Saturday, April 19, 2014

Getting ready for a bike ride...

I have been challenged with the logistics, planning and preparation for the just under 900-mile bike ride from Denver to Minneapolis my son and I have planned on May 17.  This is also my son's mothers and his girlfriend’s birthday.  That was not planned; it just turned out that way. Originally, we were going to start on May 10, but a variety of issues supported a week delay.

Their analysis and planning for all possible issues are much more complicated than I thought.   At first we started by purchasing my son a bike.  While he has my old Cannondale SR400 and a Cannondale Quick 5, these are not bikes I would consider for touring.  So we purchased a Jamis Quest Comp.  An all steal bike with a solid Shimano Sora derailleur, SRAM 9 speed 11-28 rears and FSA Vero triple (50/39/30) front. 

Jamis Quest Comp

I have a Fuji Roubaix 2.0 that is not ideal for touring stock, although I have beefed up custom front and rear wheels.   I maintain it myself for basic maintenance so it is in good shape.  I did take it in for a full overhaul and they informed me I had a cracked frame.  The crack was small at the crank.  Fortunate, Fuji has a lifetime frame warranty for original owners.  So they upgraded my to a 2013 Roubaix 1.5, although I had to pay $250 for moving all the parts onto the new bike. 

Fuji Roubaix 1.5 with the original wheel set

So with the bikes operational, I had to think about gear.  Basically there are two options: panniers or trailer.  This took minimal thought, as you can’t even mount panniers on my bike.  So I researched trailers and ended up with a Bob Ibex for the trip as opposed to panniers

Bob IBEX trailer

Now time to focus on food and water, parts, tools, route and camping equipment.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Another death, emotions out of control!

It's funny how life turns out.  It is even stranger when I make that statement with what I think will be so much life yet to live.  So how can I say, “it’s funny how life turns out”.  It is not over?

As I sit in my office two days after losing another good friend at a tender young age of 50, I find my mind wandering. I feel the tears forming as I try to fight them so the staff walking past the office doesn't think I'm crazy. I do the square breathing method each time I can’t talk to a friend or relative when I call and fear they to dies.  I'm losing the battle.  

When I have times like these, when I lose another dear friend, I go through a period when I have nightmares and fears of who is the next beloved friend I will lose in this life.  It is times like these when I call a dear friend or loved you and they do not respond for a few days, my mind torments me.  It is times like these I get panic attack’s as I can’t control my mind streaming negative thoughts.  I have an acquaintance that recently lost their father, unexpectedly.  These events cause me to use so much emotional energy to fight the fears and pessimistic thoughts of who will be next.  This usually takes a month or two to slap myself back to reality and am able to sleep and control the useless emotional issue about death.

This death brings back memories of when my Grandmother passed away. Although, for me, this was not as hard on me directly, but it is hard on my Dad. But the death made me relive Dana’s death. Death is a unknown and unrelenting action.  

I recall as a child, sex was taboo subject and death was not. Now, America seems to speak freely about sex, but death has become a subject we'd rather not talk about. I often thought about why I do not talk about death? In general, human beings are afraid of death. It is related to the fear of the unknown. The question is: Is there life after death?

I used to be firmly convinced that there is nothing after death. This made me very afraid and desperate. I remember that as a child sometimes, while lying in my bed, I suddenly realized there would come a day that I wouldn't exist anymore. It was such a big and horrible thing to think about.

As a young adult, my three-year-old nephew died. I still recall the words from the pastor who stated “death is not to be feared or sadden as God has a life for us all.” He stated that “Aaron live a very full life that God gave him, even if it was only three years.” He challenged us to live the life we have and cherish every moment, as that is what Aaron did?

I can't help but wonder how I got here.  Meaning this point in my life. I'm 51 years old yet some say 51 years young. A total of 51 years have passed. My childhood is long gone and I am still waiting for my mid-life crisis. The innocence of playing, dear friends who will never die, and not having any worries seems gone.  Strange as I am more stressed now when I am not counting every penny, have a good home, have a good car and can afford leisure and relaxation.  But leisure and relaxation only creates increased stress and worry.  Makes no sense.

My twenties went by in a flash. Even though I earned my Graduate Degree, was a husband, a father, a homeowner, and a supposed working professional, I often think I didn't really mature until my mid-to late 40’s.

Now as I embark on into the fifties, I'm sadly finding some content being alone. Like a curse, a curse I knew would eventually haunt me. This isn't quite how I'd imagined it would come to fruition in my 50’s.  I have known to many people who died too soon and missed out on so much. I'm alive and missing out on what I thought life would be. It's funny how life turns out.

Rest in peace Monica…  You will be missed.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Old age and wisdom

In many cultures, the owl represents wisdom.  From an association with Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, and appearances in Aesop's fables to more recent cameos in A.A. Milne's "Winnie the Pooh," the owl is a go-to symbol of wisdom. Even if you just want to know how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop, you should ask an owl, though you risk losing your Tootsie Pop in the name of research.

But whom can we turn to for wisdom in the human world?  In high school I was told beer makes you smart!!!  They say is proven because they made bud wiser… In a study by Robert Sternberg of Yale participants were asked to nominate individuals that they thought wise, the average age for nominees was about 55 or 60 years old.  If you ask, people will say names of old-timers like Gandhi, Socrates, the Pope, etc…  Clearly, the public believes that with age comes wisdom.  I am 51, so I must be nearing the age where I am wise.  Yea right!

So is age a prerequisite for wisdom?  Now that I am aging, I am starting to doubt that as well.  We all know a few elderly people who lack wisdom. People certainly aren't always at peak brainpower in old age. The brain shrinks slightly with age, and aging leads to a normal decline in cognitive function that results into dementias or Alzheimer’s.  

Lately for work I have been reading many books as part of yearlong supervisor training course.  From "Smart to wise" by Prasad Kaipa and Navi Radio I read “Smartness is like a wild horse: riding it can be exhilarating for a while until you are thrown from it. To tame and harness smartness for the long run, you need wisdom – the stuff that gives you ethical clarity and a sense of purpose”.  I really wonder what that means?

In summary, as I age, I am more confused and less wise.  The more I read, the less knowledgeable I feel.  So in my mind, I believe age and wisdom do mean anything.  I believe as I age I become increasingly stupid.  Like riding my bike to work yesterday when even cars had issues.  Not wise, but I enjoyed it... (See you tube video below.)

Anyway, this whole topic started as I did ride my bike to work and I was so happy, but was it wise?  I know is 18 miles one way, but if provide time to just ride and think.  Time to reduce stress and realize how special I have it to ride when all those people pass me in their cars, stressed to no end and seemingly, getting nowhere. 

So does age bring wisdom?  I say no.  Experience brings wisdom and based on that, I say I am a solid path of gaining wisdom daily, but not sure I will ever be considered wise.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I met a girl...

It was on this day 10 years ago, I met a girl.  I had been divorced for several years and was ready to date.  Long term dating breakups or divorce is never easy as we once though that person was perfect and then somehow, I failed in making that assumption.  Looking back over the years, I often blame myself for issues, not the other person.  It helps keep the best of those memories alive.  The bad memories are forgotten as once I formed a new habit to rid myself of any perceived issues, why rehash them?

I always believed in the “one year rule” is essential after a break-up or divorce.  This means you should limit dating, if date at all, for one year from any major break-up.  Well, it was not really always a one year rule, but one year or the amount of time you were together, if it were less than a year.  It always gives you time to “get over” the past relationship.  I was married for a decade, so in this case, it was one year but became 2.5 years before I felt I was ready…

I knew little about the girl I was going to meet.  She was older than I and shared many similar interests and noted differences.  It was a blind date lunch. 

We were to meet at Panera Bread at 11:30 AM.  I was there at 11:25 AM, as I hate being late.  I waited…  It was 11:35 AM and nothing.  I was feeling a little down as I thought I would be stood up.  Then at 11:38 AM, I saw a girl drive up in a Nissan Pathfinder.  Now those who know me know I really do not like big gas guzzling vehicles.  So here she was, late and driving the monster truck, but tossed my disappointment aside.

We introduced each other and her natural beauty stuck me.  She did apologize for being late (although over the past ten years, I think she has been 8-10 minutes late 99% of the time.  It is just the ways she is...) 

Then we went in to order.  As she ordered, it was painfully slow.  I even had the nerve to say “OK Sally” as she ordered like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.  She laughed!

We instantly had a great conversation.  It was easy.  I was felling really good about the girl… Then she proceeds to tell me she is still married, but separated.  So here I am, a man who likes promptness, prefers prompt decision-making and insists the one-year rule is essential to allow her to be ready for another relationship.  So why did we keep talking?  Well, I liked her…  Could be more of the opposites like the challenge?

Since that day, I have gone back to that Panera store every year at 11:30 AM on March 23.  All but last year when I was so stressed at work, I totally did not realize it was March.  When the day came and I realized I forgot, my heart sank!  Fortunately, she did not show either. (In all fairness, she asked if I would be there and I told her I forgot and had a scheduled meeting.)  However, what she does not know is I left the meeting early and went to Panera arriving at 11:34 AM.  I was alone…  She did not show.  Although, I never told her I went… 

I know, that was mean, but I think this day we met means so much more to me than her.  Even without her there, at 11:34 standing on that sidewalk, I get a happy heart with the memory…  Of course there were other times she did not show, but that is another story.

Since that day, my life is better in so many ways, but one of the best ways is that she brought back the long last enjoyment of storytelling. When we first started talking, back during that week of furious emailing before we met in person.  I told many stories and some I still recall to this day.  I digress…  She is quirky like I am! she is almost a female version of me in more ways than we are opposite!  I know, that is unfortunate, but we meshed…  Sorry, I digressed…back to today.

Today is the day I will go at 11:25 AM to Panera Bread.  Will I eat alone?  Will she show?  I do not know.  All I know is on/off for 10 years; things have been a challenge for me yet she makes my life better.  Although I think we only yelled at each other three or four times over the thousands of times were spent together.  I can’t recall more than a few times were mad at each other, if at all.  Not sure there is another out there like her, as in all my life, I have never found such a perfect match.  I hope she shows up at the restaurant and feels the same.  Because to this day, I still say “I met a girl…” 

I hope you all have a chance to meet someone who just seems like a match.  It is a good feeling and one every human should experience. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

When your best may not be good enough?

Over the past few weeks I had the outstanding opportunity to be with my son.  While I am very proud and only wish I could be half the man he turned out to be, I can’t help but think if I did a good job?  I often find he has some of my less than desirable traits and that makes me think I have failed miserably as a father.  But he is a great person, so did I fail?  One thing I always thought is I did my best.  Was that enough?  Will I ever be satisfied with me, even when I have so much satisfaction looking at him?

But as the well-known Winston Churchill quote “It’s no enough to do out best; sometimes we have to do what is required.”  I often wonder if I have done my best but failed miserably doing what is required?  But what is required?  Does anyone really know that answer?

In February, I watched the Super bowl.  I could not help but think the Bronco’s look like they were reluctant to be in the game and in my opinion, were not giving it their best effort. The Broncos were required to be in New York, but I do not believe they did their best.  But what does this mean?  I have faced many doubts over he past few years.  I have spent more time dwelling on my failures, as opposed to my successes. 

But there are many times I think I have successes, which are the result of another failure.  What do I mean?  Well I often recall the great runner Paula Radcliffe to describe what I mean. 

In 2005, Radcliffe participated in The London Marathon.  She was determined to become the world’s fastest woman in marathon history. Radcliffe started off the race in great shape!   Near the end of the race, Radcliffe started to feel… pressure. Literally.

So, as she neared the end of that pivotal race–a race that, if she won, would give her the title of the world’s fastest female marathon runner–Paula Radcliffe realized, to her great dismay, that she needed to go poop.  Unfortunately, if Paula were to visit a nearby bathroom, she wasn’t going to finish the race at the record-breaking time she desired. However, she really needed to poop.

So as she neared the end of her race, facing the possibility of failure, Paula Radcliffe resigned herself.  Instead of going to a nearby bathroom, she paused briefly and released the pressure.  Yes, she did this in front of hundreds of people while cameras were recording her and lives broadcasting the race to spectators worldwide.

After she was done, Paula stood back up again, crossed the finished line, and achieved what she initially set out to do: she became the word’s fastest female marathon runner.

And the rest is history.

I had not thought about “Paula’s Poop” that often, but I was thinking about doing ones best.  Is it enough?  Like being a father… You never know if it is the right choice.  She will always be the fastest at one point in history, but also be known for pooping all over herself.  Did she make the right choice?

You see, when I write, I am often forced to confront human limitations. These limitations may be physical, like Paula’s, but they can also be emotional, spiritual, or even intellectual limitations. When I hit a brick wall, I often try to figure out the “reason” why something isn’t working the way I would like, or why I have been presented with a challenge that is more than I can handle.

Maybe I figure the “reason” is I am not good today is because I haven’t tried hard enough.  Maybe it’s because I am being punished for something in my past.  Maybe there is something intrinsically wrong with me...  But if I stop looking for what I did right or wrong, and instead saw the challenges raising up to meet me, maybe I can find some peace.

Instead I’d go in and work at my job some more, putting in more hours, working to motivate my people, try and do everything my supervisors were telling me to do, and again, I find I do not believe my best is good enough.  This is the only place I know my best is more than enough.  I do not have that feeling anywhere else in my life.  I am stressing out.  I am frustrated. I am unhappy.  Life is not always good.  I feel overwhelmed and trapped.  I have reached a crisis in my life. 

Maybe the answer is to understand there is no answer.  Maybe doing my best means doing nothing at all?  I do not know, and not sure I will ever know.  But one thing for sure, I often think I should just go out for a walk and poop my pants…  It worked for Radcliffe, but not sure it would do much for me, but get arrested…