Premium or Regular? 10 Fuels to Power You

by Liz Jansen

About this time of year, many of us need an extra shot of energy, especially if we’re not riding our motorcycles. Here’s a reminder of the kinds of things that fuel us and will give us that boost, any time of year.

From Life Lessons from Motorcycles; 75 Tips for Generating Epic Energy.

premium or regularYour owner’s manual will tell you what type of fuel your bike requires. Feeding it the wrong grade will make your engine less powerful and less efficient, cause premature engine wear, and possibly damage it over time.

While sometimes it feels like it would be easier if human beings came with an owner’s manual, how boring would that be? It’s much more interesting to figure it out on our own. These grades of fuel are good for everyone.

  1. Love. Begin by loving yourself and who you are. This is selfless rather than selfish. Until you realize your worth, you cannot appreciate the worth of others or serve your purpose.
  2. Relationships. Nurtured relationships grow through the good times and the challenging ones—when others are there for support. Wisely choose those you allow into your life, from a place of deep inner strength rather than a fear of being alone.
  3. Positivity. Welcome positive experiences and people into your life. Hard times and mistakes—a.k.a. lessons—will still happen, but look at what you can learn and how you can make a difference. Ignore others who judge you and offer negative commentary. You can’t control what they say, but you can control what you put in the gas tank.
  4. Active listening. Listen to your inner voice, and you’ll do what’s right for YOU. This is your Road. Others will try to convince you to choose or act differently, but they’re doing so through their own filters. Remember that you alone are in control.
  5. Gratitude. Appreciate the wonderful people and experiences in your life, and you’ll find they’ll increase in number and frequency. Be grateful for those who love and care for you. Give thanks for the things others do for you as they do them, rather than noticing the void once they’re no longer with you.
  6. Authenticity. This world wants to make you look and act like everyone else. Rather than trying to force yourself into a role that doesn’t fit, shun conformity and show who you are. It takes courage, and you’re worth it! You were given a particular set of skills and attributes with which to fulfill your unique role. No one else can do it.
  7. Joie de vivre. Love life and all that’s in it. Be amazed with seemingly small things, like sunsets, time with friends and family, and the miraculous beauty of nature. The best things in life are free.
  8. Resilience. Embrace change. It’s one of the few constants in life. Although life doesn’t always unfold as you imagine, Spirit wants you to be successful and provides the resources you need to do so. Live in the present moment, and watch for the gifts as well as the challenges. You’ll look back and wonder what all the angst was about.
  9. Fun. The child inside you never goes away, even though you have an adult body and adult responsibilities. He or she needs to play, laugh, and have adventures. Make sure your life is not so filled with work and other responsibilities that you don’t have time for play.
  10. Trust. Resisting change, such as that which happens when fear tries to contain your spirit’s calling, usurps your energy. Trust that Spirit is guiding you no matter what the situation, and, instead of using your energy for resistance, use it to move forward.

LL_EnergyWatch what you put in the gas tank. Keep it topped up with the right fuel, and you’ll notice an increase in power, confidence, and efficiency in getting down the Road to your destination.

Purchase the entire ebook Life Lessons from Motorcycles—75 Tips for Generating Epic Energy available for any e-reader. $2.99.

photo credit: Antonio_Trogu via photopin cc

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7 Steps to Practicing Stillness

by Liz Jansen

practicing stillnessLast week in the article on Embracing Active Stillness, I talked about my intentional decision to learn and practice stillness. Here I’ll show you how I’m doing it. Down the road, I’ll let you know how it’s working.

That stillness requires inertia, inaction, or passivity is misleading. It happens when you’re alert, awake, and open. Stilling your will and staying in touch with your inner guidance can happen no matter what you’re doing or where you are. Learning it requires you to be fully present. It’s work, but it’s so worth it.

Here’s how to go about practicing stillness.

  1. Decide. Creating a practice of stillness requires a conscious choice. It strengthens awareness, changes your perspective, and builds clarity upon which you can make choices that are much better for you. But it’s change and your ego, and others, will send up red flags at every turn, encouraging you to doubt the guidance you receive. You feel vulnerable and frightened. You’ll also experience a deep sense of peace, connection to Spirit, and fulfillment.
  2. Start small. Like any new undertaking, you’ll be more successful by starting small and building on your successes. Practice on easy things, like what to wear or what to have for dinner.
  3. Accept that you do not know. Let go. If you are afraid and see it as loss of control, remember the feeling you are in control is an illusion. As confident as you might feel, you don’t know where Spirit is going to lead or what will be asked of you on any particular day. When I set out on my Wheels to Wisdom quest, I was confident that I knew what I was doing, and would be guided to the people and experiences I needed. I soon realized that I hadn’t been thorough enough in understanding how much time it would take or the protocol involved. Now that I’ve had a chance to sit back and do some research, I realize how ill prepared I was, but you couldn’t have convinced me of that at the time.
  4. Ask for guidance. Often that’s all it takes to get an answer. I was riding through South Dakota, feeling somewhat unwell, and mused, “I wonder what I could do to make me feel better.” Not a minute later, a big Bentonite sign appeared, designating a mine entrance. I’d been taking the medicinal clay as part of a wellness strategy and had forgotten to bring it with me. I had my answer.
  5. Listen inwardly for a reply. It involves feelings, impulses, or sensations your body will send that translate to a sudden knowing of what to do. Ana Forrest, Creatrix of Forrest Yoga and Medicine Woman is a master at this. Watch her being interviewed and you’ll see her close her eyes to listen to what her body is telling her to do before she responds to questions. Listen to our podcast: Daily Diet for the Evolving Soul.
  6. Dare to act. While it seems contrary to letting go, it’s important to act on the guidance you’ve received while staying free of your personal agenda. This means going beyond your five senses, beyond your reasoning, and listening to your intuition. You’ll be amazed at how your intuition grows and how reliable the its counsel is. Sure it takes courage, but that too will grow.
  7. Practice. Draw consistently from your intuitive ability and you’ll get increasingly better at hearing your inner guidance. Practice builds awareness, trust, and hones your intuition. When I get direction in response to a question, even the simple ones, I follow through on it. If I’m going to do what I want anyway, that sends a huge message of mistrust, undermines my confidence, and shuts down my intuition.

Practicing stillness of will makes you realize how little you really know. You appreciate how limited and biased your perspective is and how important it is to open yourself up to a vision greater than your own. You’ll find yourself much more effective in your relationships, work, and personal life. Even better, it will create opportunities you had never dreamt of. Try it!

I’d love to hear from you. How do you practice stillness?

 
photo credit: thelostadventure via photopin cc

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10 Tips from Motorcycles for Optimal Health

by Liz Jansen

Often I find I have to look no further than my own writing for the answers I’m looking for. Given the reflection and healing I’m focusing on now, my reading took me to my own book and the perfect message that I needed for the day.

Here’s an excerpt from Life Lessons from Motorcycles; 75 Tips for Maintaining Body, Mind and Soul.

optimal healthA motorcycle is a piece of metal and other materials on two wheels. Yet, so many people shrink away from performing even the simplest maintenance, thinking it’s beyond them. Motorcycle maintenance is objective and rational, with no human emotions to complicate things.

When sparked to life, power is created. Basic components assembled into a logical sequence make it run—not unlike the human body. But those components need care and attention for the human or mechanical machine to operate effectively and not wear out prematurely.

  1. Air filter. Air is drawn through the filter and mixes with gasoline to provide the right fuel mix. If the filter is dirty and enough air can’t get through, mileage and performance drop. While you also need good clean air, it’s important to filter out negative thoughts and emotions as well so they don’t usurp your energy.
  2. Oil and filter. Motor oil is the lifeblood of your engine. There are many parts moving rapidly (check your tachometer to see just how quickly), and, without that lubrication, your engine will seize. Over time, dirt, debris, and particles, which accumulate in the oil, are kept from damaging the engine as the oil passes through the filter. Regular oil and filter changes are the simplest, least expensive way to produce longevity. Byproducts of metabolism can build up in your body, too, and it’s important to give it adequate rest and nutrition. While you can’t change your oil and filter, you can take steps to let only healthy ingredients into your body.
  3. Cables and wiring. These are a bike’s internal communication system. They transmit signals and power through an intricate assembly. It’s much like your nervous system, which collects information to help you react, think, and function, then sends out the appropriate instructions to the applicable body parts. Frayed wires or worn cables need to be replaced or the signal won’t get through.
  4. Gauges. Speedometers, tachometers, and the like give an objective reading of how the engine is performing, guide your behavior, and aid decision-making. It’s not such a straightforward read when it comes to assessing how your body is performing, although it will “read” differently when you are unwell, angry, or upset.
  5. Tires. Two small contact patches keep you grounded and upright. Make conscious choices to spend time in activities that ground you. Losing that connection risks body, mind, and soul.
  6. Spark plugs. These marvels generate the spark that meets with fuel to create combustion, which causes your engine to run. No spark plug, no combustion, no running engine. You have something that ignites your passion, too. Pay attention to what that is and follow it. Keep the spark alive.
  7. Drive chain. It’s great to have all that power in your engine, but sitting there, idling, won’t get you down the road. Your motorcycle will have a mechanism to transmit power from the engine to the wheels. Drive chains (and the sprockets they mesh with) wear over time. Keeping chains clean, lubricated, and at the recommended tension extends their life and prevents engine wear. Words and behaviors put your power into action. Experiences trigger emotions ranging from anger, fear, and worry to love, compassion, and joy. Your response is up to you and will determine how your power is transmitted.
  8. Brakes. They stop or slow you down to avoid danger. They also wear over time and need to be replaced, so check them periodically. Know your own safety mechanisms and how to recognize when they’re not working for you.
  9. Battery. The battery is a holding unit for the power that allows your engine to start and powers peripherals. If it can’t hold power or isn’t kept charged, it dies. Pay attention to your own energy level and make sure you’re replenishing it. It’s a balance, and it’s often easier to give than to receive.
  10. Operator. Someone’s got to be in charge of managing all these parts. Don’t leave it up to anyone else. Take control.

LL_Body_Mind_SoulPerforming basic maintenance on your motorcycle is not difficult and gives you a whole new appreciation for its capability. And it’s a great teacher. Learn from it. You can apply the same lessons to your life.

Purchase the entire ebook Life Lessons from Motorcycles—75 Tips for Maintaining Body, Mind and Soul available for any e-reader. $2.99.

photo credit: aperture_lag via photopin cc

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Embracing Active Stillness

by Liz Jansen

active stillness

As winter, snow, and arctic air has forced many of us inside, so too have I been led to introspection and questioning how I got to where I am. Since my accident four months ago, I’ve been frustrated with a lack of clarity in how I move forward. I’ve come to a greater knowing that finding the answer requires stillness but I’m still grappling with understanding exactly what stillness means.

I’ve realized I was ill prepared for the spiritual “mechanics” of my journey. The motorcycle, technical, and travel portion was simple by comparison. What I wasn’t prepared for was how to go about the main purpose of the trip – i.e. learning from indigenous wisdomkeepers who we are before we’re shaped by our culture, and how we can live in harmony and balance with the earth and each other. I forged ahead blindly, confident that I’d be guided in the right direction and to the right people. I was even prepared that for a circuitous path with a few U-turns.

Although I’m temporarily sidelined, my “assignment” hasn’t changed. It’s become very clear however, that I have to go about it differently. I approached the quest through my own filters, without realizing what I was getting into, what was being asked of me, or how best to go about it.

There’s only one way to get back on course, and that’s to listen with intent. That requires stillness. Real stillness. While stillness and slowing down are two different concepts, I need to slow down to learn stillness and make it an entrenched behavior. And that gives me the shakes.

My natural inclination is to stay busy, working on a number of projects at the same time. So many in fact that I don’t always finish them before moving on to the next exciting adventure. It’s lots of fun, but I’m not being as effective as I could be, were I even a little more disciplined. It is however an ingrained pattern and as counterproductive as it is, I’m very comfortable with it.

When I set out on my trip, I intended to live and continue working from the road, knowing full well that finding my stride would take a period of adjustment—knowing on a mental and physical level, but not understanding it from an energy perspective. Three weeks into my quest, it was already apparent that a major adjustment was necessary because there was no way I could do justice to everything on my agenda.

When I got back to Ontario, I again figured I’d get back to coaching, writing, offering webinars, online courses, continuing my podcast, all while recovering from a major assault on my being. What was I thinking?

Back to stillness. This isn’t the kind of habit achieved through daily meditation, which I practice, although meditation helps. It’s also not becoming immobile, because that doesn’t get us anywhere except rusty. It’s not about becoming inactive either, which only leads to stiffness and atrophy.

The kind of stillness I’m talking about involves stilling the will. It’s being open to guidance from Spirit. It’s a deliberate act of letting go of personal agendas, intentions, attachments, and desires. SCARY stuff.

To learn stillness I’m backing off on new projects and finishing those already in the works while I wait for clarity. I’m slowing down to a relative crawl for the next two months, although even committing to slowing down for a specific time is shortsighted. How do I know where Spirit is going to lead? For someone who’s self-employed and likes to be on the move, this is very uncomfortable. But as long as I think I have all the answers or let fear fuel me, I’m only creating resistance, blocking Spirit, and sabotaging my progress—and recovery. I have NO desire to repeat this lesson.

As Laura Klock likes to remind us, “The blessings are in the detours.” Who knows what the future holds for my work, my riding, and me? I do know that I’m excited to see where this Road leads, because I know the adventures—and the blessings—will continue. Thanks for sharing it and evolving with me.
photo credit: Theophilos via photopin cc

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17 Checks for the Right Motorcycle for Me

by Liz Jansen

Much to both my chagrin and delight, I find myself in the market for a motorcycle. I can have only one, and with so many choices, it’s hard to come up with the one that’s best for me.

I shopped for two years before purchasing my last bike, but when I finally found my Yamaha Super Ténéré, I knew we were right for each other. Now circumstances have changed and it’s time for something different.

right-motorcycle-for-me

BMW F700GS

It’s important to make a rational purchasing decision rather than one based on emotion. Otherwise you end up trading in that beautiful purple bike because it’s uncomfortable to ride for more than an hour.

Here’s the criteria I use to make my decision. They can be used for riders of any skill level and any discipline of riding.

  1. Skill level. Buy the bike that suits your skill level, NOT one you can grow into. This is a recipe for disaster. At best it’s stressful and uncomfortable because you’re not ready to handle it.
  2. Seat height. A skilled rider in control of his or her motorcycle places only one foot on the ground when coming to a stop. Nonetheless I don’t want to have to lean over too far to do that. The seat height specified by the manufacturer is a good guideline, but not definitive. You can sit on two bikes with the same seat height, but varying widths and shapes will make one comfortable and with the ground in easy reach, and the other seem too high. I’m not a fan of altering the suspension, unless it’s factory lowered, but I would reduce seat height by swapping in a customized seat, or carving out padding—a less preferred alternative.

    IMG_2256

    BMW F650GS

  3. Weight. More importantly, weight distribution. A heavy bike with a low centre of gravity can be easier to manage than a lighter bike with the weight up high. In any case, think about how you’ll manage moving a loaded bike around in a parking spot, your garage, or a camping site.
  4. Body position. I travel long distances and enjoy back roads and gravel. Consequently I want a more upright riding position and pegs I can stand up on. I like to have both elbows slightly flexed when my hands are on the bars. Given my shoulder injury, I may have to reduce the reach or change the position. Usually this is easily done by pivoting the bars in their position, adding risers, or changing bars.
  5. Riding style. Do you want a bike for commuting, touring, off-roading, or cruising? Do you carry a passenger regularly? Generally it’s a mix, although one will predominate. Pick the one that will work for you most of the time.
  6. Luggage capacity. There’s not much difference between the amount of gear you need for a week or a year. I still want to be able to work from the road and live comfortably, even if it is from a tent, so I’m going to make sure my bike can carry electronics, tools, gear and clothes for three seasons—and keep everything dry.
  7. Maintenance costs. I want to know what I can do myself, how frequently I have to take it in, and how long I have to wait for routine parts. Two years ago I had my bike apart to check valve clearances and then discovered that the valve cover seals were backordered for three weeks (across North America). You can’t ride without them so I was sidelined in prime riding season.
  8. Complexity. Most new bikes are highly technical, which can make them harder to work on yourself. Other than a few essentials which improve safety, like ABS, I want as them as simple as possible. I don’t want to have to dismantle a bike to get at the oil filter.
  9. Dealerships. I do as muchofmy own work as possible, but my bike still needs to go in for warranty work and more complex maintenance. Proximity to a dealer is important, especially if I need to leave it there.

    IMG_2254-2

    Yamaha FJ09

  10. Rider reviews. Unless it’s a new model, talk to others who’ve had that bike and ask them about their experience, preferably for a long period of time. Bear in mind you may have to filter out bias from riding styles, care practices, and knowledge level, but that feedback will give you a good barometer.
  11. Media reviews. These are another excellent resource, but generally they cover only new models tested in controlled settings over a short period of time. Still it’s another data point to help make an informed decision.
  12. Fuel economy and range. Important to know for any riding, it’s even more crucial for remote travel. It can also affect group riding if everyone else has to stop for you to fill up.
  13. Accessories. Most bikes have a plethora of after-market accessories to customize the bike according to your preferences, although it can take time for parts for new model to reach the market.
  14. Price. Sticker value is certainly a consideration, but look at the whole picture. Think about anything you’ll want to make it right for you—replacing stock items, modifications, and accessories. Also consider how your riding interests may change, maintenance costs, storage, insurance, fuel requirements, and maintenance schedules.

    IMG_2252-2

    Triumph Tiger

  15. Resale value. This isn’t a big consideration for me because I generally keep my bikes for many years. If you’re someone who likes to change things up regularly, this will be a factor.
  16. Test ride it. Most manufacturers offer demo days through local dealerships or a variety of events around the country. Watch for them and go for a ride. It’s not always possible to rest used bikes, which makes rider and media reviews that much more important.
  17. Gut check. Perhaps my most important criteria, I always check in with my intuition. One of the bikes I’m considering (not pictured) is logically a good choice, but it just doesn’t feel right when I sit on it. I have to do more research, but even if it looks right on paper I won’t get it if it doesn’t feel right.

Buy the bike you know is right for you, not the bike someone else tells you is right for you. There’s too much at stake to make anything other than the best choice for YOU.

One of these bikes may be the best motorcycle for me. They’re the top contenders right now. As I heal, I’ll have a better idea of my riding needs and in a position to make the best decision. In the mean time, I’ll be researching, going for test rides, and making that tough choice!

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Anatomy of an Accident

by Liz Jansen

I jumped out from under my crippled motorcycle, now resting on its left side, engine running, and headlights peering at me from an unusual orientation. In an instant, my life had changed forever.

Anatomy of an accident

RIP

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 was to have been my last day in Canada for a while. I’m still here. Three weeks into what I expected to be at least a year on the road, I crashed in rural Alberta, putting an end to my motorcycle, sustaining a severe shoulder injury, and crimping my plans. My plan of meeting with Native American elders and wisdom keepers, learning through indigenous wisdom about the effect of culture in shaping us, was interrupted. I wanted to better understand who we are before we’re told who we are, and how we can live in better balance with our true nature, the earth, and all life on it.

It was a picture perfect late summer morning and I had two destinations for the day: Blackfoot Crossing, an interpretive center near Gleichen and Namaka, where in the late 20’s and early 30’s, my dad spent his childhood on a farm abutting Blackfoot territory. Once a bustling railway spur, it’s now known only by way of stories passed down through the generations.

Beautiful prairie countryside

Blackfoot Crossing was about 90 minutes from my campsite in Okotoks and I was looking forward to a casual morning ride across the prairie landscape. Two-thirds of the way there, a sign advised me that ahead of me, the bridge over the Bow River was out. There was also a sign limiting truck capacity on the road, but I misread it, understanding that only truck traffic was restricted on the bridge. Until I got there and realized the bridge was literally out, washed away by the previous year’s floods.

With no other choice, I turned around, disappointed that I’d have to retrace my route. Then I spotted a crossroad, heading east out of the village of Arrowwood. I could cut across country and save myself a lot of time rather than backtracking. As soon as I turned onto it, I knew it would be a challenge.

It was gravel, which I’m fine with, but not a typical gravel road. The rocks were an inch and a half round, in a deep bed with no tire tracks. What to do? I attributed that voice telling me to turn around to irrational fear. After all, I had the skills and the bike to do it, and if I were confronted with this in Central or South America, I’d have to go. So best get on with it.

IMG_2274

Alberta Gravel

I stood up on the pegs and kept my eyes as far ahead as possible, which was pretty far on the flat prairie. My front tire wobbled around a lot but I’d expected that, and kept steady on the throttle, increasing at times to lighten the front end. I was terrified. So much so, that I didn’t look to either side to see side roads as I passed them. They were gravel but hard packed and rutted— and a far better alternative to what I was on.

Occasional trucks would approach from the opposite direction, spewing clouds of dust and obscuring my vision, but my gaze stayed steady on the road ahead. Another issue was that every time I increased speed to control the front wheel, I didn’t slow down afterward, afraid of making the front wheel dig in. That worked for about 12 miles, until I got to a sharp right hand turn. I was approaching too quickly and my front wheel was wobbling like crazy. Knowing this wasn’t going to end well, I did the best I could.

The front end of the bike hit the ground on the right side scraping the engine guards and kinking the handlebars, (this is the only part I don’t remember) before we bounced up and over, landing on the left side and sliding across and down the road, coming to rest down a slight grade, almost through the corner.

I jumped up, quickly hit the kill switch, and surveyed the scene. My tank bag had held tight but my left pannier had been torn off and tossed away. A mirror and the windscreen were missing, smashed and scattered on the road above me, and those headlights were staring back at me. My arm didn’t hurt if I didn’t move it but I could feel something was drastically wrong. I desperately wanted to get my helmet off but couldn’t manage it by myself.

Above all, I knew in an instant, my route had changed.

Two vehicles passed me, one in each direction. I couldn’t let the next one get by. I saw the white pick up approaching, scrambled up to the road and hailed him down. Jim, the driver, was my Good Samaritan. The first thing that needed doing was to get my helmet off. With one arm dangling in my sleeve and my other hand injured, I couldn’t do it alone. Thankfully, my Schuberth helmet was easy to remove and with a few simple instructions to Jim, it was off.

Amazingly, except for a minor friction burn on my left hip under my jacket and pants, there were no other injuries. My BMW gear had done its job. The TourShell suit was scuffed but not torn or abraded. The boots and gloves looked untouched. The AltRider engine guards, installed just before I left, created a space between the ground and my bike, saving my legs.

It didn’t occur to me to call an ambulance. I knew it would take ages to arrive and my intuition was pushing me to get to the hospital. Thank God for Jim. A self-employed contractor, he’d lived in the area his entire life and was on his way to a job when his day changed. He offered to take me to one of two small hospitals within 20-30 minutes, or to Calgary, 90 minutes away. Again, I listened to my intuition. I wanted to go where the specialists were. Doctors later told me that had I gone to one of the smaller hospitals, I would likely have waited 2-3 days for a transfer, while my fracture deteriorated to the point where a shoulder replacement and even more extensive surgery would have been necessary.

We didn’t leave before I gathered the personal items I’d brought with me that morning. Being a writer, I also wanted to have a photo of the scene—not an easy task given my status, and Jim didn’t know how to use an iPhone. So I captured what I could.

During the drive to the hospital, we called the RCMP to advise them what the bike was doing in the ditch, should someone report it. I also called TD Insurance, who covered my bike, to advise them of my accident. They have been absolutely terrific the whole time. Lastly, I emailed the only person I could think of in Calgary for help getting my bike towed to the bike shop. I’d just met John Colyer the week before in British Columbia at the Horizons Unlimited event, and he was a fellow adventure rider. Then I sat back for the rest of the ride in to the hospital.

To this day, I don’t know how I managed to organize everything, except that a Higher Power was guiding me. Although I thought that I was thinking pretty clearly, I got done what needed doing, but I realized later I was actually in shock and on automatic pilot.

At no point have I been angry about this accident. As soon as it happened, I knew I had a new reality to deal with and there was no point in anger. The only thing to do was focus on getting better, moving forward from that point, and back on the road.

So many positive things happened right away. In spite of being “alone” in rural Alberta, help was there immediately. I was taken to the best hospital and operated on the next day by a top shoulder trauma surgeon. Medical coverage between Ontario and Alberta was seamless so I had no concerns re medical bills. I had a private room in a brand new hospital, with a view of the Rocky Mountains. While I was in triage, Jim waited for John to arrive and spell him off. John not only arranged to get my bike out of the RCMP impound and trailered it to Calgary, he also went to my campsite, packed up my tent and clothing and brought it to me. And he and his mom opened their home to me so I could convalesce for a few weeks before making the trek back to Ontario.

The odd person has asked “what if…” What if no one had come along? What if I was more seriously injured and couldn’t reach the road? What if this had happened in a third world country where they didn’t speak English? And so on and so forth.

We could “what-if” this to death. The reality is, that none of those things happened, so why give them energy? Life is not predictable. I follow the call of my heart, but I also plan, train, and prepare. We never know what’s around the corner, even if we think we do.

I also haven’t spent time dissecting why this happened. Maybe there was a reason, maybe there wasn’t. And if there was, maybe it will become apparent, maybe it won’t. The second most important thing for me is accepting that I’m operating from a new reality, and moving forward from there. Most important is being grateful for being protected and cared for to the extent that I was. And for the tremendous support I’ve received from so many of you.

While I knew it would take time to heal my physical wounds, I believed I could do that while continuing to work a reduced schedule. I’m only now beginning to realize how life-changing this event has been, and to learn the lessons it’s teaching me. As much as we’re a physical body, we’re also an emotional, mental and spiritual being. One part can’t take a hit without the rest being affected. And we don’t heal by focusing on just one part of our being.

Almost all of you have dealt with major traumatic events, if not personally, then with someone close to you. Many of them are far more traumatic and life altering than what happened to me. Nonetheless, it is changing my perspective, priorities, and the way I view many things, including what I set out to do.

I will continue to share with you as that evolves.

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7 Essentials for a Motorcycle Rider Training Course

by Liz Jansen

Knowing how to ride safely is a survival skill. Anyone can get on a motorcycle and ride in a straight line. But handling a motorcycle competently under a myriad of situations requires basic skills—like controlled braking, cornering, and slow-speed maneuvers—which need to be developed under the watchful eye of a professional trainer.

The best way to acquire those skills is under the tutelage of a qualified instructor at an accredited course. With all the choices out there, it’s tough to know where to begin. Start with these essentials.

motorcycle-rider-training

  1. Professionalism. Look for high standards in the organization, beginning with your first contact. Ask how instructors are trained, how often they are trained, and what certifications they have. If possible, go out to a location where the course is conducted and watch how instructors interact with students.
  1. Other courses. Your first course is not your last. It’s nice to develop a relationship with a training provider, so when you’re ready for advanced training or specialized skills, you’re already confident in their ability to deliver.
  1. References. Get more than one reference, so someone who’s elated or someone else who’s disgruntled doesn’t overly influence your opinion. Bear in mind you never know what the student experienced or why, but get feedback that’s as balanced and objective as possible.
  1. Reputation. You want your course and the instructors to have the BEST reputation of all the programs. This is YOUR life.
  1. Equipment. For a course that provides motorcycles ask what make, model, size, and age. Training motorcycles go through an arduous moto life so you want to make sure they’re well maintained. When you’re out at the lot checking out the instructors (#1), check out the fleet of motorcycles, and their state of repair.
  1. Facilities. Determine where the course is held, how much space is available, and what the training surface is like. Make sure it’s as free from distractions as possible (busy streets, airports, noisy industrial facilities), has facilities for protection from the elements (rain,heat,cold) and either has amenities on site or within a convenient range.
  1. Price. Although an important consideration, look at the total package, based on the essentials listed above. The lowest price is not always the best value for you.

As with any relationship, after establishing that the essentials are in place, the most important thing is to make sure the course is the right fit for you. Check in with your intuition before deciding. It always steers you to the right decision.

Related Post: 7 Reasons for Every Rider to Take a Motorcycle Skills Course Every Year

Posted in Motorcycle Tips

RYNO Sighting

The New Year brings new possibilities of all sorts. Consider the RYNO for your urban adventures. 

With its zero-emissions operation, clever removable battery packs, and jaw-dropping, futuristic, anime-inspired styling, the RYNO concept merges the green movement with a total sense of coolness in a way the Toyota Prius or Divvy rental bike simply doesn’t. Whenever a RYNO is around, people gawk – made clear when my interview was interrupted with the far-off shout: “Hey, RYNO guy!”

RYNO is gearing up to deliver an incredibly agile product that combines the best characteristics of a unicycle, bicycle, and motorcycle. The production version of the microbike leans into corners like a bike before slowing to walking speed and joining the foot traffic on sidewalk. At that speed, the RYNO’s rider can roll right through the doors of an office building and into an elevator before spinning around, pressing the floor button, and effortlessly backing up like any other person on foot.

Source: Fix.com

Read all about it here

Posted in Adventure

10 Top Tips to Set You Up for a Fantastic 2015

by Liz Jansen 

One life-changing event shaped my whole year— a motorcycle accident on a beautiful, clear, sunny late summer morning. With the twisted wreckage of my bike lying against the embankment and my left arm dangling inside my jacket, I knew my road was irrevocably changed.

life lessonsOdd as it may seem, the whole experience has been a gift of a most unusual nature. It’s illustrated poignant life lessons in vivid, sensory detail. None of these are new or earth shattering, and are in fact reminders rather than new lessons—reminders to live with each day. Learning to appreciate present moment will make each of these easier to live.

  1. Be open to what the road delivers. When I left on my Wheels to Wisdom quest, I had a loose plan in place. I knew what I wanted to accomplish and had a rough idea of where I wanted to be and when. At least for the first three months. I purposely left much of it unplanned, wanting to be open to what the road would deliver. Little did I know what was ahead. I pictured serendipitous events, adventures, and new possibilities. I did not foresee an accident. Yet that’s where my journey took me—and what the road delivered.
  2. Listen to your intuition. Two major reminders come to mind. The first was just one business day before I left, when I called my insurance company to check on out of country coverage. What I discovered was that due to a mix-up, my motorcycle insurancehad been cancelled three weeks earlier. Fortunately, we rectified that on the spot. I don’t even want to think about what would have happened had I left with no coverage.The second one was in the minutes leading up to my spill. As soon as I started down what I thought would be a shortcut on deep gravel bed Albertans apparently call a road, my intuition told me it was going to be a challenge and that I should turn back. I attributed it to irrational fear, reasoning that if I encountered such a road in South America, I’d have to navigate it. I also knew I had the bike and the skills to do it. But I was close to terrified. And the further I went, the more the fear messed with my mind. There were a number of side roads I could have turned down that were rough and rutted, yet they were easier to manage, but I continued for 12 miles until the road said, “Enough!”
  3. You are never alone. I was 90 minutes east of Calgary in rural Alberta and in a big predicament. But I barely had time to hit the kill switch, quickly survey the scene, and climb up the small embankment so I could be seen, when a white pick-up truck appeared. I flagged him down and that Good Samaritan helped me get my helmet off, gather a few essentials, and drive me to the hospital in Calgary. Doctors have credited his actions with saving me from significant complications.
  4. Help appears when you least expect it, but be prepared to ask for it. Good Samaritan Jim in his white pick up was an example of this. I also had other logistics—like my smashed bike—to deal with. I emailed the only person I could think of who I knew in Calgary, John Colyer. John arranged for transport of my bike back to Calgary, went to my campsite 20 miles south of the city, packed up my things and brought them to me, visited me in the hospital, and along with his mother, provided their home to recuperate after discharge and before making the trek home.
  5. Your plan and Spirit’s plan are not always the same. There are so many examples of this from the past few months, a number of which I’ve already mentioned. Spirit’s plan always comes out on top, even if you never understand the reason why. Be prepared that the day may not go as you expect.
  6. Be careful what you ask for. The number one purpose of my quest was to learn more about indigenous wisdom, earth wisdom, and the knowledge of who we are before we’re shaped over the generations by our cultures—and how we can use that to better ourselves, our communities and our earth. I knew that this would mean stripping away the layers of stories we’ve been told and beliefs we’ve held about who we are.As a result of the accident, and the preparations leading up to it, I found myself with no permanent home, no car, and no motorcycle. I pride myself on my independence, resilience, and resourcefulness. I’ve had to accept help I never thought I’d need. Major things I’d used to identify myself were gone. But isn’t that what I asked for? Some of the layers were stripped back to reveal what was really underneath. And there are more layers yet.
  7. What other people think of you is none of your business. Almost exclusively, those closest to me supported my work, even if they didn’t understand it. Those same people have been the ones to lend a hand, and offer strength and encouragement when things didn’t go as planned. It’s because I choose to hang around positive, nurturing people, who understand the importance of leading with your heart in creating a life of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment. The naysayers are simply projecting their own fear on you. While I recognize the importance of making informed decisions, I’m not about to carry anyone else’s fears. I’ve got much more constructive ways to direct my energy.
  8. Don’t spend a lot of time figuring out why things happen as they do. I’ve often been asked why I think this accident happened. Or even offered opinions about why it happened. Admittedly, the question has crossed my mind. But only fleetingly. It’s important to learn the lessons from the past so they’re not repeated, but as far as understanding why things transpired as they did, I may never know. And I’m not going to waste energy trying to figure it out. I am where I am, and my eyes are focused on where I’m going, and how best to get there. We all know what happens if we look somewhere other than where we want to go.
  9. Watch for patterns that no longer work for you. One of my greatest tripping points is taking on too much work, robbing my time for self, socializing and Spirit. Healing has been my number one focus over the past four months, so the amount of work I’ve done is significantly reduced. Even so, I’m STILL trying to cram too much in. Year-end is a time for reflection and planning, and I’d drafted goals for 2015, tempered by a reduced workload. Yesterday I took another look. I’d be overloading myself AGAIN if I stuck to them. Those goals will be revised. I do have one that I’m holding out for though. And that’s to present at Horizons Unlimited’s first event in Virginia in April. And riding there!
  10. Always wear high quality protective gear from head to toe, including that on your bike. My travel wardrobe was properly fitted BMW Tourshell pants and jacket, BMW boots, BMW gloves, and a Schuberth helmet. I ‘d outfitted my bike withAltRider crash guards and a skid plate just before leaving. I bounced around on the road, before sliding and coming to an abrupt stop. The most visible wear is along the left side where the fabric appears slightly scuffed, but otherwise, there are no abrasions, tears, or holes. It’s perfectly wearable and functional.The engine guard and boots protected my legs. The helmet protected my head and face. The suit and gloves absorbed much of the impact and minimized the force on my body. No one expects to have an accident. There’s lots of functional, good-looking gear out there. How much is a functional body worth to you?

These life lessons are not news flashes to most of us. However just as we go through school, the lessons become more difficult and demanding as we go through life. Learning them provides us with a sense of fulfillment and prepares us for greater things.

photo credit: Krista & Robyn via photopin cc

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7 Ways to Practice Non Engagement

by Liz Jansen 

As a rider, you know there’s no point engaging in a confrontation with another vehicle on the road. You’re going to lose. The same is true in life. Allow your self to engage in another’s drama or battles, and you lose.

To practice non-engagement is to deliberately choose not to take place in conflict. Conflict arises out of fear and is a response to protecting our Self. Our true adversary in life is our wounded self, not another person. Others are there to teach us the lessons we need to learn to move forward on our path.

non engagementRather than getting drawn into a protracted fight and dumping your energy down a black hole, practice non-engagement and redirect it towards something constructive.

  1. Focus on what’s important. Do things really need to be done the way you’ve always done them? Really? Take the high road and consider what’s important. If necessary, negotiate on those things.
  1. Give up the need to be right. You may, with absolute certainty, have the right of way in an intersection. Yet if a car decides to turn pull out in front of you, it’s ludicrous to stand your ground and move forward. When engaging with others at home or work, look for the common ground and ways to connect, rather than having to prove yourself right.
  1. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. The next time you’re tempted to engage in a confrontation, take a deep breath and ground yourself. Picture yourself in the other person’s shoes and look at the situation from his eyes. Try to understand where he’s coming from, then work on solving the problem and creating a win-win solution
  1. Be uncompromising. While you may have to be flexible and negotiate, be completely uncompromising on matters of integrity and the things you believe in. This means being crystal clear on your values and not getting mired down in uncertainty.
  1. Mind your thoughts. Listening to the tape that tells you you’re unappreciated and misunderstood, will lead you to subconsciously look for situations that prove this to be right. Rather than perpetuating a victim mentality, don’t take things personally. You don’t know the intentions behind another’s behavior. Focus instead on resolving the conflict within yourself.
  1. Remain in control. You control your choices. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re backed into a corner and have no choice. Don’t back someone else into that same corner.
  1. Look in the mirror. Qualities you admire in others are qualities you possess. Qualities in others that push your buttons are also found in you. Just as you must love yourself first before you can love another, so too must you solve the conflict within yourself rather than getting drawn into someone else’s drama.

The next time you’re tempted to engage in dysfunctional conflict, choose instead to practice non engagement. Look for the lesson in the situation. Step beyond fear and bring love and beauty to every encounter.

 

In The Four Insights, Dr. Alberto Villoldo draws from indigenous cultures to identify the practices that allow us to change our perception of the events that happen to us, remove the association with cause and effect and learn to live in harmony with our world. One of these is the practice of non engagement.

Reprinted from December 2013

 

photo credit: ginnerobot via photopin cc
 

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