Well, hopefully spring is here for most of us. I have had my bike out twice, and it snowed the next day both times. I am going to risk it again today and go for a short ride with my friends.
Like most riders, I waited patiently for that first ride, and with the winter that seemed to drag on forever, I was beginning to feel a bit caged! The first ride out was tentative, as the roads were covered with sand and grit, but it felt SO AWESOME!
I read grizzz's Blob Post about enjoying the small things in life. I also read through the tributes to Tina (from 089) and although I didn't know her, the tributes really tell the story of a courageous lady. I had an idea.
There is a challenge on the Internet called the 100 Happy Days Challenge http://100happydays.com - challenges people to focus on things that make them happy, even for a little while.
As the site says - We live in times when super-busy schedules have become something to boast about. While the speed of life increases, there is less and less time to enjoy the moment that you are in. The ability to appreciate the moment, the environment and yourself in it, is the base for the bridge towards long term happiness of any human being.
71% of people tried to complete this challenge, but failed quoting lack of time as the main reason.These people simply did not have time to be happy. Do you?
If you are up to the challenge, you post a picture every day for 100 days of things that make you happy. You can change the privacy settings to whatever you want, or you can just keep the challenge to yourself.
My idea is this - is anyone interested in doing a CMC 100 Happy Day challenge? We could use the hashtag #100HappyDaysCMC or create a forum here for folks to post. What a great way to promote our love of riding, our friendship and the beauty of belonging to CMC!
Yesterday was so cold, dreary, and windy, it hardly felt like spring. Looking at the big piles of dirty snow on the lawn and lane way also take away the feeling that summer is near!
John (jayhawkr) and I have been pondering our Chapter, and what works best. Like most of the Officers before me, we sent emails out asking for advice (no response), encouraged Forum postings (very little use) and tried Facebook (the people on the Forum are also the ones on Facebook, so no improvement there).
We are in a rural Community with no larger urban centres, so our membership will always be smaller. There are other riding groups, such as ABATE, Steelhorse Riders and a few others - but their riders are not likely to join CMC for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes there are periods of self-doubt. Perhaps people who can ride more than a Mom with young kids should be part of this group, someone who can ride more. But this assumes that the people in our Chapter want to ride more - I don't really know what they want.
The ROMEO rides are always well-attended by a few of our members, but this excludes the ones who work on Fridays. John has posted some weekend lunch events to bring out the others. The Freeze King and Willies Burger Stop just opened, so we will be doing some after-work ice cream rides when it warms up. We will restart our weekly Meet and Greets at the end of the month and hopefully the weather is better!
We are also going to try more picnic lunches - this will allow for more riding in a short ride, and less sitting. Its easy to blow off 1.5 hours going to a restaurant with a group - if we only plan a 5 hour ride, we've lost most of our day. I'd rather sit outside in the sun anyway.
For me, and probably John, the social aspect of CMC is as important as the riding. We will be planning to meet up more often with the other local groups and join in their fun! Its much harder to develop the camaraderie in a smaller group that doesn't meet up as often.
I know Bob and Rob also put a lot of thought into planning different rides and thinking of the same challenges - wondering if there are officers from other rural chapters with new ideas too?
The past few weeks, jayhawkr and I have been dealing with family "stuff". It will all work itself out in the end, and as I repeatedly tell myself, every time I feel like I have Life under control, He/She kicks me in the rear just to remind me I don't.
I read with envy all you folks who go on long rides and travel the country. While I certainly don't wish my life away, I wonder if I will EVER have the freedom that many of you enjoy. Maybe its choices?
Realistically, this is what I am facing:
- I'm 42, and I have at least 20 more years of work life left. The retirement ages creep up - by the time I'm ready, it will probably be 75!
- My sons are 16 and 13, so I have a few more years left as Mom Taxi, taking them to sports and managing the teenage years. Lets count that as 8 more years til the youngest ones are out of the house.
- My parents are 65, and in pretty good health, all things considered. My Mom will be storming the Grand Bend countryside for years to come! Lets count 20 more years for them, at which point, it will be necessary for me and my siblings to help them out a lot more. I owe them - they did a lot for me, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
- My youngest brother has a lot of health challenges, and at 30, he still lives with my parents. When they get to an age when they can't look after him anymore, it will be up to my brothers and I. He certainly didn't ask for the hand he got dealt by Life - what the next 20 years brings for him, is anyone's guess.
So, if we do some simple subtraction - realistically, I have 20 - 8 years = 12 years before family responsibilities keeps me at home once again. I have a lot of riding planned for those 12 years!!!!
Jayhawkr and I talk about the challenges for the "Sandwich generation" - Generation Xers predominantly, who are balancing care for children and senior parents at the same time. I attend retirement parties for my colleagues who have had the same job for 30 years, and are retiring at 60.
I feel like I'm whining, because I am sure that there have been generations before me with these same responsibilities. Is it a misplaced sense of entitlement that permits me to think that I should be any different?
Some of my colleagues are reluctantly retiring. They love their job, love the people they work with, and only financial incentives are coaxing them out the door. Me? I LOVE my job and the people I work with, but I have 1000 other things I would love to do then spend my days at WORK. Maybe that's naive of me - maybe I will feel differently about it when my time comes (but I really really doubt it).
I worry about the availability of the social safety net for people like my brother - although my parents have done their best to save money for his long-term care, it is also based on the availability of social health benefit programs. His medication alone costs a fortune - if those programs are not available in the future, or even if I have to contribute a greater percentage, it may mean working for much longer to afford it.
I read a lot about the economy, and work, and I wonder if my children will ever be able to afford the things we have. Maybe they will be living with us longer, moving back in after post-secondary, or after a job loss, or whatever Life Challenge they face. (That will be fine provided they don't turn into Couch Turds - at which point, I WILL be on my motorcycle so I don't hurt anyone). I think of how hard it might be for them - and I realize how lucky I really am.
The other day, I received an email at work about inclusion and diversity. I think I work in great place where morale (overall) is pretty good, and where the majority of people are really friendly and supportive. However, the email reminded me of conversations I've had in the past month with my colleagues and with my husband, jayhawkr.
The context of the conversations with the staff revolved around an important part of my life - riding motorcycles. While I'm a huge fan of Sons of Anarchy, there is a huge difference between those who "love to ride" and true "bikers". There was a relatively quick link drawn between those who ride motorcycles and tattoos. Almost everyone I know has some tattoos, although that is not specific to those that ride and those that don't. I have.......some.
My colleague and I discussed why people get tattoos. He admitted that it wasn't something he would ever do, and that he really wasn't clear why anyone else did. The key here was that he wanted to understand. Another colleague, who was extensively tattooed laughed when asked what he would think of them when he was old. His response - that is an assumption that his old age would be the same as old age today. Tattoos are just one of hundreds of differences between our grandparents generation and ours. Different studies have indicated that there are two generations in particular that embracing a tattoo culture - folks 25 and younger, and those between 40 and 50.
The flip side for a workplace culture are negative tattoos. Negativity can be literal or implied, blatant or inadvertent, and for that reason, I put a great deal of thought into mine. To a biologist, a tattoo of a snake portrays their love of their work. In certain religions, a snake can carry negative connotations. Very popular tattoos incorporate messages from other cultures and languages - but it takes alot of trust in the tattoo artist to get the subtlties of a foreign language accurate! I researched First Nation's perspectives and symbolism when designing mine because I find it very relevant to the meaning behind them.
Workplaces are struggling with tattoos and what policies to adopt. I equate tattoo acceptance to a job interview - while the person might be entirely capable and professional, the etiquette of job interviewing requires a professional dress code. No formal written "code" is in place. There are no formal policies, but those of us with them feel a subtle "pressure" to cover them up. An intern I spoke with was genuinely shocked and dismayed to hear that tattoos were generally not considered "appropriate" in our professional setting (which triggered an instinctual tug on her shirt sleeve - she had a beautiful , delicate script tattoo on her inner arm).
The unspoken "pressure" also exists in the private sector. My husband recently got a tattoo on his forearm, and while he works in a manufacturing sector where tattoos are the norm, his position as a manager compels him cover them up.
Here is a newsstory entitled "So why do "normal" people get tattoos?" from the BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7034500.stm). The comments below the story actually describe this "pressure" quite accurately.
At no time, has anyone in my workplace ever made negative remarks to me personally, but I have to admit - I have been relatively silent about my tattoos. I don't think that my work performance has anything to do with having tattoos or not, but I understand the risks of openly displaying them. Truthfully, they can be a distraction to an audience I am presenting to, so to minimize this, I cover them.
I believe there are two reasons people get tattoos - the first is to tell a story in some graphic ways, and the second is to celebrate a form of art. In the same way my wrinkles, stretch marks and c-section scars tell a story about my life experiences, tattoos can add to the story. Tattoos can span many artistic genres - from comic to tribal, portraits to abstract watercolours, realistic to symbolic.
I've decided to brave and open myself to questions you may have - I have tattoos. I have quite a few of them to be honest, and they are more than dainty ankle butterflies and flowers. While I appreciate the artistic expression of both the person and the artist, that doesn't alway mean that I like every tattoo I see. To each their own - just because I wouldn't put a particular tattoo on myself, doesn't mean I care that someone else did (I don't). I don't like skulls, broken hearts, cartoon-like images, or anything that implies negativity, and I wouldn't put such things on myself. I prefer graphic demonstration of my stories, rather than literal, although I love the script tattoos that my husband and my stepdaughters have.
A good artist can help find an appropriate design. I had an idea for another tattoo that was very different than my usual choices. It was beautiful, but held no real meaning for me. When I decided on a second choice, the artist agreed that it was much more appropriate for my "style". All of mine use symbols from our environment to tell my story.
Location is as important as the design - I personally would not put a tattoo in places where medical procedures are common - like the wrist/hand for an IV, elbow for bloodwork. Maybe I'm a worrywart, but I think of it as being practical. People often describe them as "addictive" because once the hurdle of fear of getting the first one is passed, the desire to "tell" the rest of the story opens future possibilities.
People ask me what I would say if my kids wanted a tattoo. Both my stepdaughters have beautiful, delicate tattoos that are thoughtful, not "cutesy". I caution them not to get carried away with tattoos as teenagers - what is important at 18 may not be at 50. Because I think the tattoos tell part of a life story, I tell them that they have decades of life left to choose the experiences to display on their bodies.
You may have seen a peak of my most favourite tattoo - the bottom of it is barely visible if I wear a skirt. I'd like to take the opportunity to tell the story - for interest sake, and perhaps to challenge your perception of tattoos in general.
I got it during a particularly tumultuous time in my life. The plan I had for my life was in shambles, I was desperately trying to do the best for my children, and I was terrified of the "unknown" path I was forced on. The nest represents my home, my family and my comfort zone. You can't always stay in the comfort zone - life goes on.
The turtles represent my boys and I, and their paths toward the water is our Life Journey. The journey is not always straight, and there are obstacles to overcome along the way. Turtles represent the vulnerability I felt and the courage I needed - regardless of the dangers and challenges, baby turtles know they must continue their journey towards the water.
Water has always been a source of comfort and peace to me, and while I didn't feel either one at the time, I had to have faith that it existed somewhere in my future.
My other tattoos hold similar meaning to me. If you are interested in hearing the stories behind them, just ask. If you see someone else with tattoos, don't make a judgement about them or their ink because the story or the art just might teach you something. If you have a tattoo and feel comfortable sharing your experience, then feel free to comment on my blog post!!!