A Couple Tackles the Great Continental Divide on Bikes for their 25th Anniversary

By Leslie Lindsay 

It’s that time of year again…a whole flock of new grads are setting forth from educational institutions worldwide, ready to take on the world. But what if, what if…your goals falter? What if, maybe, you’re not sure what you want to do with your life? Because forever is a mighty long time.

Recently, I connected with Carrie and John Morgridge. They celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary two summers ago by doing something quite arduous: they conquered the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route with only their bikes, a few supplies, the support of friends, and a very strong will to finish.  They’re not your ordinary mountain bike trail riders. They manage a multi-million dollar Denver family foundation that supports education and encourages philanthropy. And then Carrie wrote a book, THE SPIRIT OF THE TRAIL: A Journey to Fulfillment Along the Continental Divide (Amazon, May 5, 2018) about their experience. I think you’ll find their story not only inspirational in terms of attaining your goals, but in fulfilling all facets of your life. 

Carrie has generously written this essay, which I think will touch many grads, dads, and those embarking upon their career. 

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Simple tips that will help you stay on track with your goals, especially when you feel like giving up

By Carrie Morgridge

To celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, my husband and I took 60 days off work to bike across the country. It was no ordinary bike ride. It was the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, on the Mexican border. It crossed the Continental Divide 32 times, had almost 200,000 vertical feet of climbing; and, we went on this journey unsupported. This means we carried our food, water, tent, clothes and spare parts. We did get to stay in hotels when we could find them, and we were able to take warm showers and do laundry at least every fourth day. It wasn’t fun but it was an adventure of a lifetime, and at the end of the trip I had never been more in shape, more in love and closer to my husband.

If we hadn’t had the common goal of finishing the entire trip, we might not have. Here is how we got to the end of the route in one piece…

  • Grit – Grit might be an overused term but as Angela Duckworth puts in her book GRIT- The Power of Passion and Perseverance – was the first mantra for our journey. John and I are very passionate about exercise, mountain biking and being together. We added perseverance by never giving up, no matter how hard the days were. I knew I needed him to finish the route and vise versa. When I was a little girl my father would really push me to be the best I could be, no matter what the task was. From selling Girl Scout cookies or being on a sports team. Growing up with grit and never quitting was part of the fabric my mother and father raised in me.

“Carrie’s story of biking the Continental Divide is one of resilience, strength, and absolute entertainment. Cyclists and would-be bikers everywhere will enjoy her account of life on the road.”

~Mark Tercek President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy


  • Kindness – Our trip was hard, really hard. The harder it got, the kinder we became towards each other. In the past, I can be kind of a hard ass, but this trip changed me. I changed my attitude and when John was hurting or needed me, I was soft, kind and loving. I asked how could I help, what could I do in my power to make his moment, his ride or his day better. With just this simple act of authentic kindness he immediately responded like a mirror and was kind and loving on my hard days. When I got home from the ride, I talked differently to my kids and my colleagues. I am much kinder now, and people around me can feel the difference. If you are a recent grad, and you are just starting your first job, this is a perfect time to have a reset. Think about being kind and smiling at work everyday.  It will reflect positively right back to you.  You don’t want to just work at a job, you can personally create your own happy space to work at, and enjoy what you do, no matter what the task.

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  • Pride – There is pride – and bragging rights – associated with biking across the country. John will tell you it was pride in the common goal that we had to finish. At one point during the ride, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it, as a muscle in my leg was so overused that it hurt really bad each time I took a pedal stroke. We slowed our pace, took 1.5 days off in Colorado and the pain went away. I was proud of myself to get back on the bike, determined not to stop. We both wanted our kids, our parents and our friends to be proud of us. It is now two years later, and our family still talks about how proud they are that we biked across the country.

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  • Set small goals to achieve your big ones. Each night before going to bed, John and I would review the maps from Adventure Cycling Association and a book written by the McCoys on completing the journey, tips on where to stay and to get food. We would agree on the goal we would set for the day. Then I would break down the daily goal into small achievable goals. Usually, we were on the bike by 8am and by 10am we would take a snack break. One hour later we would take another small break and just walk our bikes for a short distance. Lunch came next, and we would open a crystal light packet, add to our water and enjoy the treat. 3pm was another snack, followed by a 5 minute rest. 5pm is where the mental strength was needed, as most days we biked until a little past 7pm. This is where we would cheer each other on, talk about the day, look for the sunset and try to appreciate what we had just accomplished. You would be surprised how far 60 miles is per day when you do that 10 days in a row. I would celebrate each 100 miles by ringing my bell on my bike. I tried to find any reason to celebrate to the next spin. This helped us both get to the end of the route.

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We never could have finished this ride had we not been prepared. From the research, to the equipment to the 21 days of training we did before the ride. Set reasonable goals for yourself, stick to it and find the good in others.

For more information, to connect with the author via social media, or to purchase a copy of THE SPIRIT OF THE TRAIL, please visit:

Order Links: 

CMorgridge (3)ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Carrie Morgridge serves as the Vice President and Chief Disruptor of The Morgridge Family Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to invest in transformative gifts for educators and youth. Carrie is the award-winning author of EVERY GIFT MATTERS – How Your Passion Can Change the World.

Carrie and her husband John created the Student Support Foundation, a national organization that inspires youth philanthropy. For the past decade, they have celebrated and advanced the educator profession by creating mindSpark Learning which is focused on empowering educators to tackle the most challenging conditions in their schools through Design Thinking and other strategies.

Carrie speaks nationally to education advocacy forums, at poverty alleviation conferences, and many convenings, globally, that are philanthropically focused. She divides her time between Colorado and Florida. She and John have two children who both reside in Denver.

Carrie and John are avid athletes; in addition to recently mountain biking across the country on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route covering 2,774 miles from Canada to New Mexico in 46 days, Carrie has completed nine Ironman competitions.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites:

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#travel #biking #goals #dadsandgrads 

[Cover and author image courtesy of PRbytheBook and used with permission].

 

WeekEND Reading: Lynne Branard talks about her addiction to Mike & Ike candy, how she’d love to write all day, doing what’s right while still being pleasing, & so much more in this graceful story of being open and TRAVELING LIGHT

By Leslie Lindsay

From the bestselling author and masterful storyteller of THE ART OF ARRANGING FLOWERS, comes a new novel about the search for what really matters in life, discovering oneself, all while doing the ‘right’ thing.

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Inspired by real life events, Lynne Branard was working at a hospice agency when an unclaimed box of cremains—with her agency’s business card attached—was discovered in a storage facility. Branard was intrigued. How could remains of someone get lost—and how could no one seem to ‘care?’ It became a catalyst for change—and the perfect inception for a work of fiction.

Branard’s writing flows effortlessly, a jaunty rhythm much like the road trip that becomes the narrative. TRAVELING LIGHT (Berkley, January 10 2017) is quirky fun, but the smooth and polished writing makes it so easy to settle in with the characters, Al (short for Alissa) and her seventeen year old traveling companion, Blossom as they attempt to return the unclaimed ‘found’ ashes of Mr. Roger Hart to his proper home.

Our protagonist is a reporter, so we get a good deal of background and research on the places we “travel” with Al(issa) and Blossom, which I loved. Even though I am quite familiar with many of the locations along the way, I found myself immersed in the details and fully enjoying the new tidbits of information. images-20

As for Roger Hart, there’s some good that comes of that, too but it’s not nearly as neat and tidy as one might expect; there’s some potholes along the way. TRAVELING LIGHT is a light mystery, but mostly it’s good ol’ fun ala THELMA & LOUISE with a slight, *very* slight spiritual bent. It’s mostly about traveling the open roads with an open mind, delightful and unique. 

Join me in welcoming New York Times bestselling author and masterful storyteller Lynne Branard to the blog!

Leslie Lindsay: Lynne, it’s a pleasure to have you join us today. It’s January and so we’re all doing a good deal of re-assessing—looking at where we’ve been and where we’re headed. Is that some of what got you interested in this story?

Lynne Branard: Thank you, Leslie! I always enjoy a little self-reflection so that certainly influenced this story idea. I also was interested in thinking about the “scripts” we get handed or try and find as a way to live our lives. Sometimes just considering why we do what we do helps us know what we most want

L.L.: You have a background in Divinity. Though TRAVELING LIGHT is not at all spiritual reading, there’s definitely a thread of that intertwined throughout the narrative; and how can there not be, your characters are driving cross-country with someone’s ashes. Would you call this a spiritual book, or not?

Lynne Branard: I mostly think everything has a spiritual bent, that there is a thread
somewhere leading to what gives us meaning and purpose or what doesn’t but yet manages to capture our attention.
I do think this kind of “journey” lends itself to being called a spiritual one; so then, I vote yes, it’s a spiritual book!

L.L.: Still yet, there’s something appealing to “traveling light,”—the idea that we take too much with us in life. What aspects of your life might you attempt to shed if you images-19were ‘traveling light?’

Lynne Branard: Whew, that would take more than a paragraph. I carry so many fears of disappointing others, of trying to “do right,” be pleasing. It so often trips me up in trying to be authentic. I’m also a bit of a control freak; it’d be nice to let loose of some of that heaviness. Overanalyzing everything, an addiction to Mike and Ike candy, the fear of loss, worrying if something is in my teeth. Well, that’s enough, don’t want to give away all of my crazy.

L.L.: So back to the story, Alissa and Blossom tickled me so much. They are definitely a pair of unlikely companions. For one, Alissa is nearly twice as old as Blossom. Blossom’s a wise gal, but she’s still only seventeen. In many ways, Blossom teaches Alissa a thing or two about life. What would you say is the biggest lesson(s) they each bring to one another?

Lynne Branard: Blossom is definitely the teacher in this story. The young one knows about an open heart, not really going by any script. She’s easy, nonjudgmental. She’s out there! Alissa, I suppose, teaches Blossom to trust women, to be open to a new, unexpected friendship, and maybe since Alissa comes to love her so much; sees how smart she really is, maybe this helps Blossom find clarity and confidence for her life too.

L.L.: And their travels! Oh, how I smiled and nodded when you mentioned towns like Shamrock, Texas and Amarillo, too! I’ve been to both places—as well as Tucumcari, New Mexico. I know all about The Big Texan and the Cadillac Ranch (not in the book, but still in Amarillo). There was more, too—things I didn’t know. Do you have any connection to these places?

Lynne Branard: My husband and I make that trip down Interstate 40, East to West and back again A LOT! I love that passageway across the country. I have great connection to almost everything on that road!!catus-in-front

L.L.: There were times when TRAVELING LIGHT almost read like a memoir. What’s your take on realistic fiction vs. creative non-fiction vs. using a kernel of truth (as you did in this book) in storytelling?

Lynne Branard: That’s a very smart question and I don’t really have a take on that. I love stories and on some level they are all true; so I don’t think too much about the genre, I just pick up a book and get ready to be taken somewhere new.

L.L.: What’s next for you?

Lynne Branard: Finished a book about a woman who lives in a tree for a few weeks. So far, no publisher wants it. I thought that idea was the easiest thing to believe but apparently, it’s too far-fetched for a lot of city folks. I could go live in a tree in a like a minute.

L.L.: What keeps you inspired? What do you do when your mind needs a break for writing? For me, it’s decorating…in fact, I’m thinking of a new wall color right now.

Lynne Branard: Well, it’s clearly not decorating! =) Come see my house! I like running half marathons. Well, let me rephrase that: I like running one half marathon and the rest of the year getting ready for it. The stories people tell me inspire me. I’m a co-pastor; I hear amazing stories of survival and grace. I am so privileged in this way. So far, I’ve never really wanted a break from writing. I think if I had my way I’d write all the time. I mean, never bathe, eat bad food, never see anyone, just write. Maybe that’s why I have to work another job, keeps me from becoming some weird old woman with bad hygiene!

L.L.: So I’m dying to know (bad pun), whatever happened with the unclaimed ashes with your agency’s business card attached? Any happy endings there?

Lynne Branard: We never heard. The person who called said her sister had actually found them a year before she made her call. She said the sister liked keeping them in her car, gave her a sense of comfort. I guess they’re still strapped in the back seat of that woman’s SUV.

L.L.: Lynne, I so appreciate your story, your words, and for being with us today. All the best to you!

Lynne Branard: This was fun!! Thank you for your kind words, thoughtful questions, and for caring about what I think. I hope our paths cross one day! Thank you, Leslie. You make the world a better place!

For more information, to connect with Lynne Branard, or to purchase a copy of TRAVELING LIGHT, please see: 

Jackie Lynne Hinton.jpgABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynne Hinton was born and raised in North Carolina. She attended Wake Forest University and is a graduate of UNC-Greensboro. She also attended NC School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking and graduated with her Masters of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and has served as a hospice chaplain and as a senior pastor in North Carolina and in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as well as the interim pastor in northeastern Washington.

Lynne is the author of twenty books, including the NY Times Bestseller, Friendship Cake and Pie Town, the 2011 NM Book of the Year: Fiction/Adventure, Drama Category and 2011 National Federation of Press Women’s Fiction Book of the Year. She has penned a mystery series under the name, Jackie Lynn and has one nonfiction collection of essays. She also has two books under the name Lynne Branard: THE ART OF ARRANGING FLOWERS and her latest, TRAVELING LIGHT. She is a regular guest columnist in the Faith and Values Section for The Charlotte Observer and was the 2008 Lucy B. Patterson Author of the Year by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in NC. In 2010 and 2015, she was the recipient of a Louisville Institute Pastoral Study Grant and was named 2012 Favorite Local Writer in Albuquerque, New Mexico by Albuquerque, The Magazine.

She has been endorsed by authors Sue Monk Kidd, Rita Mae Brown, Silas House, Malachy McCourt, Jacquelyn Mitchard, and her favorite, Dr. Maya Angelou, who wrote about the novel, FRIENDSHIP CAKE, “I would welcome a friendship with Lynne Hinton. I would welcome an invitation to sit down at her table, but mostly I would welcome her next book.”wp_20170109_12_46_48_pro_li-2

Her work has been compared to great writers like Eudora Welty, Rebecca Wells, and Jan Karon. And the journal Publishers Weekly has written, “Hinton has a knack in her novels for tapping into a woman’s longings for lifelong, authentic, messy friendships.”

Lynne is married to Bob Branard; they live in Guilford County, NC where she serves as the Co-Pastor of Mount Hope UCC. Learn more here and also at Lynne Hinton’s Books on Facebook.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay through these on-line stops: 

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[Cover and author image courtesy of Berkley/Penguin Random House and used with permission. Image of man in field from , The Big Texan from their website, both retrieved on 1.21.17. Book with VW model from L.Linday’s personal archives]

The Emerald Isle: They may not be Irish…but the bagpipes are cool

By Leslie Lindsay

I wonder if I can pound out a blog in the next twenty minutes before I run off to pick up my daughter from preschool?  Hummm…sounds like an emperical question.  In fact, that was what my now husband-then-boyfriend used to say when I would have some psychology-related question (more like musing).  I thought I was being particularly astute with an observation or insight and then he would sort of smash it when he cocked that grin and suggested it could actually be studied.  (Where’s the fun in that?!)

But I digress.  Sort of.  You see, when I first “met” my husband, he was away in Ireland/Scotland.  With a friend.  Who was a girl.  (I know now that it was completely platonic, but at the time, I had no idea).  I had just started working at the same place as my would-be-honey.  I didn’t know I’d fall in love with the guy.  But I heard about his travels and it piqued my curiosity.   I love to travel, as well.  Alas, I have never been to the Emerald Isle.

Jim has and he liked it.  And he came back with stories of haggis (sheep stomach filled with parts that people “over there” eat and like), bagpipes, castles, rock walls, and beer.  And of course, the bagpipes.

I owe due credit to my Scottish Laddie who has taken up the art of squeezing on a plaid bag filled with air from his own sacs (we call lungs) and squeaking out a sound that is supposed to be music to your ears.  Well…it is.  And some like it more than others.

It’s not I don’t like it.  I do think it’s kind of cool that he has such an unique hobby.  He loves it.  Or, did.  You see, bagpiping is time-consuming.  There’s the practice, the group, the parades one must march in, and other special events like weddings and funerals.  (Yes, I walked down the aisle to the tune of bagpipes; alas my groom was not the muscian).  And so when we had our own little lassies, he hung the pipes up to focus on his growing familiy.

But I know there are times–and March is one of them–that gets his toes a tappin.’  The thoughts of pulling out the bagpipes is at the forefront of his mind.

Where did the bagpipes come from?  What’s the deal?  Well, I wish I had time to succinctly summarize a little research, but I don’t.  I have 8 minutes left to blog and that’s it.  12 minutes have already passed.  Here are some links for your browsing pleasure:

http://www.hotpipes.com/history.html

http://www.bagpipehistory.info/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagpipes

http://www.visitscotland.com/guide/scotland-factfile/scottish-icons/the-bagpipes

The Emerald Isle: All Things Green and Small

By Leslie Lindsay

It’s the month we celebrate all things green and little.  As in leprecahns and four-leaf clovers and emeralds.  Or, peas.  Or endamane.  And perhapsps even Thin Mints.  Though they aren’t really green.  They just “taste” that way–but they do come in that iconic green box.

What’s that you say?!  Oh?  You’re not Irish.  Well…who cares because this month, we’re all Irish!  In fact, I recall as a kid my parents didn’t really support the whole “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” thing either.  It was always “we’re a little of everything.  There’s no way to tell that we’re really Irish, anyway.”  True, I grew up with an un-Irish last name and always believed I was of German/Austrian ancestry.  But, as time went on I learned that we are, indeed Irish.  It comes from my mother’s side (and maybe dad’s side if we ever got the the bottom of that surname change way back when.  I think we may have derived from the McLean clan, but who really knows?!)

The thing is, I’ve got two redheaded children to “prove” my celtic ancestry.  (Actually, red hair may  also come from the German side of my family, too).  But, in all fairness (and we are fair), I think it’s a safe bet to say that there’s a wee-bit Lassie to me as well.

Each Friday this month, we’re going to discuss all things Ireland:  How about some Irish step dancing?  Guiness beer?  Red hair?  Four-leaf clovers?  Leprecahns?  Rainbows?  Potato Soup?I don’t know…let’s see what else we can come up with!

Stay tuned and Top O’ the weekend!