The Cycle of Collective Consciousness

First please allow me to say thank you for all the wonderful birthday wishes I received last week; I turned 60 on August 29th (I share the same birthday as Michael Jackson, a person with an incredible amount of talent whose life was too short).  I made my best effort to write an individual thank you to each email and FB post (the number of people who took the time to wish me Happy Birthday was humbling to say the least) – if I missed you please accept my apology, it was not for lack of will or effort on my part, just bad eyesight!).  The collective effort each of you made on my behalf made me very happy – which brings me to the thought of collective consciousness.

In cycling and in life, individually we are strong and have tremendous potential, together we can accomplish anything we set our minds to and, just as significantly, help others as well.  I know this from my own experience with cancer in 2017.  Most of you know I was diagnosed with Stage 3 testicular cancer on Jan 11, 2017, had surgery to remove an almost 600 gram tumor on January 13, 2017 and began a 3 drug, 4 cycle chemo treatment on February 20, 2017.  The doctor described it as follows: “look at it like a really hard 12 round boxing match, with each round making you feel progressively worse to the point where you will struggle to get up for the 12th round.  Get up, keep going, and at the end of it hopefully you won’t be knocked out or dead”.

The collective support I received from people near and far was simply incredible and unearned.  My wife, my family, my in laws, our Gavia and GFNY Cycling communities, cyclists from all over the world – everyone wrote, called, texted, visited, sent small gifts with large meaning (consider that GFNY produced 5,000 arm bands that said “GFNY4Vito” for participants to wear during the race in May, that Gavia members took care of the studio, that my wife and in-laws made sure I got to the hospital for treatment when I could barely walk and that the good wishes from people I didn’t know all that well simply continued.  That accumulation of good wishes, that collective and conscious effort, is clearly what made the difference between living and dying.  When people say “you beat cancer” I correct them.  I did not beat anything, there was nothing for me to do except to simply accept the treatment I was given.  Its the collective good energy and spirit that supported me during my treatment that made the difference.

Each of us have the power to change our own world and the world around us through the use of positive collective consciousness; every thought, every effort, every gesture large or small matters.  We are one – like the ocean, we cannot tell where one wave ends and the other wave begins.  Even the waves that break onto the shoreline roll back and become part of the ocean again.

Each of us have the power to create positive change in the world; what will you do today?  What thoughts will you put out into the world?

Thanks again for all your kindness!

Vito

No Coincidence

I don’t believe in coincidence.

It cannot be a coincidence that this past week my wife and I had the opportunity to watch the movie “Good Trouble” about Congressman John Lewis who passed away yesterday.  Congressman Lewis dedicated more than 60 of his 80 years of life to others, sacrificing his personal well being over and over and over again with a very specific goal: to rid the world of racial inequality.

It cannot be a coincidence that we will participating in a ride on Sunday that will create a heat map spelling “Black Lives Matter” from Westchester County all the way up to Maine.  The total registration for the ride including Saturday and Sunday, through all the routes, exceeds 500!

For those of you who would like to join us the information related to the entire event is available HERE: Wheels of Change as well as in my blog post HERE .

The small details for anyone who wants to join are as follows:

I will be leaving my house at 05:00 and head over to the Mario Cuomo Bridge in Nyack in order to meet Rob Weissman and the rest of our GAVIA Warriors who are joining the ride.  Rob lives in Westchester and will lead the ride, making sure we stay safe.

Saying “Congressman Lewis did his part” might be the understatement of the century and yet, he did exactly that, he did his part.

Please join us – do you part!

Vito

 

Black Lives Matter

When I consider the opportunity to help effect positive change in our world I ask myself this question: what is my best and highest use?  The answer is consistently “being a teacher and using my cycling practice as a life metaphor”.  

Clearly one of the most significant issues that exists in the world today is the unresolved pain carried in the collective consciousness of the human race, which pain is evidenced in the terrible way we treat each other.  We have become a society that relishes “us and them”, evidenced most clearly by our history with slavery.  Slavery, and its lingering inter-generational effect, is the most glaring example of the baseness with which one human being is capable of treating another; human beings treating other human beings in an inhuman way.

During our school years we learn about the existence of slavery as well as its purported abolition; there is no mention of the lingering effect that is passed on from generation to generation.  Absent a complete and sincere apology combined with full reparations we. as a society will never be able to heal and will therefore never realize our true humanity.  Think of it as a full body scab or abscess; put some ointment on the part of the body that is currently causing the most pain and we fool ourselves into believing that it is healed when it isn’t.  There is a temporary feeling of relief however the primary cause of the wound is still active; in this case it is fear leading to prejudice.

I honestly do not know what to do about it yet, I just know I have to do something that will help make a difference using the resources that I have.  My visibility and credibility is cycling related, I therefore invite everyone to “Join the Ride” as I always do.  

On July 18 – 19, I will be taking part in a cycling event that will spell BLACK LIVES MATTER in letters that will stretch over 1,500 miles. I invite you to share a piece of this journey: walk, run, roll or ride as much or as little of the route as you are able.  The letters we spell will appear in a giant heat map of our activity.  They will be big enough to “virtually” be read from space and the ACTUAL heat map image will be widely circulated via Strava and other social media.  .   

You can also ride “virtually” from across the globe and you can ride before or after the weekend if you prefer.  More information can be found at wheelsofchange.us, and please take a moment to ‘Like’ the Facebook page and follow the event on Instagram and Twitter. Participation is free and open to all. 

If you are like me there are times when you would like to “do something” on behalf of a just cause – here is your opportunity!  Step up, do something and be part of the positive change we so desperately need in the world!  

Vito

What’s Changed?

I don’t understand what has fundamentally changed as it relates to the Coronavirus, meaning simply this: when the “government leaders” (I leave both words in quotes because I believe the people involved have generally abdicated their responsibilities to the citizens of our country and for the most part do not exhibit leadership characteristics) finally decided to act because our medical facilities were overflowing with patients, people were dying and the body bags began to pile up they finally required us to isolate, wear masks and gloves, limit contact, take sanitary precautions, and abide by social distancing rules.  While the infection rates continued to increase for a while they then began to subside.  Infections have not disappeared but the rate of infection has been reduced due to all of the restrictions that were put in place.

We live in New Jersey where the first case was recorded on March 2; the government initiated a curfew on March 16th and subsequently issued a Stay at Home Order on March 21.when New Jersey reported 437 cases.  To date New Jersey has reported approximately 167,000 cases and almost 13,000 deaths.  On April 3 New Jersey reported 4,300 cases (the highest 1 day total) and on June 5th reported 606 cases.  On April 23 there were 4,124 reported cases, the highest prior to beginning a downward trend.

On April 30, approximately 6 weeks after the Stay at Home Order was issued, 458 people died in New Jersey; that’s almost 20 people per hour or 1 person every three minutes.  I write slowly and thoughtfully, this post will likely take me 90 minutes in total.  During the time it took to write this, if I had written it on April 30, 30 people would have died.  For comparison purposes. Approximately 74,500 people died (from all causes including natural causes) in New Jersey in 2019, or about 205 people per day.

My take on this is for the two weeks between March 2 and March 16 we did nothing, allowing the virus to continue to spread unchecked for a period that clearly began prior to March 2.  We then had another week of curfew rather than complete lockdown and the cases continued to fester and increase.  We finally locked down the State and imposed serious restrictions – group sizes, mask requirements, social distancing, etc.  While it caused serious difficulties for everyone – mentally physically and emotionally – it was the only way to reduce the impact of the virus.  As we see by the number of cases the restrictions worked.  

We are now removing many of those restrictions and doing so after a period of tumult, protests, huge gatherings – many of which by their very nature did not include any social distancing or other restrictions.  Sadly it is very likely that we will see the effect of those gatherings over the next couple of weeks.  

As far as I know we do not yet have an understanding of the cause of the virus, we do not have a reliable, broad based system of testing and tracing, we do not have a vaccine or cure and we don’t have any real system of enforcement of the lessened restrictions, at least not that I know of.

I have not yet discussed the issues related to the portion of the population this virus affects most, we will save that for another day, but suffice it to say that it disproportionately affects poor rather than wealthy, older rather than young, black rather than white.

I realize the mental, emotional, physical and economic hardship the lockdown has caused for way too many people.  My solution is not a popular one but it would basically be that our government support its population economically in order not to have that population risk their lives (isn’t part of the role of government to support its population during times of crisis by whatever means necessary?) unnecessarily while we work toward finding a semi-permanent solution.  Somehow the government manages to find billions and billions of dollars to bail out banks, insurance companies, airlines and even other governments when they feel it is necessary.  Why not do something for their own people temporarily until we can find a more permanent solution and while we are at it perhaps figure out a way to provide the basics for our people – education, health and the ability to retire without worrying about where the next meal is coming from.

In 1970 the movie Patton was released; I was almost 12 and I clearly remember walking with my father to the Marboro Theater on Bay Parkway in Brooklyn to see the movie.  The movie opens with George C. Scott, who played General Patton, walked out to the center of the screen saying: “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”

I sometimes feel like many, if not most, of our elected officials (with the exception of many of our local Mayors and council people) feel as if they are at war with their own people, the people they were elected to represent, them vs. us and to the victor goes the spoils.  

This Sunday at 8:46AM will you run or ride 8.46km?

“The transformation of human consciousness is no longer a luxury, so to speak, available only to a few isolated individuals, but a necessity if humankind is not to destroy itself.” – Eckhart Tolle

A Story

I was driving my father in law’s car home from Rhinebeck several years ago during a heavy rainstorm after having gone to visit my sister in law and her children.  My wife Melanie was in the front passenger seat and my in-laws were in the back,  The Cold Spring exit off the Taconic is a 90 degree right turn requiring one to slow from highway speed to sharp right turn speed.  Given the heavy rain I chose to slow down early and also signalled early, about 1km prior to the exit.  As I did I noticed a police vehicle pull up behind me, following at a safe distance.  A few hundred meters from the exit the cruiser’s lights go on and as I make the turn I hear “please pull over”.  

I do exactly that, lower the window a bit and put both my hands on the steering wheel while I wait for the officer to come up to the car.  There was enough street light so I did not feel the need to turn on the light inside the car.  The conversation went like this:

“Good evening officer”.

“Good evening sir.  You were travelling pretty slow, May I see your license and registration please.  Have you had any alcohol tonight?”

“No sir, I don’t drink alcohol.  May I remove my hands from the steering wheel to get my wallet from my back pocket and the registration from the glove compartment?  The car belongs to my father in law who is in the back seat.”  The officer continues to shine the light into the car until I give him my information.  He also sees my brother’s badge in my wallet and asks about it (my brother is a retired NYC police officer).

The officer looks at my license and the car registration, we exchange some pleasantries, he tells me to be careful and off we go.

As we begin driving I hear my father in law’s baritone voice – perhaps a little less baritone in this moment – saying “Vito, how could you remain so calm?”  I look in the rearview mirror and my father in law has a look of simultaneous fear/confusion/relief as I say “why wouldn’t I be calm, I didn’t do anything wrong.”  That is my reality – why would I be worried if I had not done anything to be worried about?

My father in law’s reality is different.  He is a Black man, born in Virginia in 1942; his reality is quite different and historically his interactions with White police officers did not follow the same pattern as the one we just had.  His fear was visceral even though by this point in his life he was a retired school principal and had received degrees from Amherst, UMass and Harvard even though he attended a one room schoolhouse (literally) as a child.

I grew up in Bensonhurst Brooklyn during the 1960’s and have no doubt that I learned to be prejudiced during that time even though I had more in common with my friend Sylvester who was from the Marcy Projects than I had with the “tough guy” neighborhood kids (Sylvester and me were both what would now be referred to as nerds – him skinny, me fat, both with those plastic black framed glasses, both the object of abuse by the other kids).  

I believe I have learned better since then.  “If I can you can” is what I have always told my cycling students; I believe that is as applicable to human relationships as it is in cycling.  

What holds us back, more often than not, is fear.  We are afraid that we can’t so we don’t try.  We are afraid to fail so we don’t try.  We are afraid to be judged by others so we don’t try.  We are afraid to be judged by ourselves so we don’t try.  

We are really afraid that we will be judged and remembered for our perceived failures, errors in judgements and shortcomings – that people, including ourselves, will remember us for the worst things we did rather than the best.  

An Opportunity

This Sunday, June 14th I am going to do a short ride leaving the area across from 1 Sylvan Ave at 08:46.  I mapped an 8.46 km route straight north on 9W – that route is HERE.

This is by no means any form of official ride – it is just something I believe I need to do.  If anyone would like to join me on the ride feel free to simply show up.  If you can’t, feel free to map out a route of 8.46 km and ride it this Sunday at 08:46 – post it on our GAVIA Cycling page so we can let the world know that we are listening to the best of our ability, that we care and that we would like to take some positive action.  Right now the only thing I know how to do is ride my bike so I am doing that – hopefully over time I will be able to do more..  

Peace is available to each of us and all of us; I don’t believe any of us would like to be remembered by the worst thing we have ever done.

Thank you for your time.

Vito  

 

  

Living Inter-Are and cycling during Covid

Reading and listening to the words of Thich Nhat Hanh and having had the great fortune of attending one of his talks about ten years ago has helped me transform my thinking and conduct in a deep and positive way. I share this quote and writing in order to help our community understand why I continue to ask that people not ride their bikes.

The Thoughts of Thich Nhat Hanh

Of course we are all careful when we ride; that is a given.

Of course we leave the most appropriate distance between ourselves and the other riders based on terrain, current rules and safety concerns.

Of course we don’t leave for our rides with the thought of causing or beiing involved in a crash.

Of course we feel better, on many levels, when we ride.

We are cyclists; for many of us it is a lifesaver on many levels.

That said, there is always a chance, albeit a slim one, that we will be involved in some form of mishap.
A tire flattens on a downhill, we accidentally hit a pothole or leaves.
We are required to make a quick movement in order to avoid a vehicle, obstruction or perhaps another cyclist who is not paying quite as much attention.

A couple of years ago I had a silly accident when, on my fourth of an expected five hill repeats I slipped on some leaves near the bottom of Churchill. If I was moving at 10 kph at that point on the ride it was a lot.
My good friend David was with me, he saw it happen, he called 911. He had to, I was not conscious.

I woke up in the ambulance and needed attention from the following people:
Ambulance attendants (2)
Police officers (2)
Emergency room intake – (clerical, nurse, doctor, one or two others) (5)
X-ray technician and support (2)

I left the hospital the same day with a fractured rib, clavicle broken in 4 places, and a concussion. David had called my wife who was waiting for me when the ambulance pulled up.

The total is somewhere around 11 people who, under normal circumstances are more than likely overworked. In today’s environment they are beyond overworked, stressed and sleep deprived AND are making life and death decisions. (I realize that everyone is jumping for joy about the reduction in deaths, using NYS as an example, where the deaths the other day were, in round numbers, ONLY 480).
Only – unless of course one of the 480 is your friend or relative, co-worker or neighbor. Take 3 minutes to read this post – by the time you finish someone in NYS died – because ONLY 480 is 20 people per hour or one every three minutes.

If you believe as I do that we are all connected perhaps you might consider having some reverence for those 11 people and, at least as important if not more so, the patients who need critical care because they were attacked by a virus, not because they made a conscious choice to do hill repeats on Churchill or go for a ride on 9W but simply because the virus we are dealing with is a stealth bomber and its target happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or perhaps the “wrong” age.
And of course there are those 11 people who might need that extra bit of sleep after working 35 hours without sleep under beyond stressful conditions – people live or die based on what they do.

When we ride under normal conditions we take the risks we choose to take, we are able to assess the risk, we are able to manage it by how we ride and with whom we ride. Under the current conditions of course we do the same as it relates to ourselves and the ride however, I ask you, is it conducting ourselves in a way that shows we believe we “inter are”, that we are all connected and need to care for each other or is it acting in a way that says “I ________” (the words after I don’t matter as the reasoning is about “I”.

Everyone ought to do what they believe is right, I don’t judge and even if i did that doesn’t matter because I don’t matter; this is something for you to consider when you choose how to live your life.

For most of us our cycling practice is important to us; it my case it keeps me sane, grounded, connected to a community I genuinely love and care about. It is why I choose not to ride; I have a tremendous amount of reverence for what cycling has given me and believe we ought to respect it properly.

I hope you will consider what I am saying before you choose to ride again.

With Loving Kindness,

Vito

The Participation Continuum

The Participation Continuum

The participation continuum moves from general to specific, with most of us satisfied to simply participate which, after all, is usually a very big improvement over where we started!

tri

To move from outside the triangle to the lowest level (4) requires the most effort.  Forgetting the money for a second, that decision to change your life is the most difficult and should be the one you are most proud of.  I know from my own experience how difficult it is to simply begin moving when one weighs 125 kilos/270 pounds (yes I weighed that much, it took a lot of eating and drinking but somehow I managed); it requires the biggest investment of emotion and a massive change in lifestyle (no pun intended).  I speak in the context of weight + lifestyle changes because that is one of my experiences but any large step in a positive direction that takes you outside your comfort zone is something you should be proud of.

Now that you have taken the BIG STEP and are in the continuum, where would you like to be as it relates to your cycling practice?

Level 4 – has the largest percentage of cyclists; we are simply happy to be riding our bikes.  In my own case I was teaching an indoor cycling program called RPM.  I was helping my students get good results but wanted to be a better teacher so thought I ought to learn how to ride a road bike.  I was a strong indoor teacher and had trained  some of my students to be teachers as well but when I got on a road bike I had no clue – didn’t know where the gears were and when my little Polar speedometer hit 10 mph (I didn’t know about km back then either) my knees shook.  I may not have known where the gears were but man the brakes were my best friend!  My rides were solo and on my first ride to State Line when I got to the sign I looked ahead, it seemed to me that the cyclists were launching themselves off a cliff; I turned around and went home thinking “those people are crazy!”.

Level 3 – enter the group rides and the number of participants is smaller.  We find a group that we like to ride with and just get out there.  If we are lucky we learn the right habits although it is often hit or miss and unfortunately the teaching, although well-intended, is along the lines of “this is what I do”.  Of course if you find yourself in the wrong group…well, you know how it goes.  Still, you could remain at this level forever and have a great cycling experience – this level does not require a significant change in the resources you need to devote (unless you get caught up in the n+1 silliness, waste your money on the next ceramic nonsense, etc.).

(I write this in bold print because I believe it to be true, and I realize that it is self-serving:  invest your time and money in cycling education that will be specific to you and it will serve you for a lifetime.  Invest your money in “stuff” and you will continue to have more “stuff”.  Do what is best for you based on your own goals rather than impulse).    

I was lucky in that I had a built in group of indoor cyclists who I could (bother/coerce/convince/bribe/name it) to get a road bike and start riding.  We went of massive rides – some as far as Piermont from Ridgefield (NJ not CT)!  Madness!  Who knew we could ride from one State to another on the same day!

Level 2 – level up!  Again, the number of people in the triangle decreases as this requires a thoughtful allocation of resources (time, money, emotion) which many people cannot or will not make.  They are happy to remain at the group ride level.  In order to improve from the group rides phase to the next level of cycling one needs a teacher whose attention is on how to help the student improve.  Talking generalities to other cyclists and seeing what worked for those cyclists like the Stephen Covey analogy where Dr. Covey in his book “7 habits of Highly Effective People” asks if you would continue to visit an eye doctor who, when you sit in the chair to prepare for the exam hands you her eyeglasses and says “here, try these” and when they don’t work for you says “I don’t understand, those eyeglasses work for me!”.

Level 2 is where you invest in yourself to move from the general to the specific!  In addition to the group rides you will participate in events and camps, and you will be riding with a sense of purpose.  You don’t have to expect to finish first, but with coaching and a goal you will be riding with intent.  As in our everyday lives, living with intent gives us purpose and direction.

My experience was slightly different because I really enjoy teaching and I was able to further my cycling education by taking courses and seminars (I certified with Saris about 10 years ago) and was able to get my coaching license through USA Cycling.  I was leveling up to not only improve my own cycling through additional knowledge but mostly to be a better teacher and coach.

Most cyclists who want to improve from simple participation in group rides to a higher level of knowledge hire a coach so that they can continue building their own lives but at the same time participate, improve and benefit from their cycling practice (I had been teaching indoors, riding, developing new teachers and building my own knowledge and experience for 10 years prior to taking on coaching students for road cycling).  The idea of working with a teacher is to be able to move from general to specific – you invest some resources but don’t waste time with trial and error.  You learn and you grow and you live a better life with the guidance of your teacher.

Level 2 is a big step, almost as big as the one we make to become part of the continuum rather than remain outside the triangle.

Level 1.  This could be combined with Level 2, I could have simply used three level rather than 4, but I thought this needed an additional category.  Sign up for events with your friends and on your own to make new friends.  The people you meet at these events share your passion for cycling and before you know it you are learning about the world outside of the one in which you live.

Being part of GFNY has provided me the opportunity to meet literally thousands of people from every part of the world all while developing better relationships with our local cycling community – for that I cannot express enough gratitude.  Where else can you be laying on your couch at home in the 12th week of chemo, take a look at Facebook and see Uli doing a LIVE video letting everyone know that they imprinted 5,000 armbands with GFNY4VITO so that all the participants in 2016 could wear them to create a healing energy and spirit.

Positive change requires us to do something extraordinary.  Not all of us have an opportunity to play for the NY Giants and score the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl but each of us have the opportunity to level up within the context of our own lives!

Thank you for reading.

Vito Valentini, Human Potential Catalyst
Head Coach, GAVIA Cycling

For more information on how we can help you improve your cycling practice please visit us at GAVIA Cycling

 

The Leaf is Mightier than the Bike

Early morning training has always been mind clearing and one of the best possible ways to begin the day for me, so why not begin on November 1 (my nickname when I was younger was “Spock” – logic and orderly always worked for me).  We had finished closing the studio and taken care of most of the administrative obligations that go along with something like that a couple of weeks prior; it was time to begin our outdoor Gavia Cycling training!

I arranged to meet David at his home at 5:15 AM and when I got there we decided to do some easy hill repeats on Churchill – big ring of course.  It was a bit cool (but I was wearing my new GFNY jacket with an under layer – that was more than enough).  The first two rounds were uneventful, just took it easy on the way down and then up to the top; we decided on one more.  As I got near the bottom where the road winds to the left then right I saw a car making its way up and thought I would move over a bit more to my right in order to give him or her a wide berth, saw the pile of leaves I had already passed twice, knew that I would need to ride over the edge of the pile but clearly misjudged the depth at the edge and watched my front wheel move in a way that flashed “trouble!”.

“Vito – do you know where you are?”  “Yes, I am in an ambulance.”

“Do you know who you are with?”  “Yes, my friend David; we were doing hill repeats on Churchill.”

“OK great – we are taking you to the hospital now.”

..and so it went.  I don’t really remember the ride too well; I do remember that my wife was waiting for me at the hospital and that the staff brought me in to take some x-rays and CT scans then wheeled me into a room where I waited for the results.  I was a little bit more coherent. was able to speak normally, felt a little bit beat up but otherwise not too bad.

Results – broken clavicle, fractured rib and a concussion – an excellent start to the training season!  The ER doctor told me the clavicle would heal on its own and offered me a prescription for some painkillers which I kindly refused (twice!).  David, being my medical guardian angel referred me to an excellent orthopedic surgeon – Dr. Keller – (for the clavicle) as well as an internist (to check the rib fracture and anything else that might need looking at).  Dr. Keller performed the surgery early morning on the 9th, adding a titanium plate and 4 screws to fix the 4 breaks.  I had a follow up visit on the 17th, Dr. Keller removed the ends of the stitches (the rest of them dissolve on their own), let me know that I am a strong healer, cleared me to ride my trainer at home and also to get out on my bike as soon as I feel comfortable enough to handle my bike.

Consider how lucky I am.  I was riding with David who was able to call the ER at the hospital and also refer me to doctors who are at the top of their profession.  (David was not so lucky – he had to watch me crash in front of him,  had to get me out of the middle of the street, try to figure out how I was, ask me for my wife’s cell phone number and call her to let her know what happened, call an ambulance and then, adding insult to injury, had to walk home (UP Churchill) with both bikes!

I was wearing my GFNY Limar helmet; it took the brunt of the blow when I fell, clearly saving me from what could have been a lifelong disaster.  As I tell everyone – ALWAYS WEAR YOUR HELMET!  THE HIGH SPEED DESCENT ISN’T THE CONCERN, ITS THE LOCAL RIDE WHEN YOU ARE MOVING AT 20 KPH AND YOU HAVE A SILLY FALL THAT CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER.  Guess what – this was that fall.

Modern medicine and having a friend like David.  I had a surgeon who is at the top of her profession.  I am sure there are others, but I was lucky to have Dr. Keller and all the support staff at Hackensack Hospital.

Last, and definitely not least, my wife Melanie without whom I would not be around today.  The last two years of medical issues have been a tremendous burden on her and yet, she smiles every day, takes care of me without complaint, manages to keep us moving forward in a sane way irrespective of the business issues I have created and simply believes in me and us.  Of all the unearned blessings and good fortune I have had in my life my wife is the biggest gift of all.

Ah yes, the title of the post.  A leaf, or a small grouping of leaves, changed my life for at least this month and perhaps a little bit longer.  I look at this as a warning – perhaps my ego was getting the best of me, perhaps I was not focusing on the human aspect of life as much as a should have been, perhaps I was not paying attention to the details as much as I should have been, perhaps I have not been as present as i should have been – I am not sure.  I am sure there is a lesson in here someplace – part of the lesson is taking the time to consider what happened and the lesson we can draw from it.

I am grateful for the kindness and generosity of spirit you all share with me – thank you.

Vito

(I expect to write more often, not sure that it will share well on social media; if you would like to read more inspiring cycling related stories please follow this blog).

 

Taking life for granted

We wake up every day with a certain set of expectations, that everything is firmly in place for our benefit; most of us don’t give it a second thought.  We are very spoiled in many ways – we have way more of anything and everything than we will ever need, and yet for many it isn’t enough.  Can it be?

What are your first 5 thoughts in the morning?  Do they include being grateful for being alive, grateful to be able to breathe clean air, eat fresh food, drink clean water and to have an abundance of family and friends?  This is part of living in the present moment; it is really the only moment available to us.  The past is gone, its only significance provided by our interpretation and the meaning we give it.  The future is a fiction.  And yet, how many of us are using our phone while we are in face to face with someone else OR how many of us are talking on the phone and working on the computer OR – my favorite – watching someone on the computer while on the phone AND talking to someone in front of them.

Is this progress?  Does this somehow make us significant?  Is this human connection?  Is there an opportunity for us to put down the phone and speak together; something good may come from it.

DeRosa factory photo

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Dedication to a goal

This Sunday, November 4, 2018, my wife Melanie is participating in the NYC Marathon – I am incredibly proud of her dedication and preparation and also to have been an supportive observer throughout her preparation.

Her commitment to begin ready to complete the NYC Marathon and her training for the event actually began in 2017.  In order to gain entry in the Marathon one can qualify by time (Melanie is a novice so that could not be for her first time), by lottery (we didn’t want to leave it up to chance), by paying a large sum of money (we would be happy to but cannot) OR via the 9 + 1 program, where one agrees to participate in 9 qualifying races and volunteer for the previous year’s event (that worked for us!).

EXCEPT – the ability to commit to participating came mid-year 2017, the choice of qualifying races was smaller, so we ended up participating in the Midnight Run (New Years’ Eve) in Central Park.  We were lucky, it was above zero, but just barely (it was 9 degrees Fahrenheit! – I don;t know how we did it but we got Aleksandra to run the 4 miles with us).

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And so it began.

The first half of the year was dedicated to running, participating in shorter events, cross training and some cycling; about 20 weeks ago Melanie began following a more specific plan, working with the running coaches available through NYRR.  She followed her plan, made changes on the way as required, ran early mornings in the neighborhood when necessary, ran in the park when possible, ran in Englewood Cliffs for shorter closed loops and went to Rockland Lake for the longer runs to avoid car traffic, kept building her mileage and then, 3 weeks ago, BAM – the 20 mile run!

She simply crushed it!

This is a link to a photo album with some older photos but most beginning 2017 into 2018 – it is an inspirational story – how the story started and where Melanie is today – ready to go!

https://photos.app.goo.gl/SQNkZMfgw6Y5aYh7A

If you would like to follow her race and send her some good vibes throughout the day, her bib number is 48826, she has a 10:40AM start.  My wife, although being one of the most alive people I have ever known, is somewhat private and will likely murdelize me for having written this paragraph however I believe when people do extraordinary things they are helped by an extraordinary community of people (we know that first hand – or I would not be writing this) – so I take the writing risk realizing that I may have placed myself in a state of impending doom – but, as the young people say, whatever!

More stories about our Gavia Warrior Tribe to follow!

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Vito

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