Monday, February 25, 2013

Pilot Parallels

I'm getting a crash course in para-cycling piloting.

It started with a camp in January. Seven straight days on the bike with Rachael on a bike that fit me fairly well. I tried really hard at first to adapt to this new role. To mold myself to the bike and stoker, verbally encouraging us to go faster up hills. And found out, the hard way, that willing and trying can only get you so far. No, no. That kind of work has to be accomplished. You simply have to do it. Sticking to your training plan, getting stronger every day, feeding your body the proper nutrition to perform well, sleeping soundly at night - it all counts in the big picture of riding well.

And it wasn't until after I cracked from getting sick, cracked from trying so hard it ran my ragged, that I finally got it. We had a breakthrough on the bike. Simple is best. One simple word: more. It transformed how we worked together on the bike. It brought the best out of both of us.

Next and most recently - a camp last week. I was asked a week prior if I would be interested in piloting a new up and comer. Absolutely! Six days straight on the bike with Shawn Cheshire, who is new to cycling and being blind. A traumatic brain injury 9 months prior left her 100% blind. We had to work harder to find common ground. She's new to cycling, I'm new to being around someone who is 100% blind. (Rachael could make out shapes and forms and was fairly independent.) First things first - we walked around the dorm room so she could feel where things were so she could memorize their position.

"If you really want to mess with me, just move my things," she joked.

Thankfully the week went well so I didn't have to go to such drastic measures.

Curbs, shrubs, and obstacles we so take for granted of being able to see. I had to look at things in a new light - is this going to trip Shawn? She carries a cane, but built enough trust with me, she would leave it in the dorm room. I was totally responsible for her well being. Thankfully she trusted me on the bike. We did have our moments - like when she constantly compared me to the other well practiced male pilots. Like how long they've been piloting, the way they felt compared to the way I feel.

I found myself having a hard time living up to their piloting.

Eventually we had a breaking point. It was unexpected, as all breaking points are. Picture this: standing starts on a tandem. I know how these feel on a single bike but when you add another rider on the back who doesn't know what they feel like, well, things were dicey. Our first attempt rocked the bike so hard I thought I might dump us. When I leaned forward to accelerate, she stood straight up making the back of the bike sway dramatically from side to side.

"I've never felt that before! That movement has never happened with another pilot!"

We asked Larry, the other blind athlete, to describe what standing starts felt like to Shawn. It's one thing to hear what it's supposed to feel like. It's another to actually feel it.

I let out an audible sigh.

"Jen, why are you frustrated with me?" she asked.

"Because this is new to me too. But you have to be open to us figuring it out together. We'll get it, it just takes practice."

Our next start was light years better. A major breakthrough. The frustration was checked at the starting gate. Trust regained and re-established. We started to synch up and push each other more and more. She stopped comparing me to other pilots and instead adopted me as her pilot. I realized that I needed to trust her as well. She is now my stoker.

By week's end Shawn told someone who jokingly teased me, "I can't have you talking about my pilot like that."

I know she felt the smile that spread across my face. I didn't have to tell her.

From Kayak Morning by Roger Rosenblatt

"You have to understand," she said. "Grief lasts forever."
"Like death," I said.

"Like death. Except death is someone else's condition, grief is all yours."

"I feel worse now than I did shortly after she died."

"And you'll feel even worse next year. And worse the year after that, unless you find a way to transform your grief."

"We're back to that."

"We've never left it," she said. "Grief comes to you all at once, so you think it will be over all at once. But it is your guest for a lifetime."

"How should I treat this guest? This unwelcome, uninvited guest?"

"Think of the one who sent it to you," she said.

I help people who want to transform their grief. If you or someone you know is going through a difficult time, trying to make sense in a senseless world, trying to see the opportunity now available for you, please contact me at

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Leaping Into Lovers Lane: Eb and Flow

“Why is she so happy, mom?” A friend’s son asked after hearing that I had lost my husband and then had the nerve to race a cyclocross race in the pouring rain. I was letting out squeals, more than anything out the absurdity of being a new widow and daring to laugh. Especially at myself.

“I’m a widow! Har, har!”

I wasn’t acting like a widow should. Widows should be dressed in black, barely able to move due to their grief. They should stay home and shut out the outside world. They have puffy eyes and sad faces. And mostly, widows are old.

I knew I wasn’t like most widows. I knew I had a choice. And my choice was to get on my bike and feel alive. I wanted to feel my heartbeat so it would give me a brief break. I wanted to forget, if just for a moment, that my heart had a big gapping hole in it.

My heart pounding, body and bike barely cooperating in the mud fest surrounding Marymoor park. My dismounts were comical. I laughed mainly because I had seen so many friends fluidly demonstrate their prowess of getting off their bikes before they hit the barriers. I flailed around, missing the dismount zone, often dumping the bike and bumping my shin. The anxiety would build, a half lap before the obstacle and I’d start laughing. To most I must have sounded like a lunatic.

Yet that comic relief, that ability to laugh at myself was just what I needed. It released some of the grief pressure. A pressure that kept me huddled under the covers at night, wiping my snotty nose all over my sheets and pillow. The pressure that dulled my senses into one feeling: utter devastation. Feeling this emotion scared me. I didn’t want anyone else to know it’s pain.

So instead, I learned to keep my grief to myself. To express it late at night, with Makiah as my witness. I didn’t want to scare people away. I didn’t want to scare myself. Neither my friends nor I knew what to say. How does one handle grief, let alone someone else’s? How do you comfort someone who loses their partner?

I wanted to function back in society as quickly as possible. I didn’t want to have awkward conversations with acquaintances or nimbly navigate unchartered waters. So instead, I laughed like a manic while riding a knobby tired bike in the pouring rain over bumpy grass and off camber courses. I knew I wasn’t acting normal but it felt good.

I wanted to separate the dark grief periods from lighter moments. I gave myself permission to laugh. I gave myself permission to cry. I also gave myself permission, despite my people pleaser tendency,  to turn down social invitations. Yet I still felt like someone was wrong with me and was disappointed when I couldn’t rise to the occasion. When I couldn’t buck up and put on a happy face. But my friends understood. Or at least it didn’t seem to bother them. That widow card has trumping power.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Leaping Into Lovers Lane - A Break.

(Hey All - I did it. I hired a writing coach. She's going to help me get my book published. I've been sorting through pieces and came across this one. I speaks volumes to why I want to get my story out there - to help other people dealing with grief. If you or someone you know is dealing with grief and needs someone to talk to - please send them my contact information. Enjoy.)

I suppose I needed the break, though at the time it didn’t feel like I needed one.  I suppose it was a break from writing, to refocus and figure out my next steps. To live my life and really appreciate things. To experience and gain more wisdom, to follow my heart and do things that I wanted to do.

I do think there’s something to be said about having goals. Of making them a reality and letting the work toward them get you into some sort of routine. And I’ve been feeling the need to revisit a deadline for this book.

When Ryan died, the worst thing that could happen became my reality. I went into shock immediately, floating as though it were a dream. But he didn’t come home. He didn’t suddenly appear out of the blue, unless it was in my dreams. He didn’t call. He died. Everything about his physical sense vanished. And I was left hollow, a mere fraction of the person I was before.

Suddenly very simple tasks become monumental. Listening to music for the first time, going places we used to go together for the first time – my life was forever altered. And that took a lot of getting used to.

Some how I knew early on in the grieving process that I would make the most of it. Doing so was in my nature. I couldn’t just wallow in my own self pity, letting sadness and sorrow rule my existence. No, I had the choice to look at it differently. I immediately adopted the “to know love is better than not at all” attitude and decided to take steps toward healing. Thankfully I had good friends to help me through. We spent week nights together, yet I would always return to the house and cry myself to sleep. It was nice to have diversions – to go out and eat well. But I would come home, reminded again of my loss and break down.

I knew getting regular exercise would get me through. And thankfully I had a training program to follow. And although it wasn’t the best and most focused work (in retrospect, how could it be?), I still went through the motions. I still showed up every day ready to get my heart pounding to feel alive, to feel normal, to escape the loss if only for a few hours.

Except I was still coming back home, home to the ghosts. Home to the reminders. Home to the empty house and ashes sitting on the mantel. Ryan’s absence encompassed me. No matter what I tried, it was always there. That dull ache of missing someone so badly you lose it. A song comes on the radio, a smell, a taste, a feeling and suddenly you’re a puddle of emotions and tears. Hoping no one will see you this weak, that broken. Because I knew, deep down I needed to feel this way. And as awful as it felt at the time, I needed to trudge through it. I needed to feel it, to get to the very bottom in order to heal. To form a base of sadness, of grief so that one day I could feel happiness and love again.

I would never wish this kind of sadness upon anyone. But I do wish upon everyone a wakening up. An enlightenment of sorts. A realization that despite life’s ups and downs, you can and will come out on the other side stronger and a better person. That you can choose to be this way and when you do, when you take happiness and empowerment into your own hands, the world opens up to you. You see things in a new light. You understand that doing what you want to do and striving toward that is so important.

Sure, I still get sad. There are nights when I cry myself to sleep. They are getting further and further between bouts, but they still happen. And I let them. I cry deeply, and sob to the point of where my sweet dogs check on me to make sure I’m okay. And once I’ve cried enough to water the lawn, I breath in deeply and know that Ryan’s there. He’ll always be there.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Banyan Trees: a place of gathering providing shelter and shade. A place for communion. Their roots are in reverse - connecting to the ground from their mighty branches.

Thinking about the banyan trees in Hawaii grounds me. There are several within walking distance of my grandmother's house on O'ahu. Some in Judd Forest, a lush tropical jungle behind her house, some down the street on the carefully kept grounds at Queen Emma's summer palace.

When I need to feel rooted, connected and at peace, I imagine the smooth bark and Earthy smell - housing an entire eco system. I breath in its power, feel its strength and sink in. It's nice to know that where ever I am, what ever I'm doing, I can connect to my inner Banyan and find peace.

What moves you? When do you feel connected? What places can you go where you feel safe and connected?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Post Camp

Oye. The legs are hurtin' for certain right now. We just completed a long morning ride (3 1/2 hours) with over 3400 feet of elevation gain. The majority of which was done up a little climb called Honey Springs, almost in Mexico. Oye.

I got me a serious and motivated stoker! Together we crushed the previous time I set with Rachael by 5 minutes. Drooling down my face the last 1/4 mile and grunting made that effort that much harder. Not to mention I have a stoker (Shawn Cheshire) who is giving this everything she has and then some. Two strong women on a tandem. A force to be reckoned with.

I'm getting lots of time as a pilot and strengthening my skill set (not to mention the quads) in hopes of making it to the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016. This week provided lots of encouragement, lots of learning and above all, teamwork.

My body is tired. A good tired. One that feels so good. I can only equate it to after a long day of skiing, where you can't stand a moment longer.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Round 2: Chula Vista OTC Para Camp

It's soooo nice to be back in Chula Vista, CA at the Olympic Training Center, this time piloting for a talent ID camp. It's sunny and warm, which makes up for the testing protocols we just went through. 75! I'll take it! (It was snowing yesterday when I left Colorado.)

On tap for today: Testing. Ouchie.

The test we did today was new. It's a standard protocol that's going to be used across the board to identify potential national and international levels of para-cyclists. Completed on a stationary SRM bike and hooked up to a computer, we start at 50 watts and maintain 75 rpm (designed to be doable by all 12 of the para classifications), and increases every minute by 25 watts, until failure.

What it's measuring is VO2 Max and a better way of testing a wide range of athletes and different fitness levels. (As compared to the steady state RAMP test we did last month, which increased wattage by 25 watts every 3 minutes. Sounds great, right? It's peachy. (I just puked a little bit in the back of my mouth thinking about the test.) But really, when they're looking to identify the next talent group of athletes, the VO2 Max test ramps up quickly and shows the potential of different athletes, verses how fit they are to begin with.)

If you want to hang out with an inspiring group of people, sign yourself up for a para-camp. It's pretty awesome.

Personally, I'm seeing an improvement since my last test about a month ago. Yay! Those 20 hour training weeks are paying off...

Tomorrow we have a "flat" time trial out Otay Lakes road. It's roughly 12 miles and should be a good test to see how we stack up next to other female tandems. At least, what Craig has on record.

My stoker is Shawn Cheshire and she's super new to the sport and improving leaps and bounds every day. She's also relatively new to being blind and learning to integrate competitive sports into daily living. She's falling into the pro-cyclist lifestyle pretty easily. It's easy to do at the training center. You get really good at training hard and really, really good at doing nothing. Preferably from a horizontal position.

Well, the cafeteria calls. Yum. And I don't have to do the dishes. :) More tales from the tandem to come...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Finding Clarity

There once was a girl who loved to pretend she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. She liked trying on other people's professions and couldn't quite put her finger on one that resonated with her. She noticed how pleased people were when she tried their professions on for size. But it lead her into trap - a trap of pleasing other people. She couldn't figure out for the longest time why she wasn't able to find something that made her heart sing.

And that's when she discovered she was listening to other people's hearts long before her own. She had been entranced by their singing hearts. She went on a journey to try and find somewhere she could listen to her own beating heart. Alone and high up in the mountains, out in the deep blue ocean, along the wide open plains. She practiced getting in touch with who she really was and what her heart had to say.

She kept searching and searching for something that filled her up. Something that aligned with her unique gifts and talents. Something that felt like a natural part of her. She became more aware and appreciative of who she was. But the more she desperately tried searching for Clarity, the harder the path felt.

Then one day, Clarity just showed up. The girl hadn't gone anywhere special. She wasn't in the mountains, out at sea or in a meadow. She was around a couple of people in a coffee shop. It was there she realized that when she had finally given up and trusted that if Clarity was going to show up she will.  And she did!

Clarity wasn't how the girl pictured or imagined her - in fact, Clarity was a mirror reflection of herself. It was in that quiet moment, the one where trying is forgotten and acceptance of the now this wonderful being appeared.

Sometimes we have to go to quiet places in our mind to find our own Clarity.

Friday, February 08, 2013

A Community Full of Possibilities

When Ryan died, I was on a mission to find a new community. One that I felt at home with. One that didn’t look at grief as a problem to be solved, a series of steps to be taken as a means to move through it. I wanted a real connection. I wanted to feel and embrace grief and look at grief as a gift. One filled with possibilities and experience. One that recognized the trauma but also gave light. I felt alone in my quest but strong in my resolve.
I remember a friend’s child asked, “Why does she seem so happy, mom?”
As hard as it was to loose Ryan, I knew I had a choice. I had a choice of how grief showed up for me and how I wanted to view it. I could shrivel up and die myself. I could view it as a problem, one that needed to be solved. Or I could choose to live life to the fullest and share my gift with my community.
I went into hunting mode. I craved answers. The University of Washington bookstore had many books on grief. Some of which have revolutionized how our culture addresses death and dying. In many ways, they focused on death as a problem to overcome. The conversation continued in a comfortable way, explaining how one deals with trauma. This new issue you are facing in your life is a problem and lucky for you, we have many books on how to solve it. I picked up book after book, read the book insert and put them back.
Our culture is obsessed with problems. And problem solving. Media, linguistics, judgements are all based on problems. We are bombarded the way our community has too many problems. The problem with our leaders, the problem with society, the problem with problems, death as a problem.
I grew frustrated, quickly. I carefully searched for possibilities and gifts inside of books and groups that I could resonate with. Only a handful of books put grief as a gift into perspective. I wanted more. I wanted the majority of books to have that insight. I didn’t give up, reading as many books as I could get my hands on. I talked to as many widows as I could. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why we viewed grief so differently. And then tonight, I had an AHA moment.
We need a paradigm shift toward death. It’s the driving force behind my book and why I am writing Leaping Into Lovers Lane.
I never viewed Ryan’s death as a problem or an issue to be dealt with. I didn’t get angry. I was rocked to my core and even in my darkest days, I knew light was a possibility. That I was experiencing this for a reason. A grand plan in the Universe. One that may not make sense at the time, and feel like a heavy toll to pay, but one that I accepted. One that I owned. One that I viewed as an amazing gift.
If it were up to me, I would eliminate “problem” from the dictionary. Instead I would replace it with possibilities and gifts. Just think of a world without problems. One that instead focused on possibilities. One that was so full of light that our communities grew stronger. We supported and celebrated one another for our amazing talents and abilities.
I’m beginning a conversation with you, my community. That’s where it starts. Conversations gain momentum and then birth a new light. A new consciousness. A new way of thinking and a way to show up in the world.

Leadership starts in small groups. It moves slowly, gaining momentum and creating sustainable change. In you, in me, in everyone we surround ourselves with. I challenge you to eliminate problem from your vocabulary. Use possibilities instead. Notice what shows up for you in the world. When you find yourself slipping into that old verbiage, stop and reframe.
I know that changing your perspective, one that you may not even be aware of, will shift things in your world. It shifted mine.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

I'm paralyzed by grief. This time it's for my grandmother. She's 96 and had a stroke this morning. Or at least that's when they noticed she stopped talking. If my gut serves me right, that's why I woke up in the middle of the night last night. Panic stricken. Unable to shake off a feeling.

We're in a holding pattern now. Waiting to hear news, with heavy hearts. And lots of tears.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Why EVERYONE Needs a Coach.

Life coaching changed my life. It opened me to possibilities and realities that I thought were only daydreams. Things that seemed impossibly distant. Things I wanted to become reality but I didn't know where to start.

Coaching changed everything.

It opened me up to new perspectives, new ways of thinking about the same old problems and issues. It created space and trust to allow myself some wiggle room and shed the layers of self-doubt. It allowed me to recognize when my lack of confidence no longer served me and how to to trust myself and step into me. It gave me confidence in relief to my problems.

Realizing your power is a gift. We all have it.

Coaching is a tool that can help you get there. It creates connection, trust, and strength. Coaching is having a support crew that helps you achieve whatever it is you want in life. To feel fulfilled. To be happy. To take the next step. To get unstuck.

It's time you love yourself. It's time to believe in your dreams. It's time to honor yourself and go from telling a story to becoming. It's time you contact me about coaching.

Discover what the power of coaching holds for you. Together we will navigate the waters. I will hold space for you, allowing you to show your true self. Infinite possibilities await.

I look forward to serving you,

Jennifer Triplett
Co-Active Coach


I have a strong intuition. It serves me well when I meet new people or visit new places. It's an internal compass and comes in handy in foreign places. It keeps me grounded and connected to my true self. And it sheds light on certain situations that are otherwise confusing and baffling.

Take moving to Colorado for instance. During my first visit as a kid to the Rocky Mountains I fell deeply in love. I wrote about living here and eventually (15+ years later) it became reality. Now I wonder why I didn't make the move sooner. But I had to learn to trust my intuition. Something that takes time and practice.

My intuition serves me well in racing. I know when the move is going up the road. I can sense it in my gut - connecting with the energy building and the momentum rising. Careful practice of intuition and timing my sprint has won me several races. It's also saved me from serious crashes (knock on wood). It's almost as though my inner intuition guides me away from danger.

I remember back when Ryan and I had this massive fight. I started to walk away from him, I was so mad. And I stopped dead in my tracks and thought, he's not going to be around forever. We reconciled that night and never went to bed without making up first.

Those are just the awake intuitions. They get stronger when I sleep. My dreams are very vivid and telling of what's happening in the world. And I promise, if I have a dream about you, I will most certainly call and check up on you.

Lately, I've had a strong sense that something big is going to happen in my life. I'm not sure what yet, but my gut is telling me it's going to be huge. I'm playing around with what that means in different areas in my life and it's opening doors. And don't worry - I'll let you guys in on the secret once the message reveals itself.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

For the Children

Last week I went to a Colorado Springs Entrepreneurs meet up. They meet once a month and I decided since I'm building my own coaching business, I certainly qualify. We met at a library on the East side of town and I wasn't sure what to expect.

The group was mainly men and full of engineers. The topic of the night: an invention that could change the world. Seriously. The product: an aftermarket add on to any engine that will increase fuel efficiency, minimize carbon footprints and be a stepping stone as the motorized world shifts to hydrogen. For some vehicles, it increases fuel economy over 150%.

The inventor has been working on this project for 30 years.

So why hasn't it been picked up by an investor? Don't they see the ultimate potential and market that it could over take? Why are people so resistant to change?

We listened to the product details, the engineering specifics and multiple reasons why it hasn't hit the market yet. The story is impressive - his passion of hydrogen is marred with setbacks. The product has the ability to change the world. Setbacks plague him throughout the development of his product, his co-worker dies, he is stranded in Europe without a penny and ends up courting the Russian Federation who are ready to invest, he breaks his back. He wins awards from Germany in 2008 as the best patent invention yet cannot break through to the right market. He's fluent and ultra knowledgable in his subject, but has difficulty finding the right investors. This labor of love, the time invested, and yet it's not getting picked up.

Three hours this meeting went on. Three hours we went round and round about the details. Three hours we heard about the problems and issues and past setbacks.

More background - he's approached numerous groups from credible sources and... what happens? Something isn't commuting. Where's the disconnect?

Finally, my non-engineer self interrupts. I have a question, what's your motivation? I mean are you in this for the money, the fame? Or is it for the environment?

"I'm doing it for the children."

Clear as day. No round and round detail explanation. What about approaching investors that align with your values and pure intention? Instead of approaching them with dollar signs and how many billions of dollars you could make them, approach them openly and honestly. At least that's my thought.

If you doing it for the children, then do it.