It’s been awhile since I’ve been here. That will change soon. I’m still Rollin, albeit slowly, but still …
Today is the last numerically repeating date we’ll see in our lifetimes: 12/12/12, so I thought I’d invite all to join in the celebration of this unique day by re-posting your first Instagram photograph along with the tag #My_First_Instagram. Many have already posted to the #My_First_Instagram tag-room gallery, and your photo re-post contribution, whether you get to it today or not, will be a wonderful addition to the gallery.
Just for fun, I’ll be posting #My_First_Instagram at 12:12:12 today, making my mark with Milo a consecutive 6 pack of 12′s: 12/12/12 at 12:12:12.
Here’s #My_First_Instagram and a few IG posts leading up to today ~
This is an Instagram post from a friend, who posted her first Instagram yesterday, which was 12/12/12 in Australia.
A few weeks back, John Young, Sales Manager for Budnitz Bicycles http://budnitzbicycles.com/ offered to have me test ride the new titanium Budnitz Flatbar http://shop.budnitzbicycles.com/products/titanium-straight-bars. Disarmed with a huge smile, I was powerless to refuse.
Stress is insidious and tenacious, and can fracture many things very effectively, material and immaterial alike.
Mood. Confidence. Mind.
Chemistry. Memory. Time.
Will. Power. Karma.
We all have the capacity for both acute and chronic stress. Acute stress is transient and useful: it triggers excitement, energy, the “fight or flight” response for self-preservation, and quickly sharpens mental focus. Chronic stress is self-destructive and serves no physiologic advantage or practical purpose. Unlike acute stress, chronic stress isn’t transient; rather, it is repetitive and lasting, sometimes starting in childhood. Both stresses release the stress hormones adrenaline, cortisol, and glucocorticoids, all beneficial in the immediate term, but toxic chemistry longterm.
Physical damage, namely, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, a weakened immune system, and brain cell destruction in the hippocampus that impairs memory and learning, are all effects of longterm swimming in chronic stress hormones. Further damage from chronic stress includes dulling of the senses, chronic fatigue, apathy, pain, suffering, and severe reactive depression, a longterm result of chronic stress depleting dopamine, a neurotransmitter that many anti-depressants and some pain medicines work to increase.
“At the slightest stress, people seem to divide themselves into antagonistic groups.” Isaac Asimov
I felt sick and exhausted again when I awoke this morning.
I feel ill, weak, and nauseated sitting on my bike.
Maybe I should just go back to bed.
Should I even try to ride right now?
What if I puke, if I’m too weak to ride back home, if I burn too many calories that can’t be replaced by merely attempting to eat while nauseated?
Will I ever feel good again?
Let It Go
When I realize I’m again looped in worry thoughts, I usually remember to “let it go” and focus on what I actually know: I’m a bad lad sitting on a sick bike, the secret trail is ahead, and my pain isn’t that much worse than usual. Stating this, the worry loop often weakens and I slowly become aware of the present, of resplendent trail and forest,
the brisk touch of wind on my skin, and the lively feel of my bike transporting me. Again, I recall that I can live only in the present, which I regard as the always current sum of my past, my personal history, one I hold close as calibrated compass and personal guide.
Q: So, what besides anxiolytic medicine can be used to reduce or minimize chronic stress?
A: Practicing Stress Fracturing ~
Meditation practice works to instill calm hopefulness and well-being: it is a path to inner peace, fostering healthy self-dialogue and decreasing feelings of ill will toward self and others, but most importantly, it can decrease one’s suffering from stress and pain. Meditation also paves the way to a safe ‘place’ one can build and revisit.
Recall something from the past that you regret or makes you sad. For me, losing my health and career makes me very sad. While minding such a memory, let go the memory as you think only of following your breath. With practice, commanding “let it go” will replace unpleasant, painful memories with what is actually in the present, like the gentle flow of your breath, sea mist on your skin, the call of a sea lion. Try to focus on the sad memory with your eyes closed, then “let it go” as you look out and focus on what comes immediately into your awareness: colors, sounds, smells, temperature, sensations, anything you sense in the present.
Think of an event or possible occurrence in the future that is stressful. My future stressor is worsening pain and health. Again, hold the stressful thought in mind and “let it go” as you shift your awareness to your breathing. Then, being aware of the breath, begin gentle In Out Breathing and settle into a peaceful, comfortable rhythm. When your mind starts to wonder or thoughts float back in, notice the wondering, the floating thoughts and let them go, returning your awareness to the rhythm of your breathing. By letting go of your thoughts of future stressors and replacing them with peaceful In Out Breathing in the present, you can realize a decrease in mental suffering, and possibly a decrease in physical suffering as well.
Since 2001, I’ve borrowed and adapted these practices from many teachers of mindfulness meditation and Buddhism. I intensified my study of meditation when I became ill in 2005, and continue to practice fracturing stress as it continues to fracture me, but with less tenacity and power as time goes by.
Breathing in I calm my body
Breathing out I smile
I adapted a version that works better for me:
Breathing in I calm my body
Breathing out I calm my mind
In . . . Out . . .
Here are three of Thich Nhat Hanh’s straightforward exercises for fracturing stress:
1. Half-smile while listening to music, focusing on the rhythm, mood, and tones of the song. Follow your In Out breath and allow mind and body to relax in the melodious present.
2. Mindfulness over tea (coffee for me). While making tea, move deliberately to be mindful of each movement. Feel the weight of kettle and warmth of cup in your hands. Smell the fragrance with mindful In Out breathing, breathing more calmly and deeply when your mind wonders from the present.
3. Ask, “am I sure?” Hanh uses this question to inquire if each thought or action is a source of stress and suffering. “I’ll never get better. Am I sure?” “I can’t be productive anymore. Am I sure?” Asking am I sure promotes the letting go of presumptions and allows one to focus on the world as it is.
By using “let it go” practice and Thich Nhat Hanh’s mindfulness practices, I’ve reduced my stress markedly, which has improved, at least, my mental health. What happens mentally is that these practices allow me to hold stress thoughts more lightly and to shorten the wait for them to pass on through. Over time, mindfulness skills can become second-nature and easier to summon when needed. There was a period of a few years when my physical pain was too big an obstacle for unaided meditation. The remedy was listening to guided mindfulness meditations and body scans, which gave my mind something passive to do: just allowing the guide’s voice to fill my mind instead of mentally working against pain to focus on thoughts or body sensations. Through the many recorded guided meditations, I’ve refined my practice of mindfulness meditation and the body scan, an excellent mindfulness stress reducer (and a subject requiring its own post).
Recently, I had a chance to thoroughly test this updated practice of Let It Go. I went to get lenses for my reading glasses after an eye exam a few weeks before. I was feeling ill, and the 25 minute car ride didn’t help my nausea. After 15 minutes in the waiting room, I was eventually told that I needed a prescription from the eye doctor for the lenses. A flood of bitterness about the doctor omitting the required prescription weeks earlier from my previous exam and irritation over having to return for another exam on another day had my head and body swimming in stress. I sat down, closed my eyes, took a few In Out breaths and deliberately thought, “let it go” several times. The words triggered my awareness to focus on the present and calmly sift out the grievances and aggravation enough to think of asking if I could be examined for the prescription now to save further delay and another difficult trip. While the nurse worked on getting a walk-in appointment with any of the 8 staff physicians, I maintained my let it go focus while looking at interesting glasses,
I know that stressful thoughts can’t be eliminated and will return, but I also know that suffering them can be relieved somewhat by returning my awareness to the present if I let it go. I also know that stress is information, a lightening quick barometer of my thoughts as emotions and sensations, and a glacial undercurrent of my worn worry loops.
Weather varies, climate holds steady. I’m off to study climate and ignore the weatherman.
To ride where I do, you have to be a willing target. One for aimless autos transporting their mindless automatons with cell phones grafted to their hands and faces.
One for rigs spewing acrid after-burn that immediately sets up shop in the peeps, schnoz, and windbags, our most naturally efficient system for toxin transport to blood and brain.
One for frigid, mist-laden gales that bite and _always_ blow against. One for spider webs that cordon off the trail every few feet and stick to lips, tongue, and lenses, and slow you down just from their weight and friction.
One for bees, who find the most beautiful of settings and fair of skin.
One for leash-less k9s that want nothing more than to savor your spinning meat.
One for mud that is primed to vector fauna scat and giardia down your throat. One for poison oak, whose urushiol resin stealthily hitchhikes on your bike and gear to squat later in red anger on your most secluded skin and membranes.
One for green vines, growing to lasso blood from skin and douse lenses with dew, blurring out all vision just atop the next technical drop.
One for woody vines that, like tangled moss underfoot, will uproot your balance in a heartbeat, that, like prisoners behind bars, will thrust out limbs and claw their way through your skin. One for wood that, occasionally confused with a meteorite careening from above, will squash your mellon in a flash.
And one for solipsism, whose foot soldier and equestrian adherents spew streams of fanatical invective, claiming the public trail to be their own exclusive country club.
Hope you are going well. I have over the past weeks been reading bits of your “Rollin with outta colon” blog. But not until today have I had a full opportunity to read it in its entirety as a large thunderstorm is rolling through that prevented us from hiking.
I am so impressed. To have gotten so sick, but have the ability to be so positive is wonderful. You can take others to a higher level with your positive words of encouragement.
It must have been so hard for you to have to retire early. Please educate me if you will.(or you can tell me it is none of my damn business) What caused you to get sick and loose your colon. Did you have Crohn’s disease? Was it the drugs you were exposed to as an Anesthesiologist? The body, nutrition and the lymphatic system interest me so much in my life as I keep fit for my body’s well being.
I could really relate to you getting sick. After looking through your pictures you were very active. I can only imagine as active as I am if I got sick. I am proud of you for turning to photography and for especially not being one of those who just gives up. I have two friends with MS. One who is now well today who fought the disease and so far is winning. And then another who is just given in and does not try to get better and because of it she is now on a walker. Our bodies are amazingly strong machines.
We spend about three weeks a year in Sedona at least. We have thought of buying a piece of land there to build on one day to have a second home. We just love it there. It is so beautiful. We had a second home in Scottsdale, but luckily during the high times sold it due to increasing crime there.
Have you ever read any of the books written by Jordan Run? He is a naturopathic dr who almost died. He turned his life around through nutrition. I do not regularly mention this to all, but knew you were into your body.
I just wanted you to know you encouraged me to want to stay stronger and to keep cheering you on to get stronger.
Take care of yourself.
21 hours ago
Libby, thank you so very much. For all of it. Your words are so caring and encouraging, I want to post this on my blog! My 1st trip in years will be to Sedona this Oct. That’s the plan anyway. Have been going there 4-8 wks/year since 1996, with a hiatus beginning 2008. I know about 80 miles of bike trail there as I know the way around my house. So good to reconnect. May you long be plagued with good health. Namaste, C
5 hours ago
That is so kind of you. People are really my heart beat.It meant a lot to me this last month when Rebecca graduated from hs. She gave a speech about loving others with no judging. She said in it she learned by example from her mom and that she has always watched me love others. She went on to say that she has never seen someone relate so well with others. It was very heart filling to me. I just hate how others can treat one another. I think I saw others differently after growing up in a very judgmental society in Amarillo. I am sure you know what I mean.
Awesome to put it on your blog. It is so true what I said to you. You have a talent of encouragement.
I am thrilled for you with your first trip to Sedona. I will be cheering for you as you work forward to that date. I love to bike and hike there. We have literally done all the trails in the area. And I know you will have awesome pictures to go along.
Off to hike before our storms roll in. Take care and great to connect with you again.
Today’s project is the resurrection of my Bontrager Ti Lite’s Modzilla fork that Speedgoat Bicycles built in 1995. Chris took a Rock Shox Judy SL, replaced the crown with a Paul Components CNC machined aluminum crown that can fit 1″ and 1-1/8″ fork steer tubes, then replaced the original Judy internals with air cartridges by Englund, now Total Air, if they still exist. The 2 massive crown bolts are torqued to 35 ft/lbs.
Today’s project was entirely unplanned. I snapped the head off a seatpost collar bolt while readying the Bontrager Ti Lite, the bike Danusia bought me ’93 as a replacement for my stolen Gary Fisher Procaliber, to receive the wheel with the special hub I built and posted about Thursday. The collar had* a machined slot with too narrow a division, preventing enough tightening to hold the seatpost in place before the clamp’s metal edges touched. That fact unknown to me at the time, I over-torqued the bolt, snapping its head off with a loud POP.
Recently, I’ve taken up photography and become a “photog,” a tenderfoot photographer. Photographs can make interesting and beautiful again what I often take for granted. My iphone makes photography an accomodating activity because its many pocket cameras are always with me in one truly “compact” device. Supporting stacks of photo editing apps, my phone is essentially a portable dark room that’s neither dark nor room and emits no fumes. I can squander shots because I never run out of film, and the eco-friendly ‘trash’ is just a finger’s throw away. Plain photos can be transformed into works of art if time is taken to develop a camera eye and learn the editing programs, and so much rolling in LoFi mode will likely make me better at shooting with a camera that doesn’t accept calls. Continue reading
When I was a youngin, I would go to Possum Kingdom with my spoiled friend and his family. One summer, R and I dug trenches in the lake’s shoreline sand. We then tightly packed ourselves chest deep in the holes. Such a cool, pleasurable escape from the blazing Kingdom sun … until his older sister and her friend started whacking our heads with those big plastic baseball bats. We were stuck, wholly unable to move or retaliate against the onslaught, which included getting sand kicked in our faces. We screamed, they fled, giggling hysterically down the beach and out of sight.
That night, I couldn’t wear a shirt or lie on my back, my skin was sun burned so deeply. The next morning, I shed my back in sheets the size of a washcloth. And again that evening.
The next day, R and I crouched down in the back of his father’s full throttled speedboat. We were shouting to each other, only able to make out one another’s moving lips. Certain R’s dad couldn’t hear us, not that he cared anyway, we snatched a canned Coors from the ice chest and flat-out gulped it down, half for each. I recall the boat ride seemed much less choppy after. That was my first beer ~ pawsome sauce. I was in 4th grade.
As the creator of original Pawsome Sauce, Tosha, you rule the Pawsome Kingdom.
Today, I resurrected and doctored my Turner mountain bike, which has been hibernating since its last trek in the biking mecca of Sedona, AZ, November 10, 2008. How do I recall the exact day? Can’t forget — the following morning I was stabbed in the left flank while sleeping. I startled awake in excruciating pain, forcing my contracting eyelids open to see the perpetrator. I urgently scanned the room while reaching for my flank to feel the bloody knife (or red-hot poker). I felt nothing, saw nothing, then realized I was having my first kidney stone attack! My eyes rolled back in my head in utter disbelief as another sharply expanding wave of pain and nausea took over. The clock displayed 4 a.m., so Danusia was beyond my door, down the hall, asleep. So, for the next 45 minutes, in a cold sweat, I closed my eyes and focused on breathing deeply through the repeating waves of attacks. After an eon and hundreds of shallow gasps, I heard Danusia moving around. I speed dialed her, and next thing, found myself in the Sedona Urgent Care ER.
A few tips on bike set up, tools, & gear ~
Today, I visited my very close friends Linda and Phil. Linda is a painter, a true artist, and a gifted caretaker and advocate of man and animal. Phil is a retired ENT surgeon I worked with in Santa Barbara. We met in 1997 for a case in the operating room and connected on the spot. We had, among many things, mountain biking in common. He detailed the trails to ride in Santa Cruz, which became my favorite biking mecca beginning 2003. Phil retired prematurely because of the unending maze of unnecessary hassles and dire liabilities of medical practice. His early retirement, a choice that too many of the best doctors are making, was a great loss for the medical community, as Phil was a deeply caring and outstanding surgeon. In 2005, Linda and Phil moved to Carmel Valley, a blessing of reunion for us all. I think it’s been 3-4 years since I last visited them at their beautiful property (yet they have since graciously made many trips to see me at my home). Linda showed me walls of her own exquisite paintings, and Phil let me drive his black 1963 Porsche 356 S, a breathtaking car in concours condition. This particular car was made like a Rolex by artisans of the past. If I had a grand pile of Benjamins just waiting to collapse under its own weight, I’d get one.