A lot of people have been asking me what’s next what’s next what’s next? And they keep expecting me to reply with a new form of employment. I appreciate it. For two decades now I’ve acted like a poster girl for single women with a strong work ethic and high-level organizational skills. There has always been a job, an exciting prospect for climbing a new ladder, making more money, taking on responsibility.

This time around I’m gonna try things a little different. So the thing is, there is no job.

This is the plan as far as I’ve laid it out: 1) Get home in time to pop the cork on a bottle of champagne at E-ska’s last chemotherapy treatment  2) Learn more about breast cancer, mastectomies and reconstruction surgeries than I ever hoped to know  3) Train for a bike ride  4) Be there when she goes under the knife, maybe make some sandwiches for the kids  5) Take a bike ride.

This is what’s next:

Cycle My Heart Out

an Epic ride to help End cancer for Everybody (but mostly Ericka)

Won’t you join me?

Cycle My Heart Out 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She and her sister piled the kids into the car and took off south on a road trip. Her most recent set of Facebook photos scrolls something like this:

First up is her, completely bald, in a fluorescent pink cammo baseball hat with a gun in her hand. She is learning how to shoot.

Second she is grinning from ear to ear, proudly displaying her Target Man riddled with bullets. Almost every shot made it straight to his head. We can assume she’s got some acceptable aggression to work out.

Next comes the girls all smiles with Moon Pies and ice cream cones.

Let’s just say family vacations take a forgivably odd turn when you’re facing off with the C-Word.

Two Thursdays ago we celebrated the fact that she had no feeling in her hands. This was a good thing because the alternative is typically a burning sensation so agonizing she wouldn’t want to get out of bed. There are a lot of things that make her want to stay in bed. Headaches, exhaustion, nausea. How the Red Devil makes everything taste like sand. The part about the nurses having to wear protective gear because a single drop will burn through their skin.

I cringe when I think about what this week’s round will bring. Chemo sucks.

It sucks the disease out of you while sucking the life out too. So how do you reconcile the compromise of forcing yourself to the brink of death in order to come out living on the other side?

First of all you don’t sit around in bed thinking about it. You dust yourself off and take road trips. You shoot guns. Maybe check out some tigers. You keep all the balls in the air because it’s just too hard not to.

For 30 years I cursed her stubbornness. It scared me. Now I get to be so grateful for it as I watch it keep her in motion. She can break down later once she’s in the clear. But for now, fuck it. Come hell or high water, she’s gonna keep moving forward.

I love you E-ska. I’ll see you in a week.

For quite some time I’ve been emitting a crystal clear signal of readiness. Pinging like a submarine cruising below the surface of the waves, I’ve been taking all the necessary steps. Moving to the low stress non-profit realm, surgery to ensure I can conceive and carry if the opportunity arises, first time home buyer classes.

Chanting in the formative, the positive; exhaling out the vision of where I want to go: Family, love, home, relationships, commitment, helping others, expanding my heart, taking care of someone (anyone!) other than myself.

I sent out one last ping and the Universe responded. My oldest friend called to confirm her cancer diagnosis. And there it was – everything I’ve been trying to manifest into my life.

“Go home,” said the Bottom of the Ocean.

Not the pretty package of handsome stranger/future husband and a plus sign on an EPT, I’ll give you that. But I know enough to accept whatever gets offered up. The philosophy of Yes/And has done good by me so far. Why stop trusting it now?

And isn’t it just like the Universe to line everything up right when you need it? My contract wraps in two weeks and while I absolutely love the work I’ve been doing, I’m comfortable walking away without any regrets. I did a good job and now it’s done.

So on August 1st I’ll pack the car and drive east. My goal is to return to Colorado and really settle into Boulder in the fall but that is very much a goal and not a plan. I promise only to pay attention and remain open to whatever comes my way.

We still have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow…

Of course he did.

Jurek

 

Ultramarathoner Scott Jurek Breaks Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike Record

 

 

It took three attempts but last Saturday I conquered the Peak to Peak Highway between Estes Park and Nederland. I rode 42 miles, cruising past Longs Peak and reaching a max altitude of 9,400’ in a tiny town called Ward. To a girl who has spent most of her life near sea level, it’s quite spectacular up there.

My two previous attempts were for altitude conditioning and to get a real feel for the 1,700’ climb out of Estes.

Climb

The air is so different and a lot of focus needs to be placed on effective breathing. The thing I like best about climbing on a bike is you have to be right there in the moment. It’s a break for your brain because the physical effort is so intense it requires all of your attention. Adding in the altitude factor makes it even more of a concentration builder.

I absolutely love it when I have no choice but to get out of my own head.

Longs

In Nederland I dipped my feet in the icy Middle Boulder Creek as it ran down to Barker Reservoir. I met my sister at Salto for lunch then hopped on my bike and rode 42 miles back to my car.

Overall I completed 84 miles with close to 4,000’ in elevation gain.

I really underestimated how hard it would be to get back in the heat of the day. At one point after a huge climb up to Allenspark, somewhere around mile 65, I unconsciously stopped on the side of the road and sat in the shade of a parked pick-up truck. It was a minute or two before I realized I wasn’t cycling.

Sitting in my car after returning to the Estes Park Visitors Center I had a very mild asthma attack for about an hour. My breathing is always hard to get back on track when I finish an extended period of exertion. That happens regardless of altitude but at 8,000’ it was even harder. Even so, my adrenaline stayed high and my smile was huge as I enthusiastically texted friends and family.

I can say this for sure: Colorado is starting to click for me.

So yesterday I rode to Ward a different way. I parked in Lyons, rode the 36 to Left Hand Canyon, took a right and started climbing —> 24 miles all uphill = 3,980’ elevation gain.

Ward

When I got to Ward I turned onto a sand and gravel road that twisted up a hill to the Post Office, which is kind of a cyclist’s landmark. I took a picture to send to Coach C and as I was coasting back down the hill to the little general store for some much needed sustenance, this happened:

Knee

My front wheel twisted left in the gravel and I fell right onto my knee. For a split second I thought I was fine. Couldn’t I just coast down the canyon to my car? But the blood pooling in my sock and shoe made me think twice and I’m glad I did. I got super dizzy and ended up taking a trip to the ER with my sister who swooped in for the save from Nederland. Lucky for me she was drinking coffee at Happy Trails when I called.

Even though I’m off my bike for two weeks with five stitches and a knee I can’t bend, I think this kind of injury is the best – deep and bloody enough to impress the other riders as they arrived at the general store and sat down next to me on the picnic table to check out my gash, yet superficial enough to not cause permanent damage.

And the frustration and restlessness I feel for being stuck at my house today, for having to force myself to keep my leg elevated and not hike Greyrock like I planned – this is the best frustration of them all. This one means I’m alive and happy with a very long To Experience list I can’t wait to check things off of. It means I’m jonseing to get back out there to try all the other canyons – Boulder, St. Vrain, Golden Gate – even the ones that don’t end up at landmark post offices and general stores stocked with treats and hot cyclists.

Here’s hoping there’s a guy out there who digs scars.

Post

 

 

Scott Jurek is the man. As of yesterday he is half way through the Appalachian Trail, on track to beat the speed record and make it almost 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine in a mere forty two days.

Forty two days!! That means he’s averaging over 50 miles a day. On foot.

I was talking to Timmy O’Neill on the phone today. He’s a climber out of Boulder hoping to join Scott at some point on his trek once he gets up into New England if he stays on track.

I couldn’t believe he said it that way. If he stays on track… IF?!!

This is Scott. Fucking. Jurek.

This is the man who won the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Race seven years in a row. This is the man who ran on the white lines of the highway so the soles of his sneakers wouldn’t melt on the pavement of Death Valley and soaked in coffin sized coolers full of ice on his way to dominating Badwater (twice) – a 135-mile race usually held in mid-July when temperatures soar above 120º with no shade. This is the only American to win the 153-mile Spartathlon, which he did three times in a row! And for a while he held the record for most miles run in 24 hours (166!). And he’s decent and good and determined and kind.

You don’t doubt Scott Jurek!

Yet the uncertainty in Timmy’s voice continued. Because you never know what surprises you’ll face he said… and some useless rant about unexpected injuries.

I’ve never met Scott but there’s one thing I know for sure even so. He is not the kind of person you doubt. He is the kind of person you believe in and then he just comes through. At no point does it get complicated. Believe in him and he will come through.

Questioning someone like Jurek’s ability to conquer a seemingly impossible task is the epitome of Eckhart Tolle’s teachings about worrying – it’s a complete waste of time. What is the benefit of casting a shadow?

Who cares about the possibilities of negative outcomes? What in the world could be the point of focusing on them? The only things we need are loud heartfelt cheers of joy and wonder! Run Jurker Run!

In Scott’s words this is going to be his masterpiece. I don’t have even the tiniest trace of doubt of his impending success. Here’s to 20 more days on the trail! I wish I could be at Katahdin to see him finish.

Scott Jurek you are a rock star and an inspiration!

Track his journey on Instragram here.

 

Yesterday was the Half Ironman in Kona. Hiking in the woods by the flatirons, dragging the dogs over boulders and through scree fields, I was looking for a place to sit and chant, to let go of the frustration I built up over not being there. Try as I might I couldn’t find the perfect spot so I just sat on a big rock and cried.

It only took a few seconds to get it all out though, ultimately proving that maybe I think I might actually be happy where I am. In Hawaii I spun my wheels alone on an island for a few years. It was lovely, highly recommended, and it’s done. I don’t want to spin any longer. I have to move on with my life.

During the four years I was away, I unexpectedly found my maternal side with my staff at the coffee bar – loving, caring, guiding, wanting each of them to grow and explore… delicately interspersed with being an absolute hard ass with tremendously high expectations of excellence and no tolerance for bullshit or excuses.

This wasn’t something anyone else needed to discover about me. So much so that when my mother visited two weeks ago and I told her about my plan to homeschool my future children, she instantly agreed this was a great idea. It made perfect sense to her. Then she and my sister made relentless fun of how I won’t let my kids call me mom when we’re in the basement “at school” and that I’ll probably incorporate my homeschool as my next business.

The business name grew over the course of the weekend and we eventually settled on The Jennifer Ann Lynch Academy for Excellence and Continued Learning Every Day All Day We Never Stop Learning Ever.

I love it because finally and for the first time in my life, parenting seems like something I could not only do well, but also enjoy. I’m excited about this new path, it makes sense to me too, but I don’t yet see how it’s going to unfold. I’m still in the weeds.

A few days after my mom left I ran the Bolder Boulder 10K. It was a blast. I’ll just say you end the race in a stadium full of thousands of people cheering you on and leave it at that. Afterwards my sister and I walked over to the Boulder Creek Festival. I walked into a tent of intuitives offering free spirit readings and sat down facing two complete strangers. I said nothing more than “Hi, I’m Jennifer. What do I do?”

They answered, “You just sit here and we take you in. Then we give you the information that comes to us.” And so for three or four pleasantly awkward minutes we just sat. I smiled. They smiled. I changed positions. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. They did the same then the man spoke first.

“Bear with me,” he said. “All I can do is tell you what comes to me.” I smiled and nodded as he continued. “I see a place of education. You love to teach and I want to encourage you to follow that path. You’re very good at finding the diamond in the rough, the underdog that no one else would even notice. You bring out the best in them and surprise people in the process.”

I did my best to not seem wide-eyed and in awe. He gave me some fitting compliments then it was the woman’s turn. She scrutinized my beaming face. “You seem to have a very high standard for excellence.” Again I did my best to keep my jaw intact as she went on to explain that I’m also a good gift giver. I stood up and bowed, thanking them as I backed out of the tent, stunned and simultaneously over the moon.

I’m walking this line of understanding what I want to do and getting encouragement from all sides to pursue it, yet I’m still alone. What I want to do is very much not intended to be a solo adventure, so where does that leave me?

When we finished our hike and got back to the car my dog Banjo plopped down in the grass under the shade of a tree and I realized that was it; that was the perfect spot. Right there in the middle of the action with kids running around, traffic, hikers, dogs wrestling on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in a very crowded park – that’s where I want to be now.

If I need a sense of peace, the Om Mani Padme Hum is there on repeat in the back of my head, calming my nerves and brain. But the Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya is what comes out of my mouth when I’m hoping and praying with clarity about what I want to manifest. It’s what I sang last month to the full moon and it’s what I sang under that tree in Chautauqua Park yesterday.

Both times the longing and intention were clear: I’m no longer building to 70.3 miles. Instead I’m building to family, community and home.

It’s an odd thing to do when you’re single and have no prospects in sight, but I have to believe that if I start moving in this new direction, someone will cross my path, turn around and decide to join me.

Here’s to keeping the hope alive.

These days I am barely scraping by on a nonprofit salary but groceries are cheap in Colorado so I manage. I share a house with a roommate. She is lovely and it’s nice to not be alone. We have backyard chickens, lilacs and a vegetable garden.

These days I hike in the Front Range amongst rattlesnakes, cougars and bears yet blissfully free of ignorant Hawaiian pig hunters and their hunting packs. I spend a lot of time with my sister. I own two bikes and jog often.

These days I drink hot chocolates at coffee shops instead of beers at bars. I haven’t had a drink in a month and it’s working. I love it.

These days I go to the library and devour books on homeschooling. I don’t know what to tell you about that except that I prayed to the full moon in Scorpio at 9:42 pm Mountain Time on May 3rd, just when it was at its peak, and I woke up the next morning knowing exactly what I want to do next.

These days I feel the shift. It’s coming and I’m excited. No longer anxious, just ready and waiting.

My goodness.

Friday night I finished reading Misty Copeland’s book Life in Motion about her unlikely rise to the top of the ballet world, making history as the only African American soloist dancing with American Ballet Theatre. She is a beautiful rock star of a woman. You can witness some of her magic and inspiration here.

On Saturday my sister and I took the dogs for a walk in Chautauqua Park where the Flatirons are in Boulder and Anton Krupicka ran right past us. Yah. The ultrarunner I wrote about when I was preparing for the Honolulu Marathon… three years to the day actually. I wrote about him on April 11th, 2012 and saw him at the flatirons on April 11th, 2015.

There is something so ethereal about his running. Talk about being born to run, he floats across the earth effortlessly just like Misty Copeland spinning across the stage. It was like catching a glimpse of an elusive wild animal.

Then Sunday I read Amy Purdy’s book, On My Own Two Feet, in a single afternoon. After contracting bacterial meningitis at age 19, she not only endured full kidney failure and beat her 2% chance of survival, but went on to win bronze in snowboarding at the Paralympic games in Sochi… without feet. She had to have them both amputated because her body had sacrificed them to septic shock in order to save her organs.

Two days after returning from Russia Amy joined the cast of Dancing with the Stars and of course, because she’s ridiculously amazing, she and her partner Derek Hough ended up in second place. You can witness her magic and inspiration here.

So I’m feeling pretty rejuvenated and inspired. Knowing these people exist and seeing the amazing things they accomplish amp me up to get out there and bring on the happy.

This move to Colorado has not been easy. For the last six weeks I’ve been quietly binge eating junk food and drinking a ton of beer – there’s a microbrewery on every corner for goodness sake. I’m confident I made the right choice to come here, but I’ve been stuck in a wave of moods regardless.

Now I’m ready to put the discomfort and frustration behind me and find whatever groove this next chapter of life will bring.

Thank you Misty, Anton and Amy for arousing me from my snooze. It is much appreciated!

 

 

A few weeks back I hit a wall. It was something asinine about work that eventually led to a clear image of spinning wheels and wasted energy, the dragging out of something (Hawaii) losing its beauty, something (this actualized dream of mine) that is clearly ready to dissolve and be let go of.

I hit a wall and for the first time in quite a while it dawned on me that, rather than sit here staring up bemoaning myself for not being able to scale it, I am occasionally allowed to simply walk around the stupid thing.

I hit a wall. I made a conscious decision not to berate. I looked to my left and saw a blinking green arrow. On it were the words “Call Your Dad.”

So I called my dad and said, “What do you think?” and he said, “Yah!” and a plan was made.

Notice has been given, flights booked, car rented. My furniture sold quickly on Craigslist and my personal items packed snugly into boxes on their way to my sister’s storage unit just outside of Boulder.

I fly out of Honolulu on March 2nd, four months earlier than expected, landing in Vegas the morning of my 37th birthday. My father will meet me there and we will road trip it with the dogs through the canyonlands of Utah on our way to Colorado.

I hit a wall. I walked around it. I feel very very good about this.

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I Can Feel The Love

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