Anatomy of a Bike Ride

Recently I was riding my bike before work—a morning far too beautiful to spend in the gym. Suddenly, I realized I was aware of only my music, my heartbeat, and my hard but steady breathing. It was as if I was riding with blinders on, totally unaware of the landscape, houses, or traffic on either side of me. I was literally going through the motions, just trying to complete my ride.

I was riding like a machine, but this workout was only accomplishing the caloric burn-off goal. No joy. Stress, supposedly released through the pedals. But shoulders to my ears said otherwise.

Breathe out. Phewwww. I slowed up slightly, came back to the reality of what I was doing, then continued moving forward.

I thought about how our weekend rides with friends are much more relaxing, longer, and fun. We ride but can talk, laugh, stop for a few photos. Yes, this ride was shorter in distance, time, and purpose…. but it should be enjoyed too.

Becoming AWARE of my thoughts, my ride, my motions, my morning, my job, my conversations, my night, it makes them all much more real. So busy, it is easy to forget to live the minutes, the details. Sometimes it takes a moment like on my bike to remember that.

Some times we all want to pass fast. Now, without thinking. But when we continually move too quickly we can miss the subtle moments, the quiet ones, some critical ones. We become sloppy, often unaware of the larger picture, thinking only of the task or situation right in front of us.

We should remember that it’s the single moments that make up our life, not just the motions. The Blur.

The journey continues.

C

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Movement

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Lake Michigan, MI

To quiet my mind
zig zagging through the oh-so-important
and meaningless ideas
that whip around my brain
I sit
motionless on the bench,
no sounds of people around
unwavering,
and breathe
deep from within
again
again
until I feel the tension slowly dissipate
from my muscles, bones, sinew, and mind.

Then I become aware
there is movement around,
as my hair flies into my face
and yet, I wait.

The trees trunks remain solid
and strong
while the branches and leaves converse
in their captivating language
I cannot quite translate;

white puffy clouds steady the backdrop
while smaller gray wisps
race across the forefront,
causing the water to ripple and run
on the indigo lakefront,
spiraling out from center,
in undulating patterns.

I watch mesmerized
as the scene morphs again,
again
in a blink.

I absorb my calm
and realize that time
is motion and flow,
carrying on.

Survival.

C

Everyone Has Their Own $h!t

True events–in the space of a few months my dad died, my car was totaled, my husband’s company was purchased, my middle daughter got an extremely bad concussion, then broke her foot, then same said daughter left for college, and just got 6 stitches 24 hours after we dropped her off. Now I have two girls 6 hours away at school as summer fades.

Besides, my dad passing away, I know that many of these ebbs in life are normal—for us they happen to be squished together in a few short weeks . I also know that we all need some ughh and desperate times like these to appreciate the “normal”, the joy, and re-engage with what is important.

To boost spirits through these many tumultuous events, I have started thinking of them as transitions and not endings.  Then I hope that  the inevitable learning will then have positive energy on the other side. I try to start each day with the proverbial clean slate, hoping we are back on the upswing.  We slog through, knowing the days will eventually brighten.

I am aware that many people have worse situations than mine. But, please don’t belittle my life transitions. They are mine; I own them: the tears, the adjustments, the sleepless nights, and the complicated feelings that arise from them.

Daily, I continue to find happiness in the simple, the unexpected, my friends, a bike ride, a movie, making dinner with home-grown vegetables, taking some photographs, reaching out to connect with new people and opportunities, and then receding for a quiet moment.

I don’t talk about it too much. A mantra I say to myself often is that “Everyone has got their shit.” And it’s true.  But sometimes a gal has to vent. Or explode. So I say it, then move on.  And laugh when I can.

C

Never Hide from the Shadows

I feel like the groundhog who saw his shadow last week.  But, instead of six more weeks of winter, I have five more weeks of only walking.  Bummer—I was expecting that the six week post-op appointment I would be released to do some heavier cardio like the elliptical or exercise bike.  But no, to avoid relapse I am to hold to my walking for another five weeks.  That, plus the upper body work out I created using the whopping 3-lb. weights and stretch band.

Is it a dirty secret that I LIKE to exercise?  I feel restless, bored, stress buildup, physically tight (and let’s face it, we ALL get fatter if we don’t move—that is NO secret) when I sit still too long.  So, this news depressed me for about a day.  I want to really sweat.  I want to get ready for my spring break beach trip!

But, as I walked the treadmill the next day—too icy to be outside, for risk of slipping—I realized those were selfish thoughts.  I vowed to banish them from my mind.  At least I CAN walk.  There are so many people unable to walk, others who choose to remain sedentary. To the latter, I ask why?

I realized that I have been actually eating better since restricted to walking, trying to  avoid gaining weight during my twelve week respite. I have really paid attention to what I am eating throughout the day, without the heavy exercising option.  I have planned healthier meals, snacked less, indulged in fewer sweets, and managed to even lose a couple pounds while walking around my neighborhood and on the treadmill.

So if you have to modify your routine,  break your step, let yourself wallow a moment, but don’t let that stop you.  Slow down a pace and think:  How can I change it up?  Improve what I can do?  Increase my knowledge about myself?  Stay happy?

Then surpass myself?

Six more weeks of winter?  Throw a snowball and smile, even if you can’t strap on those those beloved cross country skis, don’t hibernate.  What’s the fun in that?  C

 

The Stretch

Doing unsupported headstands in my 40’s?  Backbends? Trying again and again  unsuccessfully to do a handstand with no wall support (another day).

Riding horses, what to work on today stuck in an indoor arena all winter? Practice something different each ride–curves and straight movements, lateral maneuvers, tempo of the ride.

Trying to challenge the limitations we put on our capabilities can be daunting, but each stretch brings a reward of the mental, the physical.  Sometimes we move too fast, too dangerous, and we back up slowly, start anew,  but  slowly move back to starting position, then ahead–testing, convincing, reminding us that life is a journey yet completed.

It is what keeps us young, life vibrant, talk and actions interesting.  And as we move from working within our spirits to the larger community outside, our souls soar.  Try something new today.  Tomorrow.  C

A Celebration Deserved

As the speaker thanked his family, friends, priests and others in attendence for all they had done for him–while we were there to celebrate his 25 years service as a deacon in the Catholic Church– there was a building applause, a standing ovation, and the deacon finally left the podium wiping his eyes.

Since this parish is about 420 miles from my own, I know only his loving, close-knit, Irish family, having attended college with 3 of the 6 children. I glanced around the church, knowing that there were many others whom Ed had helped through baptism or marriage or death or difficult times during his tenure as deacon. 

I think that many people go through their lives wanting to be Famous or Popular or Rich (such generic terms). But famous for what? popular with whom? I watched people in the church and at the crowded reception and realized that our legacy comes from our actions and words with others, not from what we dream it to be.  A famous wizard said to a scarecrow who wanted a heart that to be loved is not by how much we love but by how much others love us. So true. 

Ed is certainly Famous and Popular in his circle of friends, colleagues, and parishioners that were present this weekend.  His funny jokes and helpful words spread beyond those he deals with, as those he touches pass-along his kindness.  He is truly Rich in family and spirit, surounded by many who love him.  His  Beliefs and Actions drive him, and it is through our behaviors and Presence  that we will be remembered and positively (or negatively) impact others.

Congratulations Ed on 25 years of service.  If we can all try to mimic a small amount of your altruism, our own small world would be more kind gentle place to live in.  C