Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ice Out!

There is a lovely tradition in the North Country; the monitoring of ice out on Lake Winnipesaukee. There are whole websites and webcams dedicated to watching for this sure sign of spring. And you thought the return of the robins signaled warmer weather is imminent. If you think that watching for the ice out on Winnipesaukee is like watching grass grow, you’d be terribly mistaken. Those who live on the shores of the lake know that spring in near when like the sound of the robin’s call for us “flatlanders” signals spring, the crack of ice as you awake in the morning is an unmistakable sign of spring for those in the Mount Washington Valley. I once attended a conference during ice out season and will never forget the gun shot like report that echoed through the Valley as the ice snapped and broke apart when the warmer currents met the cold and snapped the ice apart like brittle crystal glassware. The hair still stands up along my neck and arms at the memory.

When I began motorcycling, it was this memory that had me watching my driveway each spring in the same manner. Living on a gravel road, and having a gravel drive means that the ice builds up over the winter months in a way it never does on pavement. There have been years when I tried to hurry this process along by parking the hot engine of my van over selected spots in the driveway to melt the ice more quickly. I was that impatient for my first spring ride. While I’m happy to say that we have “ice out” this weekend in the drive, the temperature this morning is a bone chilling 16 degrees. This winter has been a particularly cold and long one. It may be that for the first time in my motorcycling life, the bike does not get out for at least one March ride.

Getting out for a March Ride in New England is a tricky thing. There are a number of circumstance that all need to come together for this to occur. You see, in New England we don’t have four seasons, we have five; the fifth being “mud season.” If a March ride is to happen, you need the ice out in the drive, the mid-day temperatures to warm enough for enjoyment, and the early and later hours of the day to be close to 32 degrees. Why? This will cause the mud to stiffen just enough for those of us on gravel roads to make it in and out to solid pavement. Otherwise, the bike will slip and slide on all that slick as you- know-what mud, or sink you to the pegs.

Yesterday, I was privileged to enjoy (to my mind anyway) the best two signs of spring; ice out and the sound of a motorcycle engine roaring to life. As I looked out the window, Andy had his Vulcan in the iced out drive installing new to him saddle bag replacements on the rear fender. The folks in the North Country can have their web cams pointed to the lake and listen each morning for the riffle like report of cracking ice echoing off the mountains. I’ll enjoy the view from my own window of ice out in the drive, and the heartwarming rumbling of a V twin engine!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Whatever you want to achieve, have, or do in this life is only possible in direct correlation to what you believe about it. Anything. I’ve been testing this theory and am amazed at the findings. I’m doing, going and having what I want to acquire and who I want to be. In watching how I believe about a thing I am realizing too, that I am only scratching the surface of what is truly possible. In all the points I’m paying attention to in my New Year’s resolution; this is the one point that seems the hardest to accept unconditionally; all things are possible in direct correlation to what I believe about it.

In Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage, he tells us that what we believe about our abilities are not innate, but can change. However, it is Bruce H. Lipton PH.D’s The Biology of Belief that brought things home in a profound and lasting manner. If these two people and many more like them can’t persuade you that you are your own worst enemy when faced with lack of courage, possessions or even simple happiness, then how about turning to Mark 9:23 in which Jesus admonishes us that all things are possible to those who believe. If you read carefully, he never put any restrictions on this. We are the ones that place added sentences to the end of that statement.

Don’t get me wrong, I am far from manifesting all that it is I want. I know this by the pesky background chatter that happens in my brain. Often I am listening to this chatter without even realizing its influence on my thinking. All is not lost though, as some things are so profoundly evident that even I can’t deny that if I hadn’t started talking to myself in positive ways, what I am looking at would not be there. This week, a new gas efficient vehicle will become mine. It has all the requirements I ticked off to myself before I began the search, and it doesn’t break the bank. The new commuter car with creature comforts, and gas efficiency will be mine, including the color I desire.

I’m getting pretty good at believing I can have things and go places I want to go. Believing I can figure things out, find the time off, and find the resources is becoming second nature. Where I’m falling down, is in my dealings with people. In the workplace especially we encounter personalities that we don’t quite understand and can’t figure out. In my case, it feels as if a switch is flicked in my brain and I’m seething beneath the surface. The background chatter starts. I begin putting reasons, and ulterior motives to the words and actions I’m observing around me and making them fact, when indeed I don’t have all the facts. The emotions grip and I forget to turn my thinking around to “how is it I want this to be and how can I turn it around.” Maybe all I need to do is believe that it is all in my best interest and will elevate my status within the company. Now I LIKE that thought!

While I let that take hold and sprout up like the first bulbs of spring, I’m going to continue on my quest to travel to Fort Benning for boot camp graduation of a certain someone, and then think ahead to a motorcycle trip to Sturgis in August. Do I have all the details? Certainly not, but I believe I can work it out. Now on to believing that I will be the next indispensible and well compensated member of the company team!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Did You See What He Just Said?

Did you ever wonder why Nativity Scenes and Passion Plays are so popular? How about the recurring showings of The Ten Commandments on television yearly? I remember seeing the musical Jesus Christ Superstar over and over again when I was a teen. Why? It was the use of contemporary armaments that struck me to the core. The visual effect of these war time machines presented to me in familiar ways exactly how it felt to be an “occupied country”; in this instance by the Romans. No mere lance or sword would have induced the goose bumps that rose on my flesh. While I find expressing thought and feeling in the written word challenging, and while my intent is to do so in ways that touch the heart and soul, there is nothing like seeing something in a new interpretive way to give one a new perspective.

A few years ago, my spouse and I (as spouses will sometimes do) had a heated argument as a result of the “look on my face.” While I still contend that my husband’s mind reading skills are not only flawed they are non-existent, it tells volumes about what our body language is saying to others that our mouths our not. I had this brought home to me over the past weekend in a profound way when I attended a funeral for my sister-in-law’s mother. While a sad occasion to be sure, I came away “hearing” some scripture as if for the first time. Did I mention that my brother and sister-in-law are deaf? And that the funeral mass was interpreted for them and their close friends in American Sign Language?

As I watched the “word” recreated in sign, I remembered some of my old sign language classes in which we were admonished that sign language was a whole body experience. Yes body language is as important as the sign itself when delivering a message. What message can be more important than THE WORD? I saw as if for the first time Thomas’ confusion with his question “but Lord, how can we follow when we don’t know where you are going?” Or the patience and love with which Jesus coaxed Thomas’ molasses mind along. Thomas was having trouble understanding I think, because he had no visual effects to help make it clear. Maybe Jesus should have been deaf. You’re probably thinking “Pat, “this blog post has nothing to do with motorcycles or even your New Year’s resolution! What is the point?”

Wayne Dyer tells us “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” In hearing the scriptures in a way I had not before, I had changed the way I was looking at them. They came alive and spoke to me. I could “see” the disciples “follow” and I could “feel” what they were feeling. There is no mistaking some signs. This post feeds well into my New Year’s resolution. Anything we undertake, be it a challenge in learning to ride, or wanting to aspire to the happiness advantage can only be successful in what we believe about it. If in our subconscious we look at challenges as day dreams or altruistic endeavors, we won’t ever achieve our goal. Yet, if we change how we “see” it, anything is possible. It is our belief about a thing that makes is so.

The next time I think something as not “doable” I am going to examine all the thoughts I’m placing ahead of it and challenge the validity of my thinking. I will change the way I look at it, argue with myself as I would do with a friend, and offer up counter points. After all, the only thing holding me back from whatever it is I want, is me. Maybe all I need to do is stand in front of the mirror and sign to myself to see how ridiculous some of my excuses really are.