I have lots to be thankful for

Earlier this week I attended an engagement party for a close family friend and his new fiancée.  As toasts were made, I couldn’t help but think about the new chapter in his life that was about to begin.  Lots of good times ahead for them.  I got up early yesterday to go for a long solo ride.  I enjoy these rides because it gives me time to reflect on what’s happening in my life.  I again thought about that moment on Tuesday evening and remembered my own new chapter that began about 18 years ago.  Thanksgiving week began with the birth of our first son.  It wasn’t an easy time for my wife, but she still managed to pull together our first Thanksgiving in at our home, with the help of her mom and a cousin.  I was still on cloud 9 after the arrival of our new family member, Erik.  I was so proud and I still am.

Now Erik is 18 and finishing up his last year in high school.  Someone once told me that my job as a dad was to create memories, so that’s what I did.  Sometimes life gets pretty busy so once in a while it’s good for the soul to think back and remember those times.  But we shouldn’t just limit our reflection to the week of Thanksgiving or even the holidays in general.  Sometimes I do this when I’m out riding my bike and yesterday was one of those days.  It was a pretty windy day, but I was lost in my thought and hardly even noticed.  I thought about the various chapters in my life and how I felt at the time.  So many experiences, some bad, but mostly good ones.  Somehow the bad experiences always seem inconsequential when I look back at them.  Then I wonder how many more chapters there will be and what they will be about.

I feel especially thankful to be riding my bike again.  As I mentioned earlier, I started riding again for health reasons.  My weight had ballooned and my blood pressure was getting pretty high, something had to change.  I was making good progress until about 6 months ago and even bought a new (to me) bike.  6 months ago I was lying in a hospital bed fighting an infection after my emergency hernia surgery.  I knew things weren’t going well and if the infection didn’t get better, my doctor would have to go back in and find the problem…not good.  Fortunately, they gave me some stronger antibiotics and soon I was back at home.  My recover was slow and painful, but after about 6 weeks I was finally able to get back on the bike.  My core was a mess and I knew I had to take it easy.  Then, just as I was making good progress I had a bad crash.  I wasn’t sure how soon I’d recover from that, but I did.  I still get spooked bombing down hills where it’s difficult to see the road contour, but I keep doing it so I once again can put that bad experience behind me and keep riding.

That’s why I got up before dark this morning and headed down to the Veloway to ride with the folks from Austin Cycle Camp on their Cranksgiving Ride.  It was a ride just for fun and today we were doing paceline laps at the end of Mopac, each lap faster than the previous one.  I hung with the lead group for a little while, but got dropped about 1/3 of the way into the last lap.  I tried to catch up for another mile or two, but they turned on the afterburners and were soon gone.  I still managed a good ride and great workout with a fun group of riders.  Then it was time to head home to spend the rest of the day with my family.

On the way back, I began to think about what I was thankful for and decided to spend a few moments writing it down.  First, I’m very thankful for my wife.  We’ve been married almost 20 years and I can’t imagine life without her.  I’m also thankful for my boys, who have taught me a lot over the years (shhh, don’t tell them).  I’m especially thankful that my youngest son is still with us after his near fatal accident on a school playground. I’m also blessed with wonderful friends who are constantly coming in and out of my life.  We often gather at my weekend home on Lake Buchanan in an ever widening circle for happy hour.  Lots of smiles and lots of laughter along with unforgettable sunsets.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I’m also glad to have met so many wonderful people who all have one thing in common, they love to ride bikes.  This year I made a concerted effort to get to know some of the riders I share the road with and have made some fun new friends.  Finally, I’m just glad to be able to ride.  I hope to be doing a it a very long time.  I’m looking forward to sharing those experiences with my wife, who’s finally starting to ride and liking it.  So with that, starts yet another chapter in my life.  It’s all good and certainly deserves thanks.

A bit more of a ramble than usual…what are you thankful for?   Spend a few minutes thinking about it every once in a while.  Life’s too short to not appreciate all the good things.  Better yet, write it down…it’ll make you think about it.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  I hope all of you get to spend it with those who mean the most to you.

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