Friday, December 25, 2015

The Miracle of Christmas

     The whole meaning behind Christmas is believing in the miracles of a man we've never even seen; but our faith helps us trust that things will always be okay, even if the path isn't what we expected.

     The same thing holds true for the man with the white beard and red suit.  We all know he makes the season jolly, even if his claim to fame is purely fantasy.  

     One thing, however, that seems to be a rite of passage from one generation to the next, is that infamous photo with Mr. Claus, and our little ones.  It leaves us with memories to last a life time.

     But the whole "Santa thing" is a process in and of it's self, because it's almost inevitable that our little ones, at one point or another will act as though they're being put through a torture chamber, before realizing this man's on their side.

     I know I have pictures from long ago of my own children looking less than thrilled to be sitting on the lap of this iconic wonder, Mr. Chris Kringle; it's just what we do...

     As you can see in this picture from last year, my grandbabies weren't the least bit interested in a visit with this scary old man.  I even mentioned at one point that they should consider making Santa look a little friendlier so the babies wouldn't fear him so much.  William was certainly giving it his best ditch effort to make a quick get away.
     But somehow as they learn to trust that this man is good, the tears seem to fade away.  Notice below, William is finally figuring it out, while poor little Connor isn't quite there yet.

      Then, it occurred to me... this is no different than what we as adults are also going through.  We sometimes experience fearful challenges in life that cause us to wonder how we'll ever get through them; but with a little faith, we realize that eventually things will work out, if we just believe; I know, I do:)

Merry Christmas!!


Friday, December 18, 2015

I may talk a lot, but it's a good thing people don't always listen:)

     It's funny how easily we find ourselves eating our words; but somehow it doesn't stop us from saying things we later regret.

     As you know, the 2016 Bike To The Bay season is already under way, and one of my first teammates to register for the upcoming year is my good friend Maryann; my right hand lady.  Last year she was by my side, encouraging me every step of the way, and I'm sure it was a challenge; I know it was for me...). But she made a promise to me that she would never leave my side, and she definitely made good on that promise. 

      The buddy system is a great idea in the Bike To The Bay, but in my case it's critical.  I never know from one minute to the next when my crazy brain and body will decide to stop talking to each other.
     Last year, that 55 miles was probably the hardest thing I ever had to do.  But that was due to the fact that over heating and dehydration are just enough to make my brain and muscles go on strike.  And my cooperative left leg has one heck of a time pushing that 20 pound hitchhiker on the right pedal for countless miles.

     I've since learned some things that I may want to modify for the up coming year, to make it a little less of a struggle.  However, Maryann recently reminded me that last year when I was about ten miles from the finish line and I was ready to throw in the towel, I made her promise to remind me how brutal it was, and just like child birth, time makes you forget just how much.

     But Of course, you know this stubborn Scorpio isn't going to let anything defeat her, so here I am signed up for yet another year, and anxious to see how many miles I make it before I start wining "never again" :) Last year, at every rest stop if I ever mentioned I couldn't feel my legs there was good old Fred LeFevbre, from 1370 radio, in my face telling me to quit my wining and get back on the bike...  I guess if someone older than dirt could do it, then so could I! Of course I mean that in a nice way:) Incidentally, I see Fred is signed up for the up coming year already as well.                           

     So any of you who would like to ride in 2016 but think you're out of shape, just think of me, and realize, if I can do it, anybody can!  Please join my team!

Oh, and registration is only 25.00 from now until the end of the year:) Please join my team!

Have a great weekend!!


Friday, December 11, 2015

The holiday season isn't about the gift wrap.

     Leapfrog for MS was created two years ago just because I wanted to promote the Bike To The Bay, and raise awareness about MS.  However, all the people I've met along the way have made me the one who became aware; aware that so many people deal with challenges every day, and something as simple as riding a bike isn't going to fix them.

     Most people think of the holidays as the time to show our friends and family how much we care about them, by baking the tastiest cookies, and planning an awesome holiday party, with the most amazing decorations, and shopping for the perfect gifts; all beautifully wrapped.
Of course you know Christmas is pink too:)

     But what ends up happening is we all become frazzled and in a panic to try to beat that deadline that comes and goes in the blink of an eye; and we forget the real meaning of the season.

     I'm sure it's an ongoing thing, but for some reason, I feel like this year I'm running into a lot more people struggling with the "holiday blues".  This doesn't make sense; the holidays are supposed to make you happy.  Maybe it's the whole lack of daylight theory that has so many down, or maybe it's just being overwhelmed by how much there is to do to make it a "perfect" holiday, or it could even be that people see others around them making it all look effortless and yet they feel like the weight of the world is on them.

     But the one thing that has become apparent is none of us has it totally figured out; however, if someone does, please let me in on the secret;)  I don't claim to be Albert Einstein (though first thing in the morning we may share the same do...)  
     But I do know that sometimes the best holiday gift you can give a person is your ear; of course, keep in mind that this gift should be valid year round.  

     I've decided to make a special effort this year and reach out to people, even if they look like they have everything under control, and if they do, then I'll take notes:)  An invitation to grab coffee could end up being a game changer for that one person struggling to find that Christmas Spirit, and ironically, I usually end up gaining something as well. Something as simple as messaging someone and asking them how their day is going is huge.  And a few seconds of idol chit chat after making eye contact with a stranger is priceless.

     With all of the challenges in this world I have a simple challenge for you. In the next few days reach out to someone you've lost touch with or haven't been in touch with lately, and invite them out for coffee or simply send them a message, asking how they're doing.  You just might hit that one person who really needs it:)

         You can have all the lights and candy canes you want; however, on Christmas day that pile of presents ends up being a mound of gift wrap strewed all over the floor. But in the end... none of that really matters... because good will can't be gift wrapped:)

Have a great weekend!!


Friday, December 4, 2015

We all know about St. Nick; well this Nick is also a saint because he just joined my team!!

       We all know that Saint Nick brings presents on Christmas, but my new friend, Nick is also a saint, because he just joined my team!

     Once again, I was at the car dealership getting my car washed (and then it rained the next day...ugh) I started up a random conversation with yet another sales associate, Nick.

     While I was waiting for my car Nick and I started talking about the Bike To The Bay and I told him I had convinced a couple of the others to join my team.  Nick mentioned he rode in the BTTB a few years back.  You know that's all I had to hear before I started working my magic. I started with my pitch that I ride in spite of my MS and I started with a team of one... Surprisingly, Nick was an easy sell.  No arm twisting that day; he volunteered to join my team all on his own.  And yes, we got the camera out to document it, because that's just how I roll:)
    Some people commit just to make me happy, but Nick didn't take long to convince me he was serious.  Within the next week he had gone to the website and signed up; for both days no less!

     Like I said, Nick along with all of my friends who help me try to wipe out MS, whether you ride with me or donate to my team; in my book you are all saints.  And those are the best presents I could ever hope for:)

Have a great weekend!!


Friday, November 27, 2015

A promise is a promise

     So as you remember, last February I took a trip down to Fort Myers Beach to visit my cousin, Keith. 
 When My plane landed in the Punta Gorda airport Keith was standing there waiting for me wearing one of the pink Team Leapfrog shirts I sold him to raise money for our team before last year's Bike To The Bay.  

     I thought it was very brave of him to wear that pink frog shirt, especially way down south where no one had a clue what it represented. Then again, I thought I was brave to be seen with him wearing it as well,ha,ha.  But I was careful not to mention we were related...  Of course, way back when I first started my team and suggested pink shirts I was pleasantly surprised when my first male team Leapfrog  rider said if it's pink then that's what we'll wear:)

     The trip started out as a test to see if I could hop on a plane and travel by myself.  

     But I was pushed into doing some things that were never on my bucket list. 

 Then again, if things didn't go well I might have been scraped up and put in that bucket in the end...

     Whether it was hang-gliding fifteen hundred feet above dry land...
     Or being flown like a kite behind a boat and dangling five hundred feet above the Gulf of Mexico; It was totally out of my comfort zone; but I did it:)

     So this became the first year of my new tradition to take a trip to Fort Myers in February, and as we speak I have officially booked my flight for this coming winter, YAY!

    Ironically, that pink Leapfrog shirt Keith wore while I was down there wasn't just a symbol of his support, because just as I stepped out side the box and became a female "Evel  Knievel", Keith officially signed up to ride on team Leapfrog next June.  So next spring he'll be the one hopping a plane.

     Like the saying "if you build it they will come", I am totally amazed and honored by all of the people who travel from across the country to ride with me on Team Leapfrog.  And to think that all it took was me building it:)

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My birthday: The day the world changed forever.


      So today is my birthday, and I know I said everyday is special; not just birthdays. Though I have to say, just like the all time classic "It's a Wonderful Life"  I have to imagine the world has changed ever so slightly since the day I came into it; over a half a decade ago.

        My world has never been black and white; but in the beginning every photo of me was...

     My two older brothers learned very early on that that I might be high maintenance, but they still stood by me just the same.

     However, it didn't take long before I decided I wanted to do things for myself because I was just that strong willed; all I needed was my baby doll and I was ready to conquer the world.

     Sometimes pictures say so much with out a single word.  You'll see below it's quite clear that my big brother, Kevin did not want to rock the boat and he knew if he just stood still and smiled he could escape the mischief the rest of us were about to get into.  Of course my other big brother, Al spent many countless hours trying to figure out how he could drive me crazy.  You'll notice by the look on my face I was thinking "What did I do to deserve three brothers?"  Then my younger brother Doug was obviously thinking "Is it just me, or are my siblings totally nuts? I must be adopted..." That or "what's for lunch?"

     As you are well aware of by now, I am totally obsessed with frogs, and in this picture below you will see me with with my very first prince charming:)  My friend Lisa on numerous occasions even accused me of kissing them... hmm...
     Call it stubborn or strong willed; for as long as I can remember, I've always known I can do anything I put my mind to.  And if it's that important to me I will never give up.  

     This was my Kindergarten diploma; my first real proof of the pride in my accomplishments.  

     In time my life did become more colorful; sure, I had my  share of ups and downs; and I made many mistakes along the way, but every lesson I learned made me all that much stronger.

 And when I finally got that baby sister I had always dreamed of, I knew years later the two of us could handle anything our brothers threw our way.  By this time I could begin to see the world become more colorful every day.

     I have to admit that the world was probably less complicated in black and white.  And if I was never born I'm sure the world would be just fine; but I have believe it's because of all of the great people that have passed through my life that my world is now in full color:)

     Of course, in the box of 64 crayolas... all I really need is pink:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, November 13, 2015

A room full of cars with big pink bows?!?! I must be dreaming!!

          I'm not dreaming; it was a show room full of cars with huge pink bows on them.  No, they weren't my birthday presents, but they kind of were there for me indirectly.

          I was at the car dealership getting my car washed and I was telling one of the salesmen, Todd I love the big pink bows and he told me it was in honor of breast cancer awareness month, which was October.  Every time someone test drives a car they would donate to breast cancer research.  So being a breast cancer survivor myself, it is actually my present:)

     Todd told me he does the race for the cure.  Though walking isn't my strong suit, I mentioned that I do ride in the bike to the bay because incidentally, I also have MS.  It's funny how many people ask me if I'm kidding when I make that comment (I wish I were...). I told him about discovering that Alex, the salesman who helped me find another car when my old one bit the dust, and I were related, and I was planning to make sure he rides on my team.  Right away Todd said "I'll ride!!"  So you know the drill... as soon as I hear those words it's written in blood.  The picture just seals the deal:)
     I told Todd my next mission was to convince Alex to ride too. But Todd assured me he would see to it that Alex rides; after all he is "family".

     Yep, another photo for proof, and I now have two more committed riders on Team Leapfrog! YAY!!

       Believe it or not, the registration has actually begun for the next Bike To The Bay, allowing riders to get a head start before the hectic holiday season rolls around.  Incidentally, the date is June 25 and 26 of 2016.  Last year was the second year for Team Leapfrog with almost forty riders.  This being my third year riding I'm really starting to get the hang of building my team:)
     I can do all the selling I want, though no matter how I pitch it, at the end of the day I find the strategy that works the best is to simply talk their ears off until they commit, just to shut me up... or I simply let my smile do the talking for me:)

 Please consider joining my team!

Click on Bike to the bay at the top and check it out:)

And while you're at it click on pictures and see photos from the past years at Bike to the Bay.

Have a great weekend!


Friday, November 6, 2015

The flowers might be calling it quits for the winter, but we aren't!

     Now that November is here I've decided It's probably time to bring my bike inside and put it on a trainer.  But just because my bike will soon go into hibernation doesn't mean I have to.

     Most people think of spring time when when it comes to gardens.  But these two lovely ladies, my birth mom and Joann, my second mom know otherwise.

     Joann volunteered at Shedel's Garden for many years and invited my mom and I to come see how beautiful it is even in the fall.
          So here we are on a golf cart, but not playing golf, and a trail but no bikes...
     As you can see, the Spring and Summer flowers are gone, but the mums, not unlike me are stubborn and refuse to call it quits.

     Shedel's Garden stretches out along seventeen acres, and though typically gardens are made up of flowers, this garden had many man-made sculptures that seemed unfathomable to the average Joe like me.
     The artist who created this huge vase spent many countless hours fitting random shaped rocks to fit perfectly without using mortar or cement, and amazingly it continues to hold up year after year.
     This bridge crosses over to a Japanese garden filled with some of the most unique trees I have ever seen. 

     Not a single flower here, but this garden doesn't need any.

      Joann told us this red Japanese structure is supposed to bring good luck to anyone who touches it.  I'm not actually superstitious; I believe in making my own luck, but what did I have to lose... good luck might just be around the corner:)  Of course Joann may have simply wanted to see how crazy I was and if I would buy into her line... I am and I did:)

          I could wander this estate all day (of course it would take a lot longer than a day if I used my legs).
    This is the amazing view from the visitor center...

     And these are the stairs leading up to the Shedel mansion (that sure looked like a lot of climbing...)


        Of course if you owned a place this big you could probably hire someone to carry you up those stairs:)
     I soon relized we could get to the top in a golf cart too:)
          I was surprised to see these swans swimming in this man-made lake; I thought they would have migrated south by now... (though I've never seen a flock of swans in the sky... probably not a thing...) I learned that these swans were donated to Shedels and I'm guessing they will be here long after the wild birds have left.
     True, the flowers were very scarce, but this garden was ripe for the picking; It was called the "kitchen garden" and it was overflowing with hot peppers galore; they probably also own stock in "Rolaids":)
     But you knew I wasn't leaving before I found my pink flowers; and there they were!

          And we actually spotted a lonely little Iris that never got the memo that spring was over (three months ago...).  I guess she doesn't like to give up either...

     I can't speak for the others, but I really enjoyed  this day with two of the most iconic people in my life and I'm so grateful to have them both.

           So I'm saying farewell to summer; though I have to admit Winter really isn't my season.  And I'm sure in the next few months I will have my share of balancing acts every time I step out onto the slippery ice.  But one thing I've learned over time is as challenging as things may be, if you have great friends and family nothing else matters:)

Have a great weekend!!