Saturday, May 28, 2011

Freedoms We All Take for Granted

Recently, during a tenuous break in the cloud cover, Andy and I threw a leg over the saddle and rendezvoused with our good friend Dave. It was no iron butt ride, just a pleasant jaunt to a randomly selected spot on the map; Nashoba Valley Winery. None of us had been there before, the mileage fit into our day, and it was an excuse to see Dave, and ride too.

I don’t think too much about how easily I am able to move about the world, or even as a married woman have such a great friend as Dave, who by the way is liked and respected by my husband as well. I drive, ride a motorcycle, work outside the home, have a great social network of men and women friends, and can go where I want without permission from anyone.

Many of the freedoms I enjoy are the direct result of those behind me that have put themselves on the line. The men and women of World Wars I and II for example, or the people here at home, like the Freedom Riders or the Suffragettes. I read about these things, watch documentaries on TV, and their stories are played out in dry text for us to study in school. Yet we know so little about what a toll it takes to each individual personally. The cost to them is often great, sometimes with their lives.

As this Memorial Day rolls around, their sacrifices are becoming clearer to me than ever before. Why? Because I am watching a friend fight for basic freedoms, is risking her livelihood, her family and even her own life to bring awareness and a hope for change to the women of her home in Saudi.

I had the pleasure of spending time with Manal Al-Sharif know to us here as Mia, when she spent a year working in the US at the company where Dave works. She is a vibrant, outgoing and caring individual. At the time, I felt as if my eyes were opened with the stories she had to tell; I could not have been more wrong. Stories, of how she had needed permission from a male family member to travel abroad. How her young son had to be left behind because the men in her life did not permit him to travel with her.

Recently, Mia found herself standing on the street corner crying. She could not get a cab, calls to her male family members went unanswered, and she was putting her life in danger just being on the street late. Saudi women are not permitted to drive, they must hire a driver, take cabs or have their male family members drive them. There she was a 32 year old woman; mother of one, and an intelligent hard working woman sobbing like a child because she could not get a ride home. It was the event that propelled her to become and activist.

Mia, who learned to drive while here in the US, videotaped herself driving in her home country. Please read more about it here. There is no specific law in Saudi the prevents women from driving, yet as a result, Mia has been imprisoned for five days, has had another ten days tacked on and the religious clerics are calling for her public flogging. I urge all of you to read Mia’s story and then sign the petition to the Saudi Embassies and Diplomatic Missions abroad here:, Mia is putting herself at great risk for the women of her country and at a great personal price to herself. It is a small token of support we can do for her. Then as you sign your name, send a small prayer of thanks up to those behind us who sacrificed so we can enjoy the freedoms we take so carelessly for granted. And if you have a loved one who served our country, make sure to seek them out this weekend and hug them.

See Mia's video here:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Six Degrees of Separation

I have been on a phenomenal ride this week as a direct result of stumping for votes; votes to win the Garage Girls Ultimate Biker Makeover! The support from the biker community, co-workers and family and even complete strangers has been phenomenal. I have alternately felt exhilarated, humbled, amazed, and stupefied. The one thing that has become very clear is that we are more closely connected to each other then we imagine.

Back in the 80’s when I sold Real Estate we would take continuing ed courses to maintain our state license. One of these courses explained to us sales folk that each person knows at least 200 people. If we were to be successful in our effort to earn a living in sales, we would need to start by telling each of the 200 people we knew that we sell houses and to ask them to tell their friends. Each of these friends also knows 200 people.

Also too, is the six degrees of separation theory working for me to win this contest. Six degrees of separation (also referred to as the "Human spider Web") refers to the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of, "a friend of a friend" statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer. In this age of social media, I am sure those numbers of 200 have been adjusted; but the six degrees of separation theory is proving more evident.

In an effort to gain public votes for myself, I started of course with family, friends and colleagues at work, then I branched out to my own social networks; Facebook, LinkedIn and the New England Riders primarily. I am also a member of a few others such as V Star 1300 Riders, Rumble Sisters Biker Sisterhood and Women Who Ride forums. I was not prepared for “shock and awe.” The New England Riders came to my aid with fingers punching in the votes and posting a request at their own personal social networks such as the GL1800 forum and the Riders Rally forum. The Rumble Sisters posted a call for votes on their own Facebook page and the Bee, on her own site The Bee Hive, and again on Facebook. Bee (AKA Kate) along with the New England Riders have been tireless in their campaigning on my behalf. This is the humbling part of the emotional ride for me.


Another fan of mine is Karla my tireless campaign manager in the Asian Community in Lowell MA. Karla manages our front desk, always with a friendly smile and enthusiasm. I can’t thank her enough for all she is doing to help me win this contest. Then there is Dave our facilities manager out of our Detroit office. Dave sent out a message that touched our offices around the country, and the votes rolled in. The people who are championing for me to win this contest have shown me just how much each of us affect the world around us. The Six Degrees of Separation is evident, and the lessons are clear; what we do not only affects us directly but has a ripple effect in the world. Thank you all for your tireless support. The real winners of the contest, whatever the outcome, are all of you who took time to click and vote.

A special thanks as well to David K. Headley Photography and the Amherst Motorcycle Club.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Biker Makeover for Me

My phone alerts me to a new email message. I scroll to the entry. I blink and read the message twice. I'm one of four finalist in the Garage Girls Biker Makeover!

Now the public must vote for the winner.

My posts are typically to inform, amuse or reflect on some topic or other. Today, I'm asking you to click the link below, read my essay on why I think I'm deserving of a makeover and vote for me to win in the Garage Girls Biker Makeover.

Please go to this link:
and vote for me to win.

Voting closes June 15th.

Thanks so much!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Dual Purpose Day
May Day and ABCD

With the arrival of the first day of May, came an annual celebration. Today is the birthday of our dear friend and motorcycling pal, Lee. He won’t like that I mentioned it here. Typically we just say “hey, let’s go out and celebrate May Day!” That’s how we get him on the bike and let him lead us anyplace that tickles his fancy. It usually works fairly well. However, today is also ABCD day, (A Bloggers Centerline Day) and I wanted to make sure I got a picture of me, the centerline, and something interesting.

With Lee given free reign, it’s hard to stop for photo ops. Anyone who knows Lee knows that the more the needle points to the right, the happier he is. Any shots on the fly would be nothing but a blur. Yet he took the leisurely way to his destination, and we had plenty to see along the way. A stop at Lake Sunapee was in order and we enjoyed the fine weather this day had to offer us, despite the snow still clinging to the ski runs on the mountains surrounding us.

We blasted back home via route 89 and parted ways at exit 2. Andy and I like the ride along route 13 to our home. This takes us through Dunbarton NH, and here is where I stopped for my photo. You can see me here standing in front of the historical Molly Stark House. This house is full of early American History. Our proud heritage is wrapped in many early American figures such as Molly Stark and her family; true patriots who sacrificed much to win the freedoms we enjoy today. Her husband General John Stark and their eldest son Caleb, fought side by side in the Battle of Bennigton against the British and Hessian army.

Pat in front of the Molly Stark Home.

Thanks to Molly and others like her and her family, Andy and I can escape on a beautiful May day, ride our motorcycles, and be free to choose where we go and what we do in this great country of ours. It is our obligation to remember them and to work to preserve the freedoms and rights they so bravely fought for. The tradition they began lead to the fight for women’s rights, as well the fight to fully accept that all men are created equal and should be judged by their character. I for one am thankful for these two in particular, because I am a woman who is free to ride if she so chooses and travel in the company of those she cherishes most and is blessed to call them friends.