You Just Never Know

Our jar filled with things we did in 2013 that made the year memorable.
Our jar filled with paper reminders about all we did in 2013 that made the year memorable.

My friend, Rachel, posted this to Facebook earlier today, and it’s been tumbling through my mind like socks in a dryer all afternoon.

People like to use New Year’s Day as a “clean slate” or a “new beginning” but in reality every second of every day is a new lifetime, one you have never lived before, so if you are ready to make a change do it. You are the master of your fate. Use every new moment to be who and what you want to be.

Boom! There it is. What an amazing revelation. Every minute we’re given an opportunity to start fresh. The past is behind us. Our future becomes reality one minute at a time as the present begins anew. There’s no need to wait for New Year’s Day to begin a resolution. You never know what’s coming up next. We fool ourselves into believing there’s always tomorrow. But, sometimes there isn’t. The time to go, to do, to forgive, to trust, to try, to adventure, to reinvent, and to begin is now. No matter how bad things seem, you can make an improvement if you really want to.

Yesterday I spent time with a friend I haven’t seen in a couple of months. I mentioned that hubby and I are planning a trip to Peru next year. It’s a trip we’ve talked for twenty years about taking but have found somewhat legitimate excuses to put off. We recently pulled the trigger and booked the trip, rational thought be damned. As I relayed my concerns about leaving our boys for 12 days of international, out-of-touch travel and adding way too much debt to our credit card at one time, my friend implored me not to delay any longer. She understands that there’s no better time than the present. Her husband is 48 and is suffering from progressive MS with an emphasis on progressive. In six years he’s lost the ability to complete simple daily tasks most of us take for granted. His body is betraying him and his sons and his wife provide support so he can get dressed, get in and out of bed, and function as best as he can each day. As she has witnessed her husband’s decline, she’s learned a lot about life. Life is too short to wait for anything. The time will never be right. There will always be things that stand in our way. But, honestly, sometimes there is no better time. Sometimes there is not even a tomorrow. And we may not know that until it’s too late to do something about it.

Tonight at dinner we sat down and went through a jar we’ve been keeping since January 1st, 2013. We filled the jar all year long with paper reminders of all the memorable things 2013 brought us. As a family we recalled camping trips, personal accomplishments, and cool adventures. We relived our year, and it was pretty great. Universe-willing, 2014 will be amazing too. Steve and I will be hiking the Inca Trail in July. And in the meantime, we’re going to continue to hug our kids and tell them we love them every day. We’re going to wake up and be grateful for what is good rather than lament about what is not the way we had hoped. Some days we’re going to do crazy things, like splashing into 37-degree water on a brisk New Year’s Day, just because we can. I’m going to take deep breaths, revel in joyful little things, and accept last-minute invitations. I’m going to let the laundry pile grow while I go for long walks. I’m going to welcome new friends into my life and linger over the last sip of wine in my glass with old ones. I’m going to be more bold, practice being at peace, and enjoy my precious time on this planet because you just never know. And if a year from now I’m still fortunate enough to be on this crazy ride, I’m going to sit with my family again and add up the gifts I was willing to reach for, one minute at a time.

 

The Quickest Way To Forget Your Troubles Is To Help Someone Else With Theirs

Bright and early on the second day of the MS150 last year. Cool enough for arm warmers. Wearing our team jersey. Go Goons!

This week I am focused on only one thing. Five mornings from now, hubby and I will be waking up at 4 and driving up to the starting location for this year’s Colorado MS150 ride. I’m trying to get excited about it. I am. It’s just not working. It’s not the riding I mind. I’ve trained. At least, I’ve trained as much as I have the previous two years when I’ve also done the ride. So, I think I’m ready to go on that front. I might be a bit sore next Monday, but I think that endurance, muscle, and seat-time wise, I’m ready to go. What’s freaking me out is the heat. While the current forecast for this weekend does not show us at 100 either Saturday or Sunday, it does show us in the high 90s. I’m not happy.

Truth is, I am what I call a “fair weather” rider. That means, I won’t ride when it’s below 50 because I don’t own the gear to stay warm enough and I really don’t want to buy it. Why would I? I have winter sports. I ski and snowshoe. I don’t need a nose frostbitten from cycling in freezing temps to make me feel I can get out in the winter. If there’s a good chance of any sort of precipitation, you can count me out of riding. Call me a wimp, but I shower plenty. I don’t need to go ride in the rain for that. And I choose not to ride when the temperature exceeds 85. So, training in this high and dry heat has been unpleasant. As I look toward a predicted high of 99 for Sunday’s ride, I feel myself shriveling up.

I’m going to do it, though. Well…barring heat stroke, hospitalization, and heavy smoke from the fires I’m going to do it. Why? Because I can suffer through two days in extreme heat on my bike to help raise awareness about MS in our state. I know too many people and families affected by this disease not to. Years ago, when I started doing these long-distance, fundraising events, I realized something about myself. I whine too much for too little reason. I’m healthy. My family is healthy. We have all our needs met and then some. It feels good to take the focus off myself for a few minutes. It’s humbling. It reminds me that I’m part of something bigger than the microcosm that is our family. I’m connected to others. So, I’m going to put on my big girl panties, deal with the heat, and ride for Michelle, Gretchen, Amy, Suzanne, Brad, Stacey, and the other 9,000 people living with MS in Colorado.

If you find yourself compelled to push yourself with athletic events, look for ones that support a worthy cause. There are oodles of charities that run wonderful events that would love your help. Yes. You have to raise money or pay a higher entry fee. You can do it. It is possible. I’ve done it six times now. I’ve never missed my minimum fundraising goal. And, in the end, the payout you get from helping someone else while achieving a goal for yourself is nothing but a win-win.