Canada Day—Celebrate and Remember

by Liz Jansen

It seemed appropriate to pull this article from the archives for this Canada Day on which we celebrate our freedom and those who help us keep it. Last week, Major (ret.) Edgar Wayne “Watch Dog” Boone, 58 of Ottawa, and Master Cpl. Darren Williams from Quinte West were killed when they were hit by an oncoming car while riding in formation with fellow veterans from the CAV (Canadian Army Veterans Motorcycle Unit.) Another rider is in serious condition. This post is dedicated to them, and all the men and women who serve. Thank you. 

Remembrance Day

Today on Remembrance Day, we pay special tribute to all those who have served our countries in the military. Their sacrifices, courage and patriotism have given us the way of life we enjoy today.

We will never know the horrors of war and peacekeeping they have endured or what they’ve had to do in the name of service. Ironically, being removed from conflict while enjoying our liberties makes it easy to become complacent and forget the price of freedom. Those who have actively fought for them will never forget.

Canada Day

There are many military motorcycle units who are actively reaching out to their comrades, especially those suffering from PSTD. Motorcycles – and the heroes who ride them – are therapy.

This year brings a new recognition to soldiers who have served, but died when they’ve chosen to take their own life. These are fallen soldiers just as are those who die during battle. Check out this website Soldiers of Suicide. Hold these soldiers in gratitude for their service and offer sympathy and support to their families. A huge word of appreciation goes to Lise Charron for birthing this project.

When you see active or retired military men and women, take a moment to say “Thank you.” They need to hear it and we need to remember.

Related articles:

photo credit: fatboyke (Luc) via photopin cc

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Posted in Leadership

5 Blog Posts You Don’t Want to Miss

by Liz Jansen

blog postsWith the season in full swing, new riders are graduating from classes, purchasing motorcycles, and getting out on the road. Continuous learning and skill improvement is a life-long habit to start right now. That’s why I’ve included Keith Code’s article on counter-steering, which all riders can learn from.

We’ll relate to Jen Hill’s passion for riding, and love reminiscing at Sturgis Museum’s ”My First Ride” exhibit.. Tips on purchasing used bikes are always helpful, and the Mad Maxx bike will appeal to fantasy lovers everywhere.

 


Keith Code—Motorcyclistsonline.com 

Countersteering Vs. Body-Steering: Which One Steers The Bike?

“Twist of the Wrist author Keith Code explains the difference between steering a motorcycle through handlebar input and body lean.

Most barstool debates tend to devolve into generalities, opinions, and hearsay, in the absence of defined terms. Debating generalities just gives me a headache. The age-old countersteering versus body-steering argument—one of the oldest motorcycle-related barstool debates—is one that could especially benefit from some solid definition.”


Howard Kelly—Motorcycle.com

The Girl Who Played With Ninja

“Picture if you will, the average person you might meet with a masters in mathematics. Quickly you envision Archimedes, Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei or even Albert Einstein, but none of you would instantly draw a mental image of Jen Hill (Jen Tekawitha if you seek her Instagram or website), a vibrant young woman who at present has logged more than 20,000 miles on a Kawasaki Ninja 250 – her first bike!

Jen committed to her education doing things like being a range assistant in MSF programs for two years, taking a Lee Parks Total Control ARC class, the MSF DirtBike School and most recently, the Cornerspin class. Education was second nature to Jen, but she also knew that getting out and riding would be the true transformation in her skill. So she rode, everywhere.”


Motorcycle.com

Buying Your First Used Motorcycle Without Getting Taken for a Ride

“If you’re in the market for a motorcycle, chances are you’ve noticed that a swath of new two-wheelers with a five-figure price tag. Of course there are plenty of motorcycles with smaller digits on the bill of sale, but like anything, motorcycle retail prices go up, not down.

Is your need or desire for a motorbike fervently at odds with the very practical matter of staying pennywise? If so, here’s a way to make peace between the devil and angel on your shoulders: buying used.”


by Ken Conte

Sturgis Motorcycle Museum’s “My First Ride” Exhibit

“The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame is proud to announce the opening of its newest exhibit: “My First Ride.” The exhibit features motorcycles many riders will recognize as that first motorcycle they ever rode. In addition, the exhibit features stories by people from all over the country detailing the first time they climbed on a motorcycle.”


Michelle Starr—CNET

Wind-powered motorcycle for a Mad Max world

“Fossil fuels aren’t going to last forever.

Come the days of scarcity, hopefully we won’t be living in a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland warring viciously over the few resources left — and hopefully we’ll be a little more prepared, with sustainable replacements for the fossil-fueled technology we live with now.

This is the idea behind James Dyson Award entry Strangeworld — a motorcycle powered by the wind and the sun.”


photo credit: A Quick Test for Optimism vs. Pessimism via photopin (license)

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Posted in Motorcycle Tips, Rider Stories

9 Reasons to view Death as an Ally

by Liz Jansen

14409015592_e42f42f785_nAs a child, the thought of physical death was never far from consciousness, entrenched in the belief system with which I was raised. It terrified me, shaped my thoughts, and predicated my behavior for many years. It still shapes my perspective on life and influences my choices. Except now, I see death as an ally, opening the door to a meaningful and vibrant life.

An awareness of death helps us:

  1. Keep our priorities straight and our life in balance. Accepting that we’re all mortal creatures and here for a finite time instills a renewed sense of immediacy, perspective, and scale. Making these senses a daily practice mitigates the sudden wake-up call that often springs from a cancer diagnosis or similar life-threatening situation. Leaders of change.
  2. Release the hold on material possessions and finances as a means of security. While they can still be part of our existence, the pretenses, ostentatiousness, and fear of losing them need not be a motivator.
  3. Let go of social status, sexual roles, and titles as markers of who we are. This doesn’t mean abandoning social and material existence or obligations. Rather, it removes arbitrary roles and expectations from the driver’s seat.
  4. Keep our I love you’s and I forgive you’s I don’t want to look back on my life with regrets. It’s not just our own demise that could prompt this but also the unexpected passing of a loved one with whom we share unfinished business.
  5. Let go of those parts of our life that no longer serves us. It allows us to birth a new job, relationship, or other interest. In the early 2000’s, I came to the difficult realization with both my marriage and my career that I’d evolved into roles that no longer fit. I was approaching age 50 and knew that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life there. It was a turbulent time but it opened my eyes to opportunities and possibilities I’d never dreamt possible.
  6. Confront the purpose and meaning of our existence. The eternal question. Each of us will have different opinions, but at the end of the day, resolving what has heart and meaning and following that lead will serve us well. I want to fully use my skills and abilities to make a difference in this world.
  7. Live in the now. Viewing death as an ally reminds us of the preciousness of each moment. It helps us appreciate beauty in each flower, love of friends and family, kindness in a stranger’s eyes, and laughter.
  8. Promote simplicity. Letting go of attachments frees up the time and energy we need to expend to earn them, maintain them, and dispose of them.
  9. Heighten our appreciation of nature and appreciation of others. With more time available in prime slots, we can spend more of it with people, pursuits, and passions that nourish our soul.

Viewing death as an ally allows me to embrace life and appreciate the people, plants, and animals I share it with. How is an appreciation of death a useful partner in your life?


 

photo credit: TWP_CRO2014 via photopin (license)


 

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Posted in Personal Growth

Blog Posts You Don’t Want to Miss from Last Week

by Liz Jansen 

4532975094_28fe47e151_nLast week I was dismayed to learn about crashes from two well-known women riders. I was also grateful that they weren’t more seriously injured. Both ascribe to an ATGATT philosophy and it saved their hides. Literally. My injuries were also minimized by high quality, proper fitting gear. We take all reasonable precautions when riding, but crashes happen.

Read and learn from their stories. I’ve also included posts to help keep you safe on the road.


Alicia Elfving aka The MotoLady

Crashing my Motorcycle and the Value of Gear

“Yesterday at about 11am I left Costa Mesa base camp heading toward LA on the 55 North freeway. I exited right at the 73N/405N freeway onramp interchange, which is a really long two lane sweeping left turn. At about 50 mph, I hit what I thought was a little bump in the roadway and got a speed wobble, which almost immediately turned into a violent tank slapper and I hit the pavement. I didn’t highside- I had a very violent lowside (sort of) where the bike hit the ground rather hard (and with the quickness).

We then slid some 75 or so feet to a stop after sliding into the median (in what seemed like slow-mo) and bouncing off. The bike and I ground against the road for a moment together when I lost sight of it, rolling sideways as I skid feet first and then rotated around to point across the lanes.”


GearChic aka Joanne Donn

Remember, #Atgatt

“Story to come. Just know that the combination of leather and body armor saved the entire right side of my body. All I walked away with was a fun collection of bruises in varying shades of green.”  The photos (not gory) tell all.


Motorcycle.com

Warm-Weather Jackets And Pants Buyers Guide

“It’s June and the temperatures are now starting to hot up. That can only mean one thing: Summer’s here and riding season is in full swing. For some, riding in hot weather means shedding the protective gear in order to stay cool. You don’t need us to remind you what a bad idea this is, as one of our favorite adages when it comes to riding in hot climes is “I’d rather sweat than bleed.” For this buyer’s guide, we’ve put together 10 jackets and pants that’ll both keep you cool on a hot ride and also protect your hide should you have the unfortunate fate of falling down. The list is organized in ascending order based on price.”


RoadRUNNER

Riding in a Proper State of Mind; A Mental Checklist for Riders

“It’s been observed that operating a motorcycle is 90-percent mental and only 10-percent physical. In addition, scientists tell us that we are not consciously aware of most of what the mind is doing in everyday life. Do you consciously think about breathing or making your heart beat or which foot operates your bike’s gear shift? Like an iceberg, some 90-percent of the brain’s activity is taking place below the conscious surface. This may fly in the face of some historic perceptions of motorcyclists as brawny he-men muscling heavyweight cruiser-type bikes down the road.”


MC Garage

How to Set Up and Adjust Your Controls

“Every bike should be fitted to its rider. Even if your motorcycle has no apparent allowances, you can still make some basic adjustments that will improve your riding comfort and the ease with which you manage your bike’s controls. We’ll show you how.”


photo credit: Self Portrait via photopin (license)


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Posted in Motorcycle Tips

How to Start Riding After a Motorcycle Accident

by Liz Jansen 

IMG_2036I’m nervous about getting back on a motorcycle. Although I don’t keep a running total, I’ve ridden hundreds of thousands of miles over 45 years with no accidents on the road until last summer. I teach others how to ride motorcycles at Humber College. And I’m a little spooked.

There’s never been any question that I’d ride again. Even before I hit the kill switch as my bike lay totaled in that Alberta ditch, I knew I’d be back on the road. And that time is quickly approaching.

You don’t have to have done anything spectacular to unnerve you. An incident as minor as dropping your bike in a parking lot can give your confidence a hit.

Here’s how I’m proceeding:

Have a plan. Your circumstances will be unique to you, your riding experience, and any injuries.

Consult an expert. I’m fortunate to have access to Clinton Smout, a world-class trainer and owner of SMART Adventures.  Clinton’s a consummate professional and trains everyone from little kids on their first off-road bike, to police officers and FIM trainers. Don’t take advice from anyone BUT an expert. There’s too much at stake.

Wait until you’re ready. I haven’t ridden a motorcycle in 10 months. That alone means my skills are rusty. That I’ve had a traumatic experience compounded by a non-riding injury has affected my confidence. And I’ll be riding bikes that are new to me. I’ve got a few things to overcome.

Start slowly. Three weeks ago I had my first motorcycle ride since crashing nine months earlier. I was tentative and really nervous, not so much from flashbacks but rather because I didn’t feel secure on the ankle I broke at the end of March. Until a part isn’t working at full capacity, you don’t realize how much you use it. I thought I’d just need my left ankle for support when I threw my right leg over the seat. That’s true, but just the start.

Your ankle doesn’t remain rigid as all of that is going on. Even if subtle, the joint is flexing, rotating, and extending itself to help you maintain balance. I ended up getting on from the wrong side and even that took a bit of acrobatics. Then there was the dilemma of righting the bike from the side stand. I was on a light bike, on a flat surface, and it wasn’t that far over, but that little push to get it vertical by myself was out of the question that day. With a little help I was off and accomplished what I’d set out to do—ride around the parking lot.

Get ready to push your comfort zone. Don’t think there aren’t voices in my head telling me I’m crazy, and to be careful or I’ll hurt myself again. Some of those voices are logical while others are over-reacting. It’s a matter of keeping them in balance. We all know riding is risky but there’s lots we can do to mitigate it. Keeping skills sharp, riding alert, and wearing high visibility, high quality protective clothing are a good start.

Choose your motorcycle wisely.  Your motorcycle may be OK for you to return to. Mine isn’t. I’ll be testing bikes that are lighter, have a lower seat height, and a smaller engine displacement. I like the upright seating position and know I may have to adapt it so it’s comfortable for me.

Ramp up gradually. I know the secret to building confidence is saddle time, done under conditions where I’m set up for success. For a few days, that means parking lots and low speeds on low-traffic roads during off-peak hours.

Take frequent breaks. My ankle and shoulder will need a rest from the physical exertion. And whether I feel it or not, I’ll be expending emotional energy on tension. It’s only natural. Short, more frequent rest stops will keep me from depleting my energy allotment before I get to my destination.

Be flexible. Be prepared to adjust your progress depending on how you respond. There’s no prize for overdoing it or trying to get back before you’re ready. I have no desire to spend more time recuperating.

Be kind to yourself. It takes effort and done deliberately and purposefully, it’s so worth it!

If you truly want to ride, don’t let anything or anyone stop you. Not only do you deny yourself the pleasures of riding, that message of defeat carries with you into other areas of your life.


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Posted in Adventure, Liz's Stories, Motorcycle Tips

10 Things I Learned from Rhubarb Plants

by Liz Jansen

Last week my sister Mary posted this picture and caption on Facebook.

rhubarb plants

“I pirated this plant about 4 years ago..it was one of about 1000 or more that my dad could make grow 3 feet high..guess I just don’t have his touch. I still enjoy having it my back yard though.”

The plant obviously has a strong survival instinct, but it desperately needs nourishment. It’s all leaf, short-stalked, pale, and bug-infested. Curiosity prompted me to consult the expert for answers. What I learned in family history and life lessons went beyond my simple question.

Dad began farming rhubarb in 1965. Initially he had little more than an acre, grown primarily for root stock for forcing it indoors. (Rhubarb is propagated by dividing the root.) It meant a winter harvest and a source of revenue. It turned out to be hard work with little financial yield so he got out of it after 2-3 years, concentrating on his outdoor cash crop. Eventually the field grew to 15 acres producing 210 tons of rhubarb, all harvested by hand. Including mine.

These attributes which make a healthy rhubarb plant also create health and vitality for us:

  1. Understand your lineage. The way to plant more rhubarb is to divide the roots and replant. It means the characteristics of that root will be passed on through many generations—particularly symbolic as I study my own heritage. Traits and values are passed through our energy code without us even being aware of them. They’re part of our subconscious and it’s only when we can unlock that key that we see our self, our world, and those in it more clearly.
  2. Practice patience. Roots are ideally two years old before they can be forced, otherwise the yield is meager. I think of times I’ve tried to get things done before I was ready or had all the information. It’s also required when allowing body and soul to heal, like now when I’m eager to get riding again.
  3. Be open to continuous learning. When you let rhubarb get too old, you can’t keep the grass out of it. It takes over and invites bugs, who then settle in and eat the stalks. The processor won’t take your crop, and you’ve just taken a big financial hit. This speaks to me of remaining healthy, open to new ideas, and living a vibrant, purposeful life.
  4. Accept force doesn’t work in the long-term. Forcing plants goes against their natural cycle and thus hard on the roots. They become limp, are not suitable for replanting, and must be discarded. Usefulness, productivity, and longevity are all greatly reduced. Enough said.
  5. Nurture your whole being. It’s the obvious solution for Mary’s rhubarb plant. Dad says it needs chicken manure. “You can use commercial fertilizer too but chicken manure is best.” In order to thrive, we need the right kind of nurturing unique to us. Aside from physical nutrition, it’s up to us to manage who and what we share our energy with.
  6. Know where home is. When dad was getting out of rhubarb, he transplanted some of it to another location on his home farm. He could never get it to grow well there consistently. Whether it didn’t like being uprooted (pun) from its clan, or subtle soil or atmospheric differences played a role was never clear. There are environments where we’ll thrive and others where we don’t do so well. Our job is to discover the best one for us.
  7. Expect good things can come out of bad times. Dad initially sold his field crop to a processor in Middleport, NY, who always paid in 30 days. When one year that didn’t happen, dad called, only to discover the company had gone bankrupt, leaving him in the lurch for $10,000. That was a big blow. Fortunately fate intervened and someone from the parent company took up his case. Within 4-5 days he had $5,000 with the balance arriving a few days later. He still had to look for someone else who would buy his rhubarb and found it—closer to home, and with a family business who values dad respected. They developed a friendship that stands to this day.
  8. Exercise compassion. After enjoying a healthy relationship with the second company for many years, dad received an emotional call from the owner, a friend, telling him he couldn’t take all his crop that year.  Kelloggs, whom they sold it to, could get rhubarb cheaper from Poland. A harvested crop doesn’t fare well sitting in the field. Dad saw his income wilting before his eyes. He had only a few more loads to deliver so dad’s friend agreed to take it, even though he didn’t know where he’d market it. But dad had pity on HIM and rather than pass on the hardship, said he’d find another way to get rid of it.
  9. Trust. When one company went bankrupt, dad didn’t divert energy to anger or worry, although I do remember him holding the brim of his capon his hand while scratching his head, wondering how they’d make ends meet. The same thing happened when his market dried up. There were hard times, but somehow he managed.
  10. Know when to cut your losses. Farming is always risky business, but that was it for dad. He pulled out his rhubarb field and went on to other things. At 64.

Life lessons are all around us, often delivered from the most unusual sources—like rhubarb plants. Our task is to remain open to recognizing them, however they appear. And then responding.

 

 

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Posted in Liz's Stories, Personal Growth

The Power of Community

by Liz Jansen

Motorcyclists are never amongst strangers when we’re with other riders. Yet above and beyond this common bond, a strong community forms when adventurers and travelers gather, virtually or in person. This strength and power of community offers camaraderie and a safety net, which otherwise independent travelers can call on for resources, anywhere in the world. As is the case with John Colyer’s story, one interaction often paves the way for a sequence of events that could never have been predicted.

John Colyer Power of community

I met John virtually through Rene Cormier last summer for a story I was writing for Rene’s Edmonton-based Renedian Adventures. Renedian conducts highly acclaimed tours in southern Africa and John had traveled with Rene the previous season. I was living and working from the road, on what I expected was a 12-18 month trip through the Americas. As it turned out, John and I were both attending the Horizon’s Unlimited Travelers Meeting in Nakusp, British Columbia, so we agreed to meet up there. Trying to pin John down when there’s riding and socializing to be done was impossible. I left Nakusp without the interview but John was headed back to his home in Calgary, and I was headed to nearby Okotoks so we agreed to meet up or email when there were fewer distractions.

Three days later I crashed 90 minutes east of Calgary shattering my shoulder and writing off my Super Ténéré. I was alone and even before I knew I needed surgery, I knew I needed help with my bike. Without even thinking, I emailed John while another Good Samaritan was driving me to the hospital in his pickup truck. John was at an all-day preparation meeting for ‘photo moto’s’ (carrying photographers for those incredible shots) at the upcoming Tour of Alberta elite bicycle race, yet he still managed to get my bike out of the RCMP impound where it had been towed, and transport it to Calgary. He also drove 20 miles south to Okotoks where I was camped, packed everything up, brought me what I needed and took the rest back to his place. He was a regular, and my only visitor during my six-day hospital stay.

Graciously he and his mother Beryl opened their home to me so I could recuperate prior to making arrangements to return to Ontario. I was there for two and a half weeks during which I was amazingly cared for. All of this from someone who was a complete stranger a week earlier. I did manage to get the interview but only on the eve of my departure.  Read about his African adventure here.

DSC_1763 elephant crossing sm

Retired after 28 years with the Canadian Military, first with the Combat engineers and then as an Airforce Aviation Technician, John had recently purchased a BMW 1200GS and was mulling over the idea of an extended trip to South America. It wasn’t a big surprise when I heard he’d headed out on November 28th, expecting to spend at least two years exploring the Americas.

He got off to a great start but two months into his trip, personal business required him to return to Canada. Seeing it as an interruption but not a trip stopper, he made arrangements to store his bike at the home of a British restaurant owner in Puerto Aventuras, Yucatan and flew back to Calgary on January 23, 2015. Unbeknownst to me, he was already having dizzy spells which he wrote off to something minor, like an inner ear infection or wax buildup.

Back in Calgary, all did not go as planned. The personal business took longer to wrap up than expected and those dizzy spells persisted, so John’s idea was to get his bike, attend Overland Expo in Arizona and return home. The neurologist ordered a CT angiogram, calling the day before he was to leave advising him that he had a brain aneurysm and any travel was not advisable. At a follow-up consultation on May 14, John agreed to surgery, which is now booked for June 15th.

Mexico requires a monetary deposit with its Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit to make sure your bike isn’t left in the country. John had to have his GS out by June 10th or lose his deposit and risk administrative nightmares. If he could get it out of Mexico and into the southern US, it would at least relieve him of that worry.

Enter Dave Coe, from Medicine Hat, AB who I also met at Nakusp, and Sharon Faith, from Jackonsonville, FLA, who I have yet to meet in person. I was expecting Dave to send a few sentences back in response to my question but as he did with John, he went way beyond my questions, responding with an extensive story. He speaks right from his heart, and rather than have me try to capture his ardor, go to his blog and read what he wrote here.

11028001_10153128746169395_6400246630078935316_n

The extent he went to in helping his friend was incredible, riding John’s bike 4,200 km across Mexico to Phoenix in extreme heat, humidity, and time constraints. You’ll be touched by his story and adventures as I was, especially the part about jumping the ditch.

11054864_10153343936999395_2768669327213064593_nHe did it. Delivered John’s GS to another friend Tom in Phoenix, where Sharon Faith would pick it up.

Sharon, an adventure rider from Jacksonville, FLA met John first through mutual friends on Facebook, and then in person during a mini vacation in the Yucatan. Between her 650 VStrom and rentals, she’s traveled to 17 states, Nicaragua, Australia, Baja, and Peru. The interview with John below, is part of her Love of Two Wheels Project where she’s interviewing riders wherever she goes.

11392895_10153259133781815_8082497678129644117_n

With 10 days off between contracts in June, she’d planned a trip to the Smoky Mountains. When she learned of John’s situation through Facebook, she sent him a message offering to ride his bike home from Phoenix. John agreed, and her trip was in the works. A friend picked her up from the Phoenix airport and drove her to Tom’s house, where the bike was waiting and ready to go, newly serviced and fully fueled. After sharing his knowledge of travel and routes, and breakfast, she was off to Sedona to spend the night with another friend. Sharon’s adding four states, one province, and another country to her map of places she’s been, and seeing places that are new to her, including Bonneville Salt Flats (which were flooded), Shoshone Falls, Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, Montana, and Banff National Park. She’s also helping a fellow rider and remarkable new friend.

11391253_10153269312581815_9001040018216456735_n

John met her in Kalispell, Montana on Wednesday where he was reunited with Diablo Rojo before riding back to Calgary yesterday for Sharon’s first visit to Canada. She’ll have a few days to experience our spectacular scenery and meet wonderful Albertan adventure riders before flying back to Jacksonville on June 14th, the eve of John’s surgery.

As free and independent as we feel when we’re out riding, that sense is fragile. Rarely are we truly independent, whether it’s asking for seemingly minor help like directions, best roads, or help picking up a tipped motorcycle, or the more complex situations that John is experiencing. I know from my experience with disability this winter how many people it’s taken to get me back in service. John is one of those people and I know he’d unequivocally go out of his way for anyone. While I was there, a freak September snowstorm swept down from the mountains, stranding two friends who’d been out riding. He risked his own safety to drive several hours to trailer their bikes back to Calgary.

Now it’s his turn to accept help. With his assent, I ask that you send special thoughts, prayers, and energy – whatever works for you–for John as he faces this biggest challenge of his lifetime. He’s hoping to be online soon after surgery and your comments and well-wishes will mean a lot. Post them below, or better, on Facebook either with this post or on his timeline. In either case he’ll see them. I know it will make a difference to someone who’s made a difference to many others. And who will again.

Thank you.

Godspeed John.


 

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Posted in Rider Stories, Travel

Continuing the Journey

continuing the journeyIt’s been almost two months since I went on sabbatical and I’m continuing the journey with a fresh perspective and new energy. It’s an interesting experiment—and a weird feeling—to sit back and watch the world go on around you without participating. I enjoy the interaction, love hearing YOUR stories, and missed staying in touch, although I can’t say I missed drama, or the bombardment of memes. Ironically it’s also been a time when I’ve been physically isolated because of immobility, so I’ve spent a lot of time alone. And that’s just what I needed.

I still don’t want a car, but am eager to get back on a motorcycle. When it’s time. Extended trips aren’t likely feasible this year, but I can’t see around those corners yet.

I don’t have all the answers. I never will as long as I’m here, but I’ve learned a few things, some of which receive honorable mention here, and others which I’ll share in more detail down the road. Like how fragile independence is and as much as I value it, how counterproductive it can be. I’ve discovered how much physical, emotional, and spiritual energy is needed to heal a broken body. Spending two months in a wheelchair has given me a new perspective from which to view the world. Who knew it was so awkward to have a shower, prepare meals, use a bank machine, get groceries, or do my own laundry? I’ve learned how incredibly difficult it can be to ask for help with the most menial of tasks.

I’ve learned to let go. Not entirely. That will likely take more than a lifetime. But certainly to a far greater degree than I ever thought. Being in control is an illusion. I’m more resolute about living a balanced, healthy life. I ’ve lost my balance twice in the past year. It’s painful and I have no desire to repeat it. I’m overcome with gratitude for each halting step I take across the room. To get up from a chair and walk is something I will never again take for granted.

I know with certainty that the quest I set out on almost a year ago to study indigenous wisdom, learn about the role of culture in shaping who we are, and build on the common ground, is alive and well. How I do it is going to look different than what I expected, but the “what” hasn’t changed. Once something I avoided, I now eagerly delve into my Mennonite culture. I haven’t been a practitioner for years, but it’s what shaped me and I want to understand it. Revisiting stories with relatives is cathartic and dare I say enlightening from all perspectives. The Wheels to Wisdom book that I expected to write will surely look different than what I imagined. I’m focusing on writing and improving those skills so I can be a better storyteller.

When I wrote Women, Motorcycles, and the Road to Empowerment, I often commented that it was a Road that always led back to one’s self. And now I’ve had the same message in a more vivid, visceral way. I set out to find the answers in an open-ended trip through the Americas, and ended up right back where I started. With me.

I’m committed to leading with my heart, and letting my mind support it, not the other way around. This isn’t rationale and it’s counter to what I’ve always done. But what I’ve always done doesn’t work for me any more. Sixty–one years of erecting and maintaining walls to protect that little girl and her amazing spirit do not come down easily. Although it’s felt like it at times, it’s not a demolition. Rather a careful peeling back of the layers. It’s the greatest challenge of my life so far.

Above all, the most important thing is to be true to my heart, to listen to its calling and have the courage to follow through on its wisdom, for whatever time I’m here. To speak my truth. To be who I am, not who I think I should be, or who others think I should be. Not that this is different, but with new awareness comes new knowledge and new depths of understanding. After all, there is only one me, and who’s going to do my work if I don’t do it? And if I attract friends because I pretend to be someone I’m not, or because I’m a skilled marketer, I’ve got the wrong crowd. And so do they. What’s to fear in being myself?

I knew turning 60 a year ago would be an exciting threshold to a wonderful life adventure, stepping into what some call the wisdom years. Odd as it may sound, it’s been a very fulfilling, peaceful year, albeit painful and frustrating too. If the past nine months are any indication, it’s going to be an exciting, gratifying, and meaningful ride.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you and sharing the Road with you.


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Taking a Break

by Liz Jansen

Balancing-life-and-work-300x199My latest injury has made me face the reality that I need a break. That means beginning Sunday, I’m hitting the pause button for an indefinite period of time to turn inward, with no Facebook and other social media.

I place great value our interactions, your stories, and the beautiful thoughts and wisdom you share. Now however, it’s time to nurture my relationship with self and restore balance. To do that, I need to turn off the external screen and listen to my own voice, as uncomfortable and disconcerting as that may be. Ironically, to connect requires disconnection. This path is not explained through logic, efficiencies, or analysis. The directions, must come from the heart. My heart.

Seven months ago, barely three weeks into what I anticipated to be at least a year on the road, I crashed, sustaining a complex shoulder injury requiring reconstruction and totaling my motorcycle. After six months of rest and rehab, a dramatically reduced workload, and much reflection, I felt like I was coming alive again and getting ready for that first ride. With my shoulder rehab far from over, I slipped, twisted my ankle, and broke it while simply walking down a grassy slope. Now shoulder and ankle have matching hardware and I’m again grounded.

The irony that I published an article on balance on the day of my fall has not escaped me. Nor have many similarities in circumstances between the two injuries. Both happened when I took a shortcut. Both were on the left side of my body, energetically the feminine, receiving side. Both occurred to joints, limiting movement.

The message I’m getting from Spirit is that these injuries are not to stop me from my quest of looking for the common ground across cultures. Or to prevent me from a far worse fate down the road. Rather, Spirit is saying, “Sit down right here traveler and rest a while. This is where you’ll learn best in this moment.” Many times I’ve prayed to be shown how to make the best use of my abilities and serve in the best way possible. Clearly, the answer I’ve received is to sit for a while. Other answers will come in Divine time in this newly created space.

Once again I’ve been blown away by the kindness and compassion of friends and community. Meals are being delivered, rides provided, and care given most generously. I am so blessed to be surrounded by such goodness.

Now it’s time to sign off for a while. Thank you for your understanding and continued positive energy. Wishing you health, happiness, abundance, laughter, and adventures. Safe travels, wherever your Road leads.

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10 Superfoods for the Soul

by Liz Jansen

Holistic nutrition is derived not only from the food you eat, but also from community, meditation, wisdom, sensuality, and play. A healthy diet now paves the way for a healthy future. Not only do you feel better, but it can prevent illnesses that hold you back from your potential—and your dreams.

You feed your motorcycle only the highest quality ingredients. Why do anything less for yourself?

Excerpt from Life Lessons from Motorcycles; 75 Tips for Thriving Through Holistic Nutrition

superfoodsSuperfoods are derived from a variety of sources, each one required for its unique properties. Whether we’re talking motorcycles or human beings, the right mix of nutrients is required to keep you in top shape.

Motorcycles require gasoline, air, and motor oil to keep their engines running. Some require coolant, and all need brake fluid. Each material is required in specific quantities, and there’s no substituting one for another. Likewise, body, mind, and spirit require specific ingredients to stay healthy and vibrant.

  1. Adventure. Pushing past your limits to learn something new, try something different, and meet new people feeds your spirit, boosts your confidence, and makes you feel good about yourself. It doesn’t have to be grandiose. It just needs to be right—and a stretch—for you.
  2. Relationships. Even those of you who love to be alone are communal beings. Vibrant relationships with partners, family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances are essential for a healthy body, mind, and spirit. Most important of all, however, is the relationship you have with yourself. Take time to nourish it.
  3. Spirit time. This is the essence of who you are, of your connection to others, to Spirit, and to your source of power. So often it gets neglected because of work and other commitments, yet staying in touch with who you are is the key to inner joy and fulfillment.
  4. Food for body. Your body needs the correct ratio of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Periodically assess your diet to ensure you’re getting what you need from it, adding high-quality supplements to address deficiencies. As a relatively new vegetarian, diligent about a balanced diet (or so I thought), I was shocked to realize how little protein I was actually receiving. Protein supplements corrected that and made me feel a whole lot better.
  5. Food for mind. Not only is a healthy diet good for your body, it’s good for your mind. Engaging in a variety of activities that use different brain functions helps keep your mind active and sharp.
  6. Exercise. Regular exercise helps control your weight, wards off illness, reduces stress, improves your mood, and increases your energy level.
  7. Time with nature. I can’t help but feel connected to myself and a greater power when I spend time in nature. Whether it’s a walk through the woods or a motorcycle ride in the mountains, there’s just no substitute for nature when it comes to nourishment for your spirit.
  8. Sense of worth. Everyone needs a sense of purpose and the knowledge that they’re contributing to a cause greater than themselves. Work, volunteer activities, or simply extending kindness to a stranger are ways you can do this. Again, it doesn’t have to be grandiose. Small acts of kindness go a long way toward making the world a better place. What is your legacy?
  9. Play. Laughter and play are just plain fun! They keep us young in spirit, keep us energized, reduce tension, improve our physical and mental health, and create a positive environment.
  10. LL_NutritionCustomization. While not exactly an ingredient, it’s important to recognize that we each have different dietary needs and preferences. Furthermore, new research is being published about what’s best for us and how much we need. Stay informed to stay healthy over the long run.

Are you getting the super foods you need to flourish? If not, there’s no time like the present to change your diet and get started. Feed your being the right ingredients and keep your engines running!

Purchase the entire ebook Life Lessons from Motorcycles; 75 Tips for Thriving Through Holistic Nutrition available for any e-reader. $2.99.

photo credit: Raw food Chili con Cacao via photopin (license)

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Posted in Life Lessons from Motorcycles, Nourishment

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