Saturday, January 31, 2009


my son has an idea for an invention.
he thinks this should already exist, and can't imagine why someone hasn't figured it out yet:
he wants to invent rear/side mirrors for your car that A, eliminate blind spots, and (more importantly) B, eliminate the "objects in mirror are closer than they appear" issue.
I've done my research, and understand it's all about convexity, a necessary aspect of that passenger-side mirror due to the distance it is from the driver.
however, seeing as our technological advances in the past few years have become astronomical, I see my son's point.
I think he should go for it, work that out, and make himself a nice little fortune. I think he'd share, at least a little, because he's that kind of kid. in a conversation about having a million dollars or so the other day he actually said---implying that there is a limit---how much money does one person need?
keep an eye out for a change in the way we view things while driving our cars.

what really made me think of this, however, is a comment from someone I met last summer. he used that very phrase, warning me in a teasing way to keep an eye out for him. keep your eye on that rear view mirror, because objects are closer than they may appear.
which leads my little brain off on a wiggly path of connections: we are never as isolated as we think. how many times do we bump into people we used to know or used to know us? who know someone we know, or who are related to a friend? as we get older and meet more people, this grows exponentially, and before you know it, there is a loosely woven web connecting almost everyone we know. 6 degrees of separation and all . . .
and how many times to we cross paths with each other, nearly meeting but not quite, following in each other's footsteps, forging paths that someone we know will someday travel?
I believe in some form of fate, and that much of this connecting and crossing and weaving is meant to be. and I would give just about anything to --- just for a few moments --- sit up above and look down upon it all, gazing and finding that I am gaining an understanding of the big picture.

a week ago my son had to write a paper on whether or not he believed in fate. he asked me for some help, and I asked him which side he stood on. I don't believe in fate, he said. we talked for a bit about how to structure his discussion, and then he left to go work on it. I reflected on his words, and his position, and where he is in his life. I have no idea if I believed in fate when I was 16, and I will do nothing other than respect where he is right now.
but I do hope that one day, whether he invents his perfect side mirror or not, he will have experiences that make him realize that at times, people, events, and experiences are closer to our own lives and existences than they may appear.

Friday, January 30, 2009


it's begun.
yesterday bill sent me a message about the Ironhorse bike ride from durango to silverton. he has already registered for it.
this morning in spin class the instructor mentioned that rooms are already selling out in logan for the night before Lotoja.
registration is open for the skinny tire festival.
I just booked my room for the MS 150 ride in Logan this coming june.
it has begun.

driving home from my workout this morning I once again saw a world I remember: a world of silhouetted mountains rimming the city, pressed against a backdrop of lightened indigo blue. the sun is rising earlier, and we are walking away from the depth of winter. I'm feeling a push, an internal push, to be participating in this outdoor world of riding again.
for two reasons, do I caution myself: one, I don't want to go overboard and become lopsided in my zealousness. and two, this feeling is like a false summit. you think you've made it to the top and can now breathe more easily, get into your rhythm, and possibly even have a little bit of downhill to enjoy. but before you know it, the road pulls upward and you are climbing again, working, sweating, a whole entire hill in front of you. again. after you thought you had it all behind you.
that is the late january-early february feeling.
you can register your heart out for every ride around, book your hotel rooms, get psyched, formulate a training plan, commit to eating a nutritionally sound diet (okay, well, maybe not that one), and then . . . it's going to keep snowing.
it's going to continue to drop into the teens and twenties at night.
the roads are going to continue to be difficult to navigate.
then it's going to rain.
and snow some more.
and it it's like last year, it will be almost may before you can ride outside with any kind of regularity.

then there's the over-zealousness. the lopsided me.
this morning in class when the Lotoja conversations started I felt myself being sucked into a whirling, never-ending, overly committed training zone. I came home and checked out the date for this year's event, and then made the significant mistake of looking at the Lotoja 1000 award. mmm. this is awarded to cyclists who have raced 1000 miles since 1998.
that's 5 races.
I'm already at 2 . . .

can you see my little goal-setting cap perched on top of my head?
what is it telling me to do?


I have to end this now, so I can start booking hotels for all of my events this spring and summer.
I can always cancel, right?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

here and there

tonight I am wishing for a magical essay to appear from above, sprinkling down upon me and falling right out of my fingertips.
tonight, I have nothing to say.

I am in another pause: this is a good thing, but it's like a big deep breath before you jump into that seemingly bottomless pool of water. during that big deep breath you make sure of your position, double-check your intended landing spot, adjust your suit, and give yourself a mental attaboy. you're thinking about the big jump---the thrill of it and how you will be changed as a result---but you're not quite there yet. you're running through the have-to's, working your way through that process before you reach that big event. the big event is your focus, but you're also able to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. future focus, while functioning in the present.

that's what I've been doing.
I have my sights on something that will be happening but is not yet.
in the meantime I have to work out in the morning, shuttle kids from here to there, replenish inventory, answer the phone, take the cat to be neutered, have lunch with daughters at school, run errands and return library books, take a child to the orthodontist, get a kid's hair cut, take same kid to piano, pick up the surgically altered cat, somehow make dinner, take kids to basketball practice, fold laundry, remove dog hair from the couch, pick up same kids from practice, wrangle everyone into bed, and set the coffee machine before I retire so that when I get up tomorrow morning I'll have something to help me do it all again.

oh, and find something to write about so as to not miss a day of posting to my web-log.
which tonight is apparently the concept of a future focus coupled with attention to the current day.
I am here, participating, functioning, flowing relatively smoothly through my day, yet I am not here at all.
existence on two separate planes.
I'm smiling as I realize that I'm not too bad at this.
however, it is now time for the last shuttle of the day, so I will gracefully close by thanking the powers that be who managed to somehow sprinkle a little fairy dust my way that magically turned into a little bit of something to say.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

monitoring the dark

I have a friend who once told me I don't need to wear a heart monitor: I know when I'm working hard and I don't need something to tell me that.
my initial feeling was embarrassment: oh gosh, I should be able to tell that about myself, shouldn't I? how humiliating that I need a little device to tell me things like that. he's right, I should just work hard when I need to -- or want to -- and not worry about it.
but I continue to use my monitor, and I continue to now and again be surprised by the number I see on the little screen.

I wear my monitor on most outdoor rides, and always during spin class. occasionally during a weight room workout, too, just for the fun of seeing what certain exercises do to my heartrate. (for instance, doing squats or lunges while holding a big ball over my head sends my heartrate to zone 4 --that's high-- which really surprised me.)
many cyclists I know shun the entire monitor concept, and I don't have a problem with their thought processes at all. however, the system works for me.
because this is what I find: my heart is not always beating as quickly (or as slowly) as I think it is. in other words, my perceived exertion is not always the same as my actual exertion. some routes I have nailed down so accurately that I can almost always guess my heartrate within a few points. but on new territory, I'm not always so accurate. and in class, I can often be off by a good 10 beats, which puts me in a much different place than I might think.
and does it all really matter?
probably not.
perhaps it just provides me an illusion of control.
and some mornings, in the deep dark of the light-less spin room, an illusion is all I receive anyway.
this morning, dug sat to my left and there were times we were both peering at our monitors, twisting them in hopes of catching the faintest beams of light that drifted our way from the instructor's tiny lamp.
which made me giggle inside, as my own experience fell under the "futile activities" category and since he was even further from the light, I can't imagine that his was any better. I could make out a "1" to the far left: okay, I was in the 100's. then it was either a 6 or a 7, well, maybe a 7 or a 6. and I gave up on the third digit, deciding it didn't really matter.
however, I knew exactly when I hit the 180+ zone. the intensity of this experience I recognize easily by now, because it's an uncomfortable place to be.

at times perhaps the monitor serves as a crutch, letting me fall into a place of "oh it's high enough, I don't need to work any harder." but then I fear that if I did not have it, I would work harder than I should because I have this intense drive to push, push, and push harder.
bottom line: it keeps me honest. it's really hard to cheat one of those things.
for even when you can barely read the screen, it's logging every single beat of your heart, thump-thump, thump-thump.
so for me, I will continue to monitor, be it in the light, or in the dark.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I could wax poetic on the bountiful beauty surrounding me this morning . . .
but nothing I wrote could come close to describing our world. we have trees with snow coats and iced branches, and light, spanking white powder has settled on every inch of ground. the sun is throwing its beams down from far, far away and the light is diffused by the distance, rendering the world a pale shade of bright.
it is bitterly cold and last evening's slush has frozen into blocks and clumps which were then dusted by snow powder during the fairy hours of deep night.

this is my gift: if I can't be riding my bike, at least I can walk in a world of unspeakable beauty.
my soul wants to be at the top of emigration right now, looking down at the frozen reservoir. surely, by now, the ice has inched its way across the entire body of water? it has been 6 days since I have gazed upon the basin, at which time its belly remained enigmatically ice free. since that time, however, we have had a stretch of cold days, one of which brought 11 inches of snow to the canyon. perhaps, then, those stretching fingers of ice crept across the reservoir's fat stomach to connect with each other, building a solid expanse of ice. or perhaps they are finishing their work this very morning as I type and breathe an ode to the reservoir's chilly existence.
sparkles reflect off the trees standing in my yard, standing just a little bit straighter than they did yesterday. they will shed more of their covering today, as the sun gathers strength and height and the snow remains at bay.

tomorrow the skies will release another explosion of snow, though perhaps it will be less wet and burdensome to the trees and saplings, the shrubs and perennials who sit in blatant dormancy.
and then, then, I am promised that the world will clear and the sun will remain strong and as powerful as the winter season will let it be, and the roadsides will begin to melt. a bike lane or two will again become visible, while foot upon foot of snow will continue to hug the hillsides.
I will scout the roads, watching for cyclists on skinny tires, and make my judgment calls. I will lube my chain, and think about those 28 remaining miles.

I just waxed, didn't I?

ps: picture is courtesy of my new computer toy, a webcam....

Monday, January 26, 2009


today is a day to gaze upon the world in wonder. to be awed by the incredible beauty, and by the forces of nature which brought that beauty to us.
trees along my path today are bending deeply under the weight of the towering inches of snow their branches support. trees of smaller girth and reach are bent to two-thirds their normal height, while the oldest trees that reach sixty feet skyward have shed branches and limbs onto the lawns of my street. nature has a funny way of breaking what does not bend... *
I knocked snow from my aspen this morning, watching them rise a few feet higher without such great burdens.

do we, too, rise when we are unburdened? are we, like trees and shrubs and lilies, saved from breaking when we learn to bend?
and why is it so difficult to bend?

my ride last wednesday took my odometer to 8972. I am a measly 28 miles short of the big number. a week ago I thought I could do it before the month ended, and today I am clinging perhaps a little bit desperately to that hope. more snow tomorrow, they predict, and then a dry spell for perhaps a week. saturday's temperature is supposed to reach 40 . . . with only partly cloudy skies . . .
last january I didn't ride outside at all. this january, I have leaped upon almost every opportunity that has presented itself. my 40 degree minimum rule flew out the window when I discovered I needed a ride more than I needed physical comfort.

I'm bending more than I have in the past. pushing myself outside my comfort zone, both literally and figuratively. flowing with what comes my way, free-falling at times. holding on to faith, again, that somehow, someway, it will all begin to make sense.
I am practicing being supple, so that I, like my aspen, can return to my full, imperial height after I release the burdens that come sit upon me for a time.

*lyrics from Innocence maintained, by jewel kilcher

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I've had time to reflect upon yesterday's post, and now have more insight into myself. fortunate you, to be availed of such . . .
I retain my right to call myself stubborn. nothing there has really changed.
however, what kept poking at me was my discussion about why I don't work harder to improve bits and pieces of how I operate in this world.
what I've been gently shown is that it's a matter of commitment. perhaps my fear of commitment. (I can feel a few of you jumping up and shouting, "yes!," pumping your little furry fists in the air.)
it's possible that I have a rather odd little fear of commitment. I'm not sure what the ordinary person's fear of commitment is all about (not being very ordinary at all), but this is what mine is about: when I commit, it's intense and deep. I don't do it half-heartedly, or in just a small way.
this should be obvious to everyone who knows me.
when I started biking, I started biking 6 days a week. when I took the Power Camp course I won the Straight A Student award for never missing a day. within my first year of road biking I completed a 206-mile ride . . . does this show a wishy-washy commitment?
friends from class 2 years ago still know they'll find me during bad weather on a particular bike in the spin room, and that I'll be outside on my bike if the weather complies.
if I say I am committed to something, I follow through.

thus my fear: if I say yes, I am in.
if I say possibly or maybe, I have wiggle room.
and sometimes a gal just needs wiggle room.

there came a time in my marriage when things were extremely difficult, and bob and I were each seeing our own counselors. bob's agreed to meet with the 2 of us together, and we had a single, disastrous session. at one point the therapist asked me if I was committed to the marriage, and the only answer I could supply was I'm not sure.
I know that was the last thing in the world bob wanted to hear, but I couldn't say yes, because that meant I would have to do and give everything in my power to make it right again. and deep in my core I knew that wasn't the best solution. time has proven the dissolution of our marriage to be the best thing for both of us, but at the moment when I had to utter those 3 words, I was floundering. yet I could give no answer other than the one I did.

to me, commitment is deep and full. it's intense and strong and full of promise. it rules my behavior.
thus, I limit what it is I fully commit to. because I don't want to fail, to do it halfway.
yes, permission is granted to change one's mind, or to outgrow an experience. but I am one who jumps only after great consideration, whether it be into or out of.

until yesterday I would never have agreed that I had a fear of commitment.
but today, I understand that in my own quirky way, I do.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I have always had a stubborn streak.
it has not always served me well.
however, it seems to be a deeply ingrained piece of who I am.

this came to mind the other day as I was riding, when I noticed something I had never before seen while riding up emigration canyon. I have ridden up and down that road at least a hundred times by now, and never until three days ago did I notice the barn with a horse standing beside the gate. I had no idea that the area was zoned for horses, had never even thought about it.
it took a huge "For Sale Horse Property" sign to bring me to this awareness, and as I rode past and looked more deeply into the property, sure enough there was a barn and horse just smiling away at me in delight. look and ye shall find.

I am constantly amazed by how little I actually see. I drive the same roads and streets and routes and am oblivious to most of what streams past my window. when I ride I am aware of a little bit more, as the slower pace allows me more time to observe. well, ideally, anyway, as just proven by my obliviousness to the horse barn.
I once made a commitment to myself to notice one new thing each time I drove a familiar and routine route. say, every time I took a child to their piano lesson, I would pick out a new house to study and remember.
I think that lasted two weeks.
and this is where I tie in my stubbornness. I have some kind of innate system of stubbornness that refuses to work too hard to improve myself. there are thousands of books available that offer suggestions on how to improve your memory, your reading skills, your writing skills, your powers of observation, your efficiency, your whatever-else-there-may-be. and they all suggest small tasks to do on a regular basis that will ultimately increase your effectiveness in whatever area you choose to work on.
I am too stubborn to give any one of them a try. I could offer a hundred excuses as to why not, and it really just comes down to I don't want to have to work that hard. I stubbornly insist that I'm good enough as I am, that I can continue to get better at things in my own little lazy ways. that I don't need help, that I am already pretty darn good at these things.
like my powers of observation: I'm darn observant. why should I employ little techniques to be better? I'm observant enough just as I am.

and then I go for a ride and realize that I had no idea there was a horse 20 yards away from me each time I rode up the canyon. I never caught a whiff, heard a whinny, saw the tiniest telltale sign of a horse's presence.

it's good to be humbled every once in a while.
so my new commitment to myself is to notice one new thing each time I drive a familiar route.
we'll see how long this lasts.

Friday, January 23, 2009


it took about 18 years for me to catch on, but when I did, I bought into it completely. it's become my mantra, and my way of working through this life experience.
what, you ask?
a catchphrase that's been out there since july of 1988, when dan wieden put together three simple words in an effort to help nike sell more stuff:
just do it.

honestly, for 18 years I never really got it. I exercised---usually aerobics, step classes, spin class---semi-regularly, depending how crazy my life was, but I wasn't ever focused seriously on something until I started riding. therefore, the nike slogan was just that to me: the catchphrase of an advertising campaign.

but a couple years ago it started to sink in. it began to resonate with me, and I suddenly got it. no complaining, no excuses, no bragging, no apologies or justifications: you just go out there and do it.
when you want to, and when you don't.
when it feels great, and when it feels crappy.
when you're energized, and when you're tired.

this morning my alarm crashed into my dream world at 5:15. it felt like 5 minutes before I could find the snooze button, which is what I have to hit first before I'm awake enough to turn the alarm itself off.
I lay there thinking of how good more sleep would feel. of how I could maybe go work out later (ha). of how I've been unwell and maybe sleep was more important than exercise.
then I got up.
and got myself to the gym.
halfway through spin class I was on a high, feeling all of those endorphin-related feelings: I was alive, vibrant, competent, capable, strong, tough . . . and I was exceedingly grateful that I'd gotten myself out of bed an hour earlier. if I could bottle that feeling, and just give myself the tiniest dose of it at 5:15 there would be no delay at all in my getting-up process.
I don't always feel terrific during my entire rides or workouts, but there are always moments of pure joy and exaltation. feelings that I can't replicate when I stay home and sleep in.
staring out the window during class this morning, watching the rain in the lighted spheres of the tall spotlights, I thought about how important it is in life to just get up/get out and do it.

from my nike workout top to my nike cycling shoes to the nike logo in my brain . . . I guess I'm a walking (and cycling) advertisement for the power of a slogan.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

out and about

these are the people I saw yesterday on my ride:

1 dog walker (one dog)
1 toddler and her family, sledding
2 sets of 2 walkers (rare)
8 cyclists
1 runner
2 hunners (that's "hunter" in english)
1 jogger
2 artists

we were all up the canyon, trying to breathe clean air, and I believe, succeeding.
had I been riding two hours later, I would have seen my son's lacrosse team, who rode a bus up the canyon for their outdoor workout. the wonderful winter inversions of our fair city tend to give us muck to breathe.

I rarely see people out walking the canyon road in twos, but even more rarely do I see artists, sitting by the side of the road, working on their sketches and paintings. this was my favorite couple of the day yesterday.
they were plunked down on a wide stretch of shoulder about a mile from the summit, their outdoor canvas chairs facing the drop-off on the western side. their view took in miles of hillside spotted with homes, and the curve of the canyon walls winding down into a jumble of hills that drew the eye to the small opening at the bottom which revealed a siting of the city.
his pad looked black and white in my quick glance, while I saw a palette dotted with color on the arm of her chair. I offered a hello which was returned heartily by her, and acknowledged with a brief look by him.
they were young, and wrapped in scarves and coats, though their hands were bare. her voice was joyful, and I like to think that they were immersed in their experience, braving the bitter cold to capture the vision they desired.
joggers, runners, hunters, walkers, sledders, cyclists: we are all commonplace on this road. whatever our reasons, whatever our goals or desires, we are busy doing whatever motions are required for our activity. our minds may be focused on our efforts or a thousand miles away, but our bodies are busily keeping us grounded.
artists, on the other hand, seem to pinpoint a moment in the day, a single place on earth. they are committed to documenting the existence of those moments and places, and they bring joy to my soul.
it is to 2 strangers that I owe a bit of gratitude today, which is perhaps a beautiful way to weave my way through the world.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I am slightly proud and extremely grateful that I have never been drawn to drugs.
most of the credit, I'm sure, goes to my upbringing and my genetic makeup, but I'll claim just a teeny bit of credit for my own resistance. most of that resistance is based on the belief that life is amazing enough as it is: I certainly don't need anything else to enhance it.
but there are times that I have needed something to make it bearable.
and that is when I ---reluctantly--- turn to prescription medications.
which is what I did last thursday afternoon.
I have had this pain in my mouth since the day before Christmas. I first noticed it as I was sitting in church, and I barely made it through the service. I couldn't wait to get home and take some ibuprofen (yes, I do do ibuprofen) and hopefully make it go away. the pain hovered, ranging from barely there to barely tolerable, for the next couple weeks. I began taking ibuprofen fairly consistently, and eventually reached a point where I was watching the clock to see when I could have the next dose.
after two weeks I went to my dentist, who took x-rays that didn't show any problem. we both knew, however, that I had a tooth that had been at risk for a while, and that this was the likely culprit. I left, hoping it would all just get better on its own.
a week later I had hit my pain limit, and the dental office was closed for the 4-day weekend.
I hate to ever think I'm in a desperate enough situation to qualify as an emergency, but at this point I dialed the emergency number the office machine supplied. my nice dentist called in prescriptions for a narcotic, hydrocodone, and an antibiotic, and I knew there was hope for my surviving the weekend.
enough: the bottom line is that I took my antibiotics as ordered, and the hydrocodone---one pill every 4 hours---for a 96 hour period until I could get in to see the dentist yesterday. (at which time he performed step 1 of my root canal procedure, relieving me of that terrible, all-encompassing pain that had been radiating out into my entire head.)
today I have felt like crud.
which I am attributing to the de-tox process.
96 hours of intense ibuprofen and hydrocodone must have a substantial impact on a body, and the process of releasing those toxins must take a day. that's my theory.
so I moped around this morning, barely completing the work I needed to complete, then decided that I would sweat out the rest of the gunk via a bike ride . . .
which I did.
which also brought to light another realization: every bike ride of mine is a form of detoxification. through these rides I let go of stress, of anxiety, of frustration. my body releases sorrow and loss and feelings of inferiority. I sweat out confusion and misunderstanding, and gain clarity.
my bike: detoxification machine extrodinaire.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

the one thing having to do with cycling

yesterday I shared my dream. it has already faded for me, had even faded by the time I went to bed last night. it had slowly changed from vivid to just a remembrance to a questionable event. did I really have that experience?
which is why I needed to document it here, to put it into words and down on paper so that I know it did exist.
I mentioned that it perhaps had one thing in common with cycling: that one thing is peace.
my dream swam in peace, from jake's voice to his words to the feeling surrounding us all.
and my biking is all about peace: the peace I feel as I pedal away and above the sometimes narrow existence we experience here in our valley. the peace I feel when I become absorbed in the natural world that surrounds me, where all artifice is gone, where nothing exists that is not deeply and truly real.
maybe this dream stripped away all the unnecessary, all of the sugarcoatings and pain and the fitting-in of what really doesn't fit anywhere. my dream was about the essentials: the peace and love between the purest forms of both my son and myself.
just as my cycling lays bare the purest form of my human self: working my body to its limit, me against me, the silence, the solitude, my total submission to the natural world around me.
peace, and love.

Monday, January 19, 2009

absolutely, positively in no way about anything having to do with cycling, except perhaps in just a small way I'll write about tomorrow

early this morning I had a dream.
it was so vivid, so real, I knew I was there within it.
and I was, it was me there, the self I am. I was there with my oldest son.
there were other people, mostly medical professionals, and there were conversations I could replicate here, but they aren't necessary. maria, our long-time nanny and my children's second mom, was there.
and jake.
I was by his bedside, or perhaps perched on the side of his bed, cradling his upper body. he was slightly bigger than he is right now, and I was being told about the new scar on his upper back and the experimental surgery they had done that had resulted in that very scar. I was listening and absorbing, and as I held my son he woke up.
and spoke.
with complete clarity and knowledge of who I was.
he said hi, and looked me in the eye as he did so. we conversed, questions and comments and answers flowing back and forth. he requested some medicine, asked if I had been the one to give it to him last. I responded in the negative, and asked a nurse to get it for him.
every bit of this was peaceful, natural, as if we'd been conversing our entire lives. I wanted it to go on forever.
somehow it was conveyed to me that the last operation was responsible for this experience, and I commented to one of the doctors present that I had given up hope of him ever being able to do anything like this. the doctor replied, never give up hope, there are always more things that can be done.
jake fell asleep, and I worried that when he woke again he would be as he'd always been: unable to speak or make eye contact. but I sat with him, holding his hand. when he awakened again, he was just as before: conversant and peaceful, my young man of a son.
as you can guess, I wanted to remain inside this dream. it was so very real; I knew jake was truly talking to me. nothing he said was earthshattering, there was no spouting of heavenly wisdom. instead, we had a gentle, everyday conversation full of love and peace.
I returned to the waking world filled with strong emotions: joy, and love. loss, and peace. I had a sense of being plaintive, being pulled by an unfulfilled yearning.
today I've been walking through the world in a different way than before, because after almost 18 years, I have finally had a conversation with my son.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

days of rest

the saddest thing about a day of rest is that I don't get to eat as much.
now, have I told you how I think I'm missing that part of your body that tells you to stop eating when you're full? I'm sure I am, just as I'm sure that I once learned which part of my brain has that task, but I've since forgotten.
I never get the message that I'm full until it's too late. I can serve myself from a buffet over and over for hours and never know I've had too much until I'm almost sick. thanksgiving dinner renders me a zombie, as I keep serving myself helping after helping because it's just so darn good. if a restaurant serves me a full plate of food, I will eat a full plate of food. I never say "no more" because I'm full: I say "no more" because I know it will end up on places of my body I don't want it to be.
I can eat cake for breakfast.
I can eat brownies and cookies for lunch.
I do try to fit some protein in there, but I can graze all day long on carbohydrates.
so when a day of rest comes along, my caloric outflow is drastically reduced, and I panic. my only hope is that perhaps I might not be as hungry, since I haven't exerted so much energy. but as I explained, I often eat just for the pure pleasure of it, not because I'm hungry.
yes, it's time for a day off. a day of rest. a day of recovery, of my muscles growing even more strong and powerful as I let them slack off for 24 hours.
I will be good today, though. I will snack on healthy food, and tell myself I'm full even when I'm not. I will retrain my brain. I will function perfectly well without that silly part that I'm missing.
but first, I think I'll have a cookie.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

things mechanical, revisited

wheeling my bike out of the garage felt good.
navigating the frozen, irregular ice dam at the end of my driveway felt good.
getting my butt back on the saddle felt good.
listening to the clanging sound some part of my bike was making did not feel good at all.

I have been terribly remiss in caring for my bike.
if it were a child, I would have been reported by now.
in fact, if cute jared at the bike shop knew about it, he would probably have my bike taken away from me.

yesterday I cleaned my chain, degreasing it, then gave it a light coat of lubricant. it was much quieter after that. but it's still dirty, specks and splotches of muddy dried water almost everywhere. snow has been melting from the hillsides and road edges, resulting in water seeping, trickling, or even streaming across the road. there is more on the downhill bike lane than the uphill, as the downhill bike lane is on the north side of the road, where the south-facing hill has given up almost all of its snow to the melting process.
heading uphill, thus, is a relatively dry endeavor, but the same cannot be said for the downhill ride. crossing all of the stripes of water, at 25 to 30 miles per hour, kicks a lot of little droplets of water up at my legs, bottom, and back, and even my arms. and occasionally, my face. when I get home, my butt is wet from the rooster tail I've sent up my backside.
as you can imagine, the water kicked up that doesn't attach itself to me, clings to my bike. it's one of those optical illusions: the water looks clean and clear, just as melted snow should, but as it dries the evaporated water leaves behind dirt.
one is also supposed to clean a bike chain after it's been wet, clean it and dry it, to prevent the possibility of rust taking over.
how often do you think I remember to do that?
yes, I'm a terrible wet-weather bike owner.
I will work on this, because a little bit of effort and elbow grease is a very small price to pay for the joy of riding my bike in the middle of january under a sun-filled bluer than blue sky.

Friday, January 16, 2009


yesterday afternoon I rode my bike to escape.
I sat through the funeral, crying more than I wanted to, crying every time I looked at one of the family members. every time I looked at ellie's mom my heart dropped to the floor and I felt such deep anguish I could barely stay inside my skin.
so perhaps I rode to feel some kind of release, to try to explode from beneath my skin. perhaps I rode to reclaim some of life's joy; maybe it was to connect again with God in some kind of unity.
I have no anger, no frustration with the unfairness of it all. I am at peace with it, knowing that this great big tapestry we're being woven into can only be made if sorrow and loss strike us down at times.
but that doesn't preclude my ache for the family. if only I could take away their pain, their sorrow, their huge and terrible loss. I know their next years will be difficult in a thousand little ways we'll never be privileged to know.
sitting in the church I knew I needed to ride afterward.
so I did.
I rode hard. I rode to the top of little mountain and then stopped. I paused, my heartrate settling, and I gazed down over the vista I love. little dell appeared somehow less and more frozen than yesterday, patches of liquidity in places different from what I saw the day before. I studied the reservoir, trying desperately to imprint this view onto a slate of memory. I want to return to this place, in my mind, when I need peace and understanding. when I'm sitting in churches during funerals, feeling as though I may implode, I need that visual and its effect on my soul.
gray and platinum still swirled with the icy white solid spaces, and the ice seemed to stretch further out into the middle than the day before. my eyes traced a path around the reservoir, as far as I could see, and I envisioned myself making the trek on snowshoes. two silent trucks sat in the parking lot, and not a sound or movement broke my reverie.
my ride seemed selfish: I wanted to be able to gift my experience to ellie's mom and dad, to give them even the tiniest sense of the peace I was able to attain.
I have sent it their way, as have hundreds and hundreds of others, and my prayers tonight will include my desire that they feel even a small percentage of all the love that's being directed to their beautiful family. if you are one who prays, a small prayer for holly and pat and their family would surely be a gift from you to them.
I'm pretty sure ellie's watching us all, giggling and licking a 'potsicle,' preparing for a somersault. I hope I can imprint that image of her in my memory bank, and keep it alongside the image of my most favorite, peaceful, holy spot on earth.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


what does one wear to a funeral for a two-year-old child?
I realize the answer to this question is really irrelevant, but it was what flitted through my mind as I stood in front of my open closet this morning.
black, so somber, so serious, so mournful. something bright: too celebratory, better for someone who has been released from pain or suffering. I want to acknowledge the terrible loss and the devastation, yet I don't want to be an apparition of deep anguish and finality. perhaps gray. perhaps brown. or perhaps pink, this child's favorite color, the color the parents are encouraging us to wear today, which I would want to wear if I owned any.
so I don't yet know.

what strikes me this morning is the dichotomy between those of us who are celebrating our lives, and those who are deeply mired in sorrow and loss. yesterday I was riding my bike, engaged with and joyful about life and the richness of my experience, while this two-year-old's parents were probably stumbling through their day, numbed with shock and disbelief. at any given moment, the people in my neighborhood are probably in every different emotional state available: from joy-filled to distraught and everything in between.
I did not know this little girl, but I know her parents and siblings, all of them beautiful humans fully engaged with life. their mom, the kind of mom I wish I had it in me to be: a mom first and always, completely given to the nurturing of her children. dad, a proud papa kind of guy, probably stunned by the amazing brood he created and sustains. three sisters, one brother, all sharp with energy and determination.
I ache for them all.

I have walked the path of being mired in sorrow and loss. I lived there longer than I care to think about. I was one of the walking wounded, the shocked and ruptured, the unbelieving. I moved through a world full of people who were joyful and engaged and vibrantly alive, and felt so alien as to be from not just another country, but another world. I functioned, but I lived with a hole inside so large that I often expected it to swallow me. at times I did wish to be swallowed whole.

at any given moment millions of us are suffering, millions of us are floating on cloud number 9, and millions of us are at those myriad points in between, watching our joy slowly diminish or our pain begin to slip away or just hovering in a peaceful place.
perhaps the greatest gift we can give each other is to recognize that anyone of us may be at any emotional point at any time, to empathize with the difficulty of many of these states, and to somehow let others know---via the squeeze of a hand, a genuine smile, a hug, a note---that you acknowledge their pain.
and to know that if they cannot accept this, that's okay as well, for pain, sorrow and devastation are taxing bedfellows. sometimes the only thing that saves us is time. a great deal of time.
and that is the gift we give to others when we care for them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

the art of freezing

I did it, I am one of the luckiest people on earth, I am so happy, I am full of joy:
I rode my bike outside today.
ok, got that out of my system. time to settle down now.

yesterday afternoon when the temperature rose to about 50 degrees and the sun was pouring through the cloudless sky, I was aching to be on my bike. the weather forecast for today predicted a high of 45 with mostly sunny skies, so last night before bed I promised myself I would make a ride fit into my day today.
thanks to connie, who brought my son home from school today, it all worked.

it's only been two weeks since I'd ridden, but it felt as though it'd been much longer. about half a mile from my house I was laughing to myself (which you know is a common occurrence), telling myself it's just like riding a bike . . . it comes back to you.
I headed up emigration and---perhaps I've said this before---it was the most beautiful I've ever seen it. this time surely trumps any other.
today the sky is cloudless, the hillsides are white. at the summit, you look out at white slopes and peaks as far as your eye can see, mountaintop after mountaintop stretching off into the distance. deeply piled snow aligns the roadways, and the air is so crisp and clear it cleans your lungs with each breath.
and the piece de resistance, what I'm aching to describe for you so that you may vicariously experience this through me, is the reservoir.
it has begun to freeze.
the edges have turned to ice, and they are slowly creeping their way out into the body of the reservoir. the far western end, the end where the dam holds back the water, is frozen solid, the ice reaching fifty, sixty feet into the center of the reservoir. the eastern edge, the rough and uneven shoreline, has also frozen and is sending its icy fingers toward the center, as well.
the middle of the reservoir is green and blue and deep as always, holding onto its liquidity, rippling with the breeze and defying the encroaching whispers of frozen crystals.
the surface nearest the dam is a thousand different colors of silver and white. swirls in the pattern of the ice belie my simple theory of ice forming on the edges and moving inward: something else is happening here. if I were God I would be tempted to reach down and play with the differing shapes and textures visible on the surface: the platinum stretches and the white swirls, the pale silver edges and the frosted white ridges. I don't know how He can live with the incredible beauty He has created: it stuns and overwhelms me.
the tableau we see from the Little Mountain summit is so much greater than the words I can give it, so amazingly peaceful, so affirming.
I rode down and along the full length of the reservoir, soaking in the beauty and its nearness.
if I learn to carry that vision and the sense of being there with me as I walk through my life, I will surely have access, always, to an inner peace and joy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

lizard on rock

what is it about us humans that makes us uncomfortable doing things with people we barely know?
actually, I'm hoping it's not just me who has this experience; perhaps it's not fair of me to take my feelings and extrapolate to the larger community.
but having witnessed varying reactions to the instructor's command "it's time for partner work," I think I'm safe in saying this is an arena that at the least, many of us are uncomfortable entering.

this morning I was a lizard.
and then I was a rock.
and both times, I was having significant body contact with a woman I don't know, and have maybe only seen a time or two before in my life.
I put on my I can do this hat, and survived.

two weeks ago I was part of a 4-person human flamingo chain (that's my name for it, as I don't think they have flamingos in india, do they?). we all stood on one leg, put our bent arms out to our sides and pressed palms with our neighbors, then leaned backward, arching our backs as far as we could go. I had to put my I can do this hat on then, as well.
and I survived.

this morning's pose involves the bottom person--the rock--in child's pose, where you kneel on your shins, then bend forward and rest your forehead on the ground, arms stretched out past your head, so you really do look a lot like a rock. well, a rock with extended arms.
the lizard then begins by sitting on your tailbone, facing backwards, then slowly reclining until their backbone is directly above the rock's tailbone, and the lizard's head ends up by the rock's head. the lizard then extends their arms up and over their head, and the rock grabs their wrists and gently pulls.
got it??
the important part for you to get is the body contact: significant.
I must say I am extremely grateful that I had positioned my mat next to a woman at the beginning of class, and that I wasn't the female at the other end of the room who had to pair up with the guy, the single Y chromosome in the room.
I would have survived that, but only after a lot of embarrassment.

I'm pretty sure we all dread partner work.
but is it the embarrassment, that we fear we will be judged and found wanting, or a reluctance to connect and somehow bond with an unknown entity? is it an unwillingness to let down our guard, our walls that protect our fragile emotional selves? or is it a superiority in some, an aversion to connecting with something that may be less than their opinion of themselves? a fear of germs?
whatever it may be for each one of us, I believe it exists.
and I also know that once the comfort boundary has been breached, smiles of fellowship surface much more easily.

I preferred being the rock, the solid base underneath another. being a lizard was less comfortable for me. are you surprised?

Monday, January 12, 2009

when I grow up

my joke of the day:

three men walk into a bar.
the fourth man ducks.

ok, you can laugh now.
this is a perfect seque into my topic today: what I wish to be when I grow up.

what do I wish to be when I grow up?

I would like to have to duck, just a little, when I enter certain places. when I walk under low-hanging trees. when I go down my stairs, moving underneath the pull-up bar in the doorway.

now I know I can't really get any taller, I know this is all just a fantasy. perhaps in another life I'll have that extra inch and a half in my leg bones. or perhaps I've had it before, and that's why I'm missing it.
regardless, I do have a more serious list of how I wish to be when I grow up:

  • more calm, and even less reactive
  • fearless
  • a better listener
  • more absorbent of information that comes my way
  • more carefree and spontaneous
  • more playful
  • less concerned with the long-term consequences of what I do, as my predictions are only occasionally accurate
  • more engaged with the process of cooking
  • a more willing hostess
  • more willing to share myself with the world
  • entangled in relationship with the love of my life
  • creating the world I desire to be part of with every waking breath
  • one who walks the path she was born to walk
I've shared with you before the quote I keep tucked behind a ribbon on a board in my room, that tells us, when we are born our work is placed in our heart. our job must be to uncover that work, accept it, and go for it. the things I've listed above are just the current version of my life's work.
socrates stated that the unexamined life is not worth living, and others have gone on to say the unchallenged life is not worth living, as well.
I know deep in my heart that I will die---whenever that might be---having lived a life that was extremely well worth living.
perhaps that's enough for this morning.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

for love of the sport

the things we do for love.
they are many and varied, depending upon what kind of love it is, obviously.
this morning I was decidedly suffering for my love, and I felt an exquisite pain as a result.

my love? cycling, but you knew that.
my suffering? another harder than hard spin class in a suffocatingly hot room.

let me be clear: I do not love spin class. I reluctantly get myself there, pick a bike with the right kind of saddle (there are 3 different kinds, only one of which my bottom can tolerate) in a spot where I can see out the window, clip on, and steel myself for the experience.
it is not fun.
it is hot and sweaty and difficult and I only do it so that when I get to ride my real bike in the real world I will be just one teeny iota better at it than I would be without the spin class efforts.
it's all about the love of the sport.
I pushed and climbed and watched my heartrate soar and wiped sweat from my eyes, knowing that I was only doing this because I love my real bike.

in the great big world and scheme of things, I suppose we do the same for interpersonal love.
we sacrifice, we compromise, we work harder than we want to work doing things we sometimes don't want to do. we push ourselves, we stretch beyond what we thought were our limits, we sometimes ache with the pain of it all. when we love, we don't always have an easy time.

and just as spin class is a kind of practice for the real cycling experience, our lives give us opportunities to practice giving and receiving love:
being friendly to the driver who just cut us off, stole our parking place, or almost drove right into us because he was preoccupied with something else.
thanking everyone who does anything even remotely helpful to us.
giving a stranger a compliment, shoveling your neighbor's walk, sending an email of thanks to someone who once did something nice for you, whether it be last week or five years ago.
smiling and saying hello to the people you pass, whether walking or cycling (!!) or jogging.
writing notes to your kids and leaving them under their pillows.
continuing a conversation that is difficult and heartbreaking, yet vital.
forgiving, and letting go.

the things we do for love.
they are not always easy, or fun, or even likable. but they move us forward, they encourage our growth, and they make us just a teeny iota better at whatever it is our love is about. and whether they involve sweat, or tears, or the swallowing of ego or the flexing of a part of us, they all make a difference.
they all

Saturday, January 10, 2009

muscle beach

this morning I went to a spin class at a different facility.
I have become so accustomed to the jcc that I don't give a second thought to the way things are. it's a family place; most people there are married; most of the people who I see there during my workout times are solidly positioned in adulthood. if they're younger, they are usually just the children of the well-into-adulthood adults I know.
classes are rarely ---but sometimes--- full, and it is such a large, sprawling building that I have never have a sense that it's crowded. perhaps the weight room becomes so occasionally (and the outdoor pool on hot summer days), but those are the only spots I experience a sense of "full."
this morning I felt as though I walked into another existence.
people flowed everywhere, moving between cardio machines and weights and the spin room and the aerobics room and in and out the main doors and down to the locker rooms . . . I have never seen this many people exercising, waiting to exercise, and completing their exercising experience in one place at one time. on a saturday morning, no less, between 7:30 and 9. I'm still stunned.
I was the little alien visiting a new planet, dumbstruck as muscles flashed past me in every direction. I have never seen so many carved and defined arms in one location before. (I know, I've led a deprived life, apparently.)
the realization I finally came to was that most of these people were young. younger than me, anyway. and before you doubt me, let me expand on this statement: there were quite a few people my age and older, but the majority, the majority, were younger than me.
now I have no desire to be younger than I am, to re-experience my 30's or even my early 40's. ooh, well, maybe I'd go back just a few years, if I am to be completely honest.
which is all moot.
my observation today came without self-recrimination, it was just an eye-opening observation. there are lots of people here, lots of them are young, many of them are very fit, and I am just seeing a great deal of muscle definition.
perhaps the people at the jcc just cover up a little more. in fact, I'm pretty sure that's it. it's a family place, you know.

Friday, January 9, 2009

chasing pavement

I've seen a few people out on bikes today, and have been just a little jealous of each one of them.
the first one was at about 8 am, when my street was still beautifully decorated with strips of icy, frozen slush pushed into strips running parallel with the curb. in between the strips were bumpy frozen blobs of snow, and although it was very pretty, it didn't seem like anything I'd like to ride my bike on.
the earlybird cyclist I saw, however, is one tough cookie. I've seen her a number of times, and this morning my eyes latched onto her tires, trying to determine just what kind of bicycle she was riding. the tires weren't nearly as fat as my mountain bike tires, but they were wider than my road tires: hybrid tires, I guess. it has to be some kind of commuter bike, and she definitely looks like a commuter. she wears black with bright yellow trim, and has some kind of pannier or pack on the front or rear of her bike (I'm not proving myself to be terribly observant, am I?). this morning she came tooling past me, as I shoveled some snow from my driveway, and I watched her with awe as she slowed at the corner and headed off down the side street.
I was not jealous that she was riding and I was not: I was jealous that she was comfortable and enough in control to navigate her way through that ridiculously dangerous pavement.
8 hours later, our streets are almost dry and significantly more clear. and I have been inside the house or inside my car all day, looking at those other cyclists with a small amount of lust. pavement is revealing itself right and left, and it's 35 degrees . . .
sunday, however, is forecast at 41 degrees, only partly cloudy: can you see my mind working? there is potential for a ride, especially if the snow banks keep inching their way back out of the bike lanes . . .
I chose the title for this piece for it's double meaning: I am both anxiously awaiting the uncovering of more and more pavement, and realizing the futility of it all. it's january 9th, for crying out loud, and we have a lot more winter in front of us. I am chomping at the bit, and yet fully aware of the absurdity of my desires. I should be like my favorite bike shop boy, and just get on my mountain bike and tough it out. or hang up the shoes until it's time to play the real way again.
alas, I am me, and I will continue to chase that pavement. and I will ride. and I will be exhilarated, and return to joyfully tell you all about it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


most of you who read this web-log know that my oldest son, jake, is an identical twin whose brother died at birth.
while I was pregnant with them we were told that although they were identical, one was slightly larger than the other. this was something to watch, we were told, as "identical" means "the same," therefore it was curious and slightly concerning that they were not exactly the same.
we had played around with names a little bit, and my favorites were jake and andrew. however, with news of the discrepancy in size, I gave my babies-in-utero nicknames: the larger ( by an ounce or so ) became Hoss, and the smaller, Little Joe. and any sociological historian could probably deduce from that small bit of information approximately how old I am. I loved Bonanza growing up, and always, I mean always, had a crush on Little Joe.
when Hoss was born and Little Joe died, we realized that we could give Hoss a name and let him grow into it, but that Little Joe would always be Little Joe to us. thus Hoss became Jake, and Little Joe was baptised Joseph, so that we could always call him Little Joe.

all of this is just to preface the sharing of what one of my beautiful daughters wrote, that she pinned up on her board in her room and I read while changing sheets yesterday. her gracious words and deep connection to the brother she's never met have always been a part of her, and I see this as a little gift from God to me. she's written many notes, drawn pictures, and spoken of Little Joe for years and years, and this is just one of the latest, that touched me in a beautiful way.
"Dear Little Joe,
I miss you. I love you. I'm your sister. I can only imagine what you'd be like if you were here beside me as my brother. My big brother, who's turning 18 next year and will graduate high school alongside Jakie. But your in a better place now, a place God chose for you. I just wish I could see your face. But I have an idea from Jake. I love you. I miss you. Sleep tight Little Joe, we will always love you--we will never forget you."

what gifts our children are, especially when they reveal their hearts to us. I will work on remembering that my job is to make it safe enough for them to do so.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

power camp pull

it is warm enough outside, right now, that I could be riding my bike. the sun is out, and snow is melting like it was in a warm skillet. there is so much water seeping from the snow that every minute another square inch of pavement reveals itself.
this is life in utah.
and I am incredibly grateful for this snow-sun-snow phenomenon we so often experience. I've heard there are parts of the country that get a snow-freeze-snow-gray-freeze ritual, which might possibly send me over the edge. freezing rain, ice storms, day after day of bitter, gray weather: this could do me in.
as would florida. or arizona. and possibly even california, where I might tire of the perfection.
nope, I think I'll stay right here where I'm rarely bored by predictable weather. I'll shovel as needed, water when necessary, and be extremely grateful for all the days in between where I don't have to do either. when I can get on my bike instead.
I had a moment of power camp nostalgia this morning, a little tug on my heart. power camp classes on MWF are from 5:15-6:15 am, and the regular spin class is from 6:15-7:15. us non-power-campers are "allowed" to come in at 6 if we want to get started early. the power campers are just winding up their class, all the lights on and usually a bit of banter floating around the room.
during my kids' vacation from school these past two weeks, I've been able to attend many more spin classes than usual, and this morning I decided I would prefer spin to a (boring, though I never admit that) weight room session. thus I entered the room at 6, and found an open bike and slipped myself in.
mimi (my favorite) was the instructor, and she was guiding the campers through the last portion of their workout, talking about the next day's workout (promising to be a tough one) and what she knew of the next few classes for them. [power camp is a highly structured program, with each class having specific workouts of cadence + heart rate zones + time, all based on research that proves this structure to be such that a cyclist will improve one's on-bike performance.]
this is when I felt the little tug.
I like to work hard, I like to be challenged, and I like to know I'm on a path of improvement.
(gosh, reflecting on that, you would think I would be a really good dieter, wouldn't you? but for some reason, it doesn't seem to work in that area.)
I felt a little left out.
and as power camp class dwindled down my camper friends looked around and noticed me, saying hi and making comments like, "have you been here the whole time?" "I'm having deja vue," "there you are, just like before, same spot" . . .
sigh again.
it's a club of which I am currently not a member.

do I regret my decision not to do power camp this year? maybe just a little.
except every weekday morning at 4:45 when I am blissfully still asleep, when I would have otherwise been rising and tackling the morning. at 5:15 (which is still terribly early) when my alarm goes off, I don't regret my decision at all.

at 6:15 mimi turned the lights off---yes, regular spin class is in the dark, so I have to sit close enough to the instructor's little green-shaded banker's light so that I can see my heart monitor---and I once again entered the regular-people's world. all the fanatics and over-achievers finished packing up in the dark, and my friends left the room, moving on to face their own days, possibly watching the snow melt and having their own fantasies about climbing on their bike and riding away, up a canyon, like me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

increments and fog

the thing about changes is that they are often not very noticable.
I'm thinking about all of the time I've spent in the weight room, on the yoga mat, on the elliptical, on the spin bike. I know I've strengthened my body, I know that my muscles have done whatever it is that muscles do when you work them. I know I'm more flexible, and that I can hold positions longer than I used to be able to.
but these changes sometimes just seem so slight, it's hard to get excited about it.
this morning in yoga we did what the instructor called an "L pike," a position to help train the body to be ready for a handstand. [handstands are what the really proficient yoga people do: they put their hands on a mat, in the middle of a room, and gracefully raise their body and legs until they are upside down, nothing supporting them but their hands and their exceptional core strength. I am no where close to doing this.]
the instructor had us start a leg-length away from the mirrored wall, with our back to the wall. we then put our hands down on the floor, then placed our feet behind us on the wall, walking them up until our body made a right angle, bent at the waist, feet flat against the wall. then we could lift one leg at a time, experimenting with the feeling of the handstand, yet keeping one leg supported against the wall.
sounds easy, right?
my feet left about 15 sweaty footprints on the mirrored wall, and my hands were so damp I could barely grip the floor.

someday I will do this with such great inner calm that I will not sweat at all.
deep breath.
not today.
I have more baby steps to walk between here and there. little increments of improvement. not always measurable, and sometimes only visible in my own internal faith-colored view.

today it has snowed most of the day. the flakes have been so small that it has taken more than usual to create the depth we now have on the lawns and sidewalks and roads. the clouds have hung down so low that they've become fog, as my daughter pointed out to me as we drove home this afternoon.
each hour today the clouds have released an increment of snow that when added to those of the previous hours has resulted in a significant pile on our city. I suppose each little hour wasn't really much of a statement, but the cumulative result is significant, and beautiful.

Monday, January 5, 2009


"did santa bring you skis for Christmas?"
this was nick's question for me this morning at 5:45.
I grinned at him, shaking my head, and said, "not this year . . . "

it was the first time I'd seen nick in two weeks, and I had approached him in the weight room to thank him for the chocolates he sent me for Christmas. his eyes twinkled as he asked about the skis, and mine sparkled back as I replied in the negative.
he may have had a heart attack if I'd said yes, but he would have been excited, too, as he is determined to get me up on the slopes.

I first met nick about 14 months ago, when my children's school schedules and the bitter cold mornings kicked me off my bike and sent me to the jcc weight room. throughout last fall and winter I went 4 days a week, arriving at 5 am and leaving at 6. after the first week or so I was familiar with the other regulars, and began introducing myself to a couple of them. bunny first, as she always smiled at me. and then nick.
nick and I often left about the same time, and one day we were walking up the stairs on the way out when I said, I should introduce myself, since we're always here at the same time. I'm susan.
I'm nick, he said, his voice drenched in a european accent.
and that was the beginning of my relationship with cute nick from switzerland.

he often wears a red tee shirt with a big white cross on it, and he loves to ski. he mangles his english still, and searches for words that sometimes come and sometimes do not. his hair is a beautiful whitish-gray, and his neat mustache adds a dash of virility to his handsome face.

last Christmas nick made me a chocolate yule log, decorated with fresh holly sprigs. for valentine's day and easter he sent me chocolates from a swiss confiserie here in the states, owned by some friends of his. this Christmas I received another package from Andre's: an exquisite chocolate pinecone, which opens to reveal a collection of swiss chocolates, each of which is a blossom of flavor. the "pinecone" itself is two molded sections of chocolate, intricately designed to look like the layers that form a real pinecone, snugly wrapped in the thinnest layer of red foil.

I know that nick is married---I actually met his wife last election day at our mutual voting location---and that he has a daughter who died of cancer 11 years ago. she would be 38 were she still living. perhaps I remind him of her, in some small way.

nick walks with a slight swagger, his eyes absorbing every detail around him. he works hard, and he rests between sets, his brow damp. he asks me how my children are, he asks when I'll go to alta with him. he asks me about lotoja, if I really rode the entire 206 miles. he tells me that I could ride across the entire country of switzerland in that many miles.
this morning he drew me an imaginary map: I could start in the northeast corner, by the lake where he was born, and head down to the southwest corner. it wouldn't be too challenging, he says, until I approach lake geneva.

perhaps I will, one day, ride my bike across switzerland.
a girl's got to have goals, doesn't she?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

the iris

It's so much more enjoyable to receive my inspiration from a ride up the canyon, surrounded by trees and hills, sunshine and fresh air, than it is to search for that same inspiration in the 18 x 30 foot spin room.
but circumstances are such that the spin room is where I went today; the predominant circumstance being the outside temperature of 14 degrees this morning. brr.
64 degrees in the spin room, about thirty sweaty bodies taxing the systems of the four floor and four ceiling fans spinning themselves in an effort to cool us all. I dripped my way through another hour of obeying mimi's commands, putting tension on and taking it off, sprinting and climbing and all of that. I stared at the poster of Lance in front of me, and I started reflecting upon role models. thinking how much good Lance Armstrong has done for cycling, for athletes in general, and for cancer patients and survivors. this one, single man has inspired millions, myself included.
and then there's mimi. a petite bundle of energy, stamina, and enthusiasm, she brightens my spin routine. I find inspiration in her energy, consistency, and positive aura.
and bunny, who works out every weekday morning from the time the door open at five until we wave goodbye at six.
and I could go on and on. for I find inspiration in almost everyone, because they are all moving forward in some great or small way. they are working with what they have, choosing to make the best of it, and participating in life.
I see this everywhere, in the energetic or weary smiles of those leaving the jcc after their workout, in the laughter of kids sledding down the hill at the park. in the notes I receive in my mailbox, in the kindness someone extends by holding the door for me. in the silly emails that get forwarded by friends, in my neighbor's wave as she passes by on her daily walk.
I find inspiration whenever I make eye contact with someone: this is my real fuel. and it is so powerful that it can't be taken lightly: when we truly look someone in the eye we exchange a little piece of our divinity. it's an acknowledgement, a recognition of someone else's humanity, which could not exist without the divinity. it binds us, it bonds us. it is sometimes more than we want to give, for it is a commitment to truth and depth.
I've paused and pondered here, for I could wander off and write in a direction or two, but I will just leave it here, that my greatest inspiration comes from normal people who are brave enough to move forward, open their eyes, and connect with others.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


I haven't made a new year's resolution in so long that I don't remember the last one I made. or if I've ever made one.
come to think of it, I have probably not ever made a new year's resolution.
why not?
fear of failure, I'm sure.
if I put it out there, and I don't succeed, why then I have failed. and I'll feel bad about that. which I don't like to do.
therefore, if I don't put it out there, I can't fail.

do you detect a character flaw somewhere there within my argument?

this is what I do instead: I assess myself fairly regularly, and make small adjustments along the way. usually. and when I decide to do something big, it will just happen whenever it happens. I don't see a need to make dramatic changes each january---or dramatic plans each january---I just tweak little things as needed, and go with the momentum for big things as they come along.

it's hard to avoid those "what are you going to do differently this year?" conversations, though, as "new year's resolutions" are such a seemingly universal tradition. would you like to know how that happened? here's the story I've been told:

"The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. [when] Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.

With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.

The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances." (

I don't care for the artificial line drawn on december 31: I would rather ask forgiveness of my enemies as needed, and give gifts when I am moved to do so.

that being said, do I have any intentions for this new year? of course! they include:

to ride my bike as often as I can and desire to
to fuel my body more effectively
to live without regret or remorse
to live so that if I die there will be nothing I haven't yet said
to live with intent
to acknowledge my own power and wisdom
to not rely on outsiders' observations of my life, but to know my own path
to write and write and write and write . . .

and to revel in sunny days and appreciate the gray ones for the depth and definition they add to my life.

Friday, January 2, 2009


one of the many great gifts I've received from cycling is my increased gratitude for and love of showers.

when I was spinning away at class this morning, waiting for thoughts to drift into my head about potential writing subjects, the last thing in the world I thought I might write about was the pleasure of a shower. well, perhaps not the last thing in the world, but so far away from target range as to be nonexistent.
I have this issue with showering, in general, being that they mean A Lot Of Work. I know plenty men who just hop in and shampoo and soap up, rinse off, and hop out. towel off, and they're done. perhaps there are women who have similar routines. mine, however, entails about 42 steps. or at least it seems that way:
let warm-to-hot water flow over body, shiver, relax, let water pour over hair.
rinse out.
place washcloth over shoulder, let rest.
grab favorite bar of verbena soap, bring to nostrils and inhale, ah, bliss.
soap up chest, neck, underarms, you know, all those spots.
take razor and shave underarms.
rinse well.
use washcloth to gently wipe face, then wash spots that need it, return to shoulder.
make sure hair is completely rinsed.
apply conditioner.
squeeze out a small amount of body wash, grab razor, place on foot up on far wall of shower.
lather up body wash over lower leg, then shave.
rinse conditioner out of hair.
repeat body wash ritual with other leg, shave.
let warmish-hot water stream over entire body for as long as I think I can get away with it.
reluctantly turn water off, then use washcloth to squeegee water off entire body.
open curtain and pick towel up from heated floor where it has been warming up for me.
wrap myself in towel and shiver as my body readjusts to life in dry, cool air.

and that is just the beginning.
for now comes two lotions for face, with time in between for them to soak in. lotion over entire body because my skin is so terribly dry. antiperspirant. towel-dry hair, comb it out. apply hair product. get dressed. dry hair---which takes a good 10 minutes or so, and that's if I'm being impatient, which I always am. use straightener on hair. apply more face stuff, then put makeup on. which takes me about 45 seconds because I'm too uninterested in spending more time with that.

and that is what I go through every time I shower.
the surprising thing is that I like showers at all, isn't it?
but I do: the warmth, the privacy, the water, my own little sanctuary. after a sweaty ride or class, the cleansing. after a cold ride, the de-thawing. the letting go of stress or tension, rolling my neck from side to side. the letting go of all that has clung to me since the last shower, the chance to start anew, to be fresh and ready to tackle the world once more.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


odometer reading: 8899

I must begin by saying how very excited I am to be writing 01.01.09. I have great belief in the power of this coming year, and am eager to be a part of it. outside of the gift of receiving our obviously charismatic, intelligent, and eloquent incoming president, I have no proof that this year will be much different from my past few.
no proof, but an expansive amount of faith. and trust. and as I stated above, belief.
and as the year unfolds and events reveal themselves, you will read here of just how powerful a year it is.

but on to cycling. and back to that odometer reading: at the close of 2008, my odometer read only 8871. the clever ones of you out there will thus deduce that I went for a bike ride today . . . my first time on the bike in 20 days, and it was the best thing I could have done.
I woke up this morning to a heavily clouded sky, lethargic, dirty snow on the lawn, and the never-disappearing frozen ice and chunky snow packed into the end of my driveway. I sipped my coffee as I read, wrote, reflected, and (very briefly) meditated in my favorite corner of my aubergine couch. the jcc's hours today were from 10-5, with no classes being taught, and I had planned to drive up there about 10 and have an hour-long workout in the weight room. warm up on the elliptical, do my ab work, free weights, bosu and big ball work, squats, a few machines, boring . . .
and suddenly the itch came. the ride-my-bike itch. the desire to sit in that saddle, to pedal away in whichever direction I chose and to have the freedom to just go. to avoid the jcc, to be back in the free world.
I pulled up the weather channel: 35 degrees, feels like 27, 60% humidity, chance of snow showers.
I still want to go.
I make myself a piece of wheat toast with the last measly scrapings from my peanut butter jar, and I eat it while I finish my coffee and start walking around the house collecting gear.
my bike shoes I prop up on the yellow pages in front of the space heater, as they have been sitting on the floor of my cold laundry room for the past few weeks. a minute later I grab my helmet from the garage and arrange it by the shoes.
tights, warm jersey, skull cap, wool socks. into my back pocket go arm warmers, glove liners, and my headband, all to layer upon myself for the downhill. because yes, I am heading up emigration. I checked out the bike lanes last week, and it is doable. yes, it is.

I had a great ride. the smell of wood burning in fireplaces, the thick snow lying in shallow gullies. the sun, playing hide and seek with me, cajoling my shadow to tease me once, and again, and again. the reservoir: wind-blown and shimmering, changing colors as I ride from one end to the other, and back again. the sledders at the top of emigration, the cyclist who gives me one of the biggest, happiest grins of a hello I've received all season. the other 6 cyclists who are as eager as I am to be pedaling, outside, soaking in the glory of the day.

may your 2009 be as felicitous as mine is promising to be.