Posts tagged Health

No Whining Allowed

ImageAs I continue my trek to the west coast I find myself thinking that ending this trip in Dundee Oregon might just be the right thing to do as it’s taken me 3 times as long to get to this point, but then I tell myself to stop whining.  I know that road fatigue is my reason for even having such a thought and then I notice that there is a designated protected bike lane on this highway I’m on and I figure “Hey, this area deserves a good look see.”

As I ride down this highway I see vineyard after vineyard and wished that I was more of a wine drinker.  Then I think “why not at least take some wine tours and sample a little.”  My caution light goes off in my head knowing that I am a recovering alcoholic so I opt to avoid the wine tours.  In my head I chastise myself for not having more control over alcohol as now I’m going to be missing out on what could have been a fun tour.  Again I tell myself to stop whining.  If I really wanted to see how wine was made then I could take a tour and just not sample any if I thought it would send me on a binge.

As I ride farther into Dundee I see tons of restaurants and decide that maybe my safest bet is to sample the foods of this area as opposed to the wine.  I check in at the Dundee Manor Bed and Breakfast, a fabulous bed and breakfast indeed.  I am immediately told about several wine tours that I can take and I wonder “Is God testing me?”  As I get myself cleaned up after my ride that day, I keep thinking about those tours and if I would be able to actually take a sip of wine without the alcoholic repercussions.  I decide to do some praying on the issue and am pleased to feel a stronger urge to simply snoop around town and take in some of the local food fare.

I decide to eat lunch at the La Sierra Mexican Grill where I was able to dine for less than $10.00.  I was asked if I’d like to try any of their wine and chose to simply get a glass of lemonade, but again found myself having a pity party that I was unable to go on a wine tour.  Why did I have to have inherited that addiction gene from my parents?  Once again, my whining about my addiction was more than I could handle.

I inquired about what other sites I might want to partake in that would not cost me a great deal of money.  My waitress told me about the beautiful parks this town has and all were free as long as I enjoyed a good walk.  That was exactly what my whining mind needed so I tipped my waitress, paid my bill and headed towards Crabtree Park which I was told was quite picturesque.

As I neared the park I started seeing signs for Erath Vineyards and how they had daily wine tours.  My mind was ready to explode.  How could one town have so many wineries?  Well, my whining head just couldn’t take it anymore and I decided to tempt fate and take one of those tours.  I walked through Crabtree Park which truly was spectacular and on to Erath Vineyards where I was greeted by a delightful person who took me on a guided tour.  As we headed towards their tasting room I explained that I’d be unable to taste any wine, but was thrilled to see exactly how this one winery created their award winning flavors.

I went back to the bed and breakfast, had a wonderful meal that night at another local favorite then knew it was time to get some rest as that Pacific Ocean was calling to me.  I went to sleep that night knowing that I had conquered my whining, had faced my addiction and won, and was now graced with this lovely room that would provide my mind with the rest it needed to avoid any future whining spells.

And in my real world I think about the number of times I find myself whining about various things.  Sometimes I have reason to whine, but so often I must tell myself to stop and get on with life as there are people out there with a lot worse problems then I face on any given day.

Catholic Charities’ staff sees many of these people each day who have issues so much greater than the ones I face.  We get e-mails from loved ones hoping we’ve seen a family member who maybe went off their meds and has gone missing.  We have families who find their lives turned upside down and inside out when a layoff or medical crisis stretches their livelihood to the breaking point.  Some are familiar with this lifestyle, but others are new to it and are somewhat embarrassed to even be here asking for help.  It is these people who I say have every right to whine yet many of them don’t, they sit back patiently waiting for Catholic Charities to point them in the right direction and give them that hand up.

We all need a hand up every now and then so when you hear someone whining a little don’t think to yourself “Oh stop your whining!”  Instead tell yourself to listen to their whining and see if maybe you could possibly give them a hand up which simply could be suggesting where they could go to get some financial help.

And as I head home tonight whining that I still have 25 miles to ride before I’m actually at the Pacific Ocean, I’ll think about those people who maybe no longer have the ability to ride a bike and will thank God that He’s given me the drive to continue on this virtual trip I’m on.  And even though it’s taken me over 3 years to get to the west coast, I’m ecstatic that I’ve actually kept at this trip of mine.  It’s through you faithful readers that spurs me on and keeps me going the distance.  God bless you all and know that it is okay to whine every once in a while as long as you can get over it and move on in life.

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A Little Pampering

ImageShortly after riding into Bonneville Oregon a police cruiser pulled me over.  My initial thought was “WHAT!?  Is it illegal to ride a bike in this town?”  Well the friendly policeman got out of his car and asked if I was the woman riding her bike across the country.  I told him I was indeed that woman.  “Great,” he said, “Then you must follow me as we’ve been waiting for you.”  Of course my suspicious nature kicked in and I asked to see his ID.  “You know Officer Kennett” glancing at his badge name “one can’t be too careful.  I mean you could have been some nutcase in disguise.”  Officer Kennett laughed and said “You are so right to have asked to see my ID.  I commend you on your safety knowledge and now that we have that behind us, just follow me.  We’re going to head across the river and up the street just a few blocks to the Bonneville Spa.” 

At this point I was excited about getting a little pampering at this spa before I found a place to stay for the night.  After a grueling hot day on the bike I could use a little pampering.  As we approached the Bonneville Spa I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  The place was nestled in pine trees and although the outside was nothing spectacular looking the surrounding area made up for it.  The sounds of the birds and the smell of the pine trees were intoxicating.  

As I approached the front entrance a man came out looking all official.  I figured this must be the hotel manager and right I was.  With arms outstretched the hotel manager said “Welcome to the Bonneville Spa.  We would like for you to enjoy all of our facility here.  You are our guest through Sunday.”  Now I knew I had died and gone to heaven.  

My gear was taken by the valets and I was escorted inside.  The inside was magnificent with its high ceilings, rustic fireplace, and the staff seemed very attentive to my needs.  The concierge took me to my room that had its own hot tub and a balcony that looked out onto the courtyard.  I’m not big into massages, but let me tell you after months of being on a bike, working in fields, bussing tables, and cleaning hotel rooms, being pampered with a massage was just what this old body needed.  Then I experienced one of the finest meals I’ve ever had, pan seared prawns with a wonderful Caesar salad.  Life was good. 

My night’s sleep was divine with the bed feeling almost like you were sleeping on a cloud.  I can’t remember sleeping that soundly in ever so long.  The next morning I was greeted with a fabulous breakfast of eggs, toast, sausage, and fresh fruit.  I was then asked if I wanted to get a facial, go for a hike, take a trip to one of the local wineries, or enjoy other activities the spa was offering.  I thought about it and decided it would be fun to just sit in the comfy chairs in the lobby and read a good book. 

As I sat there I found myself doing more people watching than I was reading.  And what amazed me was the number of people who came in looking like a million bucks and treating the help like they were yesterday’s garbage.  One such couple came close to getting scolded by me, but I noticed the staff employee handled the situation with dignity and finesse something the couple knew nothing about. 

Later that afternoon the manager approached me with suggestions of what they could do to make my stay there even more memorable.  I knew this would be my chance to maybe give something back so I asked if staff was allowed to use the spa’s amenities when not working.  The manager said they can, but most are unable to afford the fees that are charged.  I said “then staff does not get any discounts.”  The manager confirmed that stating it was corporate policy. 

“Well then, would it be against corporate policy if this person here,” pointing to myself, “asks that the way her stay here could be made more memorable is to allow all staff who are interested the pleasure of using whatever amenities they chose free of charge?”  The manager stood there for a moment trying to comprehend my request and finally said “Don’t you like it here?”  “I like it just fine, but after sitting here watching how hard your staff works and how some of the guests treat them I thought it would be nice for them to enjoy a wonderful massage, a facial, a dip in the pool or whatever else they choose to do.  I received such wonderful pampering yesterday and it improved my whole outlook on life so much so that I just feel that your staff deserves a little pampering too.  You may find that they work even harder than they do by allowing them such a privilege.”  The manager smiled and thanked me for my thoughtfulness.  I told him that it has been my experience that you get back what you give to a person and by giving his staff some pampering they would probably be more apt to pamper the guests more than they already do.  The manager agreed to my request and the next few days each staff member was able to enjoy some amenity the hotel/spa offered.  All were so grateful to me and on the day that I left to head back out on the road I was given a wonderful basket of fruits, nuts, and other quick energy snack foods.  My pampered long weekend had come to an end and on such a high note.  I figured I could coast into Troutdale, my next destination, on my refreshed attitude alone.  And the staff at the Bonneville Spa showed that their attitudes were also refreshed.  We all need a little pampering every now and then. 

And in my real world, my mind goes immediately to the clients that Catholic Charities serves each and every day.  It is our goal to always treat each and every one of God’s people with the respect and dignity they deserve.  It may not seem like we pamper our clients much, but I believe by just being there for them, listening to their stories, providing them with some necessary things that help them move on to a better life could seem like pampering to them.  

I have too often seen people of higher means or in a higher position rudely treat someone of a lesser stature.  Sometimes I think people get caught up in their own lives and react without thinking.  Others are just pugnacious by nature and just have a nasty outlook on life.  Whatever the reason, treating people like second rate citizens is just wrong.  We are all God’s children and we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.  And we all deserve a little pampering now and then.  So next time you want to tell someone what they did wrong try telling them what they did right first, give them a little “pampering” and see how much more they’ll do for you.  You might just be surprised at how much more you actually get out of this person.  And just because a person seems down on their luck doesn’t mean they don’t need a little pampering too.  I always think of the bible verse Matthew 25:35 – For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.  We just never know when that stranger might just be Jesus in disguise.  So try pampering someone today and watch them bloom.  And as always, let’s keep going the distance.  God bless you all.

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Stop and Smell the Roses

Image Riding down I-84 more commonly known as the Columbia River Highway I take in the beauty of the Columbia River that snakes its way through Oregon.  And then a pack of cars and a semi blow past me interrupting the peace and tranquility one gets when watching a river flow.  My mind starts wondering where some of these people are headed and if they ever take the time to look at the beauty around them.  

I’ve spent many mornings on this trip watching a sunrise while it spreads its hues of pinks and oranges over the countryside.  How many times before this trip have I missed this daily miracle?  Too many to account for I’m sorry to say.  I ponder how much it must hurt God when He sees how much we miss in life.  We allow our jobs, our children, our pets, and our hobbies to control our very essence.  

I decide to stop for a while to take in the beauty of this grand river.  As I sit by the edge of the river eating my PB&J sandwich I think back on the towns I’ve been through, the people I’ve met, and the things I’ve learned.  The Columbia River Gorge is breathtaking and I’ve hit it at a good time of the year when many waterfalls are flowing and the wild flowers are blooming.  Life is truly good. 

I started this trip with the quest of being able to brag that I rode through every state in the United States and to maybe lose some weight.  How selfish of me to take a trip for such shallow reasons, but God, in His infamous wisdom, has shown me the way.  God is in every sunrise, every meadow of wild flowers, every town, every person, every road I’ve been on while trekking through this great country.  He has drawn me closer to Him than I ever thought I could be. 

A chill rushes through me awakening me and prompting me to get back on my bike and head into The Dalles which is just a few miles away.  I know that I’ll be taking some tours through this fine town and will be meeting some wonderful people.  I stop for just a moment to pray that I always remember to stop and smell the roses. 

And in my real world stopping and smelling the roses is a hard thing to do.  It’s easy to write about doing this on my virtual biking trip, but putting it into practice in the real world is another story.  I find myself getting bogged down with work, with responsibilities of caring for my elderly mother and my pets, of maintaining the house and yard, and trying to finish all those craft projects that I had obsessively purchased these past several years.  Some days the weight of all of these things feels like they are crushing me; pushing the very life out of me.  My life is no different than any other human being, but yet I know that my life is certainly easier than many. 

Working for Catholic Charities of Central Colorado I see on a daily basis the number of people and families whose lives are weighed down much more than mine.  They would love to be able to have the responsibility of maintaining a house and yard, to have a job, to have the resources to care for not only their children, but their parents.  It’s with these thoughts that I realize that by just appreciating that I still have my mother with me, have a fine roof over my head and a yard to tend to, have a job, have pets who are healthy and give so much joy to me, and that I’m still able to afford a hobby and have the ability to continue to work on these hobbies are my bed or roses just waiting for me to stop and smell them.  

Our beds of roses are not always going to be a beautiful sunrise on Pikes Peak or a crystal clear mountain lake’s reflection.  Our beds of roses are every facet of our lives both the good and the bad.  God wants us to appreciate everything we have and do so let’s all learn to take the time to stop and smell those roses.  And may we continue to go the distance.

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Riding the Distance

Bike Ride to Health III

by Betsy Finley

My imaginary bike ride continues.  I’ve gone a total of 257 miles and have crossed over the Colorado/Wyoming border into Cheyenne.  My intent is to ride to Chadron State Park where this whole idea started, then backtrack some so that I can head to the Black Hills. 

I’ll meander through the Hills, as they are known in that area, throughout the winter months.  The nice thing on this trip is weather is not a factor.  I’m able to ride whenever and wherever I feel like going.  My goal is to ride through every state in the United States.  I’m sure this will take me years, but then it took years for me to get into the bad shape I was in when I started this trip.

The good news is I’ve managed to drop some weight and my eating habits have improved.  I find myself not eating out of boredom or stuffing myself when I know I’m full.  It’s a nice feeling to put on winter clothes that were slightly tight last winter and are bagging on me now.  And I know that I’ve strengthened my leg muscles as my knee is not hurting as much.

Saturday mornings are the best day for riding the distance.  I turn on PBS and watch all these how-to shows without commercials.  The time flies by as do the miles.  Last Saturday I rode 13 miles, which is the longest I’ve gone on any given day.  I usually ride at least 5 miles, but am hoping to increase that to 10 miles per ride.  My focus stays on “riding the distance” and not on losing weight or getting into better shape.  Those things happen because of “riding the distance”.  I know me, if my goal were to lose weight and I wasn’t losing weight fast enough, I’d quit figuring the bike riding wasn’t helping me.  But staying focused on “riding the distance” keeps me coming back for more. 

I have so many co-workers that are behind me and will stop and ask where I am on the trip.  Some will even say things about the town I’m in or getting near like “you’ll have to eat at this restaurant because they have fabulous food.”  Now we all know that I’m really not in these towns, but it gives me the motivation to continue moving forward.

God has truly blessed me with this desire to ride through all 50 states and to realize that taking life one day at a time allows you to enjoy life.  I’m not fretting over how much weight I haven’t taken off; instead I’m happy with the weight that has come off.  I don’t worry about not riding every day because if I were truly on this ride I probably wouldn’t have the energy to ride every day.  It’s on my non-riding days that I imagine taking in the sites of the town I’m in, meeting new people, experiencing new retail shops.  This all helps me in my everyday life for I allow me down time to rest and rejuvenate my soul.

I highly recommend each of you who have followed me along my journey pick a journey of your own and give “going/riding the distance” a try.  It could be life changing for you.  May God bless you all and thanks for your support and enthusiasm. 

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Riding Like the Wind

open-road

by Betsy Finley

It has been 26 days since I decided to recreate my imaginary bike ride from years ago. I started this trip in Aspen Colorado again and have made it to Vail. I’d like to say that it’s been smooth sailing and some days are very easy with me riding 7 to 8 miles.

And, then there are other days…. The reality of work exhaustion kicks in and makes me want to quit riding; sometimes, only within a half of mile from my destination! It is those times I try even harder to envision actually being on my bike trip…. I’ll tell myself, “Look, there’s the town, don’t quit now.”

It’s so rewarding riding into a town knowing that you pushed through the exhaustion and pain, and really went the distance.

I have to confess, though, that my greatest daily inspiration comes from a “fan” of my first blog post who told me to “Ride like the wind.” On days when I don’t feel like riding, but know I should, I think about those words–and the words of others who have commented about my imaginary bike trip–and I’m again inspired to not let them down. It is through their kind words of encouragement that allow me to bike to the base of Vail Pass.

I have about 20 miles to do to get to Copper Mountain. It may take me the rest of this week, but with those encouraging words bouncing around in my head, I’m able to make this trip in 2 days… we’ll see.

I have not yet ridden 10 miles, as I’m still working on strengthening my leg muscles, but I was only 2 miles from going 10 miles last Saturday. I know I have it in me, but at the very least I have managed to get myself off of that couch and onto my bike. And, I feel so much better!

Thanks for your support, my friends… And, I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

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