Monday, January 21, 2013


This was a Facebook post I did today, but I think that it captured a thought I have had for a long time about why I do things in the first place...
Recently, a question was posed to me from a dear friend. She asked me why I feel to driven to be involved in so many things and extend myself so thin. It is actually a question that I have thought about a lot, but frankly, I don't know if I can answer it without the help of a psychologist. What I was able to answer was that I have never been content to sit on the sidelines and watch the world change around me. I want to be a part of change, even if that part is very small. I've continued to think about the question and my answer, and what keeps coming to mind isn't why I (or someone else) do things. Rather, I think the question is "why not". 
Every time someone is presented with an opportunity to make a difference in the world, big or small, there is always a reason not be involved. I'm not strong enough. It's none of my business. I don't have the skill. I'm too weak. I don't have the knowledge. It's too hard. What is it that counters that pull inside that says, "Do something"? I venture to say that usually, the thing that stops us is insignificant in comparison to the positive impact that we can have on someone's life. I view life as a series of obstacles that I need to negotiate, over, under, or through, to get me to a goal. For me (cue the psychologist) the goal is to die knowing that what I did in life and who I was mattered, and resonated beyond my mortality. 
 It is my expression of empathy in the world. Empathy is more and more a rare and precious emotion. It is the glue that binds a civilized society. It is built upon our personal understanding that we matter, which is in turn, grown by love we feel around us. That is, a loving family, safety, and security, and knowing that we are significant. Empathy resides in each of us, but it can be buried in fear, ego, and a self-centered perspective. Also things we all possess. Our challenge is to recognize that the obstacles that keep us from doing things that matter to others, are in fact obstacles that make us feel like we matter less. 
Therefore, the path to feeling like you matter is making others feel like they matter. The answer then, seems self-evident. It's not about why do we do things. It's a question of what's stopping us, and why would we want or allow anything to stop us? The irony is that doing things that matter to others is ultimately the selfish act of making us matter in our own hearts. The simpler answer. It feels good.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cough cough!

I think I've pretty much experienced everything the flu has been able to throw at me.  Let's see, there's been a 103+ degree fever, coughing, sneezing, hacking, congestion, aches, chills, runny nose, and today, well, let's just say I couldn't keep anything down.  I had actually gone back to work this week, because if you know anything about me by now, I can't stand sitting around on the sidelines.  Bad idea.  Monday went okay.  Not great, but I was especially tired when I went home.  Tuesday, the Chief got tired of my coughing, and kindly urged me to take the day off and don't come back until I was all cleared up.  He was right, as I stayed home today, and stayed in bed all day.  Definitely not back from this thing yet, and the truth is the flu is nothing to be messed with.  Overdo it and you can find yourself in the hospital.

Ok, this isn't a blog about the flu.  It is about this journey to show that someone suffering from a mental illness can accomplish something great, and to document every step of that journey.  It is meant to teach and inspire.  So, yes, there is a teaching moment here.

Things don't go according to plan.  Depression was not in my plan.  The flu was not in my plan.  Getting behind in my miles was not part of the plan.  A sign of strength is what do you do when the plan changes, or is tossed out altogether.  So, here is the plan:

1. Get well (obviously).  That means a lot of rest and sleep.  Hoping to be able to go to work tomorrow.  Main thing at this point is congested lungs.  They clear up some more and I am good to go - I think.

2. Look for opportunities to make up significant miles.  This means that 2013 will have to be pretty robust as far as 100+ mile rides.  Those are the most efficient way to make up and build mileage.  One 125 mile ride is almost a week's worth of 30 mile rides.  It just happens that I am a member of RUSA (Randonneurs USA) a long distance cycling organization, and there are a number of rides coming up in 2013 not too far from here.  You can bet I'll be doing some of them.

3. Stay consistent.  The 30 miles a day still applies, so between consistency and big rides, everything will be okay!

And, the moral of the story here is that you are not hearing a certain word.  Quit.  I can't quit depression, and I can't quit life.  If this ride is a celebration of life and success, then I welcome obstacles.  I welcome bumps in the road.  I was not somehow removed from day to day challenges in life just because I decided to make an additional challenge.  This is on top of what life has for me.  You know want you do in long distance ride when it gets tough.  Easy.  You pedal.

Pressing on!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Don't Panic!

An important concept in bicycle racing is the idea of "do not panic".  Bike races can be long, and a lot can happen.  Riders, get flats, get dropped, get flats, maybe crash, and sometimes they have to stop and pee.  Whatever the case, it can result in a rider being off the back of the race.  It is tempting for a racer to jump back onto the bike and ride as hard as possible, and if and when he gets back on the main group or "peloton", he has nothing left in the tank.  Smart racers race tactically.  They find other racers trying to get back into the race and they work together to slowly reel in the main body of racers.  It takes time and smarts, but if done right, they get back in the race and aren't completely drained of every ounce of energy.

Well, today as predicted in my last entry, I came down with the flu.  Actually last night, but today I felt terrible with a 100+ fever, chills, aches, and the whole nine yards.  My little five year old boy has the flu too (he gifted it to me), so we are both out of action and he calls us "sick buddies".  

Yesterday, I did get my initial ride in with 37 miles completed, and I actually felt good, but with no riding today, I am now 23 miles in the hole.  Not too bad actually.  Remember, I have all year to do the 11,000 miles and I don't have to make up all the miles at once.  Also, the 30 mile a day average is just that, an average.  Throw in a few 100+ miles rides throughout the year, and some races and brevets (I'll talk about what those are some other time) and the miles will be made up.  I actually won't be in emergency mode until I get to 500 miles in the hole, and I don't plan on that happening!

But, what comes to mind immediately is that applies in a bicycle race can apply to life.  Things happen that put us behind the eight ball.  The key, is again, don't panic.  Having a support system of friends, allies, and supporters can see us through those times when it seems like the goal just can't be reached.  It can be reached, but asking for, and using help is what it takes.  It's not being weak.  It's being smart.

Now, back to getting well.  Still not out of the woods!