I spent my Memorial Day off from work counting my blessings by riding the mountainous trails in my dad’s backyard. I’m thankful for everything our veterans have done to provide for this country (and continue to do) so that I can have the freedom to say and do whatever I want. I will say, my bike’s not running right up here in the 2,500+ feet of elevation so I couldn’t make it up all of the hills in the back 40.
A photo posted by Jenn Sheppard (@no1jenn) on May 25, 2015 at 6:07pm PDT
I learned in this Citizen-Times editorial why the date for Memorial Day was chosen, “not because of any specific battle but because plenty of flowers to place on the graves would be in bloom.”
I keep a memory of what Memorial Day’s about from my childhood when my uncle Joe came home from Operation Desert Storm in the early ’90s and my family wrapped the trees in the front yard with yellow ribbons. I’m pretty sure my mom still has one or two of his MRE – meals ready to eat – in her cupboard, if I ever “misbehaved.”
I spent my first weekend living in Asheville doing whatever I wanted: pampering myself to a mani-pedi, walking around with a coffee downtown after spotting my new place of employment, shopping at a local farmers market and Trader Joe’s, checking out a mega church and joining a bikram/hot yoga studio, which I did both Saturday and Sunday. Yes, it was crazy. I overheard two Trader Joe’s employees talking about Asheville and that it lacks the diversity and long-standing culture or traditions that they want. Only time will tell…
This time of year Asheville’s weather is beautiful and in the 80s but with little to no humidity so it’s not too hot like Florida. I drove with my windows down and it didn’t feel like a blow dryer. I really don’t know how I would get around without my cellphone’s GPS running through my car speakers. It’s kind of hard to navigate these parts and I’m definitely going to get a lot better driving around sharp curves and narrow streets, especially in my F-150 boat.
I stopped by the Before I Die wall and contributed: Before I die I want to “change people.”
For my first day at bikram yoga, only five people showed up – all men, too, except the instructor. I was impressed since most yoga studios are usually packed with females. Well, Sunday was back to normal with about 30 women and one male other than the male instructor – I counted – packed into a 109-degree room for 90 minutes. I left a lot on the mat that day.
For my first day on the job at the Asheville Citizen-Times, I received my press badge, parking pass, toured about the newsroom and introduced myself to most everyone in it. My boss asked if she should introduce me as Jennifer or Jenn and I said I didn’t know. I’m conformable with Jenn but I know Jennifer sounds more professional. I went with Jenn, anyway.
I’m learning a lot in my new role, including Asheville is not considered the south, actually; it’s a unique place unlike anywhere else, and I think I’m going to love it here.
“What are the vegetarians on the couch doing for lunch?”
The only way to make the 10-hour drive (plus gas stops and bathroom breaks for me and the dog) to Asheville more bearable was making sure I was good and sore from riding the day before. So, Thursday I loaded up my dirt bike and headed to the Croom Motorcycle Area near Brooksville for one last ride down the flat, sandy trails – my old stomping grounds and where I started riding when I was in single digits.
A friend and I pounded out more than 17 miles in just over an hour. After our first 30-minute session, we rode back to the truck for a Gatorade and I noticed a grey-haired rider approaching me.
“You ride pretty good,” he said and I could hear the disbelief in his voice. I laughed, wondering why he didn’t tell the guy I was riding with that he rode well, too, and said, “Been doing it for 25 years…” I imagined he saw us tearing it up though we never ran into him on the trail, or maybe he just heard me reaming out my two stroke when he was sitting there in the pits.
In the woods later, after we stopped for a drink of water from our Camelbaks, my buddy asked if it bothered me when the guy said that.
“Kinda,” I admitted. “Why didn’t he tell you that YOU ride good?
We shared a laugh.
“And why is it still expected that I wouldn’t ride good?”
We talked for a minute catching our breath. He said he could tell I was a little irritated by the guy’s question.
“I just hate how there’s still this gender gap or whatever. I wasn’t raised like that. And we have a woman running for president!”
He nodded before rolling his helmet back over his head.
“As far as I’m concerned, you burned your bra for this,” he said, kickstarted his bike and took off.
I’ve moved back into my mom’s house (for the third or fourth time since graduating college) for the next week or so until I make my way to North Carolina to start my new job. Ironically, I’m going to be staying with my dad for the summer in North Carolina until I can find a place of my own.
This morning my mom woke me up at 5 a.m. to run a 5k with her. Of course, it was still dark as we ran the streets and I was scared a few times when a leaf blew across the road behind me or I saw a shadow that looked like a person lurking in someone’s driveway. I couldn’t believe she runs in the dark by herself normally and asked her about it after. She told me, “You can’t let the fear take hold of you or else it will keep you inside.” She had to fight it at first and she said now she keeps her Mace handy and runs with just one ear bud in. What a trooper. Maybe that’s where I get it from?
I’m excited to announce I’ve accepted a job at the Asheville Citizen-Times, a Gannett company, as a digital producer/copy editor and will be relocating to North Carolina at the end of this semester.
Driving to campus this morning was a little unnerving since I put in my notice last week; I’ve never felt more uncertain knowing I’m about to leave the place where I’ve worked, learned and taught since 2012. At the same time, I’ve never felt more excited to take on a new workload, meet the staff of journalists I will be joining and return to the newsroom that I left three years ago. I’ve missed the workplace culture: the consistent hustle and bustle, being at the beck and call of breaking news at a daily newspaper and how a slow news day can become interesting at any time.
For these three weeks until I start, I have some time to slow down, reflect and understand what I’m here to do.
It’s Tuesday and it feels like Monday lol. I got off to a slow start this morning but I plan on picking up the pace. I am now working on my fourth and final story of the semester and it is coming along okay, I still have a lot of work to do so I am going to cut this blog post short and get to work.
Last night I attended a free trial class at Twin Rivers CrossFit in Oviedo and though I’m not too sore yet, I know the second day is always the worst. It’s been a few years since I did any CrossFit after injuring my neck in an auto accident in 2012, but I was still nervous walking in to the Box, which was smaller than I expected but big enough to work. The entire workout cost me 30 minutes of my life, according to my Garmin, and I burned 225 calories an average heart rate of 138 BPM and a max of 185. The best part was no burpees!
Excuse my absence: I’ve been trying to enlarge my vision lately because I’ll admit, I’ve had the this-could-never-happen-to-me thoughts, so I’m trying to get back to the can-do attitude that I had in childhood. I used to dream the wildest dreams, expecting the most impossible things to happen to me. I can’t remember the last wildest dream that came true, but they did happen: I landed my dream job; met my most favorite celebrity; was accepted into Syracuse for graduate school, etc.
In the past week, I’ve planted a seed of opportunity that I hope will take root. Anything can happen, right? Sometimes, changing my environment helps.
This weekend’s race was one of the weirdest for me as my bike decided to lose compression right at the finish of the first 10.5-mile lap. I had the lead from the start and was just passed for second after the 5 or 6 mile marker but I still had her in sight when we came through the chicane. Then the ol’ girl bogged and shut off as I read my position from the transponder. All I saw was “1YA,” and my face fell.
After waking up at 5 a.m. today, mostly because I wanted to get in a morning massage before work, I can relate:
“You may be an entrepreneur and feel entitled to sleep in. And I’m sure you have that right.”
If only I could set my alarm clock at 5 a.m. every morning; I would be able to get a lot more done before 8 a.m. when I usually wake up. What’s stopping me? Maybe I should make waking up early a new thing. I am more motivated in the morning; night time makes me sleepy. The hardest part will be waking up when it’s still dark outside but, then again, that’s what electricity is for.
According to the article, setting an early alarm clock “will set you free to take your business, your mind and your life to places you never dreamed, faster than you ever thought possible.”
That’s where I’m headed.