Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Everything I Need to Know.....

One of these days I'm going to write a book.  Partially stealing from a book that's already out there it's going to be titled "Everything I've Needed to Know I've Learned From Motorcycling."

Writers will often tell you that the secret to a great book is either extensive research, drawing upon a life rich in experience, or both.  Up until a few years ago I was convinced that I was loaded with both. Sometimes we just don't know what we don't know.  We hear that from riders who come into our advanced training courses.  The past three and a half years have been like that for me when it comes to leadership skills.  Like I mentioned in the last post there is so much to be learned about life by studying motorcycles and riders.  I've been lucky to have a front row seat in an intensive study program.  Along the way a legend in the world of motorcycle safety has been an inspiring mentor.

That's the reason for the revival of this long dormant blog.  There is so much to share.  Treasure should never be buried and hidden.  The greatest value comes if it's allowed to enrich lives.  I humbly offer to share what treasure I have gained with you all.

Here's a sneak peek at some of the nuggets.  

It's not about us.  The real rewards come from helping others to grow.  True leaders create circumstances where people can thrive.  Then they get out of the way.    Given the chance and inspiration, people whom we never suspect are capable of it will step up to become Superheroes.  

Speaking of surprises, sometimes we can actually be our most creative under stressful conditions.  This is a cell phone photo of a burning motorcycle. The flames are really that high.  I've just increased the intensity of the color for effect.  My creative moment?  I suddenly realized that BMW is actually an acronym for "Bring More Water!!"

Life has a way of maintaining balance.  Kind of like how chocolate is Nature's way of balancing out vegetables.  If we often end up looking good....well, be careful.  When things start going our way and life's moving along like a well-oiled machine.........

 ........you know what's coming next.  We're going to be dished up some "bad-feather days".

Big-picture perspective is something we should never lose.  It can make all the difference in the world between coping successfully or having a psychotic episode!  Not only does it help us with living, this is also a fantastic strategy for conflict management.  I get a lot of practice in this area on Mondays and Tuesdays when the "flaming arrows" from disgruntled students who call in.  The buck stops with me.  

Then there are times when we just have to stop and enjoy the moment.  I allowed myself to become so immersed in work because I love what we do that balance was lost.  An avocation that became a vocation. Fortunately, a very cherished friend has been patiently teaching me to be open to these moments and simply "be".  We miss so much by focusing on the destination to the exclusion of enjoying the scenery.  Having a friend like this is a priceless treasure in my life.  Sometimes we forget what a powerfully healing effect gratitude can have on us.

There is so much more.  How critical it is to have empathy.  The immense strength in clarity.  No matter where a person is in life or riding, sometimes the most powerful question is "what do they need now?".  Need navigational beacons?  Try these:  What's the problem?  What's the scope?  What's the objective and how do we know we've reached it?

Need motivation?  Try this:  "Talk don't cook rice".  Ever find yourself faced with a big task that seems a bit overwhelming?  Suddenly we have this urge to clean out a closet, detail the bike, or sanitize our kitchen.  None of which are really productive and the task is still there.

Yes, there will still be riding tips.  Good physical skills are critical to have.  Life, however, like motorcycling is mostly mental.  Or, to quote Yogi Berra:  "Half of this game is ninety percent mental".

Hope you'll come along with me and enjoy the journey.

Miles and smiles,


Monday, September 07, 2015

Bringing the Life Back

The door to this room opened with a reluctant creaking of long unused hinges.  So long dormant that they'd forgotten their purpose and were now loudly protesting being called into action.  Have you ever noticed that there's no place as cold and unwelcoming as a room that's long been vacant?  The warmth and life spirit stirred up by human activity has slowly seeped out of the myriad of tiny escape routes.  For a while there's hope that life will return but it fades over time as the emptiness remains. Eventually hope is abandoned.  Instead of the Bluebird of Happiness flying in the door the Chicken of Depression sits on the windowsill and stares morosely into the gloomy dead space.

Fortunately, it doesn't take long to bring a place back to life.  My intent is to throw open the windows to let some fresh air in.  As the room sees the light of day for the first time in years there's a dull gray cast to everything.  The sun's light, long absent from this room, shows that it's the reflection from a thick layer of dust and cobwebs.  It will take a bit of work but this place will soon be as vibrant and alive as it was before.  At least that's the plan.

It's been both a long three and a half years and time that's passed quickly.  Every day has been full but looking back it's gone by in a blur.

I'm still with TEAM OREGON though my role is slowly changing.  I've learned a lot in these years.  For example, it's possible to get to the point where one has no life outside of motorcycling.  For some that's a sweet dream come true but there's also a hidden curse.  One better understands the tales of sailors being pulled along by the sweet song of the Sirens only to find themselves so caught up that it becomes difficult to escape.

Another thing that's been revealed is that motorcycling is a microcosm of life in general.  Just about every phase of a person's life has a parallel in a rider's journey and progress.

Over the next while I'm compelled to share what I've learned.  Hopefully you'll find it a rewarding journey.

One thing that's been a blessing and has kept me from being totally consumed by motorcycling is my photography.  I like to think it's been steadily improving over the past few years.  A lot of that credit goes to Bobskoot.  (Rest in peace, my friend).  Bob generously shared his experience, knowledge, and encouragement with me when I was getting started. This last photo is a composite I put together as a tribute to Bob.  Find what symbolism you will in it.  You're welcome to share your thoughts on it here.  In fact, I'd appreciate it if you would.

Miles and smiles,


Thursday, November 07, 2013

Comfort Zone Cages

So I wrote about being lucky to have a job where I can help people grow.  It's amazing how much harder this is to do than it sounds.  Some people are eager, some not so much.  Some flat out don't want to budge from where they are.  Others want to learn new skills or hone the ones they have but they just can't quite step out of their comfort zones.  Security becomes more precious than progress.

Think of Monkey Bars on a playground.  The contraption where you can hang by your arms and move along hand over hand.  Guess that's where the "Monkey" part of the name comes from.  So there you are, hanging onto a rung with both hands, knees bent so that your hands are your only support.  The only way to move forward is to let go with one hand and reach out.  It's amazing how many people won't let go!

Sometimes comfort zones can be good things and other times they can become cages.

In the course of writing this blog I've tried to be honest about my own humanity.  In that vein I have to admit that I've felt that feeling of not wanting to let go.  Here's an example.

I'm in a small upstairs gym at an athletic club.  One question is repeatedly bouncing around inside my head.

"How can a guy who's so graceful on a motorcycle be so freakin' ungainly on a dance floor?"

Yep, we were taking dance lessons.

Katie and I grew up as country kids.  Once upon a time we were pretty good at the Square Dance thing.  We knew a few simple steps for slow songs and waltzes.  Maybe it was something she saw on the television.  Perhaps it came up when she was visiting with her girlfriends.  You now those coffee circles where they compare notes on what they've been able to get their husbands to do?  It could even have been the fact that we're eligible for senior discounts and she felt we should learn something new together to help prevent Alzheimer's.  Who knows?  What I DO know is that one day Katie piped up and said she wanted to take Ballroom Dancing lessons.


You ever get that trapped feeling?  Katie was looking me right in the eyes and waiting for my reaction.  My gaze was locked on her face, as well.  I knew she could sense my reluctance.  I could also see the challenge in her eyes.  It was as if she was saying:

"Come on my Swashbuckling Hero (honest to God, that's what she calls me; she even has the Indiana Jones theme song as her ringer when I call her cell phone) what happened to 'I love a challenge'?

I knew whether I refused her request or agreed I'd probably end up looking like one of these. It's a nice looking mule, but still....

You've already had the teaser about which direction it went.  Being associated with a major university, I looked up their dance instructor.  As quickly as you can sign a check we were committed to eight weeks of something called the Night Club Two Step.

It was rough in the beginning.  I developed an instant rapport with the guy standing next to me on the first night.  When the instructor told us to start actually moving instead of standing in one spot I could hear him mutter under his breath.

"This is going to be ugly."

Truer words were never spoken. We were learning the two-step and I had two steps, all right.  My left foot went "Stomp!" and my right foot went "Clunk!"  If only I could have brought Elvira!  Then I'd show them graceful.

Things gradually got smoother.  I learned that the real trick to being graceful (Ok, at least not as klutzy) is to stay up on the balls of your feet.  I scored points with Katie.  Plus we've actually gone out dancing and looked pretty good, if I say so myself.   We actually have some new skills and are having fun in the process.  We may even go back for the intermediate lessons.

Part of my success was due to the fact that the instructor was not only good at imparting the skills but she was also a sort of  psychologist, too.  She had empathy for where us guys were coming from and that informed her approach.

More on that aspect to come.  Specifically on how it relates to gaining new riding skills.

Miles and smiles,


Tuesday, November 05, 2013

I didn't see her!

Telephone pole to police officer:  "Honest, Officer, I didn't see her!"

Hmmm, perhaps a Hi-Viz cat would have helped.

Miles and smiles,


Sunday, November 03, 2013


Another year of the world being forced to deal with my existence has recently been marked off on the calendar.  Each year this event triggers a time of reflection upon that which has passed and that which is still to come.  The view backwards includes blessings I've experienced.  The view forward includes thoughts of worthiness.  Many of the blessings are really gifts from others.  How do I remain worthy of receiving such gifts?  Recently, the word "legacy" comes to mind in that context.  Ocean beaches are great places for contemplation.  Katie and I spent a few days there recently.  The small size of a human compared to the vastness of the ocean  helps put things back into perspective.

I apologize if you came here today looking for motorcycling instruction and didn't find it.  On the other hand, most of us are more than the sum of our riding.  In my life a motorcycle has been a vehicle for both transportation and personal growth.  A motorcycle is not "who we are".  Riding has certainly been a large part of my life.  Riding has built character that I've transferred to my life.  I've built character in my life that I've transferred to riding.  To think about riding without a thought to the deepness of the human experience is like looking at this old house. 

One could make an argument that my high contrast black and white photo is a thing of beauty.  (At least I would! )  Once you get past the exterior, though, it's empty and rotten inside from a lack of attention.

So I return to being worthy.

My life has been blessed by the love and loyalty of my beautiful companion of 36 years.  Katie has been nothing but supportive and a true friend.  She still treats me like a prince.  (whether I deserve it or not )  I try to deserve it by being worthy of her.

Katie may be a little perturbed by my putting in this photo of her in the sunset light.  We'd been out on the beach most of the day and she's windblown.  The light however, was too good to pass up.  The photo well illustrates the contemplative nature of our visit.  All I can say is that you're beautiful to me in any condition, Katie.  I see you with my heart more than my eyes these days.

Another blessing is the friends I've made in fellow riders.  Included in those are my fellow bloggers.  Having not posted in a looooong time, it was gratifying to see that folks still cared enough to comment when I finally put up a post.  I'm blessed to have friends who notice my absence. 

Who wouldn't feel the love when a guy like Bobskoot shows up at my office.  I was outside making a phone call and getting some fresh air when up pulls this loaded down BMW.  That fact that he took the time to come see me on his trip is another precious gift.

Earlier in the year I had the privilege of visiting Dom as he completed his epic sidecar trip.  These are a couple of many gifts from fellow bloggers.  Again, one has to ask themselves how they are to prove worthy. 

This idea colors my thoughts as I contemplate the view forward.  The question is where am I headed in the future?

I know one place that we're all eventually headed for.  I've spent time wondering graveyards, too.  Always in the search for perspective.

By the time we end up here it's too late to change how we've lived.  I see names on the headstones but don't really know anything about what they left behind.  I'm ok with that happening for me, as well.  My goal isn't to be remembered.  It's to leave something of value independent of my name.  As long there are others who've received something of value from my being here I'm content. Here's a scene on the beach I captured.

You can see the father crouched behind his son as they fly the kite.  By the way, it took a lot of tries to get the guys and the crazily moving kite in the same frame!

It's this photo that got me to thinking of the word "legacy".  The father is passing along a skill to his son as they share the time together.  I believe that my own legacy will be the proof of my worthiness.

That's the great news about my employment.  Passion and vocation reside together.  I've finally come to the point where I can be totally immersed in the world of motorcycles.  I'm also surrounded by people that are overflowing with heart and great character.  Wonderful gifts that, again, require worthiness.

If I had to describe my job the preferred description would be that it's to help people grow.  Helping folks to grow is a way to establish a legacy.  Unfortunately, human nature complicates the process.

Stay tuned.

Miles and smiles,


Wednesday, October 16, 2013


"There are two kinds of people... One kind, you can tell just by looking at them at what point they congealed into their final selves.  It might be a very nice self, but you know you can expect no more surprises from it.  Whereas, the other kind keeps moving, changing.  With these people, you can never say 'X stops here', or 'Now I know all there is to know about Y.'  That doesn't mean they're unstable.  Ah, no, far from it.  They are FLUID.  They keep moving forward and making new trysts with life, and the motion of it keeps them young.  In my opinion, they are the only people who are still alive."

From "The Finishing School" by Gail Godwin.

And you thought all I did was ride motorcycles and run around trying to look tough.  I can actually read and do so once in a while!

More to follow.

Miles and smiles,


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tense Gum Chewer!

Somebody mentioned that they chewed a lot of gum to ease tension while riding.  I think I found some!

Miles and smiles,