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Time, Money and Failure..

I made it to the east coast!  I was done with the “Across America” part, now time for the down and back. 4,721 miles down the street from my house, I found myself in a second home, Meriden, CT.  This was the first community to reach out to me the day after I founded my organization, March 26, 2010.  Mr. Ted Lipkin was the first person to contact me from Meriden and quickly put me in contact with Kashia Cave, founder of My City Kitchen, an organization which teaches the youth, hands on, how to cook healthy, well-balanced meals for themselves!  I quickly found out that this was only her part-time job; her full-time job, was being Superwoman!  I actually called her the day after I was defeated in arm wrestling by the strongest woman in Utah!  Feeling defeated and less of a man, I called Kashia, a vivacious, high energy, go getter originally from Trinidad and Tobago.  And within a single conversation, I felt like a winner again.  She gave me much-needed encouragement, and assured me that Meridan was going to be the biggest stop for me.  She don’t ever lie!  I was booked solid for a week straight with numerous opportunities to reach out to the youth of Connecticut and share my story.  I thank you, Kashia and Ted, Mayor Rohde and the City of Meriden and all those who have inspired me to continue on my journey around the nation.

I departed Meriden, flying down US Route 1, beside myself that I was 80 miles outside of New York City.  Every city and town I have visited thus far, has been my first visit and it will continue to be so until I reach Galveston, TX.  So with every stop and around every corner, there is a new experience to be had.  Even more so in New York City and I could not wait to see all of the lights and excitement of NYC.  I was hustling down US1, pedaling as fast as my abnormally large and overly tanned legs (only to just above the knee) could go.  I was actually listening to my iPod, which I normally don’t do until the last hour of my ride.  But I needed to listen to music to distract myself, soothing the anticipation that ran through my body. 

Within all of the excitement, 40 miles outside of NYC, my luggage on my bike began to slowly slide off of my bike.  I pulled over to inspect my loaded bicycle, only to discover that my right saddlebag had flown off!  This bag contained a photo copy of my passport, license and social security card, which I used when I was backpacking through South America last year.  I called all of the local police stations on US1 to see if they would be able to scan their jurisdictions for my bag, with little cooperation.  After exhausting all of my resources and options, I decided to continue on towards NYC.

An hour later, I found myself in Greenwich, CT, a very affluent community and apparently a safe place to camp out.  I first stopped by a local bike shop, Greenwich Bicycles, to pick up a new saddlebag.  I told the owner my story and ask if he carried any in stock.  With zero hesitation, he went to his personal bicycle and grabbed a brand new saddlebag off of his rack, and gave it to me as a donation.  I was thrilled and could not show how grateful I was for his generosity.  I stayed for as long as I could talk with him, but the sun was going down and I needed to find a place to pitch my tent in town.  He recommended a local park by the marina, but advised me to find a good hiding spot.  With my brand new saddlebag securing my luggage, I bicycled down the Main Street, which was the Fifth Avenue of Greenwich.  I passed Tiffany’s, Coach and any designer you could think of.  

The second I arrived to the marina, I noticed a lady on the corner of the street, waiting to cross.  I smiled at her, “Hey, how are ya?”  “I’m good, you look like a travelling man, where are you from?”  After a brief description of where I was from and what I was doing, she invited me to join her, “You want to take a ferry ride?  It’s a beautiful ride and this is the last ride for the season!”

I did want to.  She was a good saleswoman.  But then there were three questions that plagued my decision to go.  Did I have enough time?  Did I have enough money?  What if I didn’t come back in time, and couldn’t find a place to sleep?  Time, money and failure.  Oddly enough, these were the same three questions I asked myself before starting my organization and 11,000 mile bicycle ride.  Do I have enough time?  Do I have enough money?  What if I fail?

People “Across America” have expressed their great desire to join me along my journey.  I ask them what’s stopping them.  And every single person I have encountered, from all walks of life, have had the same three questions holding them back from their dreams.  Now, I don’t even ask them, I just tell them what is hindering their ambitions and they are amazed that I knew their responses, before they had the time to articulate them.

“How long is the ferry ride?”  “I don’t know”, she responded.  “How much is the ferry ride?”  She looked down at the ferry voucher she had in her hand, her sunglasses propped on her head, holding her short, brunette hair in place.  She looked back up at me.  “I have an extra voucher for you, I bought them at the beginning of the season and have been TRYING to go all summer, but haven’t been able to.  I made the DECISION to finally go today.”  “What if I don’t come back in time and can’t find a place to camp?”  “You’ll figure it out!”  She was right, I would figure it out, I’ve figured it out every night of my trip thus far. 

I then realized that I was contemplating the same questions that I had to dismiss prior to my departure, in order to accomplish my dream.  The same questions which hold so many back from accomplishing their dreams, often discouraged by not having the answers to these three questions; time, money and failure.  I did not have the answers to these questions before my departure.  I wasn’t sure if I had enough time, enough money (I left with 36 dollars in my pocket after paying my overdue bill at my local bicycle shop), nor the experience to guarantee my body and mind would be able to endure this gruelling challenge.  Without the answers to these questions, I departed my hometown on my bicycle, and I accepted the offer from the lady at the marina, on the corner of the street.

I had an incredible time on the ferry ride.  It took us out to an island, some 5 miles off of the coast.  Just as we departed from the island, returning back to the marina, a lady emerges from the captain’s cabin.  I am assuming she was from New Jersey because she had orange skin, exaggerated makeup, tight black leather pants, a cheetah print blouse and a Snooky bump.  As she stumbled out of the cabin, glass of wine in one hand and cheese in the other, she started pumping her fist (honest truth) and rhythmically chanting, with a heavy Jersey accent, “We want a Loop-dee-loop!”  Her enthusiasm spread throughout the vessel like a plague, and she created a near riot atmosphere.  I took this opportunity to exchange names with my hostess, whom invited me.  Her name was Nanette.  I told her my name, and gave emergency contact information, just in case we didn’t make it back to shore. 

I leaned across the aisle in front of me to inquire about this infamous “Loop-dee-loop”.  An older couple was sitting directly across from us, with large yellow rain coats, whom very well could have been the Gordan Fisherman’s parents.  They informed me that it was a tradition for generations, that on the last ride of the season, they perform a dount-like manuever in the middle of the harbor, spinning around in place… a Loop-dee-loop.  The captain refused to do so, and I feared for my life.

To my surprise, we made it back to the marina.  Nanette invited me to sleep in her guest room, as well as to the best mexican restaurant I have ever been to.  It was an incredible experience and to think, I almost let three little questions get in my way.  If you are chasing a dream, do not let anything get in the way; not time, not money and not failure.  If it is in your heart and mind to succeed, you will figure it out.  There is always time, there is always money out there to be found and, you know by reading my previous blog, you will never fail as long as you decide to succeed!  Keep chasing your dreams, sooner or later, your dreams will get tired of running from you!

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I am going to TRY to write this blog..

What was the first thought that went through your head after reading the title of this blog?  What do you initially think about this blog post?  Do you think I will be completing it?  Leaving it unfinished?  It is very interesting how powerful our words are.  If the blog was titled, “I am going to write this blog”, do your perceptions and assumptions now change, because of the removal of one single word?  We are our own biggest encouragers and we are our own biggest discouragers.  Many people support us, and put us down.  And they do so with words.  How many times have you been discouraged from doing something because of what people said to you?  (These are not rhetorical questions by the way people, lol.. I EXPECT you to answer them by leaving comments!).  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it was not the person’s fault for you being discouraged.  I’ll say it again, we are our OWN biggest encouragers and our OWN biggest discouragers.  Many people tell us a lot of things.  But we don’t truly believe them until we tell it to ourselves.

Everytime I stop to rest, every person that passes me feels it is necessary to tell me how hot it is outside.  I guess it’s an ice breaker or easy small talk.  I reply with “It’s perfect” and a big smile.  The only reason it is not hot for me, is because I don’t tell myself it is hot.  It is that simple.  If you say it to yourself, you will believe it.  And what you believe will become your reality.

A few months back, I was contacted by Todd, founder of a health organization called Columbus Fit Clique.  He expressed his passion for bringing a healthier lifestyle to, first Columbus, but eventually the nation.  I was originally scheduled to go to Detroit, but with little outspoken interest from community leaders, I rerouted my journey to go through the Buckeye State, to collaborate with Columbus Fit Clique.  I quickly became very close with everyone within the organization and was soon invited over to stay with Greg’s, Todd’s business partner, best friend’s mom’s house (did you follow that?).  His best friend is Mike and we also hit it off immediately, after a brief discussion about ambition.  This guy can do it all.  He was a great athlete throughout high school and he also an incredibly gifted artist.  We were playing catch with the football the other day, and he was catching the ball left and right, one-handed, behind his back and you could not even hear the ball hitting his hands.  It would have been a spectacle for anyone to watch.  He’s an amazing guy.  He succeeds in anything he does. 

Fast forward to a discussion we were having about his art career.  He told me about a final project he had to do for an art class.  He informed his professor that he was going to do a portrait for his last efforts of the semester.  The professor looked at him, laughed and told him it he can’t do portraits.  Mike was very confident in his skills and replied, “Yes, I will”.  He then created a masterpiece, which blew his professor away, as well as myself. 

Mike then told me about his basketball career.  He had the opportunity to play for a professional team over seas.  But when he was telling me the story, I noticed a shift in his mental approach.  Throughout the duration of the narrative, he used the word “try” countless times.  He said he was going to try to make the team.  And this is the only time I’ve heard him use this word.  In the end, he was not successful in pursuing a professional career in basketball and was cut from the team.

If you’ve read my previous blogs (uhummm, cough, cough, nudge.. Amy and Brittany), you can recall a blog entitled, “Failure”.  I mentioned that the words “can’t” and “try” are not in my vocabulary.  For obvious reason “can’t” is not a positive word to use, but “try” is all too often overlooked.  When you say you are going to “try” something, it implies failure, incompletion and not giving it your full attention and efforts, just like when you read the title of this blog.

What if Mike had TRIED to do a portrait for his final project?  What if Mike DECIDED to make the basketball team?  When you want to succeed, either decide to do it, or decide not to do it, don’t try to do it.. you will not succeed.  How far do you think I would have bicycled, if I was going to TRY to bicycle 11,000 miles around the nation.  Instead, I WILL bicycle 11,000 miles around the nation, therefore leaving myself one end result, SUCCESS.  Words are powerful and they will shape your future.  What you say, is what you believe.  And what you believe, will become your reality.  Encourage yourself today, and DECIDE to be successful!

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Toto, I Don’t Think We’re in California Anymore..

Tornado Alley.  This was my next challenge after The (Not So) Rocky Mountains.  Trust me on this, if you want to see a California Kid scared, just talk about tornadoes, he’ll be trembling.  Just as I was, as I bicycled through the rows of cornfields, as far as the eye could see, in both directions, into a dark and gloomy thunderstorm cell ahead.  With no shelter in sight, I decide to bicycle in the opposite direction to a gas station 10 miles back in the town of Hoxie, Kansas.  As I ride into the storm, I can make out the water tower, “Hoxie”.  Soon after I can see the gas station in the distance.  I flew into the parking lot, pulled the brakes and my back tire skidded up the driveway, just like when I was a little kid! 

I entered the gas station and was immediately greeted by the cashier, and a gentleman sitting in the corner of the closed restaurant area.  He is staring blankly at a television set, throughly intrigue by the colorful illumination, lighting up the dark and gloomy interior of the gas station.  As the storm grew nearer, it was very clear to me that this was not the average storm.  I go to visit with the gentleman, fixated on the television, to see if there are any tornado warnings in our area.  I walk up to the television, only to see a numerical system, and a ball of red paint splashing on selected numbers.  The guy was playing KENO!  Rats.  I asked him if we can change the channel to see watch the news for warnings.  His response, “Ahhh, it’ll miss us, it always does.”  I didn’t trust him.  For all I knew, he was inside all day playing, because he was winning big, and never looked outside.  I ran outside again to check the status of the storm.  But it only took my anxiety to another level. 

I had no idea what to do.  I scrambled get my phone charger to revive my exhausted phone.  I sat down next to the big winner and found a broken and rusted outlet.  After shimmering my power cord around, to connect the power points, I had power.  As soon as I get enough juice, I went to accuweather.com to the live doppler radar, and ended up wishing I didn’t.  It showed a huge storm cell, displaying all the colors of the rainbow; green, dark green, red, yellow and even a little sprinkle of pink.  I then click the “severe weather warning” flashing at the top of the page, resembling flashing fire engine lights.  It redirected me to a novel, documenting all the of the warnings there were in and around Hoxie, Kansas.  Tornado, flash flood, severe thunderstorms, you name it, it was on there.  The only warning that wasn’t on there was an earthquake warning, which I would have been okay with!

I dart back out of the gas station to see what kind of tools I had in my tool box.  A swiss army knife, an all-in-one bike tool and duct tape.  Rats.  I see my bike lock at the bottom of my box, which was never used prior because the bike never leaves my sight.  (I ride it all day, eat sitting down next to it and even cram it into my tent to sleep with it; when your alone with your bike for so many miles, you tend to develope a unique, sometimes strange, friendship with it).  I ripped of the price tag on my lock ($21.95- Ultra Secure) and locked my bicycle to a rusty pole, holding up the roof of the gas station.  A gust quickly swoop in and blew my bike fell over.  Rats.  I didn’t lock it to the pole correctly.  Before you laugh, that was the first time I had to lock up my bicycle since middle school.  At least if the winds pick up, my bicycle will not fly away to another county.

I ran back into the gas station, this time with all of my luggage that is usually latched to the back of my bike.  While setting my bags down next to the rusty power outlet, I asked the gentleman one more time if he would like to observe the weather channel for updates.  He looked at me with a rather annoyed look on his face and said, “You’re not from around these parts, are ya?  Where are you from?”  I told him I was from California.  He let out a low pitched, repetitive laugh, that sounded like a semi truck, slowing puttering up a steep hill.  “Well, you’re not in California no more!”  I quickly replied, “Isn’t that supposed to be the other way around?”  All I got was a blank stare.  I explained, “You know, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore..”  Still no reaction.  He checked his Keno ticket again and look up at the television screen.  I guess he was playing Keno when that movie came out.

“It’ll miss us, it always does”, he repeated again.  I checked my phone again for updates but my phone was dead.  The power outlet was no longer working.  After a few minutes of wiggling the cord, I stopped in fear of electricuting myself.  I walked back outside to get a glance.  The storm was about 5 miles away.  Rats.  I went back to my seat and put my head down upon my folded arms placed on the table.  I am on the verge of falling asleep, when I was ubruptly shaken out of my pre-sleep phase.  My head pops up from the table and the first thing I notice is the gentleman winning again.  Dang, I need to play some Keno- that was the first thought that went through my head.  The second- OMG look outside!  I was awakened by a ray of sunshine that glanced off of the mirror on the sunglasses stand and onto my arm.  I ran outside only to see what had happened and to my disbelief, the lucky gentleman was right!  The storm did miss us.  I hear my phone turn on, so I immediately go check the doppler radar.  Not only did the storm miss us, it split and went around us.  It was unbelieveable. 

The gentleman was right about two things that day.  One, the storm was going to miss us.  And two, I wasn’t in California anymore.  I wasn’t in the region of the country where you can trust the weatherman’s prediction, consisting of a morning marine layer, which will be burned off by noon time, resulting in an 80 degree day with a costal breeze.  Just like clockword everyday (I often say the easiest job in the world, is being the weatherman for Southern California).  I couldn’t trust weather predicitons going through the Midwest.  That was the day I stopped checking the weather forecast.  I relied on the locals and they have been correct every single day, Mr. Keno being the first.  Now that I look back on it, that gentleman was right about 52 things that day- including the 50 plus Keno games he won.

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Do you believe in magic?

As I climbed up and over the Rocky Mountains, there was one phrase that was constantly repeated in my head.  It was from one of my favorite movies, as a kid, and I’m pretty sure I can still recite the entire movie line for line.  This was the phrase- “I thought the Rocky Mountains were supposed to be a little rockier” (As they drove over the eastern state line of Colorado).  The reason for this was because I didn’t find the Rocky Mountains all to difficult to climb.  In fact, if I had to select the most difficult state thus far, it would be Nevada, hands down.  In Nevada, I bicycled 80 miles a day just to get from town to town.  And within those 80 miles, I had to climb four separate passes, all of which were 3,000 feet of climbing, with very narrow valleys.  It was even tougher mentally when I conquered a pass in Nevada, only to reach the valley floor and be greeted by an equally intimidating summit.

After three weeks of days filled with climbing through California, Nevada and Utah, I finally reached the, last, summit of Loveland Pass, elevation 11,990 feet, The Continental Divide.  The ride down the backside of the Rockies was incredible.  Going down 55mph, turns just wide enough where you didn’t have to brake check, and just sharp enough to make you nervous.  Towards the end of the ride on The Continental Divide, you come around a hill and oversee the entire city of Denver, from about 2,000 above it.  And it was a huge relief when I saw the miles of flatness in the backdrop of the skyline.  I couldn’t tell when the sky started and when the road ended, and it seemed like I would be able to see New York City.

I was meeting my elementary computer teacher in Denver.  She actually lives right around the corner from me in Elk Grove, CA, but she so happened to be visiting her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters at the same time I was arriving.  As I rode closer to their house, I couldn’t help but to recall the early years of my education and the time I spent within my teachers computer class.  Every once in a while, we were allowed to play games on the computer.  My favorite game to play was called “Cross Country USA”.  Now this was back in 1995 and video games were not as sophisticated as they are these days.  In this game, you were a truck driver who had to pick up products and deliver them to various locations throughout the nation.  I joked with my teacher, earlier in the week through email, how I was so entertained by this game, a game where you just clicked the mouse once, then sat and watch the scenery change every 15 minutes.  There was an option to lock the back of your truck, securing your product.  I opted to keep it unlocked, for added excitement and suspense, and every so often the game would tell me my product was stolen.  I would then click the mouse once, turning my truck around, and watching the same scenery changes, every 15 minutes, in reverse order.  I reminded my teacher about this computer game, told her it was my favorite, and how cool it was that I am actually living it right now, except on a bicycle, and now I lock the back of my bike, every time.  

I arrived to their home into open arms.  After a delicious dinner, prepared by my teacher, we watched game 2 of the baseball College World Series, then quickly called it a night.  I woke up the next morning feeling 100 percent, not a sore muscle in my body.  I ate a lovely breakfast, positioned myself on the floor to stretch, and watched the local news.  As I was responding to emails, I hear two sets of little footsteps coming down the stairs, in an irregular pattern, almost as if someone was skipping.  I looked up to see the most adorable little girls, ages 5 and 7.  I immediately put down my phone and tried to impress them, as much as I could, with my three magic tricks.  I made a quarter disappear, then I changed the quarter into a dime, and the grand finale was making the quarter go into my arm (they thought my wrist bone was the quarter).  Even after the jaw dropping finale, they wanted more, but I had nothing.  They then in turn, tried to make the quarter disappear for themselves, by sitting on the quarter.  They didn’t succeed the first few attempts, and quickly started to question my magical authenticity.  I then grabbed the quarter and said that it wasn’t working because they didn’t believe, and they also needed to blow on it.  With a 50th birthday cake strength blow,  they blowed on the quarter while I was holding it, then I placed it down on the ground for them to sit on it.  As they were about to sit down, I quickly palmed the quarter.  They sat down for about 10 seconds, trying with all their strength to make the quarter disappear.  As they stood up, to their disbelief, the quarter had vanished!  They couldn’t believe their eyes, they were magical.  The youngest girl was so shocked, that she walked away.  We asked her where she was going and she said, “I need to go check my britches!” (looking for the quarter). 

After an hour of playing freeze tag in the backyard, we sat down for lunch.  My teacher requested a soda to accompany her lunch, as did the youngest girl.  Her mother quickly denied her daughter’s request and said that they were only for adults.  She was a bit upset, so I told her that soda stops the magic, and that’s why grown ups don’t believe in magic.  Her outlook quickly changed, and she was completely content with her apple juice (and the continuation of her magical powers).

Not only did this event make my teacher’s granddaughters believe in magic, but it made me believe again.  It completely changed the perspective I previously had on the word “magic”.  Magic, in its rawest form, is making someone believe, that no matter the circumstances or how impossible it may appear, that anything is possible.  It’s not about making an elephant disappear or sawing girl in half.  For magic is not an act, but the emotions and hope it produces.  All it is, is positivity to the fullest, showing people that if you strongly believe in something, it will come true (pulling the quarter out from underneath someone).  Do you believe in magic?  More importantly, do you make people around you believe in magic?

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The Strongest Woman in Utah!

I walked over from my six-dollar campsite to the Subway a quarter-mile down the road in Salina, Utah, to charge my Blackberry and grab a quick bite to eat (the new Orchard Chicken Salad is my favorite, with ALL the fixings).  I ask where the most accessible power outlet was and the young lady working the sandwich line pointed over to a dark corner of the restaurant, next to a door marked ‘private’ that was making very mysterious noises.  As I neared the corner, the scene began to slowly reveal itself.  I see a small table with a book and paper scattered across it, four chairs, one seemingly occupied.  There was, in fact, a large, intimidating figure in the fourth chair.  I first noticed her large hands, strangling her textbook.  Then I saw her inch long pigtails, confirming my assumption that she was a woman.  She was buried deep within her studies, paying no attention to me.  I plugged my phone into the wall, filled up my water bottle and sat down ten yards away from her, just out of arms reach, but still close enough to keep a good watch over my phone, my only connection to the world.  

I flinched a little bit, as she raised her nose out of her book to size me up through her thick, black framed glasses.  She looked me up and down starting with my sock tan line, and ending with my helmet hair.  “Who are you?” she said with friendly smile, with an upper lip that kept her teeth exposed at all times.  “I’m Teddy, how are you?”, “I’m doing good!”.  Immediately, I can sense her positive energy, which is unbelievably refreshing.  “What are you studying?”, I say with much intrigue.  “Anatomy”, “What chapter are you on?”, she replies sarcastically, yet with an endearing tone, “Chapter 6!”.  I laughed, understanding that I had that one coming.  “I meant what topic of Anatomy are you studying?”, “I don’t know, bones and things”.  I asked her where she went to school, she answered with Snow College and she then asked, “What are you doing in my town?”.  I laughed again, she certainly did have a sense of humor.  “Your town?  I’m just bicycling through.  I am going 11,000 miles around our nation for childhood obesity”.  She replied with wide open eyes, shocked by my response.  “Oh you’re a bike rider??  Your legs look too small for you to be a bike rider!”.  Once again, I laughed.  She followed up with, “My legs are stronger than yours.  Don’t you know who I am?”, “No, sorry, I’m not from around here”.  If you gave me a million guesses, I wouldn’t have guessed what she said next.  So to my surprise, she quickly responded, “I’m The Strongest Woman in Utah!”  I was impressed, especially after googling her name to verify.

After finding out that we both shared a passion for philosophy books, we began to gear towards a very deep and insightful conversation.  She told me about a head injury she had when she was 19 years old, leaving her without any memory of her childhood, and how it left her to rediscover every wonder in life.  She observed a certain time in her life, after her divorce, where she had to find herself again.  She did so through religion, reading The Bible cover to cover, ‘searching for the truth’, in her words.  I curiously asked, “What is the truth in life?”,   “Well”, she said while pondering at the same time, “Life is like..” she paused, I quickly interjected to get in my share of quips, “like a box of chocolates!?”  I sat there with an open mouth and my hands flared out, waiting for a hearty, country laugh.  It didn’t come.  Yes, it was a cheesy joke, but I thought it was still funny.  She finally got the joke and let out a hearty, country laugh.  After slapping her knee for hours (okay, I’m exaggerating that part), she said, “You know what, the truth in life is experiencing life”, then in a Forrest Gump accent, “that’s all I got to say about that”, returning the joke.  She continued, “Look at Forrest Gump, he was a do-er, doing everything he wanted to do.  He didn’t sit around and talk about what he was going to do, he did it”.  It’s true, he was a do-er.  Then out of nowhere, she says with confidence, “I’ll challenge you in an arm wrestling match!”.

I met The Strongest Woman in Utah the same day I posted the question of the day on my Facebook profile, about the three brothers.  And it couldn’t have happened at a more fitting time.  For those who were not able to read the question of the day, here it is one more time.  “Three brothers live next to each other, on Main Street, in different houses.  One brother decides to move to First Street.  How many brothers now live on Main Street?”  I got a wide variety of responses, some of which I had never thought of.  Some answered the question as though it was straight forward, some as if it was a trick.  It was a little bit of both.  So here is the answer.  The answer is all three brothers still live on Main Street.  Just because one brother decided to move, doesn’t mean he executed that decision.

I haven’t accomplished much in my lifetime just yet, but I have stumbled across the secret for success.  There are three simple steps to success.  1. Decide to be successful – the conscious decision to reach certain goals, as defined by that individual.  2. Make a plan to become successful – a tangible plan involving research and data outlining, step by step, how to accomplish said goals.  3. EXECUTE that plan.

Many people say they want to do a lot of things.  Few people devise a plan to do those things.  Even fewer people execute that plan.  The third and final stage is the most important, yet most overlooked, step in the formula for success.  I’ll say it again, just because you decide to do something, that doesn’t mean you’ve done it.

I decided to test the strength of The Strongest Woman in Utah, accepting her challenge.  I executed that decision.  She then executed some sort of Eastern European move on my right arm, defeating me with out challenge.  I fought the urge to cry, gathered up my courage and responded with, “I’m a cyclist”, her reply, “Your legs are still too small for you to be a bike rider!”

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The Loneliest Highway in America

There is a stretch of Highway 50 in Nevada, between the towns of Fallon and Ely, which is referred to as “The Loneliest Highway in America”. I have now bicycled 200 miles down this road and I can say, without hesitation, that I can not agree with that humorous title. Even though there is not a gas station, restaurant, building nor structure, of any sort, within the 80 mile stretches between every town, there was much to witness at the mercy of Nevada’s high desert.

I was going 50 mph down the backside of yet another conquered mountain range, when a sudden wind gust blew with incredible strength from behind me. It jerked me forward with it’s force and then all went still. At that moment in time, I was riding as fast as the wind. I did not feel any wind resistance of any force, in any direction. This lasted for about ten seconds, and within that time, I heard it. I heard the sound of the middle of nowhere, Nevada. I heard nothingness. Not a bird chirping, a car driving within miles, the wind blowing nor a cricket cricketing.

Within this euphoric silence, I remembered that it was called “The Loneliest Highway in America”, let out a gentle laugh and wondered who coined this title. Then I recalled a story my father had told me when I was a young kid, at a time when I was not appreciative of what and who was in my life. I was walking around the house with a frown on my face, while still displaying my disapproval and anger, when my father asked me what was the matter. I told him that I was upset because my friend had a Gameboy and I didn’t. And I can remember word for word what his response was. He said, “Son, you will be miserable for the rest of your life if you concentrate on the things you do not have, instead of the things you do. You have a family that loves you no matter what, you have a home and you never have to worry about where you will be sleeping tonight or if its going to be on an empty stomach. There are children around the world that do not have these luxuries, and the last thing on there mind is a Gameboy. Life is perspective.”

I didn’t really understand what that meant, ‘Life is perspective’. He further continued with a story outlining perspective, which I do not remember word for word due to the short attention span of a seven year old. But I recall the gist of the story and I can improvise what was lost in memory. It went a little something like this…

Bob was injured in a car accident and was severely injured. He had broken both of his legs, cracked a few ribs and was confined to his bed. He was moved to a room with another gentleman whom had a terminal illness. This man’s name was Arthur and although he had months to live, he found joy in every moment of life. Because Arthur had little time to live, he was given the window bed in the room, and Bob was not happy about this. Bob was a bitter man and was extremely upset with his situation. He went on and on talking about how the driver involved in his accident was at fault and a horrible driver, not exactly in those words. During one of his many rants, Arthur politely interrupted Bob to share the news of a marvelous event unfolding outside his window. Arthur had announced that there was a parade going down the main street of their town. Within seconds, Bob’s disgruntled look turned into a innocent face of intrigue, best described as that of a child’s first visit to Disneyland.

Arthur detailed every specific of the parade, describing every single instrument in the marching band, the colors of all the balloons, the look on all of the faces of the astonished kids, even giving a turn by turn commentary of the movement of the parade. He painted the full picture of the scene, that way Bob could imagine what was happening outside his window, since he was not able to walk over to witness it for himself. Bob was thrilled with the way Arthur left no detail unmentioned. Bob was able to close his eyes and see exactly what was taking place outside Arthur’s window. Arthur sadly announced the conclusion of the parade and said that was one of the most beautiful parades he has ever witnessed. They both said goodnight to each other and Arthur quickly fell asleep.

Bob, however, did not go to sleep so swiftly. He was not able to go to sleep because he was still thinking about the parade. The magic had worn off and now he was upset that he didn’t witness the parade with his own eyes. He thought of how unfair it was that Arthur had the window bed, not even considering his condition. That night he wished that Arthur would leave, move to another room, therefore he would be able to take his place next to the window. With a frown on his face, Bob finally fell asleep.

Bob was awakened the next morning with a loud commotion surrounding Arthur’s bed. The nurses and doctors did all they could to save Arthur, but were unsuccessful. Bob was shocked, but yet being the selfish man he was, he couldn’t help but to think if he would now be able to move to the window. At the best time possible, considering the devastating events of that morning, Bob asked the doctor if he could move to the window bed. With a unpleasant look on his face, the doctor said he would have someone in here to move his bed. Bob was delighted, and could not wait to see the amazing scenery Arthur had so carefully described.

A few nurse came into his room to move his Bob’s bed. With quick orders, Bob hurried the nurses to complete the task at hand. The nurses first moved Arthur’s old bed out of the room and then focused on maneuvering Bob’s bed against the window. With his smile growing bigger as he neared, his bed finally came to rest alongside the blue curtained window. Using all of his strength, and every muscle in his body, he lifted his head for the first time in weeks. As he raised his head, the window sill became closer, and the view more plausible. He had a mental image of what the view should look like, based on Arthur’s descriptions, and it was about to become his reality. His eyes peered over the sill, and the picture was unveiled. Only it was not the one that Arthur had described to him is such detail. All that Bob was able to see, was the brick wall to the next building.

It must have been Bob that coined the title, “The Loneliest Highway in America”. For I have encountered incredible adventures, witnessed natural miracles and have met amazing people along this stretch of highway. But most of all I have found peace within myself. I have had the time to appreciate all of the irreplaceable people, family and friends in my life, whom have shaped my character, instilling a desire and drive to make a difference. So while Bob calls it, “The Loneliest Highway in America”, I like to refer to it as, “The Peacefulest Highway in America.” (And yes, I made up the word peacefulest, it works, depending on your perspective!)

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