Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When the sun's not out, I make my own sunshine.

        Okay, so it hasn't been exactly sunny around here lately, and therefore I've had to take a few gloomy bike rides as a result.  But one thing I've found is, I can make my own sunshine indoors as well!

     Remember I mentioned going to a monthly MS support group meeting; well my friend Nani from the group and I get together regularly for coffee just to catch up on "life".  When we went last weekend it wasn't sunny outside but the sun was shining brightly in Starbucks.  I don't know what it is; coffee is coffee, but for some reason it tastes better at Starbucks.  

     This place is always packed, and no one seems to mind paying five or six bucks for the same coffee you can get at home for a quarter.

     The caramel, the latte', mocha... none of that matters to me, I just want mine served black with a good friend.  I used to get Starbucks with my best friend on a regular basis and it was like sunshine in a cup.  I didn't even notice what the coffee tasted like.

     Back in the summer Nani brought her best friend, Kelly, along for coffee.  Kelly lives out of town and  comes to visit to help pick up the slack when Nani's other best friend and husband, Dave, is away.

     I really loved having coffee with the two ladies, and it seemed like I had known Kelly forever; we talked for hours.  I gave Nani one of my leapfrog shirts to give to Kelly the next time she saw her and then I had forgotten all about it.

     When the two of them walked into Starbucks this past weekend my new friend Kelly was wearing my team shirt and I just laughed:)

     Once again, we talked forever and never ran out of things to say.  Of course we got out the cameras to capture some memories, then the nice lady next to us asked if we wanted her to take one of the three of us.  By now you know I have no problem asking, but it's nice when someone offers:)

          At this point I don't remember if the sun was shining outside or not, but it was shining bright where I was (great memories will do that).
        Latte' with double mocha, caramel and whipped cream; six bucks... Black coffee with a best friend... priceless:)

Have a great day!!


Monday, April 27, 2015

Cold AND wind is a perfect excuse to skip the ride...

     You know I'm very strong willed, and I can do anything I put my mind to; or at least come up with a great excuse!

     Last Saturday was a perfect day, in the seventies and sunny.  I knew spring had finally arrived.  So I made plans to take a ride Sunday with a few friends, and though it seems to be tough getting others to start riding until the weather is balmy, I thought it would be nice enough to finally get them out.

     Then on Sunday morning everyone seemed to have "something" going on.  I did manage to get my riding buddy, Robert to have pity on me and go on a ride.

     Time was limited, so we needed to make it somewhere close.  I was already looking for a change from the university Parks trail after ridding there twice this season, so we decided the Green Belt Parkway, which is on the outskirts of downtown Toledo would be a good choice.  

     Yes, this day was cold again and the wind was blowing, but I had no idea just how bad it was.  one thing I did know was, if it was windy, there was no way I was riding my bike on the streets of downtown, because it would be a perfect recipe for "road kill".  

     I remember last summer we met in downtown to get to the Green belt Parkway trail, and as I was riding on the busy street I had to veer ever so slightly to dodge a storm drain, and I swear, I felt a huge truck skim my arm hairs.  Add some wind to the mix and I would be toast for sure.  So we planned to meet in International park, which was right by the trail, across the river.

     I got to the park before Robert, and it sure wasn't as nice of a day as I thought it was.  Notice the flags whipping in the 30 mile an hour wind, and then add that to the 47 degree temps and I had all the excuses I needed to tell Robert I wasn't riding.

     You can see the clouds were even traveling faster than the speed of light, and I would be a fool to ride today.  But I had to at least act like I was attempting to ride, so while I waited for Robert I took my bike out, and started pumping up the tires.  I did not want to ride at all, but I really had to make  the "attempt", and my excuse had to be worth while.  

     The thing is, I forgot to down shift my gears when I ended my ride last week, which happens all too often.  Of course, everyone knows it's not good for your bike if you shift the gears when you're not pedaling, and I knew there was no way that even my strong leg could cut through this wind; it would absolutely feel like cement.

      I tried several times to push off with my strong leg and hope to get the pedal around to throw my week leg on, but it was impossible make the turn.  Oh well, at least I tried...

     Just then, Robert showed up after riding through downtown, while in his bare feet no less.  He rides bare footed because he can't feel the pedals with his shoes on. Now I felt guilty suggesting we skip it, but I made it seem like I was looking out for his best interest.  However, when I told him it's too cold for him to ride in his bare feet he said he was perfectly fine... ugh...

     Next I told him I did a dumb thing on my last ride and left my bike in the highest gear, and I tried, but can't possibly cut through this brutal wind...  once again he had a solution to my problem.  He lifted my back tire, turned the pedal and changed the gear.  I guess my excuses were all used up...

     Sure, there was a smile on my face, but in my mind I was thinking about being somewhere warm and sunny...

     If I don't have a valid excuse I just can't quit, so we took that ride, and though it wouldn't be long, I thought at least I could get some pictures of the signs of spring, but this was all I saw.

     In my book this was not what spring looks like.  But before long I found my sign that spring was coming.  I saw my first Forsythia bush of the season!   

     I told you I'm not a quitter, and I know I'll be looking at warm sunny days eventually, but for now I'll just be thankful I'm riding.

     It seems like every excuse comes with a solution to over come it, and we usually learn something when we do.  In this case it was as simple as knowing after riding in thirty mile an hour wind it sure looks like someone needs a hair cut:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, April 24, 2015

If they'll walk for the cause maybe they'll ride:)

        A few years back I walked every spring in the Walk MS,  and that was my way of supporting the cause.  But then I discovered my legs work much more efficient when attached to pedals, so I traded my walking shoes in for a couple of tires and started riding in the Bike To The Bay.

     But even though I wasn't walking in this event I figured I might be able snag a few people who were already high from the walk and we could get more people to ride.

     I volunteered to work at the Bike MS booth where it was my job to promote all three rides in this area.  They did request that all the volunteers wear the official MS Society volunteer green shirts, but I really wanted to wear my pink leap frog shirt.  All of the volunteers who had shirts from previous years were instructed to were them and the rest could pick one up when they arrived.  

      Not wearing pink would surely make me feel like a fish (or frog) out of water, so I wore my pink shirt anyway and hoped to blend in, and maybe no one would even notice...  Of course me blending in would be like driving a car with out a muffler; the noise is a dead give away:)  

     You've heard before that it's better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission... I wasn't going to ask if it was okay to wear my leapfrog shirt; I simply did it:)

     As you can see no one made a big deal about me being the only volunteer not wearing the official  green shirt, yet several people approached me letting me know they remembered me from my shirt.


        I worked the booth with another long time rider, Linda, and soon figured out I had told my story a couple years back at one of her team's events before the ride, back in the day when I was a "cheer leader" for all those riding for me.  Now I was actually one of them:)

     It was amazing to see how many people were there walking, for those with MS, and many with MS them selves. I saw my friends Rene and Gil there for the walk; they were on my team back in the days when I did the walk and they were continuing the tradition.

     It really doesn't matter if you walk, ride or even crawl, but simply helping us raise money to end this crazy disease is more powerful than you'll ever know.

     With all the research from the money raised it's my hopes that one day we'll be walking together again!

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Someday" always comes eventually; but only if you're patient.

          One word that I often question if it really exists is "someday".  How many times do you run into a friend and you end the conversation with "we should get together someday", then years later you realize "someday" never came.

     I decided it's up to me to make sure "someday" actually happens.  Now whenever someone tells me we should get together someday, I usually say "lets set a date; does Tuesday or Wednesday work better?"  Subsequently, it almost always turns into another meeting.

     Back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and my first daughter, Emily, was born, I would find myself saying "Just think, someday she'll be able to walk and talk" and I couldn't wait for that day to come.

     Before long, as my beautiful little girl became mobile, getting into everything under the sun and developing a mind of her own, I found myself questioning why I had been in such a hurry.  Of course, when my son Matt was born I was also anxious to see the day the two of them would become best friends, freeing up some of my time that was consumed by these high maintenance little people.

     But little girls and boys, I soon found out, are very different, and not only did they not play together in total bliss, but I now had double the challenge with both of them pulling me in two different directions.

     Of course, when my third child, Lindsay came along I said "this is great! Someday the two girls will finally form that bond that all sisters have (yea, right...)".  But there were too many years between them and that day never came...

     Through the terrible twos, adolescence and challenging teen years, I found my self waiting for "someday" to come where the three of them actually treated each other like civil human beings; not that I expected them to ever sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya, but If they could even act like they kind of liked each other just a little, I would be thrilled.

     When Emily got married and had her first son William, Matt was hoping that "someday" he would become the "cool uncle", but seeing this tiny little baby made it seem like that day would never come.  

     It finally happened... 

     Emily soon had her second son, Connor, and I saw how fast these little boys were growing right before my eyes. This was when I made it a point to get together at the mall every Saturday afternoon with my daughter and my two grandsons, because I knew I wouldn't have these moments forever.

     Before long, Matt started meeting us as well, and that "cool uncle" thing was finally starting to happen.  It was a win/win situation; Matt chased William, giving Emily a break, and William got to have fun with his uncle and visa versa.

       Last Saturday it was a beautiful day and we decided to go to a park instead of the mall.  Lindsay was going to be in town home from collage and asked if she could join us.  So we picked up KFC and headed to the great out doors.

      This turned into a real family affair, and for the first time I felt like "someday" was here.

     I'm sure William thought he was in heaven; take out food, a park to roam, and all these big people to chase after him.

      Surprisingly, Lindsay didn't seem to be too put out having to spend her Saturday afternoon with her Mom, siblings and little nephews either:)


         All the extra hands gave Emily a break from chasing two little boys all day, and I know this had to be a real treat.

       And once again, there was that "cool uncle"/ nephew bonding time.

     I think William was giving Matt a real run for his money though; he must have scaled the roots of this monstrous tree a million times, as Matt waited at the bottom to catch his fall.

     Whether it was that the kids all wanted to spend time with me, or each other, or they simply came for the free meal, I didn't care.  At least in my head that "someday" was finally here.


     You can try as hard as you want to "make" "someday" come, but at the end of the day, sometimes you just have to be patient.

Have a great day!!


Monday, April 20, 2015

It's not just the early bird that gets the worm

     If it was true what they say about the early bird getting the worm I would be up to my eye balls with those slimmy fellas.  Not much gets past me.

     Last Saturday we didn't go to our usual place for breakfast, but the good thing about switching it up a bit is there are more new people to meet.  

     This time we went to Uncle John's Pancake House which was a change, but me getting there early to save the table wasn't.

      When the hostess took me to the table for nine she had set for us, I noticed another table was set up for nine right beside me.  And one lonely gentleman was sitting there as well.  I sat down and asked him if he was sitting with all of his friends like I was, and as he chuckled I knew this would end up in another interesting conversation.

     The man told me he had been going there every Saturday for a very long time and saving a table for a bunch of senior men who call themselves the ROMEOs (how sweet is that!?).  They were all older veterans and they took a little longer to get going, so he gets there early to hold the table.  He mentioned his parents were in there nineties, to which I pointed out that it looks like he has longevity in his future.  He jokingly commented he didn't know if he could hold out that long.  I told him I feel the same way when I think about the questions about my brace everyday for the next 30 or so years, and that was the beginning of yet one more version of my lengthy story...

          Before long, his group of men started filtering in and my table filled in as well.  But soon this table of nine veterans was joined by one token lady.  She looked over and said hi to one of the ladies, Sharon, in my group, whom she obviously knew.

     After breakfast a few of the ladies started leaving, and so did the men.  There were no more than a handful of us left and I began to feel as though I was growing roots, and I had a million things to do that day.  

     I was standing there with my jacket and purse in hand when the last straggler, Judie, from the men's table migrated over to ours.  For what ever reason, I felt inclined to sit back down.

     Judie began to tell us the story of how her husband used to meet with these men every Saturday for a very long time.  her husband, Bill, passed away not too long ago, but before he did he told his wife he wanted her to meet them one Saturday morning so he could buy them all breakfast.  She let Jim ( the gentleman who kept me company when I first got there) know of her intentions and I got chills to think of this man's wonderful spirit living on through his wife.  It was a true love story.

     I asked Judie how long they had been married and she told me 40 years; his first wife had passed away from breast cancer.  I told her I'm an almost 4 year breast cancer survivor  myself, and she congratulated me.  I told her I also have survived MS for 30 years on top of it.  She was amazed and of course, I began to tell her my story about riding in the Bike To The Bay and all of the money we've managed to raise. 

     Before long I noticed Judie had reached into her wallet and started pulling out a twenty dollar bill.  But then as I continued on, her wallet and twenty went onto her lap and under the table.  Maybe she decided to wait and see how my story played out before investing that twenty...

     When my story had come to an end Judie placed that twenty on the table, only, through origami she had turned it into an impressive piece of art.  

          She asked me if I had hair pins because it's a crown and it should be on my head because I'm a princess.  

          Here she was a total stranger, though something told her I was someone worth investing in.  There's that leap of faith again:)  And another BFF...

     Incidently, ROMEO stood for "Retired Old Men Eating Out":)

Sharon and my mom; aren't they cute!!

     It's true, in most cases the early bird gets the worm, but if you don't see the story to the end, you may never witness the happily ever after.

Have a great day!!


Friday, April 17, 2015

Anyone who cares is a care partner


     The second Tuesday of ever month I go to an MS self help group meeting.  It isn't like an AA group; we can't make MS go away or pledge to stay away from it.  But what we can do is share tips on how to make the best of our life as we know it.

     In fact, it's encouraged that we focus on what we have rather than what we don't.  We always start the meeting by telling the best thing that happened to us in the last month, and the worst thing is supposed to be checked at the door:)
   Next month the meeting will focus on the most important people in our lives, and that would be "care partners".  We all have different challenges but we aren't the only ones living with this disease.  Our loved ones face just as many challenges as we do but they don't always get the credit.  

     No two situations are alike and a care partner can come in many different forms as well.  Someone with limited mobility might need that extra set of hands or feet, where as someone with hearing deficit might need a spare set of ears.  Then again, maybe it's simply just someone to listen.

     No matter what our situation is, our loved ones are our rock.  The key word in "care partner" is "care", and all anybody asks for is someone who truly cares.  Not necessarily someone to live our lives, but walk in our shoes and understand.  They might not have all the answers, but will stand by you and help you figure it out.  And anyone fortunate enough to find them should feel so grateful to know they aren't going through this alone.

Here's to all the people who "care".

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My first big girl bike ride of the season!

     This past weekend was turning into the perfect weather for a bike ride, and my plan was to get out on Sunday afternoon with a few riding buddies.  I had already gotten my "sea legs"  with my two little "baby rides" over the past couple of weeks, so I needed to amp it up just a tad.

     Two of the riders were just getting back into riding again after years of sabbatical, and I knew this would give me a chance to slack a little on this ride.  If I managed to ride ten miles I would consider it a job well done.

     However, when Sunday came around the bike ride totally fell apart.  I guess sometimes the best laid plans get put on hold. I knew the days of seventy and sunny were few and far between, so I was a little bummed, but the day wasn't over.  Things always have a way of working out, and where there's a will there's a way...

     I managed to get a ride in after all.  I ended up riding with a new riding buddy I met, of all places, in the parking lot of Wildwood Park.  It was just the two of us (and about 14 thousand others) there.  Here I thought I was the only one who thought it was a good day for a ride...

          The park was so packed that cars were backed up waiting for others to leave so they could take their parking space.  Before long cars started lining the streets, even though there were signs that clearly stated parking was permitted in marked spaces only... oops!

     After being locked up indoors all winter it was as if the prison guards had opened the gates and the inmates just swarmed this park.  

     My original thought was to just take a couple laps around the park, but after dodging a million cars as well as pedestrians who had no idea how to share the roads with cyclists, the trail seemed like a much better idea.  Once again, about 14 thousand others had that same thought...

     People or no people, the day was beautiful so it was very hard to end my ride.  After completing the entire bike trail and riding back into the park I looked at my computer only to discover I had rode almost  fifteen and a half miles!  Not to mention I had another possible prospect for the Bike To The Bay:)

          I guess it's official now.  No more excuses about "phasing into riding" anymore.  And that was my first "big girl" bike ride of the season:)

Have a great day!!


Monday, April 13, 2015

Side cut park; what's left of it now??


        All last summer I had been meaning to get to Side Cut Park but I never managed to make it there.  Someone told me the trails were only dirt at last check, so it may not even have an actual bike trail.

     I was there a few years back, but at the time I wasn't at all thinking about bike riding, so I couldn't tell you.  I know it had a great view of the Maumee river and a lot of ducks, but I really needed to go back there to refresh my memory.

     Of course the harsh winter we had was devastating for this quaint little park.  The heavy snow and tons of ice, according to the news reporter, ripped it apart.  Now I had two reasons to go back.  One; to check for a bike trail and two; to see how different the park looked after the brutal winter and since I was there last.  

     This past Saturday I was at breakfast with my mom and some friends and as it happens all so often, we were eating breakfast at one place, and talking about who had the best Chocolate eclairs in town.  Hands down, my vote was for Wixey's Bakery in Maumee, though, I hadn't been there in a million years.  My mom, my sister and I used to go there to get one as a special treat, back in the day.

     I had plans that evening so I was unable to fit a bike ride in before hand like I had hoped I would.  I asked my mom if she wanted to take a road trip to Side Cut Park just to check out the winter damage, as well as the possibility of one more park to ride my bike at in the future.  It was a gorgeous day and we both loved the thought of getting outside.

     I couldn't remember where this park was so I put the address in my GPS and went on auto pilot.  As we were nearing our destination the GPS lady told us to turn onto Saint Joe's Cemetery drive.  This made no sense, but I remembered Secor Park has a cemetery smack dab in the middle, so maybe this cemetery has a "park" in it...

     We never found the park in the cemetery, but I was never more thrilled that we were sent on this wild goose chase, because this is what we found clear in the back... 


     There was an entire colony of deer just hanging out.  I was so excited and I stopped the car in the hopes of getting a picture of this miracle before they fled.

     I couldn't believe my eyes, as I walked closer and closer they just stared at me.

     It was as if they were saying "TAKE A PICTURE!  IT'LL LAST LONGER!!"  Hello... that's what I'm doing...

     After I took about 40 pictures (imagine that...)  we got back in our car and left to find the park.  We found a sign that said Side Cut Park but it wasn't what I had remembered... there was no river and no ducks.

     We weren't giving up though.  We wandered aimlessly until we finally saw the park I remembered from before.

     The river was like I remembered, and it sure didn't appear to have suffered much devastation.

     And the ducks...

     We saw three... but give them time; it was still early.

The last thing we needed to do was check out the trails.

Uh... it doesn't look like I'll be riding my bike here.  I guess this park is better for just sitting and enjoying the view of the river.

     This was such a pleasant afternoon and my mom and I were so glad we didn't give up on our quest.  But what she didn't know was I had one more stop on my agenda...

     When we left the park I turned right, onto the Anthony Wayne trail, which was in the opposite direction from the Highway.  My mom must have thought I was still discombobulated from the trip here.  She said "aren't you heading towards the zoo?"  I told her I knew where I was, but I just wanted to go home the other way.  She agreed it's nice to take side streets once in a while just to look at the scenery.

     However, I totally threw her for a loop when I pulled up to Wixey's Bakery.  I think she thought I had gone crazy...

     But sometimes it's the tiny unexpected surprises that give you the most joy.  And there's no better thrill than stepping outside of the box on a whim every once in a while.

     If you think these eclairs look "to die for", you should taste them:)  Of course, we shared one;  do you think I'm crazy or what?!?!

     It's true, after this Saturday afternoon adventure I never did find a bike trail, but that doesn't mean I didn't find what I was looking for:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, April 10, 2015

Anyone with a bike and a good heart is a prospect!

        I've mentioned that Team Leap frog was based on a leap of faith that we can do this (not to mention my love of frogs).  But we're seeing a whole new meaning to the "leap" aspect of our team.  

     The team started out with only me, and as it was, I wasn't even certain I could do it, but was pushed into trying (hence the leap of faith).  As my team grew larger than ever, I started believing more and more in this "faith" concept.

     When I say the "leap" is taking on a whole new meaning, what I mean is, as one one team member finds a conflict in riding this year, miraculously, a new rider somehow leaps into that hole.  

     One of my riding buddies, Robert, had been a huge cyclist for many years and rode in the Bike To The Bay for about 12, along with the team he formed.  About 8 years ago he was bit by the infamous MS Monster himself, giving his ride a whole new direction.

     Last year he decided to throw in the towel for the Bike To The Bay due to the complications he encountered with MS, but offered to help me train for the ride.  Oddly enough, he rode faster and further than I could ever imagine going.  I did complete the ride, and grew my team bigger than I would have ever thought possible.  But I had to question why Robert had thrown in the towel if I was able to do it with 30 years of MS under my belt myself.

     When the next year sign-ups came around Robert actually Joined our team.  The only difference was he signed up for the 75 miles both ways (I'm hoping I can do 50...)  

     Slowly but surely he started asking some of his friends from his old team to ride again and has gotten several commitments.  

     He had been talking to his friends Mary and Kent, who were very anxious to join our team, but neither of them had bikes.  Remember the Bike co op where I go to work on my bike... well Robert figured that would be the perfect place to take them to find a bike.  


     Mary found one that she absolutely fell in love with, and once you're hooked there's no backing out.  Kent, however, is still deciding, but as soon as Mary bought that bike I asked her if that meant she was riding, and she said absolutely!  The only caveat was that she needed someone to train with.  This was music to my ears!  I can always use another riding buddy:) 


     I'm very fortunate to find new team members to fill in some of the empty spaces and very hopeful next year some of the Leapfrogs who are on a sabbatical will be able to leap back in:)

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Happy Trails again

          Back in the day, the "weather girl" only had to stand there and look pretty in front of an invisible map on a green screen while she made her weather "guesses" for the day.  All she needed was a quarter and there was a fifty-fifty chance of rain. These days Meteorologists can practically tell you down to the second when the rain will be here and for how long.

     It had been a week since my ludicrous bike ride in the freezing cold, and I desperately wanted to get back out and ride.  The weather forecast predicted rain every day in the week ahead of us, and temps in the forties, with the exception of Monday, which was supposed to be around 60 degrees, and the rain was supposed to be very brief; from 11 to 1 o'clock, so Monday afternoon it was.

     After the rain passed through I had to assess the wet pavement situation.  With my skinny road bike tires there was no way I was riding until the streets were dry.  I've been told the thin tires won't cause me to lose control, but riding in a state of panic will.

     I went to Wildwood Park, which is where I would pick up The University Parks trail and this is what the parking lot looked like.  
     It was obviously going to be a while before it was dry, but I knew it would happen eventually, so I went home and waited for that time to come.  

     A couple hours later I threw on my bike gear and headed  back; what a difference it was.  Look at all the cars now!  Obviously, there were a lot of other people who had the same idea as me.

          However, when I got on the trail it's self, I discovered there were very few people who actually left the park and ventured on to the trail, but that was fine with me; this way I wouldn't have many bikes to dodge.

     I did come across a couple who were out walking and were obviously taking a quick break.  I wanted to get a picture of the trail in it's infancy after the brutal winter and I didn't think this kind looking couple would mind taking it for me.  I was right; they were very sweet.  

           So I'm chalking this one up to my first "official" bike ride for the season.  (after all, the ride last week was actually just a ride down memory lane;)

     One more note before I declare this ride a success; the construction that wasn't finished after the entire summer last year was still waiting to be completed...  


       Oh well, we have all summer ahead of us and we're not going anywhere, anytime soon.

Have a great day!!