Don't Make Change too Complicated: Just Begin!

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Speech We have Been Waiting 6 Years for the President to Give

Over the past week and a half I have been very emotional in regards to the shootings in South Carolina.  I was trying to make sense of something that did not make sense.  Then, the fact that the shooting happened in a church was like putting more acid on an open wound. I talked and talked and cried and cried about it....and then I heard that the President would eulogize the Reverend that was shot.  I wondered if he would play it safe or if he would let loose at last.  Well, I thought that maybe it was finally the right time for the President to speak from his heart about racism in America. I was hoping he would and I stayed home from work in that hope...and he did just that!

The moment occurred at the funeral of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney pastor of the AME Church in Charleston,  South Carolina as he gave the eulogy.  Here is a video of the full speech with its text to  follow.

OBAMA: Giving all praise and honor to God.
(APPLAUSE) The Bible calls us to hope, to persevere and have faith in things not seen. They were still living by faith when they died, the scripture tells us.
They did not receive the things promised. They only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.

We are here today to remember a man of God who lived by faith, a man who believed in things not seen, a man who believed there were better days ahead off in the distance, a man of service, who persevered knowing full-well he would not receive all those things he was promised, because he believed his efforts would deliver a better life for those who followed, to Jennifer, his beloved wife, Eliana and Malana, his beautiful, wonderful daughters, to the Mother Emanuel family and the people of Charleston, the people of South Carolina.

I cannot claim to have had the good fortune to know Reverend Pinckney well, but I did have the pleasure of knowing him and meeting him here in South Carolina back when we were both a little bit younger…
… back when I didn’t have visible gray hair.
The first thing I noticed was his graciousness, his smile, his reassuring baritone, his deceptive sense of humor, all qualities that helped him wear so effortlessly a heavy burden of expectation.

Friends of his remarked this week that when Clementa Pinckney entered a room, it was like the future arrived, that even from a young age, folks knew he was special, anointed. He was the progeny of a long line of the faithful, a family of preachers who spread God’s words, a family of protesters who so changed to expand voting rights and desegregate the South.

Clem heard their instruction, and he did not forsake their teaching. He was in the pulpit by 13, pastor by 18, public servant by 23. He did not exhibit any of the cockiness of youth nor youth’s insecurities. Instead, he set an example worthy of his position, wise beyond his years in his speech, in his conduct, in his love, faith and purity.

As a senator, he represented a sprawling swathe of low country, a place that has long been one of the most neglected in America, a place still racked by poverty and inadequate schools, a place where children can still go hungry and the sick can go without treatment — a place that needed somebody like Clem.

(APPLAUSE) His position in the minority party meant the odds of winning more resources for his constituents were often long. His calls for greater equity were too-often unheeded. The votes he cast were sometimes lonely.

But he never gave up. He stayed true to his convictions. He would not grow discouraged. After a full day at the Capitol, he’d climb into his car and head to the church to draw sustenance from his family, from his ministry, from the community that loved and needed him. There, he would fortify his faith and imagine what might be.

Reverend Pinckney embodied a politics that was neither mean nor small. He conducted himself quietly and kindly and diligently. He encouraged progress not by pushing his ideas alone but by seeking out your ideas, partnering with you to make things happen. He was full of empathy and fellow feeling, able to walk in somebody else’s shoes and see through their eyes.

No wonder one of his Senate colleagues remembered Senator Pinckney as “the most gentle of the 46 of us, the best of the 46 of us.”

Clem was often asked why he chose to be a pastor and a public servant. But the person who asked probably didn’t know the history of AME Church.

As our brothers and sisters in the AME Church, we don’t make those distinctions. “Our calling,” Clem once said, “is not just within the walls of the congregation but the life and community in which our congregation resides.”
He embodied the idea that our Christian faith demands deeds and not just words, that the sweet hour of prayer actually lasts the whole week long, that to put our faith in action is more than just individual salvation, it’s about our collective salvation, that to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and house the homeless is not just a call for isolated charity but the imperative of a just society.

What a good man. Sometimes I think that’s the best thing to hope for when you’re eulogized, after all the words and recitations and resumes are read, to just say somebody was a good man.
You don’t have to be of high distinction to be a good man.
Preacher by 13, pastor by 18, public servant by 23. What a life Clementa Pinckney lived. What an example he set. What a model for his faith.

And then to lose him at 41, slain in his sanctuary with eight wonderful members of his flock, each at different stages in life but bound together by a common commitment to God — Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, DePayne Middleton Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel L. Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson.
Good people. Decent people. God-fearing people.
People so full of life and so full of kindness, people who ran the race, who persevered, people of great faith.
To the families of the fallen, the nation shares in your grief.

Our pain cuts that much deeper because it happened in a church.

The church is and always has been the center of African American life
… a place to call our own in a too-often hostile world, a sanctuary from so many hardships.
Over the course of centuries, black churches served as hush harbors, where slaves could worship in safety, praise houses, where their free descendants could gather and shout “Hallelujah…”
… rest stops for the weary along the Underground Railroad, bunkers for the foot soldiers of the civil-rights movement.
They have been and continue to community centers, where we organize for jobs and justice, places of scholarship and network, places where children are loved and fed and kept out of harms way and told that they are beautiful and smart and taught that they matter.
That’s what happens in church. That’s what the black church means — our beating heart, the place where our dignity as a people in inviolate.
There’s no better example of this tradition than Mother Emanuel, a church…
… a church built by blacks seeking liberty, burned to the ground because its founders sought to end slavery only to rise up again, a phoenix from these ashes. (APPLAUSE)
When there were laws banning all-black church gatherers, services happened here anyway in defiance of unjust laws. When there was a righteous movement to dismantle Jim Crow, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached from its pulpit, and marches began from its steps.
A sacred place, this church, not just for blacks, not just for Christians but for every American who cares about the steady expansion…
… of human rights and human dignity in this country, a foundation stone for liberty and justice for all.
That’s what the church meant.
We do not know whether the killer of Reverend Pinckney and eight others knew all of this history, but he surely sensed the meaning of his violent act. It was an act that drew on a long history of bombs and arson and shots fired at churches, not random but as a means of control, a way to terrorize and oppress…
… an act that he imagined would incite fear and recrimination, violence and suspicion, an act that he presumed would deepen divisions that trace back to our nation’s original sin.
Oh, but God works in mysterious ways.
God has different ideas.
He didn’t know he was being used by God.
Blinded by hatred, the alleged killer would not see the grace surrounding Reverend Pinckney and that Bible study group, the light of love that shown as they opened the church doors and invited a stranger to join in their prayer circle.
The alleged killer could have never anticipated the way the families of the fallen would respond when they saw him in court in the midst of unspeakable grief, with words of forgiveness. He couldn’t imagine that.
The alleged killer could not imagine how the city of Charleston under the good and wise leadership of Mayor Riley, how the state of South Carolina, how the United States of America would respond not merely with revulsion at his evil acts, but with (inaudible) generosity. And more importantly, with a thoughtful introspection and self-examination that we so rarely see in public life. Blinded by hatred, he failed to comprehend what Reverend Pinckney so well understood — the power of God’s grace.
This whole week, I’ve been reflecting on this idea of grace.
The grace of the families who lost loved ones; the grace that Reverend Pinckney would preach about in his sermons; the grace described in one of my favorite hymnals, the one we all know — Amazing Grace.
How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.
According to the Christian tradition, grace is not earned. Grace is not merited. It’s not something we deserve. Rather, grace is the free and benevolent favor of God.
As manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. Grace — as a nation out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us for he has allowed us to see where we’ve been blind.
He’s given us the chance where we’ve been lost to find out best selves. We may not have earned this grace with our rancor and complacency and short-sightedness and fear of each other, but we got it all the same. He gave it to us anyway. He’s once more given us grace.
But it is up to us now to make the most of it, to receive it with gratitude and to prove ourselves worthy of this gift.
For too long, we were blind to the pain that the Confederate Flag stirred into many of our citizens.
It’s true a flag did not cause these murders. But as people from all walks of life, Republicans and Democrats, now acknowledge, including Governor Haley, whose recent eloquence on the subject is worthy of praise…
… as we all have to acknowledge, the flag has always represented more than just ancestral pride.
For many, black and white, that flag was a reminder of systemic oppression…
… and racial subjugation.
We see that now.
Removing the flag from this state’s capital would not be an act of political correctness. It would not an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be acknowledgement that the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery, was wrong.
The imposition of Jim Crow after the Civil War, the resistance to civil rights for all people was wrong.
It would be one step in an honest accounting of America’s history, a modest but meaningful balm for so many unhealed wounds.
It would be an expression of the amazing changes that have transformed this state and this country for the better because of the work of so many people of goodwill, people of all races, striving to form a more perfect union.
By taking down that flag, we express adds grace God’s grace.
But I don’t think God wants us to stop there.
For too long, we’ve been blind to be way past injustices continue to shape the present.
Perhaps we see that now. Perhaps this tragedy causes us to ask some tough questions about how we can permit so many of our children to languish in poverty…
… or attend dilapidated schools or grow up without prospects for a job or for a career.
Perhaps it causes us to examine what we’re doing to cause some of our children to hate.
Perhaps it softens hearts towards those lost young men, tens and tens of thousands caught up in the criminal-justice system and lead us to make sure that that system’s not infected with bias.
… that we embrace changes in how we train and equip our police so that the bonds of trust between law enforcement…
… and the communities they serve make us all safer and more secure.
Maybe we now realize the way a racial bias can infect us even when we don’t realize it so that we’re guarding against not just racial slurs but we’re also guarding against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for a job interview but not Jamal…
… so that we search our hearts when we consider laws to make it harder for some of our fellow citizens to vote…
… by recognizing our common humanity, by treating every child as important, regardless of the color of their skin…
… or the station into which they were born and to do what’s necessary to make opportunity real for every American. By doing that, we express God’s grace.
For too long…
For too long, we’ve been blind to the unique mayhem that gun violence inflicts upon this nation.
Sporadically, our eyes are open when eight of our brothers and sisters are cut down in a church basement, 12 in a movie theater, 26 in an elementary school. But I hope we also see the 30 precious lives cut short by gun violence in this country every single day…
… the countless more whose lives are forever changed, the survivors crippled, the children traumatized and fearful every day as they walk to school, the husband who will never feel his wife’s warm touch, the entire communities whose grief overflows every time they have to watch what happened to them happening to some other place.
The vast majority of Americans, the majority of gun owners want to do something about this. We see that now.
And I’m convinced that by acknowledging the pain and loss of others, even as we respect the traditions, ways of life that make up this beloved country, by making the moral choice to change, we express God’s grace.
We don’t earn grace. We’re all sinners. We don’t deserve it.
But God gives it to us anyway.
And we choose how to receive it. It’s our decision how to honor it.

None of us can or should expect a transformation in race relations overnight. Every time something like this happens, somebody says, “We have to have a conversation about race.” We talk a lot about race.
There’s no shortcut. We don’t need more talk.
None of us should believe that a handful of gun safety measures will prevent every tragedy.
It will not. People of good will will continue to debate the merits of various policies as our democracy requires — the big, raucous place, America is. And there are good people on both sides of these debates.
Whatever solutions we find will necessarily be incomplete. But it would be a betrayal of everything Reverend Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allow ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again.
Once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on, to go back to business as usual. That’s what we so often do to avoid uncomfortable truths about the prejudice that still infects our society.
To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change, that’s how we lose our way again. It would be a refutation of the forgiveness expressed by those families if we merely slipped into old habits whereby those who disagree with us are not merely wrong, but bad; where we shout instead of listen; where we barricade ourselves behind preconceived notions or well-practiced cynicism.
Reverend Pinckney once said, “Across the south, we have a deep appreciation of history. We haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s history.”

(APPLAUSE) Clem understood that justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other; that my liberty depends
What is true in the south is true for America.on you being free, too.
That — that history can’t be a sword to justify injustice or a shield against progress. It must be a manual for how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, how to break the cycle, a roadway toward a better world. He knew that the path of grace involves an open mind. But more importantly, an open heart.
That’s what I felt this week — an open heart. That more than any particular policy or analysis is what’s called upon right now, I think. It’s what a friend of mine, the writer Marilyn Robinson, calls “that reservoir of goodness beyond and of another kind, that we are able to do each other in the ordinary cause of things.”
That reservoir of goodness. If we can find that grace, anything is possible.
If we can tap that grace, everything can change. Amazing grace, amazing grace.
Amazing grace…
… how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now, I see.
Clementa Pinckney found that grace…
… Cynthia Hurd found that grace…
… Susie Jackson found that grace…
… Ethel Lance found that grace…
… DePayne Middleton Doctor found that grace…
… Tywanza Sanders found that grace…
… Daniel L. Simmons, Sr. found that grace…
(APPLAUSE) … Sharonda Coleman-Singleton found that grace…
… Myra Thompson found that grace…
… through the example of their lives. They’ve now passed it onto us. May we find ourselves worthy of that precious and extraordinary gift as long as our lives endure.
May grace now lead them home. May God continue to shed His Grace on the United States of America.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Bike In Coffee: A Cycling Adventure Destination!

You never know what type of adventure you might find yourself  on when you get on your bike without an agenda.  The freedom to explore is priceless! 

 As I cycled,  I thought, well it's too early yet, but I might just try to see where the Bike in Coffee place is that I had  heard of.

I followed the signs and there it was...and although I was an hour early, if looked like it was open.  I got off my bike, walked myself in and began to see corrals and horses.  I greeted the horses good morning and gave one a  petting on his beautiful face!

Soon, I met Lanny Tonning and  Linda Thorne, the owners of Bike In Coffee!    What a friendly, happy and welcoming couple!
I discovered that their "coffee truck" had been a vegan food truck that they had purchased ...but they had no idea how to run it.  Along came some cyclists who were adventuring from Alaska and who had run a food truck there.  Lanny and Linda put them up in the guest house and the newcomers ran the truck and taught Lanny and Linda how to operate a food truck ! Thus the idea of Bike in Coffee was born.

Lanny said he had no idea it would be as popular as it has become serving 120-200 cyclists per weekend.  They are open from 8am-2pm on both Saturday and Sunday. They have super clean and spacious restrooms for all to use.

The Bike In fare is  fresh farm to table.  They keep their menu simple with one savory entree , one sweet entree  , one soup and one salad each weekend day.  They change the menu up depending on what is ready in their organic garden.  They serve coffee and drinks.  They also serve their signature "skookie" which is a combination cookie and scone and is a cyclist's favorite!

On this particular day, they were hosting a Ted talk.    Ted sponsors what they call  " Ted X" which are  adventures that are based on the talks but are hands on adventures in the field.  So this morning Ted X ABQ was coming on site with 10+ cyclists  to learn about how to do farm to table Asian vegetables grown on the farm.  The chef Lu Xiang Ru (lulu)  was making dough for a vegetarian quesedilla.  Then she was going to put into it Asian veggies that are a specialty of the Old Town Farm (where bike in Coffee is located)

Lanny is an advocate for bike in  zoning.  Why not have bike in yoga or bike in flower shops?   Roads are built for commerce he says and it would lower the carbon footprint if more people biked in to get their services.

The farm is organic but they are not certified yet.  Anyone can either bike in or drive in and purchase vegetables. 

On top of all this exciting information, I discovered that the chef is also a weaver.  She is in town from China for a big exhibit and lecture by her mentors Lin LeChang and Nancy Kozikowski.

The Lecture is on Friday June 26 at 3pm at the Albuquerque Museum Auditorium.  At 5pm there will be a showing of the weavings and a reception at DSG Fine Art 510  14th street ABQ.  phone is 505-463-3080.

When you are out and about on your bike and riding without an agenda, you can be open to discovering and getting off the beaten path.  Only then can you discover things you would never have encountered before.

Bike In Coffee can be reached by bike or by car.  To get there by bike, at the I-40 overpass on the Bosque go east.  You will see the sign.  Follow it and keep your eyes open.

By  bike or car you can also get there in the following ways:

By bike on the Bosque go south on the trails until you reach the sign for Mountain Ave.  Turn left onto Mountain.  Go east on Mountain until you come to Montoya Road on the left.  Follow that around a bit and on you left you will see the sign for Old Town Farm...pedalers welcome ...and a picture of a bike.  Turn left and drive on in.

By car,  Come west on Mountain Ave.  Turn right on Montoya.  Follow above directions.

Bike in Coffee is open Saturdays and Sundays from 8am until 2pm. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Don't Eat Meatloaf for Breakfast: The Saga of a Rustly Cyclist!

So my trainer does not panic , this is not MY meatloaf!
So, I planned on riding 21+ miles today and was looking forward to it.  I took Saturday as a day to cook and clean and get my house and laundry in order for the week.  I wanted to  cook a big turkey meatloaf and took the opportunity to do so.  But I had not done my weekly grocery shopping and told myself I could do it Sunday really early before my ride.  I had planned to have wheels down by 6:30 am.

The alarm went off by 4am...I got up turned on all the lights...did a lap around my house and then turned all the lights off again and went back to sleep.  I reset the alarm at 6am saying to my self "What's the hurry?  It's have nothing else planned?"    Of course I forgot about the grocery shopping and the fact I had no food in my house.'

Alarm rings  again.  This time I get up...look at my watch and say that I better hurry up and eat breakfast so that I am not riding on a full stomach...allow the food to digest.

And you guessed it, I looked in the refig and there was one lonely meatloaf!  Well, needless to say a slice became breakfast.

Then I needed to wait to digest the meatloaf.....  now mind  you, I am not accustomed to eating meatloaf for breakfast never mind before a ride...and that darn meatloaf was heavy in my stomach.  So I waited.

I waited and waited and called my dad....then called my sister.... and soon it was 11:30 and I was hungry.  I looked in the refig and saw some walnuts.  OK.  Protein and fat.  That would do it.

By 12 noon I was out on the road.  It was hot.  The meatloaf and nuts were not sitting too well.....and did I mention it was HOT?

I rode and rode and made it to Tingley beach.  Watched the paddle boats and discovered another  cyclist sitting at the waters edge.  I walked over and met Theresa Kester.
 She was enjoying the beautiful  day and we watched the ducks and fish and talked a bit.    Then off I went!  

I had forgotten that once you go south from Tingley the weather can change in a heart beat.  I began to hear thunder and felt some sprinkles of rain.  The rain was welcome on my beginning to get over heated body.

See.... I had not planned to ride at the height of the day.  I had not planned on the heat and I had not eaten the right food.

So coming back to complete the 21+ I suffered,  I was overheating. I had only warm water and I felt on the verge of bonking.  Also the wind was picking up and I had to fight that along with the pollen and "snow" from the cottonwoods and dust that was blowing and pushing my bike.

I stopped and had a gel.  I stopped again when I found shade.I determined that I would beat the storm and that I did.  I made it back with little incident.

Getting back in the swing of things...I need to better remember my how I always carried a cooler with two cold bottles in my car for after the I knew what to eat pre ride and always planned ahead...not flew by the seat of my pants...and I always tried to avoid the hottest parts of the day.

I'm still on a high learning and remembering curve...but I'm happy and thrilled to be back on my bike once 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

All The Above

Last week, I was given this song....more like an anthem...a theme song.....and since then this song has been under my skin.  It is in my head, it is in my mind when I turn over while I am is there when I do not know it is there...only for me to discover it there and wonder "how did this song get under my skin like this?"

So, in turn I am giving this song to  you.

Do not listen to this song and say "I'm not gangsta"  Do not listen to it and say, "I've never been to prison."  Do not listen to it and say, "I don't have tats."  Do not listen to it and say "I have no Higher Power."  Do not listen to it and say, "  I hate Rap."  

Listen to it and ask yourself the question, "What is MY prison?  What is the prison that I live in?"  Maybe it's the prison of low self-esteem...the prison of a bad relationship,the prison of giving yourself away to others and having no time for yourself....or maybe it's the prison of poverty or hunger.... the prison of alcoholism or drug addiction...or perhaps it is the prison of always playing it safe and never taking a risk...or perhaps it is the prison of people pleasing....or perhaps the prison is mental illness..or an eating disorder...or...    or.....     or...... ask yourself..."What is my prison?"

Then listen to the words. .......Listen to the music....

.....And let it empower you.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

All Women's Time Trial Sponsored by the Spokettes!

The town of Algodones was the host of the All Women's Time Trial sponsored by the Spokettes.  In all, 89 women raced with ages from 9 -60 +years old.
 In a time trial you race against yourself to get the fastest time possible along a given route.  This route was 10 miles long and included rollers, a hill on the back side and I heard,  some devilish head winds.  The women came in all shapes and sizes.  Their bikes did to...from bikes with disk back wheels to one with tassels on the handle bards, a bell and a basket (that was the 9 year old's bike). Some women warmed up on trainers and some warmed up along the route.

We all laughed when we used the port a pottys.  Only at a women's event would you see this!
At a women's event you can be sure to make friends.  Stephanie and I met a woman from Norway.  Her name was Sissel Trondseth.  Here she is with Stephanie. Last I heard they were planning a triathlon in Norway and Stephanie made another note on her bucket list!  I am sure that Sissel did well!  She was on a very new bike and s aid she really liked how it rode.
And also we met Sandy Knudson.  She was recovering from a surgery and had not been competitive in a while.  She gave me lots of hope as I saw her zoom across the finish line with her aero wheel whizzing!  AND she had a very fast time.  She got her mojo back for sure!
 Sandy warming u p!       
Stephanie was very pleased with her race!  Congrats!  

And finally here is what a 60 year old Masters cyclist racer looks like!  This is Olga Sanchez (number 546)!  I could only get the back side or her...but her time was among the fastest racers in all age groups! I want to grow and and be Olga!  I better hurry up and recover!  It will only be a few years before I am back in Olga's category again!  
It was a very fun day with beautiful weather and lots of happy women on their bikes.  What could be better?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

An Emotional Day

When Dianna Nyad got out of the ocean after her successful swim  from Cuba to Key West,  on her 5th attempt, she said the following: "  I have three messages. One is we should never, ever  give  up.  Two is you never are too old to chase your dreams.  Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team." I look at this message every day.  It is taped to my computer monitor screen,

And so it was that I took a half a day off so I could ride my bike outdoors.  But I was so sore  from yesterday's work out that I dared not press my luck.  I determined to ride indoors with Troy Jacobson.  Many of you know he is my virtual boyfriend.......

......but  you would never know it  by my yelling at him this morning as I did his Warrior Training DVD.  More and more long tough intervals pushing the hard gears for 20 minutes at a time.   URGH!  I usually  have the sound of  hip hop or dance music in my ears...and all of a sudden he said motioned, UP, UP" ( I heard this in another way yesterday...thus my poor sore body) and before I knew it, I was standing up cycling!  This happened over the course of several difficult intervals toward the end of the work out.  And I was able to stand and cycle!  My ankle could take it...I was strong enough!  It wasn't pretty...but it was successful...., my mind started to review my last few years journey....and I started sobbing and sobbing...

All the hard work is paying off.  My body is remembering what to do.  It just remembers.

And it has taken a team.

And today, with your help , I was a warrior...

Thank you Char, Brian, Stephanie and the wonderful physical therapists at Pres in Rio Rancho!  I am very grateful for all your help and support!