Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012.

These are my priceless jewels. Contained between these pages are my memories, realizations, dreams, resolutions, inspirations, loss, love, emotions and wisdom. They house my life - my one and only life. I have my favorites but together, together they make up who I am and where I've come from.

They all represent different times in my life. Times that have changed. 

The leather book with the twine around it was my year of firsts after losing Ryan. Next to it, the green hemp book of acceptance. Then to their far left, journals from the past two years. Page after page filled with ah ha moments, sorrows, great loves and dreams. Benjamin graces a lot of those pages.

It's the last day of 2012. I'm looking back over the past year, and found myself looking back over the past two decades. Countless resolutions: weight loss, Spanish learning, fingernail biting, self improvement, to name a few. As I browse through the pages, being whisked through time and space, I notice a theme: year long resolutions and ones that are created in every month of the year. Thank goodness for that! Can you imagine if you only had one chance a year to change something about yourself? To create a lasting, year long resolution only once?

That's a scary thought.

My little books of wisdom - the ones that I've gained through the steady passage of time - all contain agents of change. I'm so glad I recorded what I wanted - between relationships, self love, healthy lifestyle, finding love again and living in a sunny location. And guess what? Over time they came true. Maybe not in their original intention or even in the same journal, but they came to realization.

So much strength, love and wisdom. It's nice to reminisce the past. To affirm that your decision to live in the now and enjoy this moment is a life well spent. That the future is in the future, the past is in the past and all we have now is the now.

May 2013 bring a lifetime filled of living in the now. And more journals to fill your shelves.

Friday, December 28, 2012

First Tracks

My legs burn from today's effort. The kind of effort leaving me drained. The one that seizes my legs after 2,000+ lunges down the steep, snowy and mogul back bowls of Keystone. The couch has since swallowed me whole.

Hello, telemark skiing. Hello, 9 degrees. BURRR! Hello, I love living in ColoRADo!

Muscle memory amazes me. I only skied 4 days last year, but the past 15 years on teleskis has stayed with me. I'm leaping and bounding and pushing my body. Telling my sticks where to float - on top of the moguls, not in their icy troughs. My hands defrost from the hard effort. My head pounds from the lack of oxygen from exerting at over 10,000 feet.

Scarce coverage requires agile movements between unmarked obstacles. My quads scream after the fourth run, and I begin the traverse back toward the base. Not bad for a first day on the slopes. Yes, my body remembers the motions. It's aging and requires more rest and less punishment. Tomorrow brings another opportunity. Come on deep powder! Snow baby, snow!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thank God Seattle is rainy.

The rain has stopped, but the wind blows. It sinks into my bones, this cold, damp air. It prevents me from wanting to be outside, to fight the couch potato default and commit to myself. How did I do this before? How did I truly enjoy being out in the cold, gray, wet and soggy Northwest? Riding my bike through the puddles and steady downpour. Where the sun comes up at 8am and sets before 4pm. And for multiple years in a row. Scratch that - all my life!
Knowing what I know now - going for life with gusto and moving to a sunnier climate makes me wonder why I didn't do it earlier. Why I settled for anything less than extraordinary. Why didn't I pursue the life of my dreams? What took me so long?

We've all been there. Maybe you're there right now. Something in your life just doesn't fit. Job, career, relationship, environment, climate, etc. And yet we get comfortable being unhappy. Change seems too scary. It's easy to come up with a list of because, buts, the problem is....

The problem with saying the problem is is that it has become so habitual, we say it without even thinking. It's become a muscle memory reaction to change. In retrospect, we know better. It's easy to look back and say, yep! I did it again. What about your awareness of it happening in the moment? Can  you catch yourself before your automated response passes your lips? A pause, a conscious decision to change. Ah! There I go again with that saying!

Even if it's just for a fleeting moment, you can hear yourself making excuses. You are becoming aware that you're doing it. And that's pretty huge! Especially if it's so programed that you had no idea it was happening before. Take it a step further - substitute other wording. Try and instead of but; the beautiful thing is instead of the problem is; the I will instead of because. Commit to a different vocabulary.

Two July's ago, I had had it with the rain in Seattle. Flying home from Colorado into the rain made up my mind. That's it. Enough talk. I'm ready to take action and move to a sunnier climate. My excuse barrel tipped over and my action/adventure taker jumped up to take charge. It makes me wonder - do we all have to reach a tipping point before we are truly ready to make the change we want? Does something need to happen before we say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?!?!

I set a date to move: August 19, 2010. It felt so empowering to take action. To create change and follow my heart and dreams. When I put myself out there, and I mean truly out there, the world opened up. Things in my life started showing up. Massive opportunities unveiled themselves and I was really stepping into the person I want to be. The person I am. The adventurous, brave, courageous, authentic, beautiful woman I am.

I was scared shitless. Honestly. When I put my mind to it, and really got in touch with whether this felt like the right thing to do - I knew it was. And I had to trust myself. Completely. I just knew things would work out. And you know what? They did. And the continue to. Benjamin and I are celebrating our first year of owning our home together. I am meeting his family for the first time over Christmas. Our love has deepened and blossomed beyond any expectations or hope. And I've found my life's work and passion: inspiring others to live the life of their dreams.

All of this was made possible by not settling. By not trying to fit myself into a mold. By believing in myself and my values: chasing my dreams and passions. For reaching a tipping point with the climate, environment and trusting myself to go for it. And thankfully having a strong, loving and supportive network of people cheering me on, coaching and mentoring me along the way. And last but certainly not least - I thank Seattle for being rainy.

If you're curious about coaching and the multiple benefits it can bring to your life, I encourage you to reach out and try it. It's where commitment to change happens. It's where living the life of your dreams becomes reality.

Thursday, December 13, 2012



What's the biggest positive impact you can have in your life? What's an impact you can have on the community at large? How can you impact loved ones, family and friends? To really make a difference in their lives.

It's simple.

It's as simple as bringing your true authentic self. Of setting aside fears and damaging assumptions. Getting back to the root of your true self. Expressing that love you have for yourself and others around you.

To lead by example.

I gave a speech this morning on creating more balance in your life. I brought my true authentic self, shedding any attachment to any results. I wanted to share with them how I choose to live my life, from my heart.  Facing any fears and stepping into me. And it felt GOOD!

Afterward, Sue came up and told me I inspired her. It wasn't exactly what I specifically said, rather it's how I show up in the world. And when I truly shed those layers of fears, when I step into me, it's beyond measure. I feel grounded and connected to my life purpose. And that's what fills me up.

I'm aligning my life with the actions I choose. It's powerful and extraordinary and I'm finding my way to express it and share it with the world.

That's having an impact. An impact in my own life and rippling to others. It fuels my inspiration.

So get out there and have your impact. Bring your true authentic self and realize your life purpose.

Monday, December 10, 2012


What an amazing weekend. I feel like I can't do it justice by putting what I experienced this weekend into words. I'll try and preface it with until you truly experience something like this for yourself, words won't do it justice.

As many of you know, I'm in getting my professional co-active coaching certification through the Coaches Training Institute. Starting in October, I've now attended four weekend long workshops on the nuts and bolts of coaching the coach. Their training model is best taught through experience and each gathering of 25 or so people result in organic and life changing moments. What I'm going to share with you is my experience and how the power of coaching is changing my life.

It's day one of the three day weekend. There's a buzz in the room: part excitement, anxiousness, openness, caution. The focus of the weekend is process. How we process and be with emotion, and how we can in turn be with the emotions of a client. Earlier that morning I had met with Gary, Ryan's dad and he shared with me some very personal health concerns and estate planning. A heavy, yet necessary, topic over a cup of coffee. I love the connection Gary and I have. We've grown very close since Ryan's death and I reach out every time I'm in town. Naturally, Ryan comes up often in conversation and talking with Gary about Ryan is healing, for both of us. I see Ryan in so many things that Gary does, and I'm sure he sees Ryan in me.

Being in LA, working in my new found profession and following my passion is good for Gary to see, and it's good for me to show him. He encourages me and supports me 100%. And our relationship is absolutely open enough so I can share with him my love for Benjamin. He gets that it doesn't take away from my love for Ryan and expresses his genuine joy in that my life is continuing on. Having that love fills me up inside.

Fifteen minutes before class, Gary shares with me that he's ready to take what I consider a major step in his healing process. He expresses his wishes for his ashes and the spreading of Ryan's at the same time in a very specific spot. I have to go - time presses for me to start class.

I enter in the room and that buzz is there. My earlier conversation with Gary momentarily forgotten. Our leaders begin introductions and when it's my time to share what I feel, I tell the room that I am in the presence of my tribe. There's a lot of trust, love, compassion and no judgement. It feels safe. We start talking about the process of process and I can feel my emotions starting to bubble. My ears are getting hot, I feel a building. Something I can't stop and it's coming. I'm not going to be able to suppress it and they are looking for a volunteer to be coached in front of the class with one of the master coaches. I raise my hand immediately and float to the front of the room, knowing a tidal wave of emotion is coming. It's erupting out of me.

Sam looks at me. He doesn't need to say anything and I start bawling. Grief, sadness, emotion washes over me. I can't keep my eyes open. I want to feel this, I don't want to push it away. I know if I push it away it'll come back stronger. I courageously face it and although scared, I know I have a guide in the process. And a room full of people who love me and support me.

I share a few details. I share Ryan's death 4 years ago, my relationship with Gary. The ashes and his request for spreading them. Sam asks me what I feel. We go deeper into my emotions. I close my eyes and as hard as it is to imagine, I picture myself carrying out those wishes in years to come. Of being in a boat, in Bellingham Bay between Lumi Island and Marine Park. On a clear day you can see both Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainer. I visualize myself standing at the gunnel, feeling the sway of the boat supported by the bay. Feeling the weight of their remains - Ryan in my left hand, Gary in my right. I know I should release them. I know this is the spot. And I have a choice: disperse them or put them back in my pocket. I carefully tuck them back in my pocket. This is not the right time for me. Not yet. And it feels right to do that. To hold on a while longer. I trust myself to find the right time. The right time to sprinkle them into the ocean, together.

We carefully wrap up the coaching. Sam has done a masterful job of letting me feel the depths of my emotions. And some where, some how in the midst of going really deep into that vortex, a little release happens. A shift. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to miss someone and express that longing. And it's okay to feel healing happening too.

The room is shocked. They had no idea that I have gone through the loss of a spouse, despite having three previous weekends of intense learning. That beneath my positivity and optimism was a tragic, life altering event. That it takes courage, great courage to face what I did in the manner I did it. That I'm wise, wise beyond my years. And for those that didn't share in front of the rest of the room, they came up afterward and shared how touched they were. How it helped them in some way face what's going on in their lives. They thanked me.

Leslie, the other master coach, likened me to a volcano. One whose power could be felt in the room and ready to erupt. There was no stopping me, it was coming out no matter what. And what a gift it is to be able to face my grief and really look at it. To examine it and trust myself on when to come up for air. To be willing to feel it and know that at any time I could stop, yet there's something down there. Something within that could be unlocked.

It unlocked my belief in myself and my life purpose. The one that became clearer when Ryan died. The one that I'm aligning my life with. The one I feel passionate about and that I want to spend my life doing. I want to inspire others to live the life of their dreams. And I'm doing it. As I go along, as I examine what's inside, I'm strengthening. I'm building muscle to spread my message. To help others uncover what's preventing them from their dreams and empowering them to choose.

As exhausting as it can be, for as many tears as I shed and layers I peeled off, I feel energized. I feel alive. I am living the life of my dreams so you in turn can live yours.

That's the power of coaching. That's why I'm doing what I'm doing. I wish you all the best in your life journey and when you're ready for help along the way, I'm here for you.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Reptile Explanation

Silly me, I thought you could read my mind! That when I mentioned the reptile brain, you would automatically know what I was referring to. But after a couple nights of interrupted sleep and telling Benjamin this morning about how my lizard brain was waking me up in the middle of the night and he in turn gave me that look, I thought I better explain.

"Reptile brain? What are you talking about?"

Oh right. I've been so engrossed in my books and thinking, that relating it to the outside and unknowing world slipped my mind.

So to summarize: the reptile brain is what we are all born with. It's our innate fight or flight thinking. It's the primitive thinking that enabled mankind to run if a sense of danger popped up to avoid being eaten.  The voice that dominoes our fears when we're walking in the woods, alone. The one that reasons there's a bear or mountain lion around the next bend. It amplifies our fears, no matter how rational or irrational they are and takes things to the extreme. The one that keeps us comfortable in what we know and the one that gets uncomfortable when we attempt the unknown.

Then there's the other part of your brain. The one where you get to choose your perspective. You get to choose how you react to things and make the most out of life. The one who stands out in the face of fear and boldly tries new things, regardless of how likely or unlikely an outcome is. The one that keeps you walking down the path in the middle of the woods and has you following your dreams.

Funny how when you get closer to those dreams, the reptile brain starts a full charge to get you to run the other way. An automatic opposition to stepping outside of the box. In many ways it's predictable. And when you can recognize the difference between the two modes of thinking, you can choose which one to listen to.

I've noticed when I listen to my other brain, the one where dreams are created and realized, doors and opportunities open up. Answers to questions I haven't even thought to ask become apparent. I am able to choose how to align myself with my life purpose despite fear of failure or the unknown. It takes courage, honesty, repetition and above all trust in yourself. And having a good coach or two along the way certainly helps.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Embrace the chaos.

Contrary to this blog, my journal is filled to the brim with writing. My pens are running out of ink, page after page full of observations and personal perspectives. Thoughts jotted down, inspirations noted and action steps ready to be followed. If I'm not frantically writing, my nose is buried in a book.

Sure those pesky thoughts of self doubt creep into my head. What I'm attempting to do, what I am doing, is new and challenging. I'm claiming my own life - the one of my dreams and when I step out of that lens, if just for a second, I get dizzy. What if?! WHAT IF!!! Why are you challenging the status quo? Why are you drawing attention to yourself?!? STOP!!! My reptilian brain screams. The one who is "trying" to protect me.

Why? Because I might be eaten? Sure that was a reality for our ancestors. But I realized, and thankfully long ago, that I can choose not to listen solely to my reptile brain. That life is about choices and I get to be who I want to be. I had a choice when Ryan died. A choice between letting grief get the better of me or getting the better of grief. And as hard as it was, and at times continues to be, I choose to turn it into a gift. A gift that clarified my life purpose. A gift that showed me to stop settling. A gift to step boldly into who I am and who I want to be.

Sure there's a small truth to those warning signals but rather than let them fuel how I live my life, I've learned to go in the other direction. To face my fears. To take risks. To move beyond what I can see and what I so comfortably know.

And guess what?

Looking and living beyond that frame work opened up a whole new way of thinking. A whole new way of being. I embrace chaos theory. I step into the unknown with open expectations and wonderful, beautiful and unsuspecting meanings show up.

My ship is navigating uncharted waters. But I'm willing to risk it. I'm willing to fall off the end of a flat earth to discover that it's indeed round. It's my gift I am sharing with the world.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Creating Community in Womens Cycling

Last night I had the pleasure of being a keynote speaker at the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado (BRAC) Womens Cycling Summit. The following is the speech I delivered to a standing room only of primarily female racers in the Front Range. is publishing it to their site today, which I'm pretty excited about. But more than anything, I am honored to be a part of this community and making a difference in something I feel passionate about.

Good Evening!

It's always striking to me how unrecognizable people are outside of their cycling clothing. You look oddly familiar... mind pulling your hair back, sticking a helmet on and covering your face with glasses? Ah! That's it! That's where I know you from!

Thank you all for taking time out your busy schedules to meet tonight in honor of BRAC and our cycling community. Despite having Thanksgiving on the brain and I'm sure a lot of last minute preparations. It's nice to see so many people here in honor of our amazing community.

Tonight I am going to do an introduction of myself, how I was asked to be the keynote speaker, and then focus on community. Specifically, the little steps we can all take to grow from a participation standpoint as well as how we can enhance the values of our community. And lastly, a call to action.

For those who I haven't had the pleasure of meeting yet, my name is Jennifer Triplett and I race cat 2 road, cat 1 track, novice mountain and cross. I am relatively new to the front range area, and live in COS. I moved here to remove a fender rain bike from my quiver, train at altitude and let's face it: for love. I am a co-active coach and love to inspire others to live the life of their dreams, what ever that may be.

A little over a month ago, Clint Bickmore, the ACA President and I were formally introduced at the USA Cycling Coaching summit. I told him about my involvement with the WSBA and MVA in Washington and told him I'd love to get involved. He put me in touch Rachel Scott and Susan Adamkovics to see how I could get involved with the upcoming Womens Summit. I also mentioned in passing that I enjoy public speaking, gulp, and well, here I am.

My background is in boxing. However, getting hit in the face lost its appeal over time and I started looking for a new sport. A friend suggested I start commuting to work via bike and sign up for the Seattle to Portland ride. That sparked a beautiful relationship between myself and bikes. I found I enjoyed passing most men and decided to give racing a try. I spent the past 7 years racing in the soggy NW, where despite the weather they have a thriving community of female racers.

When I first started, I explored team options via meet the team rides in the fall and found a group of women who were all new to the sport and wanted to try racing. Starbucks was our sponsor. I thrived in this environment, quickly advancing through the ranks and immediately looked toward for leadership. A friend suggested I run for the Marymoor Velodrome Association board to be a female voice so I did.

Somewhat intimidated by learning a new skill on a bike without brakes, I started track racing my first year and loved it. Even though you're on a bike without brakes, you also only make left hand turns and as it turns out, I can sprint. I found myself wanting to take things to the next level and raced at regional events and found myself that first year at Nationals.

Looking back, I notice a recurring theme for myself: that I'm not afraid to try anything. I recall going to Alpenrose with its concrete 47 degree banking, large and deep fields (with several Olympians in the mix) and figuring, why not? We all start somewhere. That attitude also got me into trouble as I thought jumping in also meant attacking from the gun. Keep in mind there were Olympians in the group... and well, next thing I know I'm being lapped and discouraged. Not knowing what to do, I rolled off the track before the end of the race, started crying and called my mom. She reminded me, Jennifer! Look at where you are! You're brand new and racing against experienced women. Wipe those tears away and jump back in.

Flash forward a few years, which included wins, losses, injuries, and more community involvement. The MVA established a women's development fund, grew field sizes so we actually had to split cat 4 women categories into two per night. We even started a movement for holding a womens Madison at the Grand Prix each year and had more womens team then men. We were taking action and made a difference in our community. 

Then the unthinkable happened in 2008. My husband died in a tragic rock climbing accident. Life as I knew it was forever changed. And although I stuck around Seattle for 3 years after, I knew it was time to change my environment. Thankfully I had cycling to lean on. Not only from a physical activity but from a community perspective. They were there for me on a deeper level then I knew. I was just racing my bike, just being myself, but when I needed people, they responded with love and generosity. It was hard to leave that community but I knew it was time for my own growth.  Here I am now, in Colorado, establishing a link to a new community.

So when I say community, I say it with great intention and value. It is a support network, a gathering of like minded people. People who I can race against and have fun. That I can laugh with and cry.

Being new to this community, I want to make an impact. I want to see it grow and strengthen. So,how do we grow this community? How do we attract more women?

I posed this question to my friend Nicola Cranmer, Exergy Professional Cycling Women Director, and she said that although women represent only 15% of the USAC license holders, there's something to be said about the quality. Look at the Olympics for example. The medals were won by women. It's not just about quantity, it's quality.

On a grassroots level, there are little things we can do to welcome new faces. Think about it, women's racing is super intimidating. Seeing teams all dressed the same and not very friendly is like being thrown to a pack of wolves. I highly recommend being welcoming to a new face, introducing yourself and going going out of your way. That little engagement, such as helping pin numbers on for someone, can make a massive difference in whether they ever show up again. On group rides, seek out those new faces, welcome them.  Encourage them to come back.

If we want to grow our community, then we all need to do our part. I challenge each of you at each race to find one new person, introduce yourself and make a connection.

Back to when Clint and I were talking about women's sport, he mentioned that although small in numbers, women are often the loudest voices. We want more categories, equal pay, neutral support and a list of other things. And I'm sure we could brainstorm a long list tonight of the things we would like to improve women's cycling. But in order for change to happen we need action from those voices. So I have another challenge, another opportunity to grow our community from within. And that is for every idea, for every voice heard in this room, that each of you, each of those voices commit to one action. One thing that resonates where you think change needs to happen, regardless of size or impact, to improve womens cycling.

I also propose we start meaningful conversations. A gathering where we can brainstorm ideas and things we want to see change, pick a specific topic and then focus on it.

Together, we can make a difference. And I look forward to seeing each of your contributions enhance our community.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Balanced Living.

I've searched all my life for a career that resonates with my values and beliefs. One that gets me stoked each and every day from the moment I wake up, to the minute I go to bed. One that I feel passionate about am an not just settling for a pay check. One that promotes community, meaningful conversations, human heart felt interactions and laughter.  One that is full of love, authenticity and integrity.

I found it. Or rather, it found me.

Life coaching. Aligning people with their values and beliefs. Seeing the beauty in everyone and everything. Showing people and teaching them that all of the answers are within, it's just a matter of accessing them. It's transformation, life purpose, balance, purpose and connection, all wrapped in one.

I'm on an amazing journey right now. One that is teaching me the skills and tools to bring out the best in you. And holy cow, it is the coolest thing I've ever done. I light up when I tell people about it and then get to show them how it works.

And this weekend's topic? Why balance of course!

This mornings ride well timed, by my favorite perched rock. I ride by it often but today was different. Today I noticed balance can happen from infinite perspectives and angles. How is it possible? This precariously perched boulder.

It's appropriate that this famous landmark is hard to get to. You have to climb a steep hill to approach it from either angle. Each time it comes into view, I marvel at its beauty and what it means to me. 

It's almost as though I can't photograph it enough. Every angle I view it provides new meaning, new richness, new understanding. New aha!s.

I love it when the park is empty in the wee morning hours. I get to connect, to feel balance and feel whole. My balance is there, in a quiet spot in my heart and soul. No one needs to be around photographing it - I know it exists.

Monday, November 12, 2012

What is rapidly approaching...

I shiver beneath winter layers
Legs heavy, weighted with dangling skis.

Exhaling crystallized breath into mountain air: an offering.
Chair swaying in the wind, gathering speed near the summit. 
A cool acceptance, Mother Nature grants as we unload the lift.

Big smiles read under scarfs.

YAHOOS! heard under lifts.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

11.11 Remembrance.

I noticed it as I stood in line at customs. Bright, red poppies affixed to several people's lapels.

But you don't ask the custom officials questions. They're supposed to do the questioning. Asking questions draws attention. And in customs, extra attention can take a while. So I let it sit.

But the flowers followed me to the hotel. What is this red flower that shines brightly? Making me take a pause and wonder its origin. They were everywhere.

I asked John, a Coaching Training Institute assistant it's origin. November 11 is Remembrance Day. It honors all of those ancestors, friends, countrymen and women who have died in war. Their incredible act of duty, remembered.

We Shall Keep the Faith
by Moira Michael, November 1918

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honour of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

In the midst of our Sunday session at 11am, we had a minute of silence. Powerful, quiet, respect.

I talked to an Olympian afterward. He eyes welled up with tears. Taking that moment, pausing and remembering those before, has enormous resonance. Reaching the podium, especially on an International platform, was such an honor. Seeing the flag rise up the pole, hearing the Canadian National anthem: he did that. He did it for his country.

May we all do something selflessly for our country and remember those that have.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fulfillment Steps

I'm doing it.

I'm taking the steps, getting closer to certification and am doing the work.

And although I love doing this work, it's exhausting. I leave the clinics each day completely blown. It's not that the subject matter is new, or fresh, it's just that we're applying the coaching directly to one another, an active lab of sorts.

And what are we finding? That when you touch on and listen to someone's life purpose and values big shifts can happen. Transformation. Evoking change. And it leaves you worked.

It's empowering and scary. Thrilling and frightening. Like taking a deep rich breath of air that fills you from head to toe. That you know has been there all along, but was brought to the foreground.

Having AHA! moments, taking action and being held accountable. Realizing that powerful being in your life is there all along and accessible at any time is revolutionary. And that often, you don't give yourself credit for all of the hard work you've done in the past.  (I.E - I've already written my book. It's time to take action and get it published!)

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Bedeep. Data.

Observation mode.

Do you ever go through modes of collecting loads of data? Where you become so engrossed in what interests you at the time that you lose sense of time? You can't get enough of a subject so you research everything you can on a subject: books from the library and productive web surfing. Days blend together and weeks whiz by.


Must collect more data.

Nose buried in a book, mind working overtime and journal filled with lots of random notes. I am so incredibly happy gathering. For me, it's the process that's the best part. Sure the destination and goal is important too, but getting there is where I learn the most. It's where I thrive.

What makes you lose sense of time?

Friday, November 02, 2012

Looking back on going forward.

My love for track cycling came fast and furiously. Where else can you test riding off the front of the group with no fear of being dropped and lost? Its one gear, no brakes and intensity had me hooked from the get go. Thankfully someone was there armed with a camera to capture my start. Oh the lessons I've learned.

Afraid to try something new? Nah. More like afraid to sit in and follow!

Be bold.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Don't settle for quicksand.

I read about a woman who was sick of her job, sick of settling for work and fitting herself inside of a box, who one day woke up and wondered how the hell she got there. How did she become so distant from her passions, her wants, her desires? Five, ten, fifteen years later - she wakes up one day to discover the murk she's in.

The more she moves, the more it feels like it's sucking her under, like quicksand. The easier the excuses become to stay in the comfortable pit of despair.


She yells at no one in particular but more aimed at herself. She's done with this nonsense. She's done with answering phones and trying to silence the voice inside of her, the one that's screaming and yelling with all of its might to let it free. Let it be. LET ME FREE!

She quits her job with no back up plan. No route in mind for what to do next.

And it feels A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

This new found freedom, this recognition of no longer settling inside of a box, this empowerment gives her strength. Every day she wakes up excited. Ready to discover who she really is, what she really wants and how to align her values to it. Her dreams, her own unique and beautiful dreams, start becoming her reality. She blooms into who she really is and rarely feels trapped again.

Is this person you? Do you feel trapped? Feel like you're settling in life?Are you ready to discover what it is that you really want out of life?

Thought so.

The trickle down effect of doping.

Last week, while sitting at the kitchen table, our house guest Billy told us that he'd been called doper while riding the other day. Whoa, what?

He was just riding along in normal cycling spandex and accosted. I figured it was because he lived in Northern California and hopeful that the labeling was regional.

But yesterday, Benjamin said he was called doper, not once, but twice while on a mountain bike ride. He too was dressed in spandex and just riding uphill, up Gold Camp, minding his own business and worlds away from the scandal.

It's hard not to be mad at the situation. That now, thanks to the imploding deck of cards at the upper levels of our sport, we're all being subject to ridicule and labeling. Road, track, mountain bike and cross - we're all subject to the name calling and association with doping. Now that there's this awareness of cheaters and how easy it was for them to hide it all this time, it's muddied the waters for everyone who enjoys pedaling two wheels.

How can we defend ourselves against this blow?

For all of those that are dirty - what about all of those that are clean? How do we really know other than taking their word for it? As we've seen, those who claim innocence are far from it. In a way, I can't blame the general public for labeling cyclists thanks to the recent media attention and focus. That doesn't lessen the insult though.

What are the lessons here? Is there anything positive we can make of it? Baseball survived. We can only hope that cycling will weather this storm and the next generation of racers and riders while deter from history. That when given the choice to dope or not - they take the clean road.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Yep. I totally chickened out.

I even bit off all my fingernails.

Gross! Those aren't my nails. But I did bite mine.


Because when push came to shove, I chickened out from going to open mic night. And the next day when I went into work - I chickened out from confronting my coworker.

But what if I said the timing didn't feel right? That something held me back? Was I simply being chicken or listing to that inner voice of reason and recognizing the timing was off?

What keeps us from being that bold extrovert we want to be?

Chicken. It's whats for dinner.

Don't worry - next week I'm tackling my inner chicken all over again.  (And I'm sparing you from YouTube chicken dancing.. the stuff you find on the web is weird.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Small Potatoes

Lately I've been taking big, bold steps into the person who I want to be. And to be honest, I've been taking those steps for more than a year now - moving to Colorado, buying a house with Benjamin, traveling, starting my own business, public speaking and living each day to the fullest. That when the small potatoes of working at the Market started to enter into my life, I am in awe and wonder why they are effecting me.

I walk around eggshells at work. I am not being my true self as a result and well, it's starting to take its toll.

Example: A gentleman walks into work saying he spoke with a coworker at the farmers market about labels. His timing is perfect - as our label maker was down for the count for over two weeks. It's back up and running but tends to break down easily. Unfortunately I don't have the authority to field such answers, so I ask someone who is if they have time to speak with him. The answer I received was one of frustration and angst - LOOK AT THIS PILE OF WORK! NO WAY! I deflect the response and tell the guy that if he could send me pricing in an email and how much it would break down to per label, I'll pass it on to the appropriate person.


Guess what I stop doing? I stop asking questions and avoid said person at all costs. Why would I want to subject myself to another frustrating situation if I can avoid it?


This has been going on for weeks. And I know I'm not the only one feeling the toll. So, in being true to myself and stepping into the person I want to be, I'm going to tell this person how I feel. And I'm going to do it from a place of love. If I get fired for doing so, then I'll know it's the right decision. But having to sacrifice who I am and not knowing if the eggshells will support my weight, is small potatoes compared to the things I've done.

It's funny how the little things can hold you back from the bigger things in life.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Power of Coaching

Oh boy, what have I gotten myself into?

In an effort to challenge myself and step outside of the comfort box, I just committed to something HUGE. Remember how I said I have a public speaking dream? That I want to get up in front of thousands of people and inspire and motivate them to live the life they've always dreamed?

Well I'm going to do it. Tomorrow night. During open mic. I'm giving my first live speech in front of a group of strangers. And I'm wearing a costume.

That's right. The fish head is making a debut and getting out in the world. I'm breaking out my inner extrovert and taking big risks. What's the worse thing that could happen? GULP.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Toastmasters: Way More Than I Bargained For

My alarm startled me out of a deep slumber this morning at 6am. Usually awoken to 80's pop, this morning a talk show interviewed Tony Robbins. 

I call it a sign. Benjamin says its a coincidence. (The egg vs. chicken debate continues!)

I treat Thursday mornings like a job interview. Carefully laying out my clothes the night before, so not to wake Benjamin or the puppies. Blow drying my hair, applying mascara and eatting a quick breakfast before heading out the door to the Navigators by Garden of the Gods' for my 7:15 am Toastmasters meeting.

These are my mornings to shine.

Being only 6 weeks into the meetings, I have gained so much already by attending that I am amazed that each meeting brings new lessons of growth. Tips not only to improve public speaking, but also on how to live life. This group of 20+ strangers are becoming friends. True, amazing friends.

How often do you get to be your true authentic self? Free from worry, doubt, insecurities and any short comings? Only in front of your closest friends, right? And I found a group of 20 friends in less than 6 weeks. Toastmasters provides a platform to expose your vulnerabilities. To voice your dreams and desires. Giving you a hand to hold and a careful nudge in the right direction to improve. And they count your um's and and's.

I'm feeling my stride. Taking beautiful, bold, courageous steps into my own being.

In the past 24 hours I got three hugs from various people who I don't know particularly well in my life. But with each of those people, I shared with them my true authentic, caring self and they in turn shared theirs. Now it's not just the Universe telling me I'm doing something right - but it's the people in my life as well.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Live to Work

My second speech for Toastmasters is coming up on November  1, 2012. This is what I've come up with so far... please leave any comments or suggestions!

As a kid, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? How about as a teenager or young adult or even an adult for that matter?

Me neither.

Trust me, I tried fitting myself into a box. Firefighting, business woman, real estate tycoon, psychologist, teacher, garbage man, librarian, car salesman.

I've pondered a lot of different careers. But none of them seemed to fit. Or rather, I didn't fit into them. It's not from lack of trying either. Every time I would try one of those professions on for size as a young adult, I'd always have this underlying feeling of something bigger calling.

I was always inspired by those who found their calling and in many ways, I was more excited that they had aligned themselves with what they wanted to do then what they actually did.

When I started college at Western Washington University, I thought a business major suited me. It's what my mom majored in and I admire and look up to her. She was also extremely successful. As an incoming freshman, I got first pick on any upper level classes. So I promptly registered for Business Law and Accounting, both 300 level classes. And I failed at both of them, miserably.

I felt lost, again. Not knowing what to do, or where to put my energies frustrated me. Then I started thinking about what I dreamed of as a kid: motivational speaker, writer, and athlete. Those were professions that resonated my values and beliefs. I registered for communications 101 on a whim and I had to give speeches in front of the 100 person class. And although nervous at first to do so, suddenly school no longer felt like labor. It was fun!

My grades improved drastically and a couple of teachers and friends encouraged me to stretch and reach beyond my self imposed limitations.

I graduated in 2000 with a major in Communications and minor in Journalism and quickly found myself working at T-Mobile call center. Surprisingly, I failed the the new hire quiz after two weeks of hands on training. But the teacher saw something in me, realizing the test questions were skewed for specific inside the box answers and gave me a chance. Within six months the tables turned, and I was asked to teach new hire classes and travel the country to new markets.

While standing in front of a class in Thorton, Colorado, one of the new hires told me in front of the entire class, "Kid (she was 30 years my senior), you've got something. You're destined for big things."

Simultaneously I was pursuing elite level amateur boxing as an alternate at the first women's boxing world championships. I only bring it up because these amazing opportunities started to show up for me because I wasn't stuck inside of a box. I could beat the shit out of that box.

However, I still hadn't found my balance. When Ryan and I moved to Seattle after he graduated so would have a greater chance of finding work, I took a job teaching adults computer programs. Each 3-day course was evaluated by the students and my job security was based upon a number between 1 and 10. I disliked being judged by strangers based on boring how to use a computer program content. (Sorry Ryan - he was a computer programmer!) I knew there was more to life. I gave my two weeks notice and we traveled to Europe that summer.

What I did uncover was my willingness to speak in front of groups and also my ability to lead them. I also found was that unless being true to my passions and beliefs, everything felt like a job. I was working to live. And I desperately wanted to live to work.

In 2008, Ryan's death shook me to my core. It made me wake up from settling. I had a good paying job with enormous job security and lots of free time, but it left me feeling flat and empty. I found myself more than ready for change and ready to pursue my life's calling. But I still didn't know what that looked like.

Coincidentally, my friend Laura Todd who was instrumental in giving me my first break at T-Mobile sent out an email announcing she quit her corporate day job in pursuit of professional life coaching. I immediately responded reasoning, why wouldn't you want to have as many people in your corner as possible? I have big dreams and big goals and I knew I needed support to achieve them.

 Together we recognized where I was with my unbalanced and frustrating career and where I wanted to be. To honestly admit my dreams out loud and to be held accountable to pursue them was scary and thrilling all at the same time. I knew we were onto something.

I dreamed of moving to Colorado, writing a book, racing full time and putting my own desires first as well as discovering a rewarding and fulfilling career that would allow me to be financially independent.  I want to travel, observing the world and all is beauty.  I put my dreams and desires out there and within 6 months of working together, I took a giant leap and quit my job to move to Colorado Springs. Benjamin and I bought a house together 4 months later and huge opportunities continue to present themselves, as well as clarity on what I want to do when I grow up.

Sometimes it takes a while to find yourself and what you want to do. I wrote in my journal about moving to Colorado for over 10 years. Having a supportive nudge, whether that be from friends, coaches or the Universe can push you out of settling and into fulfillment.

So now, when you ask me, Jennifer: what do you want to be when you grow up? I will proudly respond someone who helps people get from where they are now to where they want to be. I'm going to help people live the life of their dreams so I can live mine.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Crossing out of the box.

As most of you know, I'm a track cyclist. I love banked left-hand turns, one gear and no brakes. So this year, when I decided to mix things up a bit and give cyclocross a whirl, I was just as surprised as some of you.

For those of you unfamiliar with cyclocross - it couldn't be more different then track. Besides having multiple gears, brakes and nobby tires, you also throw in dirt, barriers, run ups, and pain. Lots of pain. 45 minutes of pain. But it's "fun" and the fastest growing cycling discipline right now. It's like the obstacle race craze that has swept the country, except on bikes.

My first race was in the Springs. Tell me who wouldn't continue racing after smashing your 35+ competition? Yeah, I sand bagged, I suppose. But we all start somewhere and being in a nonthreatening, supportive field sounded good to me!

Armed with confidence but lacking skill, I signed up the following weekend for the Valmont course in Boulder in the women's open category. Unseasonably warm temperatures and the race lying within the "Boulder Bubble" meant that more then 30 women showed up. I managed 15th or so, boosting my confidence. Cyclocross makes the intensity of the effort easy to forget and beer that night taste even better.

A week later, I signed up for Tough Girls in Golden, Colorado. On a bumpy, grouchy course in 95 degree heat, I placed dead last. Payout went 5 deep and I was 6th. Adding insult to injury, my inner demons of doubt reared their ugly heads and I drove home with my tail between my legs. Or rather, my tires deflated.

I know better though, especially in this sport. Failures are inevitable, victory is fleeting and lessons galore. The next week: another opportunity on a different course.

Buena Vista, Colorado is surrounded by the Collegiate Range of multiple 14ers and freckled with golden Aspens. The views alone are worth the 2 hour drive. But I had a score to settle.

This time I decided to try something new. Instead of approaching the race with open expectations and accepting what happens no matter what, I was coming in with low expectations. Five girls registered, and payout went 5 deep. Either way I'm in the money. Win-win. Boom.

The whistle blows and we're out of the gates like a pony stampede. By the first technical section we've dropped one girl already. Score! The girl in front of me bobbles and I pounce, charging past her on a hill she un-clips on. Head down, power on I'm chasing hard to catch the next girl. We yo-yo. And I'm in no man's land. Approaching the barriers the fourth time, I lose it. Tired from the effort, I fall hard. I get up immediately and thank my lucky stars no one witnessed it. And then I see him. The husband of a rider and he's cheering me on. I laugh, thinking I got away with that stumble in private. Nope. I should have curtsied. At this point the leaders are way out of reach and I roll in for 3rd.

Gas and entry fee back in hand, I head home armed with a plaque and a smile knowing I accomplished two things. First, I left a great impressions with the hubby and in the dirt. And second, sometimes you should set low expectations just to surprise yourself. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

When It's Time: Live Your Passion

Do you know when it's time?

Time to create, time to be bold, time to express your authentic self? What holds you back from stretching, reaching, and or exceeding boundaries? What helps you get there?

Are you out of touch on how to allow that expression? Are you ready to reprogram yourself? To do your thing against a sea of processes, of constant continuous movements, of repetitious approaches and attitudes, of feeling like you're stuck. To one day in the not so distant future, look back on your work and realize that you were so engrossed in the process that it dawns on you - you figured out how to stop time.

Are you setting yourself up for success to do these things? Or are you sabotaging your efforts? Do you listen to the cynics, critics and haters when you know all it takes is one person to believe in you. That person is you.

Have you found your passion? The light that ignites you to contribute your very best. That keeps you coming back for more, despite setbacks and challenges. A passion that connects you to a tribe of other like-minded people. How are you living it? Do you want to live it more?

Be honest with yourself. Be bold and take risks. Have the courage to face failure and fear and celebrate unexpected outcomes. Bring those contributions back to your tribe and watch it inspire others. Surround yourself with a strong, resilient, positive and supportive people.

Sunday, October 07, 2012


I'm reading a book about linchpins. For those unfamiliar, linchpins used figuratively, are something that hold the various elements of a complicated structure together. It's also a great metaphor to describe indispensable people. Ones who break the mold of factories and add enormous value to organizations because they bring creativity and humanity into what they do.

Seth Godwin, author of "Linchpin" argues that the factory age is over. Producing commodities with interchangeable pieces, as well as cog machine workers, is a thing of the past. Consumers seek out the best price with the most human connection. In a market flooded with cheap commodities and lower prices, what sets companies apart from one another? Linchpins.

Still confused? Try this on:

I can't get fired from the Market. I've traveled extensively, for months at a time. I've tried giving a letter of resignation, expressing my dissatisfaction in working a job they assigned me. I up and left to London with zero notice, and still had a job when I returned. Instead of firing me, they put me back in the Market, working directly with customers and raising my pay. Baffled? Me too.

Recently I discovered my calling - life coaching and helping others live the life of their dreams. The training is extensive and requires travel for long weekends during the busiest season for retail. My decision: continue working a $10 an hour job or pursue the life of my dreams. That was a tough one. When I brought the additional travel up to the new owner, ready to give notice if it came down to it, I was taken back when he didn't say no right away. It stretched him. It made him examine my value as a contributor to the company.

The next day he told me to book my flights. And they'll work around my schedule when I'm in town.

Linchpin. I am indispensable.

Ironic, isn't it? In a country full of unemployment, I can't lose a job to save my life.

So, how does this relate to you, dear reader? Ask yourself the following question: are you indispensable? And if not, do you want to become indispensable?

I'm going to take it a step further and say that simply following the life of your dreams, taking risks, taking the path less traveled, living life full of abundance and balance - simply put: BEING YOU makes you indispensable. That not fitting into a box, conforming to societal norms and continuing to work as a cog in the machine will free you. Free you to live a life beyond what's imaginable. What once seemed far stretched and impossible is now something you can make reality. Your reality. Move beyond the old paradigm. Create change. Live change. Be the linchpin.

That might sound scary, outrageous and thrilling all at the same time. But you can do it. Take action. Surround yourself with supportive linchpins in life. It will stretch you beyond preconceived possibilities. You're hired to live to the life of your dreams.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Addressing the elephants

Puissant. From the heart. Thought provoking. Inspiring. And a standing ovation.

This morning I took a risk. I got up in front of my Toastmasters group and shared a story about myself, from the heart. I cried. I showed my vulnerability. I connected to every person in that room. And I felt their love.


I knocked that one out of the park. I shared with them that I am a widow and that the journey I'm on is hard but through acceptance and growth, I am an amazing and better person. I want to help others. I want to show them the strength inside. The one that grows with time and encouragement. The one that inspires others to be the best they can be. I want the world to know that you have a choice in how to address the elephants in your life.

Every single person in the room stood up and applauded. I'm on the right path. What a wonderful affirmation.

Don't worry - this one is going in the book FOR SURE!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Balancing Act

Balance. We all need it.

Anytime I need to be reminded of the beauty of balance, I head to Garden of the Gods' to ride by my favorite landmark: Balance Rock.

Tourists flock to the area, often poised underneath one of the balance points to show how they contribute to the rocks balance. But take those people away, and the rock balances well on its own, as it has and as it will continue to.

Everyone has their unique balance point. It comes in as many shapes and forms as there are people in the world. Each sense of balance is linked to core values and how you've aligned your life to them. Friends and family, career, recreation, love and relationships, physical environment, money, health, and personal growth - to name a few. It's all part of who we are.

So when you find yourself feeling out of balance and ready to topple, take a step back. Look at your life as a whole. Figure out where the imbalance is coming from and take action to improve it. There are helpers along the way that can give you new perspectives and challenges if you feel stuck. But ultimately it's up to you to make the change.

Ready to start living that balanced life of your dreams? I'm ready to help. Please contact me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Welcoming Autumn

The house is quiet. The dogs are in their respective beds, shaking slightly from the booming thunder outside. The lights flickered off for a moment earlier. Fall is here.

The leaves are golden shades of yellow and the weather changed overnight. Gone are the 80+ degree days. They are replaced by chilly evenings and either a sweater thrown on or turning on the heat. I now bundle up when I ride Penny home from the Market when I get off work, sometime after 7. It's dark too.

Pikes Peak has been shouldered in clouds the past two days. A quick glimpse here and there reveals snow. Everyone has a smile on their face. Snow, moisture, the cycle of life. These mountains, these huge 14,000 feet plus giants are collecting their winter coats. They're trying them on for size and the kiddos are getting excited to play in its bounty. And by play I mean screaming YAHOO!!! down the mountain with planks under feet. Winter is on its way.

Butternut squash, pumpkins, gourds, apples, fattening up for the holidays. Yes, please. Dark stouts, wool socks, scarfs, gloves, puffy coats. And being the second person into bed on those cold nights to spoon with my sweetie. And no, I'm not talking about Moonli (or Makiah)!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Soul Meets Body

A friend asked - are they out there? Yeah, they are. Just not in the form they used to be. But he visits me in his own way. And when he does, I smile in remembrance. What an honor.

And when those reinforcements come, they affirm living each day to the fullest. They affirm loving with all my being - this life, loved ones, friends, family, dogs, sun, bikes, laughter, happiness. I am fulfilled beyond belief. And I know he's smiling right back at me, with me and for me.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Really Listening

When's the last time you listened, really listened to someone?

When was the last time you shushed the millions of things that pull at you in every direction during the day, and fully engrossed yourself in what someone else was saying? When you listened not only to the words out of their mouths, but the expression on their faces and the body language they used to tell a story?

Did you find yourself leaning in? Did time and space stop? Did the world stop spinning madly on and you had a connection, an undeniable connection with people?

I work in a gourmet market and our customers are foodies, beyond a doubt. Or at least the regulars are. Every shift I hear amazing stories about their lives. The mother who is worried about her college daughters attachment to a boy who is only looking out for himself. (She likes Lemon Blueberry cookies.) The couple who helped their 90 year old neighbor retrieve his clothing after 2 months of quarantine since the Waldo Canyon Fire. (HUGE fans of the fish and chips.) The woman who pedaled to the summit of Pikes Peak, still in chamois 12 hours later, with her sweet boyfriend (turns out he's THE Andrew Hampsten). Seriously. I waited on Mr. Hampsten. And his lovely girlfriend who tackled some demons on that hardcore climb. (She ate a muffin with a pint of vanilla bean ice cream. Well deserved!)
People have amazing stories to share. Ones that take you outside of yourself. Ones that make you realize just how its the people in your life, the fulfillment from relationships and your ability to listen to others, that make you rich beyond belief. People provide a connection to this enormous Universe.

Yes, my feet are screaming. I walked 20 miles inside of the store on concrete. But I had a constant smile and enough tips to buy myself a six pack. I also had a connection to a small little slice of the Universe with its purple mountains and crisp fall air. I love it here. And by here, I mean living in the here and now. There's no place I'd rather be.

I challenge you to try listening, really listening to someone other than yourself. Lean in and get close. You never know what you might learn.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Courage via encouragement.

All I needed was a little encouragement, really.

And today, I got a HUGE serving of encouragement.

Week two of 6 months worth of Toastmaster meetings. Remember last week? How I told you about Table Topics and was put on the spot to give a pitch to a publisher on a new cook book I was writing? My words failed me. I said um, a lot. Plus I'm pretty sure the audience could hear my pounding heart. It was awkward and once I sat back down in my seat I was completely embarrassed for my speech lasted maybe 30 seconds. But the first time was out of the way and that's all that mattered.

Today I woke up, took a shower and put some nice clothes on. I wasn't scheduled for a speech but just in case, I wanted to come prepared. Prepared for another topic or even my icebreaker speech if need be. And guess what? They called on me again. But this time they did ask me before the meeting if I would like to participate. Sure! Why not? I'm only going to get better by being thrown to the wolves.

Today's topic - travel. Perfect! Except I had to mention a place I would never visit again. To be honest, I can't think of a single place I've traveled that I wouldn't go again. So I turned the topic into traveling to London for the Olympics. I told my story about surprising Benjamin and they laughed at the escalator encounter. I made eye contact, noticed my heart was still in my chest and felt WAY more comfortable in front of the group than anyone. Not to mention I noticed the timer when I had been speaking for over two minutes! And they were laughing with me, not at me. Benjamin did have two options really on how he could have reacted to my surprise.... thankfully he was stoked.

That round was way, way, way easier. Phew!

As with every meeting, they hand out awards at the end of the program to recognize and encourage participants. And guess what? I received best Table Topic speech and Most Timely!


So yeah, you could say I'm slightly encouraged. And I signed up for my first speech - an Icebreaker for October 4. I was going to talk about being an athlete, but I think I'm going to go out on a limb here and really share my story. Why not start where I want to take public speaking? I can already picture myself in front of a stadium audience. Oh boy!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday: Let the countdown to the weekend begin!

Yep, another weekend packed full of good times.

The weather in Colorado has been amazing. Cooler mornings, heat mid day and then warm evenings. That pinch me, I must be dreaming sensation continues.

Last week was interesting. With the new merger of Garden of the Gods' Gourmet and The Pinery, people have shifted positions, been asked to leave and left right where they are. My attempts to resign over a month ago from the wedding planning division were responded with a request to hang in there were finally answered on Friday, when I got to work a shift back in the Market. The energy is undeniable, the people friendly, the smiles and jokes - I like it. I like it a lot. And my hours are pretty sweet - 2pm - 7:30ish. I'll tell you though, prior to the shift back I was ready to walk again. Everyday I willed myself to put a smile on, grin and bare it. Sometimes you have to. And sometimes it pays, sometimes it leaves you wondering why you put up with things as long as you did.

Long story short - if something is making you uncomfortable and unhappy - CHANGE IT! We all have the power to do so.

Energized, I looked forward to the weekend full of bikes, friends, cross and fun. Saturdays group ride was awesome until I hit a massive pot hole and pinch flatted 1/4 mile later. The group still compact, everyone continued on. Brian's question, "Do you have everything?" Yep!

Except my spare tube had a hole. And I was out in Kansas. Sweet. Time to dial a cab for the first time ever. No worries though, the day still young, my legs still fresh I opted to head up to Woodland Park and climb 2,000 feet. I love riding up there. The Aspens are changing bright hues of yellow and Pikes Peak has snow on its flanks.

Fall is such a beautiful time of year, pretty much everywhere. I love soaking in the days warmth, knowing cold weather is on its way. The sweet part about living in Colorado? The sunny days don't end when the seasons change. We had two cloudy days last week, for the first time in two months. I feel so lucky.

Sunday, I drove up to Denver early to meet up with my friend Shawn. He's doing awesome. Got a new promotion and is taking a road trip before he starts October 1 in sunny San Diego. He's super excited for the opportunity. We talked about dreams and aspirations and he's making his come true. It is so freaking cool to hear a friend doing so well, creating opportunities for himself and gaining such personal growth. Our two hours together flew by and regrettably I had to head to Boulder for some racing action. But I know we'll visit again soon. Some people you just know will be in your life for the rest of your life. Good friends are awesome and I'm so grateful for those in my life.

I arrived in Boulder amongst the heat. 87 degrees and lots of dust but on the coolest cross course I've been on. Yes, I've only been on 5 now. But this one was awesome. Lots of single track, well timed run ups, flat power sections. I started back row due to registration timing and started picking people off.  My remounts still need lots of practice but I'm getting there. 45 minutes whizzed by. I'm really, really, really loving this cross stuff. Who ever thought to combine road and mountain is GENIUS.

I hope cross falls near Halloween so I can wear a fish head. Don't worry Benjamin, I won't pretend I know you. ;)

After the race, I met up with Therese and we ate a ton of sushi downtown. More kick ass conversation - great company and good food. A perfect way to end the day, and weekend. 
Moonli agrees.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

One Step Closer to Motivational Speaking

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of one day becoming a motivational speaker. I never had a specific topic in mind, but I envisioned myself standing in front of a 300+ people giving a speech from the heart and my speech having a serious impact on the audience. I have countless journals that speak to this dream and every time I put down a life goal or something I really want to do - public speaking is usually number one.

There's just one problem.

Public speaking scares the crap out of me.

Whenever I get in front of a group of people and am put on the spot, I clam up. Those carefully practiced words, the fact that I see myself in front of hundreds of people in my dreams, does nothing to calm my nerves. But I know it's my destiny. Public speaking is my calling.

So today I took action. Today I woke up early and attended a local Toastmasters meeting. I heard about Toastmasters via word of mouth and found a local chapter just up the street near Garden of the Gods' park. And when I couldn't fall asleep til nearly midnight, I told myself I'd still get up. I'd still go. And I did.

The group was welcoming, friendly and well organized. An agenda was handed out and about 12 different people hosted the meeting with ice breaker speeches, meeting organizers, jesters, evaluators, etc. Each person had a role. And for those that didn't, we were called on to be part of the table topic.

Yep, I was called to action at the first meeting. My topic: I'm giving a sales pitch to a publisher about my new cookbook. Gulp. That should be easy, right? Wrong. I fumbled, I stuttered. I couldn't find the words I was looking for. But I did it. And they clapped. Phew! The first speech is over on the first meeting! And you know what that means? It can only get better.

It better get better.  :) It will get better.

So today I challenge you. Put into action something you've been meaning to do for a long time. Taking those first steps is always challenging but oh so rewarding. And I'm sure one day I'll give a speech about it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

First Cross race of the season: complete!

I'm super green to cyclocross. Prior to Saturday's race, I've completed only two other races and both were roughly 3 years ago. Needless to say, the whole dismount and remount, along with obstacles is completely foreign to me. I'm usually in the thralls of last minute preparation for track nationals with one gear, no brakes and left hand banked turns. But this year, I decided to give cross a try.

What is cross? It's where you take a road bike with knobby tires and ride it through, over and around obstacles. Courses are a mixture of mountain biking, road riding and barrier hopping. Sound strange? It is. And thousands of people love it. It has become one of the fastest growing cycling disciplines as of late.

A few weeks ago I begged Benjamin to show me some basics. We went to a grassy park up the street and I began committing those awkward motions to muscle memory.

"Don't bobble. Make it one fluid motion to maintain your momentum. Like this."

I watched as he gracefully leaped off his bike at speed and jumped right back on. Right.

So what did I do? I bobbled. I looked down. I hesitated and looked like a moron. But slowly it started to click. I'm slow. Painfully slow. But teaching yourself proper technique and getting it right means going slow sometimes to reinforce good habits. And every now and then, I still eat shit. Part of the learning process, right?

What better way to test my new found skills than to take it to a race? Luckily cross season kicked off locally here in Colorado Springs, at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs campus. The flier boasted a 2 mile course with it all: sand, run ups, barriers, single track and sidewalks. Game on.

I registered for the 35+ women's category (how did I get so old all of a sudden!?!) and we had 6 women show. The women's open field had 6 as well, but with two big guns: Katie Compton and Amy Dombrowski. GULP. Such is the talent in Colorado - world champions and multi-national title holders. No big deal. Thankfully my group was less intimidating and Katie and Amy only lapped me with less than a lap to go. As I rolled over bumpy single track when Katie zoomed by, all I could muster was: "Get it girl." Who am I to stand in their way?! We all start somewhere.

The race itself was a blast. Well, as fun as going at 95% can be for 45 minutes. The sand pits proved frustrating but in great proximity to the run up. The male hecklers at the top of the hill cheered and sneered, adding to the fun. I kept imaging my brother chasing me so I'd push harder when it hurt and put some distance between myself and 2nd place. But I'm sure she would have caught up had there been more barriers. My slow remounts cost me at least 3 seconds, every time.

"Go Baby!!! Faster!" Benjamin would cheer as I'd come into view. I just smile in response, putting a mental note on the line I should take next time. Time to work on those remounts, at speed.

One thing is certain - with cross everything is new and I'm improving leaps and bounds each time I ride. I look forward to improving my skills in terms of speed, summed up with one word: PRACTICE.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Intro Revision

Working on this book can be like pulling a fresh wound, not quite healed. But if I don't keep at it, keep polishing it, keep reworking things to make it work then it'll never get done.

With that said, here is another version of the intro. Have that hanky handy.

Sweat dripped off his brow from hiking up to the base of Goat Wall in Mazama, Washington. His canine companion struggled to keep up. His big steps during the scramble were enormous leaps for her.  Panting, she found a shady spot next to the towering rock wall while he shrugged off his backpack.

He squinted, looking up at the rock, his eyes following the natural climbing line as it meandered up and out of sight. He spoke with Bryan that morning about the nuances of the climb and felt confident in his choice of route. So confident in fact, he left his climbing guidebook back at the cabin. He also came here alone.

Prime Rib, a moderate 12-pitch 5.9, gains a total of 1500 feet of metamorphosed sedimentary rock. An easy rock-climbing route for someone as accomplished as Ryan, rope or no rope.

He took a swig of water, pet his panting dog and bent over, removing the contents from his pack: shoes, harness, rope, carabiners, chalk bag and a small sack lunch containing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, blue Poweraide drink and a Kit Kat candy bar he intended to eat later.  He whistled a Wilco tune he heard while driving down valley from the Lost River Airport community to the parking area for Goat Wall and made sure he had everything he’d need.

The upper Methow Valley is beautiful in early September. Clean mountain air, summer warmth during the day and cooler temperatures at night. The pine beetles sang and he heard the steady movement of Lost River below.  A light wind kissed his arms so he slipped on a windbreaker.

Carefully, he balanced on one leg while putting on one climbing shoe at a time.  He put water in a plastic container for his dog and slipped on his climbing harness. He crisscrossed the rope around his shoulders, tied it around his waist and closed his backpack, stashing it behind a tree. He let out an audible exhale.

“You stay here, Makiah.”

He didn’t bother to tie her up. He didn’t need to. He figured he would be back down in a few hours and Makiah rarely wandered and usually obeyed. He eyed the route again, dipped his hands in a chalk bag and started climbing.

Makiah dug herself a comfortable place to wait in the shade, close to Ryan’s backpack. She glanced up and watched as he climbed out of sight, letting out her own audible exhale.

She was the last being to see him alive.

Cross Roads

That last post was heavy. But from the heart. I've probably reread it about a dozen times since I put it up and it still brings a tear to my eye, every time. What becomes so obvious to me, is how important I feel it is to get my story out there.  To let other people know that tragedy can strike at any time and it is up to you how you choose to deal with it. It is up to you to learn as much as possible and take the positives from it that you can and move forward.

I'm actually in the process of aligning my life with helping others achieve that realization. To provide careful listening and coaching in achieving the life of your dreams. By no means does that mean you have to experience tragedy before you can live that life you've always imagined. But it does require that you are completely and 100% open to awesomeness.

If you or someone you know is interested in working with me, please feel free to reach out. I'd love to share my insight and wisdom and assist you in finding that ultimate life balance. As I've found, the more people you can have in your corner, the better. Don't wait another minute - life is too long.

Friday, September 07, 2012


I keep a separate, private blog, where I put my musings for my upcoming book. But since it's acting up, and well, this blog will become a platform for advertising what's to come - I figured this is an appropriate spot to put down some of my thoughts.

For those who don't really know me or my story - I am 34 years old. My childhood was spent in Eugene, Oregon, teenage years in Seattle, university in Bellingham and then back to Seattle until about a year ago when I moved to Colorado. I had a great life - and adoring husband. We married young at 22 and lived an amazing and fulfilling life. Life was going according to plan until four years ago, to the day Ryan took his last breath.

The following is an excerpt from what may be in the book:

The hike up to the base of Goat Wall left him wiping his brow. The load in his backpack was much lighter this time since he wasn’t burdened with the weight of climbing hardware. He had only brought his climbing harness, shoes, rope and a few carabiners for the rappel descent. Still, the 20-minute steep approach was not for the faint of heart nor out of shape.

Makiah, their 25 pound miniature Australian Shepherd, was panting too.  The big steps he had to take during the scramble up in the talus field were enormous leaps for her. Yet he didn’t need to assist her, she had made it up on her own. He contemplating shaving her – especially since she was miserable in the late season summer heat. But fall was just around the corner and she’d be more than a little humiliated without her signature shaggy coat.

He quickly found his route, Prime Rib a moderate 11 pitch 5.9. He knew exactly where it started since he had researched the climb quite a bit. That morning he had spoken with Brian, the routes originator, and gotten more than enough information on the climb. He was so confident in his choice of climb that day, he left the climbing guide book back at the cabin. He was, after all, an accomplished 5.13 grade climber and a 5.9 was well within his ability, rope or no rope.

He set his backpack down, pulled out his climbing harness, shoes, rope, chalk bag and took a big swig of water. Sitting down on a flat rock, he took off his approach shoes and carefully slipped on his tight climbing shoes.

“You stay here, Makiah.”

He didn’t even bother to tie her up. He didn’t need to. Makiah was well trained and did as she was told. Plus she rarely wandered and always stayed within earshot. He stashed his backpack near the base of the climb and left Makiah with some water. He slung a 70-meter rope over his shoulder, crisscrossing it around his chest and securing it with a series of climber knots so it wouldn’t impede his ascent. He chalked up his hands and with that, he started to climb up the loose adventure route. This was it, one last climb before heading home to Seattle after spending a week in Mazama. One final climb to top a fun filled week full of recreation in the Pacific Northwest.

Makiah watched as her owner started the ascent up Goat Wall and once he was out of sight she dug herself a comfortable spot to wait and keep careful guard over her owners backpack.

She was the last being to see him alive.


She had just completed a successful week of track racing down in San Jose. She was weighed down by her own hardware – two golds and one silver and a best all around rider jersey and trophy. Her successes made her happy and she couldn’t wait to share it in boring detail with her husband.

They had talked the day before for over an hour, enthusiastically sharing with one another their weekly adventures. His involved the wonders of the Pacific Northwest and deciding how best to spend his last day in Mazama. Hers’ involved going in circles at the velodrome as fast as humanly possible.

Both were excited to see one another. Both were missing one another and making plans for the following weekend when they would reunite to finally celebrate their 7th wedding anniversary. They talked of biking in the San Juan’s and ferry schedules were checked.

Before calling it a day, she had one last race, the team sprint with Jane, a friend from Seattle. They placed 4th overall and quickly packed to start the long 16 hour trek back to Seattle.

She felt part excitement, part fear. So much lay ahead of her and she had a strong sense that things after Nationals wouldn’t be the same. But she had no idea to what extent that would be true.

The drive from San Jose to Seattle was long. Certainly doable in one long stretch but since Guy was unwilling to share the drive burden, she insisted they stop and stay the night with her brother and family in Brownsville, Oregon.

They left San Jose around noon and it was around 100 degrees. A quick stop for a burrito along the drive had them speeding along the highway and passing through Redding, California around sunset. They passed by a large forest fire, washing the sky in pinks, reds and greys. She had a strange feeling but ignored it. She had lots of excitement from the previous week to recall and quickly put that funny feeling to rest.

The stop at her brother’s house was full of commotion. Coleman, her nephew, demands full attention and consumed her thoughts of worry. By bedtime, she was tired from the day’s event and was concerned she hadn’t heard from Ryan. He always called.


The next morning, the whole family and Guy headed to the local breakfast spot and ate together before she and Guy departed for the final 5 hours to Seattle. Once on the Interstate, she started to panic and called the office to find out if Ryan had showed up. No one had seen or heard from him.

Panic set in.

Oddly, exactly a month prior, Ryan told Jennifer what to do in the unlikely event of an emergency. He was climbing with his friend Fitz and told her if she didn’t hear from them by a certain time to call the sheriff’s department and search and rescue.

She called the Okonogan County Sheriff department and reported Ryan missing. She reported his last known where about was in the cabin in Mazama, potentially headed out on a mountain bike ride. By strange coincidence she had the VW Golf license registration paperwork with her so she was able to describe the vehicle with 100% accuracy.

The drive between Brownsville and Seattle took about 5 hours. Time came to a standstill. For once she and Guy didn’t have anything to say to one another.

They arrived in Seattle around noon. She had already called her mother and told her something bad might be happening. There were so many unanswered questions in those first few hours, such a whirlwind of emotion, of hope, of loss, of trying to make sense of a senseless world.

Recalling her conversation with Ryan two days before, he had mentioned going on a mountain bike ride of some sort. She hoped and prayed she’d be able to find him with a broken leg or something on a trail out in the middle of the national forest.

Her neighbor, Jo, saw the commotion going on next door and popped over to say hello. She told Jo that Ryan was missing and last seen in the Methow Valley. Jo reassured her everything would be all right. They’d gather some survival items to create a real search party for him: flashlights, First Aid Kit, a climbing rope and an emergency blanket – all hopeful items for a rescue.

Mazama is a three and a half hour drive from Seattle. Her mother Caprice, Guy and Jo all headed to the grocery store together to pick up some food to go. That’s when she got the call.

The Okanogan County Sheriff’s deputy told her to go the local precinct. Unsure of what was happening, but letting that initial lump in the back of her throat build, she went. It all seemed like a dream.

The precinct was by North Seattle Community College, a 15 minute drive away.  No sort of assuring could deny the feeling of utter despair building in her gut. Time was starting to disappear. Moments between actions were completely lost.

They walked in together, Guy, Jennifer, Caprice and Jo and explained to the police officer sitting at the front desk that he needed to call the Okanogan sheriff’s office. He did so, and while he was talking with the deputy over the phone, his tone grew somber. Those moments didn’t disappear. Those seconds between what the officer was being told and what he was about to say came to a stand still. She wanted that moment to freeze, didn’t want to hear what she already knew was going to be told to her.

“I’m sorry, miss. Your husband is dead.”


My knees gave out from underneath me. I sank to the floor, unable to breath, unable to register what devastating news was just relayed but also known. The room started spinning. The officer came out from behind his desk enclosure and offered a hug, giving his condolences, passing along bad news, something that he has to do on a daily basis, part of his job description. I wondered how many other new widows he had to relay this kind of news to. I knew exactly how Emily felt. How the world was ripped out from under her, how everything she knew was gone in an instant. It didn’t make what I was experiencing any easier, but at the same time I felt like I had been here before. That I was in some way prepared for what was happening.

Guy said he was willing to drive us onto the Methow, as that seemed the next logical step. I felt a strong urge to be there – to feel his presence, to find my dog. I remember my mom and Guy talking on the way there but I have no idea what they said. I just stared, numbly, out the window as the trees zoomed by.
The views of the Liberty Bell group took my breath away, but this time for a different reason. I could feel Ryan everywhere. His presence was certainly with me – angry and whirling about. Similar to our living relationship, I was always the calm one. I could take whatever life would throw at us and make sense of it. Ryan, on the other hand, would get upset at things. I felt his anger then, and I knew his accident was an accident, not something he would do intentionally.

We spent that first night at the Methow Country Inn. Normally they don’t allow dogs, but we were able to get Makiah to stay given the emergency circumstances. When I first saw her, she was scared. I don’t think it registered that she was with me, only that she was finally safe. My mom booked us a room with a queen bed, the only one available and we tried to sleep that first night. My mind wouldn’t shut off, I was in complete and utter shock. I cried and cried and cried, asking Makiah what had happened. What she had seen. I had so many unanswered questions.

Over the next couple of days, the puzzle pieces became clearer. On Sunday, September 7, Ryan had gone free solo climbing up a route called Prime Rib. He had left Makiah at the base, unleashed and started up the route. Sometime during the day, another climbing party had set out to do the same route and noticed a backpack and little dog, unleashed, but no sign of a hiker or climber. They started the climb and noticed a plate sized bloodstain on the rock about 4 pitches up. During the ascent and descent they didn’t see anyone else there and thought it was odd.  That night they headed back to their lodging 40 miles down valley. They both felt uneasy about the situation and decided the following day to head back up valley to see if the little dog, back pack and red Golf were still parked at Goat Wall.

At the same time, our neighbor Anne had a house sitter named Kevin that we had befriended on previous trips to the Methow. He was of similar age to Ryan and I and easy going. He had noticed the red Golf parked on the side of the road overnight and thought it odd. He got off his morning shift and stopped at the same time the climbing party convened.

That’s about the same time the deputy rolled up on the scene. She asked the three men what they were doing there and noticed a little dog, unleashed, wandering back and forth between the road and the trail head. Makiah was frantic.

When the deputy mentioned to the climbing party and Kevin that a person was reported missing and she was waiting for Search and Rescue to show up to begin their search, the three men asked if they could start the search. She advised them that the area was on public land and she could not advise them to search but they could look on their own accord.

It took about twenty minutes before they found him. Makiah helped lead the way, running ahead on the path, herding them toward Ryan’s last resting spot.

Once Search and Rescue showed up, the deputy informed them it was a recovery. Ryan had sustained massive internal injuries from his fall, which appeared to be from 600 feet off the ground. It remains unknown if he died on impact or sometime during his fall. It also remains a mystery the cause of his fall – if loose rock was the culprit, a swooping bird or if he simply got off route. The fatal scene was recorded, photographed, described and several hours later, the deputy got back into cell reception range. That’s when I got the call and when my life changed, forever.