Tag Archive | appreciating life

sharing our stories

The start of the ride for the handcyclists

The start of the ride for the handcyclists

A couple of weeks ago, I completed a bike ride called the Kelly Brush Century Ride. The choices for distance were 25, 50 or 100 miles, and I chose the 25 since I hadn’t ridden in years. A number of people asked me how it went (how I felt, during the ride) and I said, “I felt great on the flat ground, scared on the downhills, and inadequate/discouraged on the uphill portions”.

I had to walk up a number of steep hills….well, I’m not sure that I had to, but I felt like I did, and lots of people passed me. At one point (maybe around mile 18?) I had gotten off my bike and was trudging up a steep portion of the ride. My steps felt like lead, I imagined my body, not as a fit thing, but more like an elephant taking one big round heavy step at a time. I didn’t feel like it was a mistake to have done the ride, but I certainly didn’t feel inspired either.

As I slowly pushed my bike up what seemed to be an endlessly long incline, I noticed one of the hand-cyclists ahead of me. I hadn’t seen him pass me earlier, but there he was, pedaling with his hands up this incline. There were about 25 riders who completed the ride by using their arm-strength alone. …and who didn’t have the option to get off their bikes and walk.

Seeing him up there, not moving quickly, not passing anyone, but moving with such determination, helped me so much. For one thing, it shut up my mind that had started to complain that it was embarrassed about needing to walk. We met on a straight part of the ride and I thanked him for inspiring me. He answered with a smile, “I’m only being me.” My next thought was, “Well just being you, has just inspired me beyond words.” I was too choked up to say this.

I want my life to matter. I want to live every moment of my life by saying yes to it, not by sitting back and hoping that someone else will do it for me, or will finally pay attention to me, or notice my efforts.

I cannot be hindered by the world (only by my own thoughts) because I always have the choice to think something different if I find myself lost in self-pity or discouragement.  I can think about the everyday heroes who get up, every morning, with huge obstacles to overcome, but they do it….and maybe my life, maybe me walking up a hill that I clearly couldn’t pedal up, inspired someone with that thought, “If that old gal can do it, maybe I could give it a try!”

“Everyone has a story that makes me stronger.” Richard SImmons

Doing “something” really well…pause…

appreciating the towels!

When Jack and I went to Costa Rica last year, one of the many things that we appreciated was the wonderful care taken, with even the smallest detail, at our hotel. We used to look forward to going back to our room to see what the women who cleaned and tidied it daily, would do with the towels. They were always adorned with fresh flowers and these new, creative creatures looked like happy little critters.

Sometimes, I can get really hard on myself for not doing everything “perfectly” everyday. I expect myself to make a beautiful home, cook great meals, always be available when someone needs me, be 100% patient 1oo% of the time, never have a negative thought, never get my feelings hurt, or become worried and afraid. If I am not aware of it, I can easily overlook the things that I do really well that day, and my life becomes a mad dash to the finish line…of what?…where am I going in such a rush during these times?  To the future where I believe that at some distant moment, I will find fulfillment. Eckhart Tolle talks about this, and says if an alien was dropped onto our planet and watched people on a city sidewalk he/she would think that we were insane, rushing here and there. (I do actually feel a little crazy when I am rushing).

When I slow down (primarily in my mind) and take time to do one thing well and then appreciate that…let that little thing, like making a really good cup of coffee or combing out Luke (our big shaggy dog) be enough for that moment, my entire self takes a deep breath and expands. One little thing done really well, and then a pause….taking time to smell the roses, or fold the towels, or appreciate that someone folded them for me….this is where I want to go.

What is the gift in this?!

little gift

My car is in the shop….again. It started acting funny on Christmas Day and has been in and out of the mechanic’s ever since. A  few months ago, the head gasket was replaced which left me without a car for 3 weeks, waiting for parts. I got it home and within a week it was back in…the head gasket was gone again! I feel strange without my own car to come and go when I want to…..have had my own car since I was in my 20’s. Now, I need to coordinate all of my appointments with Jack and have no ability to spontaneously go anywhere.

Coincidentally (and I don’t believe in coincidences), I started  meditating the day after Christmas too. I’ve meditated, off and on, through the years but  I always found reasons not to do it consistently …like, “What can you really get accomplished just sitting?, you know lots of people who mediate and they are far from enlightened, I run every morning and that is my meditation time, I don’t have time right now, I need to do a Google search on the evolution of the fishing pole….” …on and on.

But the real reason was, I found it extremely difficult to stop myself; my body and my mind, long enough to sit still for 15 or 20 minutes and “do nothing”. There was this “jumpy” part of me that resisted sitting perfectly still….felt that if I had “extra” time, I should be doing something “productive”.

A few years ago, I spent some time with an elderly man who was dying of cancer. He had been extremely busy his entire life….huge garden, very involved with his church and yet he always had a somewhat “frantic” quality about him. He was not comfortable slowing down, did not know how to relax. The cancer was forcing this to happen and he was resisting it, saying things like, “This is awful, I can’t stand it”. He wanted to interact with life as he always had; tough, in control. Yet, the more he lost brain function, the easier he was to be with. He laughed more, said, “I have no idea” when asked a question, instead of thinking he had to know. He was a much more enjoyable man to be around…even to himself.

Bernie Siegle (in his book, Love, Medicine and Miracles) talked about illness as “God’s wake up call”….it can be an opportunity to re-evaluate our lives, slow down, laugh more, be more real…But can’t every challenge (thing that we don’t want to happen that happens anyway) hold the same opportunity for becoming more of the person that we would ultimately like to be? I love the question,”What is the gift in this?”…I believe it opens unseen doors inside.

When I get these little pangs of “I NEED my car! I can’t stand this!” I don’t get my car back sooner,  I am just making my life into a rough ride. Life has a wisdom beyond my understanding….there are many little and big gift boxes waiting to be opened, but they don’t hand them out at the drive through window.


p.s. It is Spring Cleaning time…every year I like to go through my stuff and give away things that I no longer wear/use/need. Since you took the time to read ALL THE WAY to the bottom of this, I am giving away the pair of earrings in the photo. They are small, one of a kind, sterling earrings that I just never wore. If you would like them, just comment on my blog with the word in capitals, YES someplace and I will do a random pick for the winner on Friday, the 25.