I Believe

Merry Christmas! I LOVE Christmas! I have always loved the magic of Christmas! It’s 5 am and I am awake. I was always a night owl. Still am for the most part, but I’m up most days by now, too. It’s a habit that started with the big dog wanting his walk as soon as he heard anyone moving about. We go for two miles in the morning and then again in the early evening. I don’t mind. It gets the blood moving.

This morning, as I wait for the rest of the house to stir, I am sitting here reflecting a bit. Christmas does that for me. The sights and sounds and smells of the season always bring up memories steeped in the many traditions that pop up this time of year. I’m surprised the girl isn’t up with me. She loves to get up way too early to see if Santa came. As she got old enough, she would even make coffee for me and Mr. Sag so the aroma might wake us too. As I look around, I see the stockings are full. My grandmother and then my mom made stockings for everyone in the Streeter clan. Now my sister and others carry on. Any time a baby was on the way, a stocking would be started – just awaiting a name. Any time there was a marriage, the spouse was welcomed to the family with – you guessed it. You could tell those of us with the same or near birth years by the color lots of the yarn. The one I have is my second. Sadly, a mouse got to my original.

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Christmas is magical for me because it really drives home the sense of believing – and not just in Santa. All year I was reminded of things I believe in wrapped up in an epic adventure.

I believe in the unconditional love of family. I never would have been able to cycle across America without them. Who else would help someone accomplish their dream by dropping everything and living out of a mobile box for a month and a half – no questions – no complaints (well, not really) and cheering the whole way? Who else would hunt you down based on an article in a newspaper because they knew we had a long lost connection? Family.

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I believe friendships never die. They just fade away at times and then sneak up and pick up right where they left off. Friends make life interesting and livable.

I believe in giving back. Part of what keeps me riding and running, is that they give me the opportunity to do so for a cause. I have several causes that I’ve mentioned throughout the year and I’ll keep helping them in 2018. Come along with me.

I believe in forgiveness and redemption. My journey over the past few years helped me understand that one does not always represent the many. I have faith in and respect for the dental profession again thanks to Dr. Tom, Jena and others. Time does heal many wounds. And you can smile again!

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I believe in the goodness of humanity. People really just want to help each other. We’re in it together. If you don’t think so, go on your own epic adventure and see who you run into. It will surprise you in a good way!

And just as Christmas isn’t about Santa, I believe in Him and that He is with us always.

I leave you with a favorite holiday memory of mine. My mom was a wonderful pianist and she played every evening. I loved the sounds that filled the air and I love hearing that instrument played any time. The pastor at our church reminds me of her because he can really tickle the ivories too! In December, my favorite was always “Carol of the Bells”.

Merry Christmas!

Ride on!

Giving Thanks and Paying it Forward

Thanksgiving is a holiday that always makes me feel good. No matter where we celebrate, or what we have for dinner, or who we dine with, there is always the giving of thanks – taking time to be mindful of the many blessings we are given daily.

Some things I’m thankful for:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Good health
  • Safe home
  • Ability to run and ride
  • Beautiful places

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As I am reminded of the many blessings I have, it’s time again to think about paying it forward. Since giving Tuesday is coming up this week, I’ll take this opportunity once more to share links to some of the organizations I like to give to throughout the year. Some I give to directly. Some I raise funds and awareness for by riding or running in their sponsored events. Thank you for considering giving to them or your favorites.

Bike the US for MS

Great Cycle Challenge

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

American Heart Association

American Cancer Society

Pink Heals – Napa Valley

Neurofibramatosis Network

The Pathway Home

Wounded Warrior Project

Lutheran Church Charities – Comfort Dogs

Make a Wish

Compassion International

Napa Humane Society

Samaritan’s Purse

American Diabetes Association

Lutheran World Relief

Fisher House Foundation

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Michael J Fox Foundation – for Parkinson’s Research

Song of the day:

Ride on!

 

#Napastrong

 

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I live in Napa, CA. On Sunday, October 8, 2017, some of the fiercest wildfires in history broke out on one of our mountainsides. It quickly spread due to unprecedented winds gusting to 60-70 mph. Napa and several surrounding counties, Sonoma, Solano, Lake, and Mendocino have suffered unimaginable losses of human life, animal life, property, and livelihood. Luckily, my family was spared. Sadly, many whom we know, were not.

In the face of this devastation, I have also seen incomparable kindness, love, compassion, volunteerism and generosity. Napa will survive!

I had the opportunity, due to a work commitment, at the end of this week of fire, to visit one of my favorite places. I fell in love with Pacific Grove when I arrived in California 27 years ago. It is all together beautiful, energizing and peaceful. After a week filled with smoke, anxiety, and unknowing, it proved to be all that and more. I had thrown my bike in the back of my SUV before leaving home, just in case. It turns out that we had almost a full free day on Saturday, so of course, I rode. I was off before most of the tourists were even awake. I took in the sunrise, and I rode along one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline one can imagine. 50 miles and 4 hours later, I felt renewed.

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And just as the lone cypress is resilient against the odds, so too will be Napa. We will recover. We will love and help each other. We will move forward. We are #Napastrong!

Song of the day:

Ride on!

 

More Courage

Does it take courage for me to cycle 100 miles? No. It does not. Does it take courage to cycle 200 miles? No. It does not. Does it take courage to cycle 3500 miles? No. It does not. All it really takes is a bit of fitness and mental craziness stamina.

It takes courage to stand up and fight against cancer.

It takes courage to live with and fight against MS.

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It takes courage to fight and win against leukemia.

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It takes courage to stare down Parkinson’s Disease and keep riding.

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It takes courage to fight diabetes, heart disease, ALS, chronic pain, depression and so many more of life’s medical challenges.

Since I can ride, and enjoy doing so, I feel privileged to be able to help others fight by raising awareness and funding for their causes. Yesterday, I had a special opportunity to bring awareness to Pediatric Cancer research.  I challenged myself to ride for 24 hours to highlight the need and raise some funds. I didn’t quite make the 24 hours due to a flat that I didn’t have the courage to change in the cold and dark, but we were able to raise over $1000.00 in honor of a special person who lost her battle with cancer 3 years ago, while starting a full on war. Molly W. had way more courage than I could ever hope to have. The ride wasn’t a total loss either. I rode over 200 miles (35 after fixing the flat in the morning), and I had fun with friends who came out in support to run or ride for a bit.

Pics of the day:

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Song of the day:

Ride on!

Lighting the Night

I was blessed this week to be part of an ‘IncredibLLS’ team that walked to light the night to raise funds for leukemia and lymphoma research. We raised our lanterns to honor those we have lost and to celebrate those who have survived.

I walked because I lost a dear friend to leukemia several years ago. Gail was a PT I worked with in the first clinic I worked at in California. We were in a small space and our office and treatment areas were cramped, but if you ask any one of us who worked there, it was the best place we ever practiced, because of the people. Gail was part of that team and she was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known.

I walked because Danielle fought bravely and survived her battle with leukemia. She taught us all what true faith is and how to face struggles head on with no holds barred.

I walked because I could. And I’m proud to be part of a team that raised over $5000.00 for leukemia and lymphoma research.

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Song of the day:

Next up: I’ll be riding for 24 hours next Saturday (September 23) to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. You are welcome to donate by going to this site: https://greatcyclechallenge.com/Riders/MicheleArnold

Ride on!

 

Courage

What is courage?
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
Ernest Hemingway defined courage as “grace under pressure”.
Winston Churchill stated, “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all others.”
And according to Maya Angelou, “Courage is the most important of the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”
I learned what courage is from a seventeen year old girl. Molly Widner lived life to the fullest and without fear despite having a diagnosis of cancer at such a young age. She fought bravely and showed us all what courage looks like in the flesh. Molly died three years ago but not before showing the rest of us how to live.
Molly died in part because she had a rare cancer and there just wasn’t enough research that told her doctors how to treat it in a young patient. Only 4% of research dollars is directed toward pediatric cancer research. It’s time to change that. Don’t get me wrong. All cancer research is important. September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month and on September 16, I’ll be walking with Team IncredibLLS in the Light the Night Walk to support blood cancer research. I know plenty of people who have survived various forms of cancer and many who have not, including my mom. I know how impactful a diagnosis and treatment can be. And I know we are all hopeful for a cure. But when cancer strikes a child, it absolutely breaks my heart.
September is also Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. One of the things I’ll be doing to help raise awareness and funds is a 24-hour cycling challenge in Molly’s name. On September 23, I will be riding a nine mile loop along the upper part of Napa’s Vine Trail for 24 hours to see just how many miles I can ride.  You can join me too. Come and ride a loop or two and I will try and keep up! If you would like to donate and have your dollars directed specifically toward pediatric cancer research, my link for The Great Cycle Challenge is live. Great Cycle Challenge USA is a national Children’s Cancer Research Fund (CCRF) fundraising initiative. I participated in this event in 2016 and 2017. Rides are uploaded throughout June, but donations are accepted any time. They are a great organization with one goal: end childhood cancer. I’m giving a dollar for every mile I ride on the 23rd. I am hoping to do a triple century – I’ve never done that before. I hope I have the courage!
For Molly:
Ride on!

 

 

Tour de Fox – Check

I had a great time riding in the Tour de Fox – Wine Country event this weekend! I rode the “petite” 10-mile route. For me, that’s usually a warm up. After all, I’ve ridden 36 centuries this year. Those 10-miles were some of the most gratifying I’ve ridden, though.

The Tour de Fox is a ride to raise awareness and funds for Parkinson’s Disease research and I was privileged to ride along side a friend who has early onset of the disease. She has been riding for a few months now to prep for this ride which had a couple of pretty good hills in it. Her goal at first was to just finish alive. Check! Once she gained confidence, the goal changed to finishing in an hour. She actually finished with a personal best on the route of just over 53 minutes! Check! So proud of her!IMG_6474UntitledRoute

As usually is around these parts, it was a perfect morning to ride. It started out chilly, made it to the mid seventies by ride time and hit the high eighties by the end. Good thing we finished when we did too. The temperature rose to over 100 degrees F by mid-afternoon. Ugh!

The event raised over $600,000 for Parkinson’s research! Happy to play a small part.

Next up? I am planning to do a now annual, 24-hour challenge. I guess 2 years in a row makes it annual. Right? I participated in the Great Cycle Challenge 2017, which targets pediatric cancer, when I did my cross-country ride in June. It ran concurrently with my Bike the US for MS efforts since it is a virtual ride that automatically tracks your miles. I didn’t talk about it too much because my main cause was MS research. I did raise $1000. for GCC, though. September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness month so in 3 weeks, I will be continuing with GCC and co-sponsoring the first ever Molly Widner Courage Ride to raise funds and awareness for Pediatric Cancer Research. Only 4% of all cancer research dollars are directed towards pediatric cancers and it’s my hope to increase that. You’ll hear more about the ride coming up.

Today, though, we celebrate Pam and her team P-Cubed…Pamela’s Parkinson Pack!

Song of the day:

Ride on!