Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fuji Thrill

Throughout college I often went biking on the gravel roads outside town on my friends' mountain bikes. My bike was at home, a 10-speed I’d bought in 5th grade, not appropriate for gravel. The summer after finishing college, I worked at a camp in Northern Minnesota. My Dad bought me a used bright green mountain bike – my Fuji Thrill.

Last Saturday I went to a Mason Jennings concert. He talked about what led to one of his songs, he reflected on what memories might pop into his mind as his favorites right before he’d die. Almost none (or none) of those memories were of times when he was alone. Standing there in the audience I too tried to scan through favorite memories and found this was not the case for me, I had many where I was alone – unless of course you count my bike.

One that came to mind was during that first summer. All the staff at the summer camp either had Saturday or Sunday off. I’m not exactly sure what everyone else did on those days – I heard the bar mentioned or going to town for a movie. I, on the other hand, would take out my beloved topo map, scout a route and go biking on old logging roads.

This summer was also the first I had my own car and therefore could, in a way, define for myself how and where I wanted to spend my time. Define in a way who I was and what I enjoyed. I don’t have many specific memories from those bike rides, but there are a couple: biking through a bramble of wild blueberry bushes and “discovering” a lake without any lake front property. It is difficult to put words to that last one. The gravel road did not touch the lake; somehow I was drawn to walk through the woods to it. It was at that moment I realized I had “discovered” this lake. There was no lakeshore property, no roads alongside, no trails, no path (except most likely the deer one that led me to it). It was incredibly beautiful. I realized this is how lakes were meant to look and I also realized how rarely I had seen a lake in this way.

The Lake

So though I’ve been on a couple of Sierra club bike rides where people told me, “You are doing a lot of extra work with that heavy bike,” and the squeaking the brakes made was really loud and kind of embarrassing (they worked fine) and I always seemed to move more slowly than almost everyone else, and I pretty much always ride on pavement now – I still haven’t given up my mountain bike.

Then last summer it started having this annoying problem. Whenever I was going up a hill I would have to downshift into a really easy gear or it would slip (which could be dangerous if I was trying to cross a street.) It is probably (?) relatively easy to fix – maybe a new chain, but I don’t know how. Also I’d been thinking about getting a road bike for a while, because it was more work to ride. In 2010 my brother found a road bike he lets me use at the thrift store. So I didn’t end up riding my Fuji Thrill at all this year.

Even though we need to put the bikes in for the winter and it is taking up needed space in the garage, I still didn’t want to get rid of it. I knew I should though, so I did some research about bike donation. I found a place in Minneapolis called Full Cycle that gives paid internships to homeless youth to teach them about bike maintenance. After watching their video my heart became so happy with the thought that this would be my bike’s new home.

So today I am grateful for my bike and all the beautiful places it took me, exercise it gave me, and fresh air it exposed me to. And even more so I am grateful to appreciate this precisely because I am giving it away. Though it feels a little sad, it is through letting go that I can feel how wealthy I am.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Point Positive

I skimmed through my whole blog the other day. I hadn't been keeping track of what poems I'd posted (and therefore are considered "published") and I was making a list. I felt refreshed by all the positive focus I've made the last year and a half, and at the same time knew this is only a partial reflection of who I am. I have been feeling concerned about humanity's future on this planet recently, which comes and goes with time (not that the reasons for concern come and go, it's just that sometimes I get more bogged down in them than others.)

I went river rafting once. It was a pretty tame experience, but there was one piece of wisdom that has stayed with me, "Point positive." We were told to focus on where we wanted the boat to go. We were not to fixate on the large boulder that might be on our path, but rather where we wanted to go instead - where our attention was drawn was where we would end up.

This is a lesson I employ daily in my life, sometimes with more and other times with less success. And I guess ten years later, this is the whole point of this blog.


I have what most people (including myself) would consider an "unimportant" job. When my friend called me today with something important to discuss, it was easy to set aside to listen. In fact, I was grateful that I had neither a conflict of interest nor a moment's hesitation in being able to do so.


The Telling on The Story - one of those positive points today. The first story took me to a place where I stopped everything, simply listened and was moved to tears.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Compound Interest

  • I'm not a big math person, but sometimes (on the rare occasions that I start doing some) I end up enjoying it. Today I was helping my cousin (a college student) with her homework. First we were figuring out annual percentage yields and compounding interests (which made me want to go invest some money). Then we were trying to figure out how much gas would cost at 1970 and 1974 prices with inflation. If our answers were correct the 1970 correlation was close to $5 ($4.75 or something) and the 1974 correlation was over $8.

  • I found that gas question fascinating.

  • While working on the homework my cousin would sometimes start whining about how long this was taking or hard it was or... This was not enjoyable to me. Finally, I told her she needed to start making the math positive or I was going to go do something else. This actually worked really well and she started saying things like, "I'm really looking forward to the next problem." I had to remind her a few times, but overall I enjoyed helping her so much more when her attitude was positive. It was definitely infectious.
  • For the second month in a row there was a very attractive man (who may or may not be single, but at least wasn't there with someone) in a setting that feeds me spiritually (the Celtic service I like.)
  • I asked the woman he sits by, who very conveniently happens to (if you stretch the definition) be an acquaintance, who he is. "He is my son," she said with a big smile.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

People Were Made To Walk

#3071 - I started feeling the desire to get a massage in July, it had been three years since my last. Three months later I was still thinking about it but I hadn't taken action. While volunteering at a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) one of the farmers asked me, "Do you like massages?" I was stunned, all I could say was, "Yes." Maybe she was asking because they were going to give me a massage gift certificate as a thank you gift for the volunteering I'd done this year? And if that was the case, if I could pick any thank you gift, that is the one I would pick! How does that work?

The gift certificate arrived today.

#3072 - I've gone to the same yoga studio for a few years, today is the first time I walked there.

#3073 - The fact that I wanted to walk there and after my class (yoga nap) I wanted to walk home.

#3074 - How powerful the mind/attitude/energy is. I am fascinated by this again and again. For example, not liking my bedroom walls for a few years and then suddenly I decide to I repaint it and it's done within two weeks. Or today - not wanting to walk to yoga for a few years and then suddenly today I do it. It is interesting to me how the only thing we really have to change is our mind, and that doesn't necessarily make it an easy task.

#3075 - "People were made to walk." (Thought I had on my way home.)