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"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." ~Aristotle

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Learning to Ride a Bike at 37 -- or -- Rachel is Obstinate

If you never learned this about me (it's a favorite response of mine in the "Three Truths and a Lie" party game), I never learned to ride a bike.

Yes, I'm 37 years old. No bike. 

The reasons are many. It all begins at childhood, but as all childhood memories, the tale has been created and repeated and mushed over time. I'm sure there is truth embedded, and lies as well. But it goes as such:

My mother will certainly confirm: I have always been obstinate. (bull-headed, stubborn, etcetc.) If it wasn't my idea, NOT interested. Even if I WANTED something to start with, if someone ELSE brought it up, nope! I'm out.

Can any moms relate?

Anyway, for the most part, my mom was able to manipulate this character trait while still "letting me be me." She must have been a wizard of reverse psychology and giving me a sense of independence - at least in the important things. Thanks, mom!

Anyway, in my neighborhood, the "big kids" had bikes, and the little kids had Big Wheels (go ahead and revel in the nostalgia for a moment. I'll wait. Did you flip yours over and pedal the wheels with your hand while someone whittled a stick? No? Just me? Ah, well.).

Here's where the memories get muddy, but in MY mind, one of the neighbor boys had a Superman bike I admired. Or maybe I just admired him, or marveled at the skill of riding a two-wheeler. Perhaps it was a combination of both. In my mind, the bike was iconic and sleek black, with a Superman logo. In actuality, if in fact any boy had a Superman bike at that time, it likely looked like this:

Bad-ass, right?

The chain of events are unclear; perhaps I mentioned that I liked his bike, or that I didn't HAVE a two-wheeler ... but I am quite certain I did not say, "I want a bike," and/or, "I want to learn to ride a big-kid bike." I know this, because when this beauty showed up, I was aloof:

Looking at it now, it's quite lovely. I remember my basket being white, but who knows?! at this point, I will admit to my memories being skewed.

I distinctly remember 1. disappointment at not having a Superman bike, even though I doubt that desire was even MENTIONED to my well-meaning parents. I can't believe they weren't mind readers!

2. bike assembled, beautiful day(s), parents suggesting I go out and give it a try. Perhaps even mentioning it for days or weeks, to my refusal. (see the "not my idea" section above).

3. when things do not come to me immediately, I toss them aside as either beyond me or stupid to begin with. I'd like to think I've outgrown this a bit, but I suppose you'd do well to ask Ian if he thinks this is the case.

4. at age 7, I moved from a neighborhood of side-by-side homes with grassy backyards and paved driveways to a country abode on a giant hill, surrounded by acres and acres of field, and a gravel driveway emptying onto a major highway. My feeble attempt at bike-learning was my mom's (read: tall!) road bike in the approximately 10 feet of cement garage floor. No surprise: fail. Had I actually learned, any bike riding would have been done via transporting said bike elsewhere to ride around in circles. Not high on anyone's list.

Fast forward many, MANY years. 

THIRTY, actually. 

I've lived in MANY locations amenable to bike riding. Neighborhoods with lots of flat. Having no bike or inclination to try again, coupled with terrifying attempts to rollerblade = never learned, didn't care to. I was okay with that.

We moved to Beaver, Pennsylvania. Our kids became "of that age," and we got them bikes. At that point, Ian was able to ride, and when my daughter learned in a day, they were able to go on little jaunts around the neighborhood. I wasn't jealous, exactly (let's face it ... laziness is also a factor here), but I will admit: a little ashamed. I watched Audrey, no fear, jump on a bike and GO. 

I must point out here, however, that it's a LONG WAY DOWN when you're a tall person. Just sayin'.

Then one day (again with this all-in-one-day thing? Witchcraft, I tell ya!), some friends made some kind of deal with my son - "learn to ride your bike without training wheels and we'll ______" (Ezra can't even remember what the carrot was). He did, they did. Done.

While strolling around town sometime later, I decided to visit the local bike shop. I had it in mind that because I did so much cruising around a five-block-max radius, I'd do well to use a bike. What if they sold three-wheelers? I could TOTALLY handle that. No balance, all effort!

Guy at shop: "You don't want one of those. They're a pain to ride. Hard work. Pretty expensive."

Me: "But I don't know how to RIDE a bike. I'z ascared."

Him: (with no smirk of incredulity, God bless him) "We'd be happy to teach you. I'm positive you can learn."

I looked at the bikes. I had romantic thoughts about cruising along, wind in my hair, free. Faster than walking! A bit of exercise! Less gas usage! 

That evening I announced to my husband: "I went to the bike shop today."


"Yes. I looked at the bikes. He told me I didn't want a three-wheel bike."

"No, you don't. They're hard to ride."

"That's what he said." End of conversation.

Skip ahead to my birthday, wherein my husband, who had heard the Legend of the Stubborn Rachel-Child, gifted me with a sleek, black bike. He also purchased a Superman decal to be affixed once I made the bike my own by LEARNING TO RIDE IT.

Now, dear friends, further insight into my brain:

This "maybe I would like to ride a bike idea" was DANGEROUSLY close to NOT BEING MY IDEA ANYMORE because someone ELSE had gone and bought a bike for ME to ride.

Seriously dangerous territory. Like I said: obstinate.

My husband, God bless him (and I believe I have mentioned before, quite the saint when it comes to navigating his wife's idiosyncrasies) SAID NOTHING. 

He may have off-handedly suggested, on a few occasions, that I give it a go.

I always had an excuse, or a face ready to flash him.

(To be fair, the year I got the bike, in November, it rained until it snowed. I'm not even kidding).

But that was three years ago.

I made an attempt once; an honest attempt. I was terrified and frustrated. The kids came along and whizzed around me. I left defeated. 

Then some things happened... I started to immerse myself in productivity, goal-setting and task-managing resources. I dove into making short-term and long-term goals. I have spent hours fussing with systems and methods. 

One of the lessons in this research has been setting BIG goals. Scary ones. Ones with deadlines and clear objectives. 

And so I said to myself, "what's a huge, nearly insurmountable goal I can tackle? How can I be accountable?"

And it was decided. By me. ON MY OWN TERMS: I shall ride my bike. To my church and back. By the end of July.

I added it to my calendar. I added it to my task-managing software. I posted it to facebook.

Poof! The end of July approacheth. (how DOES that happen so quickly?!) and wouldn't you know ... it was July 30th, and I hadn't gotten on the bike. At all.

So yesterday, July 30, I had exactly the right amount of "feel the fear and do it anyway," "you've got this," "fight for it," and "ain't nothin' gonna break-a-my-stride" running through my head that I sneaked up on MYSELF by not PLANNING at all and just DOING the thing.

I went out and rolled down a grassy hill.  Then some pavement. Then after significant sweating and fear and deathgrip, took to the street. 

I'm not there yet. I suck at sharp turns. I canNOT start myself going on an uphill. 

But this approaching-4-0 girl got on a bike. And rode.

And tonight, after I ride to the church for an event, I will affix that sticker.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Throwback Tuesday: a post from 2005

A Treatise on the Weather: I love the rain. And I prefer non-sunny days to sunny ones. Really the darker the better, but I'll take overcast over sunny. When I tell people this, they usually don't believe me, or think it's weird, but that's okay. I usually say, "if no one was happy on this kind of day, EVERYONE would be in a bad mood!" I am actually happier all day when it's gloomy outside (I call it an Eeyore day). But why? When did this happen?

Reason 1: I don't like to squint, or wear sunglasses.

Reason 2: I don't like to see all the dust in my house and in the air. Sunlight exposes every speck of the stuff. Bleh. It makes me sneeze just thinking about it.

Reason 3: I like the way rain looks on things - windows, pavement, leaves on the ground and in the trees, grass when it's gotten the chance to turn a bit green...

Reason 4: I like the way rain smells. The combination of everything wetted down, with the rare exception in some locations of, say, trash or something, is heavenly to my nostrils. I take a much bigger damp breath than a dry, sunny one.

Reason 5: I get to decide how bright to make it in the house - turn on lights or not, light a candle or not...

Reason 6: Some of my favorite songs are either about rain, or it plays a feature role in the story.  These are just a few off the top of my head!:

Rainy Day People (Gordon Lightfoot)
The Rainy Season (Marc Cohn)
Looking at the Rain (Gordon Lightfoot)
Storms (Fleetwood Mac)
Rain (Madonna)
Blame it on the Rain (Milli Vanilli)
Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head (BJ Thomas)
Singin' in the Rain (the musical)
Good Rain (Chris and Johnny/Storyhill)
Love a Rainy Night (Eddie Rabbit)
Driving My Life Away (Eddie Rabbit)
Bobby McGee (Janis or Gordon Lightfoot)
Ironic (Alanis Morrisset)
Rain Down (Phil Collins)
Tom's Diner (Suzanne Vega)
Early Morning Rain (Gordon Lightfoot)
Fire and Rain (James Taylor)

Seriously - that is just off the top of my head; I'm sure there are others?!

Umbrellas and raincoats make me laugh.  "Oh no!  I will get covered with something that will soon evaporate..."  I mean, it's not PUDDING for crying out loud!  Of course, I've never been an "oh no, my hair" type person, so I suppose if I'd spent even a few minutes stylin' and sprayin' in the am I wouldn't want that to be compromised.  Still, I laugh when I see people, with nothing to protect but their bodies, wearing raincoats or sportin' umbrellas.

*I think there is a distinct difference between love of rain and love of grey days.  I mixed the two.  I like my grey days without rain, too.  I suppose it goes: Rain, Grey, Partially Sunny, Sunny.  Fave to least.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ultimate Reset: Day 19: Random Thoughts

  • I roasted the veggies without burning them tonight. Success! (and I love roasted root veggies. beets! sweet potato! onion! carrots!  nom.) The kids ate them without complaint! Woot!
  • you, too, can eat half an avocado every single day and still lose/keep off weight. Healthy fats, people!  Also: nom.

  • My "cheats": 
  1. Dunno what day it was, but I did have a "that-time-of-the-month"-related chocolate diversion; a square of Lindt dark, 85%? chocolate. I savored it and don't regret the decision.
  2. I've had Caffix on a few occasions. 
  3. Today I totally broke and had a scone. It was a calculated break, I made the conscious decision to go to the kitchen and get the thing. It COULD have had something to do with watching a steady stream of Master Chef and Kitchen Nightmares for the past few days, or it could be that I just wanted a damned scone. In any case, it was an unsanctioned snack.
  • TMI ALERT: One would think that a diet consisting nearly 100% of fruits and vegetables would ... ahem ... MOVE things along, even for a tough case like me. Alas, either by way of the supplements, or my incredibly SLOW digestive tract, the Ultimate Reset did little to nothing to REGULATE. I'm disappointed, but not surprised. I'm actually relieved (ha!) that increasing my fiber and water intake alone will not solve my intestinal issues ... that means that other experimentation is necessary but I have a baseline of healthy eating to use.
  • Despite more frequent night-time trips to pee, I think I'm sleeping better. Bonus! Which of course means I am more awake during the day. The increased water and lack of sugars/carbs I'm guessing accentuates that day-time awake-ness. I wouldn't go so far as to say I have more ENERGY (pingpingping woohoo! bouncebounce look at me! I have energy!!), but I DO notice I'm not lethargic, aching for a nap, etc.
Only 2 more days. What happens next? To my husband's dismay, we're supposed to ease back into dairy, meat, etc, if at all. I really don't think it will be that much of an issue. I'm thinking about all the things I'd like to make soon, and some of them require cream in the sauce, that type of thing, so we'll have to ease into all of that (fall! chili! ground beef!). But for the most part, I don't think it will be difficult to get back to "normal" - as our normal wasn't that bad to start. 

I really miss coffee. And I don't really miss the caffeine. So that's nice. I know that even a decaf at Starbucks will have some caffeine, so I do need to be careful there, but ... I do look forward to coffee dates. And sometimes, a scone. :) 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ultimate Reset Day 11: Misc. Thoughts


  • Cumin is still my favorite seasoning. Yum. 
  • Avocado with a spoon. Also yum.
  • I wouldn't want to do the Reset in the winter. Have I mentioned this? The gorgeous freshness of the farmer's market so far surpasses paltry grocery store produce ... I can't imagine eating all these tomato dishes and salads with pasty, rock-hard "tomatoes."  Blick.
  • I wouldn't want to do the Reset in the winter. I would have a hard time not having tea/warm beverages in the morning and throughout the day. The soups would be nice but the salads (quinoa-based, lettuce based, cucumber based) would also not be as pleasant on a cold day.
  • I'm content to purchase my miso soup at a restaurant. 
  • I am still looking forward to crackers. But not so much that I'd break the plan to have one. 
  • Also: I do not miss cleaning CHEESE (cooked, baked) off of things.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Ultimate Reset Day 6: Random Thoughts

  • Extreme orthostatic hypotension and resulting vasovagal syncope this morning; increasing my salt intake to hopefully combat this. (note: this is a pre-existing condition of mine, I don't blame the diet, other than to say in "normal diet mode" I must get "hidden" salt from items in my diet .. perhaps the crackers I've mentioned? because I don't add it at the table and rarely use it much in cooking. Pondering what I eat and what I SHOULD eat to balance this phenomenon.
  • Roasted vegetables make the house smell glorious... even if they've charred into black crunchy things.
  • I still have a lot to learn in seasoning my own food without a recipe; watching Master Chef does not an intuitive cook make. 
  • my kids are troopers in the new foods department. They even ate the burned beet chunks.
  • My daughter loves salmon. (and lamb, and scallops, and lobster. She's an expensive date.)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ultimate Reset: Day 5 General Thoughts

  • Miso soup fail tonight! I blame the ingredients. Truly! disappointing flavor. Bummer.
  • Looking forward to some new seasonings ... The veggies and grains have been great and plentiful, but I'm getting bored of the flavorings suggested. cilantro is not a favorite, mint is not an Ian favorite, basil is tasty and plentiful ... but I could do without as much sesame/soy/seaweed/sesame oil ... Would love some curry, red pepper, chili powder, paprika, cumin ... If it doesn't show up soon I may be forced to go "off book" a bit.
  • There are a few puree soups coming up I'm excited to try.
  • Tonight is the first time I'm hungry. It's 9pm though, so I find going to bed solves that dilemma :) I'm not tempted to go raid the fridge, but my stomach does have a bit of that burn feeling to it. Maybe it's all the miso?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ultimate Reset: Day 4

Random thoughts on the Reset:

  • If you don't like cucumbers, you would not do well on this particular regimen (although you can certainly swap out meals, a LARGE portion of the recipes contain cucumbers).
  • I've seen 150 on the scale this week. I don't weigh myself every day, but that was exciting!
  • I do NOT feel hungry "You mean it's time to eat AGAIN?!" is a thought I've had. Truth. (This could be because I've been preparing all the meals which require a lot of peeling, chopping and washing.)
  • I do not feel deprived ... much. We eat a pretty healthy diet at home - we all love fruit and vegetables and I have never bothered with meat at every dinner. We haven't been to a restaurant since we started, naturally, but we also haven't been to a potluck or family meal to be tempted by Gramma's Famous Whatnot. What happens when Ian goes back to school and smells the delicious (no, really!) cafeteria food? What happens when I'm home alone all day with Nut-Thins
  • I don't have cravings unless I'm watching Cake Boss with the family ... which is funny because I don't like cake. But it does make me want a giant chocolate chip cookie from our local bakery.
  • We have mostly healthy foods in the house, so avoiding bad-for-us items has not been difficult. For me the issue is crunch and carbs ... a bag of crackers and a bowl of pasta. But I do like quinoa and brown rice ... they'll have to do for now!
  • I. Love. Lentils. (still).
  • I need to remember to READ AHEAD... some things can be prepped in advance ... or NEED to be prepped in advance. Doh!