Better Together

Having strength and independence can be a driving factor for success in life. Knowing what you want and how to get it, standing through the trials of life is not always easy; Having personal tools to get through the tough times is important. Despite being strong and independent having a partner not only helps on the journey but makes it so much more pleasant. Throughout life we have opportunities to work with others and partner in different areas of life, whether life (spouse, family, friends), work (partners, coworkers), sports (team mates, fellow participants) and a few more areas. Some people are there for the long haul, others in a moment. Going along together not only brings more joy but also connection which as humans we long for.

I am thankful for my husband. We work really well together. Not always…that would be weird. But as we have grown together so has our ability to work better together. There is a comfort in knowing one person will take care of something when it needs doing. There is a comfort knowing someone will do something for you when you are less knowledgeable or comfortable with the task. And there is an ease with which each person fulfills the duties needed to get to an endpoint.

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This was back a number of years ago at the beginning of one of our bike trips. I really need to get more photos of us together when we are cycling.

I was thinking of this topic yesterday morning. One of the things I love about winter is Sunday puttering. Since we have both taken to reading our Sunday mornings start with coffee and reading whatever each of us is reading. When there is something interesting we take a moment and share and discuss a bit about it, then resume. Ideally we would read the same book and discuss as we go but we aren’t there yet, having our own book lists we are trying to get through. Once spring comes we will be pressed for things to get done as well as trying to get out on our bikes training for some longer distances.

One of the things about cycling long distance is the challenge of the journey. Most of the time it is an individual challenge. We each ride our own bike. We aren’t chatting along the way. Really we are moving along spending time in our own heads. That in itself can be a positive (or not) experience. Of course there is the odd comment about something we are riding past and we stop for breaks along the way. I need to stop more often as I am not as strong. I know my limits and make sure we stop when I need to even when he doesn’t need to. Although Lorne doesn’t often initiate the break, the breaks are helpful to his wellbeing as well. Breaks are necessary when you are going day after day unless of course you have trained for one of the long completion tours which we haven’t and we are not as young as those people either. So we take breaks, we check in on each other. I usually lead to set the pace but if there is a strong headwind he will go ahead and draft for me. We compromise…I will push harder than I might otherwise because I don’t want to slow him down and he will concede to end our journey at 100 km instead of the 120 he was wanting to reach, because I am thoroughly exhausted and don’t feel I can go any further. Cycling is just one snippet of our lives. We do so much more but it is the one thing we love together.

We also love to travel and have had the opportunities in the last 5-6 years to do a bit more traveling. We have traveled as a couple and we have traveled as a couple with other couples. Traveling with someone else changes the dynamics of the trip of course. Knowing yourselves and the other people is helpful in knowing where you might clash. We have been fortunate to travel with people who we mesh well enough with and whom we have created cherished memories through wonderful experiences.

Working well together and partnering with each other takes a lot of work and it isn’t always pretty. We are human and have our ‘things’. Willingness to do the work required to make it successful it probably the biggest contributor to partnering. My husband and I have that commitment and generally we are pretty nice people so that helps. It also helps when working with other people.

We had the opportunity to joint venture with partners last year on a project. The success of the joint venture partnership through trials faced can be attributed to each person’s willingness to work hard, to be strong but flexible, to work independently but together, to do what each is good at, to have the willingness to learn new skills to contribute to the project, to concede to someone’s vision and have them concede to yours, to negotiate, to forgive, to be forgiven, to sometimes feel inadequate and others to feel like you made the jackpot happen. There are so many growth opportunities in working and contributing together. Working with other also makes us better in working with each other.

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From last year at a wedding in Colombia. We traveled with our business partners and are grateful for that time.

Over the years we have grown. There is a comfort in knowing my husband and I are each taking care of the things we take care of. Not a comfort of complacency; that may happen if we weren’t challenging ourselves in so many other areas, but a a comfort in knowing while we challenge ourselves, the basics are cared for. Sure we could each go it alone, but as long as we don’t have to, we won’t. We are better together.

 

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The Start of a Journey

The start of a journey is happens with the first step or in this case, the first rotation of the pedal. Sometimes a dream motivates a person to take a first step toward an end goal. Sometimes a first step is really a matter of ‘let’s try something new’. Cycling wasn’t on my radar growing up. I learned to ride bike practicing with my brother and sister, going down a grassy knoll in the school yard until I could ride. Then we moved to the farm where there was less opportunity to ride bike. We did live at a dead end and I did ride a few kilometres to visit friends so now that I am reminiscing, it seems I may have had a bit of a bent toward cycling, or perhaps all kids were riding bikes that much or more.

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This was 1990 after I rode from Calgary to Seattle with a friend. My husband came to pick us up and my friend Kim took this photo of the two of us. 

When I met my husband, he was a cyclist. He and his friend had done a couple of trips. One of our first activities together was a bike ride. I wasn’t really comfortable on a bike. My bike didn’t fit me really well and I had a substantial a$$ over tea kettle incident going down a hill on a rocky city trail a few months before. Fortunately the extent of my injuries were not serious but included scrapes and holes from pebbles and extremely sore muscles likely from tensing up while I was going over the handle bars.

Another reason I didn’t feel comfortable riding was balance. I have always struggled with balance. I walked late and to this day struggle with standing on one foot for more than 2.3 seconds. On a bike despite my confidence now, I still struggle if I have a very narrow path on which to aim the tires. I prefer a 1 foot width for wiggle room.

The year after we got married I got a new bike. He had a 1986 Myata 610 already and we found a 1987 Myata 610 a young lady was selling due to a bike accident that had caused a cycling limiting injury. We started training and the next summer took 6 days and road our bikes from Calgary to Kelowna. The following year a friend of mine and I rode from Calgary to Seattle in 13 days, took the ferry up to Victoria, then road to the ferry and took it across to Vancouver where my husband met us. We stayed a couple days with friends in Vancouver before making the trek home.

The next summer we had our first child. Cycling took a hiatus through the next few years with children. Still the feel of the open road was in my system and in time my cycling legs and ambitions returned. It’s interesting looking back on an unplanned journey to try to figure out what the instrumental point was when it all started. I am not sure there was one specific moment but I believe marrying my husband was definitely the biggest reason I took to cycling.

Start By Starting

Think back to that moment when you were terrified to start something that you ended up doing anyway. What was the outcome? was it easy peasy right from the beginning?

I learned to ski as a teen and then after having children, did not hit the slopes for 12 years. Then one time the kids and I went with as part of a school group.  While they were in lessons, I took the tow rope to the top of the bunny hill. I stood there for 5-10 minutes, considering taking the skis off and walking down, thinking to myself, “It sure looks steep, what if I can’t turn, what if I hit someone, what if I can’t stop?” Skiing was something I had done adequately in the past, yet the delay in time made me feel like I was going out for the first time.

Contrast the experience with my first time on a snowboard at an age when women don’t usually start new sports. I had been skiing for a few years again, I was working out, I was cycling (strong quads) and I had lost some weight. I went to my first lesson with confidence and did surprisingly (to the instructor) well. I was still fearful of falling, I was still worried I wouldn’t be able to turn or stop. I fell many times. But I started anyway and I persevered.

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Sometimes we have opportunities crop up and we pause and wonder. Will I fall? What if I don’t know how to do something, what if I fail. What if it doesn’t work out. More often for myself, I consider whether I want to add one more thing to what I am doing. Do I really want to spend my energy doing the new thing? This is usually exasperated if I am tired or not feeling well.

Sometimes we are bogged down with the what ifs and never start, never pursue that thing that is niggling in the back of our mind. I can pretty much talk myself out of anything, especially exercise.

Is there a solution? I believe the number one solution is to just start. Start by starting. This might not mean starting without thinking, but it means that if you are only thinking of ways you may fail then the thinking isn’t productive. If the thinking is an effort to work out solutions to soar, then a little thinking can help. One thing that I have learned though, is when a person works out all the details, they often fail to start. Finding a happy medium is best. Most things you learn when you start because most times, you don’t even know what it will be like until you are immersed in the process.

Looking back at the things I started, and pursued, I sometimes consider what would have been different if I had not started. What would I not have learned by now. There are many things I started and did for 5 or so years and then moved on. And sometimes the fear people have is also connected to the feeling of permanency. What if I don’t like it? Time isn’t wasted in doing something where you are learning. Through the seasons of our lives we do different things, we learn, we move on to the next thing in the next season. I will be giving up chickens by attrition. They served well through the years with fresh eggs but now the commitment is too much with other projects and the plans for travel.

So, if there is something you have been holding back on trying, a language you keep thinking you should learn, a vacation you haven’t booked, a business you want to try or an exercise program you want to get started. It’s time to just do it without thinking too much. Just start by starting.

Making Tracks Toward the End Goal

Last week a friend invited me to go walking with her in a sports facility near home. She was going and desired some company so we made arrangements. Making tracks is so much easier when distracted by good conversation. We walked for about an hour and 45 minutes (over 11 km) around the track. That’s a lot of talking and walking. It was a great substitute for my running efforts that were foiled by the cold weather the last week. It looks like we will have really cold weather again this week and finally warming next weekend, so my plan now is to go to the track on Tuesday again and this time walk and run and get on the spin bike, then next Sunday I will run outdoors when it is nicer.

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Making tracks which I am doing in snow right now but dreaming of making them in sand.

My efforts to go out and run on Sundays and Tuesday is my way to increase my days of exercise. I currently have hiphop dance on Monday evenings so that gets me moving. Wednesday’s bootcamp is a mix but is mostly strength work, and sometimes I sub for wallyball in the evening for 2 hours of play time (I will be doing that this week). Thursdays I play wallyball for an hour and half in the morning, and basketball in the evening for more than an hour depending on how many show up. Fridays has me cleaning house and other chores that often involve movement by not cardio or strength. Saturdays I rest for the most part but I have gone for runs or bike rides on occasion (but not recently).

I haven’t gone snowboarding this season and completely missed last season. The last 2 weeks we got a lot of snow so as the weather warms my desire to hit the slopes will increase. I was thinking a lot of it today. Last year, time got away and there wasn’t much snow; conditions seem better. I feel an urge to get a couple days in as my goal in learning to snowboard at a later age than most people, was to one day be able to go snowboarding with my grandkids. That will be when they are between 4 to 8 years old, because after that they will be so much better than me. Still it is something to keep me motivated by having something to work toward.

I am really pushing toward getting my cycling legs in shape. With the hold on our cross Canada tour, I have been a little less motivated to train hard on the bike. In fact the last couple summers I haven’t got on my bike as much as I would if we were going on a trip. This spring I will push myself to hit the road on my bike as soon as possible. It is in the spring that my running takes a back seat when I get on my bike seat and head down the road.

The last couple of years I have done less than I previously was. Don’t get me wrong, I still do (was doing) more than many people but some things have fallen by the wayside. I am feeling better now and will work toward getting my strength and activities up again. With good training and nutrition (and thankfully few injuries and joint issues), my increasing age should be a small influence on my activities. So I go into the next 11 months of 2018 with much hope and anticipation. What gives you hope and anticipation?