY in being able to run. Throughout 2023, I have had a few health hiccups that have caused me to be out of running for some short periods of time. These have created a new appreciation for what running gives me: JOY!  I am not my fastest right now, but I am consistent with running. I log between 20 and 30 miles a week.

What line from the Joy flower resonates with you most?  

EVERY LINE of JOY resonates with me! Today I am going to go with the line “to appreciate sunshine” because I got up and got my miles in before work because the sunshine coming through the bedroom window was my motivation.

What role does joy play in your life?  

I think this is a key question. I believe that everything we do is infused with the energy that we do it with. If we do something with joyful energy, it will be joyful. 

Please don’t confuse my answer with toxic positivity. When a situation is rough, I try to find the joy in it. Not to bring in nerdy brain science, but I really think that I have trained my brain to find the joy in things.

Over the last ten years, and maybe  even a little more, I have chosen the JOY flower for my runs more than any other flower. It might even be possible to say that I practice joy often so that my joy muscles are always in good health. I am definitely a “lead with my heart” type of person and the emotion I choose to lead with is joy!

What — and we’re taking big things, small things, silly things, anything! — brings you joy?

I think I find joy in everything. I am lucky to find joy in my chosen profession. I find joy in serving others — as a church volunteer and MVRA board member, to name a few. Some of the small things that bring me great joy are time at home with my family, a quiet evening reading or watching TV. I experience joy watching my kids do things they love. I find joy in time with my running friends. Freshly baked cookies fresh from the oven brings me joy. Seeing someone — anyone — experience success brings me joy. Working hard for a goal brings me joy.

Where is your happy place?  

My happy place is with my family (Roger, Kate and Will) or anywhere the sun is shining. I’d love to say it’s at a beach but I feel like we rarely get to a beach.

Why is joy important to you?  

Joy is more than happiness to me. Joy goes along with my physical and mental health. It relates to accomplishments and being more than satisfied. Joy is experienced. I think joy shows in my smile and becomes something that I am able to share with others.

How do joy and friendship intersect for you?  

One way that I feel like joy grows is through shared experiences, and this is definitely a connection to friendships. Sharing a meal together brings joy and builds friendship. Running with others is another way that joy and friendship intersects for me. I experience great joy when I get to run with others.

How about friendship and running?  

I have been so lucky to build the friendships I have with other runners. One of my favorite things about my joy crew is that we are all at different points in life and yet we are able to share experiences. I feel lucky that our friendship isn’t forced. I never feel pressure to be anything more than I am with my run friends. When I am with my run crew, I am able to just be in the moment with them. The moments with them are what they are and that helps bring pure joy.

How do friends make running better?  

Shared experience and shared pain — just kidding! Running friends give me something to look forward to about the runs besides the mileage. I love the time spent with them. We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. We support each other through the hard and we celebrate each other during the great! Knowing that we are there for each other builds my own confidence in myself and I hope it makes them feel more capable, too! While we all have shared values, passions and goals, we also have great differences that help us to be so much stronger together. Having my run crew helps me to be accountable even on the hard days. There have also been times where I might have quit running if I didn’t have my run crew. The support and friendships makes working hard more fun.  

What’s the best part of summer?  

Oh, how I LOVE summer! I don’t think I can pick one thing that’s the best part, but here are my top 10 reasons that summer is my favorite season:

10. Warm weather.

9. Sunlight before I even have to get out of bed.

8. Blue skies.

7. More time for adventures and fun trips.

6. Less pressure and less go go go than the school-year routines (a chance to relax).

5. Race opportunities are abundant. 

4. Time for bike rides. 

3. Saturday farmer’s markets

2. Weekend bonfires and s’mores. 

1. Listening to music in the car at a pretty loud volume with the windows down and the sunroof open.

Don’t miss Margaret leading the Joy Challenge all week long! And if you haven’t signed up yet, there’s still time to join. Click here!

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