Day 5, and finale of leg 1, 2012-2013 winter motorcycle adventure

We were awake and on the hotel shuttle well before sunrise this morning to catch Delta’s 7 a.m. flight back to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Good-bye 90 degrees, hello . . . oh! Sunny and 50 degrees was a kind transition back to the real world! Thank you, Mother Nature!

Sorry to have left 90 degrees back in Arizona

My sweetheart (SH) was off and running to work and I sat down at my computer to check flights for the next leg of our winter motorcycle adventure in a couple of months. The plan is that every 6 to 8 weeks throughout the winter we will fly to the city where our bikes are stored and ride over a long weekend to another warm city, gradually bringing the bikes back to Minnesota by the end of April or early May, weather being the key determining factor to the timeline and route. I am SO excited to explore some more beautiful new (to me!) territory in this great country!

I want to take a moment to express my gratitude for my partner in adventure and life. SH and I partner so well on the planning and the execution of our adventures. We collaborate on ideas for where, when and how to travel; he does most of the route planning and hotel booking, I usually book the flights, if they are part of the itinerary. We get feedback from each other before making final arrangements.

We are also very compatible travel companions; we’ve often traveled up to 10 days together, 24/7, with barely a sharp word between us.  I really think the principles in my October 17 post, One must be great before Two can be better, provide the basis for our easygoing interaction with each other. And we have both “been around the block” a few times, and have sincerely and authentically applied our learnings to our personal growth and to our selection of a partner. AND, quite frankly, we are past the point in life when we let so many stressors impact our relationship – kids, finances, career demands, competing values, interests and ideas. I think we both gave up the overpowering need to be RIGHT a long time ago, too! Even though life can be crazy, and we still have stressors (granted, being awake with a teething baby all night is not one of them!) we make time with each other a priority.

Another great adventure! Here, I’m with one of my sisters in the Bahamas a couple of years ago.

I am also grateful for the other great travel companions in my life — I’ve had really fun times with sisters, brothers and girlfriends. I’m entertaining a few ideas for adventures with them in the coming year as well. In fact, I’m thinking of creating some Tomboy Sisterhood adventure travel events for like-minded women!

  • Do you have any great travel companions? If so, where have you gone and what have you done on those trips? 
  • What hasn’t worked well, when traveling with them?
  • Where would you like to go in the future with a girlfriend or group of friends? 

I’m off to dream about fun and adventure! You?

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 4, leg 1, 2012-2013 winter motorcycle adventure

One of the really cool things about riding a motorcycle on the back roads of America is seeing the awesome landscapes of this beautiful country. Another cool thing is that the flow of my thoughts are often as much of a rush as the wind on my face! One of those thoughts today was about why I enjoy riding. Learning to ride and continuing to develop my riding skills keeps me pushing against the edges of my comfort zone.

The benefits of expanding my comfort zone related to motorcycling shows up in other areas of my life. The confidence, excitement and competencies I’ve gained spill over to my career, relationships and other activities I attempt and ultimately master. Even the set-backs are learning experiences that help me grow. I like being a little bit of a pioneer, carving out my unique personality, accomplishments and contribution to this world. My grandmother and Georgia O’Keeffe are just two of the many women who I admire for their modeling of the “can-do, even if many others wouldn’t attempt this” attitude I aspire to.

My sweetheart (SH) and I started today with a quick breakfast at the hotel in Lake Havasu City, before rolling down the highway in bright sunshine and crisp air at 59 degrees. We stopped in for coffee at the Early Bird Cafe in Parker, AZ. The landscape in this area is other-worldly, with very sharp mountains (hence the nearby city named Needles, CA) and desolate desert flat land leading right up to the peaks. The region has it’s own lonely sort of beauty, but I can’t imagine living in one of the sun-bleached trailers that are so common along the highway, with nothing but brown sand and a few cactus breaking the monotony of the geography.

We had lunch at the Gold Nugget in Wickenburg, AZ, which is a cute, busy town with lots of restaurants and shops. Couldn’t resist having a mocha for dessert at the Bedoian’s Bakery & Bistro while we checked emails and reviewed the map for the final stretch of our journey. The landscape in this area has a little more vegetation and even some farmland, including an orchard we saw along the highway.

We hit Phoenix / Tempe about 2:30, dropped off our bags at the Best Western and headed over to Public Storage where SH had arranged for storage of our bikes until Leg 2 of our winter adventure. Our route today included: 95 South to 72 East to 60 East and 74 East, which were all secondary highways before hitting freeways for the last several miles –  17 South, then East on I-10. Lots of sun and the temp broke 90 degrees again today.

Back to Minnesota tomorrow!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 3, Leg 1, winter 2012-2013 motorcycle adventure

Another great day of adventure, although it’s hard to remember this is the first leg of a winter adventure, given the temps we’ve been enjoying in California and Arizona! My sweetheart (SH) and I stopped at our favorite Starbucks in Redondo Beach for a latte, and then I had my favorite huevos quesadilla (with corn tortillas substituted for flour to convert to gluten-free) at one of our “usual” spots when we go to visit Uncle Walter — Redondo Beach Cafe. We got a bit of a late start, due to some challenges filling tires with air and the tanks with gas, but nevertheless, we headed east on the 91 freeway at about 9:50 a.m., enjoying the 73 degree temperature.

Our path included: 60 east to I-10 to 62 North, lunch in 29 Palms, CA. Then Adobe Road north to Route 66 to Needles, then I-10 to AZ 95 South to Lake Havasu City. Love the history of old Route 66, and it’s a little sad to see all the abandoned businesses and towns along that route. This is truly desert country!

The temperature got to 92 degrees at one point (hot for us, cooler for the locals!) I had a reunion with my cousin Dave, whom I haven’t seen in – I’m guessing – 30 years, at dinner in Lake Havasu City.

We put about 340 miles today – between the heat and the distance, I’m tired, but it’s a satisfied tired! I’m reflecting on the desolation of the desert landscape, wondering about who lives in the middle of nowhere in this at-times inhospitable climate and environment, and why they are here. How do they make their living? What are the relationships between far-flung neighbors? I saw one sign that said “Next services 90 miles.” WOW, that is remote, even for this North Dakota-born girl!

Until tomorrow,

Tomboy Tam

Day 2, Leg 1, Winter 2012-2012 motorcycle adventure

A truly beautiful day in LA – from an delightful morning with the beautiful daughter of dear friends at the Coffee Bean on Figueroa and Exposition to an inspiring afternoon at Uncle Walter’s 103rd birthday party in Torrance to a sunset ride and walk with my sweetheart in Palos Verdes and Redondo Beach. Oh, and the weather was great too!

I have a lot to be grateful for!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 1, leg 1 of our winter 2012-2013 Motorcycle Adventure

Exactly two years ago this month I passed the exam on a Suzuki 250 to get my first-ever motorcycle license at the age of 52. I had ridden with my sweetheart (SH) on his bike for 2 years, and before that I can remember being on a motorcycle only once before in my life. Although I do remember riding my uncle’s “mini bike” a few times when I was a kid. I bought a 1989 Yamaha Virago 750 and rode about it about 2,000 miles last summer.

Today, I rode my Honda ST1300 on the LA freeway (OMG!) to begin what will be a multi-leg winter motorcycle adventure. I’ve ridden this bike, which I bought earlier this year, about 6,000 miles so far this summer. I NEVER dreamed I would take on THIS new interest and live the adventures SH and I have enjoyed the past few years. Yet, here I am – loving it!

We shipped our two motorcycles to Los Angeles on a division of Allied Van Lines a couple weeks ago. Today we flew to Ontario, CA, via Denver, on United Airlines. Once in Ontario, we took the Supershuttle to the warehouse where the bikes were waiting for us. We mounted up and headed to Torrance, CA, on the 91 Freeway. After a quick lunch at Panera, we stopped in to visit SH’s Uncle Walter. We plan to attend this witty, delightful 103-year-old’s birthday party tomorrow. But first, we’ll drive Walter’s car to LA to have coffee and enjoy a visit with the daughter (who is a senior at USC) of dear friends in the Twin Cities (Minnesota).

Tune in again tomorrow for Day 2, Leg 1 report, and some details about where we go from here!  I’d love to hear from you!

  • What are the grandest adventures you have enjoyed?
  • What do you dream of doing?

Have a great weekend!

Love, Tomboy Tam

All gain, no pain – diary of a mid-life Celiac diagnosis

I never saw it coming – the significant weight gain in the months after I stopped eating gluten (products with wheat, barley and rye ingredients or contamination). So while the pain and life-changing symptoms of Celiac disease subsided, my relief was marred by a swift transition out of my jeans and into sweat pants!

The dietician I consulted following my Celiac diagnosis said that weight gain is common after Celiacs ditch gluten.  Primarily because once the small intestine recovers from the damage caused by gluten, it starts absorbing the food instead of . . . well, you can imagine “instead of!”

In other words, I had become accustomed to eating larger quantities than a healthy body should need in order to maintain or lose weight, as I had been. The “significant” part of the gain was active denial. I was eating healthy foods! I had given up bread, pasta, most desserts and my favorite German comfort foods! I had recently started working out regularly! I couldn’t be gaining weight – it’s not fair! Maybe my personal and family history of thyroid issues caused it!

So it went for 21 months, 30 pounds and a few half-hearted attempts to get the situation under control.

About six weeks ago, I finally tackled head-on the current reality of how my body is wired. I chose to make my wellness a priority to ensure my physical condition can keep up with the active lifestyle I enjoy so much. I intend to be an active, adventurous 100-year-old tomboy! That will only be possible if I am an active, adventurous and healthy 53-year-old.

It’s not rocket science. My renewed commitment to wellness includes an app, food, exercise and support:

MyFitnessPal.com – a free but priceless online and mobile app that tracks calories, exercise and nutritional information. In my opinion, its features and usability are better than a well-know membership program I subscribed to for several months.

Nutrition – in addition to strictly eliminating gluten, I eat very little processed food, choose organic whenever possible and maintain a balance of veggies, protein, fruit and carbs, in about that order of quantities (also tracked by MyFitnessPal). I also consult with Dr. Tom at Spicer Wellness on a regimen of natural supplements that has helped rebalance my body’s systems and give my metabolism a good swift kick-start. And I cook and bake more of my meals myself, so I know exactly what I’m eating and can enjoy the occasional treat.

Exercise – I’ve committed to working out at least 30 minutes, five times a week. Some days it’s a half hour walk or dancing in my living room. At least once a week it’s 30 minutes of Krank Cycle and 60 minutes of Reformer Pilates at Revolution Cycle and Fitness. I work out because it supports my lifestyle, not because I love working out. However, I do like how it makes me feel – strong, in control of my body, sexy and proud that I am in the best physical condition of my adult life.

Support – several of my family members share our wellness successes and challenges and cheer each other on through an email chain. MyFitnessPal also has a social media feature that allows me to add friends, get updates on their progress and comment on them. And my sweetheart consistently supports and participates in my menu and workout choices.

Gaining perspective, not pounds

When I approached my fitness program from the perspective of what I want to GAIN (active lifestyle and feeling good) instead of what I want to LOSE  (extra pounds, tight clothing, etc.) I became much more positive and started thinking about what I could do, instead of what I could not. Seems like such a simple shift in mindset wouldn’t matter much, but the jeans I wore yesterday tell a different story!  I’ll soon be saying “Good-bye sweat pants!”

  • What activities or lifestyle benefits have you gained (or do you want to gain) from wellness priorities?
  • What tips and tools can you share for supporting your wellness program?

I’ve got some tomboy fun to plan and a suitcase to pack – catch you later!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Dialing up the fun factor

I am seriously committed to incorporating fun into my daily life. Every week, I have at least one fun event planned with friends and/or family members, and bigger adventures are on my calendar almost every month. I love how much fun I have! On a scale of 0 – 10, with 10 being the most fun you can imagine, I’d say my average annual fun factor has been an 8 or 9 for the past three years. I’m reserving “10” for those years when I do the once-in-a-lifetime adventures that are on my list!

There was a long period in my life when my fun factor hovered between 2 and 5. My “reasons” for infrequent fun were many. I was too busy; I didn’t have enough time or money; I didn’t have anyone to do things with; I was waiting for my husband to return from working out of town or to be interested in the fun that appealed to me; I couldn’t leave my kids; I was overwhelmed by the amount of work at the office and at home; I would do that “someday.”  Need I go on? Are you convinced – as I was – that I was a helpless victim of a dull, stressful life fraught with the absence of fun?

Notice the word that started every reason above – I.  Today, I hereby proclaim that the only one keeping me from having the fun I wanted was – you guessed it – me! Over the coming weeks, I’ll share with you my evolution into the adventurous, fun-filled tomboy life that I currently lead. And as soon as I figure out how to post a photo gallery on a blog page, I’ll share an album of images that document that evolution.

Here’s a huge hint about my upcoming adventure that starts this weekend and will continue throughout the winter. Yes, I said WINTER.

In the meantime, I’m going to tease you a little bit by telling you that I’m starting an exciting adventure this weekend in Los Angeles, Calif. Part of the fun will be blogging about it every step of the way, so you can join me in the adventure! Now be honest:

  • What is your average annual fun factor rating (0 – 10) for the past 12 months?
  • What do you do (or dream of doing) for fun?
  • If your fun factor is less than 8, what are your reasons for not having a higher fun factor?

I challenge you to have at least five minutes of fun – right now! Seriously, even if it’s five minutes of writing a list of the fun things you want to do, it will put a smile on your face, start the adrenalin flowing and next thing you know, your fun factor is already ticking up!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Living to eat doesn’t have to be a bad thing

Food is not one of my defined categories for this blog. The reality is, I love food so much, that I consider it inherent in all aspects of life:

Relationships – I love to cook for my loved ones.

Personal growth – Food has been a consistent source of comfort through all stages of my growth. And I’ve consistently improved my choices throughout that same time!

Health & wellness – I’ve enjoyed evolving my diet to satisfy my foodie fetishes, while honoring my commitment to being healthy and fit, and living a long life.

Spirituality – Food feeds my soul, as well as my body. I have glimpsed heaven while enjoying sublime flavors.

Career – What beloved manager has not motivated teamwork and employee engagement on the backs of pizza lunches and Friday bagels? Even my food offerings at work evolved through my personal growth to fruit and salad options.

Lifestyle – Adventure, exploration, friends and fun: all relevant to cooking, dining out and trying new foods and restaurants.

Today I offer one of my recent favorite recipes – Tomboy Tam’s un-omelet (not really an omelet because I throw most of it in the pan together instead of folding the contents into the embrace of cooked eggs – fussy, precise cooking is not a tomboy trait!):

Serves 1, about 250 calories per serving, 14 grams of fat and 20 grams of protein

Ingredients (I use organic ingredients whenever possible):

  • 1 t oil (go with a healthy one – olive, avocado, etc) or spray oil
  • 2 T chopped onion
  • 2 T chopped green and/or red pepper
  • ½ C chopped mushrooms
  • ¾ C chopped baby spinach (I just cut it up a bit with a scissors when I add it to the pan)
  • ½ of a medium-sized tomato, chopped
  • 1/8 C feta cheese crumbles (as I am fond of saying, “feta makes everything betta!”)
  • 1/4 of an avocado, sliced
  • 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I added the tomatoes after cooking in this photo, which is an easy alternative to adding them to the pan to cook with the eggs.

Whisk the eggs with the salt and pepper. Put oil into a small non-stick pan and heat over medium burner. Add onions and peppers and stir-fry a minute or less before adding mushrooms. After about another minute of stir-frying, add the chopped spinach and tomatoes. Stir for a few seconds and then add the eggs. Reduce heat to low and cover pan. Check after three to five minutes for doneness. When the eggs are set and it’s a little puffy, it’s done. Don’t overcook. Remove from pan and put on plate. Add the feta cheese and avocado and fold over – or not. Eat and enjoy!

I’ve added slightly blanched asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces or other veggies, depending on what I have on hand. You can add or replace the avocado with some chopped deli ham or a slice of fried, crumbled bacon without completely ruining the health value. Obviously, adjust the ingredients as needed for any special needs, such as replacing the one whole egg with another egg white are watching your cholesterol. Personally, I like the veggies tender-crisp so I keep the sautéing prior to adding the eggs to a minimum.

I enjoyed this as a real omelet with a dear friend for brunch at Wilde Roast on St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis recently and loved it so much I recreated it at home and have been eating it a couple times a week ever since. And by the way, Wilde Roast has gluten free bread! I keep fresh chopped onion and peppers in the frig so it’s quick and easy to prepare.

  • What are your go-to healthy favorites? 
  • What is your relationship with food?

Thanks for sharing!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Conquering disappointment with gratitude

The celebration dinner I had in mind for last night became a consolation dinner. After the four very positive and progressively deep interviews he had, my dinner companion got the news late yesterday that the company offered the position to another candidate. Ouch!

The disappointment, back-story and experience of this particular candidate is familiar to many thousands of talented, deserving people across the country every day. I doubt the 12.1 million unemployed counted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics even includes those who graduated from college during the tempest of the most depressed and depressing economic times this country has experienced in generations – or possibly ever! I have personally experienced the full spectrum of emotions related to “displacement” while at or near the pinnacle of my corporate career and a comfortable lifestyle – not just once, but twice during the past few years.

So what is there to be grateful about, given all that bad news?

What if instead of accepting the mindset of being unemployed, I embraced the excitement and possibilities of being an entrepreneur, parent, grandparent, and volunteer? What if I replaced the term “career networking” in my vocabulary with the mindset of reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances and making new ones? Instead of channeling my energy on feeling angry, frustrated or depressed, I laser focused on gratitude, trust and attracting opportunities?

If you have just finished shopping for your dinner at the local food shelf, and my views sound impossibly, insultingly and incredibly naïve, I apologize. And I will dare to say that these words are even more relevant to you.

Although I’ve never suffered the deep bruises of rock bottom hope- and homelessness that some have, I have had significant economic and emotional low points in my lifetime. I’ve been the beneficiary of public assistance and have rooted for coins in jackets and sofas to meet basic needs. I’ve mourned the untimely and unfair loss of jobs and loved ones. I’ve struggled at times to define who I am and what path I am meant to walk. And today, I am counted among the 12.1 million unemployed.

And yet, throughout my life and today I believe – actually expect – that there are always better days ahead, where my own efforts, ideas and skills intersect with my faith that the Universe will deliver everything I need. Not always when and how I expect or prefer (how about Friday, via UPS, with a pink bow!), but always in different and sometimes better ways and times than I could even imagine. I’ll share some examples with you in the coming days.

I’m keeping a daily list of my successes and things I’m grateful for. I review that list when I need encouragement and reminders. I also recommend watching Louie Schwartzberg’s Happiness Revealed project video – maybe daily for a while!

  • What are you grateful for?
  • What are your techniques for conquering disappointment with gratitude?

Thank you for your feedback!

Love, Tomboy Tam