Sunday, December 22, 2013

Standing at the Turning Point

Here I am, yet again. The turning point. A position I've found myself numerous times during the past several years.  My toes are poised on the edge of the jump zone, the cliff if you will...yet an unseen force is holding me back. My arms are outstretched with hope...yet I remain frozen in fear. What the hell am I really afraid of?  Success?  Happiness?  Living my dreams?  What really is to fear in these options?

Realistically, there is nothing to fear.  There is only potential fulfillment in the path of happy destiny.  Yet, up until today I've chosen the path of least resistance. If I were to be brutally honest, I've been making this choice my entire life.  Don't ruffle any feathers....don't upset the apple cart...keep everyone happy.  My M.O.D. has been to be the good girl.  The one who smoothes things over.

It's time for me to break out of the shackles.  Here I find myself back on the edge of the cliff.

For my loyal readers...this is not a surprise.  I've been here for some time now.  The girl who cried "wolf!!" has seemed ready to move forward, then as she is about to make her move she falls back yet again. Those who know me well are holding their breath...expecting me to jump...yet here I have remained.  There is egotism there. What will people think?  If the caterpillar becomes the butterfly?  Change.... In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter who I please.  It matters that my actions reflect my own next right action.  To do "the next right thing." For myself.  Ultimately, if I am not acting in my own interests, what the hell am I doing?  Who's life am I really living if I care only about what others might think, or how my actions might impact others while thinking nothing of myself?

The cliff has seemed to be a safe haven.  Yet at the same time a stagnant place.  The strength within me yearns to leap into the unknown freedom, and meanwhile the fear keeps it's stronghold.  Deep rooted, as my feet seem to be in the rocky ground of the cliff.

Pain, frustration, stunted growth.  This is where I have sat, almost comfortably.  Just existing.  Allowing life to flourish around me, yet not completely free to join in myself.

For a year now I've been writing about facing my fears.  Through baby steps, similar to my athletic training, I've gotten stronger.  Comfortable in my own skin.

To thine own self be true.  Live honestly, nobly and remain open and in complete willingness to embrace life's challenges.  This is the only way I can grow.

Fear No More...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Journey Continues

My eyes opened on day two of our journey.  Thursday, December 12, 2013. We had arrived long after sunset the night before so I was anxious to see my outdoor surroundings. It seemed we had driven through emptiness arriving in the middle of nowhere. I was imagining beauty, from the description I had been given by Becky, our hostess.  I was not disappointed. The morning light peeking through the window displayed a spectacular view of the pristine landscape of the back of the home, which had been hidden in the thick darkness of the night. It was remote and breathtakingly beautiful.  There was not a sound.  It was as if time stood still and I was the only person present. I had been given a room all to myself, probably for the last time on this trip. I stretched, like one of Becky's cats, and remained in bed for a few more minutes lost in my thoughts. This was a rare luxury and I was taking full advantage.

As I relaxed, I closed my eyes and reflected on the sense of peace I was feeling.  Our slow progress toward Florida was another luxury I appreciated. This trip means more to me than a simple vacation and cycling training. It is a catalyst to an even deeper level of spirituality. A much needed battery recharge. 

I was in perfect company. The three amigas, as we have dubbed ourselves, have different personality traits, yet we blend well together. Balance each other.  Compliment each other. Athletes, women and friends on a common journey.  There are times in life where one must put the hustle and bustle behind and return to simplicity.  We had no particular agenda other than to arrive at athlete check-in in Mt. Dora, FL at 6:30pm Friday evening, and the big training ride on Saturday.  Otherwise we were winding our way slowly to the sunshine state.

I am not spontaneous.  Or, at least I haven't been.  Recently I have been consciously letting go of a lot of my old ideas, habits and character flaws which have been holding me back from achieving balance.  On this trip I have learned spontaneity, patience and tolerance.  So far.  Ha Ha.

We had a lovely breakfast with Becky and Fatty the cat, reloaded the car and hit the open road. Destination: Chattenooga, TN. The only plan was to ride our bikes when we arrived. Hopefully part of the Ironman Chattenooga course, if we could locate it.  Basically, however we had no idea where, when or how long the ride would be, and I let go of the control.  I was along for the ride, so to speak, in more ways than one.  And that's huge progress for me.

We arrived in Chattenooga around 11am, and scoped out a good place to start. We parked in an open lot and unloaded the bikes.  It was colder than we anticipated and we needed our cold weather gear.  We laughed, bundled up (understatement) and set out.  We were going to attempt an out and back, as we were unfamiliar with the town and surrounding mountains.  Yes.  Mountains.  We started out, and Catherine stopped to request some sort of directional advice from a local Salvation Army bell ringer.  He seemed to know what he was talking about, and once again the urge to act spontaneity struck and we decided to throw caution to the wind and set out in the direction he pointed.  Our plan was to make as few turns as possible.

After taking an eternity to get changed, fill our water bottles, use the restroom and set out amidst much laughter, it was close to 2:00pm.  The ride was hard.  The elements and the terrain worked against us, but we persevered!  It felt bitterly cold, there was a fair amount of wind, and we faced challenging climbs.  (I happen to love riding in the wind and I embrace climbing, so the ride was so much fun.)  The girls had a blast as well.

Downtown Chattenooga was beautiful and the perfect spot to break up our trip to do what we love.  

We returned to the car, locked our gear and our bikes and had an early dinner. Ben and Jerry's ice cream for dessert. We justified the calories with the exertion we had put forth on our bikes. We got back on the road at 6pm, laughing and chatting as we replayed the day. We stopped for the night (spontaneously) in Valdosta, GA.  

Next destination: Mt. Dora, FL  A three hour drive....

To be continued....

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Journey to La Vuelta MotionFit Training Camp

Day One
Indiana to Rutledge TN
Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The adventure begins. Michelle Atkins, Brenda Juarbe-Pearson and coach extraordinaire Catherine Lacrosse. Amazing cyclists and very good friends setting forth on a cycling vacation. 

Three girls, three bikes and too many bags. In pre-trip discussions, we all vowed not to overpack. That being said, we over packed. I mean, let's be honest, a girl just never knows what shoes to wear with a given outfit until she's getting dressed. It's best to have options. Additionally, five days of cycling in various climates requires a fair amount of gear. However, we managed to squeeze the luggage, bikes and ouselves into one car. We are at maximum capacity.  And loving every second. 

In preparation for The Big Event, La Vuelta Puerto Rico in January, we are attending a weekend training camp presented by Motionfit. Kameel Abdurraman is Motionfit and is a road captain for the peloton style La Vuelta. It promises to be a fantastic weekend of solid cycling. Saturday we will ride 141 miles, and a short 40 mile wrap up ride Sunday.

Obsessed with cycling as we are, a few extra days of riding have been added to spice up the adventure. 

We are traveling by car from bitterly cold Indiana to sunny, warm Florida.  Tonight we will stay with friends in Tennessee. Becky Gillum and her husband Don are our hosts. Becky is a fellow Ironman and it will be fun to add a fourth lady to the group for the night. 

The six hour drive was filled with laughter and much-needed girl talk. We arrived in Tennessee feeling refreshed and joyous. Becky had advised us that her house had "exploded with Christmas" and we were not disappointed. Decorating is evidently Becky's gift. The lovely house was tastefully "Christmas-ed". Every room appeared to be an exhibit in a fine art museum with over 500 Santas, mostly antique, artfully displayed. A beautiful home and a perfect sanctuary for the night. 

It was a wonderful, relaxed evening. Just what I needed. 

My life has been quite turbulent recently. This first day of our trip, surrounded with love and laughter, has renewed my spirit.  As I stretch in the big, comfortable bed ending the day with evening meditation, I am at peace. 

Day Two...driving to Chattenooga, TN to tackle the Ironman bike course. 

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I love being in the city.  Any city.  Each has it's own unique character.  The people, the noise, the culture, the food, the adventure.  Cities breathe on their own and excitement streams through the streets.  Anything I can imagine at any hour of the day is at my fingertips. The ebb and flow; the darkness and light. Cityscape.

"Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things". ~Robert Brault

For me, that means to seize every opportunity. Be true to myself in all that I do, which means be open, honest and willing.  Every minute has the potential to be a "big moment". At this point in time, happiness comes from being with the people that encircle me in this city.

As I stroll, I hear the countless footsteps of the pedestrians surrounding me. Like a swirling sea, the throng seems to pick me up and carry me down the gritty sidewalk with purpose. The countless sounds, the life blood of the city, pulse in my ears. Car horns, tires screeching, the voices of people filled with laughter, chatter, shouting and whispers join with the shrill sound of the policeman's whistle as he guides us across the street and on our way to various destinations.

I stop at a small cafe' for coffee and select a table outside where I can watch the madness. I revel in it; the hustle and bustle. I can choose to be part of the act or completely separate from it. I order my favorite, Americano with cinnamon powder.  Time to people watch.  I open my laptop and button up my coat a little further against the chill in the autumn air. The sun is shining brightly, which warms my face, and I adjust my sunglasses. There is not a cloud in the sky, which is bright blue peeking out from atop the sky scrapers.

Sipping my coffee, my gaze surveys the scene. I could sit here and simply watch people all day.  The characters come to life in my mind as I speculate on what makes them tick. A young mother pushing a stroller, the homeless man begging for change while well dressed bankers hurry past on their way to be important in their jobs. A beautiful couple walks by slowly holding hands, not speaking but occasionally glancing lovingly at the other. The vast difference between the faces of the crowd fascinate me.  Human nature on display in the natural flow of their day. I find serenity here, as easily as I might on a quiet beach or mountain trail. I am one in a million and that allows me freedom.  Freedom to write.  Freedom to be me.

Happiness and tranquility are mine for the taking, if I choose to find them.  And today I'm finding them in the cityscape.

Peace, out

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Visit

The highway stretches endlessly in front of me. The trees, stripped of their leaves, appear ominous and sculpture-like against the gray overcast sky. Thanksgiving is in two weeks and winter is approaching. Winter is my least favorite of the four seasons. I prefer the heat.  I'm much happier with the sun shining on my face from a bright blue sky with water droplets glistening on my skin after a swim.  Less clothing, more hours of daylight and more time to be outside indulging in my habitual biking and running.

The miles pass slowly, seemingly in time with the gloomy horizon. 

This trip is a pivotal one for our family. We are on our way north from Indianapolis to Livonia, Michigan for a college visit.  Both kids are along for the ride and laughter fills the car.

My daughter is a senior in high school and will graduate in May. I have admittedly been in denial about the fact that she is growing up. (Thus aging me!) As the hours tick by in the five hour drive,  my thoughts drift back to my own college visits when I was 18.  (I will keep the number of years that have evaporated since then a relative mystery.)  Needless to say it was just slightly longer than 18 years. As often is the case with my creative mind, I linger over thoughts and dreams from that part of my life.  I reminisce various life choices I have made and indulge in daydreams of  how my life might look had I done some things differently. I am thankful I possess an active imagination, as it serves a purpose in my writing endeavors.  A small dabble in fantasy.  After some time I snap back to reality and take some time to appreciate the way things turned out.  I look in the rear view mirror at the two faces that are perfect illustrations of my choices. Nick and Kendall.  Gratitude envelopes me in its embrace.

The obligatory selfie. More laughter erupts.

The kids are living testament to the fact that I wouldn't want to go back and alter my past, even if I could. And to lament my past  is something I can't afford to do.  Even in day dreams. No regrets! The decisions made are rooted in who I am today and I wouldn't change that. My feet are firmly planted in the now and it's my moves from here on out that will alter my future.  

The visit went extremely well, and put all of us at ease.

The college was picturesque and rather small.  It would not have been a school I would have chosen, but my dear daughter does not thrive in crowds or big cities like her Momma. Where I am at peace amongst the hustle and bustle she is content with a slower paced environment. She loved the school. It was a long drive, so she would be far enough away to gain independence yet close enough for me to visit. Not too often.  (Easy for me to say now, but Michigan boasts beautiful scenery for bike rides. Just saying...)

The next several months will be a whirlwind time spent with Kendall.  She will turn 18, graduate from high school, languish in the last summer before venturing off to college and into adulthood.  Bittersweet.  Yet I will walk with her through this journey with love and friendship.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Daughter Writes

by: Kendall E.  Atkins, age 17

When I was young
I was so open
I was so naive
to everything
I couldn't see
what the world really held
in its palm of agony

Now that I'm older
Now that I've seen
what this world really is
How this world
treats its visitors
with cruel and unjust hospitality

What has it become?
Our world today?
Why are our minds so full of hatred?
Our minds have been tainted
blinded by our actions
to become society's image
of perfection

Can't you see that this world is changing?
That it's not what it used to be?
Falling apart at the seams
this world is breaking
Can't you see where I stand?
We're falling apart
this will be our end

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Illusion of Perfection

Several weeks ago, months perhaps, I met with a young woman whom I mentor.  It was a beautiful day.  The sun was bright in a sky of cobalt blue, and the air was cool.  We found a table outside and chatted over coffee.  I was glad to see her, as it had been awhile since we had met face to face.  She looked beautiful, yet there was sadness in her eyes.

I asked her what had been going on in her life.  She began rumination of my question, started to speak but soon stopped. With apparent trepidation she expressed she had difficultly discussing herself, her problems and her life because she held me in high esteem.  She imagined I was perfect.  She said that she wasn't sure I would understand her and she had been struggling with speaking to me honestly about it. I was given pause. Me...perfect?  I almost laughed at how ridiculous that idea was, until I saw she was dead serious.

How could I help this girl if she had no idea of who I really am?

So I opened up to her.  Showed her my true colors by touching on some of my own struggles.  As it dawned on her that I was certainly not "perfect", she relaxed, smiled and laughed.  It brought us profoundly closer. It turned out to be the most insightful meeting I've ever had.

It filled me with hope, as if tattooed on my wrist. Which, as you may be aware, is. Hope eternal.

Perfection.  The elusive status that we all seem to desire, even when we know it is impossible to attain.  We are human after all,  which means we are perfectly imperfect. However...that doesn't stop us from pretending. Myself included. It seemed I was getting rather good at acting.

During my later review of our conversation, it dawned on me I am guilty of keeping my skeletons, my flaws, my weaknesses, etc. closely guarded.  My logic (loosely termed) could be; if I keep everything outwardly pretty then no one will know my secret demons.  But they exist.  No one, especially me, is perfect.  I suddenly realized I'm not doing myself or others any good by not being true to myself.  In fact, I am creating my own turmoil. That is not the way I want to live my life.

To thine own self be true.

The mentor became the student. And isn't that the way it should be? Learn from each other. Something clicked that day.  A new journey had begun.

I am not perfect, but I have learned to embrace that and am falling in love....with me.

Peace, xoxo

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Sunset


He faced the waves as the sun began it's slow decent into the sea.  The sky was awash with shades of pink and red mixed with black and purple as the orange sphere lowered.  The soft wind whipped around him and gently kissed his face. His dark hair glistened as the last rays of the sun caught the salt sprinkled within. The grasses behind him whispered as they danced in the breeze.  His senses were heightened as he waited.  Nervous anticipation.

She closed the door of the house and padded barefoot across the deck stopping to touch her fingertips to the weather worn wooden railing.  She raised her eyes to the sky smiling.  Her long blond hair swirled in the wind. She saw him standing on the beach with his back to her.  His hands were in the pockets of his jeans and his form was a strong silhouette against the ocean.  She shivered and smiled.

Finally they will come face to face. She slowly walked down the stairs and stepped into the sand.  She smiled as she made her way across the beach.

He felt her presence before he could even hear her.  The excitement welled up within him. The moment which he had imagined and played over and over in his mind for an eternity was about to take place.  Her footfalls became evident as she moved closer, the sand swishing underneath her steps.

She came up behind him and wrapped her arms around him, and the gossamer fabric of her long dress tickled his legs.  He closed his eyes and she melted into him.  His heart beating quickly he turned around and looked into her eyes, took in the curves of her face and settled on her lips.

The last of the sun lowered into the horizon.  Night fell.  The long wait was over.

The new journey began...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Running Commentary - Rain

The alarm rouses me at 6:30am.  It's Saturday, and I struggle to recall why I am getting up so early.  It's raining.  My room is dark, quiet and the taps of rain drops are loud as they patter the roof.  I have a run on my schedule today, a long one.  I hit the snooze button, pull the covers to my chin and drift back to sleep.  Twice more.  Finally, at 7:00 I sit up then slowly crawl out of bed.

This is the first day in quite awhile the sun hasn't been streaming through my windows.  Instead it is a gloomy murkiness as I reach for the light.  Stretch.  The very last thing I want to do is put on my running shoes and head outside. I shrug the negative thoughts away and reach for my shoes, determined to do what I said I would do.

I head out and into the rain.  It actually feels good on my skin as I start warming up.  I feel suddenly optimistic about what's ahead.  I have abandoned my electronic devices and run unplugged.  Only my thoughts to listen to.

Tension evaporates into the droplets on my face as I run.  My brain swirls with thoughts of recent events, hopes for the future and gratitude.  Mile after mile goes by, and decisions are being formed in my mind.  Brain blogging at it's best.  I smile as I feel my optimism return.  The feeling to expect the best in all things returns.  Hope.

I have been struggling of late, but as I run I am reminding myself that we all have struggles in life.  Rather than sit in them it's best face them.  Run it out, but not run away.  That's what today's workout means to me.

I run for two hours, unsure of my mileage but feeling wonderful.  Rebirth with the final drops playing on my skin.

As I sit down to blog my thoughts, I see 10 unfinished posts pop up.  I am reminded of the feelings of procrastination and fear that have been plaguing me for weeks now.  Shake it off Nims.  I deleted the 10 posts that were lingering on my laptop.  Starting fresh today.  I am getting back to the basics.

Peace, out

Friday, September 13, 2013

An Excerpt Snippet Two

Snippet two...

The view on the ground was somewhat less illustrious than from the penthouse. Rain had set in overnight and the streets of the city were gritty. Or maybe that was me. I felt as if I had been hit by a truck.

I raised my hand for a cab. Even after years of brutal taxi cab rejection, I still expect one to stop immediately. Twenty minutes later I was starting to consider throwing myself in front of one of the bastards, when miraculously one stopped. A fresh looking woman emerged and looked down at me disdainfully. I threw my disheveled ass into the back seat after giving her my best "Yeah? What, bitch!?" looks.  Didn't everyone wake up in a strange apartment with no memory and a hangover to end all this morning?  I blurted out my address to the cabbie and leaned back against the worn seat. "Wait...what is the address here?" I asked. He looked at me with an amused expression. He was giving me judgement...really? "Just tell me the address." Shaking his head he said "509 Park Avenue. Don't you live here?" He smirked. Shamed by a NYC cabbie. "Just drive." I said sharply.

We arrived at my "less than Park Avenue" address, I tumbled out and practically crawled up the steps to the building then up the two flights to my tiny apartment.  I dragged myself to my bed and collapsed.

I dreamt of beige furniture and passion.

I awoke an hour later to the buzzing of my cell phone.  23 missed calls.  15 from my editor.  I listened to voicemail, made coffee and turned on the shower.  As the steam filled the bathroom I called him back and listened to his tirade with the phone held 5 inches away from my ear.  "I know Tom, I will be in your office in a half hour.  Deadline will be met as usual. Yes I'm alive."  It was almost as if he cared. The next five calls were from the girls frantic about where I went after the bar. Well, that makes six of us. What the hell was I going to tell them?

The other three calls were from an unrecognized number.  No voicemail.  All received this morning.

I shrugged and got into the hot shower.  As I soaped my body to rid my skin of the NYC grime I attempted to piece together last night.  Interview with a local politico, drinks with some colleagues, dinner and clubbing with the girls.  It was after the club that was a complete blackout.  Not good.  OK, what was the last thing I remember?  Suddenly I remembered dancing with a man.  Tall, dark and handsome.  Dark hair with gray temples.  Physique of a marathon runner, grace on the dance floor. His hands on my hips drawing me close as the music pulsated around us. Lips I wanted to devour.  Then black.  Nothing until the sunrise nearly blinded me this morning in the Park Avenue penthouse.

I stood in the shower frozen.  Shit....what did I do?  The fact that it was a complete blank after that point shared the shit out of me.  I doubt I could pick his face out in a line up.  But his body....his hands on imagination was going haywire.

The buzzing of my phone brought me back to the present.  When I picked it up it was the mystery caller.  Here we go.  "Hello?"

To be continued....

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


As I stare at the blank page I am struck by the overwhelming feeling of pause.  It has been over a month since I've written a post for this, my personal blog. It started with a little procrastination.  A few days passed.  The days stretched into weeks....  And here it is September 11, 2013.  Seems like a good day to get back to it.

While listening to the news this morning I was struck by the recount of 9/11 on the twelfth anniversary of the attacks on the United States.  The pattern of broadcasts centered on people affected by the terrorist attacks rebuilding their lives, the area surrounding ground zero being established as a beautiful memorial site and service men and women who rushed to aid the injured.  Also featured were average people across the United States recounting where they were and what they were doing on that fateful morning.  My daughter, who is now a senior in high school and about to enter adulthood, was a kindergartener and was at school.  My son, who is now 13 and a growing adolescent, was a baby.  I was a stay-at-home mom and was in my white and green kitchen feeding Nick his cereal when the first plane struck. The tiny kitchen TV was tuned into the Today Show when it was interrupted with the Special Report music announcing something big had happened. I was in utter disbelief.  It couldn't be real...was my first thought.  Surely it is a movie trailer. Then as reality struck and the gravity of what happened settled in the second plane struck. I wondered what the hell was happening, and where else might be hit?  My thoughts turned to my daughter at school....was she safe?!

Today is a day for quiet reflection.

Focusing on gratitude.

My thoughts turned inward. The last several months has been the metaphoric roller coaster.  I ran the gamut of emotions.  I am sure you saw a pattern forming with my last posts.  Writers block, personal pain and change, etc.  In looking back, it might seem as if I was experiencing the infamous midlife stress.  I'm 46, so I kind of fit the profile.  There has been change within me and in my life.  Some good, some bad. I should have been writing about it, but for some reason didn't. I kind of went into lockdown as life played out as it does.  I can never expect it to flow smoothly, and I've come to terms that change can be good.  It should be embraced rather than feared.

So I'm back.  Time to catch up on friends' and colleagues' blogs.  Time to get back to what my soul craves; reading and writing.  To be alive.  I was completely AWOL and as I write this I realize how important this blog is to me.  It's really good to be back.

More soon...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Good Morning Sunshine

I awoke this morning to the sound of birds chirping happy songs and the beginning streams of the early dawn sun peeking through my open windows.  I luxuriated in bed, allowing myself a few moments of quiet reflection.  I smiled, feeling in my heart today was going to be a good day.

As I went through my usual morning reading, meditation and yoga practice, I quieted my mind and reflected upon the last week.  It had been a very emotional, stressful week.  It culminated with tears last evening.  It's true what they say, there is nothing like a good cry.  I released the tension in that cry.  Let go.  This morning as I moved and stretched my body, I felt completely refreshed.  Happy.  Hopeful.

Leading up to my good, solid cry was a week during which I felt as if I was in a rut.  Professionally and personally. I was beginning to doubt myself as a writer, athlete and person. I had been on an emotional roller coaster and was out of sorts. I had lashed out at people who are important to me, yet I didn't really know why.  I could say it was out of fear, and it likely was, however I'm tired of accepting fear.  It's held me in it's chains for too long.  It seemed as if I was in the same place in life I had been for quite a long time.  Stuck in that proverbial rut.  And it was as if I had become comfortable there, complacent in my fear of climbing out of it.  There is comfort in routine, even detrimental routine.  It would take strength to climb out of it, and it would be hard.  The tears came, and became the release that would turn into becoming the push I needed.

Then, late last evening came a conversation with a colleague whom I greatly respect.  A fellow writer, who had sent me a message acknowledging a recent piece I had published.  He said "Thank You", and advised he had shared my work on several media outlets.

The expression "I'm right where I need to be at this moment" came to my mind.  Something clicked inside of me and a feeling of lightness came over me. It was a small thing to him, but it meant a great deal to me.  Inspiration surrounds me,  I just wasn't seeing it.  I wasn't willing.  I had unwittingly closed myself off to the opportunity for creativity and happiness.

There have been some wonderful things that have come into my life. Instead of focusing on the wonderful, amazing blessings, I had remained closed.  Choosing worry and doubt over happiness and freedom.  I was languishing in their shackles.  No more.  Last night I let go.

I had been writing, but I hadn't really been writing from my soul.  I had been existing, but I had not been living to my full potential.

During my brief conversation with my colleague, I expressed that I had been in that rut and that his sharing of my work had given me a boost, for which I thanked him.  He said "It's not a rut, it's how life works. It's recharging your creative energy for writing.  Just like everything in life, things need time to grow."  I found this to be so moving.  Not only had I been recharging creative energy for writing, but also for living.

Sometimes it takes nearly losing something precious to open our eyes, hearts and minds.  To allow sunshine back into our lives.

Today, I am feeling inspired, open and loving.  Finally.  The same birds are still chirping happily as the full, beautiful sunshine touches my shoulders.  Freedom.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chance of RAIN

2013 has been an amazing year so far.  I've had so much fun and have met some wonderful new people. Athletically, it's been extremely fulfilling. Every day I learn a little more about my sport. Every day I grow and push myself to my limits. Every day is a gift.

While I have concentrated on all three disciplines of triathlon in my training, my primary focus for the first six months of 2013 centered around cycling.  It is my passion. I have logged 3,900 miles in the saddle the first six months of the year. This was largely due to training for and the completion of of my biggest cycling endeavor to date; RAIN/Ride Across INdiana. July 13, 2013. From Terre Haute, IN to Richmond, IN. One day, one way, 160 miles. It was an absolutely incredible experience. 

I planned to ride RAIN with several close cycling friends. We made the journey to Terre Haute, an 80 mile drive from Indianapolis, Friday evening.  We reached the city too late to make packet pickup so we grabbed a late dinner and retired to the hotel, arranging to meet in the parking lot the next morning at 5:30am.

The morning arrived with crystal clear blue skies and cool temps. We made our way to the venue and prepared our equipment for the day. Excitement was in the air.  It was my kind of heaven with cyclists everywhere, race atmosphere abound and the familiar nervous excitement building inside of me. I had trained for this ride for months, and I was ready.

We underestimated what time to arrive at the starting line and found the field was set. As such, our group was forced to start toward the back of the pack.

We were still optimistic.  The gun sounded the start of the ride.  The first 30 miles was difficult as we volleyed for position. We slowly made progress, passing slower riders and eventually hooking up with a good pace line with faster riders. We gained speed and regrouped at the first SAG stop.

The next couple of legs were faster. Adrenaline took over. We discovered another factor imperative in this ride: teamwork.  This is not a solo endeavor.  We attached to good, fast groups and made up a lot of time taking advantage of drafting opportunities.  Unlike triathlon, drafting is completely legal in most cycling events.

As the afternoon approached, the winds picked up and were directly in our faces.  This made riding twice as difficult unless drafting was utilized. As the afternoon progressed, the field of riders was largely dispersed, and our little rag tag group was left to face the wind alone.  The last 40 miles was tough.  We were tired, saddle sore and one was extremely hung over.  To make matters even worse, the final 40 was a steady, gradual climb into the wind.  It took all of our strength to keep pedaling.

During the last two miles two of our Indianapolis riding buddies caught up to us and we crossed the finish line together.  I had never been more thrilled to get my ass off the bike!  The sense of accomplishment far outweighed any pain or stiffness that I was feeling.  I had done it!  Ridden across the state.  Amazing!

My goal was to finish in 9 1/2 hours, based on my performance in training.  When it was all said and done, it took me 11 hours but hell...I finished!  Many did not. RAIN was tough.  I was a rookie just out to do her best, one pedal stroke at a time. We encountered several obstacles:  a 14mph headwind all day, we got off to a late start (we started at the very back of 1,400 riders), we didn't use time wisely at our SAG stops (SAG = Support And Gear), and did not adequately prepare leading up to the event.  Training is not enough.  I am chalking this year's ride up to be a fun learning experience and knowledge gained of what we need to improve next year.

One example: corn fields make perfectly acceptable potty stops.  No lines, no waiting.

Post RAIN, my focus shifted back to the swim and run portions of multi sport.

My next event is in a little over a week.  Ironman Steelhead 70.3 in Benton Harbor, MI.  My "A" triathlon of the season. I did this race last year and my goal this year is to PR (personal record) the race. I will be joined by a large Indianapolis triathlon circle group of friends and it will be a fun weekend! I'll keep you posted...

Peace out xoxo

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

When Fear Returns

I started this blog a year ago in order to share my experiences and face my fears. Fear is what holds me back from a happy, joyous and free life. I know this, but sometimes I forget and slip back into old behavior patters. In my reality, to let go and live life to it's fullest is my ultimate goal. With that, anything is possible.

Does it come down to simply putting the puzzle pieces together?  Fill in the gaps by facing obstacles? Or is it deeper than that?

Recently, I have noticed my defense mode has been on overdrive and I have not been my true self. I've been arguing my points to death. Even compartmentalizing. This revelation was eye opening. It seems I have allowed fear to creep back in. I have become complacent, and fear has gotten hold of me again.

Fear is an emotion induced by a perceived threat which causes me to quickly pull away and usually hide.  It is a basic survival mechanism. Fear is basically the trait that causes the urge to confront or flee.  Sink or swim.  Kill or be killed (figuratively speaking).  It's my go-to character defect that pops up from time to time. A skill (for lack of a better word) I have used my entire life to cope with what can be my skewed perception of reality.

Can I learn from my mistakes?  Yes I can. I cannot go back and erase, but I can move forward and make amends by my future actions.

From early childhood fear has held me in it's grips. I was a shy child, who worried endlessly. A quiet teenager who avoided social engagements.  In college I became a rebellious, wild girl wearing a mask of defiance. Later I approached adulthood by falsely shielding myself by isolating for so many years. Pretending that everything was perfect.  Slowly dying.

In recent years, I've made great changes.  I've written about this in the past.  It all stems from facing fear.  This will apparently always be something that I will have to be diligent about.  Not allowing complacency to creep in.

Live happily....joyous and free.

Have I spent so much time focusing on other areas in my, work,  kids, etc. that I've lost focus on myself?  In my experience, if I'm not working on me I am actually working against me.  I need to rein it in.

The beauty of the wisdom I've gained from others is that I can start over at any time.  Fear doesn't have to control me today.

I have the tools to put the puzzle together.  It doesn't matter what it looks like on the outside.  What matters is how functional it is on the inside.  Sometimes life is good when it's not perfect. My imperfections make me who I am.  Ultimately it comes down to my choices on how to handle my imperfections which will allow me to live happily.

This morning was a time for quiet reflection and yoga meditation.  Centering myself and getting into gratitude.

There will be no hiding today. There will be no take no prisoners mentality.  There will be Nimsy in her truest form; herself.

Peace xoxo

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summertime Chill

Since receiving word that my daughter is healthy, I've been a bit AWOL from my little blog.  I've missed you guys!  I have been basking in the summer sun, enjoying time with the family and training.  Sometimes pictures speak louder than words, so I'm bringing back the photo essay.  Summertime chill...

Long, solo rides...

Beautiful country scenery...

Board games with kids and dogs...

Sunset on the lake...


Crazy midwestern storms...


No words necessary...

Riding with my girls...


This weekend is approaching, and I have a little bike ride/race...we will see what it turns out to be.  We will be riding across the entire beautiful state of Indiana. This is my first attempt at this event and my competitive nature has me wanting to race it. But I'm going into chill mode, and am planning to enjoy the experience and do my best.  Stay tuned...I'm back.  I will report in on Sunday on my RAIN ride experience.  I hope you're enjoying your summer!  


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Calm Amidst the Storm

There is a lightness today, a feeling I hadn't known for awhile. Two weeks and two days to be exact.  My daughter had surgery to remove a tumor from her femur on June 10. Since then it has been a waiting game. Waiting. It is the worst. Especially when cancer or no cancer is in the balance. And the person at the center of it is my child.

The surgery went well, and the surgeon was able to remove the tumor by arthroscopic means. She has 4 small holes, and since there was no incision her recovery will be relatively short. The surgeon advised  us the tissue would be sent to pathology and we would have the results in 3 to 5 days.

By Friday, when I hadn't received a phone call I called the office and spoke to the surgeon's assistant. I learned the results from the pathology had come back and the pathologist and the surgeon agreed it needed to be sent to The Mayo Clinic for further evaluation. I'm not going to lie. It was like a kick to the stomach. Not what a parent wants to hear. I felt panic rise like heat from within.

But then a strange thing happened which surprised even me. I was able to pacify myself and did not fall apart. This is quite a revelation as in the past I have been known to fall apart at the slightest provocation. But today I am stronger. I find that I am able to take things as they come. I've finally been able to adopt the attitude of "why worry before I know something concrete". Today I deal in facts and not "Oh my gosh, what if?"s. This means freedom, as worry is nothing but a burden. I put the unknown in God's hands.

This morning we heard from the doctor and were told the tumor was completely benign. Even though I hadn't been a worried mess, a huge sensation of relief washed over me. Only then did I allow myself to feel the gravity of the situation. And then I let it go. It was replaced by sheer joy that my baby was completely fine.

It feels pretty damn good to have faced a seemingly earth shattering event at face value.  I put facts around it.  And, unlike my former self, instead of focusing on the possible gloomy outcome I focused instead on being positive.  The surgeon believed from the moment we met with him that it appeared benign. In my mind I acted "as if". In my heart the tumor was benign. And I set my intention to that unless I was told differently.

What will be will be.

Taking this stance allowed me to be a calming influence on my daughter instead of a basket case.  She didn't need a frazzled mom.  She needed a mom to tell her everything was going to be alright. So I believed it was all going to be alright and that's what I conveyed to her.  She believed.

Hand in hand our family walked gracefully through this event.  And through it all we grew.  I saw her brother show genuine love and caring for his sister. None of the usual sibling bickering occurred. And her Dad softened.  Patience was the emotion du jour. Love was abound and we all rallied together.

My daughter is pretty amazing.  And pretty healthy.  And we are all extremely grateful.

She returns to work tomorrow morning.  6:00am. Guess who's driving her there?!  I'm trying to get into gratitude about that and my 5:30am wake up call.  I suppose this is my cue to say goodnight.

Peace xoxo