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Gleaning Day

Today, my son and I participated in a gleaning field trip with his school. When I mentioned the upcoming field trip to people in the days leading up to the event, most people didn’t know what the term gleaning meant in relation to harvesting crops.

Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. It is a practice described in the Hebrew Bible that became a legally enforced entitlement of the poor in a number of Christian kingdoms.

Today’s gleaning harvest benefits South Florida families facing food insecurity. Current statistics indicate nearly three and a half million Floridians are food insecure, including 1.1 million children. The current estimate for Florida’s population in 2019 is 21.64 million. This means food insecurity affects more than fifteen percent of Florida’s population. On a local level, according to Feeding South Florida, 13.6% percent of Palm Beach County‘s population is food insecure, with 189,940 people not knowing where their next meal will come from. I think you’ll agree, these statistics are staggering.

Another aspect of this morning’s gleaning project I need to mention is this. This morning’s weather was around 80 degrees and sunny. While 80 degrees may seem almost temperate to most, I can tell you that while picking peppers this morning, I was quite literally drenched in sweat as were the other parents, teachers and children. My clothing was soaked and the sweat was running into my eyes. I could not wipe the sweat from my brow fast enough. Can you imaging picking vegetables day in and day out as your vocation, especially in the dead of a South Florida summer? I can’t; but 150,000 to 200,000 migrant and seasonal farm workers and their families annually travel and work in Florida to harvest our fruits and vegetables. I implore you to remember this and offer up a prayer of thanks the next time you’re enjoying a delicious piece of fruit or fresh vegetable.

I’m so proud of our school–the kids, teachers and my fellow parents. Together, we gleaned one ton of peppers for our local food charities.

I promise you, after this morning’s field trip, I have an entirely new appreciation for my food and where it comes from. I hope you will too.

What’s to love?

Let me tell you a brief story that paints a perfect illustration of what I love most about riding.

This morning, I was headed for a solo ride. Let me elaborate. It was going to be a solo ride because I’m a really poor planner. Had I told someone to meet me at 8 or 9AM this morning (as I thought to do), they would’ve been waiting on me. Why? Because I didn’t leave my house until 9:05AM. That’s just the truth. If you’ve ridden with me then you know this to be the case. I’m not proud of it. It’s just the way things shake out as I attempt to get out the door. Tardy? Guilty. Ashamed. But, I digress.

Back to the topic at hand. I meandered my way through the trails this morning, having altered my course once I got on my bike. Instead of heading down the same levy as intended, I crossed under the roadway heading out for a more rugged South Florida ride. As I rode through a parking lot to connect to another trail system, I saw two young ladies suiting up to ride. They asked if I knew the route to a particular trail. I told them I did and that I would take them in that direction. We headed out, enjoying casual conversation. As I looked back at one point I saw two riders approaching who happen to be biking friends. They joined us and before you know it, one became 5. THIS, my friends, is what I love about riding.

Four bad ass ladies. Forgive my, “Say cypress knees,” expression.

Ride a bike? You will seldom meet a stranger. For this, I am grateful. I am eternally thankful for the friends I’ve met along the way, and look forward with eager anticipation to those I will meet on future rides.

Yvette and Jen, you are bad asses. Tracy and Mike, you are special. Thank you–all four of you–for spending your Sunday with me. Memories made. xo

Women.

We come in all shapes, sizes and skin tones. We hail from every far-flung corner of this earth. We are daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, great (and great-great) grandmothers, aunts, nieces, wives, husbands, friends and neighbors. We have different faiths, beliefs and come from vast socio-economic backgrounds. We are many things to many people.

We share common elements of DNA. We are all made of bone, cartilage, muscle, tissue, skin, tendons, sinew, vessels, organs, and we all have blood coursing through our veins. We give birth. We work doggedly. We love with reckless abandon. We care. We nurture. We raise up. We build up—oftentimes to the detriment of our own true self. These things make us more alike than different, in my humble estimation.

We are fierce. We are a force to be reckoned with, independently. Together? Forget about it. We rule this doggone world.

Ladies, I celebrate you not only today, International Women’s Day, but every day. I’m elated and honored to be in your company.

Reality Check

You are never too old to remind yourself that your validation does not rest in someone else’s acceptance of you. I love the adage, “What you think of me is none of my business.” As simple as this statement should be to remember, I oftentimes struggle to recall this simple pearl of wisdom.

Also, never, ever, not for one single solitary minute, expect what you did yesterday to account for something today. All the good and amazing things you did and accomplished yesterday will not carry forth into today. This is simply the law of nature. Just as a fresh start and daily do over are great to make up for some grievous act you perpetrated (or something you failed to perform) yesterday, the same is conversely true for the good things. Today is a new day. You are starting fresh and anew, my friend. Make today your best day. After all, now is all we have.

A Very Special Mother’s Day

Have you ever met someone so unassumingly tough that when they demonstrate their power and might your jaw hits the floor?  That’s how I feel about my mom.  I’ve penned a few blog posts about my mother over the years, so this statement may not come as a shock to many of you.  I, however, continue to be amazed by this gutsy octogenarian’s exploits.

Shortly after her 86th birthday this past January, my mom was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma (lung cancer).  I don’t think this was truly a shock to anyone.  A former tobacco smoker, my mom has emphysema and a history of severe bouts of pneumonia.  The ultimate diagnosis, however, was perhaps more devastating to me than to my mom.  When I questioned her as to how she felt following the initial diagnosis, my mom said, “It’s going to be what it is.  If Saint Peter opens the gates for me, then I’m ready.”  That peace—her peace—became my peace.  There was no other way for me to accept the circumstances at hand.

So, here we are four months later, and my mom just completed her prescribed round of chemotherapy yesterday, May 11th.  Additionally, she began radiation treatments—a prescribed course of thirty treatments to take place twice daily over the course of fifteen weekdays.  The first two days of radiation piggybacked her final two days (6 hours and 2 hours, respectively) of chemotherapy.  I don’t know about you, but this schedule is daunting to even me.  But you know what—my mother handled it like Muhammad Ali handled Sonny Liston.  I am awestruck.

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Something and someone else I need to make mention of in this Mother’s Day tribute is my sister, Karen.  She has been a steadfast anchor for my mom for not only the past few months, but for years.  She is there, day in and day out, meeting what needs my proud mother sees fitting to share.  As a matter of course, she has always been there to tend the flowers and lawn in summer and snow-covered driveway in winter as well as all needs that fall outside of my strong (feisty) mother’s capabilities in seasons between. But since my mother’s cancer diagnosis, my sister’s responsibilities have grown exponentially.  She is the keeper of myriad appointments, the sole source of transportation to and from the many appointments, and the general caretaker of all things beyond my mother’s abilities.  Don’t misconstrue this, however.  I am certainly not insinuating my mother is incapable, because she absolutely is not, which amazes me, but I digress…

So, as we approach this Mother’s Day, I’m giving my biggest, loudest shout out to my mom for her continued desire, willingness and ability to kick ass.  (Yes, I cursed; butt just didn’t sound as effective.  #eyeroll)  Happy Mother’s Day, mom.  You are amazing!  You’ve put forth enormous (literally and figuratively) shoes to fill.  I hope to leave this life one day as a fraction of the woman and mother you are.

Treasure to Trash

“I began to feel that myself plus the bicycle equaled myself plus the world, upon whose spinning wheel we must all learn to ride, or fall into the sluiceways of oblivion and despair. That which made me succeed with the bicycle was precisely what had gained me a measure of success in life — it was the hardihood of spirit that led me to begin, the persistence of will that held me to my task, and the patience that was willing to begin again when the last stroke had failed. And so I found high moral uses in the bicycle and can commend it as a teacher without pulpit or creed. She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.” ~Frances E. Willard, ‘How I Learned To Ride The Bicycle’, 1895

Yep.  This pretty much sums up my regard for riding a bike.  I recently came upon this passage from Frances Willard’s How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle: Reflections of an Influential 19th Century Woman.  Willard, who took up biking in 1893, at the age of 53, was (and still is) a well-known suffragette.  Originally published in 1895,  How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle was penned by Willard as a means to provide insight into both the profound impact of the bicycle at the turn of the century and the newly discovered freedom it afforded women in America.   

To me, bicycling represents many things.  I too, experience the unparalleled freedom Willard alluded to.  Perhaps I’m narrow-minded, but I think everyone must feel this sense of freedom and the deep, personal satisfaction one experiences astride a bike, to one degree or another.  Whether you ride a bike for fitness, exploration, recreation, the sheer freedom you feel, or because it’s your primary mode of transportation and/or transport, when you ride a bike your bike is a cherished and oftentimes necessary possession.  That’s why I’m troubled each and every time I encounter the following. 


I’ll never understand why someone would chuck a bicycle in a canal, lake or empty lot.  Aside from the wanton destruction of property, I give a hoot and would never intentionally pollute.  My first instinct is the bikes are stolen.  Whether or not that’s the case, I’ll probably never know.  What I do know is this.  Those bicycles, in their watery graves, are depriving someone of a lot of joy, freedom, fitness, recreation and transportation.   At least that’s what I think when I happen upon them, which happens far more than these four photos indicate. 

AM Commute


Boy, it sure does feel good to be back in a groove.  As much as I am a creature of change and wanderlust, I’m also a person who thrives on routine.  To say the first three months of 2017 took me off my game and out of my routine is a gross understatement. 

J-man’s seizure and subsequent testing, my mother’s cancer diagnosis and the death of a beloved canine companion truly sent me into a tailspin.  I’m usually a happy, upbeat gal, but these events, in a very brief period of time, sent me into a blue, blue, blue funk.  I’m talking the not-wanting-to-get-out-of-bed-all-day kind of funk that is unsettling and frightening.  These events, the depression (let’s call it what it was), compounded with seemingly never-ending, virtually drug resistant bouts of sinus infections and bronchitis for both me and J-man really upended my world.  And the “well meaning” folks who said, “It could be worse, you know,” made things even worse because that just made me feel like an overall crappy person who apparently lacks faith.  I spent the first three months of 2017 doing virtually nothing except existing.  I didn’t ride. I didn’t run.  I didn’t walk. Heck, I didn’t even walk the dogs.  Needless to say, my physical and emotional well-being suffered.  I felt horrible in every sense of the word.

Greg and I participated in a 61 mile off road Grinduro ride Sunday. Although I’ve done longer rides by far, this ride was the most physically difficult ride I’ve ever done.  I was completely out of shape, both mentally and physically.  I completed the ride but it was a sufferfest for me.  But you know what?  It was exactly what I needed. It kick started me mentally and jolted me out of the dark space I had backed myself into.  The ride illuminated, with a bright spotlight, just how far I had let myself go.   I’m not talking in just a physical sense, I’m talking in every sense of my being. 


As much as I hurt physically Monday morning, Jackson and I got back on the bike and I’ve since  crept slowly back into a (healthy) routine. It’s been a week of physical activity for me, and I feel better than I’ve felt in months.