Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Best Dreams Happen When We're Awake

 For as far back into my childhood as I can remember, the only consistent thing I wanted to be when I grew up was Happy.  I've seen grade school projects that said Fire Fighter or Ballerina, but there was no actual substance behind it.  As I grew, I realized my aversion to blood was a good reason to avoid a medical career.  Although I wanted to follow in my Dad's creative footprints by working some type of construction, he wanted for me to grow up with a body not ravaged with aches and pains.  And later, when I fell in love with writing, I found that there was likely no way to make a living writing poetry... hell, all the good poets were dead.

I loved math (especially algebra), being creative, and could never really narrow my focus in on one profession.  So, I went to college... make that 3 colleges... changed my major a dozen times and finally graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Kinesiology after some 5+ years of study.  I wanted to be a collegiate strength coach... but it turned out I had more fun creating and editing lifting plans in a MS Excel workbook than I did on actually bossing the athletes around.  So I changed directions again.

Over the next 10 years, I worked as an administrative assistant, an office manager, worked in sales support, hospitality, sales, account management, retail... but the one consistent pattern I found time and time again was this innate satisfaction with improving procedures, modifying SOP's, and creating shortcuts to reduce workload.  I taught myself to create mail merges and inventory tracking; when a job required me to request every report or data summary I needed from another team, I asked them to teach me to pull my own raw data to save them the time;  when teammates complained about the time it took them to complete weekly analysis, I learned how to write macros to cut their time by 75%.  (I am a nerd, and I love it!)

Spreadsheet Memes

It was sometime in 2015 that I remember telling a coworker that I wish there was a job where I could just problem solve in data and create tools for a living.  But, what would I call that?  How would I quantify it in a job search?  In January 2018, I landed myself a role as an Inventory Analyst for Target headquarters after hearing amazing things about what a great employer they were and hoped maybe I'd find my forever home there.  It only took a couple months until I found it... there was a team who's full time job was to create tools to reduce workload, improve data accuracy, supply analytical reporting... and they got paid to do it!

For almost three years, I have held that dream of someday being on that team close to my heart and confidently on my lips to anyone who'd listen.  I created tools and analysis for myself and others, I started my own club of Excel nerds just like me to help develop new processes and tools to help our entire pyramid.  Every morning in my Start Today journal, I've declared that 10 years from now I would be on that team.  Every. Damn. Morning.

Then, in August of this year, 5 months into the pandemic, a job opening was posted and I applied within hours.  Five gruelingly painful weeks went by without a word on if I was a candidate until finally a representative from HR contacted me to schedule my interviews.  After my three interviews, another 2+ weeks went by without a word until I finally saw a message come across my screen one morning from the hiring manager, "Hi. Are you free to talk?".  The second I hit send on "Yes", the Zoom call came in and my heart raced.  Barely breathing, I heard him thanking me for my patience, for participating in the interviews and all I thought was "fuck, I didn't get it".

That is, until he changed his tone and said "we'd like to offer you the job" and smiled.  I distinctively remember (and immediately regretted) responding with "Shut up! Are you serious?" *Not one of my finer moments, but also very authentically me none the less*  Luckily, he laughed and doubled down on his conviction and I said "Yes!" with almost as much enthusiasm as I did when Jay proposed.  The rest of the call was a blur but there it was... my dream job, wrapped up in a bow, and presented virtually on a silver platter. 

Yesterday marked the beginning of Week 3 in my new role... a beginner, learning to code and to take my problem solving and analytics to a level I never imagined.  Each day is new and filled with things I don't understand yet which allows fear to creep into my home office but I fight it every day by focusing on the present moment. I focus on the jobs I was turned down for that would have directed me away from here.  I remind myself to believe in myself because my whole team already believes in me just the way I am.

What a year...40 years old and finally landing the dream job I always wanted but never knew it existed until recently.  Starting fresh, stepping into the unknown, and feeling ever so grateful for the wonderful opportunity to work in something I am so passionate about.  It may not be a popular opinion, but it's another spectacular gift of 2020.

Dreaming in Code, 

Kristy Kreme

Saturday, October 3, 2020

So I cleansed my liver for this?

 Over the last 7 months, I've accumulated a stack of post-it notes with blog content ideas that did nothing but collect dust.  Like you, I've struggled at times to make sense of my thoughts, my emotions, my fucked up dreams let alone figure out what day it is.  I change my clothes 3-4 times a day as I work from home.. day time jammies, mid-day workout attire, something I call "this could almost pass as street clothes" outfit before Jay comes home, and then straight back to my nighttime jammies after dinner. 

However, as October has snuck back into our lives, so has my social feed filled with #SoberOctober posts that has really had me reflecting on the last year of my life and my choices.

Last fall, I set out to participate in #SoberOctober for the first time.  For the most part, I was testing my hypothesis that alcohol was contributing to a growing depression within me.  I made it some 20+ days, throwing in the towel at our annual Homey Fall Fun Fest towards the end of the month.  Navigating the day, riding our single speed mountain bikes in costume on urban trails around town was somehow too clear w/ NA beer so I talked my husband into picking me up a six pack of beer on this way to meet us after his race.  I struggled with the attention 'not drinking' brought me and I just wanted to let loose like everyone else.  I stayed off the wagon for the rest of October and through November, but the experience on the ground was so much different than before.

The sparkle and luster of drinking had faded.  That soft vignette of drinking wine by candlelight exposed itself as a dingy dark space filled with loneliness.  I had seen the other side... the clear headed mornings, the anxious energy subsiding, the depression fading... it all made the once celebratory drinking now dull and sad. I wanted to take back the light in my life.  

I chose sobriety on December 1st, 2019.

I made it through the holidays, through the loss of my mother in law, through flying and vacation, remodeling and selling our condo after 13+ years, buying a home; living amidst the social injustice, riots and looting in Minneapolis; turning 40 and, somehow, though the pandemic and physical isolation that comes with it.  Sure, I would give anything to just go numb on some days but, where the general consensus indicates alcohol use and abuse it up almost unanimously, I imagine each day is adding to my super power.  For every shitty week I've had, the fear of what's to come, every bottle of anti-bacterial solution I empty out into my palms, and every milestone that quietly passes... for every one I collect the day's strength (even if while found on my knees and with tears in my eyes), and I add it to my armor and head off to bed. 

Last weekend, my sober calendar hit 300 days.  I only told two people that it was here but I wore that badge on my heart like a beacon of light.  Counting the days gives me a sense of pride I celebrate silently within myself and, if I am honest, at times use as a reason to reward myself with something new I wouldn't have done for myself before.  Helloooo, online shopping!

But it's also an odd reminder that, for the first time in my life, I am struggling with my identity.  Am I sober or alcohol-free?  Am I 'in recovery' even if I don't attend meetings and never wound up in rehab?  All I know is that I am happy and I can see parts of myself in each description and each book on sobriety I read.  I fill my ears with podcasts and my time with adventures big and small...

I ride. I sew masks. We bought our first house.. so I decorate and tidy and vacuum and move things.  I read. I bake and I bake and I bake. I eat raw cookie dough. I ride some more.  Digital coupon-cutting on the Target Circle app is a competitive sport for me!  I paint rooms and hallways.  I do HIIT workouts.  I have mastered a caulking gun.  I fixed the toilet.  I coach.  I am growing plants and tell them how loved they are.  I ride some more.  I jump my bike off things (little things, but I am getting air!).  I volunteer with the trail crew. I smell the flowers.  I cook.  But most importantly, I smile more.  

Day One of Sober October 2019...

306 Days Sober... <3

If you've been wondering if alcohol is having a negative impact on your life, if the constant unknown of the pandemic or the pending election has you overindulging, I recommend giving #SoberOctober a try.  What was intended to be a 'just for now' choice really truly made me find a new door into a better life for me.  If you have no sober network, I am here for you.  If you DO have a sober network, I am here for you!  Because the sober people in my life helped me and I am there for those of you who need it. 

Now, I only hope I've enforced my armor enough to make it through the next 30+ days and the election...but that's a fear for another day.

Feeling strong in my sobriety, 

Kristy Kreme

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Social Distancing: How Sobriety prepared me for this

When I first got sober in 2003, Social Distancing had an entirely different meaning.  I was a 23 year old trying to find herself in a world she didn't understand, in skin she didn't love, trying to find a voice that wasn't just a whisper.  When I got sober, I cut everyone out... my friends, my bookclub, my coworkers at happy hour.  I didn't know how to continue my life the way it was without booze, so I just stopped doing everything.  It was miserable.  Each night at home was painstakingly long and agonizing, each weekend dull.  That was then...

But not this time.

Day One of the "work from home" mandate from work due to the Coronavirus Pandemic was also Day 108 of my new life without alcohol.  Although this first week of what people are softly calling a 'new normal' was awkward and confusing, it was welcomed with an open mind thanks to so much that I have already learned in my sobriety.

Some lessons are light and silly, like how I all of a sudden LOVE to wash the dishes and tidy up my kitchen.  ???  What the....?  Not sure why, but I do dishes almost every day and it brings me joy!
Reorganizing our condo feels like I'm nesting all over again.
Buying my first placemats for our new kitchen island was amazing and makes me smile!
Filling a candy jar of chocolates when it gets low feels like a mini expression of love.
Chatting with friends has held so much more meaning because I remember it all.

But the three most impactful lessons that fill my soul are these:

1.  Quitting drinking saved me from killing myself

I quit drinking after years of battling depression, anxiety, and a painfully diminished self-worth.  I was ashamed at myself for drinking two bottles of wine on the couch on a work night, only to hate the shit out of myself the next day until the time it meant I could return to the liquor store for more.  Had I walked into this uncertain time of a global pandemic, economic distress, social distancing, and spending more time alone than I think I ever have, I think I could have easily drank myself to death or at least to a much darker place.  I can only imagine how much Social Distancing would have compounded my anxiety and depression that was fueled by alcohol and by pairing that with less contact with people forcing me to buck up and be normal... I truly would have found the bottom everyone expects Sober people to have hit.

2. Self-care is extremely important
I have filled my hands with the inspiring words of Annie Grace, Holly Whitaker, Sarah Hepola, and Laura McKowen as I have waded through these early days of sobriety.  One majorly recurring theme has been Self-care and going easy on yourself as you grow and develop as a sober person.  It was the first lesson I anchored too and the one I held tightest to my heart.  Exercise, sleeping in, painting my nails, taking a nap, reading, journalling, cooking, not cooking, staying home, getting out.... I've paid close attention to what my heart has said it has needed and followed it's recommendations closely.  It has brought me to a better place of really knowing myself and what I need in a given moment, whether it be stress at work, tension at home, the anxiety of the unknown.

It is something we ALL need at this time.  We need the focus to actually listen to ourselves and this social distancing gives us the space and time to take action on it.  All you have to do is make the choice to do what you need for yourself.  Bust out the nice glasses with dinner, use the good napkins, eat dessert, stretch your aching muscles, draw/sew/paint/create, pick up an old hobby again... just do something that is JUST FOR YOU!  And next time your mind or your heart asks you to do something for yourself again.... DO IT!  Find time every day to make yourself a priority because if you don't, you'll run yourself empty and it'll be impossible to keep caring for everyone else.

3. The Joy of Silence
When I was drinking, almost every hour of every day was filled with the constant barrage of self-hate and disappointment echoing within the confines of my mind.  It was loud and disgusting, it was so violent I could feel it in my bones.  And when I wasn't admonishing myself, I was planning out my next drink... Which liquor store should I go to next so they don't think I have a problem? What flavor should I buy?  Can I start drinking now?  How much did I drink last night? Did we have a fight?  What happened last night?

Within 48 hours of quitting, the screaming ended.  Just. Like. That.  And where the shouting had been was filled with nothing but pure, undeniable Silence.  And peace.  There was absolutely nothing but the quiet breathing of Jay and Rosco when I woke in the morning for work, the sound of my foot pads walking through the condo in the dark, my slow breaths as I laid down at night.  Not a whisper, not a single thing remained and it was so weird at first.  For the first week I was doubtful, like I was waiting for my abuser to return but it didn't... because I didn't pick up another drink.

This quickly has become the best part of sobriety:  Silence.  Time alone is no longer filled with anxiety and disappointment.  It has been replaced with the space to allow my mind to wonder, daydream, and explore.  With the new addition of working from home and nearly eliminating my social life outside of the home, it prepared me for this time with myself.  I've had now 112 days to practice being in peaceful silence with myself and find ways to simply enjoy the time, explore something new like learning coding, trying new workouts, and reorganizing my home.

Even if you are not sober, I hope you can find ways to fill your new time away from friends and family to take care of yourself and find that inner peace.  Hopefully we all can so that we can come out of this with a new perspective on how to care for ourselves and of what truly is important and valued in life.

May you find a way to make the most of every day.  Me, I'll be working on making my past self jealous!

Wishing you peace and good health,
Kristy Kreme

Friday, February 14, 2020

Hurts, Don't it?

I'm still in disbelief how quickly planning a trip to see Jay's Mom turned into planning a funeral.  In a matter of days, it went from 'let's celebrate Valentine's early by getting a nice hotel room and visiting your mom' to 'the Hospice staff says your mom isn't expected to make it through the weekend'.  We got a sitter for Rosco, packed up the car, and headed South at 5:00am to meet his brother John in their hometown and head straight to Dot's side.

We met John at Hurts Donut to pull ourselves out of a travel-fog with coffee and glazed, sprinkled goodness.  Our hugs were amplified and laughter light until the gravity of the day ahead weighed in.  It wasn't until the end of the weekend that the real truth to the name settled on my heart... Hurts, Donut?

Seeing Dot was a shock to the system and my heart broke instantly.  Sitting at her bedside, I sat willing her eyes to open and to hear her voice if not for my sake, but for the boys'.  As the pain rolled in like waves, I was also washed with the gratitude of making it on time to be by her side, knowing there was no where else in the world we needed to be other than right here in this moment.  We stayed throughout the day, leaving only to grab dinner and return so Jay could stay with her through the night.  John and I returned to our hotel rooms for some much needed sleep but the phone rang at 1:15, pulling me from slumber with the sound of Jay crying on the other end of the phone, telling me she had passed on.

I woke John and we returned to Dot's room to say our final goodbyes and comfort Jay in the dark room.  It was all quiet and still... it was grief and sadness, slow moving time that seemed as if the seconds barely ticked by at all as we waited for someone from Hospice to arrive.  Waves of sadness crashed against us while moments of fond memories hit us in the face like mist against the rocks.

It was somewhere in the silence of the morning that gratitude overcame me again.. this time for my own sobriety.  It was in these moments I was so grateful to be sober, that my 'need to drink' didn't come before Jay and John's pain, their grief, or take away their focus on Dot.  It allowed me to be pulled from sleep in the middle of the night and be there for my husband, to be 100% present in the here and now.

In the first couple weeks of sobriety I had wondered how I would deal with loss, feared that it would be an instant path back to a bottle of wine, but it didn't.  It was like a passage out of the poem "The Invitation" by Oriah Mountain Dreamer:

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

So I sat with my pain and thought of Dot...

She welcomed me the first time I met her.  I never felt like I needed a filter with her, but learned quickly how to think fast and respond openly when her Catholic and my Agnostic worlds didn't align.  I will forever giggle about when she dug out her 1980's 'etiquette' book when Jay and I were planning our wedding, filled with outdated societal norms my feminist self couldn't stomach.  

She taught me the joy of shopping at Von Maur.  Dot reminded me of the simple pleasure of a tasty, hardshell taco.  She raised an amazing man that I love and cherish, who cherishes and respects me.
And I hold dearly to the sound of her saying "I love you" as we parted during our last visit.  It's warming to think that Dot and Bob are reunited for Valentine's this year.

Grateful I got to say "I love you" one last time..
Kristy Kreme

Monday, December 30, 2019

30 Days and Counting...

This isn't the full story. Not yet.  However, each time I have posted about this Sober journey, I have had a new friend reach out to me in confidence to share they've been considering the same path of an alcohol-free life.  So this one's for you... those who've reached out and to those that may be asking themselves the same questions that were bouncing around in my mind for so long.

Today marks 30 days with no alcohol and I honest to goodness, no joke, not joshing ya in any way, am the happiest, lightest, joy filled person that I can ever remember being.  During the first week of December, I told people my goal was to go 30 days and figure it out from there, but the response never truly felt authentic.  Deep down inside I knew the decision in my heart was final... I am going the distance and never want to go back.  Why?  Here are the highlights from the first 30 days on everything I've already gained and lost along the way.....

Hmmm, where should we start?  Gains? Or do we kick out the bad?

Here's what I have LOST in the last 30 days living alcohol free (some of which I previously had no idea was even related to my drinking life):

  • Crippling self-loathing and depression
  • Anxiety
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Night sweats
  • 13 POUNDS & 4 inches around my waist
  • Acne and redness of my face
  • Heart palpitations
  • Cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Laziness / avoiding to-do's
  • Regret and inner battles
  • Hangovers and headaches
  • Not remembering the night before
  • Feeling like a disappointment
And, if it's even possible for things to get BETTER than that list of shit being kicked out the door.... this is the list of all the things sobriety has given me in the last 30 days:
  • Childlike joy
  • Giggles (last night Jay & I giggled over 'back-scratchers for 5 min. before falling asleep)
  • A quiet mind
  • Deeper connection with my husband
  • Energy
  • Confidence
  • More $$ in my bank account for BIKES! (seriously, 5 weeks w/o wine = new dropper post, people!)
  • Better sex
  • Making memories
  • Being 100% present at holiday gatherings, with family and friends
  • Improved sense of smell and taste
  • More time in the day
  • Clean house
  • Cheaper tab at dinner
  • To-do lists DONE 
  • Books read, journal pages filled, blogs written, laundry folded, dishes washed, true connections, easier decision making, being a happy sober cab, running doesn't actually suck all that bad....
  • Feeling lighter... free
  • Smiling so friggin' big and real 
I mean seriously look at this girl!.....

Looking over these lists, it reaffirms what joy fills my heart and there's no doubt that this is the lifestyle for me to reach my truest potential.  I'm on fire!  And, surprisingly, it was easy.   Albeit, this wasn't the first attempt but my goal is for it to be my last.  

I want to give an amazingly heart-felt virtual hug and high-five to Jay who has been here for every struggle, effort and stumble... I would not have made it here without your undying support and unconditional love.  To my family who have given me support, both open and silently in the background, you are so important to me. To my friends who have loved and supported me, I'll still need ya every step of the way.. and to the universe for flooding my vision with podcast links, blogs, books (thank you, Annie Grace!) and Insta-posts... it has all come together at exactly the right time!  

Curious for yourself?  DM me, pull me aside at a race or party, call/text me... I'm here for ya!  Below are some of the most awesome tools/links I've found most useful in these last 30 days in case they can help even just one person who may need them.  

"There's nothing as unstoppable as a freight train full of fuck-yeah" - Jen Sincero

Headin' into 2020 light a freight train...
Kristy Kreme

"This Naked Mindbook and Podcast - Annie Grace

"This Naked Mind"
"Recovery Happy Hour"
"Sober Girl Society"
"Seltzer Squad"
"Recovery Elevator"

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Winter Solstice and the Chalice of Change

According to Forever Conscious, "The Winter Solstice celebrates the longest hours of darkness or the rebirth of the Sun and is believed to hold a powerful energy for regeneration, renewal, and self-reflection."  Today also marks 21 days sober.

Image result for winter solstice free images

To back up a bit.. I joined some friends in participating in "Sober October" recently and made it maybe a total of 20 days before falling back into my regularly scheduled drinking program.  Quickly, I returned to my unhealthy love affair with wine and beer, slowly watching the positive affects of October melt away as the routine settled back in.... that's a suitcase to unpack on another day.  But something changed Thanksgiving weekend and I woke up on December 1st with no desire to drink alcohol.  It happened again on December 2nd and again on the 3rd, so I kept listening.

This morning, I woke with no hangover and have enjoyed my fresh-brewed coffee as I snuggle on the couch with my Start Today gratitude & goals journal and new read, "This Naked Mind" by Annie Grace. In the silence, I am sitting here bathing in the gratitude of enjoying another booze-filled holiday party with no desire to drink alcohol, for the physical changes in my mind and body, and mostly the most fulfilling joy and energy this new chapter of my life has been bringing me.

Don't get me wrong... the last 21 days were not my darkest.  On the contrary, they have been filled with peace & light and the utter confidence that I have chosen the right path.  I have had many of those dark days this year.  Ones where I felt down for the count and wasn't sure if I was even going to try to get back up again.  Nights where the every tear felt as though pieces of my soul were dying under the weight of my pain.  

Today, however, the word jumping off the pages and slapping me across the face as I look internally is CONFIDENCE.  As far back as I can remember, I used alcohol as a way to "fit in" with the crowd. Even when I was sober for 3 1/2 yrs in my early 20's, I would occasionally show up to a house party with a 6-pack of O'Douls and tear the labels off.  The sad reality that I see now is that it never gave me the confidence I sought, only a false sense of belonging.

But in the last 21 days, I have felt confidence pulse through me in warm, forceful ways.  I have walked out of meetings feeling like a #BOSS lately, enjoyed sincere conversations with friends at parties and remembered every minute of it, I have felt like a caring partner to my husband and a patient parent to my fur baby.  Comparing that to the last few years of my life filled with self-loathing where I spent each morning obsessing over what a loser I was, a disappointment, that I didn't belong and that everyone would someday leave me...

The contrast is staggering.

So, I will rinse out my chalice, wipe off the red-wine-stained rim, top it off with some chilled Fresca and step into this day with my own personal mic drop.  

Hoisting the Chalice of Fresca up high, 
Kristy Kreme

Sunday, December 1, 2019

SSUSA 2019 Ch 4 - Rocky Hill Ranch, Race Day and Derbies

Saturday morning came early and the first hangover since Sober October was a gross reminder of how hangovers and race mornings don't mix...

or do they?

We loaded up the van and headed to Rocky Hill Ranch, a private mountain bike venue where our singlespeed buddies were all gathering to play bikes for the day.  We had checked out most of the trails the day prior and were excited for the race ahead of us.  Kitted up in our full THC* regalia, Coach, Hwood and I prepped the bikes and gathered with our friends in anticipation of the start.

Chewy lined us all up with the "In it to Win it" crew on the line, and the partiers filled in behind us.  Jay had an instinct that they were gonna pull a reversal on us so he grabbed me and Jay Drasher (our bud from PA and 2018 Men's SSUSA champ) and we headed to the back of the pack.  Just as they were about to start the race, Chewy had everyone turn their bikes around just as Hwood expected and told us to wait for the dinner bell to start.  

As they clanged away on the metal triangle, everyone stayed put with the exception of a handful of us that paid attention.  There I was, sittin' in 5th place behind Hwood, Jay D., and two other guys off the start!  I looked over my shoulder as we entered the single track and found that we were GONE!  The see of single speeders in various costumes and get-ups were a significant ways back amidst the dust and we were haulin'.  The nervous anxiety hummed in my legs as I tried to gather my wits and hold onto the wheel in front of me.  The twisty first mile or so gave us a glimpse on the single-file river of riders behind us and I knew we maintained the gap but not enough to settle in yet.

I had the perfect gear for the course and the knee pain from the crash earlier in the week was non-existant either by chance or by adrenaline... but I took it either way.  At the first beer stop, I still led the women and maintained a top 10 position.  The hangover had not ebbed and the smell of beer was nauseating, so I topped off my bottle with water and headed back onto the course.  When I got to the next checkpoint, I still didn't feel better but now a voice bellowed from the back of my mind.... "What if you just kept going as fast as you can?... What if you won?".... so I kept going, kept attacking myself in the woods, kept pedaling turn after flowy turn.

Mother Nature had her fun with us, dropping a thick blanket of pine needles so densely over the trail that it disappeared at times.  You couldn't turn off your mind and rely on Jedi forces to get you through the farthest depths of the trail because it would disappear before you knew it, forcing me to put a foot down and look around, searching for some sign of where to pick it back up.  The fear crept into me and the sound of my wheels crushing the needles tricked me into hearing things that weren't there.  So, I kept pedaling.

As I took my last turn out of the single track and back onto the dirt road to the finish, I looked over my shoulder once more in disbelief.  I charged the finished and threw up my arms in excitement as I finished in 1st for the women in the race, and top 10 overall.  I've tried so hard to win the race every year and finally pulled it off!  It was the most amazing finish not only of the race, but to my best mountain bike season ever... and my day was made.  Jay was there at the finish to celebrate with me and the tension ebbed from all the weeks leading up to that day.  Now it was time to relax... but not until after being awarded one badass Armadillo as a trophy for winning the race! 

The partying commenced, filled with all the single speed antics one would expect... beer, bikes, hosting competitions, and derbies.   Jay Drasher and I took one last photo as the 2018 Champs with our champion's belts before the final derbies began.   
Crazy thing was, this year I was not worried about winning it.. I had already accomplished a huge goal that day and was bathing in the glory of my new buddy, Arnie the Armadillo.  When I put my foot down in the women's derby, I was smiling as I excited and watched as the final women fought for the belt.

For the after party, we headed back into Smithville to watch the teams battle for next year's hosting rights. Hwood joined Chewy and Spinner for the play-by-play on the Burning Bike Podcast as the riffraff dropped quarters out of their butt cheeks into pint glasses on the ground... "Texas Butt Darts"... it was a friggin' laugh-riot! (listen starting at 36:00ish minutes into the podcast to enjoy the hilarity of it all).

Following that in the podcast, I was interviewed along with 2012 women's SSUSA Champ, Kerry W., as we bonded over single speeding and partying' on bikes after burying some hatchets out in the lawn and finally getting to know each other after 6 years of spinning in the same circles.  Needless to say, it was long past due.

The locals were a ton of fun and the band of misfits drank beer well into the night.  As the crowd thinned and the temps dropped we headed back to our Air BnB to wind down and welcome the next chapter of our trip.

For months, part of me worried about how this day was going to go... we had done so much to prepare and plan for this road trip and race and so much could have gone wrong.  Luckily, it turned out to be one hell of a party on bikes and I couldn't have been more elated with the outcome. We got to ride a lot of awesome new trails we would probably never ridden otherwise and we connected with our favorite single speeders from around the country. It was exactly what I'd hoped it would be!

Rollin' with my homies!
Kristy Kreme

The Best Dreams Happen When We're Awake

 For as far back into my childhood as I can remember, the only consistent thing I wanted to be when I grew up was Happy.  I've seen grad...