Monday, April 1, 2013

Can you sprain your stomach?

*Warning: This is not a very Zen moment.  That will come later after I stop seeing spots.

I think I did it....I think I sprained my stomach.  Right on this hill.  I used to call it "Throw Up Hill".  Now it's "Uh oh, I think I can feel my intestines coming unmoored and migrating into my chest" hill.  Ow.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Year of Lost and Found

For a long time, I called 2012 "The Lost Year". All I could think of was loss; I lost both people and things, my body turned traitor on me and all I could feel was sorry for myself. My body hurt and my soul hurt and I withdrew, carefully wrapping myself in a cocoon so that nothing could hurt me anymore. And I stopped riding my bike for a long time because it had stopped bringing me joy.

But it got cramped in the cocoon and lonely and like the caterpillar who can feel the time for transformation nearing, I started to become restless. Plus I was risking a relapse of my health issues if I didn't stay strong.

So I called on the bike coach who had set me up on my bike before I rode to Tucson to see if he could help me start loving my bike again. He took me out on a ride to assess my skill level and discuss a course of training that would help me enjoy riding again. We decided that group rides and competitive activities were not my happy place and only ended up hurting me every time I did them. The whole reason I carry beads for the Carry A Bead program is to send encouragement and hope and I had to figure out a way to rekindle that experience. I remembered the ride Kiersten and I did to Tucson and how amazing it had been - just the two of us in 95 degree weather rolling along the empty highway. We were taking it easy and not pushing hard and took a lot of breaks. It allowed me to really enjoy the day. This is how I wanted to ride every time I carried beads.

My coach had me slow way down. He told me to just go out and ride around and have fun.  Pretty much just go outside and play on my bike like I was a kid again.  I concentrated on just being in the moment and a part of my surroundings.  I rode around the neighborhoods and waved at babies, took pictures and smiled a lot. I even met a man walking his tortoise in the front yard and had an excellent conversation with him because I took the time to stop and chat.  I thought that this was very Zen and I've always liked that concept.  Being mindful, peaceful and being at one with the universe in the moment.  Being Zen means you can't just wrap yourself up in your little pain cocoon and hide from what is hurting you because there is so much you will miss out on.

And thus, the Zen ride was born.  Every Zen ride will be a self supporting challenge with each ride increasing in difficulty.  Some Zen rides will even go up mountains.  But the goal of Zen riding is not to focus on the pain and grinding it out to the finish line.  The rides will be all about celebrating what we can do with the bodies, the time and the circumstances we have.

Every month or so, I will Carry A Bead on a Zen ride for Beads of Courage.  We will enjoy being in the moment, being one with our surroundings, seeing beauty and finding delight in the smallest of things.  I'll put pictures here of our ride and we can enjoy it together!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Remembering Ethel

I met Jean Baruch's mom Ethel when I became Jean's first Director of Bead Donations at Beads of Courage. Sometimes I would stay at Jean's sister Deb's house in Tucson if I was helping out at a BOC event because I live in Phoenix. This is where Ethel and I bonded over morning coffee - we discovered we both loved our cup of morning coffee so much! I found her this wonderful art coffee mug at a local bookstore and gave it to her thinking she might like to use it sometimes. The next time I saw Jean, she said "Mama loves that mug you gave her and she drinks her coffee out of it every morning." Well that just made my day that I could give her that happy spot in the morning.

You see, Ethel was always and forever a mother. It didn't matter if you were her kid or not, she enfolded you in a big hug, smiled that big, warm smile of hers and you became family. You just knew that when her kids were growing up she was the mom on the block feeding and taking care of everybody. Her heart was as big as all outdoors and she loved people. She baked the best cookies and had a great sense of humor. Her spirit shines on in her children Jean and Deb who are paragons of community service and full of love and compassion for their fellow human beings. And they can make me laugh long and hard and give great hugs.

When Ethel returned to Minnesota this last time, I knew she probably couldn't take her coffee mug with her so I went shopping for a new one to send her. I looked forever but they all just seemed so ordinary and not special at all for my special coffee buddy. Then I found it, the perfect mug, and sent it off to her.

She sent me a card and told me she loved her new mug and what a wonderful surprise it had been to open the box and see it. We made plans to have coffee together in 2012 when she returned to Arizona but it was not meant to be. Ethel left us on January 3rd, 2012 and I will miss her terribly.

I know the mug will have to stay behind, but I know the message will always be with her.

The message on the side read simply "You Are Loved".

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

We Did It!!

October 22nd and 23rd, 2011

Day One 98 Miles

Cardon Children's Hospital

The Law Firm of Cheer & Tumble handling all your gymnastics mishaps and suing that mean girl who kicked you off the Cheer Squad!

The long, hotuphillandnotwinding road (apologies to The Beatles)

Best Western parking lot after 98 miles

Day 2 off to Beads of Courage Headquarters! 40 more miles to go! And it's all downhill from here....NOT! Who said that anyway?

Team Beads of Courage Tucson members came to ride with us

The finish line!

Jean gave us a real Tour de France style podium moment complete with the double cheek smooch! That was really brave of her considering we hadn't showered yet.

Next Team Beads of Courage Ride - El Tour de Tucson November 19th, 2011! But first my ample fanny needs a break. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fashion is important

So with the ride in less than two days we have to present the Carol's Challenge Fashion Report because everyone knows that looking good is as important as riding well!

First off, the Beads of Courage Beads in Space Jersey - the official jersey for Team Beads of Courage! (No, really, this isn't a mug shot!)

Next, we have the lovely matching hair fashion by Carolyn Muir. The pink and blue feathers match the jersey perfectly! Carolyn's shop can be found on Etsy under Dragonfly Glass and she is offering a discount to Team BOC riders!

Our spokesmodel is sporting a Beads in Space replica bead by Marcy Lamberson of Studio Marcy. This guy went on the Tour de Tucson last year, but his counterpart, the real deal went into outer space on the Atlantis space shuttle!

Next we have the matching Beads of Courage bracelets:

And last, but most importantly, the Carry A Beads for the kids. These are the cherry blossom beads Kiersten and I will be carrying on the ride. Yes, our spokesmodel is also a beadmaker. The beads will go to a child in treatment and become part of their treatment strand!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Amazing Vanessa at Landis Cyclery

Say hello to Vanessa Cianci:

In the Beads of Courage program, there is a bead for The Wingman or a person who flies beside you and helps to support you so you're not alone on your journey. Vanessa is a to Kiersten and I because she helped to get us set up on our bikes so we could start this journey together.

When I was strong enough to ride again, I went to Landis Cyclery, our favorite bike shop and Vanessa helped me pick the perfect bike. It was love at first ride.

So thank you Vanessa for being there for us! You are the best.

If you want to sponsor a wingman bead for a child in treatment, you can go to the Beads of Courage website and sponsor one bead or a whole flock! Just click here!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kiersten Remembers

Friday September 9th, on a whim I went to the Tempe Center for the Arts. It just so happened that it was 9:30am and they opened at 10am, so I walked around the lake. I was enjoying the cloudy and windy weather, watching the birds and taking photos of our man made lake. As I started was walking, I saw a lot of American flags in the distance and was drawn to them. As I walked closer, I saw that there were hundreds of flags blowing in the wind and it was quite a sight. I discovered that this was the Healing Field honoring the nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks presented by the Valley of the Sun Exchange Clubs Foundation and the City of Tempe.
As I walked around I could not hold back my emotions and I began to think about our freedom and tragedy of the men, women and children that were killed in the attacks.

Once the wind stopped blowing and the clouds dissipated, it began to get hot, and I worried about being in the sun since I did not apply sunscreen that day, so I started walking back to the Center. Along my walk, I started thinking about the rest of my day, and my training for the Beads of Courage ride to Tucson. I began to dread the heat and started thinking of blowing off my training ride, but then I began thinking about freedom and the lack of freedom that the children fighting cancer and other childhood diseases have. They are tethered to their beads in hospitals, on medications that may be saving their lives, but make it impossible for the kids to be kids, to play, to run, to ride, to be free.
So, I came home early, got on my bike and rode my training ride, thinking of those kids the whole way, and grateful for my freedom.