Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thursday Montebello

A small pile of spin clothes. Next to that, a larger pile of street clothes. Time to get going.

I look at the piles and abandon the plan. Open the garage and pull out the Seven (new chain) instead. Head out to the base of Montebello.

Just can't handle the gym lately. Lots of changes, most of them not healthy for Route 66, a journey. TRX and Spinning schedules, all over the place. Shades of what happened with my job

New people, too. A spin instructor, a non-cyclist. With her pack of devotees and a style that both grates and makes the red EGO light go on. Went to that class exactly once.

This is the hard core class someone warned me. No breaks the teacher agreed. There was a pause as they looked over at me.

I think I'll survive is what came out of my mouth.

This little drama sinks back down where it belongs, on the valley floor. In the whiplash confusion of schedules and agendas, we can still choose the company we keep.

While climbing the mountain, my brain plays back a question I heard over and over in Las Vegas. People are surprised, when they learn you've had a brain injury, to see a pretty darned functional person with a positive outlook. What's the gift? they ask. Your brain injury, how is it a gift?

There are lots of ways. But the gift du jour is clearly, minding who gets to be around you. Anyone who is working to reinvent and rebuild a life, looking for the not-so-obvious gifts, we all have something in common.

We have to ask, who do I spend time with? And who gets to spend time with me?

Before the accident, I hung out with a default set of people based on proximity and shared activities. Coworkers, extended family, activity partners. Most of us are casual about who we let in our social circles. I liked being casual about it.

After the accident I had to think about this very carefully. And still, it's a process. What I can say is, if you want to test your social network, really measure what you have, may I suggest something fundamental and challenging and invisible. A minor traumatic brain injury, for example.

No real treatment, that's a plus. When I don't need what people offer, haven't asked for anything but patience and understanding and empathy, the reactions are telling. Denial, discounting, anger, blaming, silence. Wow. Revealing truths about someone's character that under regular circumstances would never see the light of day.

You get to see the people in your life with the same clear lens as the people who run your gym, yet rarely seem focused on your health.

So, you wonder, what's good about that?

Well, their gift to me is the truth. And the idea that maybe, something better can be built.


  1. I feel extremely fortunate to have you in my life. That was quite a successful problem solving and bit of luck for your trip home from Sonoma, wow! Thursday, I was running and hiking at Rancho San Antonio, trying to regain fitness left behind over the past couple of years, only a few ridges over from your ride, probably a little later in the day. Thinking of you and admiring you every day. Hugs!

  2. Thanks Mary! The massive bruises on my calves from the pedals are almost healed, too!

    Congratulations on taking care of yourself...

  3. "the hard core class" - to someone who rides thousands of km. For fun. *snorts* I credit you for not laughing!
    Montebello sounds like much more fun.
    I'm glad to know you, too. Sure, online, but still. Not only do you have the positive outlook, you share it. You blog, you attend conferences, you share research and ideas. You inspire.

  4. Have you noticed that fence post has an anguished-looking face on it?