Perspective

It’s no secret that life is a little crazy in nearly all corners of the world at the moment.  Social media and the news showing chaos and panic,  gloom and doom.  I had to shut it all off because I was spending way too much time focusing on the troubles.  Some  bad news in my personal life last Friday was the last straw and I went tumbling head first into a dark and scary place.  I lost my perspective and was sure that my world was all screwed up for the foreseeable future.  The rational side of me knows better.  Bad news is temporary.  Even good news is temporary, let’s be real!

Something that bothers me about the news around this pandemic is that so many are focused on what we perceive to be lost.  It’s easy to live in that space; I spent several days there last week.  When I feel chaos, I search for information and in this case, all the information I found was negative.  It didn’t help that I spent all day Friday focused on work and my own issues and how awful it all was FOR ME.  That evening I went to the grocery store only to find it cleaned out as if they were preparing for a remodel.  Fear and panic took an even tighter hold on my heart.  My thoughts of oh boy, this is bad went to how will I survive and how did I not see this coming?  I’m not proud to say that the fear and panic stayed with me for much of the weekend.  The turning point may have been a post on social media that was so exaggerated, I laughed right out loud at it.  Maybe it was the laughter.  Or recognizing that I had been nearly as fearful and panicked; this person was simply putting words to it publicly.  I shut off notifications and turned off the TV.  I went outside and sat in the sunshine.  Read a book.  Connected with friends via text.  My attitude started turning more positive almost immediately.

Today I’m able to focus on what’s going well instead of just the negative.  More time to connect in small groups, being encouraged to go outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.  Looking out for our older loved ones and neighbors.  What if, through all this chaos and doom, we find ourselves more compassionate, connected and in community?  Let’s add some positive energy to the world and watch what happens.  Let’s try compassion for the people who are buying out the grocery store in fear, instead of looking at them with contempt.  Maybe we can turn the tide of fear and panic into peace.  What’s the worst that can happen?  We “only” change our own perspective?  I think it always starts one and grows.  It is at least worth a try because the alternative is not taking us anywhere I want to be!

Be well, stay positive and take care of yourselves and each other!  If you can, go out and ride – it’s good for your mental health and as a bonus meets the social isolation guidelines too!

International Motorcycle Show

This was the first time in quite a few years that the International Motorcycle Show has made a stop in Denver.  I’ve heard everything from 8 to 15 years ago was the last time, so I don’t know the exact number.  What I do know is that the last time it was here, I wasn’t into riding and had never attended an event so I had no comparison to past events.

I tried to keep my expectations low, but I was still excited and hopeful to see some of my favorite brands there.  I have to say in that regard, I was sorely disappointed.  Many of the major motorcycle brands were missing – no BMW, Ducati, KTM or several others.  I also noticed there was no Klim booth and one of my favorite Colorado companies, Butler Maps was also missing.

I had already heard from other women riders in other cities that the selection of women’s gear was slim at best.  Even with that warning, I was highly disappointed!  RevZilla is one of my favorite gear sources and they had one tiny rack of women’s jackets and pants.  Maybe three of each – and by that I mean literally three jackets and three pair of riding pants.  No gloves, no boots, nothing else.  My other favorite store, Performance Cycle, had a small women’s gear selection but they had more options than RevZilla!  Pretty good for a local retailer and we had a nice time chatting with one of the employees.  Again though, no gloves and no boots that I saw.  I didn’t expect that there would suddenly be all kinds of women’s gear available, although that would be a dream come true!  But I was surprised at how little space was allowed and how few choices were available.

Probably the best part of the entire day for me, other than attending with my best riding buddy, was meeting up with a bunch of lady rider friends at the Women Rider’s Now booth.  WRN had a survey for attendees to complete on who had the best women’s gear so they could say thank you with awards at the show.  I was super excited to participate in this, but after seeing next to no women’s gear, I didn’t feel like I was able to vote for anyone.

One theory I heard is that the Denver motorcycle market is just too small for many of the “big guys” to come here.  That seems odd, given our climate and the number of people who enjoy various activities outside.  I haven’t yet decided if I’ll spend the money to go should the show return again next year.  On one hand, it was a fun day catching up with friends and meeting new ones.  On the other, nearly everything we saw is available locally for free.  I guess we’ll wait and see if the IMS returns to Denver next year, then decide.  Hopefully more vendors will come this way if they do!

Organization From Chaos

One of my greatest frustrations is spending time (wasting time!) looking for something because I didn’t put it in the usual place and can’t find it next time.  I’m typically a pretty organized person; some people would say too organized.  Hah – those people don’t stick around long! 🙂

I’ve had my eye on a clothing rack for all my riding gear.  I was getting tired of having the helmet in the house, the coat and pants in the garage.  The gloves were wherever I happened to decide their spot was most recently.  I finally ordered it earlier this week and it arrived today.  I promised myself I was going to wait until this weekend to assemble it and move all my gear.  That promise lasted about 20 minutes before I could stand it no more and started opening the packing box.

Putting it together wasn’t difficult, but I have had a very long day of meetings and recognize that I am just tired tonight.  Well, that didn’t deter me and after a couple of missteps, I had the darn thing assembled.  Once it was assembled, I couldn’t just let it sit there, empty.

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I’ve already reorganized this and found hangers for all of my riding pants.  I found space for my neck buffs and have more layers to move to this area so that truly all my gear can live in one space.  I think once I get used to it and have it organized the way I prefer, it’s going to be amazing!

As I was tidying up the basement, I moved my bag that I haul all my gear in when I travel by airplane.  I bought it so I can check one bag and have my boots, my riding gear and my clothes all in one bag to fly.  I didn’t realize that I hadn’t opened it since I arrived home from Alaska.  Inside was a mess of packing cubes and chaos.  It was as if I had simply ripped out the laundry and gear, discarding the luggage to deal with it later.  Thinking back, I have no recollection of arriving home.  I have some vague memory of the Lyft driver who brought me from the airport.  He saw me limping and insisted on lifting my bags into the trunk.  When he dropped me at home, he politely insisted on placing my luggage inside my garage so I didn’t have to carry anything very far.  After that, there’s just nothing; it feels rather surreal.

This will be one of my winter projects, to make efficient use of my new storage rack and gather all my riding gear into one location.  It will be nice to reclaim some of my garage and closet space.  I like this start to the new year, it feels like above in a positive direction!

 

 

 

 

Questions To Ask

Recently this question came up in a group of riding friends and I thought I’d share it with you all.  My main goal here has been information sharing and I think this certainly fits.  We talked about questions you would ask before signing up on a motorcycle tour or joining a new riding group.

We all bring our past experiences to any group situation and with that comes our assumptions and expectations.  Assumptions about how a group will ride (or not ride) and interact.  But everyone brings their own assumptions and expectations to the situation.  What are the chances they all mesh?  Highly unlikely I’d guess!

Ask about riding order – is there one?  Does it change?  Is there a designated sweep?  Is that always the same person?  What about safety – do people ride side by side or staggered or something else?  Is it acceptable to pass another rider? If so, under what circumstances? Does each rider keep the one behind them in view?  What about if there is a mechanical breakdown or an accident?  Does the whole group stay together until it’s resolved or is the affected rider on their own to sort it out?  Or something else, such as the group will wait an hour, or until help arrives?  If it turns out that this group isn’t for you, are you comfortable riding the rest of the trip (or day) on your own?  Also, what is the protocol if you do decide to ride with a certain group and then choose to head off on your own?  Is there a group leader to notify?  If not, I would think seriously about this group because how will they know if you left or if you got into trouble!

Asking these questions ahead of time and listening carefully to the answers should give you a good understanding of the group you’re considering.  If you hear something that makes you uncomfortable, ask more questions or think carefully about proceeding.  Each group has it’s own way of being together and not all will be a fit for every rider!  I believe strongly in ride your own ride, but I also like to know what I can (or cannot) expect from the rest of the group for before I head out with them.

Most of all, be safe & keep the shiny side up!

A Year of Contrasts

I had been thinking about my year end post and what I wanted to write when I took a break and headed to Pinterest for a little mindless looking around.  I was surprised to find a “pin” that perfectly summed up my thoughts.  It says: “2019 – a weird year because I was somehow living my best life and my worst life at the same time”.  I don’t know who wrote this but I wish it was me, because it is the perfect way to describe my 2019.

Sometimes the contrasts seemed to collide head on.  I had a 3rd and final job interview scheduled and had to delay because I caught the flu!  When I later landed that job, I took a few days off in between and we had a “bomb cyclone” snow storm that stranded me at home for a few days.  Probably the biggest one of all – I managed to book my dream motorcycling trip to Alaska and then had an accident that could have take my life . . . two days before my birthday.

I confess to waking up in pain some mornings and wondering why this is necessary.  Why am I still here if all I am going to experience is pain, day in and day out?  Because there are also days like this, when the pain is gone, the sun is shining and the skies are an unbelievable shade of blue.  Days when I feel like I can accomplish anything! Because there are more lessons to learn, to teach and to share.  More adventures to have and to learn from.  My life has value.  And meaning.  It took me several weeks (months?) after the accident to realize that but the moment I did, and said it out loud, my perspective changed.  I still can’t say it without tearing up, but that simply reminds me that I have important work to do.

As in years past, I have kept my gratitude jar going.  Yes, some weeks it is difficult to find something to put in there.  But I do it anyway, even if the only thing I can come up with is I’m grateful to still be here.  Because as long as I’m here, there is always, always room for improvement.  Life can turn on a dime as the saying goes, but that also means it can improve in a blink too.  I am looking forward to the very end of December when I’ll pull all the papers out of my gratitude jar and spend some time reflecting on 2019.  I hope that  I can come to appreciate the contrasts and the depth they bring to my life.  

 

You Go Where You Look

Remember this from your MSF class or other basic motorcycling class that you may have taken?  I have heard the instructor in my head many times reminding me that the bike will go where I look.  I’ve also tested that lesson and proved it’s true – oh no, I don’t want to hit that pothole and WHAM!  Yes, I was focused on it and I went right into it.

Lately I have been wondering if this concept also applies to life.  If I am too focused on what happened in the past, where am I going?  Likely no where that I want to be.  As the calendar year comes to a close, I dare to think about next year’s riding season and dream of where I might go.  I think about what it might feel like to plan for and take off on a multi day trip again.  I wonder about how I would handle that and if I’m going to be up for it.

As the days grow shorter and cooler, I always look forward to spring.  I tolerate winter and sometimes even that’s a stretch.  I don’t enjoy the snow, I simply deal with it.  One way of coping when the snow starts to fly is planning for summer fun.  I’m not ready to commit to a specific plan for next summer yet, but I am at least allowing myself the space to think about what it may look like.  My hope is that will help me in making it a reality next year.  Will I indeed go where I look?  I sure hope so!

Still Healing

Yes, my blog posts have dropped off pretty drastically since August.  I’ll be as honest as I can; there are two reasons for that.  1) The accident recovery and all it entails has been complicated.  There are details I can’t share at this point.  2) The riding season is coming to a close for Colorado as we move into cooler and more unstable weather.  We’ve already had more snow in October than I remember in my 30+ years of living here.  It’s shaping up to be a wild ride and it’s still autumn!

This healing process post accident has been frustrating, fascinating and a never ending learning experience for me.  Right after the accident well meaning friends started to call to see how I was doing.  “Are you healed?”  “You’re riding again, right?”  “All is well now?”  “What do you mean, no?  But you didn’t break any bones, so you must be ok now!”  I’m sure I have been guilty of saying something equally as unhelpful to someone at some point in my life.  But I will try to think at least twice before I say something similar to a person who is dealing with an injury and recovery.  I’m sure people mean well, but they don’t realize that those comments sting.

I’ve learned a great deal about how our bodies heal from trauma.  Bones and muscles heal differently than ligaments do. I don’t follow sports much but as one person reminded me, we see an athlete go out with an ACL tear for example, and we know it’s months of recovery.  They have access to the best doctors and spend their days on recovery; that becomes their primary job.  How, then, do we ‘normal’ people expect to heal any faster?  That perspective really helped me – it’s nothing I’m doing wrong, it’s just the timetable that it takes.

I’ve also done research into brain injury and concussion and the impact these can have on adults and how the symptoms may appear differently in different people.  Would you be surprised to know that screen time may be a trigger for set backs or can cause healing to slow?  I was shocked to learn that.  Talking to parents of high school kids, this all started to make more sense.  Apparently concussion protocol for a high schooler is no screen time and reduced class time.  That’s not feasible for adults, at least it’s not for me. I can’t just tell my job hey, I’ll see you in a few months.  Keep sending those paychecks, though, ok?

My point in all this is to give yourself a break and try to be patient with the healing journey.  It takes time, sometimes months to heal from an accident.  Check in on your friends who are dealing with it and simply ask how they are.  Give them space to tell you and truly listen to the answer.  Please, don’t make assumptions about their recovery.  I know you mean well, but what is most appreciated is someone who asks rather than tells me how I should be feeling.  Trust me, I put enough “shoulds” on myself.

Some days my patience are pretty high and I feel pretty good.  Other days, the slightest pain sends me over the edge into despair and frustration.  It has been almost three months and I never thought I’d still be recovering at this point.  That’s my reality and I try to hang onto the gratitude that I am still here to heal and enjoy better days ahead.  I look forward to resuming my normal posts at some point with more positive news.  For now, its one step at a time, hopefully forward more often than backward.