Election Cycle Reminds Me of My Childhood Bike

Riding my bike is something I have always loved from the times my childhood friend Sandy Finn and I would get up at the crack of dawn to travel the quiet city streets. She taught me that every moment of sleeping in the morning could add up to significant wasted time…and she is probably the reason I am still a morning person. In fact, these days, morning can come as early as 2:30 am. When I think of my childhood bicycle — a turquoise and white Sears bike with working lights — I picture it thrown down in front of someone’s house. In fact there were several bikes on the lawns of our favorite houses.

sears bike

This is a good likeness of my Sears bike.

We would stop for a game of tether ball or to wake up a sleeping friend here and there. Most of our school friends lived within a 10 block area right in the center of town.

We were fearless too. Even though there were crimes at the time we were oblivious and of course we had to be home for meals and before the street lights came on. I still think fondly of those times when the lights come on.

My friends came from middle class families like mine — now a dwindling segment of our communities. In fact the entire heart of our community included relatively small homes by today’s standards. I think ours was the largest with its 5 bedrooms but all six of us shared one upstairs bathroom. Another product from Sears.

Others lived in the post-war ranch homes that seemed to appear everywhere at the time…and of course there was a small neighborhood up on the hill where the “real rich” families lived. Our elementary, junior high and high schools were all within walking or biking distance, so it was rare that our parents would drive us to school. We usually chose to walk in groups and we came home for lunch. So basically we all walked at least two miles a day in elementary school, amazing by today’s standards.

I was a member of the Service Squad in 5th and 6th grade. Girls could not be on the Safety Squad (the watchers of the street crossings) but instead it was our duty to make hot chocolate milk for the Safeties whenever the temperature was below 20 degrees.

It seemed like such a privilege to wear the Service Club Shield on my arm and to have access to the little kitchenette. I used to stash glass bottles of coke in the freezer so I could have an icy drink…until one time when I forgot and the bottle exploded. That was the end of that little pleasure.

If kids walked to school we would likely not have the obesity issues we are seeing today. Of course we didn’t have fast food restaurants either. My lunch was usually a bologna or tuna salad sandwich on white bread (I have always detested peanut butter), some carrot sticks and a piece of fruit or canned fruit cocktail (loaded with sugar) and milk four times each day. The American Dairy Association actually created the four food groups and everyone took them as gospel.

On the way home from junior high and high school the kids would always stop at Henry’s Ice Cream shop. I would instead sneak into the little diner for a burger. I have never had much of a sweet tooth.My mom would often send me to the little butcher shop on the same street to pick up City Chicken, which of course wasn’t chicken at all. It’s breaded chunks of pork on a skewer that she would bake. All of us loved it.

So, how did my bike — or the election cycle — conjure up all of these memories. Not sure…but it was fun looking back. And getting away from all of the politics provided an enjoyable respite.





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New Life, New Perspectives on Healing

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Betsy and Eric, Michigan Land Use Institute Gala, July 2014.

I remember when Wayne Dyer talked about making major shifts in an instant. That’s what I did in early July 2014. Facing a life with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) was not something I could do sitting down so I put on the boxing gloves. I started reading about anti-inflammatory diets, herbs and nutriceuticals. I decided in an instant that I would be willing to change my life completely if that meant a better quality of life as long as I live.

I know I will drop dead some day but until that time I want to have a good life…make that an exceptional life!

So here I am one month later. I feel great, my throat clearing and coughing has been significantly reduced and my energy levels and zest for life are higher than ever.

What gives?

I adopted a new way of nourishing my body. I no longer feed myself any alcohol, red meat, dairy, gluten or sugar. I use only stevia for sweetening and I don’t drink any sodas. For those of you who have always been mindful, please make a note. I always thought I ate in a fairly healthy way. And of course I drank only the best red wines — good for the heart, right? The trouble is that I am allergic to alcohol and to dairy products. I have known that I have chronic congestion issues and that wine makes it worse. I may also be sensitive to other things as well…so I decided to simply stop.

I thought it would be hard. Instead it has been a wonderful adventure and I mean that sincerely. I have reconnected with cooking in a way that fills me with pleasure as well as healthy food. I have discovered new recipes and combined new things into delightful offerings…and my husband loves it! I have also found that most restaurants are not only gracious but welcome the opportunity to provide solutions.

I am fortunate that I have chosen this lifestyle in a time when lots of things are available as ingredients as never before. The grocery aisles are full of all natural, organic alternatives that make cooking and eating a pleasure.

I thought alcohol would be the most difficult thing to give up. Instead, because I know it has to be a permanent thing, I have embraced the opportunity to add a little more life to the party…great conversation, activities and a lot of laughter. It doesn’t bother me that others drink; it gives me a chance to give myself a lot of kudos for treating myself so well. It’s me that’s allergic to the stuff, not them.

I recall an observation from Marianne Williamson once that allowing yourself a hot fudge sundae as a reward should not be an acceptable form of praise.

So, 11 pounds and 30 days later, here I am. For the first time in my life, the weight loss is secondary. First is the need to heal my lungs and my body. Second is the fitness aspect and the reason I have committed to at least walking 20 miles each week. And last…but of course not least…I need to maintain a healthy weight to age gracefully and maintain my physical abilities. Over the past 5 years I have lost about 30 pounds and I would like to lose an additional 20. With this lifestyle I am convinced it will simply happen.

Because of this I believe I am buying some time — quality time with my family and friends. Instead of accepting gradual suffocation, I am choosing to breathe freely.

It won’t always be easy, but it’s essential to me. Saying no to beautifully prepared foods from friends and family will be a challenge but I am up to it. This is my journey; not something to be imposed upon others.

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2013-07-03 13.03.16

Now I feel like a slouch. Adeline and Marc from France stayed with us last week. We were one stop on a worldwide, three year bicycle tour. They have 29 months left to go. They have ridden 18,000 miles so far…and will ride another 15,000 before heading home. Theirs is an amazing story. At 27 and 31, they left France when unemployment was high. They hope it will have improved significantly when they return. How do they make money? I have no idea. I know we fed them happily and put them up in our guest room. They also called the SS Badger and told them they would write a story about their trip; the Badger offered them free passage. They are lovely young people…and they must like each other a lot. They’ve been riding tandem the entire time!
Somehow my five miles of walking seems kind of wimpy!

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E-Bike Should be called E-GO instead of I-GO.

I am the happy owner of a new bike – one that will allow me to keep up with my real biker friends. They have been very patient (waiting for me), kind (pushing my bike up the final climb on the hill) and generous. But, after a wonderful day of pedaling I find it discouraging to need that kind of help. So I have pushed EGO aside and I choose to ride what’s called a pedal assist bicycle. It’s beautiful, powerful and I can ride it just like my other bike…or choose to get a little help.

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480 is a big number

I remember when I used to feel remiss if I didn’t reach out in a memorable way to every guest at my party. We might have as many as 25 or 30 and at the end of the evening I would feel just a little empty. Then it would occur to me that they all appeared to be reaching out to each other in a meaningful way and I could relax. That must have been my training to be a chamber of commerce director. Next week I am hosting a party with 480 guests…and frankly I couldn’t possibly even remember their names, much less reach out to everyone. We will have a lovely dinner, bestow awards on worthy members, and leave with optimism about the future. Except now I can reach out from a microphone to a captive audience! We’ve gone from an audience of 170 to 480 in two years!

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V-Day Always Reminds me to be Mindful

For every hug passed around on Valentine’s Day there is a woman in the world dealing with an abusive relationship. As a cast member several years ago in the Vagina Monologues production in Traverse City I became painfully aware of the extent and the horror of abuse right here in our own country and around the world. To live one’s life without fear should be a basic human right and it is my responsibility to share the love I receive by supporting and advocating for these women. I resolve to look for an organization that is doing the “right thing” by these women…and to support them.

Our Black Eye

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Laughing and Music are Best Pain Killers

I listen to loud rock and roll or electronica while walking. It literally kills the pain and keeps me moving at a good pace. Left on my own, without accompaniment, I tend to wander and saunter. Not a bad thing — just not part of the exercise part of my day. I still see things…even the tiniest details in a leaf. But I don’t stop long…
Laughing stops the pain of constant political bombardment. There are those prized moments when it suddenly all seems laughable and very, very belly-laugh funny. I treasure those moments because I find a delicious freedom in them. I don’t feel lassoed or even tugged. I hope to strong more and more of those moments together this year as we move into the strange, insane world of elections. The arguments are finding their way now into my facebook pages. I have two. One for work and one for family and friends. I plan to have a lot of LOL moments in 2012 on both of them.

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Local Currency is Selling Fast this Year

It’s gratifying to note that we will sell $100,000 in Chamber Cash in the month of December. This means that all of that cash will go right back into our county businesses as the gift that keeps on giving. Some estimate that every dollar invested in a locally owned business multiplies in jobs, taxes and quality of life. I’m a huge believer in shopping locally when possible…it just makes good cents.

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Don’t Visit Rosendale, WI

It’s a personal boycott. An overzealous police chief in a town of less than 1,000 spends his days sitting on the roadside between two speed signs. He issues $73,000 of speeding citations annually and never a warning. One of those is mine — my first ticket in 27 years. I avoided the town on the way back — no gas purchase, no drive through to check out any unique shopping opportunities. His gain (the job apparently) is really the town’s loss. I did read they sell t-shirts touting their reputation as a speed trap. I hope the business owners can make up the difference that way.

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Losing Wait…and wait…and wait

I’ll be 60 this year and I’ve decided I would like to be svelte for the occasion. It’s time. I have been svelte twice in my life. Once when I was a college freshman on a starvation diet and again when I was a heavy smoker in my 20s. Both experiences had other unappealing aspects to them. The first led to a hospitalization and the second was also downright unhealthy. So now here I am. I bicycle a lot, I walk whenever I have the chance, I eat mostly by the South Beach rules…but every weekend I drink wine. Red wine — you know — the healthy one. So each week I go two steps forward and 1.75 steps back. Over time, however, the hope is that I will be svelte. Since December I have lost 20 pounds and ideally I would like to lose 20 more. OK, so probably only 15 more by my August 27 birthday…and perhaps the full 40 by November. As slowly as I tend to lose weight, I can gain it faster than I can say “roasted chicken.”  It’s the portions that get me. I always eat healthy food, only the good carbs, lots of vegetables, etc. I also exercise on a pretty regular basis. But here’s my ugly truth. I can probably win a roasted chicken eating contest. Yup. I can smell it from the store parking lot and I have to open it before I get home. Fortunately I don’t allow myself the extreme pleasure of eating it broasted except maybe once or twice each year. But it still adds up.

The real reason I want to be svelte at 60 is for looks. Yes, there I said it. I’ve often said it was for health, longevity, flexibility and just plain feeling good. But first, it’s looks. I want to love trying on clothes and spending some time in front of the mirror. I want to look good in lycra biking shorts. I love it when people compliment me. Of course all of that dies down when everyone starts to take the sveltness for granted. That’s when the other reasons will keep me going.  But once those looks are in place and this body is toned, the other things will come right along with it!

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