Friday, December 25, 2015

It was a ZOTZ Kind of Christmas

Do you know what a ZOTZ is?

This is what a ZOTZ looks like:

And this is what a ZOTZ tastes like:

Let me describe them to you. ZOTZ are a tangy hard candy that is filled with a powdery crushed alka seltzer type substance that, when it comes in contact with your saliva, explodes with such a taste bud crushing flavor that your saliva glands spasm with ecstasy. It is... an ORGASM IN YOUR MOUTH.

I never got ZOTZ as a kid. We didn't have much money in fact, for the first several years of my life in the 60's and 70’s I would call us downright poor. I can remember one Christmas when someone put us on a “Toys for Tots” kind of list and free presents were brought to us. My dad's ego and pride were crushed and I still can't remember if we were allowed to keep the presents. All I remember is that he was humiliated.

I can remember a carpet so thin you could see the floor through it and the upholstery on our couch was so worn that the stuffing threatened to push through but my 3 brothers and I were fed and watered regularly and to tell you the truth, I didn't think much of my meager existence. My mother had created a happy, loving and fulfilling home.

There was a place in my hometown near Bancroft school named Pilkington’s. It was a small neighborhood grocery that was filled with the most exotic candy I had ever seen.

There were….
Big Red Wax lips you could hold between your teeth then chew on the wax till you were so disgusted you spit it out;
Wax soda bottles filled with a liquid that did not taste like soda at all.
You could chew on these too but why would you?
Hey, what was with the idea of wax for candy in the 60’s and 70’s anyway? 
There were candy cigarettes rolled in paper and powdered sugar so when you blew on them, a little tuft of smoke would puff out
(No wonder my generation smoked so much);
Ice Cubes;
Space Dust;
Bottle Caps
and Candy Buttons which were really just drops of hard, dried colored sugar… disgusting!

I would walk to Pilkington’s with my friends and I’d watch them, their pockets filled with cash from their parents. They would take their time, looking at every candy and laboring over the burden of having to choose just one.

So that no one knew I was poor, I would look over the candy too and act like I was having trouble choosing which candy to buy but the difference was that my pockets were empty and if my father caught me at Pilkington’s I was quite certain it would result in a sound beating and possible death.

In the end, I would act like I simply just couldn’t chose and to perpetuate the lie if offered candy, I would kindly refuse and say I wasn’t in the mood for sweets. As a result each of the few times I went to Pilkington’s, I ended up with no candy at all.

The one candy I most envied and found it very hard to say no to was called ZOTZ. If I remember right they came in strips of 10 for a quarter (I think they were a dime at one time but it was the 70’s and inflation affected candy too). When you wanted a ZOTZ, you just tore one off the end of the strip, popped it in your mouth and slobbered till the candy popped open and the fireworks began.

My ZOTZ experience was very limited…

A couple of years ago shortly after I started dating my boyfriend at the time, I told him the story of Pilkington’s and described a ZOTZ. He had a hard time imagining this candy or the reason for any enjoyment in the experience of eating it.  Thanks to the Internet I was able to search for images of ZOTZ and show him what they looked like.

“When was the last time you ate a ZOTZ?” he asked.  I told him the truth. It had been decades and only a handful of times.

By the time I was earning my own money and could spend it like I wanted to I had moved on to more mature things like wine and cigarettes.

I had left Pilkington’s, ZOTZ and childish things behind….

“When what to my wondering eyes should appear but a can full of ZOTZ and some laughter and tears”

The first present I opened this Christmas was this tin container.

It is hippy dippy like me but I was unimpressed by the package. I wasn’t going to be setting this out on the coffee table so I suspected that there was some dark chocolate mint thing inside.

When I opened the tin, I found this instead.

It was a lifetime supply of ZOTZ! Six flavors! It looked like hundreds, maybe thousands of ZOTZ!

He has proved over and over that he is the ultimate gift giver. He has outdone himself this year and brought me the kind of joy that makes you feel like a kid again. This gift made the adult Lizzie cry and the child Lizzie laugh all at the same time. Then he drizzled the entire emotion with love when I looked up and saw the excitement in his face. I could tell he felt little again too. His smile was huge as he clapped his hands and jumped up and down with me.

Mr. Pilkington and his wife have certainly passed away by this time. They were old when I was young.  Last I knew an old friend of mine, Mike Swanson had purchased the Pilkington’s store building and adjacent home. I had a chance to see it several long years ago and the old store has been converted into a man cave style garage which is very cool but it was a little sad to stand in there with the memories I had and know I would never have the opportunity to go in there with a pocket full of cash and buy my own ZOTZ.

I had forgotten most of these memories until last night when I opened the tin that held the candy of my childhood dreams.

Peace and Love,

Lizzie Flower

04/24/2018 Update... The relationship with the man who gave me the Zotz back in 2015 ended the following year and I got married last June so with all due respect to both men, I have edited the lovey dovey stuff from the original post. (This is still the best gift I have ever received)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Where I Get My Faith From

Well, another RAGBRAI is looming on the horizon. This will be my fourth in a row and I doubt if I'll ever get sick of the ride, the people and the atmosphere. I will be riding with Team Pez for the third year in a row and they are an amazing group of individuals. This is year 15 for the team so I wouldn't miss it for the world. I love them all.

This is the crew that started last year and although we have some people who join us for a day or two or leave early, there is a core group that does the whole week which ended up being 7 days of riding and over 450 miles if you do the extra Karras Loop.

In  2012, while training for RAGBRAI, I met Pat, a member of Team Pez. I could tell by the size of his quads (thighs), that he was probably a cyclist and then when we started chatting, I found out that he rides RAGBRAI every year. I told him how I was planning to ride it with my brother's family that year and how nervous and excited I was. I explained to him that I was not certain that I could take on the ride because I was at a place in my riding where my legs would cramp if I rode more than 30 miles and most of the days were 70-80 miles. I had very little confidence in myself and my ability to ride a bike across the state of Iowa.

Over the next several weeks, Pat gave me encouraging words that reassured me that the ride was something I could do. When I would talk negative, he would roll his eyes, make a "psss" sound and fling his hand at me with a brush it off kind of attitude and then he would tell me a story about people he had seen complete the ride, how fun it was and he would make me feel like the ride was attainable.

By the time the actual ride came, I was so nervous I could not even sleep. Pat had given me his team information and I had given him mine (we weren't riding for the same team at that time). The evening before the ride started, Pat showed up at our camp site and again gave me words of encouragement and let me know that he was there for me and then he asked me if he could ride with me at some point in time. I knew I couldn't keep up with him but I agreed to try.

When morning arrived, I departed with my brother's family and we decided to stop at Farm Boys, home of the famous breakfast burrito. If you decide to ride, veterans will advise you to have one of these burritos. We were less than 15 miles into the ride when we decided to stop and we had the good fortune to run into Pat and members of Team Pez there.

Here is a picture we took on that day. Now, bear in mind, I'd already lost 70 or 80 lbs. when this picture was taken. I always refer to this picture when I'm not sure whether or not I should have gotten my arms reduced. It looks like I'm packing around a plastic bag full of creamed corn in each sleeve.

Pat asked me to ride with him so I reluctantly let my family ride on and Pat rode with me. He mostly rode ahead of me, constantly keeping an eye on me and chatting and laughing with other riders.

He chatted with me too about all the things I'd need to do over the next 7 days and all the food vendors and activities I shouldn't miss. Every day of RAGBRAI, the Iowa Conservation people have a place where you can stop, get some cold water and a free banana. Pat talked me into stopping with him and we shared a water and banana. As we sat on the side of that hill, surrounded by cyclists, I confessed my lack of confidence to him without explanation and he talked to me about cycling and human relationships in general. The man has a million funny stories. All the time he was talking I felt a little guilty because I had a little secret. I had lost a lot of weight by that time but I had a long way to go. I felt like he couldn't possibly understand the journey I was on and I was ashamed to have to admit I didn't believe in myself.

I was never proud to say I'd lost 80 lbs when it was so obvious I had a long ways to go so I always kept silent. It was a secret I was too proud to tell. After mustering up some courage, I brought out this picture which is my official before photo. Yuck...

Pat, being a smooth easy going cowboy type, didn't flinch. He just scanned the photo, told me he admired what I'd done and continued talking about the different people he has seen cycle across the state. He talked about people with no legs or arms, people who were older or heavier than I was at the time who had done this ride. I listened with all my attention and wondered how this man, a near stranger could have more faith in me than I had in myself.

Since that day, I'm more open about the changes I have made in my life and I've learned to be proud of the journey I've taken instead of wallowing in the shame of my past mistakes, primarily my relationship with food.

This picture was taken in April 2015.

Pat looks exactly the same nearly three years later but I look a little 70 pounds lighter and that jersey is certainly less clingy.

Even after all this time, all these miles, all these pounds, I feel like Pat is still the source of my faith in myself. He still encourages me when I'm uncertain and he still makes me feel like I can do just about anything I set my mind to and that I deserve to enjoy the results of my efforts.

I don't know if you have a Pat in your life but if you don't, I suggest you go out and find one. Listen to him and until you have faith in yourself, let his faith in you give you strength.

I am forever grateful.

Peace and Love,

Lizzie Flower

"It's not pain, it's progress"

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I have lost 143 lbs

It's been a long time since I've posted to my blog. So much has happened between a new grandchild, a new boyfriend, my son moving home, ongoing weight loss, cycling, job change and the list goes on and on.

At first, I was distracted by my training for another bike ride across Iowa and then my granddaughter Eliza was born. Training continued and in July 2013, I rode my bike across Iowa again. Around that time, I met the man I would eventually fall in love with and the next thing I know, several months have gone by and I still haven't blogged.

Being a relatively private individual, it is hard for me to divulge too much of my private life on a public blog when it comes to other individuals most notably, my children, granddaughter and significant other.  I will always try to refrain from giving too much information about them individually to protect their private lives.

I feel blessed to have found a man who shares my drive to live an active and healthy lifestyle. He has also struggled with weight gain and loss and has currently found a lifestyle that affords him the physical fitness he has desired and he has met his goals. Unfortunately, my journey continues and I still have not met all my goals. Again, I want to say that I feel blessed. I am not unappreciative of the progress I have made and I am grateful that this man has fallen in love with me in spite of my physical flaws.

Recently, I have been hitting some road blocks in my progress that are completely beyond my control. I find it hard to believe that the Universe has brought me this far just to drop me on my ass but I feel the need to vent some frustrations and express the joy of my achievements.

Here is some background. This journey started in 2007. I was morbidly obese and tragically unhealthy and unhappy. I had gained and lost the same 80 lbs over and over again just to gain it back plus another 10 or 15. Eventually, I weighed over 300lbs. A body photo of me is VERY rare but here is a picture of me at about the time I decided I needed to change my life.


In this picture, I am 43 years old and I want to make note that I'm not pregnant in this picture, that is all me. I wish I could say it is some illusion caused by the clothes I was wearing but it's not.

My official BEFORE pictures

In these pictures, I was preparing for my journey. I had made a conscious decision to change my life. I'm embarrassed and mortified of these and the shame I feel is indescribable but this is not me now. This person no longer exists. She was killing me so I killed her first.

I knew that fad diets didn't work for me. Well, they worked but not permanently. They had a beginning and an end. I would hit the goal and then I'd have to start eating "normal" and the sad fact was that I simply didn't know what "normal" was so I would eventually go back to my old eating habits and the weight would return with several pounds added. I needed to find a diet that had no end.

I decided to CHANGE my diet instead of go ON a diet. I cut out processed foods almost completely. I had this weird method of monitoring my food which after 7 years, I still follow for the most part. If it's a processed food, I will not consume it if it has more than 5 ingredients. If Water, Meat, Vegetables or Fruits are on the list, they don't count as an ingredient. Spices count as one, no matter how many their are. Too complicated? Not really, after a while, it's easy to figure out. If you want a better description, let me know, I'd be happy to explain it better. Long story short, I was eating a more natural diet.

To me, processed foods are poison. Try to get me to eat a Chili Cheese Frito and see what happens.  We each have a place in the pantry called our "sin bin" which holds some treats that we eat in moderation. My shelf has granola, banana chips, kettle potato chips, almonds and dark chocolate. My boyfriend bought some Chili Cheese Fritos for his sin bin.  The other night we were talking after dinner while standing in the kitchen and he was eating them. I calmly took out the bar-b-que tongs and the bar-b-que lighter and took one of his Fritos and put it in the tongs and lit it with the lighter. He was shocked when I did it. I asked him, "Do you know why this Frito is going up in flames and burning like this?". He said, "No but I think you are about to tell me." (This is why I love this man) I said, "It's because it's full of oil and this fire represents the calories this chip holds." That was enough for him. He discontinued eating the Fritos and, in fact, gave them away.

Along with the diet change, I also started moving. I walked, I eventually started riding a bike, I did Zumba and much to my dismay, I was unable to be too physical because I suffered from Diverticulosis which is a malady of the large intestine. When irritated by physical activity or certain foods such as tomatoes and strawberries, it causes EXTREME pain, infection and for me, hospitalization. I limited my movements to avoid symptoms and eventually was unable to exercise or ride bike until I decided to have a sigmoid resection in 2010 in which they removed 18" of my large intestine. I fully recovered and have NEVER regretted the surgery. I was finally able to ride my bike and exercise as much as I wanted.

I've always said, "I don't look good running or swimming so I don't do either". Ironically, I've started running and swimming. I still don't look good doing them but I do it anyway. It feels good!

The pounds started to come off slowly. Again, I wasn't as much restricting my diet with volume and calories as I was restricting the content of my diet. I was eating more natural foods and I don't remember ever feeling hungry or having my stomach growl. I ate to my hearts content and I wasn't rewarding myself with one large "normal" dinner a week or a "day off" from dieting which had derailed me so many times before. I was rewarding myself with things like a piece or two of dark chocolate at the end of each day.

As the pounds came off, I decided to come up with a larger reward for my hard work. I decided that in the end, if I had changed my body like I planned, I would reward myself with some "factory new" ta ta's.  I dreamed about them for the entire journey but about 100 lbs into my weight loss I began to realize that the damage I had done to my body after carrying around this weight and losing and gaining over and over again was extensive.

My abdomen became a hideous mass of flesh. My upper arms became bat wings. My inner thighs, or "crotch biscuits" as I've been calling them for the last few years have become saggy and droopy. On top of it all, I have a turtle neck. Not a sweater, the neck of a turtle. Oddly enough, the turtle neck doesn't bother me as much as the rest of the mess. I don't know why. It's not that it doesn't bother me, it's just that it doesn't bother me as much as the other issues.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to my general physician who has been following me during the weight loss and told him I'm ready to pursue some restorative surgery to remove this excess skin. He was overwhelmingly supportive and made several suggestions on how to proceed.

One thing I did find out that I did not know before was how much I had actually lost. I had never looked at a scale in the beginning but it was revealed to me that I had lost 143 lbs.

I made an appointment with a cosmetic surgeon and I proceeded to have the most humiliating and humbling doctor exam of my life.  They put you in a napkin sized pair of paper underwear and nothing else and start measuring, tugging and pulling and taking pictures.  In the end, the doctor tells me he would rather not do the surgery. The damage is simply too extensive for him. He has referred me to a team of doctors in hopes that they can help me.

To make matters complicated, the company I work for has sold and I'm not certain the new company is going to keep our current structure and I may be unemployed at the end of next month. The date of sale is only 13 days after my appointment with the new surgeon so if I'm terminated I'm not certain I can proceed as planned. The entire time frame and plan has been up ended.

I always say, "Don't pray for money because you don't know where it's coming from if you do get it." I would hate think that I would get the money for this procedure at the expense of anyone else but if there are money elves anywhere who would like to drop some in my lap, please take it from some rich millionaire and not some struggling single mom.

I have worked so hard that it scares me to think I'll be left with all these physical issues. When I work out, I have to wear a body suit to hold the lose skin in otherwise it causes pain, discomfort, rash and other sexy things I will spare you the details of but the body suit is so hot that it causes discomfort and limitations also. And...If I don't wear the body suit it looks like I'm packing a garbage bag of creamed corn under my shirt. It's pretty icky.

This is a picture of me two months ago. I'm finishing a 5k mud run and wearing a body suit to hold it all in. That is my sister-in-law giving me the high 5's. I think I look fantastic!

I know I look better and like I said before, I don't want to act unappreciative for my progress but this road block has my anxiety level way up.

This journey hasn't been easy, it has been full of sweat, pain and tears and I can tell you that the way I feel now is worth every bit of sweat, every sore muscle and every tear drop.

In 10 days, I will ride my bike across Iowa again. If I can perform a feat like that, certainly I can handle this situation.

I will keep you updated with my progress.

Love and Peace,

"It's not pain, it's progress"

Monday, July 14, 2014

Getting my move on - 6 days till RAGBRAI

I know it won't make any sense to you but I was actually afraid to share my weight loss with everyone. It embarrasses me that I was ever that large and when I think about how I felt then, I can't believe I didn't take action to change my life sooner.

Instead of pride I felt shame.

I waited till I was well into my 40's to make a change and by then, revving up my fat burning engine was next to impossible. I honestly had to change EVERYTHING to make myself healthier.

When you are carrying the weight equivalent of a grown adult on your body, you begin to do things in a different way. You find more efficient ways of doing things because the mere act of performing some tasks is absolutely exhausting. Even making the bed is abbreviated. Now, when I make the bed, I may scuttle around the bed four or five times, adjusting the sheets till there isn't a wrinkle in them. The old "Plus Size Liz" had a thick comforter for the bed and I could make it from one side... tugging the sheet up and then smoothing the comforter over the whole mess.

I can remember struggling with any and all physical activity. Even when I was cleaning the house I would take breaks between rooms to get my breath back and cool down. My ankles, knees, hips and back hurt constantly...even when I was lying in bed doing nothing.

I had a treadmill slash clothes hanger in my basement when I decided to start all this. I tried to use this device of torture but I was bored out of my mind. I didn't even have the drive or desire to get on it at all.

When the treadmill didn't work, I started walking outside. I was seeing results and able to add some time and distance to my walks. Winter was making it difficult to stay on a schedule so I decided to buy an XBOX 360 with Kinnect and give Zumba a try. At first, I thought I'd lost my mind and wasted a huge amount of money since I could barely lift my arms above my head and throwing my body weight around the way I was caused so much pain and discomfort that it didn't seem worth the effort.

I continued none the less and eventually became  pretty good at the routines. I'd skimmed off about 20 lbs which was making walking easier and more painless. I did Zumba on bad weather days and I walked outside on good weather days.

Eventually (a year or two later) I started cycling. My first bicycle (a gift from my son) was a fixed speed Next LaJolla which is a story unto itself I will share with you sometime. I was so large that my weight actually bent the peddles down and they had to be replaced. That is another embarrassing admission but this bike was a life changer. It would lead to my life's passion which is cycling.

You don't see me ON the bike because overweight people are masters of hiding from the camera and I don't like body photos so I'm obviously hiding behind my car as much as possible. As you can see, even at that weight, I was a total goof ball.

It wasn't long before I outgrew that bike. I wanted to do more than peddle around on a cruiser so I started riding my son's Mongoose Mountain Bike. It looked cool but it burned my knees. It was too big for me and it was a monster but I figured it could handle my weight...and it did but I was in fear that I would quit riding.

I went on a few bike rides with my brother and his wife and eventually they let me ride her fitness level bike. I was in love and I knew I had to find a similar bike if I was going to continue to ride.

When I bought that Trek FX 7.5 off my sister-in-law (bless her heart), I could not get enough of it. I bought a bike computer and started monitoring my speed and distance and was constantly challenging myself. I would set a goal, reach it and set another goal. I bought gear so I could ride in the cold and I bought accessories and gadgets to make my rides more fun and comfortable so I wouldn't lose interest.
This is a picture of the day I got the bike. It was October of 2011 and I was thrilled. This bike would eventually train me and take me across the state of IOWA in 2012 for my first RAGBRAI. I rode 471.1 miles in 7 days and it wasn't easy on that kind of bike so looking back, I feel an even greater sense of accomplishment.

I actually didn't lose much weight that year but my body changed substantially. I was still learning how to tweak my diet to have enough fuel to perform without over fueling so the scale wasn't too kind to me but my clothes were definitely fitting different. I never lost focus of my goals and I never got discouraged no matter what the scale said.

In June 2013, one month before my second RAGBRAI, I would meet and fall in love with my Specialized (MIDGE). I knew I wanted to buy a different bike and I was putting in the miles to justify the purchase but a good rode bike costs more than my car is worth. (actually that's not saying much, my car isn't worth much) It was still a MAJOR purchase and thanks to my cycling friend Mike, I committed to it.
Me with "MIDGE" shortly after I bought her
You can see in this picture taken in June 2013 that my body has changed a lot. I rode 104 miles the day this picture was taken which was my first "century". Every year on RAGBRAI they have one day where they add a thing called the KARRAS LOOP which makes the day 100+ miles. In 2013, I rode the Karras Loop for the first time on this bike and ended the day with 112.75 miles. It remains my longest distance for one day and I'm not going to kid you, it was a long day.

I joined Team Pez that year and rode a total of 444.12 miles in the 2013 RAGBRAI. I feel so blessed to have joined such an outstanding bunch of riders. I love them all.

In 6 days, I will leave for northern Iowa with Team Pez to do another RAGBRAI and I can hardly wait. At a projected 445 miles and being a northern route, it's the second flattest and third shortest route in RAGBRAI history which is a bit of a disappointment but I'm still excited to get out there and ride.

I encourage you to cross train but for me, cycling has become my passion. It took a long time but I found a physical activity that brings me to life. I run, do core exercises, kickboxing, swimming, mud runs, etc. but I simply don't enjoy them like I do cycling.

I challenge you to go out there and try lots of different activities and work through the pain till you realize that it's not pain you're feeling, it's progress.

I hope you find an activity that you love as much as I love cycling.

Love and Peace,

"It's not pain, it's progress"

Friday, July 19, 2013

Pre-RAGBRAI Excitement/Anxiety

Here I am, getting ready for the biggest bicycle ride in the country.  People come from all over to ride their bikes across the great state of Iowa and I am one of them. RAGBRAI (an acronym for Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) is an event where approximately 20,000 insane (and fabulous) individuals ride their bikes in 100 degree heat for 400-500 miles over the course of 7 days. I can not think of any better way to spend your vacation time.

We will start in Council Bluffs, ride thru Harlan, Perry, down to Des Moines, Knoxville, Oskaloosa, Fairfield and finally end up in Fort Madison. As you can see by this map, it looks like they hired a drunken sailor to plot the course for this route.

RAGBRAI 2013 Route Map
I only have to drive an hour to the start point since it's in Council Bluffs this year. I admire the individuals who fly in, ship their bikes or rent bikes when they are here.  I feel very fortunate to live so close to such an amazing event and to have the health and lifestyle that affords me the opportunity to participate.

I've been anxious and excited for several months but for the last week, the only two words that could describe me are "hot mess". I have been busy making lists, getting everything ready and packing unpacking and repacking. I have been excited but being anxious and excited feel very similar so I don't really know which emotion is torturing me at any given moment. At the moment, I choose to call it excitement. I'm certain my family and friends are painfully sick of hearing about this ride. You would think nothing else existed.

I am riding with Team Pez for the first 4 days of the event this year. My Lincoln friend Pat has been a part of the team for years and has graciously invited us to ride with them. It will be my first time riding with this team so I will have an opportunity to make some new friends.  My brother Keith and sister-in-law Teresa are coming too and since we would normally take an air-conditioned camper trailer with us and Team Pez camps in tents as they go, we will be facing some new challenges. One of the benefits of Team Pez is that they stay at "Host Homes" which is to say that someone graciously lets us set up tents in their yards, use their water, showers, and facilities. It's kind of a spoiled version of primitive camping.

After the first four days, Keith, Teresa and I will be leaving Team Pez and joining Team Hardy Farty which consists of us, by brother's two children (Kaley and Cody) their son-in-law (Patrick). In case you are wondering, the name "Hardy Farty" comes from my maiden name which is "Hardy" and when we were little, we were called, "Hardy Farty". My brother named the team, not me. (exaggerated eye roll) I've made up a team motto that hasn't caught on yet.  I want to have Team Hardy Farty jersey's made which say Pull My Finger down both sides. I think it would be hilarious.

When we leave Team Pez, RAGBRAI will SAG (Support and Gear) Team Hardy Farty those last three days which means that;
a) we are limited to how much gear we can take, our bag (including tent) can only weigh 50lbs
b) we will be sharing bathroom, shower and water facilities with thousands of other riders
c) we will be sleeping in a sea of sweaty stinky bikers at a tent city
I have omitted items d) thru x) in hopes that you will continue reading. You are welcome.
Lets just say that it will be a whole new experience and that is exactly what we are after.

I'm sad to say that my sister-in law is leaving for a couple of days in the middle of this week to work but I must also admit that I'm excited that it will open an opportunity for it to be just me and my brother. I look forward to some one on one time with him. He is the best!  She will be joining back up with us in Knoxville when we join Team Hardy Farty.

RAGBRAI is about 2 things for me.
Riding Bikes
When you are burning several thousand calories on your bicycle, you can absolutely pig out during the week. GUILT FREE!!!

Someone asked me, "How much weight did you lose when you rode your bike across Iowa?"  I had to admit, I gained 3 pounds which in my book is a successful vacation!!!

There are some amazing things to look forward to during the ride and they mostly involved breakfast burrito's, turkey legs, pork chops on a stick, smoothies and rhubarb pies made by loving Iowa church women. God bless them all.

I can not even fathom the number of bottles of water, Gatorade and bananas that are being shipped into Iowa this week.  I think it would blow your mind!

Tonight, I will finish packing. For anyone interested, here is my list and it all fit into a 50L Kelty Backpack that weighs less than 50lbs.

Sleep Pad
Sleep Bag
Camp Chair
Inflatable Pillow
Phone/Garmin/iPod Chargers
3 Jerseys
2 Biking Shorts
2 Regular Shorts
Riding Jacket
Wool Socks
Sleep Clothes
Insect Repellent
Ear Plugs
Lip Protectant
Eye Drops
Toilet Tissue
Wet Wipes
Razor Shampoo Body Wash
Nail Clippers and Fingernail File

And last but not least...
Butt Butter for the Chaffing I hope to not get

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Whisper in the Wind

This is my church and God is with me. I know this because I hear Him whisper in the wind and he is saying, "I love you"

Friday, March 29, 2013

Are We Practicing the Virtues We Post?

In these days of internet surfing and social media, there are fewer and fewer people having original thoughts. They endlessly repost from these dandy little apps and websites on their phones or computers and they know that what they are reposting is admirable and virtuous but are we practicing the virtues we post?

It’s as if to say, “I would have said this if I’d have thought of it first.”

Are you the person you know yourself to be or are you under the illusion that you are the person saying the quotes?

I know that there are good, kind people of integrity out there but I don’t think they are reposting quotes with rainbow pictures in the background. I must say though that I enjoy the reposts of Johnny Depp quotes, not just for the sayings but also for the picture that accompanies them. (sideways winky face) 

What an unlikely source for quotable comments, don’t you think?

Do you ever wonder why there are so many Johnny Depp quotes? Who would have known that he would have so many interesting things to say? The mere fact that he has all these original thoughts proves to me that he spends very little time reposting cute pictures of a kitten hanging from a branch saying “Hang in there baby”.

This is a man who spends time with his own thoughts; a man who, probably because of the trials and tribulations of his own life, has come to understand himself and the world around him. We should all hope to find ourselves with this kind of wisdom.

I challenge you to unplug from social media and the 700 friends you think you have. Social media is not giving you something to do it is taking you away from something to do. Look around you, you have your face glued to a computer or phone screen and even if there are people around you, you are disconnected from them.

Disconnect to reconnect.