I am on a quest to live a healthier life, move more and eat better.
I've been making carrot juice in my Green Star juicer, bought organic quinoa at Costco, found a Pilates DVD on Craig's list and started jogging around my neighborhood after dropping off my son at school.
I also opened a Pandora's box that increased my health-o-meter and joy barometer a thousandfold.
On a recent Saturday morning, my husband asked me to join him on a bike ride from Medford to Ashland. Inside my head I sputtered, "Are you crazy? Don't you remember last time? I whined the entire three hours. I was sore for days and swore that bicycles were a form of female torture — right along with high heels and G-strings!" But my contorted face slowly turned to a smile. My sweet husband believed in me: in my carrot juice, Pilates and my quest.
"Sure," I replied.
But this time I did not appear in the driveway unprepared. I had a weapon in my pocket. Straddling my bike, helmet on, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my iPhone. Flipping through the apps, I opened Pandora (Internet radio), went to the genre menu and strategically chose "teen/pop."
This was a bold move for me. I am a classical music junky. I get excited over opera or Irish harp. But for this 38-year-old body, wanting to feel like a teenager is an embarrassing but real truth. My plan was to distract my mind while my body did the work; a little juvenile drama to a techno beat was just the distraction I needed.
As the tires hit the asphalt, the results were immediate. With Kesha "Tik-Toking," my head was be-bopping, and my feet were whirling in the wind. As we cruised down, instead of wishing for the comfort of my velveteen couch, I found myself giving pleasant salutations to farm animals. The brisk air beating across my cheeks, despite the occasional bug hit, was refreshing.
Through the back roads of the pear orchards we traveled, my husband shooting smiles in my direction, smirking at my off-key singing and shocked that I hadn't complained, not once. I grinned as Carolina Liar sang "Show Me What I'm Looking For." I answered, "Perhaps one of the three chairs posted 'FREE' on the side of the roadway."
Flo Rider came in right on cue with "Low" as we headed down our first descending stretch. I was cruising — feeling positive and energized. Taylor Swift told me her "Love Story," Matt Nathanson serenaded me with "Gone" and Kanye West and I bonded over feeling "Stronger."
We made it to Ashland 45 minutes later, my personal best and completely whine-free. We drank lemonade at Alex's, and I scored a piece of chocolate at Rocky Mountain Fudge Factory — dark chocolate.
My derriere was definitely hurting, my legs tired and shoulders tight from crunching up around my neck. My Freudian id tried to get the best of me, but Kesha retorted with "Blah, Blah, Blah," and I had no choice but to pedal.
The ride home was beautiful. Lenka gave me permission to enjoy "The Show." I took my time, letting the images of green meadows, grazing cows and the sweet smell of flowers swirl around me. I waved at farmers, a horse psychologist and a curious Shetland pony. I thought about how I had never truly appreciated the orchards that have been right in my backyard my entire life.
Up and down hills I rode, humming, singing and counting my blessings. I chuckled when two of the "FREE" chairs were gone. We both laughed when, on our last steep incline, my husband nearly steered into a ditch when he heard me vocalize at full volume: "I'll be your lady on the street and your freak in bed."
Blame Pandora. I was in the zone singing backup to Usher.
I coasted to a stop in our driveway, pulled out my iPhone and paused for a reverent moment. This was one phenomenal bike ride and all because of the music. I would be sore for days, but as I waddled my bike into the garage, I believed the insights, exercise and smile on my husband's face were well worth every achy muscle. Thank you Pandora for curing my bicycle blues.
Bike ride, anyone?