Final Days – “My Wish” Rascal Flatts

I have now been home for a few days, and have thought often about finishing this last post.  But each time I began, I just could not bring myself to finish it… almost as if by completing the blog post, my journey would truly be over.   Here are my thoughts on the final day and re-entry into my real life.

Our last evening as a group was a celebratory dinner after our ride into St. Augustine.  The excitement of the day still hummed about the room, the chatter and laughter rang through the restaurant.  We had spent 60 days together, yet there was still so much to talk and laugh about.   We sat at small tables and enjoyed the company.   There were speeches and toasts, and laughter.   And there were gifts for the dish washing crew!

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After dinner, I headed out to meet with my incredible welcoming committee!  I am still basking in the warmth of their love and support!  My routine over the last 60 days has pretty much been the same, it was predictable, simple and mindless.   Here I was trying to stay awake after 9 pm and have a couple of drinks.. I did not last until 11! a few pics – not all of my crew!

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Early Friday morning, I looked out the window and was greeted by a sensational downpour.   I was so thankful that I did not have to put on my bike clothes and ride out into it – it proved to be quite a storm.   I did have to go out – but for a different task.  The handover of Sweet Ruby to Carol for a ride to the bike shop for packing and transport home.   There were 13 bikes that were to be shipped home, and about a dozen riders hitching a ride to the airport.   The area in front of  lobby was busy and unfortunately for anyone trying to sleep – was a bit noisy.

image image image imageMy emotions on Thursday were pure joy and happiness, surprisingly I was not as weepy as I thought I would be.   I could not say the same for Friday.   Watching each bike get loaded onto the van symbolized the end of the ride for each of us.   People were saying their good byes and heading back to their lives.   I admit it, I was teary.  I am sure that I will see some of these women again, and with the likes of social media will be able to easily stay in touch.   A diverse group of 30 women – different backgrounds, ages, skill level, personalities all together for one purpose, to bicycle across the Southern Tier of the US.   This was the glue that held the group together – the common enjoyment of riding a bike.  Each with the determination to climb out of bed everyday and tackle the route.   Overcoming weather, fatigue, boredom, bad roads, illness and mechanical issues- each participant rode their ride, and created their own journey.   There were 7 that completed every last mile, there were others that were short one day of riding, others that completed the amount of miles that they wanted to or could do.  Whether 1000 miles completed or 3000+ no one pedaled it for you.  You had to do it all. Congratulations to each of them.

Beyond the riding, there were lessons to be learned about self, life and coexistence.   For me this trip reinforced many things about myself that I already knew.  And not all good 🙂  .    I still have so much to learn, and to do and to be.   With a bit more insight into those traits that make me strong, and an acknowledgement of those things that hamper me I can continue to move forward and enjoy and contribute meaningfully to life – both mine and others.  I thank those women who helped me during the trip – your kind words, encouragement, support and cheers made a tremendous difference to me.   I have spoken of my cycling buddy Tanya in the past and am so thankful that we  were able to ride together for many days.  We laughed, we chatted, we cried, we swore, and we pedaled and rode often for miles and miles without a word.  I believe I have made a friend for life.   Nancy and Carolyn, our SAG drivers shared their cycling experience with us (Carolyn is the fastest tire changer in the land – she could compete against any NASCAR pit crew…), their kindness and their compassion.   Nancy drew the short straw on several occasions and had SAG duty on a few of my most difficult days.  She witnessed the unraveling of Karen Coffey, and yet never once made me feel bad  or diminished.  I am ever grateful.  Carol had the task of herding cats everyday, and she did it with experience, precision and a sense of humor.  Truly a great person. Thank you, Carol.   So many of the others in the group impacted me daily – thank you.

I cannot thank all of you enough — your support, encouragement and love have been incredible.   Know that each comment, text, post, card, and phone call were heard, read and cherished.   There were days that I was unsure if I could go on, there were days that I was unsure if I could get on Ruby, there were days that were mind numbingly boring, there were days that I missed home – my son, my family, my friends, my colleagues, my bed, my routine.   Your words, your cheers got me through each of those moments.   And for the days that I enjoyed, the days that the sun shone brightly, the wildflowers lined my road, the days that I prevailed agains the climb or the wind, the days that I laughed and made new friends – those were the days that I brought all of you along with me to enjoy the ride.  To my send off in San Diego, to Arizona, Texas and Florida – you have come out in droves to offer support.  Hugs from my neighbors (once a neighbor, always a  neighbor…), friends and family made all the difference.  I appreciate your taking time out of your lives to fly, drive and hang out with me.   Genuinely amazed and overwhelmed by all of it!

The gifts of my supportive village did not end there – your generosity and commitment to my charity partner, Make-A-Wish NH was astounding.  As of today we are only a few hundred dollars shy of $18,000.   WOW!   I would like to acknowledge Donna Parker, and the hard working folks at Make-A-Wish for their tireless efforts of granting wishes of children!   The joy, happiness and memories created are priceless – and live on forever.   Thank you, Donna and team.       My heart is also full of love and gratitude for those who have shared their Make-A-Wish experiences with me over the last few months.   When I chose Make-A-Wish it was from watching a friend and her family go through the experience – but what I found was that Make-A-Wish has touched so many lives around me – those that I knew, and those that I have met along the way. For those of you that opened your wallet – I appreciate your sharing your hard earned dollars with Make-A-Wish. There are so many competing needs both personally and charitably that I appreciate your choice and support.

Please know that your donations will go toward the funding of two wishes for deserving wish kids and their families.   Feels good?  Absolutely.

I would also like to acknowledge my employer, W.Capra Consulting Group – Chicago for agreeing to my request for a sabbatical, providing me the time and distance to separate myself from work, and for those colleagues who had to pick up my slack.    I am fortunate to be part of a great organization that values their people, makes work challenging but fun and well, likes beer.  Thanks to Doug, Pat, Terry, Mike….. and my most favorite -Tim, and the entire W.Capra team.

Well, I could go on – but I do need to get to work…but I would like to leave you with this… I am not any different than any of you.  I am your neighbor, your classmate, your colleague,  your friend.   I am  not any stronger or smarter than any of you.   To me, the most important act that you can grant to yourself, is to give yourself permission to think big.  Remove the negativity, remove the excuses, remove the I can’ts – and work on the list of how could I do that?   What would I want ?  How do I get there?     It may take time – years perhaps (my trip was planned for 582 days ), it may take money, ( I saved, scrimped, and made changes to my lifestyle), it may take effort (physical training, education, learning), it may take belief (yours and those around you… and if those around you don’t believe…. keep looking.. there are those will be supportive) and it may take guts.      But each one of  you possess the ability to think big, plan and do.

 

Until we meet again,

Karen

 

RASCAL FLATTS LYRICS

“My Wish”

I hope that the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road leads you where you want to go,
And if you’re faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin’ till you find the window,
If it’s cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile,But more than anything, more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.I hope you never look back, but ya never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you left,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God’s grace, in every mistake,
And you always give more than you take.But more than anything, yeah, and more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.This is my wish
I hope you know somebody loves you
May all your dreams stay big
E

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Final Days – “My Wish” Rascal Flatts

  1. Dear Karen– Your last comments so touched me because they are so true that I copied and pasted the last paragraph to the Southern Tier 13 riders. They are so perfect and so true. Barbara Kautz, ST 2013.

  2. Karen, I have to say it again….you are truly an inspiration and wonder woman.
    A happy, happy Birthday to you today. Your Birthday is the same day as my new Son-in law’s Birthday, how funny.
    Thought of you often in these last 60 days and I can see your mom smiling, laughing and shaking her head just totally amazed of what you have accomplished.
    Take care and keep in touch.
    XOXO
    Helga

  3. So once again you leave me in tears. You are not only inspirational as a person but as a writer. Just when I think you can’t amaze me any more..you do! Happy Birthday once again and thanks for all that you have not only done for Make a Wish but to inspire all of us. 🙂

  4. Very inspiring! Wow. I’ve reflagged your post on my blog (energizeperformance.com) as a tribute to your inspiration.
    I want to buy you lunch soon. Can you bike over here? 😉

  5. What an inspiring post! Thank you for sharing about your experience so beautifully, authentically, and truly from your heart! I feel moved and inspired.
    I love the poem too at the end.

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