Monday, July 30, 2012

Romantic at heart

Life should be lived without regrets. Chances and risks are meant to be taken, they are meant to be explored and experienced with gusto. Outcomes shouldn't be weighted, as it's the journey to them that matters most. And having a big fat smile on your face while you soak it all in enhances the joy of living your dreams and makes it that much sweeter. I took a risk. I bought a ticket to london two days ago. I couldn't miss seeing Benjamin's hard work come to fruition. When someone means the world to you, moving heaven and earth to be with them seems trivial. Or at least boarding a transatlantic flight. No tickets? No problem. Something will work... He was surprised and had no idea I would show up. And the look on his face was priceless, priceless.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Inspiration: pass it on!

Inspiration comes in many forms: a landscape, a photograph, a poem, a book, a smile, a notion, a feeling, a hunch, little things, big things, ideas, thoughts, pretty much anything. It also comes in the form of people. And when you connect two people in the right space at the right time good things happen. Big things happen.

I've been struggling with the work/life balance since I returned from Spain. While on one hand I was super thrilled to have a job when I returned, I was also put into a new position right away. As mentioned before, I went from low person in the business to pretty important fairly quickly and before I could get used to one thing, I was promoted into a different role. One thing is for certain, not a day has gone by where I'm bored or looking for something to do. You want a new event planner? No problem! I'll try it out and see if it works.

And I was able to make immediate changes. And I got to clean up several messes. Some big, some small but messes all the same. I went from working roughly 20 hours a week to 40+. Gray hairs popped up with great frequency. I have a permanent knot in my right shoulder. And while I know I'm doing a great job and accomplishing a lot, I also recognize this isn't a sustainable pace. Or at least, not for me.

So today, after thinking about it over the weekend and during the week, I decided to take another leap. I decided to tell them it wasn't working for me and that while I enjoyed working with them, I don't think this is the right fit. I was prepared and ready to walk. Never did I see the counter offer coming. I got a call within the hour.

What would you do? Do you stay with the stressful but comfortable feeling of having a steady pay check? Or do you take the leap, pull yourself away from suckling on the bottle and go for it? That book I've been talking about isn't going to write itself. Those dreams I have won't become reality unless I start doing the footwork toward them. And as scary as that leap can feel, to step outside of your comfort zone, it's necessary for growth and the ultimate reward.

So if you see someone perched in limbo, straddling the fence between just doing it or staying in the same old routine, promise me that you'll tell them to go for it. Promise me that you'll go for it. Promise yourself to pursue it with gusto. Life is too long to not being doing exactly what you love. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I can barely keep my eye balls open right now... but don't think I haven't thought of you! Things have been a little busy, to say the least. And I must have a slice of apple pie before heading to bed. Priorities.

More to come soon, I promise!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Life is what you make of it.

A year ago to the day, Benjamin and I were driving to Colorado Springs after spending the weekend in Taos, New Mexico. The tour was on, and normally I would be in Portland for the AVC, but this year I decided to skip it. Turns out they were rained on and some of the racing was canceled or delayed. Instead of pushing a fixed gear with my muscles, I brought my new 29" Kona hard tail mountain bike.

The riding in NM was not as good as we thought it would be. The recent fires closed most of the killer areas that we scoped out. So we headed back to COS and I packed up my bike to ship it home. When I went to board the flight, United overbooked the flight and were looking for volunteers. Volunteers would be comped $400 in travel vouchers and could go home anytime they wanted. My hand shot up.

A quick trip back to the FedEx where I dropped my bike off and a quick rebuild of my bike and I was off to Buckhorn trail and down Captain Jacks. At the top of the trail, just before turning down to make the descent - I made the decision that this was the place I wanted to live.

Flying home the next day to dumping rain in Seattle confirmed that decision.

And now here I am, a year after making that decision in a beautiful home with our two sweet puppies, in an amazing relationship with the man of my dreams, catching the Tour on the tele and working for a kick ass company who believes in me and understands my pedaling passion.

Life is what you make of it. And being the master of your own destiny pretty much rules. YES!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Lost Art

My grandmother would be so proud.

Today, I was taught the art of place setting: where the salad and dinner fork, spoon, knife, desert and napkin go. Which direction the fork points, or the spoon, depending on its placement. And which way to point the knife (toward the plate). I know, I know. In the grand scheme of things these details and knowledge are pretty useless. Knowing where a fork goes won't make me a better person or solve world hunger. But for right now, it's paying my bills.

Last January I sent an inquiry email to Garden of the Gods' Gourmet. I rode by their place of business several times and thought - I love food, they're gourmet so let's make this happen. That's actually what I put in my application. A day later the manager called, next thing I know I'm running food all over Colorado Springs. It was exhausting! But I showed up on time, had a positive attitude and guess what? Within two months I was promoted to work the Market.

The Market went well. I sold products, educated customers on what we have and continued to lend a hand as much as possible. Again, I showed up on time, had a positive attitude and guess what? Within three months I was promoted to work in logistics.

Logistics went well. I posted the daily boards in the kitchen, helped out in as many was as possible. Then I went away for a month to Spain. I wasn't sure what would happen when I returned. But you guessed it, I showed up on time, had a positive attitude and guess what? Within two weeks I was promoted to work in event planning.

I've been open about my training schedule and travel - and my boss is completely fine with it. It is so nice to be valued and recognized. And to pursue my passion of racing. I am happy to be a part of this team and contribute in as many ways as possible. So today, I helped with place settings in our banquet facility for 75 people. I could hear my grandmother's praise and remembered how much she loved details about parties and the "proper" way to do things. The event was flawless, the customers happy.

I never would have thought I'd be planning people's weddings, taking care of a building and put in a serious leadership role this quickly. But I'm rolling with it, showing up on time and have a positive attitude.

As I folded linen napkins, I glanced down at my fingernails and laugh - Mummer also the one who told me that if I continued to bite my fingernails as a little girl, I wouldn't have any friends. I better start working on that....

Friday, July 06, 2012

Mallorca, Spain

It's been a week since I've been home and I miss the beautiful Mediterranean Ocean, salt air, salty pork, but mostly Benjamin. It seems like a dream, the three weeks I was there. I carried home memories to last a lifetime. We laughed, we played, he worked and I rode about 700 miles while there and loved every pedal stroke.

 So many beautiful sites. I love being the observer in our wonderful world, breathing it all in and letting it soak into my soul.

Riding just for the sake of riding, to take it all in. To see how high I could get my TSS score each day and celebrating with chocolate soy milk, pudding and cokes afterward.

To pedal through towns, sprint for town signs and soaking it all in. I feel incredibly lucky.

To pedal around mountains and counting in kilometers....

To appreciate each day and live it to the fullest. Mission accomplished.

Living a life without agendas and making the most of just being. Check.

No question about it, I could live in Mallorca. But only if Benjamin was there with me. ;) Home is where ever he is.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Pictures from the fire.

Fire. It's part of the circle of life. A natural occurrence that man kind has learned to harness to some extent. But it's also non-tamable. And if you add in wind, dry timber for fuel - nothing can stop its path. But the forests need it, to be burned clean so life can start new. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

This is where I used to start my hill repeats. I have stashed any extra bottles and flat kit by the electrical box you see in the background.
I was curious. I wanted to see with my own eyes what the city experienced the previous week. Being just outside of the evacuation zone, I wanted to see just how much of an impact this fire had. Along with the rest of the world, I saw the images on CNN and the Gazette. But nothing prepared me for the real impact.

Unlike the previous few days, the smoke smell disappeared. And if you look to the left, the houses are untouched even though the ridge above it was charcoal gray.
I didn't know which neighborhood Mountain Shadows is. I knew it was up in the vicinity where I do my hill repeats, but I didn't realize it was called that. Looking left (south), other than the brush fire remnants, nothing appears out of the ordinary.
Then you realize just how close those homes came to burning. What prevented it?
National Guard stood guard at the entrance to the streets too fire damaged to live in, yet still left standing.
See that big black patch directly in view? That's the path the fire took. It jumped over the entire street and destroyed the neighborhood below. Oddly, the fence was still standing.
Directly across the street from the picture pictured above, the Mountain Shadows neighborhood once sat. An entire cudesac: gone. I wasn't really prepared for that one. It slaps you in the face, the furry of fire.
I stood there in awe. That could have been our house. It could have been your parents, friends or neighbors. Where do you pick up the pieces after experiencing something like that? It still baffles me that only 2 people were killed from this fire.
This is the pathway of the fire, which leaped across the street and decimated the Mountain Shadow neighborhood.

Looking down into the neighborhood. That's a Jeep burned in the garage.
As I stood above what once were houses, a big wave of emotion over came me. We are but ants in this spinning world, and the world as you know can be turned upside down in a second.
A lone terracotta flower pot stands amongst the rubble.

Once I crested the hill, it took me a second to realize what I was seeing. In an effort to save more homes from burning, firefighters removed wooded fencing from all of the houses. Their tactic worked for most.
This sign put me in tears.
Yet hope rings through this neighborhood. People whose houses were spared, thanks in large part of the fire fighters efforts, but also a shift in the wind, put up signs everywhere that they are so thankful to be spared. You can feel the love.
Blodgett Mountain stands in the distance. This is the road traveling up to Woodmen.

Some how, some way, this entire neighborhood was spared. Thank you firefighter signs are every where.
It's hard to tell the difference between what's normal and what's not. Especially if you can't see it with your own eyes. But trust me, it's stunning. The topography remains the same, but the landscape is forever altered.
Drats! My camera phone was too slow to capture the fox... but he was there. Cautious and beautiful.

Looking back down the valley at Blodgett.

So many were lucky. So many were not. I'm proud of my community and nation in its response to the disaster. Money is pouring in for Red Cross and other disaster relief programs. Thank you all for thinking of us and know that we are safe and time will heal.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Rain on me!

It's actually raining outside. Not the little drip drop drip drop we've had on occasion during a thundershower, but an actual drenching. The last time it actually rained here was in February. Seriously. The timing is perfect. The city let out an audible sigh of relief.

The streets are lined with running water and my house has finally cooled off. It was 100 degrees earlier today. Huge winds gusted into town around 3pm and then finally, starting around 7pm the rain started.

It smells amazing. It's washing away the smoke filled air.

What a contrast to living in Seattle. It's the exact opposite. It's as sunny and dry here as it is cloudy and rainy there. Well, maybe even a little better. Although from the sounds of it, it maybe the exact opposite.

This is a serious invitation to all of my webbed feet stubborn Seattle friends: COME VISIT ME. I guarantee warmth, sun, huge grins and fat tires. There's a spare bedroom with your name on it....

Now excuse me, while I go air up the tires on my 29'er. The trails tomorrow are going to be SICK!!!!

Monday, July 02, 2012

I heart Colorado Springs

It's been a wild week.

A week ago today, as everyone now knows, Colorado Springs experienced the worst fire in Colorado state history. Benjamin and I read what we could on the web from Spain and as the fire grew worse, we felt more helpless. The evacuation zone was down to 30th and Pikes Peak and we live on 14th and Pikes Peak. Freaked out by the uncertainty and feeling like we should relieve our house/dog sitter, we booked flights to leave that afternoon.

36 hours later, we arrived in Colorado Springs. The air smelled of smoke, the sky hazy and thankfully the fire turned toward the wilderness than torching the entire city. 300 homes were not so lucky. I keep asking everyone, how did they stop the fire? What prevented it from burning down more of the city? What made the flames retreat?


My coworker told me the local news showed houses exploding, one after another. Everyone was glued to their televisions as the city burned. The firefighters would removed any flammable material from porches, side yards, etc. and some how, some way it retreated.

Each time we touched down between flights we would frantically look for media coverage. Our local newspaper the Gazette had the most up to date coverage, yet their reporting didn't do it justice. It was the facts, pure and simple: town meetings, press conferences, evacuation zones, containment efforts.

Thursday night we were reunited with our puppies and home. Everything was covered in ash. Our house sitter said on Tuesday night she was glued to the television, waiting to get the word it's time to evacuate.

Friday morning I went to the grocery store just up the street. It's usually super packed no matter what time of day or night I go. The parking lot was empty at 10am. The store borders the evacuation zone and its regular clientele are the people who lost their homes. Who lost everything they owned. Who hopefully were able to grab what they needed in 20 minutes they were allowed to. Who hopefully had paid their home owners insurance. I felt like I stepped into the Twilight Zone.

Saturday night we went out to dinner with some friends and they said how depressing it was. How you couldn't go outside. How everyone had a bag packed, ready and waiting just in case. The city was awake all night Tuesday. How with every gust of air, you hold your breath, hoping the fireball doesn't return.

Rumor has it earlier that week, someone had been starting fires in the Woodland Park area. About 10 different small fires were put out. There was no lightening that day the Waldo Canyon fire started. No, this one was deliberate. Couple that with a freak storm that came up from Pueblo with 65 mph winds and what normally would burn up the canyon was blown into a fireball by the winds. That's when it flew over the ridge and engulfed the Meadow Shadows neighborhood. That's when people lost their homes.

I wasn't even here and the winds freak me out. They come in gusts every afternoon with the thunderstorms. They fuel the fire and make it spread at a rapid rate.  (Even typing this now, a big gust of wind blew in smoke-filled air into the house.)

The outpouring and support of the community is amazing. It is filled with love and generosity. Did you see the story about the grandmother who is taking care of her 4 grandchildren since their parents died and lost her home on CNN? She came into my work, completely filthy and told my coworker that she didn't ask for this. Since her face was on the news, random strangers are coming up to her and expressing their heart felt love. She went to use the ATM at a local bank and a stranger approached her saying he had been waiting for her and handed her a plastic bag with wrapped up $100 bills and Valium. During the evacuation she had only enough time to gather her children's ashes, her pets, her four grandchildren and run. One of the little boys asked her if she grabbed his Lego's.

Story after story after story.

The city is regaining its composure. It's regaining its strength, slowly. Time is on our side in that it never stops. And the more time that passes, the more healing can be done.