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 5 and final of Leg 2, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

January 21, 2013: Back to the real world today, where I work to live (not live to work), which makes fun and adventure possible.  It is also where I connect with my family and friends to share joy, sorrow, hopes and fears. And with whom I give and receive support through life’s challenges and accomplishments. Little did I know, as I was brushing my teeth this morning, that I would also be sharing sorrow and support with a complete stranger today.

We were chatting with the La Quinta shuttle driver on the way to the El Paso airport at 7 a.m. today, when she suddenly blurted that her nephew was in an accident on New Years Eve that resulted in his death. She went on to share a fair amount of detail about his accident, death and subsequent arrangements. As we pulled up to the airport, I offered her my condolences and quietly shared with her that my 17-year old nephew had also been killed in an accident on New Year’s Eve. I expressed our kindred pain.

As she helped me take my bag out of the back of the van, she hugged me and told me that she would be attending to cremation details later today, in support of her sister — as I was in North Dakota for a week prior to our motorcycle adventure, in support of my brother. She wished God’s blessing on me and my family, and I reciprocated.

What are the chances that in a La Quinta van in El Paso, TX, I would be confronted with sorrow that so closely mirrors that of my own family? I’ve been processing this encounter all day: Why I was connected in such an intimate way with a stranger this morning? What lesson was I supposed to learn from it? What did this experience mean for me?

I called my oldest daughter tonight to tell her I had returned home safely, and catch up with recent events in her life. I told her about the conversation with the shuttle driver, and my questions. With the wisdom that often startles a mother, when coming from her child (even a well-into-adulthood child), my daughter said, “Maybe the reason was because she needed you, not that you were meant to get something from her.” Wow. I am a humble learner on this journey.

So, my Sweetheart (SH) and I boarded American Airlines’ 9:00 a.m. flight from El Paso to Dallas. There, we connected with the 12:45 flight to Minneapolis to continue our reentry into the real world. Grateful for five wonderful days exploring geography, relationships, spiritual connectedness and the meaning of life — the Zen of Motorcycle Adventuring with SH.

Somehow the 15 degrees below zero wind chill in Minneapolis didn’t seem so bad, in light of the warmth of my youngest daughter’s greetings when she picked us up at the light rail station to save us from a five block walk home. Furthermore, loss, love and sunlight can bring a lot of perspective to a mere temperature reading.

Later this week, I’ll share the full (high-level) 2012-2013 Motorcycle Adventure itinerary AND some tips and gear feedback for those of you planning your own adventures.

Glad to be home.

Love, Tomboy Tam

Around the world in . . . as long as it takes

At a court hearing on Friday, November 9, 2012, I legally changed my name to the one I originally inherited from my father. It had been 36 years, two marriages and two divorces since I’ve had that name. Two questions have been asked of me, related to my name change:

Tomboy Tam in court

Tomboy Tam awaits the judge who will approve her petition for name change.

Why now?

I started thinking about returning to my original name as a new sense of self-identity emerged in the years during and following my second divorce, six years ago. My journey of self-discovery included exploring who I am aside from being a wife, mother, daughter, sister and employee. I assumed some of those roles without much conscious examination of how to perform the roles in the context of me, the individual. For most of my life, I defined “me” by who I was to other people and what they expected of me.

Today, I select and create my relationships and roles based on how well they complement who I am today and how they will grow with me as I continue to evolve. So the short answer is – I want my name to reflect the independently strong, self-centered individual I am today. (Why has the term “self-centered” come to have a negative connotation?!) From a self-centered place, I can receive and give love, friendship and value with integrity and joy.

Have I come full circle?

Someone recently used the term “full circle” to describe my return to my maiden name. However, just as Phileas Fogg returned to London a changed man after the high adventure and life experience of traveling Around the World in Eighty Days, I am not the same person with the same dreams, perceptions and expectations as I was 36 years ago. Thank goodness – because I don’t want to star in my own rendition of the film Groundhog Day!

Changing my name is a symbolic and tangible acknowledgement of who I am today – the result of my own thoughts, intentions and purpose, and all the people and experiences that have helped me evolve to this point. I am grateful for each and every one of them, as each is a thread in the beautiful fabric of my being: soft and strong; adventurous and thoughtful; resilient and vulnerable; resourceful and humble; enterprising and inviting; generously giving and abundantly receiving.

Food for thought:

  • What movie or book title best describes your journey to a positively self-centered way of being? 
  • Have you acknowledged life journey milestones with symbolic or tangible ceremonies or acts? 

Have a great day!

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