friendship

Riding Free

This weekend I went for a bike ride. A different kind of bike ride than I normally post about.

The bike is still red but it’s a Motorcycle vs a self-propelled bike. An Indian bike to be specific. I got the chance to ride with a couple of pals and we left early before the heat of the sun was upon us. A quick breakfast at a local spot before we hit the road.

We headed straight for the mountains. I was a passenger so I was in the observation seat. The seat that allows you to take in all the sights, sounds and smells. Care free for the most part. Sometimes it’s nice to just be a passenger. A mindless passenger with no role aside from hold on!

I was specific on the type of ride I was willing to go on. A smooth ride, not a windy switchback ride. That meant we took a scenic route. It was pleasant.

Smelled a lot of fresh cut grass, some cow poop, some yummy baked goods and a little bbq. Got to see some rolling hills, pretty pastures, old and new barns, donkeys, ponies, horses, cows, chickens and a few dogs.

I waved to many people sitting on their porches and gave the side wave to many motorcycles as we passed. I heard lots of birds chirping, a few sirens, a couple of horns and as we passed through a town I heard people.

The sound of people was far less in this tourist town than usual. Maybe only 25% of the normal seasonal volume. It was a bit eerie. The sounds were also muffled as many wore masks. One notable sight was the tubing bus that passed us to head to the river. It was full of people but each and every one had masks on. Talk about a new normal. Below is a quick text break photo op. Got to make sure our connections know all is good when on the road.

By the time the tubers escaped the bus the masks were gone but for that bus ride they were mandatory. It was also noticeable that the parking lot for this normally full tubing place was desolate. I saw one bus load vs. the 10 that would normally pass. I couldn’t help but wonder how many people were struggling in this small town financially due to the pandemic and loss of tourist revenue.

We took a rest at the little town. It was getting hot so we got some water and a snack of beef jerky. I normally like to go into the jerky stores to sample the different flavors to try something new. Not this time. No samples! Thanks again covid. however, I was happy to buy some mystery jerky and support a small business in the area.

As I rode free, I took in the sites, the sounds, the smells and the new normal. Masks and all. I had a great time but it was different sitting in the observation seat this time. I just got to see the new normal from a different lens. This gave me a new perspective.

Safety first with helmets but no masks for these girls on this ride. We had a ton of fun which means we will probably have more bike adventures. Watch out for biker babe stories coming in the future.

Who knows what town we might ride into next……

 

perspective

Is Life Fair?

Life isn’t fair on most days to many. If you took a poll of 100 people, I feel confident that the majority would share some stories of how life is unfair to them.

Is there even a fairness card somebody could get when they are born? I guess this is funny to mention.

Life is full of many ups and downs and twists and turns. On any given day one person could be celebrating a victory while another person is crying over a loss. Is this fair? I doubt it.

A woman may get a government contract over her male counterparts due to a government set-aside stipulation. Is this fair? Probably not if you ask the male.

A boy gets a better rate on health insurance compared to a girl the same age because she is in her child-bearing years. Is this fair? Not if you ask the female.

Life is what you make of it. You can’t compare yourself to others and you can only try to do your best with whatever options are available to you at that moment in time. If you get a flat tire your car you need to change it if you want to keep moving. On the flip side if you want to keep moving in life you need to change your attitude to I can vs. oh woe is me.

I referenced a moment in time above as time can change things for many. As you get older you may be wiser and have more financial wellness today in comparison to 5 years before. Is this fair? Not to the 18-year-old applying for their first loan.

Sometimes I think my kids think they should get the latest cell phone because their bestie has one or they should be paid the same wage per hour to do the same job as a coworker with years of experience. I’m not sure where they got this train of thought as I never taught that.

In life, fair doesn’t mean equal. Everyone can hope for equality but that doesn’t happen in all scenarios. Life is full of variables. Take the old saying is this glass half full or half empty: your perspective may differ from mine. That’s the beauty of life.

Life’s uncertainty leads to lessons learned. Lessons foster growth. Having a growth mindset allows you to change your surroundings, your future, your present and many benefits I can’t list.

This post is about the word no. Sometimes you need to hear no many times before you hear yes. It may not be fair but if you are consistent you may see more yes in your life.

Today I said no to somebody. Yesterday I said no to another. I don’t always like hearing bad news but sometimes the truth is what one needs to hear to grow. To step outside their box. To find another way. To enable them to shift their mindset into how to do vs. who can do for me.

If we always found yes answers we would have a weirder society than we have now. I had this little yellow book on a table in my house for years. I think many could read it and grow from it.

 

dare to be different

Puzzles

“Raise your hand if you’re a puzzle person,” I said, shaking a jigsaw puzzle box.

It’s a request I made at the beginning of a staff training I did a couple of years ago.  Maybe a third of the hands in the room shot up.  Everyone else either shook their heads “no way” or shrugged.

How do you become a puzzle person, I asked?  Those who shot their hands up said things like, we did them as a family growing up.  My friends and family told me I was good at them. Puzzles take time, sometimes collaboration, and persistence to achieve a goal.

For puzzle people, puzzles are associated with good feelings and success.  Those feel-good experiences can contribute to what we we are good at and who we are, or rather, who we think we are.  Most of the non-puzzle people simply didn’t grow up doing them or got frustrated a few times and decided (or were told) they weren’t good at them to begin with.

So it goes with many things.  From a young age, the things we spend time on and feel successful at (whether we learn that from experiences or what we are told) shape who we think we are and what we say we are good at.

As for me, I was told I was smart, good at school, and naturally skilled at test taking. These didn’t require too much effort from me.  I breezed through my early years and took in the accolades.

But, I wasn’t really a puzzle person.  I focused on the things that came easily for me, and whatever didn’t come easily I learned to avoid.  Unlike many puzzle people, who learn to try, try again, and even set things aside when they get frustrated or stuck and return to the puzzle later, I had little persistence or resilience in the face of adversity.

Well, as of this moment (at my not-so-young age) I am raising my hand and declaring myself a puzzle person.

I am embracing the problems I face as puzzles to be figured out instead.

I don’t have to have it all solved immediately.  It doesn’t even have to come easily.  As I make myself vulnerable more often and take on bigger, more complicated tasks, I know I have to remind my mind not to get frustrated or shut down.  I may have to be coached (which means – eek! – being coachable, which I am decidedly NOT when I am feeling overwhelmed, afraid, or out of my depth). Like riding a bicycle, then trying to do a trick or two, I may flop.  The world will not end and I can try again.

I’m shaking life’s box of problems as puzzles, dumping out the pieces, searching for the corners and the edges.  I don’t really have a full picture of what it will look like in the end for reference, but that’s all part of the process.  It will be beautiful, whatever it becomes.

 

 

 

adventure

Short Chapter, Long Story

Little known fact about me as a reader: I LOVE short chapters.

When I start a chapter, I often (ahem, always) find myself flipping forward, scanning to see how long the chapter is.  If it’s short, I am much more motivated to keep reading with interest.  Long chapters bog me down.  Ever since my third grade teacher read Sideways Stories from Wayside School aloud, each chapter just a handful of punchy, memorable pages, I’ve been a short chapter fan.  I like to see the story move.  I like to see progress.

By contrast, many chapters in my life tend to be on the long side.  I’m a slow thinker, a slow decision maker.  Not many cliffhangers.  Relatively few unexpected turns.  Pretty predictable.  Not really the stuff of a best seller.

Every once in a while, though, life takes a truly unexpected turn.  Things that I thought were fated or immovable turn out to be flexible.  Something that was maybe just a glimmer on a far off horizon explodes into the sky at staggering speed. An opportunity brought into my story by one of its most adventurous characters. A plot twist even I didn’t see coming.

And, in a surprising move, instead of watching the story fly by, this time I actually grabbed onto the streaking star and decided to ride along.  Instead of watching stories happen for others, I jumped in, embraced the promising unknown, and decided to start a chapter that is entirely new.  For many, it will be a jaw dropper, a head scratcher, even a whisper-behind-the-back moment.  Let them watch, confusion to amazement.

Sunsets and sunrises somewhere different.  Dramatic changes in just a handful of punchy, memorable pages.

A short chapter, yes.  A beautiful, breathtaking plot twist in a long, long story.

 

 

adventure

Spring’s Simple Pleasures

Is it just me, or is this the longest spring season in recorded history?

And no, this isn’t really a post about how difficult it has been to be cooped up indoors a lot, separated from friends, missing out on events, and so on.  (If you’re looking for that, try these posts.)

I don’t remember spring ever lasting this long because it is usually lacrosse season, celebration season, end of work season, and so on.  We are often driving and juggling and cheering and volunteering and working nonstop.  And I love and miss a lot of that.  But this season has allowed me to notice and enjoy spring in new ways. I have always loved fall above all else, but I’m now seeing that spring has its charms.

Couple that with my commitment to be more intentional about spending money and I am finding myself relishing small, simple pleasures.

I’ve mentioned the morning reading that has replaced my sometimes frantic commute.  Quiet, candle, coffee and a book starts my day most of the time.  You’d think a librarian would read a lot, but I honestly don’t make the time for it that I should.  Right now I am going into my physical building to work for a few weeks, so reading time is short but I try not to miss it.

Bike rides.  What would I do without my bike?  I’m sort of obsessed with it.  I keep it on my car pretty much all the time and biking on the back seat inside just in case the opportunity to ride presents itself.  Cruising new paths in the sunshine with my riding partner is happiness and adventure when going very far from home isn’t happening.  It feels like a mini-vacation and is one of the few times I feel truly care-free.

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I am a farmer’s market fanatic.  The pandemic has caused many local farmers to revamp their business models.  I’ve been able to order flowers and farm boxes and pick them up safely.  I actually love that I can order what I like and have it held for me.  It’s frustrating to drive all the way to the market only to find they already sold out of my favorite sungold tomatoes or, later, September Wonder apples.

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Which reminds me, it is almost tomato season here where we live.  I look forward to these summer veggies all year.  Right now we are in the heart of strawberry season. I found an hour the other day to drive out to a strawberry farm and pick a couple of buckets.  If you have never had strawberries straight from the vine (or tomatoes for that matter) you are missing out.  It’s a totally different taste than supermarket berries.  And the experience of picking them myself in the hot sun was sweet and reflective. Fresh strawberries are one of the sweeter things in life. It’s been great to share them with people who appreciate them.

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What simple pleasures have you rediscovered in these hard times? Walks?  Game nights? Family dinners?  Tell us in the comments.