Archive for Respect

Life’s Ups and Downs

Ups and DownsGosh, it seems like my biking friends and I are making good progress getting, but I feel an emptiness. I don’t know if it’s because I was outvoted about not staying in Hurricane and Apple Valley, Utah, or if I’m just feeling road fatigue. My mind thinks back when it was just me. I went as far as I felt like going, stopping where my heart felt content.

Now, I have these great people helping me achieve my goal, but as with anything when more than one is involved you have a difference of opinion. I didn’t feel like I’d expressed my discontent with traveling the forty-three miles to Colorado City, Arizona, but they all seem to be leaving me alone. And as with any bad day one has, I’ve put them in a lose/lose situation. If they rode close to me and tried to have a conversation, I’d probably tell them I needed my space. But they’ve already figured that out and have given me my space. I don’t like it.

Could I grow up some and simply ride up with them and start a conversation? Yes. Will I do that? Probably not today. I need the time to get in touch with myself, with God, and with all that surrounds me. I need to make sure I know how lucky I am to have these fine people watching over me, giving me a place to sleep, never asking for money for room and board, but just being good-hearted people. I need to look at the beauty that surrounds me and thank God for all He’s given me. And I need to give myself a quick kick in the behind and tell myself to get out of my funk. Life is too good to waste on such petty occurrences.

As we approach Colorado City, Arizona, my heart lightens. Carol slows up enough to say, “Hey, I know you were wanting to stay at those towns. I’m sorry we didn’t, but I’m glad to have those miles behind us.”

“I’m OK, Carol. I’m glad to be here in Arizona. I’ve spent way too much time on this trip already. It’s time to get some serious mileage behind me.”

“Well, we’ve decided that you get to pick the next town we’ll be staying in.”

I laugh, knowing Tuba City, Arizona is the next town, and that was 190 miles from here with not much in between. It was then I realized how important it was for me to be with my blessed friends. At least we’d have the fifth-wheel to stay in even if it were on some country road in the middle of nowhere. My heart lightened, and I gave Carol a hug and said, “We are a team. I choose to do what’s best for the team.”

That evening, after thanking my friends for taking such good care of me, I crawled into bed and thanked my Lord for ALL He has given me.

And in my real world, my ups and down came yesterday when I had to have my fifteen-year old sheltie euthanized. It wasn’t a hard decision for me, for I knew he was sick beyond repair. And that became evident when the first shot that simply relaxes them almost took him out. He was not only sick, but he was tired and old. His life had come to an end.

I mourned my dear friend, but awoke this morning knowing his misery was gone. He’s probably going around heaven right now telling all the other dogs that there are rules to rules to be followed. His cousin, Zu, is probably creating the rules as any good German shepherd does, but Sparky is ensuring that all the other dogs are obeying those rules.

And I know I’ll now have the time to focus on my needy Irish setter, Vanna. She loved her “mommy time” last night. She’ll be having her ups and downs, too, as she morphs into being the one and only, but once she figures out she is the queen bee, she’ll have a perfect life.

So when you are facing the ups and downs of everyday life, know that you aren’t the lonesome stranger. We have to have those down times to appreciate the good things we have that we’ve ignored. And I find it’s best to give someone you love a big hug. They’ll help you through those down times.

Peace to all of you and let’s keep going the distance.

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What Kind of Tea is This?

teaI am still soaring from my recent jump out of a plane. Never did I ever think I’d be brave enough to do something like that. But when Mac reminded me that I was brave enough to start this trip ALONE, I knew jumping out of that plane was a whole lot safer.

Now, as my biking friends and I pedal our way to St. George, Utah, I think about other things I’ve been afraid to try. I know instantly what my next adventure will be.

I ride up alongside Martha and say, “Will you and Bart be playing golf in St. George?”

“Why yes we will. We golf wherever there’s a course and whenever we can. Will you join us this time?”

“I think I will.”

“Good. Like I said, I think you’ll be great at it.”

I think to myself, “I wouldn’t count on that, but I at least want to give it a try.”

We get into St. George around 1:00 p.m. With all of us helping to get our camp site setup, we head to the grocery store to buy tonight’s meal. I buy the ingredients for a mock crab pasta salad, a nice accompaniment for burgers.

While I make my salad in the fifth-wheel, Carol offers me an iced tea. I’m ready to tell her I’m not much of a tea drinker, but decide this might be another thing I could learn to enjoy. I accept her offer and take a sip. It is unbelievably good, no bitter taste yet not overly sweet.

“OK Carol, what’s your secret. I don’t usually like tea, but this is really good,” I say.

She smiles and says, “I infuse fresh citrus while I’m steeping it. It adds the sugar and somehow cuts the bitterness. It’s an old family tradition.”

“Well,” I say, “it’s a keeper.”

My salad is a hit that night, but my mind continues to wonder how well I’ll do on the links tomorrow. I doze off, dreaming about that hole in one.

The next day, all of us head to the golf course. Bart gets me setup with clubs that fit my height. Then he gives me a quick lesson on what clubs to use and why.

I think, “This isn’t so hard. Why did I fear playing golf so much?”

I tee up my first shot. Using the information Bart gave me, I pick a 5 wood and set my stance for my first swing. I raise my club behind me with the confidence of Tiger Woods. My arm comes down, my eyes look towards where I want the ball to go and BAM! A big chunk of sod goes flying leaving my lonely ball sitting on the tee.

Bart says, “You do know what you did wrong?”

I think back to what he had told me earlier. I chose the right wood, I stood with my feet apart, I swung the club back behind my head bringing it back around at the same arc and…

“Um, I took my eyes off the ball.”

Smiling, Bart says, “Correct. Now let’s try it again so we can finish this game and get back to camp for more of Carol’s fine tea.”

I wonder if he truly means iced tea or if he’s referring to the iced tea we used to drink on vacations years ago. That tea was a little more adult-beverage than Carol’s tea.

I set my feet again, swing the club back, and bring it back around while keeping my eye on the ball. WHACK! The ball goes soaring. I lose track of it, but Bart doesn’t.

“Good golly, woman. I think you’re going to get a hole in one!”

He was right. There was my ball landing on the green just past the hole. It started rolling back towards the hole as we stood there watching it roll ever so slowly. PLUMP! I’d done it. My first hole in one. Of course, it was my last hole in one and the rest of the round was pretty sorrowful. I ended up scoring a 110. Bart tried to tell me that was a good beginner’s score. I knew differently, but I didn’t care. I had tried another thing that I had avoided for years.

Much to Martha’s surprise, I didn’t enjoy golfing as much as she did. “I like walking the course with you guys, but I just don’t think gold is my forte.”

That evening, Bart answered my silent question about what sort of tea he was referring to. His drink of choice that night was Long Island Ice Tea. I went to bed knowing that God had given me these fine friends to help me come out of my shell even more than I already had.

And in my real life, like skydiving, golf has intrigued me, but I doubt I’d ever get that hole in one. And to end with a score of 110 would seem fabulous to me. I’m quite sure golfers behind us would be wishing I’d just leave the course. So I don’t see myself taking up golf any time soon.

I do remember my mom learning to golf with my dad. They went to the local golf course and my mom did get a hole in one on her first swing. They enjoyed the time together, got to know some of the other golfers, but eventually the golf green fees became too much on Dad’s meager salary. They found other hobbies to do together, like fishing, that not only was cheaper but could provide food for their family.

More importantly, my parents realized the importance of doing things as a couple. I’ve known a lot of married women over the years who complain about their husbands being football junkies. Many a Monday morning at work was filled with complaints from these women that their husbands sat in front of the TV all weekend watching football. I asked one of them why that angered her so much. Her comment was, “Because he wasted the whole weekend when he should have been with me.”

“Did he not allow you to be in the room with him?” I asked.

“No, he actually did ask me to sit with him, but I hate football.”

“So did he force you to sit with him then?”

“No, I went in my sewing room and made curtains for the house.”

“So you were doing what you wanted and he did what he wanted, correct?”

“Yes, but that’s not the point.”

“So what is the point, that he needs to do everything your way?”

She had no answer for me. I do realize that guys can sometimes spend a little too much time watching their favorite sport on TV, but if a woman would realize this is their chance to be with their guy for hours, she’d be rewarded in ways she probably couldn’t even imagine.

I’ve learned to love baseball, a sport I despised for most of my life. Now I can’t wait for baseball season to start. It’s no longer a dreaded season that lasts way too long. Now it’s not long enough for me.

How you look at something determines whether you’re going to enjoy it. If you look at being with your guy all weekend watching sports and eating good food a waste of your time, then it will be. But don’t condemn him for doing what comes natural to a man. Go off and do what you want to do like my co-worker sewing those curtains. Granted, she was mad at her husband, but when I pointed out that he allowed her to do exactly what she wanted to do while he watched football, she softened. She lives in Texas now. I can’t imagine her not being a Cowboy fan.

So try looking at all the different ways one can view a situation. You can see a glass of tea as something bitter, you can see it as something refreshing, or you can see it as that drink that could put you under the table if you drink too many of them. Life is what you want to make it. The choice is yours. God bless, and let’s keep going the distance.

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The Lives We Touch Upon

change the worldIt’s been an uphill battle getting from Pollock Pines to South Lake Tahoe, but it was worth the effort. South Lake Tahoe’s Campground by the Lake provides me all the amenities that wash away my road fatigue. Knowing the water of Lake Tahoe would be too cold to swim in I set my sights on the community pool. I almost can’t wait to get my tent set-up before taking a dip, but I resist the urge knowing that chores always come first.

I don’t waste any time setting up camp, but before I head to the pool, I do my grocery shopping for the night. I will soon find out I could have eliminated this chore, but I don’t find that out until after my refreshing swim.

Back at my campsite and feeling refreshed, I find a comfortable spot to eat my pb&j sandwich and read a good book. I do more people watching than I do reading. It’s fun to watch how different couples work together when backing in some of the monster RVs people have nowadays. It makes me think back to my early camping days.

Back then, it was a large tent, sleeping bags, coolers, and a lot of family and friends. Our camping gear was stored in a two-wheeled trailer towed behind my family’s station wagon. Back in the day before seat-belt laws, we’d fold down the seats and lay our sleeping bags down for some padding. Our trips to our destination were filled with comic book reading, playing car games, and probably driving my dad nuts. But the man was a saint and never said a word. He simply drove in silence towards those sacred campgrounds, sacred in a kid’s mind since there was always swimming, horseback riding, hiking, and a whole lot of other fun. What fond memories I have of those family vacations.

But today, it’s just me and my little pup-tent and bike trailer. I have the cooler, but it’s nowhere near as large as the ones we used so many years ago. As I sit acting like I’m reading, I see a toy-hauler RV approach the site next to mine. The RV is massive looking. Inside the crew-cab truck are six people. They look to be in their 40’s and appear to be 3 couples.

They waste no time getting their coach backed in and set-up. And it’s not long before the three women come over to introduce themselves to me. Being somewhat of a loner, I am hesitant to be too friendly until I hear them say, “OMG, you ARE the woman we’ve been hoping to connect with!”

These three couples have been tracking my progress from day one. They decided, early on, I was someone they needed to meet.

Carol, the more-outspoken of the three women, says, “You have been an inspiration to me and my husband, Mac. We were so focused on having a healthy bank account we forgot we needed to keep our bodies healthy to enjoy our riches. So he and I and our friends decided to buy this rig, some bikes, and follow your path.”

Carol goes on to tell me they have not ridden every mile as I have, but now that they’ve met up with me, they would like to give it a try. It’s then that I see their husbands unloading six bikes from the rear of the toy hauler. Carol tells the men I was the woman they’d been following.

My mother’s negative thinking rears its ugly head as I think, “Are these people stalkers? Should I run, run like the wind away from them?” But I know deep down, they mean every word they’ve said. For some reason, I have changed their lives, and now I must find out exactly how I’ve changed their lives.

I’m invited to their site for dinner, as we all get to know each other. I tell them how I got started on this trip, and how it’s changed my life for the better. I tell them about the weight I lost, one of the goals I had for taking this trip, how I have come to know the real me, and how many people have touched on my life in such a positive way.

I say, “I just don’t think you get to know people when you are jetting here and there, staying in hotels, and eating in restaurants. This,” I extend my hands out to encompass everything around us, “is the way to meet people and see this country for what it stands for.”

Carol is brought to tears saying, “You are so right. Mac and I used to live that life thinking we needed to see all the wonders of the world. We would have missed out on so many places, towns, and people had we kept going down that path.”

All of them talked about health issues they had all been having from serious things like high blood pressure and heart palpitations, to lesser ones of food allergies and anxieties along with a failing marriage. Once they all decided to spend some time on the road, like I was doing, all of these issues disappeared. Mac’s blood pressure was back to normal and Carol was able to wean herself off of all anxiety medications.

Mac looks me head-on and says, “You saved our lives, you saved their marriage,” pointing to Bart and Martha O’Brien. Bart and Mac have been friends since grade school. Everyone knew Bart loved Martha, but the grind of feeling like they needed to succeed bigger and better every day had begun to make cracks in their once happy marriage.

Bart says, “And today, right now, I see the beautiful woman I married 25 years ago, and it’s all because you showed us a better way to live.”

During our scrumptious scout-pack dinner, they asked me all sorts of questions about the route I was taking. I explained I wasn’t sure if I should head across Nevada and down through Utah to get to those southern states, or if I should head south into Vegas and then across the south. After some careful deliberations and a whole lot of research, my new riding partners and I decided to head south to Vegas.

I went to bed that night with excitement of knowing I would no longer be traveling alone, at least until we got to Las Vegas. For some reason, this part of my trip had been a concern of mine. Both Nevada and Utah have a lot of desolate terrain that probably wasn’t good for a single, middle-aged woman to be traveling alone on.

The next morning, only one bike was put back in the toy hauler. Bart would be pulling the rig and my bike trailer, and the rest of us would be riding those US highways and bi-ways. I say a silent prayer, thanking God for my newest friends, for this great country we live in, and for all those wonderful blessings we don’t even realize come from Him.

And in my real world, I’m reminded of the many times people have told me, “You just don’t know what an impact you’ve made on my life.” It’s a humbling experience and one that leaves you speechless. None of us truly knows how our words and actions affect those we come in contact with on a daily basis. What we see as a friendly nod may be the very thing that keeps a teen from committing suicide. And then there’s those people who are prone to paying it forward. They’ll pay for their coffee and the next three people in line. Maybe one of those three is so moved that they head to work and give their secretary a raise she’d been promised for months. And now that secretary knows she’ll be able to pay her rent and won’t be evicted. She’s so thankful that she decides to help out at the local soup kitchen where she meets her husband-to-be.

I know this is all silly sounding and a bit too clichéd, but it’s just an example of how small actions are like a trickle of a creek. That creek becomes a stream which becomes a river which becomes a mighty ocean. So don’t think that your small actions are meaningless. We all have a purpose here, and we are all children of God. Don’t allow the harshness of the world to keep you from touching on someone’s life. You might just find yourself being told, “You just don’t know what your actions meant to me.”

For me, those special people, who influenced me enough to get off my couch and get on my recumbent bike, so I could lose over 40 pounds and counting will be told today in this blog how they helped me. The first person was Stephen King, yes the author, whose short-story reignited the notion of going somewhere in my mind as I ride endless miles on my recumbent bike. Thank you, Mr. King, for your great story abilities. Then there’s Fr. Michael O’Donnell, my mentor and friend, who encouraged me to start writing this blog. Without you fans of my blog, I would have stopped riding a long time ago, but I just couldn’t disappoint you all. Then there’s my sister-in-law, Cele Finley. She helped me understand why I had been fighting losing the same five pounds for a year and a half. Her knowledge of physical education provided the fuel to get me off that plateau. And finally, after watching the movie “Thor” and Googling what the next “Thor” movie was about, I discovered the “Thor Workout”. Now I knew I was not going to do all that body building because I didn’t want to gain weight, but what ignited the fuel my sister-in-law provided was Chris Hemsworth’s determination to look the part for roles he’s in. I thought, “I’m a determined woman, I can do this, too.” It was the thing that pushed that button in my head to want to try harder, and I’ve lost those nagging five pounds plus another five pounds. Thanks to all of you who unknowingly helped me along my path in life.

God bless, and let’s keep going the distance.

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The Cutting Edge

missionAlan and I were up early and were ready to go before Sarah even started moving. Oh, the challenges this aunt is having dealing with her niece’s living habits. “Give me patience, Lord.” But we were all on the road in plenty of time to get to Garberville, California, for a nice lunch.

Garberville is known as the marijuana heartland of the United States. They even have a Cannabis College there. I’ll assume this college is on the up and up side of medical marijuana crops, but since I’ve never smoked a regular cigarette much less a “joint”, I had no interest in a crop that seems to have kept this small community alive.

Let’s just say, this town seemed to be living on the cutting edge for most of its existence. I say that because for a town that looks like it hasn’t progressed much since its inception, the people are well versed with current events and hold a much looser view of how to live your life. I think I could learn a thing or two from these people. Not like I’m going to light up a joint and chill for a while, but I did see where a bit more tolerance, on my part, could help my ride across the country be more enjoyable.

My irritation with my niece this morning is proof that I’m pretty tightly wound at times. Now I never said anything to Sarah about sleeping in an extra thirty minutes, but she could tell I was not pleased. And now that we are here in this lovely town of Garberville, eating a great lunch at a local restaurant, I think, “Why, Betsy, why were you so crabby this morning? Did that thirty minutes matter in the whole scheme of things?” It did not, and I will make a better effort to try to understand the actions of my niece. She’s a wonderful woman, and I’ve never given her a chance to grow in my life. Shame on me.

Alan and Sarah continue to connect. It’s cute watching Alan work his ways with Sarah. Of course, he doesn’t have to work too hard most of the time, but Sarah’s staunch aunt will still not allow her to spend her nights in Alan’s tent. I draw the line there, not wanting any repercussions from her parents. I mean, she is an adult and can do as she pleases, but not on my watch. And it’s not as if Sarah has mentioned this topic, but the handwriting is on the wall. I figure my two riding partners will only make it as far as San Francisco before they take off on their own. Until then, I’ll enjoy their company, and will work at getting to know both of them better.

Alan was kind enough to pay for our lunches, and we were on our way again, but not before we checked out the local farmers market. Lo and behold, Garberville grows much more than marijuana. Next stop, Smithe Redwoods State Reserve, a mere nineteen miles from Garberville. The scenery was often times mind blowing. This is a lush, treed stretch of Highway 101, with spectacular views of the valleys below. So much of this was reminiscent of my journey through the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The three of us get to the campground with plenty of daylight to allow Sarah and Allan to hike around. I should have gone, but this old lady didn’t care to get any closer to the edge of total body shut-down, so I chose to read and figure out what I was going to make for our supper that night. I opted to try my hand at dutch oven lasagna and garlic bread. Sarah and Alan worked on a nice fresh salad from the produce we purchased in Garberville, and the meal was a big hit with everyone.

That night, Alan made a nice campfire, and we sat around telling stories. I learned a few more things about both Sarah and Alan. The one thing they weren’t admitting to was how much in love they were becoming, but it was a plain as the moon in the sky that night. I dropped my over-protective attitude, and allowed the two of them to wander off into the moonlit night. It was quite romantic watching them walk away arm in arm.

As I waited for the two of them to return, I thought about Sarah’s mission work. Was she really doing what was asked of her, or was she simply taking a paid vacation? It wasn’t long before I got my answer. I heard both Sarah and Alan chatting with another young couple camped not too far from us. Sarah and Alan were sharing tales of their life and this ride we are all on. Sarah explained how she was able to be here as a representative for the organization she worked for. The woman was enthralled with the mission Sarah was on, but was more enraptured with why I chose to attempt such a feat.

Sarah says, “Well, Aunt Betsy doesn’t know it, but that’s exactly why my boss sent me here. He wants to see how a ride like this can change a person, how it can bring you closer to God living this simple life. I can tell you this; my aunt is a totally different person than she was when she first started out. She’s living God’s word, and she’s touched on so many people’s lives; lives she doesn’t even realize she’s touched upon. It’s quite remarkable.”

My eyes welled up with tears as I heard her words. I’d never thought of myself as a steward of God’s word. I was simply living my life, but I guess I was living more on that cutting edge than I had ever imagined. It made me realize that this wasn’t just a trip to lose weight, a trip to escape the pressures of life, or even a trip to say, “Hey! I rode through all 48 states.” This was God driven, and I knew I needed to be letting go more and letting God. He had me on a mission, just as Sarah’s boss had her on a one.

I knew, from what Sarah had just said that neither she nor Alan would be ditching me in San Francisco. I also knew I needed to be less critical of how people lived their lives, like those pot farmers in Garberville. I began to wonder what other things I would see along my way that would alter my way of thinking. I never thought of God’s way as being on the cutting edge of life, but now, I think it is. Jesus and his disciples were always stirring up the crowds, making them think, and showing them that ALL people are God’s children.

I fell asleep that night, knowing that Sarah, Alan, and I were truly on a mission from God. I had the best night sleep of my life.

And in my real world, letting go and letting God is a constant struggle, but one I continue to work at each day. I’ve had many “come to Jesus” meetings with myself. The small world I lived in years ago, where everything was definitely black and white, no longer exists. I’ve had to change my ways and my opinions over the years to stay in line with what Jesus teaches us, love your neighbor as yourself. None of us are the same, but we are all God’s children. Some manage to wander off God’s path, but God didn’t put us here to place judgment on anyone. He is the judge that matters. As long as we are living a Godly life, even if that life is on the cutting edge, we should have nothing to fear when we meet our Maker.

Recently, I’ve struggled with the issues of my aging mother and her desire to not spend money on things that could give her a better quality of life, like getting dentures that fit. I’d find myself wanting to scream at her because she wouldn’t wear her upper plate, and the rotting teeth on the bottom made my stomach turn. I got to the point where I almost couldn’t talk to her. I judged her on how I thought she should be living her life, that is until a couple of weeks ago when we almost lost her. What an eye opener that was. Who cares if she doesn’t wear her teeth? If she can eat, isn’t that all that matters? Yes, I realize those rotting teeth should come out for health reasons, but when she is so afraid of dentists that it affects her health because of the stress, isn’t it better to just let her live out her final years the way that makes her happiest? That’s what I’ve decided to do, and if you don’t agree, well, I just don’t care. I know in my heart that God has inspired me to let go of this issue and hand it over to Him. If He wants those teeth to come out, He’ll do something about it.

So for those of you who are a little stuffy like I was, let go for just a day, try out that cutting edge stuff, and see how much closer to God you become. And as always, let’s keep going the distance.

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Respect

respectMy excitement riding into Eureka, California, was off the charts. I was meeting up with my niece, Sarah, and would finally have someone else to ride with on this long trip of mine. I passed a few well-wishers holding signs saying things like “Welcome Bike Lady” to “Biker Girls Rock”. I hadn’t gotten this kind of reception in quite a while, so it was kind of uplifting to know that there were still people out there who saw me as a positive force and not some nutcase bent on doing the impossible.

Sarah had phoned me about five miles back and gave me her location. She had flown into Eureka the night before and had gone to a local bike shop, Henderson Center Bicycles, this morning to pick up her new bike gear. She had informed me that the shop wanted to do a free servicing on my bike to ensure that it was in good working order.

As I approached Henderson Center Bicycles, Sarah was out front wearing her new helmet and sunglasses, waving profusely. I’d never seen her quite this excited, well except maybe when candy was available to her. Then her eyes would light up like the Fourth of July, but this excitement wasn’t about candy. I figured it was about the opportunity to see this country like one’s never seen it before.

To my surprise, Sarah was super excited to see me. It had been several years since I had last seen her. She couldn’t believe how much weight I had lost, though I thought it was just a few pounds since I tend to still overeat wherever I dine. I also knew that I was not her favorite aunt. That title went to my sister, but here was Sarah running towards me with outstretched arms.

She screams, “Aunt Betsy, I’m so glad to see you!”

I give her a big hug and a kiss and tell her “the same back to you.” We head inside where I’m greeted by the owner. He tells me what they want to do for me, and soon, a staff worker is rolling my bike gear to the back workroom.

The owner takes this time to ask if there were any biking supplies I needed. He shows me a lot of the new gear they are now carrying as he tries to convince me that biking shorts would help me a lot. I can’t imagine myself in a pair of spandex shorts, so I politely declined his offer.

He continues to talk non-stop about the different riding groups Henderson’s supports. I kept thinking, “Mister, I just want to get to the RV park and take a long hot shower”, but I knew I needed to give the man the respect he deserved. After all, they were tuning up my bike for nothing.

And then I hear him change course and I find myself totally enamored with what he was saying. He was telling us about the different places we should check out in Eureka, particularly the Carson Mansion. This was the home of William M. Carson who started building this gorgeous Victorian mansion during the slow times of the logging season so his employees would have work to do so they could continue earning a paycheck.

Mr. Carson was known for treating his employees with a lot of respect and concern. He paid them decent wages, made sure they weren’t over worked, and fed them well. In return, he had the respect of every one of his employees, and he grew to be respected in the entire community.

He shared his wealth with the community as he donated to several charities that helped those less fortunate people in town. When he died, it was discovered that his will had 116 beneficiaries in it to include company employees along with local churches, and other local agencies.

I soon found myself wondering if maybe this business owner was a little bit like Mr. Carson. It was clear that his staff was into their jobs, and it seemed like this owner had everyone’s best interest at heart. He never once tried to get me to buy anything. He merely showed me what they had available.

I don’t know if it was out of guilt or if the Lord had touched upon me, but I found myself buying a new and improved bike helmet, some biking gloves, and even some biking shoes that seemed to fit into the pedal straps better than my big old clunky walking shoes. He tries one more time to convince me to buy those biking shorts, but I drew the line there. Sarah fails too, at convincing me that I had lost enough weight to fit into these skin-tight garments.

The bike techs finish tuning my bike and Sarah and I are on our way. We get checked into the Shoreline RV Park where we discovered was truly just for RVs, but they were nice enough to allow us to pitch our tent and spend the night there. They explain that they were all behind my ride and respected me for all that I was doing for people.

I was taken aback by their comments, and found myself asking what exactly it was they thought I was doing to help people. What they say comes as a shock to me. They tell me that there had been several stories out on the internet about the woman riding her bike across the United States, and how couch potatoes were finally getting off the couch and doing something to improve their lives. One man wrote that his doctor was amazed at the change in his overall health. He had been on the fast track to dying of a heart attack at age 40, but since he started riding a bike around the town he lives in, his cholesterol was well below 200 and his blood pressure was back to normal.

The desk clerk says, “You saved his life, you know, just like you have saved the lives of many others who have talked about how their depression had improved, one couple finally found something they could do together and it saved their marriage, and the number of schools that have posters of you in their gyms has increased by 50%.”

I found myself getting choked up, not realizing how one middle-aged woman on some crazy bike trip could affect so many people. Tears started streaming down my face as I thank the clerk for her kind words and generosity.

She says back to me, “It’s my pleasure to be able to say I met that woman riding her bike across this country of ours. Good luck to you and your daughter.”

I smile and say, “Thanks, but she’s my niece, and a very special one at that.”

As Sarah and I set-up camp, we talk a lot about how she and I could continue to make a difference in people’s lives. She explains that was the very reason her boss sent her on this mission trip.
“Aunt Betsy,” Sarah says, “You have always been so good at respecting all people even though your attitude is sometimes a bit harsh.”

I smile, knowing that I was known for speaking my mind and not being walked over. Sarah and I had not always seen eye to eye, but I always loved and respected her as I did the rest of my family.
Once we had camp set-up, we venture out to get some groceries for tonight’s meal and to see that grand Carson Mansion. We come back from this excursion with a true meaning of what respect means. It seemed like everywhere we went someone was talking about Mr. Carson as if he were still alive. Maybe he is in spiritual sort of way since his generosity helped so many people, churches, and agencies in this town. What he did way back when is still producing positive results today.

Makes me know that having a little respect for our fellow human beings can deliver a lifetime of good. I knew that Sarah’s and my bike trip was truly a God driven event, one in which we needed to spread His word through our daily actions. I went to bed that night thanking God for all He’s given me, especially my niece.

And in my real world, treating people with respect is a huge part of what Catholic Charities does with every one of their clients and donors. And in return, we are respected by our clients and donors. We have weathered some harsh economic times through the grace of our donors, and we’ve been able to lend a hand up to several people on the brink of total economic disaster.

May we all be like William M. Carson for that’s EXACTLY what God wants us to act like. God bless you all and lets’ keep going the distance.

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