The Catalyst Merry Go-Round

A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.

Friends, they are a funny thing. I have moved more times in the last twenty five years than most people do in a life time. I enjoy it, the changes.

Someone asked me once what I am running from, but i think the question is, what am I looking for?
Everywhere I go, I make a few friends. My family would not call me the social butterfly, but I make a few core friends — for the time I am there.

I’ve bumped into a couple of “friends” from my past and they tell me that I was that one that lost contact with them. I beg to differ, not to be stubborn, but it takes two to tango. I have managed to find a core group of friends that I have never lost contact with, no matter the time or the place or the distance. I can count on one hand how many people that includes.

One thing I have noticed over the years, is that my idea of friendship is very different than others. While I’m in the same physical space as they are, we hang from time to time — never enough for me. Unlike most people I thrive when I’m in the company of others. My mom once told a friend of hers who commented on all my toys I wasn’t playing with, that if she gave me a human I would be happier. I rarely like being alone, not that I mind it, but my preference would be to be around people more often than not.

I have recently moved — again — and currently working on the long distance friendships. As I get setup in my new life, I hear from them how much I am missed, they reminisce on the times we spent together, they wish I was still there. While I am flattered and I feel loved and missed, my perception is quite different than that. It’s not that I don’t miss them, the game nights, the time spent watching them playing softball, or the just hanging out and talking. I miss those times tremendously — I miss them a lot.

It’s just I see those past events as rare occurances. It was not like we hung out every night or even every weekend. Usually the get togethers where we had fun were on the weekends. It was rarer that we’d do anything during the week when I needed the attention the most.

It seems to me from these hundreds of miles between us, that they get together even more now that I am gone than when I was there. I remember commenting on this one of my core friends and they said that was because I was the catalyst. I was the one that brought everyone together to mix and mingle in the beginning and even though they didn’t meet up as much as I liked while I was there, they now meet more because of me. I’m missed after the fact.

The catalyst: a person or thing that precipitates an event.

I’d like to stop being the catalyst and just have more people in my life to fill my time. I think a large loud family would have suited me well. I like the noise, some mellow drama and angst, the warmth, the support, the love. Mom,as usual, was right. I’d rather have a human to to play with than a toy any day.


Perception is Everything

In the Air Force there were strict rule of Do’s and Don’ts, common phrases, acronyms, and eloquent, but to the point statements. One that has stuck with me is “Perception is Everything.”


Metamorphosis I

Metamorphosis I (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It doesn’t matter that the truth is different, it is what it looks like that matters.

The statement came about while we were in class about PDA (public display of affection) and Fraternization is punishable under the UCMJ. Fraternization is where one person is involved with another of a higher rank and favoritism may occur.

The story went that an officer was hanging out, off duty, with an enlisted member. The relationship was strictly platonic and no favoritism was directed toward the enlisted member, but the familiarity between the two lead the enlisted peers to think they were more than friends. Because of this perception, the enlisted member was court martialed and the officer reprimanded.

During the court martial it was shown that there was no favoritism by the officer toward the enlisted; however, the perception persisted and even though the enlisted person was exonerated of all charges, the career was short lived.

While we cannot live up to everyone’s expectations, real or perceived, unless you want to live in an isolated world, perceptions do impact you and the way you live your life. You can minimize the impact or misleading perceptions by communicating better with the people in your life, but ultimately people will perceive you their own way. Just look at social media and they way we perceive people we don’t know based on a comment here or there without any of the background to put the issue in context.

A few months back a Jersey friend of mine was stating how it was cool that I could move on with my life and go where I needed (or thought I needed) to go. She wished, in some ways, that she could too. I laughed because on the flip side, my perception of her life was something I aimed for. A life full of family and friends, people to meet and share memories with.

As I was writing this piece, perception came up again with a Virginia friend. We were commiserating about where we are in our life. Neither one of us were where we dreamed we would be. It’s not that life is bad, but we wanted more or rather different people and places and experiences at this stage in life. During this exchanged she pointed out all that I had accomplished, been, and currently have in my life. My perception was not on what was, but what I’m missing; it’s not that I’m missing a lot, but a couple key pieces that make the rest of my life blur.

On the flip side, my perception of her life was, like my Jersey friend, one of warmth of family and friends, of holiday’s and places and experiences shared by loved ones.

As close as I am with both these people,it’s amazing that the perception we have about the other is focused on something different that what we internally see as complete. While none of us are unhappy, I think we each recognize there is that small piece or two that we don’t have in our current life that might just make us complete.

Perception is everything. It makes us happy or sad or wanting what someone else has. Change your perception and you might just change your life for the better.



Inspiration Trail

Inspiration Trail

Inspiration is a funny thing. You never know when it is going to hit you or from where it will come or who. It seems like inspiration, like attachments, form mostly without rhyme or reasons.

My love of biking goes all the way back to my childhood. I was about eight when I was racing up and down the street and around the block. It was the late seventies when kids could be kids and parents didn’t micromanage your every movement.

I declared one day, as I was timing an imaginary race (like Greg LeMond) around the block that I would be the first woman bike racer. The dream was quickly quashed by a scoffing adult and it took a while, but my love of biking and going fast never died, even though the hopes of being a bike racer did. No matter where I went, no matter what I did, no matter who was in my life, biking was a part of me. It was a way to relax, to summon my inner muse and creative stories to write about. It was me.

Greg LeMond inspired me to ride and and Jimmy! kept me consistent. He was a neighbor, like seven feet tall. No, really he was. I stood just over 3 feet – well ok maybe a little more than that.

Anyway, whenever I talked myself out of riding for the day he would come along and poke and prod until without knowing it we were soaring up and down the hills of Ohio. Don’t get me wrong this was not a one way street. I was equally responsible for prodding him onto a bike when he was less than motivated. We made the perfect team, Jimmy! easily out pedaling me 3 to 1 and me racing to catch him. We did manage to keep fairly consistent.

As time and things have a habit of doing, I moved away and lost my biking buddy. I managed to keep consistent for a few years, but ultimately without a biking buddy my consistency slipped. Before I knew it I found myself not biking. I have lots of “reasons”. I was too busy, I had no one to ride with, I didn’t have a safe place to ride. Truth is, I lost my love of biking. It did not bring me the joy I remember. I stopped riding for a long long time. Sometimes your love of something is not enough.

One day, this changed. Someone inspired me to ride. It wasn’t intentional. I’m sure, even to this day, she has no idea that she inspired me to get on my bike and ride again. It happened in such a benign odd way that it took me a while to realize that she had inspired me, had lit a fire of my love for biking.

It started with her signing off from work that she was going for a ride. I remember wishing that I could join her. She sounded ecstatic (like I used to) by getting outside and flying as fast as you could.

Due to our locations (a few thousand miles separated us) we could not ride together. She would post about the route, distance and speed. It was that last bit that got me to thinking, is that good? Could I go ten miles in under forty minutes? That sounded fast. Was it fast?

The chatting of biking and techniques and the posts started to ignite the cooling embers of my long dormant passion.

It was the post of going ten miles in thirty five minutes that did it. I walked out to the garage, dusted off my bike, filled the tires and set off to see. Was I as fast as I remember? I bet anything I could beat that, even after not riding for the last couple three years.

There is nothing like the wind rushing over you, the sun on your face and arms, the blur of trees and concrete that fuel one’s desire to push harder, to breath more efficiently, to be better, to let go.


I found myself competing with the miles and times she was posting. It gave me a goal, an obtainable goal. It took me a few rides, but not only did I match the initial goal as she got better, but I exceed it. Each ride made me stronger and more determined.

While I have not had the luck to find another riding buddy, I have managed to keep my love of biking alive and fairly consistent. Unfortunately, I wish I could say the same for her. While we have drifted apart over the last couple of years, I was saddened to learn that it had been months since she had rode. Injuries aside, the person who inspired me to ride again has lost her passion for the sport. We talked about riding briefly, but like a smile that doesn’t reflect in your eyes, the enthusiasm and joy that motivated me was missing . I wish I could return the favor. I hope that she will be inspired by someone or something that will make her remember the joy of riding. The feeling of the sun the rush of the air the friendly solitude of it all.

I will forever be grateful for the inspirations that brought biking to me time and again.

May the wind be at your back and all the hills be down.