Friday, November 9, 2018

Happy 6th Re-Birthday to Me!

Happy 6th Re-Birthday to Me!

Six years ago today, I held my breath, crossed my fingers, and mixed together the ingredients of the early retirement elixir -- a dash of hope, a dash of crazy, and a whole lot of courage. Voila! All of the sudden, I found myself free of a job, free of the tedium of normalcy, and free of the confines of time.

My sixth re-birthday finds me reflecting on my experiences of the past year:
  • I fell in love with trail running while housesitting in Bellingham. Each week for two months, I went on two 2-3 hour trail runs on Galbraith Mountain. Hip hip hooray for bathing in the forest!
    Trail running on Galbraith.
  • I spent the most magnificent month of solitude housesitting on Salt Spring Island. I dedicated myself to a powerful daily ritual of yoga, meditation, and trail running. Every night, I was blessed to have sweet Eleanor sleep upon my head. (Rest in peace, my dearest Eleanor.)
    Eleanor keeping my head warm at nights.
    My daily trail run to the top of Mt. Reginald.
  • I served on the committee for the Greg Siple Scholarship and was wowed by all the young adult applicants who had such impressive passions for bicycle touring.
  • I traveled for two months to Dharamsala, India, where I had the pleasure of meeting the Dalai Lama (twice!).
  • I took a month-long intensive yoga teacher training course and became a certified yoga instructor. 
    Teaching a yoga class.
  • I volunteered with Tibetan refugees in India, helping develop English conversational skills.
  • I deepened my meditation practice by attending a ten-day silent meditation retreat.
  • I developed an ongoing, thought provoking, deeply fulfilling penpal relationship with a dear friend.
  • I spent a wonderful eight days bonding with my Mom in Seattle. 
  • I received my very own, signed copy of The Van of Valpo, a heart-touching work of art that had been two years in the making.
  • I received first place in the Bicycle Travel Photo Contest. Two of my photo submissions were chosen to grace the 2018 and 2019 Adventure Cycling calendars.
    My first place photo.
    (Source: Adventure Cyclist, June 2018.)
    My photo in the 2018 calendar.
    My photo on the back of the 2019 calendar.
  • I spent two weeks scouting out the new 13 day, self-contained Pacific Northwest and Gulf Islands Tour for Adventure Cycling, a trip which I designed and will lead for the first time in August 2019. 
    Riding along the Canyons to Coast Trail in BC.
    (Photo: Steedman.)
  • I cycled solo for one week through Montana, a state with which I have developed a summer love affair.
  • I helped staff and lead four Adventure Cycling trips -- Snoqualmie Valley Sojourn, Big Sky Country Montana, Tetons-Yellowstone III, and Great Divide Canada II.
    My riders on the Tetons-Yellowstone trip.
    (Photo: Bob Perchonok)
  • I tested a prototype of a touring-specific folding bike -- complete with an expansive array of gears, thanks to a Pinion gearbox. (I patiently waited more than a year to pedal this awesome bike!)
    Testing the folding prototype in the Grand Tetons.
    (Photo: Adrianna Tippit-Martelli)
  • I cycled The Rectangle Ride with seven amazing friends. (I have now cycled The Rectangle seven times. That's 770 miles of rectangular riding!)
    This year's Rectangle Ride crew.
  • I enjoyed a three-day backpacking trip in the Mt Margaret Wilderness. 
    Backpacking in the Mt Margaret Wilderness.
    (Photo: Paul David) 
  • I served as the stoker on a week-long tandem bike ride in NE Washington. 
    Stoked to have reached the top of Sherman Pass.
    (Photo: Paul David)
  • I visited my family in the Chicago area and toured my old undergraduate campus with my dear Uncle Dean, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois. 
    Me, my Mom, and my Uncle Dean.
    (Photo: BJ Burch)
  • I earned my 150-hour TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate, with the intention of helping adults learn business English.
  • I composed my philosophy on relationships upon having a relationship epiphany. Being able to verbalize my philosophy has been extremely helpful in understanding how I relate with other people.
  • I embarked on a year-long journey of self-love, which will continue into my sixth year of re-birth.
  • I had a significant breakthrough on a health issue I've been struggling with for over 16 years.

Though I have experienced a lot over the years, the take-aways from those experiences have has been most interesting. Each year finds me less aware of the day of the week. Each years finds me more attuned to the fine balance between peripateticism and stillness. Each year finds me less able to relate to the consumer-driven mindset of our society. Each year finds me more challenged to string together as many tendays as possible.

My new life has given me a level of perpetual contentment that I never could have imagined. Simplicity has brought with it a richness that money cannot afford.

Happy 6th Re-Birthday to me! Here's to another year around the sun! 

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