Motorcycle Mama

January 12th, 2010 by Elisha

In planning for next Fall when I will be at Bastyr full-time, I decided that it would make a lot of sense to be able to commute by motorcycle.

When you are bound to the schedule of the Washington State ferries, you do anything and everything to make it easier to get on the boat and to make it cost less.  When the vehicle you are driving is a motorcycle, you pay less for your fare, and, more importantly, you get on the boat each and every time even if it is too full to hold any more cars.  That means, you get home at rush hour.

In November, 2009,  I took a motorcycle training course.  I had signed up to take the class with a whole group of friends and we picked a weekend in late November because it was the only time all of us could make it.  As it turned out, as the dates grew closer, everyone but me dropped out of the course (and I could have taken it in September when the sun was still shining!)

So, there I was, in November, temperatures close to freezing, rainy and windy, out on a practice range for 5 hour stretches – friendless.  This was the first time I had EVER driven a motorcycle or anything even remotely like a motorcycle.  Did I mention it was near freezing and I’d been abandoned?

We began our first practice session sitting on the bike and using our feet, Flintstone style, to push our bikes across the practice range – back and forth, back and forth, back and forth – bike toddlers.  Over the course of two, 5 1/2-hour sessions, we moved to starting the bike, actually driving the bike, turning the bike, stopping the bike, changing lanes, etc.

We spent a total of 11 hours driving a motorcycle and 8 hours in a classroom being lectured on safety and rules of the road.  We took a written test.  We took a driving range test.  If we passed, we were given a little card that said, in the eyes of Washington State, we were now safe to navigate the big wide world of roads and traffic.  We hadn’t once gotten above 20mph, nor driven on anything resembling a road.

Well, my confidence at that point was probably lower than when I began.  I had passed all of my tests, but, I also now knew, deep in my soul, that riding a motorcycle was crazy.  And, there was NO way I was ready for the actual roads and traffic!

I needed to practice – and a lot of it.  And to do that, I needed a bike of my own plus a entire wardrobe of really heavy duty protective gear for my vulnerable parts – AKA my entire body.

For the bike, craigslist was our friend.  We found an almost new bike that was a perfect fit for my needs – enough power, but not too much power (250cc’s – a starter girl bike), and light enough that I can manage it – for the perfect price.  Voila, I’m a bike owner.  And, lucky for us, black Friday, which was two days after we purchased the bike, worked in our favor.  I was able to get top of the line protective gear at about half of the going rate.  I was set.  Now all that was left was practice.

We started practicing by spending a couple of hours in a park and ride near our house.  Nils would drive the bike to the site with me following in the car.  Once there, I would ride in circles, turning right, turning left, weaving through cones, stopping, starting – getting used to this new addition to our vehicle family.  It had been several weeks since my training course (11 hours total remember).  Then Nils would drive the bike back home.  We did this for a couple of days in a row.  Finally, I was ready to brave the real rodes – I hoped.  Mind you, I had still never gotten above 20mph – which felt plenty fast to me.

Well, I did it.  I drove the bike home.  I went up to 50mph.  I stopped.  I started.  I signaled.  I turned.  I did it.  Cars in the opposite direction are a whole new experience when you don’t have a metal shell around your body, but other than that, it felt great.  Now my next mission, should I choose to accept it,  is to expand my travel horizons and get some seat time in my pocket, with the ultimate goal getting on the ferry and driving on the city streets of the greater Seattle area.

As I turned into my driveway at the end of that first ride, I slowed down carefully, then started to turn the bike to back it into its final resting place, thinking I was the shit,  and as I started that last turn, …the wheels slipped out from under me on the slippery mud and leaves and I laid the bike down on its side, jumping out of the way to not get caught underneath.  At least it wasn’t at a stoplight.

We’re Live

January 8th, 2010 by Elisha

So, I just sent out the newsletter letting MANY people know this is here. Here we go…

The Last of the Overlap.

January 7th, 2010 by Elisha

School for this quarter began on Monday.  Chemsitry 162 and Anatomy & Physiology 242.  I am loving it!  Being in school is really thrilling for me this time around.  It feels different, more exciting, than I remember my undergraduate years feeling.

The courses are challenging.  Lots and lots to memorize.  Tons of unpronounceable words that I somehow need to remember.  Math to dredge up from the dank basement of my brain.  And I love it.

And, now that I am almost 40, my brain works differently.  Not really better or worse, just differently.  And, I need sleep – big difference from undergrad!  I find that I don’t procrastinate – I can’t, there isn’t time.

Here is something else I don’t do as well as I used to…

…As this quarter begins, I am finishing the last details of client work from my business – the last prints, the last e-mails, the last webpages.  The two directions of my life are overlapping.  It is this overlap of worlds that has been the most challenging of my transition.  My brain in two distinctly different frames of mind, jumping back and forth all the time.  I keep thinking I am good at that kind of multi-tasking – I used to be.  But I’m not anymore.

For a while, my business, school and the holidays all overlapped and I came remarkable close to hopping on a plane to somewhere where I owned a bowl, spoon and dress made from grass, and lived in a hut.  I wanted to be responsible for absolutely nothing.   I wanted off the ride.

Now, I am emerging into this new path more clearly and only a taste of the overlap is here.  I am ready to tie up the ends, wrap it lovingly with kind fabric, decorate it with a ribbon of tears and kiss it off down a lovin’ mama river.

The beginning…

December 31st, 2009 by Elisha

Firsts.  First blog entry.  First time blogging in any way.  And lasts.  Last day of the year.  Last day of the decade.  Last day of my business.

So, on this day of firsts and lasts, I am sitting to type the story of the end of one journey and the beginning of another.

I guess the “first” question is;  why am I writing this blog?

Well, the story begins about two years ago when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

Prior to that, for some time, I had been experiencing light numbness in my fingertips, and an unexplained weakness and “foot drop” in my right leg.  I had spent over a year trying to resolve these symptoms with chiropractors and massage therapists, assuming it was a nerve pinch.  When it didn’t go away, I finally decided it was time to see a neurologist.  She did some physical tests and determined that my problem was Central Nervous System related and not Peripheral Nervous System (meaning, no nerve pinch).

Off I went for a full body MRI and a week later –  Voila!  MS.

With the immediate reaction of this whopper news, I immediately began a very traditional course of treatment of Beta-Interferon (Rebif specifically), to which my liver soon spoke up, and very definitively declared it wasn’t interested in.  This discovery ruled out all by two of the MS therapies available, and both of my two remaining choices were not particularly appealing.

With research, and the assistance of my naturopath, I began looking at food and how what I eat is related to how my body deals with disease and health.  How what I had been eating was part of my body’s breakdown and how what I eat now can assist my body in becoming a strong force to hold off disease progress and help heal what is broken.  So, my journey into “food as medicine” began.

I found that this understanding of food and my body is truly an exciting, revelatory, simple and beautiful thing.  I found that I wanted to spend all my time learning about it.  I wanted to become more than just a consumer of food and of nutritional information.  I wanted to be an expert, a practicioner.   And, I want to play a part in helping others to better understand how important food is to our health – as individuals, as communities, and as a world.  I wanted to enter the global food conversation and find a way to play my part.

So, after 10 years of photographing many fabulous pregnant women and families, I decided to set down my camera (as a business) and head into the land of graduate school.  Beginning in the Fall of 2010, I will be attending Bastyr University to get my Masters of Science in Nutrition and Certification as a Registered Dietician.  Until then, I am in the land of pre-requisits – basically course after course of Chemistry with a dash of Anatomy & Physiology thrown in.

This blog is my chronicle of this journey – what I learn, where I soar, where I stumble.  It is also where I will post any possible upcoming photo session dates (summers?  winter/spring breaks?).  Join me on this journey if you are interested.  Mainly, it is a way for me to pay attention to what is unfolding.

To your health!