Category Archives: Perseverence

“When life hands you a lemon”.

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Photo on 8-24-15 at 11.36 AM #5

Life changes in an instant.  You could be having the most perfectly wonderful time of your life, and BOOM, your holding a lemon.

The common phrase about life turning “negative” is that “When life hands you lemons, you make LEMON AID!”, Although I appreciate this notion, I always found it to be someone wasteful.

So, Im handed this sour and yet beautiful lemon and Im just going to juice it and drink it? What about the seeds?

With every negative AND positive thing that happens in our life, there are ALWAYS root causal factors.  Once we explore those causal factors and potential outcomes of how to move onward we discover the “seeds”.  If you like lemonade, certainly go for the initial hydration and let that temporarily satiate the negative.  Once the drink is over, then what?  This is when we must look further and find out how to make this lemon that was handed to us cultivate an eternal change.  The truth is, we will always be handed lemons, thus we will always be handed seeds.

I am a big fan of all things related to trees.  I find most metaphors in life can somehow be connected to trees.  This may make me sound like somewhat of a free spirited hippy, rather I have always found my grounding within tree roots.  Some of my earliest memories are exploring roots, trees, and nature.   It takes time to sift through life to sort out the “WHY ME”, feelings and not just pass them off and move on to the next thing.  We live in a society that can far too easily just make the lemonade and move on.  I consider that just slapping on a band aid.

If we are willing to take the seeds of the negative source and truly investigate them, connect with them, understand them (to the best of our ability), then we can plant them into the soil of life and trust they will grow. 

We all know that even our best intentions for growth, do not always turn out as we plan. The “elements” of this earth can cause our seeds to rot, or grow without enough nutrients, or perhaps wilt due to lack of rain.  The elements ARE life.  When we hold the seeds and place them into the prepared earth, we are also accepting a responsibility to OWN them, care for them and make sure we can help them grow until they are strong enough to thrive on their own.  We must always take responsibility for the seeds that we are given.

I fully understand that most of the time, the lemon is thrown at us.  We are sometimes blind sighted by the lemon and never see it coming. Regardless, once its in our possession we have to learn to make a choice that will cultivate growth and understanding.

Now that I am going on 4 years post trauma, I look upon my spiritual lemon grove and smile that the trees are upright and they are finally beginning to bear flowers. I have taken on the eternal responsibility to CHOOSE to be the keeper of this grove and use these lemons to remain sustainable even once I have passed on.

Today, think about what your lemon in this life might be. Do you have a lemon? If you are “lemon-less” no worries, it will come.  As long as we live upon this earth we will encounter negativity that will stop us in our tracks.

Today, think about how you will open your hands and care for the seeds once you have drank your lemon aid and allowed it to settle within your being. Remember life is an immensely beautiful gift and often the gifts are contained deeper than what you first notice. Take time to make a grove.

                                                                     

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Pannier Training

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Pannier Training! Kinda sounds funny, doesn’t it?

I remember when I first rode my bike. It had a white basket with plastic flowers, a banana seat, a bell, and most importantly TRAINING WHEELS!.

I loved riding my bike. My barbies and dolls had their own personal limo.   I was fortunate to have a father that loved cycling.  Dad owned a bike shop out in Arizona called Evergreen Bike and Lawn. When I was little, I would go into the bike shop after school and “help”.  Sometimes my help was a total nuisance, but dad always accepted my “help” with a smile and a hug.

Our garage was full of bikes.  We had ten speeds, dirt bikes, and beach cruisers.  I remember the day that dad told me it was time for me to learn to ride sans training wheels,  Very Cool. Dad actually began adjusting the training wheels so they were there if I began tipping, but encouraged me to just balance and use my core.  I was so excited.  I liken the feeling of graduating out of training wheels to getting your license after driving with your permit.

So, off went the training wheels.  I was an immediate professional at falling right off the bat.  I received a lot of incredible genes from my loving parents and coordination was not one of them.  Remember that wobbly feeling when you learn to balance?  Well, now at 35.. I am discovering a new bike training… I call it “Pannier Training”.

Although I have cycled since I was about three, suddenly it is as if I am learning to ride again for the first time.

 

Some saddle bags look good!

So, for the next two and a half months I will be cycling into work.  The commute is about 13 miles one way, and I will be stuffing the panniers full.    I am very thankful for my CT sponsor Wayfarer bikes for providing me with these beauties.

And so, I ride on….

600 miles? Why not!

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http://bit.ly/laZPhz

Well, the route is finished.  The next steps are securing sponsors in each of the states and then venues for the public talks in the evenings.

The ride started at 500 miles.  After much consideration, I thought it best to end in Thorndike, ME.  Thorndike is home to the Mount View High School.  This little high school in rural Maine is home to some amazing PeaceJam students that have literally changed the way their school functions.  When mentioning this to the PeaceJam Northeast Executive Director, Barry Felson- he raised his eyebrows and said “REALLY?, because that is way up there!!”, to which I thought.. We might need to push our bikes up some hills in that territory…. but I responded with “Heck yes!”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCVaSn5w9yQ

They have established composting, organic gardens, and the ability to reduce consumption while providing healthy food for school meals. These students have persevered.  I thought if a group of students could focus

their passions and be steadfast over four solid years, that we could certainly ride another hundred miles.

Am I intimidated? You bet ya!  Was Jody Williams ever intimidated when she stood up and fought against landmines? you bet ya!

PeaceJam is more than a program that offers a curriculum, PeaceJam offers an ongoing opportunity for CHANGE, GROWTH, LEADERSHIP, and learning how to advocate for what you believe in..

And so, Our route is finished.   Beginning in New London, CT where our CT sponsor Wayfarer Cycles is located: http://www.wayfarerbike.com/.

I have never been to Mount View High School, and will be honored to see the work that these incredible youth have done. Sure hope I see a moose!

Finding Peace within Pain

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Spiritual experiences that awaken and motivate us happen every day, not just within the confines of a religious affiliation. This morning the words of a 40 something yr. old Special Olympian resonate in my mind “I DID IT! I LOVE CYCLING!, I rode 10 miles in a little over an hour!! I did good! I am so happy!!”..He glowed. Such incredible joy and thankfulness flowed from his being.   Many other cyclists that completed a century or 50 mile ride were critiquing their times.   Some athletes had driven many hours to “support the Special Olympic Athletes”, yet we know that everyone also competes because they are competing with themselves.  Everyone has a story.. Behind every triathlete, every runner, cyclist, swimmer.. there is a motivation that has been sparked to make them “do”.  On Sunday I cycled 70 miles. Fifty miles were for the Torch Ride for Special Olympics, and the other twenty were to get there, and get home 🙂

During the ride, I spoke with another fellow cyclist who I enjoyed drafting behind for about fifteen miles.. When we were having a water “fill up” he looked at me and said “Last year on this very day I was in the hospital battling cancer, this is my first ride over forty miles in over a year”.  We high-fived and cycled on….Life is such a sweet gift to embrace.

As I sit in the office, with double needle stick in my arms after more blood work,  I want to feel sadness and frustration at my own ailments.. and I then I think of the gift that this incredible athlete shared with me.. I think of the gift that the man who was in an adult stroller with a smile on his face shared with me as his sister pushed him along a 5 mile race, and I think of the little child that had a scar on her head cheering me on this past weekend as I ran past her at the 5k race that I did on Saturday for the “Hole in the Wall gang camp”.  We all have a story, we all have a struggle, and we all have so much love.

God is a forever teacher.. sometimes I doubt him, I question him, I feel angry at him.. and then I remember the faces of those so full of light and joy… finding peace within their pain.  Grace is all around us.  And so, we ride on…….

Namaste.

Stand for Something

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I love the expression “Stand for something”.

It is so important to find our passion and learn how to have that passion FUEL us towards action.

In my case, it is cycling.  So why PeaceJam? Why do I work for this organization? Why did I move out of my beloved state of Vermont to Connecticut to work for this non profit?

I work for PeaceJam, because PeaceJam creates passion in youth... and PeaceJam fuels youth to take action. The same philosophy that I use to lead my life is enveloped in the work of this non-profit.  Today we learned that one of our PeaceJam youth from Maine just became Valedictorian of her class! She is not the first. Many youth that participate in PeaceJam become Valedictorians for their service work, not to mention receive incredible scholarships.

Having the opportunity to LEARN from curriculum that are standards based, and implement projects within their communities empowers youth towards becoming more empathetic and dynamic leaders as adults!  Many incredible “Peace” programs exist throughout our world, but few with a dynamic curriculum that offer the opportunity for youth to spend time WITH the laureates that they learn about.

This weekend we attempted a century ride.  As you know, I am “gearing up” for this long journey… As we began cresting a steep hill about 40 miles into our ride, my chain locked, and over I went.  The pain was ridiculous as I landed perfectly on a jagged rock.  My only initial goal was to get unclipped, off the road, and control my bleeding.  As we improvised with some vines, used napkin, and some gatoraid-esque drink to cleanse my knee.. I looked down upon my leg and thought the old cliche “Stand for something”.  We finished the ride, but decided to end short of a century.  Part of inspiration and action, is also taking care of oneself.

Every day that we open our eyes, we start a new journey.  Little did I know we would only complete 71 miles, and I would have a sweet-looking wound to nurse when we got home.  But each journey provides us the opportunity to stand (or cycle) for something.. Something that inspires us.. towards action….

The Nobel Peace Laureates of PeaceJam found what inspired them and they acted until change happened… and then they kept on going because once the motion of inspiration sets into action… cadence kicks in…

Balance.

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Good Morning!

I need to get caught up so I can do daily blogs on the end of the day rather than blogging on the day after… We will have to see how that plays out.

I will be taking today off from riding and focusing on a light jog and a swim (Sean and I have a tri on our one year anniversary in 17 days!).

I have begun  seeking sponsorship. Predominantly approaching cycling businesses like Trek, Louis Garneau, etc. Each week I will spend about three hours on preparing all of the “behind the scenes” needs for the ride. Thus far, we have a couple folks that will be coming out with us and joining for various legs.   Please let me know if you would like to get involved on some capacity.

With sincerity,

Colleen

Peace is not for the weak.

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Today, I start a journey of awareness… Not only do I desire to raise awareness about PeaceJam Northeast, but also to raise awareness about the power of human strength and perseverance.

In 117 days I will be joined by my sister-in law to take a 500 mile journey throughout New England and New York.

Over the next three months I will be training and preparing my body both mentally and physically for this journey. The goal is to raise $ 10,000.00 for PeaceJam Northeast. The funds will help hundreds of youth participate in the program and meet a Nobel Peace Laureate.

I hope you can join me!

With joy,

Colleen

http://www.razoo.com/story/Cyclingforpeace