Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Talent identity...

Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a whine, simply an outward expression of my inner dialog. I apologize up front if it comes across whiny!

This past week I was part of a discussion about how the members of our biking crew each brought something different to the group which benefited us all. My brother was the biking king, with the power and skill to pull us home everyday. At night he turned on his tour guide persona to guide us through yet one more night of fun. Carlos had "the box"...good for carrying all things including puppies (don't worry, we never did put one in the box)...and was often the peace keeper, the little brother always looking out for the big sisters and keeping everyone together. Elaine is a strong rider with so much confidence. She was happy to lead the pack or to fall back and roll with anyone who needed to go at a bit slower pace...I benefited at the end of several long hot days from this trait of hers. Laura was our morning sunshine. No matter how late we were out the night before, how hard of a ride we had before us, she was always the cheerleader who got us on the road in good spirits. And each of these individuals have perspectives and ideas that helped to create colorful and meaningful discussions throughout the day.

So it made me wonder, what was I bringing to the team? What was my role?

Interestingly enough, I've been having this inner dialog with myself often as of late.
I see so much good in those around me. So many people living a life of passion, expressing themselves in such amazing, artistic, and natural ways. And I wonder, what are my talents? How do I contribute to the world and those around me? What am I not just good at, but what do I do GREAT?

There are some things I can rule out.

1. I am not a domestic goddess! Visit my house and you'll find cobwebs in the corners, soap scum in the tub, and stuff strewn, obviously not in it's designated place.

2. I am not a social butterfly! I do fine in small groups of people who I know well, but large groups of strangers...no thanks!

(There's probably others traits that should go on this list, but I don't know that my brain is fully functioning yet following last week!)

Then there's the things I'm good at, but definitely not great.

1. My wellness business. I love it and I think I'm a good instructor, but I know there are definitely more passionate, more caring, more knowledgeable, more motivating
individuals out there making a difference in peoples lives.

2. Things athletic in nature. While I've always enjoyed athletic activities, I don't necessarily have a body build that allows one to excel in that area. What success I have had has come from lots of hard work, and even that sometimes isn't enough.

3. Several things artistic. I love quilts, fabric, and the process involved in creating a quilt top. But I often lack the patience to see a quilting project through to the finish...ask my hubby about that fact, he'll be happy to confirm. I also like photography and love spending time capturing color and motion and the rawness of the world and people around me with my camera...but I feel like I lack the ability to see things with an artistic eye, that skill that makes a good photo a great one. Several years ago I took a pottery class just for fun. I loved the feel of the cool, moist clay in my hands, and while I'm proud of the pots I threw, they are heavy bottomed and nothing special in design or color. I also love music and would love to learn to play the guitar. One of those thing on my "To Do" list that I want to experience not because I think I'll be good at it, but just for the process of learning. I know art is quite subjective, and there are those who would argue that I shouldn't second guess my artistic abilities, but when I ask myself "Could I make a living doing something artistic in nature?", I'm afraid I'd have to say probably not.

4. This blog. This blog has been a great outlet for me to express many of the inner dialogs people would often not know go on in my head. But am I a great writer? No. Do I often ramble. Yes. Am I always grammatically correct in my wording? No.Do I always punctuate properly? No...shall we count the number of incorrect commas in this post alone?

5. Being a mom and wife. Of course I know there isn't any set standard to which you can measure these two traits. I love my family deeply and hope that that love shines through in my care of them.

So again, I ask, what am I great at? Maybe it's modesty that keeps me from realizing the impact I have on lives around me. Maybe I'm still on the journey to find that one special thing I have to offer. Whatever the answer, I hope I can continue to bring good to this world and those in my life.


Monday, July 30, 2007

I want to ride my bicycle...

A few times in one's life, opportunities and experiences come a long that forever change and enhance your life. This past week I've been lucky enough to live one of those moments. RAGBRAI 2007 is now a thing of the past, but the fun, laughter, and friendships will continue to live on for many years to come.

When I decided to pursue this adventure I knew it would be physically demanding, sometimes so much that I'd want to throw in the towel and hop the sag wagon. What I didn't expect was the laughter, the dancing, the saddle sores, the meaningful conversations, the quiet comfortable silences, the hugs, the tears, the beauty, and the love.

Today as I continue to physically recover and emotionally process the whole experience, I find myself flooded with emotion. My eyes fill with tears and my heart misses my peeps more than I ever imagined possible. All day people have asked how my week was and it feels so understating to simply say I had a wonderful time. Even now, trying to put my feelings into words, I am lost and find myself just staring at the pictures and recalling the memories with a mixture of smiles and tears.

Laura, Elaine, Carlos, and Jason... I love you all. You are each such beautiful people and I'm so honored to have spent a week in your presence. You each played an important role in getting me through the week, whether it was encouragement to get back on my bike, to keep on pedaling, or laughter at the end of the day, I would have never made it without you. You will each always have a piece of my heart. Dance on my friends!

Jason, lil bro...thank you so much for your support and encouragement. I love that I got to have this experience with you. To get a better understanding of who you are. To see your strengths and your weaknesses. I miss you already. I love you.

Of course, many thanks also goes out to my family who held down the fort while I was gone. Scott, your support and selfless willingness to become a single parent for a week so that I could go on this adventure means more to me than you will ever know. To my two little girlies, thank you for your strength, which every day encourages me to be a better person and a better mommy.

I think it's going to take some time to fully process the whole experience. At the same time I'm doing my best to be mindful of living in the present and not getting lost in the past...after all I'm just coming off a whole week of FULLY experiencing the present. But while I'm living the present, I can look to the future as so begins the countdown to '08!


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Stepping outside of the box...

Two days and 20+ hours from now the 2007 edition of RAGBRAI will officially kick off...and I'll be there. For those of you unfamiliar with RAGBRAI, it's an annual bike ride across the state of Iowa that happens the last full week of July each summer for the past 34 (soon to be 35) years. The average day's ride is 70 miles, almost 500 miles total for the week, snaking across the state from West to East (hopefully taking advantage of tail winds for most of the ride), passing through and stopping in towns of all flavors and sizes along the way. The food is famous, the weather traditionally unpredictable, and fun is sure to be had.

In 2000 I experienced my first RAGBRAI as a support driver. Scott had told me about the event, but you just can't understand the magnitude of it until you experience it yourself. For 7 days a whole temporary community of individuals of all ages from all over the world becomes nomadic complete with traveling shops, restaurants, even potties! This year I'm excited and honored to be sharing this experience with my brother Jason.

We've been planning this for a little over a year. Jason is a cyclist. He frequently goes out for hours of riding around the Austin area where he now lives. I own a bike...and teach Spinning. Seriously though, I think what drew us to tackle this together was a desire to spend sometime together doing something active, which is an important part of who we are are in our day to day lives. Some good old fashioned sibling bonding, something we are much better at now that we are adults than when we were as kids. I also think we've both had experiences over the years, and are at places in our lives now, where we're ready to process, reflect, and talk about future hopes and dreams.

As we get closer to the big kick off, I've experienced a flood of thoughts and feelings. At first it was all about the excitement of anticipation. For months I've been preparing making sure I have all the right equipment and spending some extra hours either on my bike or in Spinning classes. (Admittedly I haven't probably spent as many hours on a bike seat as I should have...but it's a bit late now!) This week those feelings have changed a bit.

Doubt that I'm physically up to the challenge has crept into the back of my mind. Sure, I spend hours each day teaching fitness and yoga classes, but cycling, especially out in nature's elements, is very different from those environment controlled, timed class sessions that range in intensity from gentle to challenging.

And then there's the issue of missing my family. I often talk/think about wanting to be more outgoing, more adventuresome, more spur of the moment exciting. But when it comes right down to it, I'm very content with my simple little life that centers around my family and our existence right here in our little corner of the world. Who am I away from my role as Mom, Wife, and Instructor?

Then, because I'm a woman, and a mom...I think about all that could go WRONG. I worry. Something I do more now that I'm a mom that I ever thought possible. What if I get hurt; what if we have bad weather; what if one of the girls or Scott gets sick and NEEDS me while I'm gone? Irrational? Yes. But I bet I'm not the only one who goes on these emotional roller coasters before experiences that are bit outside our normal box.

My plan is to carry along a good old fashioned paper journal to help me capture thoughts, feelings, and experienced throughout the week...and of course I've purchases a small, handy dandy digital camera for visual records. If you're lucky, I may even share a few of those here in the coming weeks.

Ready or not...off I go!


Sunday, July 8, 2007

My little swimmer...

When I quit working full time almost a year ago to pursue my dream of making a living in wellness and having more time to just be mom, one of my goals was to be able to involve my kids in things during the work day they often missed out on because they had two full time working parents. This summer Lexi has gotten to take swim lessons at the city pool. What a joy it has been to see her grow in her abilities. Last summer she was still timid enough in the water she didn't want anything to do with any water activities that required her face and head to go in the water. But as with many things, Lexi decides when she ready to take the next step. Much to our surprise last August, at a family reunion, she decided she wanted to try going down the water slide at the water park. So we let her try and even with an initial mishap (it was a tube slide, in the dark, and wasn't ready for the first sharp right hand turn after leaving the start...flip she went on to her belly for the remainder of the ride,) she loved it! Then this winter she went to a birthday party at an indoor pool, coming home so excited to tell me she had went under water at the party like the other kids.

Three weeks ago we arrived at the pool for her first level 1 swim lesson. It took only 2 days for her teachers to move her up to level 2 because she was beyond the basic water exploration skills needed to pass level 1. In level 2 she got to explore swim strokes and kicks, diving, treading water, and even had the chance to jump off the diving board (which wasn't her cup of tea.) Needless to say, even though she is repeating level 2 during the second session of the summer, which starts tomorrow, those 2 weeks helped take her from simple water play to a swimmer. It's been an amazing transformation to watch. Check out some of her swimming skills here.

In addition to her time at the pool for lessons, we sprung for a family pass this year and have been making good use of it with the recent heat wave which has hit Iowa. We often see friends there, both of the kid kind and the adult kind, and it's just a nice way to spend some active time together as a family. The girls and I get the chance to go more during the week obviously, but we try to make sure we drag daddy with us now and then in the evenings or on the weekends too.

Oh the simple pleasures of summer!


Thursday, July 5, 2007


I have often thought that using YouTube would be a great way to share short clips of the girls with friends and family who live far from us and don't often get to see them. They both grow and change so fast that when visits are separated by 3 or 6 months, much growth is missed. Our little experience at the Arts Festival last weekend finally got me motivated to get an account set up and our first video uploaded. Check it out by clicking here, or because I wanted to try embedding it in this post, you can simply click the play button below!

You can visit my YouTube channel at any time by clicking the link to the right to check out all our up to date clips. Enjoy!