Day 4, Leg 3, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Another beautiful, sunny, brisk Texas morning found us out for a walk in Tonja’s neighborhood before returning to a delicious breakfast of steel-cut oatmeal, brown rice farina, and yummy toppings, including blueberries and walnuts. After lingering over the kitchen island as long as we dared, we loaded up the bikes, said our good byes and headed south to Dallas to store our bikes until the next leg of our Winter Adventure.

The Super Shuttle that my trip-planner extraordinaire and sweetheart (SH) had arranged showed up on time at 11:15 a.m. to take us to DFW for our flights home. SH made his flight arrangements before I did, as I was waiting to see how I could arrange my travel around work commitments, so we ended up on different airlines. I kissed him adieu at his ticket counter, and then took the airport shuttle to Terminal A where I settlediPhoto Library in to wait for my American Airlines flight back to MSP.

This chapter of our adventure draws to a close with nearly 800 miles over three days of travels on our bikes. If I count the flight miles from Minneapolis to L.A. and then to El Paso, we experienced well over 2,500 miles on this trip. Chilly temps, warm sunshine, traveling through parts of this beautiful country I’ve never seen before. Conversations with fascinating people, a glimpse into lives that are so much alike, yet so different from mine. I am truly grateful for a travel companion who I can spend 24 hours with for 7 straight days and still appreciate each other. I am blessed to have these opportunities, and am proud that we have found ways to explore economically in a way that allows real engagement with real people, not just passing through observing. I feel like I experience life more intensely in a few days in our travels than I have in some entire years of my life.

How do you experience life with intensity? I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences for doing so.

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 3, Leg 3, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

Saturday, March 2, 2013

These upper 20-degree mornings aren’t conducive to early starts on the bike, but they are great for leisurely breakfasts and chats with the local folks. This morning was my favorite such breakfast at L&L Family Restaurant in Breckenridge, TX.

As I walked inside, several older people were leaving, and a cute little old lady said to me, “Are yeew rahdin’ on the back a that man’s bahk this cold morning’?”  I replied, “No ma’am, I’m riding my own bike!” That gave her just a moment of pause, and then she exclaimed, “ Well good for yeew!” I love these people!

Then we chatted with a retired gentleman at the table next to us throughout breakfast. He wanted to know all about us, and he shared a bit about Breckenridge (mostly oil and ranching for industry) and himself and his own travels. He mentioned that he once met a couple who was visiting the Breckenridge area from out East. They were taking a lot of pictures of a tree, and exclaiming over its beauty. He said, “It just looked like a skinny ol’ tree to me, but I guess we take things for granted when we see them every day.”

I often think about how blessed and grateful I am to have the opportunity to experience the people and places we come across during our travels. This man’s comments made me think about how our presence impacts those we interact with along the way, too.  And perhaps our appreciation of the grand – and sometimes homely – beauty of  people and environments help the local people see their surroundings and each other through the more appreciative eyes of passing strangers.

It’s a relatively short drive into Dallas today, where we found our storage unit, and checked in. Dallas / Ft. Worth is a maze of construction and spaghetti freeways. I do not like driving my bike on freeways, especially when they are under construction and hundreds of feet up in the air! Thanks to our AWESOME Sema headsets, and my MARVELOUS sweetheart who does all the navigational planning, we got through the city driving without mishap.

After a quick salad at McDonald’s (I don’t remember how many years it’s been since I’ve eaten at McDonalds!) and taking advantage of their Wifi, we headed North to Prosper, TX, to visit and spend the night with our friend Tonja and her family. We enjoyed a wonderful evening of cooking, eating, wine, meeting the kids and fellowship! And I thoroughly enjoyed working the stress kinks of freeway driving out of my back with a soak in Tonja’s tub and a solid night’s sleep.

After nearly a week of masterminding and biking, I’m ready for the flight home tomorrow!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 2, Leg 3, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

Friday, March 1, 2013

After a quick breakfast at the hotel in Hobbs, my sweetheart (SH) and I continued East on Hwy 180, starting the day dressed warmer than yesterday’s start, including the addition of chaps, a neck-warmer and my light down jacket under my armored jacket for me, and winter gloves and light jacket as a liner for my sweetheart. The sun is warm, but when we start out in the high 30-degree levels, the wind is chilly, even for these Minnesotans!

We stopped in Lamesa at a Mexican family restaurant to warm up / snack / coffee break. Then we continued on Hwy 180, enjoying the changing landscape that includes desert, oil, hills, mountains, some trees, increasing agriculture and ranching – and long stretches with a whole lot of nothing! We always seem to find the beauty in our travels, even in the desolation of sparsely populated, remote areas that include long, pancake flat stretches of straight highway. Loving 75 mph posted speed limits.

It’s a windy today, and the fields of windmills near Albany are good indicators that my arms will ache by the end of the day from balancing the bike against the gusty northwest breezes. Although it is the windiest little city, I love Albany, TX, population about 2,000! It appears to be a much more affluent town than Snyder or Lamesa. We had a latte at a very cute and historic drug store, shopped for souvenirs in a gift shop, where we chatted with a charming store clerk (who gave me a postage stamp for my postcard to SH’s Uncle Walter).

We didn’t take the time to visit the Old Jailhouse Art Center, but the lady in the Chamber of Commerce was eager to tell us all about it. If I were to move to a small town in Texas, I would be likely to choose Albany!

The Ridge Motel in Breckenridge, TX, is our stopping point for the night. I collapsed for a short nap, and was tempted to stay there all night, until my empty stomach convinced me to get up. We walked over to Ernie’s Spanish Kitchen for dinner, where SH had a burritto and I had a delicious rib-eye steak. It can be tricky finding gluten-free food in the boonies. The servers often look at me like I’m speaking Chinese when I ask whether a dish is gluten-free!  I usually stick to eggs, salads and grilled meats, for the most part, on our travels.

The server was an energetic, sincere woman who must have had close to the same circumference and height measurements. The people in outstate Texas have been just delightful, hospitable, and interesting.

After our second 250-mile plus day in chilly, windy temps, I think I was sleeping before my head hit the pillow.  Tomorrow will find us back in the city.

Love, Tomboy Tam

Deliberate joy, daily from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The Universe gave me a couple little nudges yesterday to pay attention to how I am spending my time. I always appreciate those reminders to stay on track with my intentions!

During my commute to work, I was listening to a public radio segment regarding habitual behaviors. The point was that many of us are on autopilot when we make choices about our finances and diet, for instance. I believe the same is often true about our leisure time choices – we drive home from work, prepare or pick up a “same old” dinner, turn on the TV or computer and a few hours later, head for bed.

The second reminder came from my LinkedIn news feed. An article by Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief at The Huffington Post Media Group, wrote about stress and how the holidays leave a lot of people feeling drained and stressed out. However, she goes on to say that “The philosophy behind Less Stress, More Living is based on two truths: that we all have within us a centered place of harmony and balance, and that we all veer away from that place again and again. . . If we understand these two truths and prioritize reducing the destructive effects of stress in our lives, 2013 can be the year we reconnect with our own creativity, wisdom, and joy.”

68 awake hours each week to do exactly as we chose! 

A comment from one of Arianna’s readers noted that an average of 50 out of 168 hours per week are spent working and commuting to work. (That’s conservative, based on my experience and observations!) Another 50 hours or so each week are spent sleeping. Assuming a standard Monday – Friday work schedule, that leaves about 6.5 waking hours per weekday and 17 hours on Saturday and Sunday to do anything we want to do.

Schedule quality fun time with important people

Schedule quality fun time with important people

Now those of you who have kids at home are in a completely different place than an empty-nester like me! You have a lot more to squeeze into those awake hours. Hence, it’s even more important to schedule your fun time — sometime including kids,  and some time without them.

All that said, the point is that many of us have finite hours to play and do the things we SAY are a priority, such as time with family and friends, actively pursuing hobbies, working out or even completing important tasks and errands. In the past, I’ve often scheduled those things on my calendar to make sure I do them. Live is too short to let the days slip by in a blur on autopilot! And what a great day to recommit to spending my time in enriching activities – the day that turned out to not be the end of the world after all!

I’m also going to continue focusing on harmony, possibilities and gratitude, so I’ll attract more blessings into my life. Focusing on stress and feeling like there is never enough time, money and resources will ensure there won’t be.

I’d love to hear your comments about:

  • Do you have any tips for how you ensure using your “free” time deliberately, rather than habitually?
  • What are some examples of how you’ve purposefully deflected stress and attracted blessings?
  • What are some of the things you are going to schedule to ensure you spend time the way you really want to in the coming week?

Kick the stress habit this holiday season and give yourself the gift of time for fun!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Dear employer: it’s time for your performance review!

It’s a good time for me to make a list of the things I want to receive from my employer or client. I am developing new communications consulting clients and simultaneously exploring a few select “permanent” employment opportunities. Such a list will help my new manager or client and me evaluate whether we are a good fit for each other. Here is my first draft.

What I want to receive from my employer and manager

Reward me with generous, competitive compensation that reflect the type, level and complexity of the work I do and the value I add. Even if the economic environment has impacted your compensation curve, be creative and involve me in negotiation to arrive at a compensation structure that meets both our needs.

Support my career development. Give me increasingly higher visibility projects and more responsibility. Suggest “extra-curricular” activities inside or outside the company that will help me develop. Support my professional association involvement and education. Keep your eyes open for possible advancement opportunities for me elsewhere in the company. Give me formal and informal feedback frequently – no surprises at annual review time! Ask my internal and external customers for input on my performance. Offer me earned raises, promotions and titles before I ask for them.

Walk the talk of trust and integrity. The company’s vision and values establish high standards for ethical behavior, business practices and respect for team members. Company leaders and managers walk the company talk. Believe that I will represent you and our group with integrity. Allow me to work without micromanagement. Give me the credit I deserve for my work, even when I’m not in the room. Recognize me formally and informally for small and large accomplishments.

Offer and expect flexibility – trust me to manage my time and deliverables honestly. Don’t require rigid start and stop times or hours. Support me working from home or other remote location when the job can be accomplished successfully from there.

Respect my personal time. In other words, don’t send me email messages at night and on weekends, as it establishes a culture of never disconnecting from work. Or at least don’t expect me to answer your messages at those times. Support me in taking all the paid time off that I’ve earned. Manage our workload such that work weeks that are more than 40-45 hours are the exception, not the rule.

Nurture a friendly, healthy, FUN culture by caring about my needs, at work and to some extent, my personal life. Communicate as early and as much as you can about company and leadership strategies and changes. Make an effort to ask me how my kids are doing, how I spent my vacation and what sports teams I cheer for. Encourage me to take a lunch break, work out and eat well by setting the model for that behavior. Connect me with my teammates and partners within and outside our group. Lead a little bit of goofing off and laughter to relieve stress, reset perspectives and improve productivity.

In my past experience, interview time or evaluation time is primarily about my skills, experience, scope of responsibilities and how well I performed them. Through my personal growth, I’ve learned that to be a truly outstanding employee, I have to be a happy one. And to be happy, I need my career to support my lifestyle, not the opposite.

  • What is (or will be) on your list of what you want to receive from your employer?
  • Can you see yourself talking to your manager or an interviewer about your list? Why or why not?
  • Do you think I’m crazy to have such a list, when so many people are still desperate for a job – any job? 

Thanks for your feedback!

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

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