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

March 31, 2013 – It’s a beautiful day in St. Louis! Clouds have given way to sun and it climbs to about 65 degrees today! We have a little time to explore before putting the bikes away for another month and returning home to Minneapolis. We sleep in until about 7:30 a.m., eat a light breakfast from the hotel’s complimentary offerings, and then hop on the bikes to go downtown. Our destination is the St. Louis Gateway Arch on the Mississippi Riverfront. I’ve seen the arch from a distance, the two times I’ve been to / through St. Louis, but I never knew that there is a tram system that take visitors up through the arch! In fact, I never knew that the arch was big enough to house a tram system inside! It was a fascinating experience. I also enjoyed the museum inside the visitor center while waiting for our turn in the tram.

We left downtown St. Louis about 1:00 p.m., riding the bikes in brilliant sunshine and basking in the temps we wish we could have enjoyed yesterday. But today we rode to Public Storage to put them away for another month. We walked about 1/2 mile back to the Comfort Inn where we caught the hotel shuttle to the airport. Lunch at the airport, and a short and uneventful flight home ended this leg of the adventure.

This was probably my favorite leg, from a road and scenery perspective. It was a little surreal today, realizing that the grand adventure my sweetheart (SH) and I dreamed up together is almost over. Some people go their whole lives without doing anything this adventurous! And here we are, already looking forward to the summer adventures and dreaming about what to create for next winter. Although we are both in the middle of career opportunities and changes, we are committed to maintaining our time together exploring and adventuring as a high priority. And time with our families and friends is also a high priority. I think we can balance it all in a way that feels right and good. Or at least have a great time trying!

Hope you had a great Easter Sunday – as traditional or untraditional as felt right for you!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 2, Leg 4, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

Good Friday, March 29 — we were on the road before 7:30 a.m., but by the time we gassed up, resorted to breakfast at McDonalds due to lack of finding local, non-chain restaurants in Broken Bow, it was about 9 a.m. before we headed east on Hwy 70 to Glenwood, Arkansas, North on 8, north on 27 to Russelville, north on Hwy 7 to Harrison, East on 62 to Mountain Home. Now the impressions and details.

The weather was overcast and at times foggy and misting, but the temps were mild – hovering upper 50s, until the sun broke through, mid-afternoon, resulting in upper 60s. The landscape is surprisingly beautiful. I’m not sure I ever thought about what Arkansas looked like. What we found was many rivers and creeks, farm and ranch land, lots of trees and logging, rolling hills and the beautiful Ozark National Forest. In all, I think today was one of my top 5 favorite motorcycle rides, and I’ve been on some beauties!

On the other end of the beauty spectrum, I saw lots of run down trailer homes, some with years of accumulated junk and rust in the yard, especially earlier in the day (west/southwest Arkansas).  The towns, counties scenic points and businesses had quaint and sometimes funny names – Dierks, Daisy, Kirby, “Y”, Caddo Gap, Mt. Ida, Booger Hollow, Ouachita, Washita, Story, Aly, Onyx, Rover, Danville, Ranger, Chickalah, Yell, Dog Patch, Dardanelle, Dover, Sand Gap, Jasper, Harrison, Bellefonte, Pyatt, Snow, Summit, Yellville, Flippin, Gassville and Mountain Home, where we will spend the night.

We had lunch outside Russellville at Colton’s Steak House, and just as we were preparing to leave, I got a phone call from a recruiter about a contract job at my former employer. It was an important call for a couple of reasons — it reminded me of all the SUPER people I had an opportunity to work on the most challenging project of my career the last few years I was there. It also reminded me how grateful I am that my position was eliminated there, following the successful completion of that challenging project, as it gave me the chance to explore and create completely new career and business possibilities that are challenging and exciting in completely different ways. I’ve always coached my team member to look for the opportunities that come out of change; and I’ve always truly believed and experienced that personally. My displacement was the biggest and most challenging career change, and I believe that change has – and will continue to – provide the greatest opportunities. Not that it has been easy to see that every moment or day, but looking back over the past year, and forward to the future, it is clearly a positive change.

One of those opportunities has been this Winter Adventure! Although today was a long one on the road – about 320 miles – the route was so beautiful, with such great biking roads, that it really didn’t feel very tiring. It was challenging for me, without being frightening, like some of the higher mountain highways we’ve traveled on past trips.  The elevation was probably about 2,000 ft at the highest point, but it seemed higher. Many great sweepers, some button hooks and many stretches didn’t have much traffic, so in other words – AWESOME riding! The stretches of pavement that were wet slowed me down quite a bit, but had to appreciate the upside that we never actually got rained on!

We checked in to the EconoLodge about 5:30 p.m. and after a short snooze and shower, we walked to the Mexican restaurant next door for a nice meal and great conversation. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to ensure that this is really my life. I’m so grateful for all the experiences, people and opportunities I am blessed with! Hope you are enjoying sharing them with me!

Love, Tomboy Tam

Day 1, Leg 2, 2012-2013 Winter Motorcycle Adventure

Day 1 of this motorcycle adventure started January 17, and actually entailed trains, planes and automobiles and a “side trip” to Los Angeles to pop in for a quick visit with 103-year-old Uncle Walter. My sweetheart (SH) and I left my place in downtown Minneapolis shortly before 5 a.m. and walked quickly in 5 degree temps (probably below zero wind-chill) to the light rail station. The train took us to the Humphrey Terminal where we boarded the 7:55 a.m. Sun Country flight to LAX.

I used the flight time to finish some deliverables for a current communications consulting client and enjoyed the beautiful sunrise views from the airplane window. After an early arrival at LAX, we rented a car and headed to Redondo Beach where we had brunch at one of our favorite places – Redondo Beach Cafe. Who would expect a hockey-crazy diner in Redondo Beach CA?!

Then we headed to The Coffee Bean in Redondo Beach in our favorite neighborhood. They have a lot more seating and outlets for all our electronics than nearby Starbucks, where we often hang out – next to Trader Joe’s. After emailing my work in to the client and attending a conference call, we jumped into into the car to pick up Walter. We had a lovely afternoon with him, before heading back to the airport to catch our Delta flight to Phoenix, where the motorcycle part of the motorcycle adventure will begin. We dropped into bed at the Best Western where we have stayed a couple times before at about midnight.

It was a grueling, but rewarding, 20 hour day – work, family time, enjoying a beautiful, warm environment (mid-70s) and the anticipation of a great long weekend of fun on bikes in relatively warm weather in JANUARY! First time these Minnesotans will ride motorcycles in January! Hang with me over the weekend, and I’ll share our route and some of the planning that results in an affordable adventure. I am so grateful to have the work flexibility, fun partner and modest budget to do it!

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

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

Clever, creative, fun – I want that job description!

I get a lot of email messages – likely, you can relate. Today, one of them had a headline that got me to open the “Well + Good” wellness newsletter out of New York City, and boy-oh-tomboy did it inspire me! (I subscribed because my friend and fitness guru Dawn Doll, over at Revolution Cycle + Fitness, kept quoting it!)

The headline “‘50 Shades of Kale’ is bound to excite your taste buds,” linked to an article about a new cookbook by that title. You may recognize the not-so-veiled reference to a controversial book that caused quite a media stir earlier this year. (If you missed it and want to get caught up on the brouhaha, type “50 Shades” into your browser search field. Erase the history before the kids get back on the computer!)

The article was entertaining, provocative, educational and effective! I can’t WAIT to buy the cookbook and “get some healthy kale action” myself!

OK, kale action aside, I was inspired by the creative, clever and fun voice of the article and the cookbook. I allowed my own creativity to wither quite a bit at a job where I wrote and edited many corporate communications for many years, primarily in a conservative, factual style that was appropriate for that industry and company. I appreciated the many benefits and developed many useful skills there, for which I’m grateful.

At the same time, that environment didn’t nurture my creativity and I didn’t feed that need elsewhere. When that job ended earlier this year, I started interacting with a variety of people, exploring business opportunities and writing different types of communications — it was like a brown wool blanket was removed from my head and the creative juices started trickling between the synapses in my brain again! I literally feel younger, lighter and more energetic since I started doing work that I consider fun.

The Kale article and book were great reminders of priorities for the next stages of my career: work with people, products and companies that fill my creative tank, support the tomboy in me, inspire my passion and enable abundant fun. And if I hit a creative dry spell in one area of my work, find another source from which to water it – stat!

  • What feeds your soul at work? Or what in your soul needs feeding from your career?
  • If your current work suddenly ended, or thinking back to a point in your career history, would you look for new work just like it or something very different? In what ways would it be different?
  • I’ve always heard “Find a job doing what you love and you’ll never ‘work’ again.” What do you love, and have you ever had a job that didn’t feel like work?
  • If you’re not feeling the love at work, what’s holding you back from a change?
  • If you love your work, what’s your secret formula for loving it?

Let’s go get some kale!

Love,
Tomboy Tam