Friday, August 31, 2012

This moment in time.

About a year ago, I had an amazing conversation with my friend Laura. We were working on visualization exercises and she lead me through a series of exercises where I eventually met my future self, 50 years young, and got to ask her questions.

Think about it - if you could meet your future self, what questions would you ask yourself? Am I doing the right thing? When will I make money? Fame? Fortune? Etc., etc.

Encountering this older self, all I could do was smile. And myself smiled back at me. Rather than ask myself questions, I felt this overwhelming and strong presence: strength, wisdom, beauty, integrity, honesty and love. I admired her/me. Asking those questions didn't make any sense. Because I knew just by seeing the reflection of my older self that I am living in the here and now and doing EXACTLY what I should be doing. Her smile knew, and it transferred to me.

Even with life's uncertainties, job questions, love, potential tragedies, huge successes - in that moment, and in this moment in time, I'm okay with not knowing the answers to those questions. I trust myself and the process of life and know that my life will be rich and full of love and laughter. What more could you ask for?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Blissfully Being

I've said this before, and I'll say it again. You know it was a good weekend when you need a weekend after your weekend. Wow!

The action actually started early last week. Benjamin headed out to Crested Butte on Tuesday night to follow the Pro Cycling Challenge. If you live under a rock or worse - don't follow cycling! - it's one of the biggest stage races in the good old US of A. Lots of climbing at altitude, pro tour riders, lots of fans and a circus like atmosphere all equating to a good time. Unfortunately I had to work but got to take part of the action as the race rolled through Colorado Springs on Friday. There was a little crit before hand and Katie Compton crushed us - rolling away from the field 3 minutes in. I hit my top end in those 3 minutes, something I haven't done in about a month due to travel and lack of racing. Ouchie.

But I still managed to hone the field sprint, despite having a rear flat with three laps to go. I cautiously took each corner, one eye closed and said a little prayer each time. Apparently somebody was listening and I finished 'er off. Good times.

A few hours later, Benjamin, Moonli, Makiah and I packed up the car and headed up into the mountains. We took our mountain bikes and had a blast. Not to mention a little r&r, some good eats, some beers and some over priced Beaver Creek gelato. We even stopped in South Park. Yes, THE South Park. And ate at Dorothy's Tamales. Bison tamales and bowling - a perfect way to spend Friday night. I actually rolled 4 strikes in a row. FOUR! Benjamin just shook his head in disbelief or disgust, I'm not sure which.

We both needed time away from routine - a celebration of the past several months being over and just being together. Have I mentioned the word bliss yet? Because I'm pretty sure I screamed it as we descended for 30 minutes off of Meadow Mountain out of Minturn.

But the weekend didn't stop there.... on Monday morning we boarded a flight to Chicago for an overnight with friends Greg and Lisa. They drove down from South Bend, IN and we partied. Hard. Ouchie. Thankfully we started early and were in bed by 9pm that night, making the early wake up call to catch the CTA train back to O'Hare bearable.  Benjamin continued onto Geneva for the rest of the week and I got to check in with some brides back in COS.

Next up? Steamboat Springs for the last local Colorado stage race of the 2012 season. Higgins and I get to giggle together.... yahoo! I love living here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A bird, a confrontation and a hug.

I was just riding along, minding my business in Garden of the Gods' Park, when my bike decided it was having none of that and bit me. Chomp!

Maybe it had something to do with my tall boy black socks?

Or maybe it was from attempting to teach myself some cross skills in as little time as possible?

Or maybe, truthfully, it was learning the hard way why you never dismount on the right side of your bike. Chain rings bite!

I know, I know. I shouldn't be sharing that I got a puncture wound on my left leg, which is normally no where near the drive train. But yesterday was special. (Or rather - I'm special.)

Fast forward 45 minutes.....

I swung by King Soopers (Colorado Springs' version of QFC) on my way home to pick something up and as I was leaving the parking lot, I might have cut an oncoming car off. Actually, come to think of it, I thought I had left him plenty of room. But as this guy rolled by in his Kia SUV, I saw him give me the bird. He speed up to a red light so I pulled up next to him and knocked on his window.

"Excuse me, but why did you flip me off?"

He gave me the deer in the headlights look.

"Flipping you off? Oh no! I was trying to figure out the wind whistle from my window gasket!"

We both giggled. He grabbed my hand and squeezed it - pretty much a KIA SUV hug - and I told him to have a nice day. Then I chuckled all the way home.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What color are your lenses?

Four hours. Four years. Four minutes. Four decades. Forever and a day.

I'm blue today. We're all allowed to be blue every once in a while, no? And most days, most hours, minutes, decades and years - my cup brims over with happiness. I have a lot to be thankful for. No, scratch that. I have a gazillion things to be thankful for! And I am.

But sometimes, every once in a while, my lenses have a blue tint.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Track vs. Cross, that is the question!

For those wondering out there - yes, I'm still riding. But my season focus has taken on a new twist. I got back from 10 days in London and had to make an immediate decision: to go to elite track nationals or not. And while I'd love to go for the 7th time, since seven times is a charm, I decided against it. Fear not! For the first time since I started racing, I'm going to give cyclo-cross a whirl.

Usually by the time track is over, I'm burnt out on racing anymore and take all of October off the bike. But this year, since I've had so many amazing opportunities and travel to Australia, Spain and London - well, it's time to mix it up. Time to keep some intensity rolling into the winter months. Time to freeze my ass off and go for it with gusto in under 60 minute increments. Guess what else that means? More 29er action in the world class mountain biking trails about 10 minutes from my house.

Take today for instance - clear beautiful blue skies, temps in the low 80s and only a handful of people on the trails enjoying Buckhorn and Captain Jacks. My grin was ear to ear as I crushed downhill (err, well, crushing downhill for me!) and I only nearly ate it once on loose gravel. It didn't take me long to figure out riding on the banked berm not only made my grin grow but the stability much better. I often wonder when I'm in that moment, in pure absolute joy, if someone else can feel it. You know that YAHOO BUDDY! feeling you had today? Yep, we channeled one another. Thanks!

Big, amazing prospects are on the horizon. But more on that later. I've got Benjamin's world famous oatmeal chocolate chip cranberry cookies to consume. YUM!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Paying attention

It sure feels like this is the year of the fire. Not that it isn't always around. But with recent proximity of fires and how close they are hitting home, it's hard to ignore its presence. Not only was the Colorado Spring fire close, but yesterday an arsonist destroyed a good portion of my dad's dealership in Eugene. Buildings can be replaced, people cannot and thankfully no one was hurt, but the memorabilia lost is non-replaceable. 

 Earlier this year, when the COS fire came so close to our home, I started to ponder what is it about fire that intrigues me. Although devastating by what it can engulf, it also has a strange beauty of renewal. A strong reminder of the circle of life and that nothing in this world is permanent. What can we learn from its beauty? Can we detach ourselves completely from material things? Do you focus on what's gone or do you look at it as a fresh start, a clean slate, or a blank canvas?

It got me thinking about the other major fires in my lifetime: the Bellingham Pipeline explosion, 9/11, driving back from California in September 2008, and Colorado Springs. Every single incident, I was out of town. Coincidence? To that, I can't be sure. So I started looking deeper, trying to find a link...

I mentioned these occurrences to a fire fighting friend of mine and he suggested I look into dungeon and dragons. Seriously. But it was there, in his D&D books that he came across the elements and astrology signs. Maybe there's a connection there? Curious, I looked into Aries, which as it turns out is a fire sign. Mr. Google turned up some interesting results about fire sign characteristics...

"Those with planets in fire signs have a simmering at-the-ready stance, as they hunt for things that light them up. They're prone to sudden illuminating flashes of insight and bursts of enthusiasm. Like fire itself, they can flare up when inspired, making them seem very passionate about life. They like to live large, and often feel frustrated by mundane chores and duties.

Fire signs are known to be intuitive, and to rely on gut-level instincts. Going on faith in their inner guidance gets them far, but they have a tendency to skip crucial steps, or to be unaware of the emotional impact of their actions."

Hmmm.... okay. But how does that relate to the fires? 

"When the fire element is present, there's a warm radiance, a trust in life's journey and a willingness to take risks. Any party or celebration is made better with the presence of a fully-charged up fire sign. They're great catalysts for play, and liable to unearth the spontaneous side of those around them. Because they sense a golden thread of destiny and potential running through their own lives, they have a knack for leading others to theirs.

Fire signs act on instinct or "sixth sense," and that makes them look reckless to more cautious types. They're actually following a powerful intuition that keeps them at the leading edge of fresh experiences.

Fire is infused with the divine spark, and this can spread like wildfire to everyone around them. They've got a lust for life that is enviable. Those that are weighted down might try to toss a wet blanket on their enthusiasm, so Fire must vigilantly guard its beacon. It's important for them to have cheerleaders to fan the flames of their interests.

But Fire that thinks only of itself learns the wisdom of the other elements the hard way. They'll keep coming up against resistance, until there is willingness to see there are no short cuts. Each of the other elements has something to offer, and in return, Fire gives off a glow that is as nourishing as the rays of the Sun."

Food for thought. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Four Year Journey.

If you would have told me four years ago I'd be where I am now in my life, I wouldn't believe it. Mainly because four years ago, I remember thinking to myself that life couldn't possibly get any better. That I was living the life of my own choosing, racing my bike, in an amazing relationship and living life to the fullest. Ryan and I had the relationship most people dream of - respect, honesty, humor, and passion.

And then the worse possible thing that could happen did. Ryan died in a tragic climbing accident.

Shock, disbelief, sadness, anger. My identity was gone. I didn't know who I was on my own. I started a journey with no clear rules, no direction. Riddled with pain and loss, I had to figure out who I was, on my own.

It never crossed my mind that I would love again. Or that I could be loved again in that way. I experienced some serious lows. There were days when I cried straight through. Days where I didn't want to leave my house. Days I questioned the meaning of life. And months of big hippo tears and sadness. Outwardly I appeared to be holding it together. Inwardly I was crushed.

I spent days searching for some sort of relief. Someway to make time whiz by. I started taking bigger risks, wondering why I was left behind to endure the pain and gut wrenching experience of healing. But I knew the minute I asked that of myself, that there was a reason I was the one left behind. Why I was the one experiencing great loss.

I want to share my story so others who are feeling pain know that there is hope. That life can get better then you can imagine. And there's so much beauty to have known love, true love, than to not know it at all.

Time slowly passed. The year of firsts extremely difficult. Conversations had, relationships nurtured, other lost - all experienced while I was head to toe numb. It took a while to defrost from the deep freeze of grief. I had to feel those lows, to feel hollow and dreadful. Slowly but surely, I started healing. I started to see buds of a new understanding coming to life. They were fleeting at first, but gave me such hope.

And then I stumbled upon the greatest gift of all. The gift of living in the now. The one that values and concentrates on the present. The past is done, the future unknown. All we really have is the now. Good things started happening. Really, really good things. I started laughing more, I started seeing more beauty and love. My heart and soul opened up ready for anything the universe might throw my way.

I started traveling the world, quit biting my fingernails, and met Benjamin. All of those things, all of those adventures and experiences started a momentum in my life. That just when something wonderful would happen, things that I thought were only dreams started to come true, more dreams started to come true. I no longer questioned why things were happening, but I embraced them. I appreciated them and lived them. And more doors started opening. If your heart is open, truly open, anything and everything is possible.

This September marks four years since Ryan's death. And it feels like it's been a lifetime since then. To have gained so much strength, wisdom and knowledge of who I am and how to live has been the biggest gift of all. Thank you time, for showing me that your slow passage does heal all and that living in each moment is the ultimate gift. And thank you Ryan for showing me love and bringing Benjamin into my life.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The life of your dreams...

What if I told you that you could win the lottery? That you could live the life of your dreams? That the way to create the life of your dreams is to simply dream it first?

 Dreams do come true.

Since really taking to heart my mantra of being the master of your own destiny, things have fallen into place. And the more I think about all of the wonderful things in my life, the more I realize that it's the universe bouncing back positive vibrations right at me. Sounds hookey, right?

But it's true.

Need examples? I've got a lifetime full. Moving to Colorado, writing full time, getting a job that is flexible about my time off to race and travel, having a fulfilling and amazing love, surrounded by sweet puppies and feeling so full, so happy each and every day that I wish I could bottle this feeling up and give it to everyone I know.

Two Friday's ago, with a little nudge from a coworker, I booked a last minute ticket to the London XXX Olympic Games to surprise Benjamin. I didn't have a place to stay, or tickets to the velodrome, or a sure way to meet up with him. But at the last minute, I connected with Lauren's husband Mike and had a place to stay as well as tickets. And I even surprised Benjamin! Originally he was going to meet Mike to hand off some helmet decals and I rode down the escalator as they were talking and had an old West Virgina hat from Benjamin's road racing team. Mike mentioned he kept seeing someone in a hat from his old team and he turned around saying, "I probably know them!" He looked right by me, not expecting me there. And once he realized it was me the look of shock and relief was priceless. To be there, to show him my support in person for such a big moment in his life, was amazing. Those are the moments that stick with you through the years, that freeze in your memory and embed in your soul.

I've learned, with increasing frequency, that the bigger the dreams, the bigger the outcome. Taking risks, being adventurous, living life with gusto is challenging at first to make the commitment to, but once you do... your wildest dreams do come true.

 Dare to dream. Dare to live.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Life love.

Is it possible to fall in love with your life? To feel so at peace and at one with what you've been doing that you can't believe your lucky stars? Well I am and in so many ways. It deepens the more I experience things, the memories gathered and preferences I gain The more living I do, the more alive I feel. Nothing feels like a permanent obstacle; everything is a learning experience. Stories from London to follow... first I must ride!

Monday, August 06, 2012

A love story, a triumph, a time of celebration. Life is amazing. The highs, the lows, the peaks and valleys. Living in the moment and enjoying the now is the best gift you can give yourself. And sharing that with others is spectacular. I feel very, very rich and fulfilled and a part of the grand scheme of the universe. And I am so very, very proud of Benjamin.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Going for the GOLD

I've known for quite some time the fact that Benjamin was coming to the Olympics with the USA women team pursuit squad to compete in London. He's been traveling a lot to ensure the success of this team, with roughly 260 days of travel in the past year. And yet for some reason, I thought I would be okay with not coming to the games. That I would be okay watching it from the couch. That I would be okay with following the same routine so we could vacation to Mexico instead.

That all changed on Friday. I bought a ticket for only a little bit higher than the listed price, am sleeping on the floor in an apartment and just secured tickets to watch my baby perform with the girls. How could I miss it?

Tomorrow is showtime. It's the day we've all been waiting for for days, months, years, decades. It's time for the team to show the world that they are world class competitors. That they have dedicated their lives toward this common goal and that they have come prepared. I am so proud of them and especially of Benjamin. The Olympic movement really is special. And I feel really blessed to be a small part of it.