Yesterday was a day of fireworks and barbecues all over the country. While out on a bike ride I could smell a BBQ on every corner. It was not only a day of eating, watching people get drunk and light stuff on fire for me. I was eating dinner at Kripalu when my friend Carly asked me if I was going to hang out and watch the fireworks tonight. My reply has been the same for the last 8 years, since I came home from Iraq. I can’t watch the fireworks because if I do, I usually end up freaking out. Theres few things that trigger my PTSD and bring me back to that vivid reality of mortars landing all around us, whether on a convoy through the Urban chaos or simply laying in bed trying to fall asleep. For years I would go to fireworks shows on the 4th of July and end up feeling isolated from everyone I was hanging out with. So now, when asked if I’m going to watch the fireworks show I simply tell people why I don’t partake in the festivities. I’m self aware enough to know what what my triggers are around my experiences in Iraq. Also the 4th of July for me is a time of reflection on my time at war. A day of remembrance for the friends I lost to suicide and I.E.D. explosions. While the majority of people are having a good time, getting wasted and listening to James Taylor there are veterans all over the country in pain and remembering their experiences at war.
I am torn between many lives. Yes I did join the military when I was very young and I do not regret any of my time on active duty while stationed at Ft. Campbell and deployed to Kuwait and Iraq. Today I am very much against war and any type of violence. Then there’s Independence day from a Native American view point. I could go on and on all day long about politics, government and Native rights but when I start getting in my head about all this stuff it just makes for so much negativity. Sooooo that’s when I go for a bike ride!!!!
I spent last weekend out in Northhampton with the J.A.M. team riding bikes!! It was a ton of fun. Saturday we were out on the bikes for over 8 hours!!! We didn’t plan it that way but people flatted and had mechanicals. We rode over 5.5 hours, 100 miles, climbed 7,500 ft., burned over 4,000 cal. and had an amazing time. Then on Sunday we rode 5 hours again, climbed 5,500, burned over 3,000 cal and did the fundo loop. It was a hard weekend of training with an amazing group of bike racers. I learned a lot about my mental ability to ride really hard when my legs hurt really bad and just keep going. A lot of the pain in cycling is a mental thing and if you can push through that mental barrier your legs will open up and you will be attacking off the front!!!!