Coast2Coast Prep

I’ve been getting asked a lot of questions lately on our upcoming bike ride across the country. Yes, you read that right – Steve and I are cycling across the country starting in San Diego, CA and finishing in St. Augustine, FL.

Tandem cycling represents so much to me. Over 20 years ago, as I lost more eyesight – had to quit driving – felt like I had to stop doing many of the activities I loved (had not yet learned I just needed to do them in different ways), we started to talk about riding a tandem bike! We bought one and for the first summer after not being able to drive, it seemed like an alternative for my young kids to get a little rest as they rode on the back to swim lessons and other activities.

After my ophthalmologist, indicated my eyesight (or lack thereof) was not safe for me to ride in the front, Steve and I began to ride together for recreation.

As I share in my book: Look up, move forward: “It (tandem cycling) opened up a new chapter of activity in our life and a renewed sense of freedom and vitality for me.”

I feel very blessed that my husband – my best friend loves to tandem bike. Anytime that our schedules allow, he is also eager to get on the bike and go for a ride. This is such a blessing and I am so excited to cycle across America with him! We will laugh – a lot, we will have some hard times, we will have moments that we will cherish, we will have difficult times where one of us may be struggling, we will have stress/concerns from home – family – friends that have us wondering if we need to get back, and yet we will continue on a pedal at a time to St. Augustine, Florida.

So, how are we preparing? We are both still busy – VERY busy in our careers so why now? Why this year? Today we are both healthy and able to do this ride. We don’t know what tomorrow brings so we will cease this opportunity and prepare to leave our careers for a brief time and make this memory. We will return home with new experiences and insight and ready to take on that next chapter of our careers and life!

So, what are we doing so far to prepare? We have joined a group – Bubbas Pampered Pedalers ūüôā that will do all the organizing/logistics of this ride. There will be 40 cyclists. We will arrive in San Diego (working out the logistics of all those details now — will probably rent a car and drive to San Diego with our tandem.) My guide dog, Georgie, will stay with a dear friend.

We have an amazing coach, Diane, helping us prepare our bodies for this ride.

Steve is preparing a lot of the details for the bike and business aspects of being gone. I am looking at what needs to be done at Resilient Solutions, Inc our business to be able to leave for that long. Step 1 – making sure our office is fully stocked for 6 weeks. LOTS TO DO – for sure! However, a step at time we are going to be SO ready for this!!

I leave you with a picture of me the summer of 2000. We had just started to ride our bike – our shiny new red Burley Duet when we fell. I broke an arm. Ten days later I fell again and overcompensated and broke the other arm. That summer was spent in casts and surgery followed in December.

The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall. — Vince Lombardi

We rose again and have been riding ever since. On the back of the tandem I find much clarity, creativity, joy, and peace. I love the breeze as I ride in synch with my captain that I love so much. This also became the space where … if I can be active in this way … how else can I find a way to be active with vision loss. SO MANY OPTIONS as we find a way.

We all take falls and get back up. Share one of yours!

Connection.

Recently I received an email that meant so much. They were reading my book: Look up, move forward. We both have the same eye condition: Retinitis Pigmentosa. She said: “Reading your book … it feels like your words – and your feelings are mine. I can so relate to what you are sharing. I am inviting my family to read your book so they can understand.” Pam from VT

She quoted this excerpt from my book that had helped her:

“Those few moments on the porch mark the foundation of many lessons I draw upon. Most importantly, I learned that I could find strength when it seemed lost. I learned that my reserved were there when I needed them, and that I could choose courage and joy, even when it was difficult. I, of course, could get caught in the story of the challenges of my eye condition, but equally possible, and dramatically more desirable, was working through my emotions until I arrived at a place of determination.”

Thank you Pam! The power of connection to know we are not alone in our journey helps us so much.

The chapter begins with a favorite quote:

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. — Elisabeth Kubler Ross

Our Moments of Shift

I’ve been reflecting on some key moments of shift for me. You know that time when someone said you couldn’t do it and you said .. wait a minute, I think I can!! When we stop and make that shift for ourselves it becomes empowering.

I write about a couple of these moments in my book: Look up, move forward. I share an experience where I was challenged if ¬†I could be a social worker. The Department head had questioned my abilities due to my eyesight. “By the time I got on the bus, though, my confidence had rebounded enough to reimagine the interview. In the new version, when I fumbled for the chair, I asked for assistance without apology. My answers to his questions were concise and decide. I cowered less, and asserted more, assuring him that I was ready for the coursework, that I understood the rigors of graduate school, and that i knew I could be an effective counselor.”

“But being rejected galvanized my desire to become a counselor. I knew this was what I wanted to do. I couldn’t give up but the path of least resistance had been blocked.”

Years later, I can appreciate this moment of shift. ¬†I recognized that I didn’t need to believe his negative assertion about me and my capabilities. ¬†As clients come into my office and I briefly share with them, I am blind – that’s my guide dog in the corner and we move forward with what brought them to counseling, I think how little this matters that I don’t see their face.

As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being redirected to something better. — Steve Maraboli

Alumna of the Year, USU

Steve and I married after my freshman year … he supported me through a Bachelor’s Degree and our two kids future Aggies joined the family, a Master’s Degree, and learning to navigate student life as a blind woman.

What an amazing day to celebrate so much! So grateful! Go Aggies! Thanks for your amazing support in giving me the tools to take on my dreams!

Halftime at the football game. Drenched with gratitude.

#Aggiesalltheway

A few weeks ago I received a surprise call that I had been selected as the Alumna of the Year from Utah State University. What? I think you might have the wrong number may have been my first response.

Since that time, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my memories at Utah State University. At every stage in my life, there are memories connected to USU – Go AGGIES!

As a little girl, at the end of the day there were days we would go pick up my dad from his office. I would tip toe through the shrubs that separated the sidewalk and his window of the USU Merrill Library and reach high to knock on his window so he knew we were there. He greeted me with a big smile and then a few minutes later would come around the corner out the door. USU represented a happy place :). My mom completed her bachelor and master’s degrees while I was growing up from Utah State. I watched her tenacity and her love of learning as she navigated juggling college / working with a busy family. USU represented a place to learn – to grow – to expand – many opportunities.

And of course – so many great memories of sitting on a bench or the Quad with some Aggie Ice Cream! Lots of fun times cheering on the Aggies in football and basketball, too.

Family picture near the time we moved to Logan.

The summer before my freshman year I met a fun Aggie guy — Steve Andrews. We became good friends and enjoyed meeting between classes in the college of business. He was just a good friend I would tell my mom. In time I recognized that I was falling in love with this good friend :).

To be continued …

Dog Day. 22 Years Ago

There are those days etched in your memory … September 17, 1997 was one of those days for me. I was a young mom – 32 years¬†old and at the campus of Boring, Oregon to receive my first guide dog. This is how I share this experience in my book: Look Up, Move Forward: “I’d been eagerly awaiting Dog Day, and I finally met my guide on Wednesday, September 17. We’d been asked to wait in our rooms for our dogs to be delivered to us, but after several minutes, I couldn’t stand it anymore and I opened my door ¬†out in the hall to find that several of my classmates had also given up on waiting patiently. We shared our nervous anticipation and excitement and it wasn’t long before I was presented with my 63 pound yellow lab, Pantera. She was almost two years old and full of life. We went back into my room to get to know each other better. … I told Pantera how happy I was to meet her and how much I was looking forward to our adventures together. If a bouncing dog indicates a happy dog, Pantera was full of joy. She wagged and wagged her tail as I stroked her yellow fur and gave her a bone. I called Steve and the kids so they could ‘meet’ her too and share in my excitement about being matched with this energetic new partner who would help me navigate life safely and independently.” ¬†This dog was going to change my life in amazing ways and we both seemed to sense that excitement and anticipation on that day.

Photo description below:  Andrews family with Pantera in Park City Рafter purchasing our Olympic berets in 2002.  Pantera served as my guide dog for 9 years and was a key part of our family.

Today 22 years later with my third guide dog, Georgie, by my side … I’ll reflect on the special three dog days I have had — Pantera, Cricket and Georgie – my beautiful guide dogs who have opened up so much possibility in my life.

What is a life changing day etched in your mind?

Look up, move forward!