This post starts with a plant. Late last week, a grower friend of mine gifted me with a big, beautiful New Guinea impatien basket. It has huge, gorgeous, deep purple-fuchsia blooms and glossy, dark green strappy leaves. It had me at hello.
I have no idea why he didn’t want me to pay for the plant; I offered to! But no, it was a gift. It left me thankful and wanting to do something good and unexpected for someone else, to “pay it forward.”
This unexpected generosity just compounded the thankfulness that kept bubbling up during the week. On Monday I found a really great group of people to ride bikes with, and early Friday morning I took my first lake swim with more friends. Then on Saturday morning I got to ride the Tour de Peonies (kind of like a Tour de Pyrenees, but shorter, less steep, and involving more hiking into fields of flowers…) with the Geneva Women’s Ride gals. I love the people my bike, and the sport of triathlon, let me meet. Friendships formed on two wheels are some of my favorites.
Then yesterday I took a solo ride from Black Creek Park. The weather was lovely – mid-70’s and just overcast enough to be comfortable – and summer was just coming out to play. Peonies, bee balm, phlox, and clematis were blooming, and people’s garden center finds – blazing red geraniums, cotton-candy pink petunias, and mardi-gras-ready calibrachoa baskets – were fresh and spunky.
Which is how I felt. Some combination of finallies – finally getting enough sleep, finally finding a sports drink that doesn’t make me urpy, finally relaxing some habitual, latent-yet-constant tensions – left me ready to eat up the road. I found rich, damp, woodsy scents as I spun through shady roads, short, steep hills by Oatka Creek Park, and a rolling ribbon of pavement I didn’t want to end. I was intoxicated. What pure joy to soak in a ride like that.
For a body that moves; for a fun, supportive group of friends; for my family; for the job that challenges and rewards me; for the freedoms this country provides; for the people in and out of uniform who defend and extend those freedoms; for the fundamental truth that new life is always possible…I am thankful.
There are so many ways to “pay forward” a grateful spirit – or in keeping with the bike theme, to spin it forward. One small thing I’m going to do is ride in the Tour de Cure on Sunday, June 10 to help raise funds and awareness for diabetes prevention. Believe me, there is zero hardship on my part. I get to take a casual, fun ride with a group of really nice people and get fed on the way!
I also get to raise some money for the American Diabetes Association, to help them fund research, education, and treatment for diabetes. This disease touches all of us – including a good many of my family and friends – and its costs in both personal and financial terms are huge. I just listened to an On Point podcast about teens with diabetes, and a study has just found that 25% of teens are diabetic or pre-diabetic. The good news is that it often doesn’t take drastic lifestyle changes to reverse pre-diabetes; the bad news is that if left unaddressed, the consequences for our nation’s health and health care system are staggering.
Anyhow, my goal is to raise $150 with my ride, and I’m half way there. If you’re able to kick in a few dollars – really, just $5 or $10 helps! – here’s the link to my fundraising page. If a donation doesn’t work right now, that’s ok too. We can all spin forward thankfulness and health – and sometimes, I’ve learned, it starts with taking care of yourself.
Here’s to the new week! (Whew – Now that Memorial Day has come, I can bring out my white pants and dresses! Hahahahaha.) Thanks for reading.