The heart of it all


(Photo Credit:  Will Oliver at Rocky Mountain Photography)

So many great stories happen on a daily basis in my world, if only we take the time to listen. Yesterday was one of those, I’d like to share them with you. All of the details may not be accurate, but this is what I saw and heard.

Paul and Christie made the trip to Colorado from Tucson, they race in the SuperMod trail class – it was the two of them and their two dogs in a cab-over camper pulling the trailer with the race car on it. During pre-run, something unloaded and pushed the radiator in to the frame causing a leak and consequently, overheating. A rescue mission was mounted and they returned to the pits. Looking at the car, they started taking it apart, a little internet research and Christie went looking for a bicycle tube to check the radiator for leaks. Josh had one that was bad on his mountain bike, so he loaned it out for them to use. A little soapy water and the leaks were identified on the first few fins. This being a Friday night in the middle of nowhere, a plan was mounted. Again, with the help of the internet, they located a welding shop in Denver that opened at 7 on Saturday morning. The race day schedule was a little unusual this time, so it appeared they might have time to get there, get repaired and get back in time for the race. Paul set his alarm for 6 a.m. to make the 50 mile drive. In the morning, as he was jacking the camper off the truck to leave for Christie and the dogs, the driver pitted next to him asked what he was up to. Explaining, Kyle offered his truck to Paul to go to town. Mind you, these two families hadn’t even been introduced yet. Paul hopped in Kyle’s truck and headed out. Meanwhile, Christie stayed to attend the driver’s meeting and keep us posted. A long day later, Paul was back with the radiator repaired, the car put back together and ready to take the start at 5:00. Not halfway in to the first lap, their overheating problems continued. Turns out the thermostat also needed a repair. Bummer for them, but they finished their lap and placed in the race. Christie told me after that they’re adding the thermostat to the list of spare parts they carry with them. Congrats on your never give up attitude, it is inspiring.

Let’s talk about Steve. Steve has been struggling getting his race car together for months. His motor has been at the builder for awhile now, with promises for it to be done, but no delivery date. On Monday, Steve posted about still waiting, a couple of guys offered some assistance, but most of it was out of his budget. Enter his co-driver, Tom, and his blessed wife. Seriously, this girl stepped up and saved the day. Here’s what she did: she approved the purchase of a new motor for her own car and loaned it out for race day! Who does that? Except a saint, knowing what can happen when you least expect it, there was a significant risk involved. The motor arrived at 6:00 on Thursday night. Around the clock effort for two days had pre-running missed, and most of the team on site on Saturday morning. The only thing missing were the driver/co-driver and car – no biggie. Steve’s wife paid his entry fee, expecting him anytime. I was told they should arrive around 2:00, no problem, plenty of time to make the race at 5:00. A little after two, the truck was finally loaded and they were on the road. They arrived in time for the race, signed their waivers, and took a rear start. Both driver and co-driver were a little frazzled so we suggested they take the course slow on the first lap and just learn it, there would be plenty of time to make up ground. They had a good first lap, on the second lap, about 3 miles from the start/finish line, we noticed the hood was up and they were driving fast – both looking around it as it was blocking their view. Pulled in to the pits and the hood was removed. They continued on, another good four laps in as they continued to make their way to the front of the pack. Started tenth, they were in fifth and then the axle broke, took out the transmission, the motor and started a fire. Fire is a great motivator, both bailed from the car, grabbed fire extinguishers and put the fire out. But after two solid days and nights of building a race car, their race was over. It was hard to see the disappointment on their faces knowing that the motor was a loaner as it was, I wished they had filmed the previous two days so we could show everyone the heart of a sportsman. Congrats to Steve and Tom, men in it for the love of the sport. You’ll get ‘em next time!

Paul and Kim are competitors from California. This is their third race of the season, the last two ended in rollovers. One of them a hard roll. So the goal this weekend was to keep it on four wheels. They drove the I-70 over the mountains to get here, some killer passes that slow everyone down, I know, I drove the XJ. They kept having overheating issues on the passes, so the last 200 miles took hours to complete. Since they’d had such a trial getting here, Paul decided that he would enter two classes and get the most of his race time. The first was the Mod Trail, of which his car qualifies. He raced an hour and a half and came out on top. His first, first-place finish. Immediately following was the SuperMod race, another hour and a half. With some struggles and perseverance, they finished on the podium in third. The awards ceremony wasn’t until 9:30, after the final race of the day. After three hours in the car racing, more than anyone else for the day, Paul made the ceremony, sadly, Kim did not. He said he tried to wake her, but she just wasn’t having it. When I was paying Paul for his win, I didn’t realize that this was the first time in a few years he had been on the podium and the first time ever he had won some money! Another testament to never give up!

The last story I want to share is my friend Dustin. Dustin has had quite a bit of success with his racing, but he also works a full time job. He is racing the east Ultra4 series, so made the trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas a few weeks ago and busted up his rig pretty bad, overall, not a great experience. Next week is the Attica, Indiana race, so he leaves on Wednesday. That meant he needed to get the rig back together, needed to pre-race it for next week, and try to get it all done without taking too much time off from work. His brother is his biggest supporter, he said so from the podium. Kendall works hard to get the car prepped. This week, Kendall showed up with the car about 9 in the morning, Dustin had to work. Qualifying was at 11, first to qualify are the ProUTV’s, then the 4400’s. Kendall was all signed in, and prepared to qualify the car, but he was waiting for Dustin. Dustin calls to find out where we are in qualifying, it is after 11. He is flying down the freeway to get here on time. As his car rolls up to the start line, I’m not sure who is in it. I peek in, Dustin is in the driver’s seat, one of the other co-drivers is in the passenger seat. I slide the clipboard through the window net for Dustin to sign his waiver, and he’s off. The qualifying run is good for a fourth place start, which in turn becomes a second place finish. The dedication of these guys to their sport is good for the soul.

I’m always so proud of the men and women that we work with, thanks for showing your friends and families that something worth having is worth working for. Yes, there is hardwork, yes, there is heartache, but in the end, there is a story to tell and a lesson learned. No doubt there were more stories, these are the ones I heard.  I appreciate all of you, every day.



Old_american_flagI love the idea of a TED talk, but I’ve never been invited to their stage, and do you know why…it’s because I am nobody and yet, I am every one of you. I have been young and old, I have been poor and relatively wealthy and middle class, I have been redneck and blue collar and white collar too. I have been single and married and divorced, I have been the minority and the majority. Roles change in our lives, we are never just one thing, we are the cumulative result.

The atrocities committed over the last few years and our reaction to them have me contemplating what is wrong? What has triggered this reckless disregard for human life. And while I’m not smart enough to determine, I know what the one, biggest thing is that I struggle with. It is the divisiveness of my country.

Remember 9/11? Fifteen years ago, 2,996 people died in an act of aggression on American soil. Do you remember how many gays died? Do you remember how many blacks died? Do you remember how many Republicans died? No? Do you know why? Because it didn’t matter, what we know is how many people died. We didn’t classify them, we didn’t automatically say it was a “fill in the blank” community problem, it was an American problem. It didn’t matter their nationality, their color, their religion, their education, their sexual orientation, their politics. What mattered was that it happened here. Do you remember the unity that was America 15 years ago?

I am tired of the labeling, the attack in Orlando was not targeted at the gay community, any more than the bombing at the Boston Marathon targeted the running community. The attack in San Bernardino didn’t target an “office” community, these acts are being perpetrated against all of us. We need to see them for what they are. We need to stop segregating and start seeing people, plain and simple.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and with that,
I pledge to take responsibility for my actions.
I pledge to take responsibility for my health and wellbeing.
I pledge to treat all people within our borders with respect:
regardless of age;
sexual orientation;
or occupation.
I pledge to live and let live.

Towards that end, I ask my government to NOT legislate:
My free will
My actions that harm no one
My decisions on how to earn and spend my money
My decisions on how to live my life.

I will serve and protect my family as my government serves and protects my rights. I will abide by all laws, rules and regulations and exercise my right to worship, vote and bear arms as I see fit, these rights afforded me by the Constitution.

I’m going to STOP being offended, STOP being right, STOP assuming others are out to get me, STOP labeling, STOP judging, STOP taking things personally and STOP being entitled.

I’m going to START respecting others, START serving, START caring, START living, START helping.

I ask my government to stop making new laws, new rules, and new regulations for my protection and simply enforce those already in place efficiently and effectively, and if unable to do that, repeal them so all citizens are treated fairly.

This is my pledge, this is my plea, folks, it’s time to stop separating our communities and work together for the America we all love.

Ode to the XJ

DSC_0124I have a love/hate relationship with the Jeep – well, with all vehicles in general. We own a few, you could call us car poor, but I think of us more as car rich. We have interesting vehicles with interesting lives.

There is the Volvo – not the yuppie kind, the house kind, we refer to it as the Taj Mahauler – it’s a Volvo 770 with a Cummins 500hp engine, it travels around the country acting as our home, the condo and the garage.

We have a 2005 Mini Cooper S that I ordered brand new 10+ years ago, Miss Sally resides in Idaho with a daughter because we don’t have a place to carry her.

We have a 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser, a big blue tub that is like riding in a fish tank, there are so many windows, Lola resides in Utah with a son because we don’t have a place to carry her (do you see the theme here?)

And we have the 1992 XJ. No name on this one, because she fills so many roles.

You see, I’ve always been of the belief that cars have a singular purpose, to move you from one place to another. You get in, you turn the key, you go from point A to point B. It wasn’t until the XJ appeared in my life that I recognized that vehicles have so many more uses. In the case of the XJ, a typical week looks like this:
Monday: Load in to the garage and tie down (this is where the Volvo steps in)
Tuesday: Arrive at destination, emerge from garage and take a quick look around; Load dirty laundry and head to nearest town; load clean laundry and find a grocery store – new title of Grocery Getter established; Back to event site with my people, take another look around
Wednesday +: Loaded with stakes, bases, cones and all manner of other materials – back breaking work for the next few days – new title of Motorized Wheelbarrow engaged
Saturday: Competition day – lots of opportunity to use my Warn Winch and my JM Rigging Recovery Rope – I am loaded with competitors and raced to the wreck, over and over again – today’s title is Recovery Rig
Sunday: Clean up day – reloaded with expended Maxxis tape, stakes, cones, etc.
Monday: Load in to garage and tie down – REPEAT

My XJ has so many other roles besides point A to point B, I sometimes don’t recognize all we put her through.

She’s in the shop again this week, not because she’s broken, but because she needs an upgrade, today it’s steering. She’s quite the little harlot, she sleeps overnight in strange shops on a regular basis. She has parts from all the best places, gifts to her to keep her in tip top shape, almost as an escort accepts gifts from the men she pleases. My little XJ gets around.

She started with humble beginnings, a 1992 Jeep Cherokee, originally white in color – we think. Next stop was Off Again Offroad, a shop in Farmington, New Mexico owned by the late, Harold Off. Harold built our girl from the ground up. Steve Nantz at Moab 4×4 Outpost added the signature red bumpers, we bought her in this condition from Grandpa, of Grandpa’s Garage when the 98 Grand we were driving decided she’d had enough.

The first addition were Brown Dog Motor Mounts, installed by Mark Munson at Munson’s Rod Ship in Vernon, Texas when we added rocksliders. Next overnight was Brian and Levi Shirley’s shop in Dodge City, Kansas for some frame stiffeners from Ruffstuff. A quick stop at Blue Torch Fab in Birmingham, Alabama added a custom grill. Then came a month at Fly-N-Hi Offroad in Phoenix, Arizona – a major upgrade was in order, Curry Axles, ARB lockers, an Atlas from Advance Adapter. Crown Automotive sent brakes and boomerang shackles. Parts Mike built the brake assemblies and hubs. The rear springs came from BDS Suspension. Fox Shox were installed, Spidertrax sent the spacers and wheel adapters. Artec provided the battery holders for the dual Optima batteries. Ron Davis fabbed a custom radiator, Sparks Pro Racing build a purple transmission for her.

Externally she got some upgrades too, we won’t mention the green door, but KC Hilites provided lights; American Rock Rods, the hood vents; Roggy Enterprises fabbed the rear corner protection and the skid plate. One Works took care of the roof rack mounts and tire rack. She has Raceline Wheels and Maxxis Tires, a Lowrance from PCI, a Stashkan. The Rock Hard roll cage is the newest addition. The interior isn’t pretty, neither is the exterior but she is rock solid.

The latest additions have been a long-arm kit from Clayton Offroad, a new motor and the installation of a Genright gas tank at FatBoyz Motorsports in Colorado Springs. New ring and pinion from NitroGear (after a little mishap on I-70) and now Rockware is adding the right steering. It may not seem like I appreciate all of these companies and people, but I do, so much.

They make it so I can treat the XJ like all other vehicles, I get in and turn the key and she goes, from Point A to Point B, just like she’s supposed to, it’s not my fault that there is usually a rock or two somewhere between those points.

My ode today is because I’m a little stressed…everything takes longer than I think it should, but having never turned a wrench on this vehicle, what would I know?  Hell, I rarely even put gas in her, I’m hardly at liberty to say what she needs.  So to all of you with a little engine that can…appreciate her and the ease she brings to all the other days of your life, even if she’s not available to you today.



Photos in an unscripted life

Do you ever just have a day that is beautiful…from start to finish, today was awesome.  I captured a few of the things I saw today that just made me smile.  I hope you enjoy.

My three words

LiveI’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions, I’m too busy writing new goals every week or month during the year, I save new year’s for reflection.  It’s my moment to look back at the prior year with gratitude. My favorite tradition is to write New Year’s cards to those who had an impact on my life.  There are always so many, I’m sure I leave someone out.  I have so much to be thankful for, the new year is a good time to share that.

So, no New Year’s Resolutions for me, instead I am following a number of writers who suggest identifying three words that carry you through your year.  Three words that help me to focus, to stay on track, to get things done.  It took a week, but finally the three words just ran in to my head and they simply won’t leave.

Really, I’ve tried, but those same three words keep assaulting me, every where I go, I see an application.  In the morning when I wake, at least one of the words jumps up to say “look at me!”  I’m excited for the year ahead, just having identified my words will help me to stay on track.

My three words are:

Abundance • Energy • Intention

My life has so much good in it, I am incredibly blessed.  It is filled with wonderous abundance in so many ways.

Energy comes in so many forms, I find that if I remind myself how much energy I have to tackle all my tasks, it helps me to stay positive and upbeat through even the most droll tasks.

I refuse to just let life pass me by, every day, I live with Intention.  I face the world with intention, each day I know exactly what I want to accomplish, some days it doesn’t all get done, but there is always a goal.

What are your three words?

Meeting my Art Goals

artjournalLast year at this time, I set a goal for myself, I do that a lot!  But this one was completely different than most of them.  My goal was to complete the Documented Life Project 2015.  DLP is an art journal prompt, one each week for a year.  Art, really? What do I know about art?

Turns out, I know a lot more now than I did a year ago.  I have always been a crafter, I can copy what others do pretty easily, but designing things myself is a whole other story.  Fortunately, the Art to the 5th ladies and their guest artists provided a ton of inspiration each week. Each week, they gave a prompt, some photos and a theme.  My job was to incorporate these things in to a double page each week.

There were times during the year that I was severely behind, up to 10 weeks, quite often due to our schedule.  But I never gave up.  I would choose a day and tell Rich, “I’m going to art today.”  And break out my supplies.  A little paint here, some colored pencils, stencils, stamps, inks and paper.  It all came together to record my year.  I documented my life.  Each page includes a little bit of a planner, some recording as to where we were, what we were doing, who we were doing it with.  And now that I’ve come to the end of the year, I added some photos to the back.  It truly is a representation of what we did all year long.  My daughter has asked that I pass it down to her when I’m done with it.  It’s kind of like a scrapbook of our year.  I always had good intentions of scrapbooking, but could never pull it off.  It feels good to have this done.

Most of the pages can be found here – CLICK NOW

So here it is, a good representation of the art I created.  I learned a lot this year, but these were the most important lessons:

  • Color is my friend
  • Anything can inspire you
  • Pages don’t have to be perfect
  • That if I commit, I can do anything
  • Just because I get behind, I can catch up
  • That I am thankful for all the communities I belong to

If you are wondering what I’m up to that’s new, check out my new website


In Review

I think that title might describe my life…in review.  I am always looking in the rear view mirror to see if I’m measuring up to some ideal I have about who I am.  I spend a lot of time reviewing my actions, my travels, my words.  Those are but a memory, I should probably be focused on the future.  But it’s hard to leave behind the past…in so many ways.

I feel compelled to take a look at 2015 to see how it stacked up.  In the travel department, it was awesome.  We did our usual traipsing around the US throughout the year – from California to Florida to Maine, and a ton of states in between.  We ventured up to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick after a rousing 4th of July spent in Boston.  We saw our Nation’s Capital in the spring, we hit Disney World in January, and Australia in October.  I love the travel, it is one of my greatest joys, to experience other cultures and ways of life.

Our family is good, everyone seems to be making their way in the world without too much interference from us.  The grandchildren are awesome and growing like weeds, the boys think Grandpa is awesome, the girls are still deciding, but seem to be coming around.

We had a tragedy strike our business early in the season, and although we recovered to be able to continue, it still weighs heavy on our thoughts. Safety continues to be our primary concern.

Our friends were, once again, awesome, throughout the year.  So many that reached out to us on so many occasions to make us welcome in their worlds.  We are so fortunate.  The people we meet and spend time with provide context to all the travel, they are the reason we enjoy our time on the road so much.

Each year I work towards something new and different, I set aside things that aren’t working as I want to so that I can re-work them until they make sense.  Two years ago, I launched All Terrain Hero – the concept made sense to me, we already had a race track, why wouldn’t we put runners on the same course and give it double duty (on different days, of course).  Things I hadn’t considered were – how remote our tracks are; how exhausted my team is after a real race day; that I don’t know how to break in to the running community.  Some locations did ok, some not so much.  So, while we will continue to support The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation through other fundraising, I’m going to shelve All Terrain Hero for a bit.

This year, my launch is something online that I’ve been doing for a long time, but had been doing individually instead of to the masses.  I launched a new website on the 1st and will be sharing more of that as we move along.  If you want a sneak peek (it’s anything but perfect right now) – go ahead and take a look at It will improve with age, but the concepts are all there.

Thank you for a great and powerful year, it truly was awesome, 2016 is going to be even more so, more good things are coming our way.  We truly are living in a time of blessed abundance.

And now I'll doJoin me won’t you?

What does Christmas Mean to Me?

Choose Today to be Happy

So yesterday, I got some great news, I won a contest on Facebook from OzTent USA.  They asked “What does Christmas Mean to You?”  Here’s what I told them:

“Christmas is about recognizing the good in all of us; the celebration of religious holidays together with family and friends by our sides.  It is giving our time and money to others less fortunate, it is recognizing that everyone celebrates differently, it is about traditional meals and gifts, smiling faces and love for each other.  Whatever your tradition, make sure you include someone new, someone in need and someone you love, that will make Christmas a happier time for all.”

When I wrote that, I was thinking about all the Christmases something wasn’t quite right, the year Kayla didn’t get anything she wanted; the years we traipsed to my in-laws and sat like cardboard waiting for the “family” Christmas to be over – each of us with our orange and candy in a brown paper sack.  I thought about ringing the bell for the Salvation Army this week and all the people that will be better served, not just by my hours, but the hours of all the volunteers all over the country.  I thought of the traditional food we put on the table, a repeat of Thanksgiving because it’s my favorite meal to cook.  I thought about all the people who don’t cook great meals, because they don’t know how and where do they go?  I thought about those with no one to spend Christmas with and realized, once again, how lucky I am.  We may not have everything, but we truly have it all.  Our lives have turned out to be the best I could hope for.  There is love in my heart every day, there is a kiss and a cuddle and acknowledgement and all the things I was missing when I hadn’t figured out who I wanted to be.  I no longer go to church and celebrate the birth of Christ as I once did, but he is in my heart as I approach the world with as much kindness as I can muster.  I don’t exchange gifts with anyone, but take great pleasure in sending gifts to the kids and grandkids, and cards to our tribe.

My life is not perfect, it is better, it is lived, with love and laughter, with smiles and tears, with gratitude and joy.  I am so lucky.


Another Lucky Day

bellringingI had the best day today!  For years, I have been trying to connect with the Salvation Army so I could be a bell ringer.  One year we were in a small town in Montana, you had to travel 60 miles to get signed up; the next year we were in California, another place with a lot of red tape.  Today, we are in Moab, Utah – one phone call, and I was a bell ringer.  My first shift was today, and how much fun it was.  I want to get voted friendliest bell ringer, so I smiled big and spoke to everyone. Of course, they don’t actually elect a friendliest bell ringer, so my real purpose was to bring a little joy in to everyone’s day.

For two hours, I spoke to everyone going in and out of City Market.  It’s the only decent grocery store in town, so everyone goes there.  For 28 straight days, six hours a day, a bell ringer stands in front of the doors.  Everyone in town has plenty of opportunities to donate, so it is awesome when they do on your shift.  The collections in those bright red buckets stay 90% in your local community.  They help so many locally, this is the biggest fundraiser of the year.

On top of meeting lots of strangers, I ran in to someone I have known for almost 20 years.  Back when my son was about 12, I was sitting in one of many awards assemblies at the middle school, the man sitting next to me was soon to be Superintendent of Schools in my home town – and his son was one of my son’s best friends.  The first words Scott spoke to me were, “I think we’ll probably spend a lot of time in these bleachers.”  His prophecy was correct, we watched the boys earn awards for a zillion different things over the years until they graduated.  Scott is now the Superintendent of Schools in this little town.  I had no idea!  It was great to talk to a familiar face.

I’ve got another shift coming up on Sunday, I am looking forward to that.  Find your place, people, find a way to give back and enjoy the process, I know I got far more out of today than anyone giving, and probably more than those who will receive, too.  I love my life!


Being Nice

Slide5It’s that time of year when every one is focused on being nice, doing random kindness acts for strangers.  I love this time, when everyone is focused on others.  I wish it carried forward.

I have been trying to do my share lately, not sure I’m pulling it off, but I’m trying.  Here are some things I’m sharing:

I have five people that I am coaching through a series on how to live a healthier life.  Eating better, how to shop, how to eat – this isn’t a diet, this is a lifestyle change. (if you are interested, drop me a line at

I have another five people that I am facilitating sharing good, healthy recipes with. (another choice, I would love to share with you)

I sent 24 books each to my grandchildren’s homes to help them count down for Christmas.  I love the gift of reading.

Next week, I get to be a bellringer for the Salvation Army, something I’ve wanted to do for years.

Everyday I’m looking for one thing I can do for others, are you doing the same?

My goal in life is bigger than this though, I want to help others find their gift, succeed in whatever they choose to do.  I’ve got talents, just trying to figure out how to use them for good.  And my secret on how to focus on the good?  Sometimes, you have to turn off the media hype and live the life you choose too.

I want to thank the coaches that are helping me be me – Jerrilyn Knight, Wendy Lipton-Dibner, Trisha Hammer, and Chris Brogan.  I am learning a lot.

Happy Holidays to all of you!