Thursday, February 9, 2017

Oh how I love riding in the rain...

I was riding home from work yesterday, feeling the joy that comes with being on the bike, rain running down my visor, splashing through puddles.  Why?  Why do I love riding in the rain so much?

I think I feel so connected to the world, but still a little apart.  I love seeing the rain, smelling it, and feeling the cool breeze, while I'm cozy and protected by my visor, my heat, my thermal lining. But I'm still there, I'm still in it.

My mind wandered... it reminded me of the years I spent working in the criminal justice system.  I'd never
been around substance abuse, I'd never been involved with the law outside of a couple of tickets, and I'd never even supported a family member dealing with those challenges. But, when I was there, I connected with the core of people.  I understood their struggle, their lives made sense to me.  I never tried to change any of my clients, but strove every single day to give them one positive contact with the system.  Because sometimes, one positive contact is all it takes for a minor course correction.

View through my visor
It reminded me of times I'd made big life changes, taking the plunge into a new situation, a new state, a new social group.  That feeling of being part of, but apart from.

My mind wandered again to when I started riding a motorcycle.  I remember because I was, honestly, quite the terrible rider, feeling like a fraud as I waved to other riders.  Feeling a part of that world, but outside of it.
And then I thought about all of the people in this world who are in it, but don't feel a part of it at all.  Perhaps they are a cultural minority, or perhaps they are homeless.  I thought about stories I've heard of being completely invisible when you are in a wheel chair.  Perhaps someone's mental health keeps them from fully connecting to themselves or others, they simply hold on to an existence in this world, without feeling a part of it.

It reminded me of the recent influx of veterans I've seen in my work; people who returned from Vietnam, and were made unwelcome where they belonged; people who were shunned when they needed love.  People whose daymares and nightmares are as real as the screen I type on before me. People who find love but struggle to hold onto connection, their very understandable fears holding the ones they want close at a distance.

It reminded me of people who have been through other traumas, who don't understand why their anxiety lingers, interfering at inconvenient moments.  And people with persistent pain, who struggle to be in this moment, because this moment is so very physically uncomfortable.  And people who wish they didn't feel they had to be here on this earth any more; people who believe there is a promise of peace and ease in the next world.

I looked through the rain, tapping on my visor, feeling so very grateful to feel connected.  Moving through time and space in a way I loved.  Knowing a loving partner was waiting for me at home, with a wiggly little puppy who was going to need a lot of kisses.  Adoring my two daughters who are striving to live their best life, make great decisions, and have adventures that are meaningful to them.  That my parents wait for my motorcycle stories with mixed emotions; joy that I love it so much, and fear about all the things that could go wrong.  Feeling connected, really connected to great friends.  In this world, we are ultimately alone, but because everyone else is too, we are sublimely connected.

Thursday, February 2, 2017


Oh, how I love riding in the wind.  I am addicted to visceral experiences.  Things that light a fire of sensation in my body.  And riding in the wind moves me deeply.

I have a long relationship with wind.  As a kid, I grew up windsurfing.  When wind is your 'power', you quickly come to appreciate everything beyond a gentle breeze.  I remember the sensation of being on the board, the wind picking up, and leaning back to catch it as it filled my sail.  Whisking across the water, the mist spraying me and keeping me cool.

When I started riding a motorcycle, I was warned about the wind.  I remember a woman who told me about a gust of wind knocking her off of her bike as she passed a semi.  I came home and asked Nathan "what do you do about that?"  His answer started with "when you feel wind, your natural balance system will kick in...."  I don't remember the rest of his answer, because my response, in complete and utter seriousness was "I don't think I have one of those."  "What?" "A natural balance system."

I remember our honeymoon to California, with all of the semis, and all of the wind. I became perplexed as to why people experienced challenges with passing semis; once I got over the fear that it would be an issue, I enjoyed it.  And, riding 400 miles through the Mojave Desert with a 45 mph hot cross wind (with technique I'd now consider wrong) made me love the wind and it's intensity even more.

For me, there is something magical about being caught up in a gust of wind.  My whole body relaxes, and my hips lean my bike into the wind, just enough to keep my course.  So often, I am just dancing with my motorcycle, but when there is wind, I have a third dance partner, and the love multiplies.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

I hope the beginning of 2017 finds you well.  In this grand adventure we call life, there are so many ups and downs, and each can bring a full range of experiences and feelings.  Nathan and I planned to test ride our bikes on New Year's Eve, after doing some repairs and maintenance.  125 miles later, we had a wonderful and beautiful morning, meeting new friends and seeing a beautiful and familiar landmark.

We then went to a friends New Year's Eve Party, and had way too much fun with the dress up options.  

And, we made it into bed by midnight.  

Our New Year's Day started with snow and slush, but that did not stop us from heading out for the Polar Bear Ride!  

Only 75 miles today, but filled with friends, laughter, and every weather imaginable.  

I'm not a person for New Year's Resolutions, but our calendars get full very quickly.  Nathan and I are planning a trip to Egypt, and also a short trip to Lake Tahoe.  We are attending two moto events: Rocky Mountain Roll and LA to Barstow to Vegas.  I have a brilliant friend who wants to plan this years Fant Camp, so, I'm looking at our calendar for May, June, July, August, and September, and realizing how quickly the weekends get full.  In addition, I'm working on a new Women's Adventure Magazine, and in that position I am writing articles on riding technique and maintenance, comparing and contrasting training programs, and helping with social media and finding interesting and newsworthy content.  Oh, and there's the 40 hours a week I spend in my day job, which I adore, connecting with people, helping them develop new skills to manage their chronic pain, and helping them to feel heard and understood.  Oh yes, and I work on networking with the Oregon Counseling Association, setting up events and meeting with the committee and talking to members.  I also wrote three newsletter articles and did one training about Chronic Pain last year, and would like to continue more of that this year, because I greatly enjoyed both of those activities.  Then there's family and kids and friends, living and dying and sickness and health.  It is a fully, wonderfully, adventurous life!    

Which brings me to the point I meant to focus on when writing this post.  We have time for mostly short weekend trips, and limited weekends to do those.  I love Oregon, and while we may not live here forever, while we are here, I want to deeply connect and explore the wonder around us.  The places I am really hoping to experience this year are some of Oregon's Backcountry Discover Routes, the Steens Mountains, and the Alvord Desert.  We have such wondrous and diverse landscapes in our beautiful state.  Last year, I'd hoped to get back to the Olympic National Rainforest, so that is a loose desire for this year, but we shall see.  There are only so many fantastic camping weekends available for adventuring!  I have to remember to calculate in bike maintenance, laundry, dishes, etc as well... Sometimes those don't make the list when I get to dreaming about adventure.

What adventures are you dreaming of for 2017?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Winter Blues and Winter Fixes....

I'm a four season rider in the Pacific Northwest, where it is truly possible to ride all four seasons.  However, that doesn't mean it's a good idea to ride every day.  We do get the occasional snow and ice, and the past two years, I've hit ice patches commuting to work that woke me up, but luckily didn't send me down.  This year, I've been trying to be a bit more responsible about which days I choose to ride,, and taking four wheels if it's iffy.

This means rather than riding daily, I'm riding 1-2 times a week, and I feel it in my energy levels.  I'm starting to think I've got an adrenaline addiction; without riding, I'm a bit more sleepy when I get to work, and a bit less perky at the end of my day.  But, our winters are usually mild, so I also keep hoping we've gotten the snow out of our system for a bit, and I can go back to riding daily after the new year.

However, it's not all doom and gloom.  To get my fix in a different way, I've started working on a Women's ADV magazine.  This has stretched me in a dozen new ways already, and I look forward to stretching in even more directions.

It has made me ponder the difference between my blogging and magazine writing.  In blogging, I'm journaling, and sharing with the thought that perhaps someone else has felt this way, and might be interested in reading a fellow travelers perspective. Or they have never felt something I'm describing, but reading about it broadens their perspective. Or perhaps no body reads it, but I've gotten to process my feelings in writing, and I can move forward in a new way.  For the magazine, I am always thinking about my intent and my audience.  I want to write things that either inspire or inform.  It's no longer about my process, but about reaching out and communicating.  I've also realized that my photography skills and equipment may need some upgrading to do a better job.  And, as someone who is frequently writing about working on a bike as a novice and riding skills, I'm really working on how to effectively communicate my experiences in those areas.

Another piece of fun that has happened is that we bought a little 1996 Geo Metro to meet my occasional commuting needs.  Nathan and I have gotten to do some tinkering on it, and I got to drive it in said snow, and made some discoveries.  Having grown up in California, I never learned to drive in the snow.  Even living in Spokane for 5 years, I learned that I had no idea how to drive in the snow unless the roads were plowed.  However, hanging out with Nathan and riding a motorcycle off road somehow accidentally taught me how to drive in the snow!  My four point basic lesson was 1) stay calm.  I've had lots of experience learning how to keep myself calm while riding, and it translated to driving in the snow.  2) Keep your momentum up.  So many cars were abandoned during our recent snow storm due to people getting stuck on hills.  3) Be smooth on the controls.  This is related to staying calm.  When I am all tensed up and panicked, I tend to jam on the brakes and give too much steering input.  When I am calm, I just gently nudge the car where it needs to go.  4) Brake, then turn.  This is something I learned in motorcycling that somehow I'd never learned before.  Using these skills and sticking to main roads (I know the unplowed hills were an impossibility) I safely made it home with not a single scary moment.

The sun is out today and tomorrow, so I'm hoping to shake some of these winter blues with at least a sort ride.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my friends and family!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Doing the ride of shame....

I can't believe I'm going to put this out there, but when I was learning to ride I really could have used some stories like this from experienced riders, so here goes...

The punchline: I dropped my bike, on the street, at a stoplight.

Phew. Bandaid ripped off. Ouch.  Here's what happened...

Tuesday morning, a totally normal dark and rainy Oregon morning, I'm on my way to work.  I'm at a stoplight not far from home.  The light turns green, and without thinking, I put my feet on the pegs, roll on the gas, let out the clutch, like I have well over a million times before, and.... The bike dies.  Before I even know what is happening, the bike is falling, and I can't get a foot on the ground to stop it before it was past the point of no return.  So, we fall, and I am glad I'd just purchased D3O hip armor for my pants.  I stand up, pick up my bike (thank goodness I can do that, because while it was AWFUL that there were other cars watching this, not a one even put their car in park to try to help) hop on, turn the bike on, and this time, carefully roll on the gas, let out the clutch, and bam. The bike dies again.  (I'm ready this time, it doesn't fall over.)  I take a moment to be thoroughly perplexed, look at the mileage on my odometer, and decide that while my odometer says I have 30 miles to ride before reserve, perhaps there was an oops with that in the not too distant past, put the bike on reserve, again start it, and carefully roll on the gas and let out the clutch, and I am off.  For about 3 feet, because the light is red again.

Now, as a new rider, three years ago, it wasn't unusual for me to kill my ninja at a stoplight, but this has not happened for as long as I can remember.  So, for the rest of my ride, even though there was no way most of the rest of the Portland could have seen this happen, I'm hanging my head in embarrassment about what happened.  Walk of Shame comes up on my playlist, and I think yes, I'm doing the ride of shame.

As an update, the gas is behaving normally, no leaks in the fuel system, and the bike is running great, so I just have to assume something messed with odometer setting while we were working on the bike last weekend.

So, internet, you decide, do I lose my badass biker card?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Be where your feet are....

Sometimes, maybe even usually, I learn much more from my clients than I feel they learn from me.  This week, someone shared a quote "Be where your feet are."  Sometimes things take up residence in my mind, and replay in many situations.

There is something so concrete about being where your feet are, while my mind wants to wander to where my feet were, or where they will be tomorrow.  This is something I have fallen in love with in motorcycling; letting your mind wander can lead to some very scary situations, so my attention is consistently brought back to the present.

Yet, as humans with full and varied lives, we have to plan for our future, and the past sometimes does continue to affect us.  Would it be healthy to only be where my feet are, all the time?  I spend a lot of time listening to adventure rider radio, hearing people who let go of everything, and just ride, for a period of time.  My hubby and I have done this, but only for a couple weeks at a time, so by the time we really let go, it's almost time to start thinking about coming back.  It sounds like some people eventually can live the reality of being where their feet are, day in and day out.  "I'm out of money, I'll stay here until I get some, and then move on."  Others realize as their finances dwindle or checkboxes are marked from their goal list, they are drawing closer and closer to the end of an adventure, a way of living, their current life.  They must contemplate what is next for them.

How can you know what is right for you, when you have only lived one way?  Planning for the next goal, the next dream, the next adventure?  So much of my life was spent thinking about my future.  Motorcycling gives me a reprieve; just be where my feet are.  Counseling does the same thing; it is a rare moment that in a counseling session my mind will wander; I am usually 100% focused, both on the detail of what I am being told, holding the memories of stories from the past, holding the goals the person has stated for their future, and holding the space to allow people to reweave their lives into a tapestry they can love.  In grad school, I had a teacher that told us we can get swept up in our clients story, but it is our job as therapists to be the one in the room with at least one toe on the ground.  That groundedness, that space, is something I give willingly and naturally to others.  But, with a life, house, bills, kids, dog, how can I just *be* right now?

This brings me to a common concept I work with clients on, that holds very true for me.  It is about intentionality and choice. Perhaps we can live a full and happy life by balancing the present with the future (and even the past) if we are intentional about where our thoughts are in the moment.  When I find myself ruminating about something that has happened, I remind myself that I am not being where my feet are, and that is ok.  That past has taught me something for who I am today.  When I am caught up daydreaming about our next adventure, I let myself know that too is ok.  I am choosing to use this time thinking about my future.  And, when I find that my lack of presence is affecting my relationships or wellbeing, I can remind myself to bring my attention to my feet; because that is the foundation for the rest of me, in this present moment.

Perhaps my future will include more days where I am simply existing where my feet are, because I am less tied to things that pull my attention into the future.  Perhaps my future includes extended motorcycle travel, in which I wake up, throw a leg over the bike, and say "I wonder where my feet will take me today?"  In which I will stay present, explore side roads, smell flowers, eat local food, talk to local people, and let them tell me the best direction to point my feet.  But meanwhile, I will enjoy the stories of others living that life, and appreciate where my feet are today, snuggled up under a soft and adoring puppy.  With friends and family and chores and work that I adore completely.  And daydreams of places far and near that I wish to explore.

Choose to be where your feet are, or not.  But choose.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Adventure girls need downtime too, even when they don't want it...

A couple days ago, I got up like everything was normal, started getting dressed, and zow!  A muscle spasm in my back.  I'd never experienced anything like it. All the tools I teach my clients? Yeah right, breathe... Breathing freaking hurts! Stretching wasn't happening.  And I had to wake Nathan to reach the Advil, because my arms wouldn't move over my head.  Don't catastrophize?  Whatever.

Luckily advil and ice calmed the spasm, and I was able to start implementing the tools.  Don't catastrophize; this doesn't mean you are never riding your motorcycle again.  Slow deep breaths.  Stretch.  A little more.  And more.  Good.

I worked a short day, saw a chiropractor for the first time, and spent Friday on the couch, watching Gilmore Girls and blogging.  By Saturday, the pain was manageable, though my back was stiff.  I stretched and yoga-ed first thing in the morning, and headed to the Torque Wenches meeting.

What I discovered is that I suck at downtime.  Time alone I'm good at.  Put me on a bike in a helmet alone for hours, and I'm happy.  Put me in the woods, actually, with little to do, and I'm happy.  Put me on a couch for 10 hours, and I go STIR CRAZY.

People plan this stuff...."I'm going to do laundry and binge watch TV tomorrow."  Thank goodness I hadn't blogged our ride yet, or I'd have been out of my mind.  Reading wasn't the best option, because holding a book or phone was challenging for my sore upper back.  Though now that I think about it, I can read on my laptop with kindle.  Noting that for the next time I'm forced to take downtime.

So much of life is about Balance.  The night before this happened, I was busy planning every minute of the weekend 15 different ways to run by Nathan to see what he thought.  Perhaps the muscle spasm is a sign that I need to slow down a bit.  Stop falling off my motorcycles.  Stop planning every minute.

The other good part was that I got to hang out with Moto.

She just can't stop being cute.  

I'm not sure exactly what life is trying to teach me right now.  Perhaps I'm too stubborn to hear the lesson, but somewhere out there, I think there's a message... Next weekend Orygun Run, the weekend after California, the weekend after Camping.... Maybe I needed a quiet weekend and wasn't giving myself the time.  It's hard, when the weather is so ideal and the bike is calling my name.  

It has made me realize how far outside of my routine I have gotten since coming back from Utah.  No yoga, very little home training.  I set my alarm for 4:35 for Monday; I was going to go sooner, but the chiropractor recommended waiting a bit.  Yoga will start again.  I also was able to practice my yoga poses at home, at a slow and gentle pace.  

I am on the mend, but I think the lesson that always needs to be relearned is balance.  I cannot do to my body the things I do if I am unwilling to participate in daily training.  And I also need to look at the possibility that I am overscheduling myself. Being mindful of these two things, I will stretch and ride and move forward, until the next ailment lands me on the couch... hopefully with good balance, that will be postponed for a while.