Monday, August 31, 2015

Rainy days and "Sundays" aren't getting me down:)

      I know the song is "Rainy days and Mondays", but in my case it was Sunday and it was a rainy day... But I wasn't about to let a little rain get me down:)

     A few friends and I planned to take a ride on my favorite trail, which is the Northern part of the North Coast Inland trail, in Elmore Ohio.  This is the trail I told you makes me feel like I'm in the movie "Chitty-Chitty, Bang Bang".  Last year when I rode it the sun was shining brightly, and the sky was full of white fluffy clouds.  However, when we got to Elmore, this was what it looked like... 
     I guess my memory would have to stay just that... a memory.  I actually thought sitting in a coffee shop drinking coffee sounded like a better idea...

      But one of my friends, Dave, asked me if I was gonna melt...

        And those became fight'n words, so I was definitely riding!


     You can see, this looked like a great coffee day, but off in the distance I felt the sun was trying hard to find me...

      We did stop briefly to soak up the view of the Portage River before we ventured on. 

        And there's that sun trying hard to come out...
     It's a whole lot like me; it won't quit trying...

     This is a view I don't see often; I'm usually on the other side of the turnpike...  not under it.

        As we got further and further on our ride it began to look like the trail I remembered... Certainly not "real life". It was as if Heaven was peaking through...

     And seeing these beautiful pink flowers reminded me why it had to rain in the first place... 

    But wait... there's more:)

     By the end of the ride I discovered I just might be capable of melting after all; I mean, this view was enough to make anyone melt:) 

         The rain was finally over and my friend, "the sun" never did come out completely from behind those clouds, but I guess everyone has those days where you just wanna stay under the covers; so I'm not judging, and I still felt his warmth even if he wasn't right with me.

     I'll admit, life isn't all roses, but with out the rain there wouldn't be any.  I'm just glad I wore my sunblock;)

Have a great day!!


Friday, August 28, 2015

August 29th; my four year birthday!! Fair well cancer!

     I know most of my blog revolves around my MS, but today I have to talk about my second birthday.  The first one was 52 and a half years ago when I came into this world, and the second was four years ago; the day I refused to leave!

     You won't hear me mention my breast cancer a lot because I feel I've beat it; where as MS is a battle I'll continue to fight until the day they find a cure. But the two of them together tells me that there's a reason God put me, and kept me on this earth, and that is to show people that life is always worth living.

     Four years ago on August 29th, the day of my bi-lateral mastectomy surgery was the last day I planned to ever see that parasite again.  And while the many surgeries are a faint memory now, I'll never forget how kind the world was to me.  I've become a much stronger person and realize nothing can be taken for granted.  So here's to second birthdays!

Have a great weekend!!



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My friends and I don't just fund raise for the health of it... But it's the number one motivater:)

     Every year, when the hundreds and hundreds of people ride in the bike to the bay, it might seem like a lot of work preparing for it, and at the same time an amazing experiance; but the main purpose for the ride is to stop MS in it's tracks.

     We're a ways off from a cure, but I'll be the first to say the research has benefited me ten fold.  If it wasn't for all the awesome people raising money for MS we wouldn't have twelve treatments to slow down progression.

     The almost 18 hundred shots I've given myself over the last thirteen years, I'll admit, is a pain in the butt (pun intended...), but when I had my first symptom over thirty years ago all I had was a lucky rabbit's foot (which incidentally, doesn't seem so lucky for the rabbit...) but without the treatments to slow it down, I would surely be a lot worse off today.

     Not only do I have treatments available to me, but I also have resources to keep me informed of the latest and greatest strategies to live my best life possible.  And I find it impossible to quit fighting this fight with so many people in my corner.

       Above, you'll see Janet; an Ambassador for MS lifelines (representing Rebif), and is also living with MS. Rebif is the therapy I've been on for 13 years.  Right now I attend monthly meetings, called "Chats", which are held by an MS nurse, who keeps us up to date with the latest advances, and give us strategies for living with the disease. 
        Craig happens to be the RN who conducts these particular meetings.  Every time I go to one I always leave more knowledgeable and hopeful that I can have control of my future.

        So, to all of my friends who have been there for me; I can't thank you enough for helping me live a life once thought impossible, and if we don't give up I have faith it will only get better:)

Have a great day!!


Monday, August 24, 2015

I found Rudolph; but it wasn't at the north pole.

      Last week I wanted to venture down to Bowling Green Ohio, and re-visit the Slippery Elm Trail.  When I was there almost a year ago I discovered how the trail must have gotten it's name.  It was in the fall when we went, and the trail was covered with acorns and leaves.  That trail was definitely a slippery mess.

     I figured if we went earlier in the summer it would be a bit more "rider friendly".  This trail also goes through a little town called "Rudolph", and it's to my understanding people travel from many miles away at Christmas time to mail their cards at the Rudolph post office; that way the post mark would say Rudolph.  (funny, I thought Rudolph was at the North Pole...) 

     The day we went was warm, and in case we weren't able to feel it, there were windsocks randomly placed throughout the trail to tell us there was absolutely no breeze that day.

     My "victim" for this ride happened to be my riding buddy, Gary, and you'll notice by his prominent lead, he wasn't phased by my photo snapping obsession (then again, he was probably oblivious...).

     You can see there were parts of this ancient trail that were literally glued together with tar, which made for a somewhat bumpy ride. 
     I don't remember seeing any flowers last year, but this year they were everywhere.  All though, I was certain I wouldn't find my absolute favorite, which are pink carnations.  I guess I have to look a little harder to find those:)

     These fascinating brick red flowers were quite unique, and all throughout the trail.

     As we passed this soybean field I noticed it was trimmed with beautiful purple Petunias, which seemed odd that they were out in the middle of nowhere; my guess is they must have been put there to deter the pests from the crops; that or someone really loves purple...

          I don't think these yellow flowers are daisies but what ever they are, they were also everywhere.
     This ride also came with it's share of cornfields, but I really don't think Gary noticed them... After all, this was a bike ride, not a sight seeing expedition... However, my main purpose for riding is to see the world:)
      I talk about wanting to find new trails to take, but I've discovered that an old trail can be a new experience each time I ride it.  This time I learned that Slippery Elm is better to ride on in mid to late summer, while the flowers are in full bloom; before the trees start to shed their coats for winter.


        More than anything, this trail exemplifies my motto... I'll try anything once, and many things twice; because the first time I might have been sleeping:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, August 21, 2015

Sometimes the smallest lights shine the brightest.


     By now I was quite confident that I finally had everything I could think of to be the safest rider around; my helmet with mirror, safety brakes, spare inner-tube and repair kit, glasses, gloves, my computer, and my handy dandy bike tool that can fix absolutely anything on my bike.  I even have a cell phone holder and water bottle holder; so I should have all angles covered. Oh, and I had an emergency "Lincoln" tucked away just in case...
     After I took that Critical Mass ride in Detroit last month I was telling my cousin from Florida all about it, and he did some research on Critical Mass rides in his area.

     Unlike the ride I did, rides down there tend to be a bit more structured, and they have certain guidelines; lights are strongly encouraged so motorists can see them better.  

     that was one thing I never considered getting because I never ride in the dark; so motorists should be able to see me just fine. Sure,I might occasionally start at dawn or finish at dusk, but for that rare time, I figured it wasn't worth the extra effort.

     Of course, the more I thought about it, it started to make sense to have one just in case... however, my handlebars were over flowing with all of my gadgets as it was, so I needed to come up with another option. 

         I was told there were lights that go on the fork, which was a great solution, however, looking at this tiny yellow strip it seemed like nothing more than a glorified reflector.  But I soon learned that just because something is small doesn't mean it's not bright.

        The great thing about this light is I could set it to shine bright or dim; I could even set it to flash on and off if I needed help.
     This once tiny yellow strip could now illuminate a ball stadium.
    Having my light on in daylight might seem redundant, but it might help people spot me easier just the same.  However, even with a light so bright, I find myself sometimes uncertain where I'm going, and I have to trust my light will guide me.

        I guess it just goes to show you: We might think we have all we really need in life, but even though our light might not always be shining... it sure is good to know we have it:)

Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wildwood Park should be named "wild flower park":)

          Last Friday morning, knowing I had no plans that evening, I decided I would take a bike ride.  I'm sure that isn't on the top ten list of fun things to do on a Friday night, but for me it sounded like as good of an idea as any, because I hadn't been on my bike for a few days.  But I always like to have my safety net in case I talk myself out of it, so I I did my workout anyway...

     However, through out the day I thought of a million excuses to be a slug, it was hot, humid, I already worked out... and it was Friday... Friday is a good excuse for a lot of things... but none of my excuses were good enough to stop me from riding, so that afternoon "Terry" (My bike...) and I headed out to Wildwood Park, which is one of my safe rides when I'm by myself.

     There weren't a lot of other riders, and maybe a few walkers that late afternoon, but this was just perfect for me.  All of the Summer flowers were in full bloom by now and if I planned to take a million pictures, it was a heck of a lot easier without dodging other cyclists.  Honestly, the "real cyclists" were probably out on the University Parks Trail, but did they get to see all the flowers... nope!

     Most park names have special meaning; I would guess Wildwood is named because everywhere you look there's wood.
     I know all parks have trees, but it seems like this park has a tree grave yard as well, with dead trunks and branches laying everywhere.

     Then lets not forget the mile long bridge they took all last summer to build...

     Luckily the pavement was cement, but that definitely is a lot of wood... 

     And it seemed to go on forever...

       However, I wasn't there to see how much "wild wood" there was; I wanted to see the flowers, and there sure were a lot of them.

     For some strange reason my eyes are always drawn to the pink flowers... but I will admit I saw every color of the rainbow.

     I saw a huge clump of yellow daises...

And they were scattered all through out the trail...

          Then some sort of purple flowers were surrounding the Manor House...

     And I've seen these white flowers all over the place, but I couldn't tell you their name...

       While I was riding through the park I actually impressed myself, because I managed to take this picture of them setting up for a wedding; the impressive part was that I was  was riding down hill as I took it:)

     Confession time...
     This was the first try:)

         Of all of the times I've been to this park  I've passed this cute little sitting area many times, but never have I stopped; though I often think to myself "that sure looks like a quaint little place to just sit and visit" but never do I see people sitting...  I guess they must all be on a mission.


       My favorite thing about riding by myself one can tell me I can't stop and smell the roses:)

Have a great day!!


Monday, August 17, 2015

What's normal?? "normal" is a chameleon.

     Over the past few years my coping mechanism has been to focus on what I have rather than what I've lost.  But being a "normal" human being, I have to admit, it was a process to finally except it.

     I have a friend who was experiencing some unexplained medical issues and desperately wanted to go back to "normal".  If I had magic powers I would cast a spell helping him to skip right over the frustration, sadness, anger and hopelessness; and right to the point where he would be at piece with what normal is at that time.

     Unfortunately, one thing I have learned is that we need to experience the emotions that come with change before we can appreciate  all of the good things in our life.

     I can still remember the anger, frustration and sadness when I first realized my days of walking the golf course with my bag on my back were over.  In time I learned to appreciate the course it's self, rather than how good I wanted to be at the game.  When I finally gave into a golf cart it was the the best gift I could have ever given myself.  And now my bike is the best of both worlds; allowing me to enjoy nature while using my own energy to do it.

     After years of learning to embrace my new "normal"  I'm sure you can imagine the flood of emotions I had experienced when breast cancer was thrown into the mix.  However, I didn't think I was allowed to feel anger, fear, or sadness, because I was supposed to be an "inspiration"  by proving I wasn't letting MS take me down.

     But truth be told, after the first time I looked in the mirror only to see my body disfigured, I was ready to throw in the towel and give that "inspiration card" to someone else.  The pain from the numerous operations to get me close to normal was nothing in comparison to the feeling of loss. My "normal" was gone forever.  Though once put back to "almost normal"  It was up to me to embrace my new self.

     "Normal" can change just like a chameleon changes color; however, what we do with it is up to us.  

      In my mind I'm a ninja...
     But since I know I don't have super powers, I work with what I have.

     So I came to the conclusion that I have two choices; I can mourn over my losses... or be thankful for all that I have.  I believe my "normal" is just Perfect!!

Have a great day!!