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Close to what I look like on the bike, but not exactly. I wear a helmet.

This past week I rediscovered a love of mine and have been busy with it.

I was talking with a friend the other day about mt. biking. I have an incredible mt bike that I was able to score a swinging deal on years ago from Bianchi. It was easier back then to get toys like that, as I worked in the sports and outdoor industry. When I purchased the Grizzly from Bianchi, it was one of their top of the line mountain bikes.

My husband at the time was a major bike-geek and spent hundreds more upgrading many of the components on the bike because he wanted to ride it. By the time I left him the shock had been upgraded, as had the bars, the saddle and rear cassette, stem, grips, etc. Needless to say, it is a dream bike to ride.

One of the things about the ex was in the beginning of our relationship, he was attracted to my athletic abilities. I had been racing in triathlon for about 10 years and had done pretty ok with it.

After a while, he became really competitive with me. A regular Saturday run or ride became a competition where he needed to finish before me. It stopped being about a couple that ran together, and became a ‘I must leave you in the dust.’ effort.

Eventually, I stopped training with him altogether. Who wants the stress of that?

When ever we raced together, he made sure he pointed out all my mistakes. If Ihad done well, he’d insist that it wasn’t ‘that’ good. When I did Ironman Canada, he was more jealous than proud of my efforts and made sure he told me that ‘anyone’ could do an Ironman. He hardly spoke to me before and after the event. Even though, for me, the thrill of just being able to train and race was enough to make me happy, I was sad that my husband was more about bringing me down about my training and racing than happy to be with me doing it together.

After a while, because of that, because of the kids, because of the divorce, I stopped riding altogether. I had sold my road bike to help pay for bills and didn’t have any one to go mountain biking with, so I hung it up. But I refused to sell it.

Eventually, I purchased a ‘used’ road bike and got back out on the road (even raced a triathlon late last year!).

Then, for the first time in four years, I dusted off my mountain bike, lubed the chain, pumped up the tires and went out this past week.

It wasn’t anything extreme. The runkeeper app on my iPhone says it was a 10.9 mile ride. Just under 90 minutes of climbing and descents.

Oh. Boy. It was like being a kid again. I was SO thankful for my granny gear chain ring on the heavy climbs. Just when I think I’m in shape, I do something to show me that there is always room for improvement!

The downhills were fast, and exhilarating.   I was astonished at how well the Grizzly handled. It practically steered itself, and there were numerous times when I had to remind myself to ease back on my grip on the bars.

I came home full of adrenaline, higher than a kite. I bubbled all day long, was ravenous for good, clean food, and slept well that night. It was a feeling of passion that I had not felt in years. YEARS.

I went again on Wednesday. I had taught a spin class at 6 am and thought I might blow it off, but felt good enough that I decided to go. I did the same ride. Somehow, I managed to go a bit further in less time. Again, the adrenaline came, the feeling of accomplishment, and getting a good workout in all while having fun.

This is exactly how it used to feel when I trained and why I used to compete so much. It was pure JOY!

During the ride, I started thinking…I’ve been riding for years. I mean, YEARS. And I still had to remind myself of basic techniques to keep me from going off into the brush, to increase my speed, and to improve my pedal stroke on the climbs.

This got me thinking of last year when I was doing assistant coaching for a triathlon team, I worked with the participants (mostly women) on bicycle handling skills. These were women who had either done their first triathlon, or were training to do their first one.  As we rode, I could see many of them struggling with their bikes. They weren’t seated correctly, their bikes weren’t fitted properly, they were struggling to hold a line (stay in a straight line), they were fighting getting up the hills, they had death grips on their bars, and so on.

I also remembered a story my friend told me of a time he was racing and an amateur competitor cut him off, clipped his wheel, and down my friend went. As the amateur continued on down the road, my friend dealt with road rash, a broken collar-bone and damaged bike.

And the thought came to me, there needs to be more bicycle handling skills clinics for beginning cyclists. I know many people who say they like to ride their bikes, but it makes them nervous. These are the same people who then take on a triathlon and endanger themselves and other participants.

So I’m thinking, what if I offered a clinic only to women to learn the basics of bicycle safety, changing tires, changing gears, proper nutrition, clothing, etc, as well as basic bike handling skills?

I know the huge rush of happy happy I get when riding my bike, but I’m so comfortable on my bikes that I can practically let go of the bars and trust my current skills in most situations.

While I don’t expect others to get there with one bike clinic, at least they can be more comfortable on the bike and that means more fun, and that can lead to more time on the bike, and becoming more comfortable, and more fun and..well….you get the idea.

Anyway, I think I am going to look into it. Perhaps start with the local community activity calendar. Jeez, combining my love of riding with something that can help others. Is this what is mean when they say, ‘do what you love’? It sure does feel good.

What do you think? Would you take something like that? Would you like your kids to have a clinic similar that as they learn how to ride? what would you be willing to pay for a one or two-day clinic?

What would you like to see, or be offered with a bike clinic? Where do you think you would need some help when it comes to riding a bicycle?

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I May End Up Going Pro

 

In the last, oh, four months or so, my son said something that stopped me in my tracks. I don’t remember where it was, I don’t remember what we were doing, or why he said it but what I do remember is it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

Whatever I was doing he looked up and said, ‘Mom, stop it. You’re embarrassing me.’

I literally stopped in my tracks, dropped my jaw intentionally, and gasped.

‘I what?’ I said, putting my hand to my chest.

‘You’re embarrassing me. You do it all the time. Stop it.’ He replied and continued walking.

One small part of my heart broke, I’m pretty sure. My son and I have always been tight. He can be a pain in the ass, but I love him like crazy. He’s my first-born. He’s the one who taught me what love really means. Every parent with their first child knows that feeling. It’s so deep and powerful and unexplainable it’s almost overwhelming at times.

And now, this child, the child who was two weeks late for his own birth; this child who decided to not come on March 31st, or April 2nd, but April FOOLS Day; who didn’t sleep all night until he was well past two years old and continues to this day to challenge my wits every day, is embarrassed by me.

ME. The cool mom. The mom who stays at home and makes chocolate chip cookies, and rice crispy treats, and bakes cakes for their birthdays. ME.

And I was stoked. I leaned in towards my boy and whispered, ‘Son, you ain’t seen nothing yet.’.

He kept tromping forward.

Since then, I had not heard another word about it from him. Until yesterday. There’s not much in Target that you can truly embarrass a boy with except one thing. The lingerie department. It didn’t even dawn on me until he said something.

‘Hmmm,’ I said out loud, held the bra up to my chest and faced my children. ‘What do you two think of this one?’

My seven-year old daughter was too busy looking at the underwear hanging next to her. ‘Mom, this underwear has superman on it. This one says ‘Wonder Woman’. Mommy, get one of these!’

I looked at her, ‘Lani, that is the batman logo, not superman. I don’t think I want that on my undies.’

I turned to my son. ‘Honey, what about this one? Isn’t it nice?’ He just stood there. Mortified. His eyes were closed as if he was hoping by doing that he would shoot off to another universe where mothers didn’t hold bras up to their chest.

‘Ian, what do you think? Pretty?’ I smiled.

‘Mom!’, He hissed under his breath. ‘You are embarrassing me. Stop it.’

Hold everything. Did I hear the word, ‘embarrassing?’

‘I’m WHAT, honey? I can’t hear youuuuuu.’ I got louder. ‘Do you like this brassiere, or this one, son?’

He was shrinking back into the flannel pajama rack. I started to giggle. I looked over at my daughter. She had a giant colorful bra on her head so the cups looked like soft, pushed up ears. She walked around the lingerie department with it on her head pointing out other items and saying, ‘mommy, this would look so pretty on you!’

There are certain things that, as a parent, I’ve looked forward to. Things like the first day all the kids were in school full time, or their first sleep over at their friend’s house. I’m still looking to the day when the kids hit puberty and want to sleep all day. It’s the little things that make me happy.

I remember vowing that, one day when my son is a teenager, I will go into his room at 3 am, wake him up and say, ‘hey, you know what sounds good? A glass of milk. Would you go get me a glass of milk? Are you awake? I’d like a glass of milk now. Right now. Right this minute, it sounds so refreshing. A glass of milk is what I’m craving. Can you go get it? Are you asleep?’

Some people may think this is mean, and that sleepless nights comes with the territory. I’ll never forget the advice people gave me when I was pregnant and it’s the same advice I give expecting mothers: Sleep. Sleep like there is no tomorrow. Sleep so much that you become sleepy from it. Because when that child comes it is going to rock your world and you will never sleep the same again. Ever.

So if I decide to give my child a taste of what it is like to be awakened at what-the-hell-thirty in the morning, I consider it doing him a favor. Hopefully it will deter him from having kids until he is out on his own and I am old enough to be a grandmother.

In the meantime, with the whole ‘mom you’re embarrassing me’ phase, new doors have opened for some fun that should allow for enough dysfunction in his life to give him stories to horrify his friends with when he gets older.

I can see it now. He’ll be twelve or so.  You know, that real gawky stage. He’ll be at a sleep over birthday party and they’ll be slurping down sodas and shoveling pizza into their mouths. They’ll be complaining about us parents and how dorky we all are, and my son will scoff at all of them, lean in and whisper, ‘You think you’ve got it bad? When I was, like, nine or so my mom took me shopping for her to get…..*shudder*…underwear and bras. It was the worst day of my life.’

On the other hand, even now, I’m walking around telling other parents about how I was able to embarrass my son so easily. I tell them the story and get high fives by other parents. ‘Nice one!’ they say and congratulate me on a job well done. Then they share their stories and we exchange ideas and thoughts on the subject.

Ah, parenting and childhood. Does it get any better than this? I can’t wait to see what comes next.

 

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Start by reading the infographic and meet me at the bottom. Or, if you’re like me, scroll right to the bottom, read the post, grab a bite to eat, check facebook, make sure the kids aren’t demolishing the house,  then go back to the infographic.

The Descent into Credit Card Debt Hell

graphic by mint.com

I got my first credit card back when I started attending college. So it was, you know, only about five years ago. ha. Anyway, they based my credit ‘worthiness’ on my parent’s income, not mine. If they had based it on mine, it would have been declined. DUH. I was 19 years old and my working career consisted of a few years at a pizza parlor. The card was an American Express, believe it or not.

My mom snatched that card from my spendy little hands, before I even knew how to triumphantly say ‘CHHHARRRRRGE IT!’ properly.

Months later, I got a discover card. Then a Visa. Then the first bill. Guess they weren’t gonna let me keep that new guitar for nothing.

Then the burden of the debt climbed onto my back like a good little monkey. It’s almost like a rite of passage these days. I was fortunate, I didn’t leave college with a mountain of college loans. Then again, back then, tuition was $350 a semester and living in a three bedroom flat with several roommates brought the costs down.

Fast forward to my thirties. I was married with one child, we had our first house, a new car, and one other vehicle that I had been paying for on a five-year loan. We ‘thought’ we were living the American dream. We both thought, ‘well, this is what being an adult is about.’

Fast forward again another five years, we now had two children, two new vehicles, moved to another state with a bigger house and more debt. Crap. But my husband’s company was being acquired by UPS, so I knew we’d be able to pay it all off quickly.

Now, it didn’t help our situation that my then husband was an alcoholic, loved to buy things for himself, and ended up taking a job that paid $25K less than his current job. The stress of our debt was overwhelming and we lost everything except my truck. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYthing. We filed for bankruptcy, and walked away from our house and property. The trustee for the court for the bankruptcy scrutinized all our belongings trying to figure out a way that he could get money from us to pay off some of what we owed.

Eventually, we ended up with a $3,000 bill to the trustee because we had a little fart of a car that he felt was worth that amount. We wished. Plus we still needed the car, so we couldn’t sell it to pay off the debt. Even with bankruptcy, we ended up in debt. Go figure.

I didn’t realize the weight that the debt had placed on me. Even though I wanted to pay off that debt, I was truly relieved by the stress I was able to let go of after the bankruptcy. Still, it’s a better feeling when it can get paid off in full.

I vowed to take control of my personal finances and never depend on credit cards or credit again. My credit score was in the tanker, so I couldn’t have cared less about that and I knew if I did it right, my credit score would never matter again anyway.

Needless to say, the divorce came shortly thereafter. I became a wizard with the small income my two children and I were living off of.

Fortunately, by the time my 2nd husband and I were married I had educated myself on how to get out of debt. He came with quite a bit of it debt and had lost his house as well due to his divorce and the housing market.

When I told him my plan, and that I needed him to trust me, he let go of the financial reigns and allowed me take over. A month or so ago I came to him and showed him where we were.

Within three months, we have paid more than $4500 off and will be debt free in less than a year. That might not sound like a big deal, but that means we will have paid off more than $20K in just about a year.

This was without me going back to work (I stay at home). This was without us generating any more income than what we previously had. This was without ‘suffering’ through eating only top ramen. We eat really well, in fact. We still do things as a family (now with three kids) and he recently rebuilt the front end on his 1970 Chevelle.

When I told my husband our estimated ‘freedom from debt’ date he replied, ‘Really? That soon? Oh, man, that is amazing. Thank you.’. The emotion in his voice told the story of the burden HE has been carrying all these years.

I’m now starting to educate myself on sound investments because, baby, I’ll tell you what. Based on the money I was able to save each month to put towards debt, I will be putting towards investments when it’s all said and done.

We will not be in the 98% where people over 65 are either dead or dead broke. How about you?

The best part of all of this is, I get to show my kids how to make sound financial choices, how to save, how to spend, how to tithe (it’s not left at the church like we’ve all been taught!), how to create money and more. They see me working the finances, we talk about money when they get some and how to handle it, what it means, where it comes from, how to create more of what we have from what we have, etc.

I don’t know about you, but I was never given a financial education as a kid. No wonder I went into debt. I saw the credit cards as a kid, just never saw the bills that came in later! I won’t make that mistake with my kids. I hope you don’t either.

So the question is, are you ready to get rid of the debt you may have? Have you paid off debt? Would you care to share your story and how you were able to get out of debt?

If you have any tips that you feel contributed to you getting out of debt, I’d love to see them. If you are interested in how I did it, let me know and I’ll tell you what I did.

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I posted this a bit ago on another blog I write for. I’m a huge fan of uplifting people. I love looking for compliments I can give to people. Let’s face it, we’ve all been through the wringer. No one gets out of childhood unscathed.  So I find things in my ‘spare’ time that I think others might enjoy too.

And, I usually play this kind of stuff when my kids are around. I figure, ‘good stuff in = good stuff out’. Hopefully it is sinking in without them even realizing it.

Anyhoody, here’s one of my favorites. In the coming days, I’ll post another one that’s a bit longer but will have you feeling all gooey with love and goodness. MmmmMMM gooey-ness.

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