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Thanks Giving November 26, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — onarete @ 4:07 pm

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to share some of the things that I am particularly thankful for:

  • I am thankful for my family.  Even though we aren’t together this Thanksgiving, we are together in spirit.  I am thankful for modern technology and transportaiton that allows us to stay so close. I am thankful for my parents who have provided me with such a solid foundation to grow, and I am thankful for my sister who has become my endless source of friendship.
  • I am thankful for my boyfriend who moved to be closer to me this year.  I am thankful that he provides endless amounts of love, joy, and companionship.  I am thankful for everyday that we spend laughing, and I am thankful for the days that he accepts my tears.
  • I am thankful that God provided such a beautiful earth for us to enjoy.
  • I am thankful that I have a strong body that I can use to explore that earth. 
  • I am thankful that I live in a time and a place that I can fufill my potential as a female.
  • I am thankful that I live in a country that will elect a black president.
  • I am thankful that as humans we experience compassion, that we recognize pain in others and recognize a good greater than ourselves.
  • I am thankful for our books, our libraries, our schools.
  • I am thankful for my job and that I have security in this very unsecure time.  I am thankful that I have enough to eat on Thanksgiving and that all my basic needs are met.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Religion versus God October 22, 2008

While I am not a religious person, I have always been a faithful person.  I pray daily and seek out God in the little places: in nature, in others, in my heart.  Before I act, I always try to ask myself if the action is aligned with my morals and values.  Above all, I try to be God-ful, sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding, but always trying. 

The most important values to me are love and kindness and I think all actions can be judged against them.  These values apply to our relationships with others, the earth, animals, and God.  During this election season (and earlier), I have been appalled by the hateful venom that has come from religious establishments in this country and from the lack of willigness to care for the less fortunate.

Reading blogs and listening to the likes of James Dobson, I keep hearing that the two most important issues for Christians in the election are protection of traditional marriage and unborn life.  I dont think either of those are bad values.   Marriage between a man and a woman is sacred and beautiful.  I also think abortion is generally morally wrong and I dont support it.  However, I also dont  beleive in a constitutional ban on gay marraige, nor am I part of the pro-life camp. 

Spewing hate towards the gay community and pro-choicers is wrong, wrong, wrong.  I really dont see how civil unions threatens anybody’s traditional marraige.  Are these people really that insecure in their marraiges?!?!  Civil unions are  not going to destroy anybody’s marraiges or corrupt your children.  In contrast, banning gay marraige is hateful and judgeful.  How about trying out a little love and kindness, and if your God dissaproves, then let him judge, not you.

Likewise, overturning Roe v Wade places a woman’s rights to control over her body (and her life) in jeapordy.  Taking away rights moves us towards a slippery and dangerous slope.  Nobody is pro-abortion, they are pro-choice.  If the pro-life camp spent the amount of energy and money they spent fighting abortion on adoption,  contraception, and opportunity for women, I think they would go much farther in reducing abortions.  In addition, they would empower women rather than dimishing their rights.

By focusing so much on gay marraige and abortion, Christians are completely missing the boat on far greater opportunities for good.  If Christians are concerned about murder of the unborn, they should be equally outraged about the murder of US soldiers and Iraqi citizens.  They should be concerned about the underpriveleged and struggling.  Providing universal health care is the decent thing to do.  Caring for veterans and the mentally ill is the moral thing to do.  Protecting the environment is being thankful for the gifts God has provided.

It is my opinion that the fundamentalist movement in this country doesn’t have much to do with God at all.  It has to do with fear and judgement rather than love and kindness.  I hope that the true Christians will vote in November (Republican or Democrat) with their hearts rather than with their church.  I will be, and I dare anyone to call me a heathen.


TOWM October 10, 2008

Filed under: arizona,life,mountain biking,Nature,Uncategorized — onarete @ 7:04 pm


This years TOWM was sort of a disaster for me, but also alot of fun.  After finding out that the 60 miler was actually 67.2 miles the evening before, I headed to bed.  We were camped in a lava field with all sorts of rocks and painful items stabbing me in the back, when Blair got really sick (the 6 hour flu?).  Needless to say, I was awake almost the entire night.  I still felt pretty good when the alarm went off, and I was looking forward to a day on the bike. 

The first 20 miles or so, I was just suffering.  For some reason, my bike wasn’t shifting and it was still really cold, so my asthma was acting up a little.  After the second aid station, I hit a fast and beautiful dirt road, and from there I had a wonderful day.  It was a little bit cold and breezy, and all the trees were turning.  So  many times during the race, I found myself saying a little prayer thankful for the beauty, for the fresh air, for the blood pumping through my muscles.  I am so lucky to have a life like this.

I ate really well and paced myself and just had a really good time throughout.  I never crashed and felt like I rode the downhills and technical sections really well.  Right before the final aid station it started to rain.  I stopped to put on my jacket and looked at the time.  It was 3 o’clock.  This was a serious bummer because I knew that the cutoff time for the aid station was at 3.  About 5 minutes later I rolled in, the rain pouring, and was pulled.  Part of me was really upset with myself and dissapointed, but a bigger part of me was smiling and happy and thankful for having so much fun and feeling so good.

I hightailed it back to the venue where the road was already turning to a gooey mess.  Blair and I threw all of our wet gear in the car, and decided to leave.  Judging by the numbere of other cars leaving, I think it must have been a pretty small crowd that stuck around for the night.  After a pitstop at Dairy Queen, Blair drove me home and unpacked.  I definately owe him one now.

The good thing about this race is that I felt really good and have obviously built up my endurance.  On the other hand, I am slooow.  Which I knew, but it was good to be reminded of it.  Now I know where I have my work cut out for me. 

Overall, I’d have to say it was a lot of FUN!


Desert storm August 15, 2008

Filed under: arizona,desert,happiness,Nature,road biking,Uncategorized — onarete @ 6:17 pm

The wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but deliverance from fear  –Ralph Waldo Emerson

I suprised myself yesterday when I went for a road ride and realized that it had been over 3 weeks!  Part of this is that it has been just too hot to hang out on the blacktop in the 105+ degree heat.  It is much easier to wait until the sun goes down and ride dirt.  As I left work though, it was a cool 97 degrees, so I jumped at the opportunity.  It was hot and sunny but not overwhelmingly so.

I did the Home -> Bush Highway -> Usery Pass -> Home loop.  Once I passed the Walgreens, not a soul was out.  Even the traffic was abnormally light.  It was just me and the desert, and I was flying.  Every so often I would look around and be hit by another wave of awe at the beauty of the mountains and the river and the saguaro cactus saluting as I went by.

As I approached the turnoff for Usery Pass, the sky was turning ominous.  Half way up the climb, dirt and sand started blowing across the road (and yes, at one point, a tumbleweed).  At the top, it had gone from a sunny day to black, lightening, and windy.  On the descent, the wind gusts were threatening to knock me over.  As hard as I tried, I couldnt keep my front wheel in a straight line.  Every time I nearly crashed and kept it together, I felt a surge of adrenaline cursing through my body.  Wild and smiling, I turned toward home, the wind to my back, spinning furiously to outrun the storm.  I was flying.

I pulled into the apartment complex just as the storm instensified and the sky went totally dark.  Blair had dinner on the stove.  I was salty and windblown.  Inside, it was safe.  I was totally, totally happy.


Addiction March 5, 2008

Filed under: life,Uncategorized — onarete @ 5:18 pm


Repetition.  Routine.  Addiction?  I’ve noticed I have a tendency to live things over and over and over again until something forces me out of that rut.  And unlike some people, I like the rut.  I’m addicted.  I have the ability to become entirely absorbed and narrowly focused.

Here’s proof:

  • I eat the same things all the time.  If I didn’t know (or care) it was unhealthy I might be able to go days eating just one thing.  Right now it is Soy Yogurt (cherry flavor) with frozen cherries and peanut butter granola.  I’ve eaten this 6 times in the last 3 days.  Perhaps the longest food rut I’ve fallen into was oatmeal with soy milk, bananas, raisins, and cinnamon.  This lasted about 2 years while I was in college.
  • Exercise is like a drug for me.  I have gone weeks without taking a single day off.  Even when I decide to take a rest day, I can’t enjoy it.  I feel too guilty.  And god forbid if I am forced to take an unplanned day off.  Full fledged anxiety attack.  I kid you not.
  • Related to the last item, but unique unto itself, cycling and all things cycling-related have taken over my life.  I can’t remember what a weekend is like with out biking.  Saturday and Sunday.  Recently, I had a Saturday morning at home and couldn’t figure out what the heck people do who don’t spend the weekends biking.  When I’m not actually on the road or trail, I spend all of my time working on bikes, looking at bikes, reading blogs about bikes, shopping for bike parts, etc, etc, etc.  This all makes me very happy.
  • My narrow focus applies to my relationships as well.  I’ve never (even as a kid) had a lot of friends.  But I’ve always had goodfriends.  A few close friends, family,  and my boyfriend and I am happy.  I don’t need a lot of variety.
  • I love to read.  Sometimes I get so into my reading that I resent the real world.  Now that I live alone, it bothers me when I have people visiting because I don’t have time just to read.  This is truly an addiction.

Healthy? Unhealthy?  I don’t know, but I recognize the patterns.


Holy cow February 1, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — onarete @ 5:48 pm
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A lot of people ask me why I am a vegetarian.  The question always makes me cringe because it requires a long explanation.  Usually, I will give them the abbreviated version:  a veggie diet is better for the environment and for my health.  Most are surprised by this answer!  Many non-vegetarians assume that the only reason to give up animal products is morality.  Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that it is wrong to eat animals when we have an abundance of other healthful choices, but it is not the only reason to become a vegetarian. 

Another reason that I don’t like to answer their questions is that I don’t want to sound like I’m preaching.  I don’t look down on anybody for making their own decisions about the food that they put into their bodies.  That is a very personal and private choice. Although I believe that a vegan diet is the best choice, even I have struggled with it.  There have been long periods of time where I have managed to remain strictly vegan, only to fall into an even longer period where small amounts of dairy in my diet are common.  One thing that I would like to see is for people to become educated on the impact of  meat and dairy products on our environment, health, and economy.  After that, they can make their own decisions.


  • Growing livestock is an inefficient use of precious resources.   Almost half of the U.S. water supply is consumed by livestock as is 80% of  its agricultural land.  In addition, livestock requires an enormous amount of energy.  According to a researcher at Cornell University, “animal protein production requires more than eight times as much fossil-fuel energy than production of plant protein.”
  • Livestock is contributing to the growing problem of global warming.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that it accounts for 28% of global methane emissions from human-related activities.  The production process also emits other greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.
  • Research has shown that a vegetarian diet has numerous health benefits: a healthier heart, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, diabetes control, cancer prevention, and higher calcium retention.

Here are some interesting articles on the subject: an article in Time magazine, another one from Time, one from the New York Times.

Other resources for vegetarians or those wanting to know more: The Vegeterian Society, The Vegeterian Times, and The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.


Freedom January 31, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — onarete @ 5:56 pm

desert.jpgdesert.jpgI beleive in God, only I spell it Nature.  -Frank Lloyd Wright        


As long as I can remember, I have worried about God.  It’s like a heavy weight looming out there in the darkness as I try to fall asleep.  What is he?  Is he really a he?  What if I find God, but it is the wrong God?  And of course the biggest concern of all: is there a hell, and if so, am I going?

But perhaps these are just the concerns of a people who have built their lives inside.  First there were huts, and then villages, and now vast spaces with no grass at all.  God became removed from the natural world in our minds and then, in some hearts, lost any meaning at all.  There is no evidence of God in fluorescent office lights or air-conditioned cars.   He is not with the fundamentalists, whether they be Christian or Muslim. 

God is with nature, and with me as well, when I can join.  For however long or short it lasts, God is there when I lace up my shoes and run on the dirt paths just beyond town.  There is unspeakable power when I ride my bike and notice the the sun and the air and the water.  For me, church lies in the rivers and the mountains that my father taught me to love when I was young. 

Often, we are humbled by nature.  As it gives and takes life, it reminds us that human hubris and God are incompatible.  Nature cannot be conquered by concrete and light.  Rather, we can allow ourselves to be conquered by it.  And all at once there is freedom.