Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Anytime Review

How’s my life going? Am I the kind of person I want to be? Doing what I’ve set out to do? How can I make life better?

Many of us wait for a milestone, like the beginning of a new year to ask these questions. Some of us begin to think in terms of a life review as we reach a certain age. Others wait for a crisis to heave us into contemplation.  The truth is that ANYTIME is a good time to take an honest look at what course we’ve taken. From there, we can decide if this is the route we intended to take or whether it’s a path that is beneficial or not, in light of our desires, skills, and values.

Doing an Anytime Review* has its advantages.
  • ·         We can get our bearings.  (Where am I right now?)
  • ·         We become aware and have the opportunity to make changes or shifts.  (What next?)
  • ·         We validate what we’ve done and how far we’ve come. (I’m right on track. I’ve done a good job. Or:  I need to make some adjustments.)

In order to lend a structure to the Anytime Review, it helps to have a few guidelines and points to think about. The over-arching question is:  Where am I right now on my journey in life? Finish a few sentence beginnings in your head and jot the sentences down.  This helps narrow  the focus.
  • ·         On my journey, I think . . .
  • ·         On my journey, I am grateful . . .
  • ·         On my journey, I regret . . .
  • ·         On my journey, I feel proud . . .
  • ·         On my journey, I am determined . . .
  • ·         As I continue my journey, I need . . .

When working with the Anytime Review, I choose one or more of the finished sentences from above and write about them in my Journal. I set those aside for a day or so, then return with “new eyes” to read what I thought and wrote.  

This process has led me to forgive myself for actions I regretted from my younger days, something that I didn’t know still bothered me. From the Anytime Review, I’ve been able to express gratitude and visualize where I wanted to go next and what I needed to help me get there.

With life being so unpredictable, it helps to check up on ourselves in an honest, tangible way. We don’t have to wait for a milestone or a landmark occasion. We can do it anytime. How about now?

Wishing you a happy, healthful New Year on your journey.

~ xoA ~

*Adapted from Abe Arkoff. “The Illuminated Life.”

Friday, December 12, 2014

Z is for Zero Hour

Zero hour came Monday, November 24, 2014, when I looked in my car’s rear view mirror and saw my friend Carla Bryan ride Big Red across the intersection of Truxtun and Oak. We’d just left the AAA office, where we had taken care of the California DMV requirements, and Carla was leaving town, riding Big Red to her home in Las Vegas.

A bittersweet event, it was, surprisingly, more sweet than bitter. The hard stuff had occurred months before when I’d anguished over the big decision to give up motorcycling and sell Big Red. I’d spent restless nights and did a fair amount of bawling whenever I talked about it. Big Red had become a huge part of my identity. Who would I be now?

From the first time I put the words out into the Universe that it was time for Big Red to go, Carla was interested. She visioned the bike as hers and stayed positive. She kept in touch with me on Facebook and worked hard to earn the money to own Big Red. 
Laurie, TJ, Carla, me, and Sylvia
We had ridden together with the Sunblazers years ago before she moved to Las Vegas. Carla knew me and the bike, which she said were big factors in her decision to purchase Big Red.

Knowing my bike was going to someone who wanted her so much, would take good care of her, and would ride her on to new places -- and knowing Carla -- made it so much easier for me to pass Big Red along.

So in the wee hours of Sunday, November 23, Carla boarded a Greyhound Bus in Las Vegas, headed for Bakersfield, to pick up her “new” bike. We spent the afternoon getting reacquainted and orienting Carla to Big Red’s many features. She went for a spin and returned grinning from ear to ear. I felt better and better about Big Red’s new home.
Before we left the house Monday morning, I showed Carla the faded woven thread friendship bracelet that encircled Big Red’s left handle bar. “That’s been on there since 1996.”

She looked me in the eye and said, “And, it’ll stay there.” 

Blessings and safe travels to Carla and Big Red as they traverse the highways and byways of this great land, embarking on new adventures and seeing new vistas. It's comforting to know that a part of me will still ride in the wind with Big Red.

~ xoA ~

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Y is for Yesterdays

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
Astride Big Red, the USA was my playground with the back roads and highways reminiscent of the Game of Life, a board game in which players travel life’s roads, dealing with whatever befalls them. The time I spent cycling through life was extraordinary, even the occasional disconcerting or difficult times when the unexpected happened.
Honda mechanic in Greeley, CO, who got me back on the road.
He took the Gold Wing manual home so he could study it
and get me going the next morning.
For 25 years, I biked those roads, sometimes retracing and becoming familiar with them.  I knew to expect high winds on Hwy 40 coming through Amarillo. I learned, when on my way to Oregon at the end of May, I’d feel the sweet relief of coolness just north of Redding, California.

First scooter
The motorcycling years were a time of nurturing the sense of adventure inside me. A time of satisfying my curiosity about this country and places I’d only read about. I became stronger in body and spirit, more knowledgeable about geography, history, and regional cultures. It was a time of exploration and growth and finding out about my skills and capacities, my limits and passions.
Monterey on the California Coast

 Now it’s time to hang up my helmet. I sensed it. I knew it. I grieved it. I’m still grieving it.

Two things have eased the pain of change.  Scanning these past 25 years through photo albums and journal entries, I’ve relived countless memories of my yesterdays as a motorcyclist. Writing this series of blogs to retell my stories and share them with you has helped in my transition to former biker.

Though it’s been a time of letting go, sprinkled with a few tears and lots of smiles, the spirit of WingWoman lives on. And, as my younger daughter said, I will “always be a motorcyclist.”
Coos Bay, Oregon

~ xoA ~

“All my best memories
Come back clearly to me
Some can even make me cry.
Just like befoe
It’s yesterday once more.”
~ The Carpenters

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

X is for X-Factor

X factor -- noun.
  a circumstance, quality, or person that has a strong but unpredictable influence

The BMW I rode in New Zealand,
driving on the LEFT side of the road
Before we set off to New Zealand’s famed Milford Sound, I heard what our guide Al said about riding through the tunnel. “Don’t wear your sunglasses.” Three of us from Women on Wheels®, Donna, Nancy and I, rode together that day. I led our little pack.

Yes, I heard Al’s words, but when we reached the mouth of the tunnel, it was too late to safely pull over and stop. Before I knew it, I was already inside, my photo gray prescription glasses, dark. My friends, right on my tail.

The thought that went through my mind -- after a peck of expletives -- was, If I go down, we all go down. In the dark. I flashed my brake lights and backed off the throttle. Daring to take my left hand off the handle bars to reach into my helmet, I pulled down my glasses and peered over the frames, willing my eyes to adjust.

The narrow tunnel pierced the mountain for 1.2 kilometers.  There were no lights inside, just red reflectors on the walls and yellow ones on the strip that divides the two lanes. The slick, uneven road’s sudden downward slope, shot the headlight’s glow out into space.  I felt like I was driving into 'nowhere'. Sweat poured inside my raingear, making me feel like I was in a too-hot sauna. This was my scariest two minutes on a motorcycle. Ever. 

At the nearest safe shoulder on the other side, the three of us stopped to breathe and regroup. The good news was we’d made it unscathed. The bad news? To return to our farm stay lodging, we had to repeat this feat at the end of the day. 

Meanwhile, Judy had opted to ride in the van with Perry, another of our guides. Little did she know that Perry drove the van just like he handled his motorcycle. It was a harrowing ride for her, as Perry drove like a wild man and, so Judy could see just how dark it was in the tunnel, he cut the van lights for several yards.

Milford Sound is actually a fiord carved by the glaciers centuries before. It’s deemed the “wettest place on earth,” because rainfall averages 28 feet per year. Endless cascading waterfalls tumble down the faces of the rocks and cliffs from thousands of feet above. 

Our two-hour cruise showed off Milford Sound’s magnificence, but that return mile through the tunnel loomed over our heads, and I became distracted from enjoying the views. This was one day on our New Zealand tour when I would be glad to park my bike.
Internet photo
Since that terrifying incident, whenever there’s a conversation about the scariest time in our lives, this ride through the tunnel immediately comes up for me. What’s been your scariest moment?
~ xoA ~

Saturday, December 6, 2014

W is for Women on Wheels®

Discovering an advertisement for Women on Wheels® in the spring of 1992 changed my motorcycling life. I’d had no idea of the power of belonging to a group of strong, competent, women who love to get out on their motorcycles and ride. In those days, we rarely saw other women riders. If a woman showed up with a helmet, she was climbing onto the passenger seat.

So the following summer, when I attended the Women on Wheels® International Ride-In near Atlanta, was a critical time -- a time of discovery, growth, pride, and of developing confidence as a rider.

My friend Sharon and I arrived on our red and white Honda Pacific Coast motorcycles at the host hotel in Dunwoody, Georgia, not knowing if we’d like this three-day event -- or this group. We’d pre-paid for our registration, but hadn’t bought the official Ride-In tee shirts. Neither had we made banquet reservations for the closing evening. What if we wanted to leave early? What if we didn’t like this group?

 Huntsville, AL 1999
As we rode up to the entrance, we couldn’t miss the huge “Welcome, Women on Wheels” sign on the hotel marquee or the array of beautiful motorcycles in the parking lot. I felt my smile broaden inside my full-face helmet.
Greenville, SC 2012
Walking into the hotel lobby, we saw clusters of women, some still wearing their riding gear, standing around, talking and greeting each other with hugs and squeals. And we heard lots of laughter. It was a scene of unbridled friendship. And, they welcomed us in.

June with her mom and riding buddy,
 Ms. Hazel at the 2012 Ride-In
The first morning, we straddled our bikes, lined up in pairs in the parking lot for the organized ride to a local motorcycle shop for a lesson and lunch. Soon, June Reeves, the ride leader zipped up and took her place at the front of the line. Her boyfriend climbed into the passenger seat, and the crowd broke out whooping and hollering, and blasting our horns.

By the time we returned from that first ride, had felt the warmth of comradeship and the joy of being with this crowd, we were hooked. Sharon and I rushed to the registration table to see if there were any banquet tickets left.   Somehow, we did manage to get two tickets, a lucky thing because I became a big winner when door prizes were awarded.

The second day, we all rode to Two-Wheels Campground in Suches, in the hills north of Atlanta. On a narrow, curvy road, it seemed like a longish ride. That’s where I learned that in Georgia, when the road sign on a curve shows 20 mph, they really mean it.

This first Women on Wheels® International Ride-In is where I met women and men who have become dear to me. They are now long-time friends who over the years have continued to inspire, reassure, teach, and befriend new riders.  Donna Brown was one of the few women Gold Wing riders at the ’92 Ride-In. She pumped me up and told me I could ride one, too. When I bought Big Red a year or so later, Donna instructed, “You need two things: floor boards and a back rest.”  I got them immediately, and on many a ride I have blessed her for that advice.
Donna in Huntsville at the 1999 Ride-In
Friendships with other riders whom I met at that Atlanta event have lasted more than 22 years. We’ve ridden together at other Ride-Ins, hosted each other in our homes, and kept up with each others’ lives.

Each year, Women on Wheels® holds the Ride-In in a different region of the country. This event is often a family event that is the central focus of many riders’ vacations. Attending it and seeing new territory have been why I, and so many of us, have ridden all over the U.S.A., multiple times.
Group Photo in Eureka Springs, AK - 1994
The mission of Women on Wheels®is “to unite all women motorcycle enthusiasts for recreation, education, mutual support, recognition, and to promote a positive image of motorcycling.” Even in the days before websites and Google and the mission statement flying across cyberspace, we knew it to be a reality. We felt it at each Ride-In. We rode a little taller in the saddle when on our own.
Cathy Davies at Eureka Springs, AK - 1994
~ xoA ~

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

U and V

Spotted Wolf Canyon, Utah
Unobstructed View

One of the most enticing phenomena about motorcycling is the unobstructed view of the countryside. For someone who relishes seeing the “big picture,” the best seat is in the saddle. My eyes sweep over snow-topped or green mountain vistas, colorful rock formations, and the open road. Besides appreciating the view, knowing that I’m heading into that distant mural excites me and makes me appreciate its vastness.

The mirrors offer a different perspective. I notice myself and Big Red emerging from the scenery of a rich, dense forest, like we are bursting forth from the trees. Or, the long road stretches out behind us. I was just there is my usual thought.

Right below my feet, the landscape rolls by. I see the texture of the earth as well as individual plants. It’s fascinating to observe the differences in the terrain as we move along.

Then, there’s the open sky with its myriad shades of blue and gray, its dappling clouds. I remember my first time riding in Montana. No wonder they call it Big Sky Country.

Motorcyclists get to take it all in.  We wonder at, and are touched by, the beauty and our unobstructed view. 

The Virtue of Visibility 

“Oh, sorry. I didn’t see you,” the automobile driver who nearly clips a motorcyclist yells out her window. In multi-vehicle accidents and fatalities involving motorcycles, not seeing the bike is the most frequent comment that comes up in police reports.

Knowing the difficulty this can present, motorcyclists do everything we can to make ourselves visible. We use reflectors and reflective tape on our bikes and helmets. I switched from a black jacket and red helmet to silver. (Though the sun hitting that red helmet looked like a police car light and folks pulled over for me a time or two.)

Some paint our bikes vivid colors to increase visibility.
Beth on "Sunshine"
My friend Gil installed brake lights and headlights that flash because the movement of the light catches attention. Neon yellow and green rain gear is sensible attire for those dark-sky days.

There is an entire industry of goods that make a rider more visible.
Internet photo Conspicuity, Inc.
Companies such as Conspicuity, Inc. and Adventure Rider’s Hi Viz Store offer eye-catching vests, helmets, and other clothing. Wearing bright-colored gear, as opposed to the all-black regalia of many “cool” bikers, makes a motorcyclist more noticeable in traffic and from a distance. If drivers can see us, they are more likely to keep at a safe distance, which makes for a better chance for our survival.
Internet photo
In a 2003 New Zealand study using nearly 1,700 motorcyclists (463 cases involved hospitalization or death) , researchers found that motorcyclists wearing any reflective or fluorescent clothing had a 37% lower risk than other riders. And, wearing a white helmet, as opposed to black, was associated with 24% lower risk.

In the United States, motorcycle safety foundations and some state publications are now including greater information and more tips about the necessity for riders to be conspicuous. When there is increased awareness -- and visibility -- the roads are safer for everyone.

Riding a motorcycle is one time we need to stand out rather than blend in.
~ xoA ~