Friday, February 12, 2016

Talk about a leap of faith!! I can't run; but I sure can fly!!

     Over the years I've taken many leaps of faith;  It's been what has kept me going when I can't make sense of my crazy life.  In fact, this is where the name "Team Leapfrog" came from.   I always knew if I just believed things would work out; then they eventually would.

     But this day was one of the biggest leaps of faith I have ever taken. My cousin Keith somehow convinced me to sky dive, and I would be diving head first 13,000 feet into the clouds, uncertain of what would be waiting on the other side.  This was one of the scariest things I have ever done; but then I realized life is all about having faith, and not actually knowing what's on the other side of the clouds.

     As you can see, this plane wasn't very big; yet we managed to squeeze in the pilot, the two guys that soon become our Siamese twins (you can't see one of them), my cousin, and me. I imagined this was what sardines felt like... When it was time to jump I would turn around, get on my knees, then my tandem buddy, Bruce, would strap himself to my back, so tightly that we were almost sharing the same skin.

          We had gone through the drill ahead of time, so I knew what I had to do.  But when Bruce told me to put my foot out on the ledge and then I looked down, seeing nothing but clouds; I seriously wondered why I was doing this...

         Convincing myself to dive head first was the hard part...  But there was no turning back now; and I actually did it!

      In this picture below, you can see the plane is now above us; and at that point we were falling at 140 miles an hour, head first, towards the little blue and green ball they call earth.

     I had no idea what was going to happen next, but believed it would be okay... After all, Keith survived it many times before:)
     At this point I felt as if I was flying like a bird!  It didn't matter what my legs were doing; I had wings!!

     It wasn't long before I could see what was on the other side of those fluffy white clouds...

     From high up in the sky I could look down and witness God's beautiful creation!  And at this moment I hadn't a worry in the world...

          As we slowed down and hovered, thousands of feet in the air, I asked Bruce if the shoot had opened... when he confirmed it had, I asked him if we could stay up in the sky forever... But there were many others who had to experience what I had, so we eventually had to come back down to earth.

     But not before he let me take the wheel; and the loop-d-loops were better than any roller-coaster you'll ever find on earth.

     As we began to descend to our final destination, you can see once again, the clouds became a barrier above us; only now I knew what was on the other side.
     As we got closer to our landing point, I had just one last question of uncertainty; and that was what would happen when our feet hit the ground; we all know I don't run... 
     Amazingly, we came gliding in on our behinds, as smoothly as a bird landing on a piece of drift wood.
     From the very beginning Keith had no intention of letting me back out of this venture; and until this point he had no idea how grateful I was that he pushed me.

          Of course, this wasn't his first rodeo; he's convinced several others to take this leap of faith before me.  And now I would do this again, a million times over.  If I can convince even one more person to take this leap of faith with me then my job is done:)

Click here to see my sky diving video!!  Words can't even begin to describe it:)

Happy Valentine's day!

Image result for frog with pink heart

Friday, February 5, 2016

What goes up must come down; but at 140 miles an hour?!?

     So my trip to Florida has finally arrived, and as you're reading this there's a good chance I'm 35,000 feet up in the sky.  If not, then I'm somewhere down south, soaking up all of the sunshine:)

     The fact that I had to write this before I left, you may recognize this photo at the airport from last years trip; but I'm assuming the only difference between last year and this is the outfit:) And this smile was because I actually made it through security... You have no idea!  Fingers crossed for this year...

            I had planned on waiting until after the fact before I told you about the next thing I hoped to mark off of my bucket list just to make sure I followed through, but then I decided that if I documented it, then it had to happen.  Remember, I don't quit easily.

     So several months ago I mentioned that I really wanted to mark sky diving off my bucket list; to which one or two people said I am CRAZY!  Well now that we made the down payment and have the jump scheduled I'm beginning to think they were right...

     My cousin Keith is the one who put this ridiculous idea in my head in the first place because he has been sky diving before, and he started telling me all of the logistics just FMI, or maybe it was to scare the bejeepers out of me! 

      First of all, he made sure to tell me how many feet up we would be... 13,000 feet, YIKES! then he said we would be free falling for 45 seconds at 140 miles an hour; DOUBLE YIKES! Now, that might seem easy enough to you, but he started giving me scenarios to put it in perspective.  He told me to look at the second hand of a clock for 45 seconds to which I did... Wow!  That is a long time!  And then he told me to drive for 2 and a half miles, which was how far the drop would be, OMG!  He did mention we had the option of jumping from 13,000 feet or a mere 10,000; I told him we may as well go big or go home; after all, if there were any technical difficulties I'm sure the splat would be equally the same:) Incidentally, that would take one mega ginormous  mop!  I'm starting to realize why they call them "bucket lists"...

     I know they say if you can't count on family, then who can you count on, but I started doubting that theory when Keith mentioned that he thought it would be cool to get a picture of him pushing me out of the plane.  I had to question the cool part... was it cool because of the hilarious pictures he would have, or simply pay back for our childhood years...
        When I get back home I hope to have many pictures of this crazy stunt I'm doing; and who knows maybe I'll love it so much that I'll be looking for someone as crazy... or should I say gullible as me to convince to put this on their bucket list as well:)  Wish me luck!

Have a great day!!


Friday, January 29, 2016

We ride bicycles up north; but do they really ride pink flamingos down in Florida??

     So we all know by now that I'm obsessed with bike riding, and it's been a long process in and of it's self just modifying my bike to fit my every need.  And as you also know my trip down to Florida is only a week away now; YAY!!  You have no idea how anxious I am to get down south in the nice warm sunshine!

     These past few years I've been slowly but surely starting to cross things off of my bucket list, and as you know, on my trip last February, two things I was able to put a check mark next to were Hang-gliding and Parasailing.  I told you I had a couple more things waiting in the hopper for this trip as well. 

     The first item may seem like a "drop in the bucket" to most, but it's huge to me.  My cousin, Keith, knowing how much I love to ride bikes, suggested we go on a critical mass ride while I'm down there. For those who don't know, it's an event where hundreds of cyclists ride in a group through the streets of a major city to raise awareness of cyclist's rights to share the road. 

      I've taken this challenge before in downtown Detroit, so I knew I was capable of it.  However, this bike ride in downtown Fort Myers would take place the evening I arrived, after a half day of travel.  We both knew there was a good chance I would be a big hot mess.

     But knowing I rarely pass up a challenge, he suggested we get a tandem bike in case my legs turned to rubber.  This was a great idea!  I've never rode a tandem before and I was anxious to give it a try.  As it is, I have one super strong leg, and one that spends much of the time freeloading off of it.  How awesome would it be to have three strong legs to carry that dead beat... the leg, not my cousin:)  Bonus (and Keith doesn't know this yet), but I just may put my feet up from time to time and see if he even notices, He,He...

        Now, up north, this is the bike I always ride, and it fits me like a glove.  But my friend, Lisa, recently sent me this picture below, hoping to help me fit in while I'm down in the sunshine state.  I'm so lucky to have friends who look out for me:)

        Now as practical as this idea may seem to you, you know I had to think this through logically. After all, I'm no fool! I asked Keith if he thought this would count as a carry-on.  While he doubted it would, he made the comment that maybe Flamingos are considered service animals in Florida!  See what I mean?!? Always looking out for me:) 

     Of course, I've already got enough of a side show going on just trying to get through security,  so maybe I shouldn't press my luck, and I'll just stick with the tandem idea...

     I'll let you know when I get back just how well this tandem thing worked out, and you'll just have to wait and see what other crazy stunts I'm able to mark off my list:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, January 22, 2016

What's on YOUR Bucket list??

     I mentioned last week that since the winter weather has finally hit us full force, I knew I had to do what ever it took to try to stay positive so I could get through this challenging time.   

    You may remember, last year about this time I took a trip down to Fort Myers Florida to visit my cousin.  The main reason for my trip (besides catching up with my crazy family down south...) was to see if I could actually survive all of the challenges of traveling across the country on my own, knowing that the flight alone came with many obstacles.  It would be a miracle in it's self if I even made it through the security check point, with all of my bionic devices. I'm a real walking circus!  However, I must have looked Innocent enough, because  half an hour later, after practically giving them my right kidney... they let me "breeze" right on through... 

     Well, I decided to start a new annual tradition to take a trip south in February just to regain some sanity again.  After all, the cold winter months up north are enough to send anyone to the loony bin.

     This picture is from my trip last year, and these palm trees are a sight for sore eyes.  I sure miss the warm weather...

    Looking at this picture of Fort Myers beach below is enough to make me forget the all of the hoops I had to jump through just to get there.
     But this trip was about a lot more than just the warm tropical sunshine.

     It was a chance for me to step outside of my comfort zone, and face my fears head on.  I've never been a fan of high places, but after I went parasailing and Hang-gliding 1500 feet in the sky...

   I discovered I'm safer up there than I am walking on the ground with my own two feet.

     If you're like me, you most certainly have a life dream, and the time to go after it is when you're alive.  People are always doing crazy things they never would have dreamed of doing, just so they can cross them off of their bucket list.  The thing is, they usually wait until they're ninety before doing them.  I'm starting to cross them off before that bucket is staring me in the face:) The time to live is now!

     My trip is only two weeks away, but you'll have to wait and see what I get to cross off this time:)

Have a great weekend!!



Friday, January 15, 2016

Okay, so maybe we didn't dodge winter; but at least the sun's still shining:)

     I'm sure we remember all too well, that the past few winters in our neck of the woods have been one great big arctic freeze.  Sub zero temps and three feet of snow have made us all think we would be better off living in Alaska.

     But this year I decided I was sick and tired of the freezing cold weather and maybe by mental telepathy I could convince Mr. Freezemiester to leave us alone this year.

     I was beginning to believe it had worked, because all the way through the month of December we practically had bathing suit weather.  I just knew this year I might actually dodge winter.

     Sure, freezing cold, snow, and ice isn't any big deal to the average "Joe"; but just as my crazy body turns into the tin man (or to be PC; tin person...) in the heat and humidity, it's also a crazy mess in the freezing cold as well.  If you can imagine walking on stilts, wearing roller skates...on a sheet of ice... ugh!

     Through the second week of January I was more and more convinced that this was going to be a tropical winter; however this week I had a rude awakening.  That white powder decided to rear his ugly face; and he brought that awful arctic chill with him.

     Looking at the glass half full has always been my way of getting through life, though at this point I was trying very hard to find anything positive to fill it with.  But If you know me, I don't quit looking until I find that silver lining.

     I just had to go to my happy place, and I knew that silver lining would find me.  So I went to my favorite park; my safe place; the place I go when I want to ride my bike by myself and just think.  Of course, it was no condition for a bike ride this day, but I still had the memories and I certainly could still think.
          That silver lining was waiting for me right in that park.  True, there was not a single visible human being in the entire park, but I certainly didn't feel alone; the sun was shining brighter than you could ever imagine; in spite of that blanket of snow.

     It may not have been hot enough to melt the snow and ice, but I could feel it's warmth from the inside out.  it was like a great big hug, telling me that good days were ahead of me if I could just be patient.

      I have a feeling this winter isn't going anywhere, anytime soon, but with the sun over my shoulder, I absolutely found my glass half full... and then some:)

Have a great weekend!


Friday, January 8, 2016

I might not be perfect; but I'm certainly good enough!

          Growing up with three brothers and a baby sister, my childhood seemed, at the time, insignificant.  Nothing about me stood out, and it was easier to sit back and say very little, than to wonder if what I had to say was of value.

     This was the case all through my grade school years, and it wasn't until many challenges and life lessons that I realized that what I had to say was, in fact, important.

     A few weeks ago, my long time friend, Lisa McCutcheon who I knew since I learned to walk, informed me that there was talk of a mini St. Clement class of 77 grade school reunion, hopefully taking place over the holidays.  All these years the only ones I really kept up with were Lisa and Anita Schmitz, and my curiosity had gotten the best of me.  I really wanted to go and see what had become of my peers.
     The person in charge of the details was Michael Duffey, who was the most popular kid in our class.  We may have exchanged two words in that eight year period if any, but those were different times.

     I was the second one to arrive, and though I could have never picked Michael out of a police lineup, standing there was a man who seemed to look like he recognized me, and it turned out to be him.

     Now, for any of you who know me today, you can imagine I've already told my whole life story before Michael had gotten his first word out.  But when he did, his comment to me was "You were so quiet in grade school!"  I told him that was because back then I didn't think I was good enough.  He asked me why I thought that, and I explained to him that that little girl didn't know any better.  She felt like she wasn't smart enough, or rich enough, or pretty enough, therefore, she felt like she had nothing to say.

     Michael replied that he remembered me being pretty, but I was extremely quiet.  I told him "was" is the operative  word.  I've since learned that I have plenty to say.  After raising three children, while surviving breast cancer, and living with MS for over thirty years, along with the many battle scars I've endured over time, I now know that everything I have to say is important; maybe not to everyone, but "someone".
     It was great seeing my old classmates; though unfortunately, only a mere handful were able to make it.  As the evening progressed we somehow got on the topic of going back and changing things in our life, and I admitted that there is not one thing about my life that I would ever want to change.  My life has made me who I am today. 

          I've come a long way since that little girl from 40 years ago, and it's all due to the many hurdles I've crossed.  And after riding my bike 55 miles with my team of 40 to cross that finish line in the MS Bike To The Bay last year, it confirmed that no hurdle is too high if you want it bad enough.
     To that little girl who thought she had nothing to say so many years ago, I say "It's true, I may not be perfect... but I'm certainly good enough!"

Have a great weekend!!


Friday, January 1, 2016

A new year means a chance for a lot more firsts!

        Well, the new year is finally here, and I'm definitely looking forward to a lot more firsts.  Last year proved to be filled with many firsts for me, and I'm happy to say I made it through unscathed.

     I've always thought of myself as an adventurous person, but I also liked living safe and sound inside my comfort zone.  That was until a couple years ago when I felt the need to start taking risks, just to prove to myself that nothing could stop me.

     I know we haven't had much snow this season, but for someone like me who is fighting an ongoing battle to keep from landing on my behind, I don't mind it one bit.

     However,  a couple of years ago my brother asked me to go snowmobiling  with him.  At this stage in my life I wasn't a fan of winter outdoor sports, but it would become one of the first times I did something outside of my comfort zone.  And the kicker was that I would be driving myself!
        I've always dreaded walking in the snow and ice for fear of falling, but a snowmobile seemed safe enough. There was no way I could lose my footing. Of course, when I was done riding I eventually had to walk through the snow; hence one of my biggest fears came true...  Yep! I lost my footing and landed flat on my back.  For a split second I wanted to say "what the heck was I thinking, playing in the snow anyway??"

       But as I was laying there I started to feel the snow flakes on my face, and it reminded me of when I was a little girl and I loved making snow angels.  Now, as a lady in my fifties would I ever lay down in the snow to make a snow angel??  Probably not; but I was down there already!!

     As I look at this picture two years later I see one thing that I never noticed way back then; my strong leg, even while doing something as simple as making a snow angel, had to go above and beyond to take up the slack for it's not so strong side kick.

     But that seems to be the story of my life.  There are somethings I can't do by myself, but with a little help, there is nothing I can't do.  Just watch me this year:)

Happy new year!!


Friday, December 25, 2015

The Miracle of Christmas

     The whole meaning behind Christmas is believing in the miracles of a man we've never even seen; but our faith helps us trust that things will always be okay, even if the path isn't what we expected.

     The same thing holds true for the man with the white beard and red suit.  We all know he makes the season jolly, even if his claim to fame is purely fantasy.  

     One thing, however, that seems to be a rite of passage from one generation to the next, is that infamous photo with Mr. Claus, and our little ones.  It leaves us with memories to last a life time.

     But the whole "Santa thing" is a process in and of it's self, because it's almost inevitable that our little ones, at one point or another will act as though they're being put through a torture chamber, before realizing this man's on their side.

     I know I have pictures from long ago of my own children looking less than thrilled to be sitting on the lap of this iconic wonder, Mr. Chris Kringle; it's just what we do...

     As you can see in this picture from last year, my grandbabies weren't the least bit interested in a visit with this scary old man.  I even mentioned at one point that they should consider making Santa look a little friendlier so the babies wouldn't fear him so much.  William was certainly giving it his best ditch effort to make a quick get away.
     But somehow as they learn to trust that this man is good, the tears seem to fade away.  Notice below, William is finally figuring it out, while poor little Connor isn't quite there yet.

      Then, it occurred to me... this is no different than what we as adults are also going through.  We sometimes experience fearful challenges in life that cause us to wonder how we'll ever get through them; but with a little faith, we realize that eventually things will work out, if we just believe; I know, I do:)

Merry Christmas!!


Friday, December 18, 2015

I may talk a lot, but it's a good thing people don't always listen:)

     It's funny how easily we find ourselves eating our words; but somehow it doesn't stop us from saying things we later regret.

     As you know, the 2016 Bike To The Bay season is already under way, and one of my first teammates to register for the upcoming year is my good friend Maryann; my right hand lady.  Last year she was by my side, encouraging me every step of the way, and I'm sure it was a challenge; I know it was for me...). But she made a promise to me that she would never leave my side, and she definitely made good on that promise. 

      The buddy system is a great idea in the Bike To The Bay, but in my case it's critical.  I never know from one minute to the next when my crazy brain and body will decide to stop talking to each other.
     Last year, that 55 miles was probably the hardest thing I ever had to do.  But that was due to the fact that over heating and dehydration are just enough to make my brain and muscles go on strike.  And my cooperative left leg has one heck of a time pushing that 20 pound hitchhiker on the right pedal for countless miles.

     I've since learned some things that I may want to modify for the up coming year, to make it a little less of a struggle.  However, Maryann recently reminded me that last year when I was about ten miles from the finish line and I was ready to throw in the towel, I made her promise to remind me how brutal it was, and just like child birth, time makes you forget just how much.

     But Of course, you know this stubborn Scorpio isn't going to let anything defeat her, so here I am signed up for yet another year, and anxious to see how many miles I make it before I start wining "never again" :) Last year, at every rest stop if I ever mentioned I couldn't feel my legs there was good old Fred LeFevbre, from 1370 radio, in my face telling me to quit my wining and get back on the bike...  I guess if someone older than dirt could do it, then so could I! Of course I mean that in a nice way:) Incidentally, I see Fred is signed up for the up coming year already as well.                           

     So any of you who would like to ride in 2016 but think you're out of shape, just think of me, and realize, if I can do it, anybody can!  Please join my team!

Oh, and registration is only 25.00 from now until the end of the year:) Please join my team!

Have a great weekend!!


Friday, December 11, 2015

The holiday season isn't about the gift wrap.

     Leapfrog for MS was created two years ago just because I wanted to promote the Bike To The Bay, and raise awareness about MS.  However, all the people I've met along the way have made me the one who became aware; aware that so many people deal with challenges every day, and something as simple as riding a bike isn't going to fix them.

     Most people think of the holidays as the time to show our friends and family how much we care about them, by baking the tastiest cookies, and planning an awesome holiday party, with the most amazing decorations, and shopping for the perfect gifts; all beautifully wrapped.
Of course you know Christmas is pink too:)

     But what ends up happening is we all become frazzled and in a panic to try to beat that deadline that comes and goes in the blink of an eye; and we forget the real meaning of the season.

     I'm sure it's an ongoing thing, but for some reason, I feel like this year I'm running into a lot more people struggling with the "holiday blues".  This doesn't make sense; the holidays are supposed to make you happy.  Maybe it's the whole lack of daylight theory that has so many down, or maybe it's just being overwhelmed by how much there is to do to make it a "perfect" holiday, or it could even be that people see others around them making it all look effortless and yet they feel like the weight of the world is on them.

     But the one thing that has become apparent is none of us has it totally figured out; however, if someone does, please let me in on the secret;)  I don't claim to be Albert Einstein (though first thing in the morning we may share the same do...)  
     But I do know that sometimes the best holiday gift you can give a person is your ear; of course, keep in mind that this gift should be valid year round.  

     I've decided to make a special effort this year and reach out to people, even if they look like they have everything under control, and if they do, then I'll take notes:)  An invitation to grab coffee could end up being a game changer for that one person struggling to find that Christmas Spirit, and ironically, I usually end up gaining something as well. Something as simple as messaging someone and asking them how their day is going is huge.  And a few seconds of idol chit chat after making eye contact with a stranger is priceless.

     With all of the challenges in this world I have a simple challenge for you. In the next few days reach out to someone you've lost touch with or haven't been in touch with lately, and invite them out for coffee or simply send them a message, asking how they're doing.  You just might hit that one person who really needs it:)

         You can have all the lights and candy canes you want; however, on Christmas day that pile of presents ends up being a mound of gift wrap strewed all over the floor. But in the end... none of that really matters... because good will can't be gift wrapped:)

Have a great weekend!!