by NAA

PescaderoFor various reasons, the past week has been difficult for me as well as for many people I know. The shadow that seems to have stretched across us had me wondering the other day whether there might not actually be something to astrology: the planets seem aligned to test our mettle.

Yet for every shadow, there must be a light to cast it, and in a way, light can be defined by darkness. The tiniest moment of beauty can carry a person through his or her darkest hour. Dostoevsky said “Beauty will save the world.” I believe it.

In my freshman year of high school, our English teacher assigned us an I-Search paper, in which we address the various interpretations of one chosen word through various research tools. I chose to write about the word “magic.” For me, magic did not mean sleight-of-hand, wizardry or crystal balls, but a quality of meaning in ordinary moments.

We’ve probably all received a smile from a stranger at one time or another and not thought twice of it. Yet, on a particularly difficult day, a smile from someone in the line at the post office can make all the difference. After a frustrating training ride, the simple quality of light playing through trees might be enough to fill your soul to the brim again. These small moments so often overlooked bear reminders that beauty lives on — in the world around us and in human kindness. Ordinary moments become extraordinary, and to me, that’s magic.

As for the shadow, I look to the light.

Here are some moments from the past week or so for which I’m thankful:p1190066.jpg

Fiery poppies in full glory along Highway 99

Getting to talk with David, even though he is in Austria

Our lead-out at Visalia

Coach hugs from Linda

Coffee at Woodside Bakery with my mates after a sunny recovery spin

Riding over Devil’s Slide for the first time on the Dave Stahl ride

The Dave Stahl ride

Laughing over a Hamlet quote with my sister

Reconnecting with my friend Andy Gardner

The soft green hills undulating beneath fields frothing with wildflowers in the rocky foothills outside Fresno

Endless laughter on the road trip back from CVC

Hugs from my parents

The unabashed joy of clumsy puppy greetings from Luna, Yuba and Kendall

Racing my bike

Tan lines (finally)!

Peet’s coffee

Laughing over wonderful meals with our host families

People opening their homes and hearts to nomadic cyclists everywhere

Carson Brett bringing his friends to the start of the time trial to cheer for us

The looks on the faces of the little girls who posed for photos with Brooke and Lauren after the Visalia crit

The Visalia Crit

Hearing Dave Towle say “It’s on like Donkey Kong”

The strength and compassion filling the moments of silence for Kristy Gough at the Sequoia Classic

Every e-mail I got in response to my Cycling News Diaryp3090015.jpg

The many times my teammates made me laugh when I felt like crying

Hearing Bob Myers say “I’m so proud of you girls” on the Noon Ride

Rushlee’s depiction of Helen as a koala using Microsoft Paint

Charlie Walker’s garden

Earning the title of “nerd” at the Bretts’ house, until Brooke arrived

Almond butter and maple syrup on toast

Rushlee and I realizing that our cheeks and abs were sore from laughing so much on our day off

There are many more, and I’m sure, more to come . . .