Women, Bikes, and Wine

I love cycling and I love female empowerment. Marry the two and you have a super excited Alex. 

I got the idea for a women's workshop when I helped with another maintenance workshop with my male boss. I noticed that some of the women in the room were quiet and I sensed that they were agreeing to knowing more than they really did. It made me want to offer a workshop for just women, in a safe setting, taught by a fellow woman who could present the information in a non-intimidating way. 

What resulted was my Ladies Only Bike Maintenance and Safety Workshop. When I made the flier and posted it on our P&T Fitness Facebook page it got a ton of response. In the three weeks it was posted, it got shared 45-50 times and was seen by 4,500 to 5,000 people. I had 19 people sign-up to come to it. The women of Jackson had spoken; they wanted to know more about bikes. Being the only female working in a bike shop in the whole town it was great to know that there were other women out there at least interested in getting more comfortable with the mechanics of their bike and how everything works. 

Now, this started from a feminist point-of-view. I wanted women who usually say, "when I need my seat raised I ask my husband", to be able to raise that seat themselves. I don't have a husband, so I do things myself. I wanted to empower women to be able to do things on their own too. 

When the time came to have the workshop I set up the refreshments and snacks; a cheese and cracker tray, lemonaid, water, and of course WINE! Hey gotta give the ladies what they like, right? I gave each person a booklet of safety information as well as a diagram of the components of a bike. I started out by sharing by background, my street cred to be talking about this subject, my potential shortfalls/limitations, and how I wanted to help empower them to understand bikes better. 

I went through cleaning of your bike, components and how they work, how to ride safely including accessories needed, and finished with the crown jewel, changing a bike tire. I ran low on time, so my bike changing demo was rushed. I wanted it to be a bit more interactive rather they lecture-y, but my 90 minutes flew by. 

It flew by, because in between topics the women were able to talk about their own biking experience and learn from one another, in addition to me. I liked this the most. The atmosphere seemed to be a round table of women talking to women and the company was great. I could really sense the appreciation that we were all women, together and safe, and we could say what we wanted without sounding dumb. I told many embarrassing stories about how I did something wrong with a bike, and learned, and didn't want the others to make the same mistakes. I had hoped to sound relate-able  and hoped maybe I'd mentioned some silly thoughts that had crossed their minds too. 

The ladies were very thankful and smiley when they said goodbye. It filled me with joy to have my goal met; empower more women to understand something that they thought maybe was beyond them. Giving them the attitude that they can try something that they couldn't before. Before, some of them were just riding their bikes, now they understand what is actually going on with their components. I am fairly sure I was speaking to a mixed audience when it came to levels of knowledge, but they all agreed to come to a "beginner" class. I could sense that even the women who already knew the information I was presenting enjoyed having that knowledge reinforced and just enjoyed talking about bikes period. 

Maybe it's the love of women, or maybe it's the leftover WINE that I'm celebrating with, but I'm on Cloud Nine tonight. I got to educate, I got to empower, and I got help people be more active, not sure what more I needed to make me happy. 

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In Life List Travel

Life List # 86: Go to Savannah, Georgia

When I first started working for Girl Scouts, I began learning about its founder Juliette Gordon Low. Being from Savannah, Juliette's historic home had become a museum. Known as the birthplace, this is a place that Girl Scouts from all over the world like visiting, to see where the original Girl Scout herself, once lived. 

This was one of the main things that led me to adding this item to my life list. The second thing that called me to Savannah was the Spanish moss hanging from the oaks.

I got to experience both of these things on this trip. 

A couple things I learned at the Juliette Gordon Low house:
1. Juliette (Daisy) had an unhappy marriage to William Low, and they never had children. But, when her husband died when Daisy was just 45 she was searching for purpose in her life. This led her to the founding of the Girl Scouts. Had she been a wife longer and a mother, she may not have had the time and drive to create something that would effect girls and women for 100 + years.

2. In 1953 Daisy's home was saved from the threat of destruction when it was purchased by Girl Scouts of the USA. True to Girl Scout ways there was massive fundraising to restore the house. Now it is said that the house is owned by all Girl Scouts everywhere.

When I first got a glimpse of Spanish moss while driving into Savannah,  I started to get that excited feeling when you start to see the tops of roller coasters in the distance when driving into an amusement park. Once I parked my car, the very first place I walked was to Forsyth Park, just two short blocks from my hostel. It's a beautiful and bustling 30-acre park which acts as one of the most beautiful backdrops for Savannah photos. Dozens of oaks hold seemingly perfectly placed Spanish moss draped from its branches. It was every bit as lovely as I hoped it would be. I spent as much time as I could in that park admiring and sitting below the trees.

I also visited Wormsloe Historic Site, where I got to travel down a long drive covered in a canopy of hanging oaks.

My final destination was Bonaventure Cemetery where I had a wonderful time walking the historic grounds, observing the beautiful monuments and graves of people long since past. There was plenty to photograph there and the calm and serene atmosphere soothed me.

Check out my YouTube channel to see videos of my trip! 

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In Self Reflections and Refinements

Journals Revisited

One of the more consistent habits of my life is keeping a hand written journal. I couldn't stop now if I tried. For 15 solid years I have filled books with my frustrations, my annoyances, my hopes, joys, sadness, and inner most feelings. I've filled 35 unique books with the story me, and the script keeps on being added to. 

I keep all my journals in a plastic tote in my basement. A very heavy piece of my life that would be a high priority to save in a fire. I've gone back and read about different parts of my life by picking out a specific book before, however now I'm starting the project of reading them all. 

I don't believe I've ever written my journal with the priority of documenting my life for memory's sake. I journal because it's therapy. With thoughts, feelings, and experiences bouncing around in chaos in my head, they seem to drive my a little nuts from time to time. But in writing them down they become more clear and I'm able to quiet my mind from all the thoughts that build up. What's left as a byproduct of this therapy is documentation of time when I was upset, happy, hopeful, hopeless, and all those times I wouldn't get around to remembering. 

Going back to the journals of my late teens and early twenties is a bit of an embarrassing experience for me. If 31-year-old Alex met 17-year-old Alex, she might give her a good slap across the face for some of the things she thought about relationships. It's refreshing to know I don't believe some of the same things anymore that I did then, but it's a bit hard to believe some of the ways I felt then. 

I always say "you never know how you are going to feel tomorrow" so I can't fault myself for feeling the way I did in the past. This experience is showing me that there are many things about me that are very different, and for that I am thankful. But, interestingly enough I'm finding so many things to be the same. Documenting things from that far back shows me a foundation for what I am now. Some things make a lot of sense now. 

One thing I will never fault myself for are the countless entries about me and my friends having good fun. Some of my earliest entries are filled with stories of nights going to movies, playing games at someone's house, and me being fully aware that I was a young woman appreciating a carefree life of living in the moment. 

Sunday, November, 23rd, 2003 (Age 17)
Last night was so amazing. Just like Friday, except maybe better. The first hockey game was a blast. I totally let go and screamed my lungs out for the team. I made a sign for my friend L.T. After the hockey game all of us went to Kahley's for a little bit and ate. After that we played this really fun game that the boys made up. It was hide-n-seek in cars in the dark. We went to this neighborhood by Allie's house and played. It was so much fun and very funny. Our team; Matt, Colby, Kahley, and I were really bad! LOL. But after about two hours of that we all went to Rock-n-Bowl from midnight to two a.m. We had fun there too. After that we were all burned out, but it was such an awesome weekend with so much fun. 

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In Year of 30-day challenges

30 Days of Women's History

For this month's 30-day challenge instead of giving something up, I'm adding something to my daily life. In a flash of inspiration I decided I wanted to research one new woman from history each day. It began on the night of March 1st, when I watched a documentary called Brave Miss World.  Former Miss Israel and Miss World, Linor Abargil became my first women researched. 

I've created an icon on my phone's home screen to a page listing dozens of women with amazing stories throughout history. Each morning, shortly after waking up, I choose a women I don't know much about and read a short bio on her. 

After five days, here are the women I've learned more about:

1. Linor Abargil- Former Miss World who survived a brutal rape and turned to public speaking on the issue. 

2. Sappho- archaic Greek poet, known as one of the first female writers. 

3. Boudica- Leader of ancient Britons who helped lead rebellions against Roman rule. 

4. Mirabai- 16th century Hindu poet and devotee to Sri Krishna. 

5. Margaret Fuller- 19th century journalist and women's rights activist. 

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In Year of 30-day challenges

30 Day Challenge: No Lying

For this 30 day challenge, I am going to channel my inner Honest Abe. For 30 days I am going to be conscious not to tell any lies. Am I some kind of pathological liar? Of course not. Few of us are, but, what most of us are guilty of are the little white lies we tell everyday for various reasons.

  • Self-centered (lying for one's personal benefit) 
  • Other-centered (lying for someone else's benefit)
  • Prosocial lying (lying to look better in the eyes of others)
More specifically:

  1. Not admitting we don't know something, to appear smarter
  2. Being embarrassed about something we've done or haven't done
  3. Not wanting to hurt someones' feelings with our opinion
  4. Wanting to appear stronger, faster, more capable than we might really be

Why I want to do this challenge:
I want to overcome these reasons. We want to be liked, be accepted by a group, and be looked at in the best possible light. But, we are human, we make mistakes, we should own them, and we are not perfect. Lets stop trying to pretend to be.

This challenge will mostly consist of being conscious of when I might want to fib or bend the truth. If I feel that coming on, I want to fight it and tell the truth no matter what the consequences will be. In truth, the consequences will likely be nothing, showing me that we don't have to be afraid to just be honest.

Being honest all the time is about confidence in who you are. If you accept yourself, your decisions,  and your actions, you will less likely have the need for others to accept them.

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