#brompton

The route takes shape!

Happy spring, everyone! (Or if you’re in the southern hemisphere, Happy autumn!) Are you feeling it? Have you been out to enjoy some sunshine, warmth, blossoms and new growth? I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the glimpses of it we’ve been getting here in Portland, with the cherry blossoms along the waterfront and everything else that emerges in this season.

And… I’ve been working on my route for my trip, and I’m so excited! I’ve had the general idea of where I want to go for a while, but I hadn’t had the skills yet in Google Maps to draw it, with a wide enough swath to allow the “wiggle room” I’m definitely building into the itinerary. But the other day I watched a tutorial, et voila!

The map above shows where I plan to go. My intention is to head south from Portland this September, and make the loop until the following September. Most of the journey will be done on my wonderful Brompton folding bike, with my awesome Chubby trailer. Certain sections will be done by Amtrak trains (one of my other favorite ways to travel!) Some short segments may also be done by city transit or other buses, or in a few cases, “road tripping”/carpooling with friends in a given area.

But, mostly by bike! I’m so excited to see all the natural beauty around the continent; to visit national parks and natural areas I’ve never seen (such as the redwood forests, Yosemite, Niagara Falls, and Glacier National Park); visit new-to-me cities, including but definitely not limited to San Antonio, Atlanta, Quebec City, and Toronto; and connect with people: friends, relatives, and lots of inspiring people I have not yet met!

As the trip draws closer, I am putting together a rough list of people who may be willing to host me for a night or two in their homes. The purpose of this trip—beyond physically challenging myself and enjoying the natural beauty of the land—is to give myself a chance to connect with inspiring people, and co-create as much magic as possible. I am seeking opportunities for in-depth conversations and connections about people’s dreams, ideas, and projects for making the world a better place, so that I can help them to hold those visions, spread the word about them, and network like-minded people together as I travel, so that they can all be more effective in manifesting this magic!

So, rather than camping or relying mostly on impersonal lodging such as hotels, I am seeking ways to stay with people for one to two nights at a stretch. I have several websites/organizations in mind that are well suited to this purpose: couchsurfing.com, warmshowers.org, and servas.org. (If you’re not familiar with that last one, take a look—it is a gem of a global peacebuilding organization, founded in the wake of the Second World War.)

But, as I discovered on my 2019 epic cross-country rail journey, I found many wonderful human connections through my friends-of-friends network. I am looking forward to more of this on this (extra!) epic journey, so if you’re reading this, I humbly request that you consider whether you or someone you know might be willing to host me in your/their home for a night or two when I come through your area. I do my best to be a gracious guest, and my goal is always for anyone I stay with to be happy that we had a chance to connect and talk about what’s important and meaningful to us. If you know people on a similar wavelength, along my route, I’d love it if you would put us in touch!

The blue pins on the map are places I’ve been offered to stay so far (thanks so much to everyone who has offered already!) but I’m always open to having multiple connections in any given place, so please feel free to reach out even if your city is already marked. Also, regardless of hosting, I would love to meet up with like-minded folks to talk, perhaps in a local park or café. The more connections, the better!

And, if you do want to connect either just to talk, or to host, I’d love to “meet up” beforehand, to have a phone or video chat to get to know each other a bit, and talk about dreams and projects. We can do that at any time—the sooner the better!—so that we can have a great jumping-off point for the conversation when we meet in person.

I’m so excited. Thank you all for following along with me and supporting my vision!


To schedule a one-hour session with me to talk about your dreams or projects, use the green “contact” button above!

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Coolest bike trailer ever! (Or, how I spent my stimulus)

I’m so excited!! (And honestly kinda scared!)

I just placed my order for this amazing bike trailer, designed specifically for the Brompton by a company in the Netherlands (where they know a thing or two about cycling.) I saw the promotional video a few months ago, and couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Mind you, I’ve never biked with a trailer before. Not once.

I’m also not particularly mechanically inclined.

I know I will end up loving this, but I’m a little nervous about how I’ll feel when it actually arrives and I need to put it together, and then use it!

But.

This is such a tangible way for me to continue committing to this journey I’ve started. Part of me had thought, Why don’t I wait until later to get the trailer? What’s the rush? I don’t want to jump the gun.

It was fear.

“What if I later decide I needed that money?”

“What if something comes up to thwart the trip? I will have wasted the money!”

“Can I be the kind of person who has a bike trailer??”

And… as I’ve written before, these days I am choosing to allow my decisions to be guided by inspiration and trust, not fear.

The stimulus was the perfect nudge.

Meanwhile, I have been jumping into doing the interpersonal work that is every bit as much an essential part of this trip as bicycling equipment.

I’ve done 27 2021-intention-setting sessions since December 21st, which is more than one per day on average. I have loved every minute of it, and based on the feedback I’ve been receiving, so have the people I’ve been talking with. People are setting many different intentions for this year, but I’m loving some of the themes and overlaps I’m noticing, and I’ve also been enjoying connecting people with resources to support their dreams where I can. In some cases, this has included introducing some of these folks to each other, where their interests overlap.

This is what the trip is about. And the more sessions I do, the more powerful the network will become, to the benefit of everyone. I intend to continue doing this work from now through the end of the tour, and probably beyond. It’s not even just in the US, either: I’ve done one session with someone in Canada, and have scheduled another with someone in Australia.

I would love to do sessions with people in all US states (especially the ones I’ll be traveling through!) as well as countries around the world. How much of an impact can we all make, individually and collectively? There is so much important and beautiful work to be done to make this world a better place.

I continue to offer these sessions free of charge, with optional donations or trades welcomed but not at all expected. I believe this work needs to happen, and I love to do it, and I trust the money will work itself out.

Do you have dreams for the coming year? Would you like one of these sessions? Comment or email me (maren@dreamintochange.com) to schedule a one-hour phone call or video chat.

Would you like to support my efforts financially? I’m accepting one-time donations via PayPal (you can send it straight to the above email address) or monthly support at www.patreon.com/dreamintochange. My aim is to manifest $50,000, via various sources, for the year I’ll be on the road. (If you happen to know any fairy godfunders, please feel free to put them in touch!)

I’ll keep you updated on the bike trailer when it arrives. Meanwhile, I hope your dreams are unfolding joyfully in this tumultuous world. We need the forward momentum of our dreams more than ever at a time like this.

“The money that’s wanting to be spent”

What a day!

Today is my 48th birthday, and it occurred to me with a chuckle how appropriate that is, given that within the year I hope to begin circumnavigating the “lower 48” under my own power.

More importantly, of course, as of yesterday our country has struck a blow against fascism, and although the amount of political, social, and cultural work remaining to be done feels nearly overwhelming, this is something monumental to celebrate. And I do.

Having acknowledged these two personal and collective milestones, I want to share a bit of an epiphany I had yesterday about my vision for my trip—and indeed, about life itself—after a wonderful phone conversation with someone I encountered recently on Facebook.

Sara Eden and I spoke about both of our career/life paths, and it was an enriching conversation.

At the very end, she said this about my goal to raise between $35,000 and $50,000 to fund my year-long trip:

“I hope the money that’s wanting to be spent finds you.”

Whoa.

What a profound statement.

What a mind shift.

“…the money that’s wanting to be spent…”

After we hung up the phone, I spent about 20 minutes allowing my mind and heart to marinate in, and free-associate with, that statement.

One of the first things that came to mind was a sense of abundance vs. scarcity. I thought about how money is something that I have traditionally thought of as scarce, and that “asking for money”—even in terms of marketing my genuinely valuable services to prospective clients—has felt scary and painful.

I further reflected that my “day job” of the past 17 years has involved accounts-receivable work, in which I have to “hunt down” unpaid and delinquent bills, using postal mail, email, and phone calls to recover the money our company is owed by customers. I have grown very accustomed to this work, but at first I found it so unpleasant and frustrating that I wrote a humorous, blowing-off-steam “template letter” to these various customers (which of course I never sent, but my coworkers and I got a needed laugh from it) and the one phrase that still sticks in my mind from that letter was, “It’s like frickin’ pulling teeth to get you to pay these bills!”

What a visual. It conjures how painful it feels to ask for money, or for me to imagine someone “giving up” their money, even to my employer from whom they did take merchandise with an agreement to pay for it within 30 days.

And then I found myself laughing out loud at that phrase: “pulling teeth.” I literally met with an oral surgeon this past week, to discuss doing exactly that in my own mouth. My own body. Physically removing all of my lower teeth—to replace them with hopefully more secure false ones—probably within the next few months.

Losing my teeth was a theme of recurring nightmares for most of my life. But now that it’s really happening… maybe it’s not so bad? It’s just a part of my life story. So, how funny to see this as a metaphor: maybe my asking for money—and maybe others’ giving or trading that money toward me—needn’t be painful or difficult.

What if it could be beautiful? Joyful?

“… the money that’s wanting to be spent…”

Next, I flashed back to my high school physics class, where I learned about potential vs. kinetic energy. Potential energy is that which is “stored up,” such as a book sitting on a high shelf. Kinetic energy is energy in motion, such as when gravity impels the book to fall to the floor.

What if money is a form of energy? (I believe it is.)

In that case, the money that is “wanting to be spent” is potential energy, existing within the hearts and minds of those whose money sits in their bank accounts, waiting to be transformed into the kinetic energy of a bike trip with a world-changing purpose.

This line of thinking spurred a visual. (I love visuals!)

I pictured myself standing in the middle of the continental US, or perhaps on an imaginary map of it. I stood with confidence and joy, which filled my body and began a dance. I extended my arms as if to receive, and looked joyfully around in all directions as I danced in a fluid expression of all that I wish for this bike tour to be.

As I did so, colorful dollar bills were magnetically drawn to me from all around the United States, like floating autumn leaves. (It brought an even bigger smile to my face to enjoy the fact that our bills do now come in various vibrant pastel shades, rather than the staid green they all wore in my youth.) The money was being drawn toward me by the beauty and resonance of my dance, my purposeful vision. Like November leaves, they floated effortlessly, joyfully toward me on the breeze, and joined me in the dance.

I flashed forward several months, and these vibrant “leaves” of financial abundance were now fluttering all around me as I piloted the picturesque Brompton along the roads and trails of this country, surrounded by ever-changing natural beauty.

Yeah.

Yes.

Yes!

I am now in this dance. I am trusting that the money that is wanting to be spent will indeed find me.

Sara Eden suggested a few nonprofits that might be interested in granting me some of this money. I will follow up on these leads. I’m also dreaming up ways to offer my empathy and coaching services in ways that will be a win-win for this trip. As time goes on, I will make more of a push to encourage people to sign up for my Patreon. (If you find yourself inspired to do so now, I welcome it!) I’m also open to the idea of meeting just the right individual benefactors/philanthropists who have this “potential energy” money in abundance, and would find it joyful to transform it into something kinetic by supporting my trip. Really, I would like to find a variety of sources of funding. I wish for this journey to be a wide-ranging, community effort, with community benefit. But rather than seeing “raising the money” as a painful, shameful, awkward, or insurmountable chore, I will now view it as a joyful dance from which everyone benefits.

Yeah.

A powerful mind trick

Some of you know that I am a huge fan of train travel. I have criss-crossed the United States several times on Amtrak, as well as traversed large segments of each coast. One time, frustrated by an order-ahead system that never seemed to work when I needed it, I even ran a successful petition campaign to get vegan meals on the everyday menu of the dining cars. (RIP.) Ever since my first cross-country train trip in September of 2000, I was hooked. And, I’m fondly looking forward to supplementing this upcoming bike tour with a few rail segments.

But, I wasn’t able to dive right into train travel; the time and money were outside of my means at that point in my life. Over the years, I slowly accrued more vacation time at work; switched around my schedule to four days per week, which allowed more long-weekend trips without even touching my vacation time; and I started using an Amtrak credit card to build up miles and earn free trips.

However, I also discovered a “mind hack” to help me bring about this new, dreamed-of reality as a rider of the rails.

In 2012, I flew to San Francisco to watch my favorite band Marillion perform, since that was the closest they got to Portland on that tour. I had only visited the Bay Area once before, very briefly. As a transit geek, I was thus excited to experience the BART, which I had only heard about. I was staying with a friend in Oakland, so I would take the BART to and from the concert.

Having paid my fare and taken a seat on that light-rail train, I was anticipating the evening’s show when I had a sudden thought: “Hey, wow, I’m a rail traveler! Here I am, in another city and state, sitting on a train and enjoying the scenery. I guess this is how I get around these days! I have manifested my dream!”

I chuckled in my seat, marveling at what this little mind-trick had done for my sense of self. I knew this wasn’t an Amtrak train… but I was able to “live into” my dream, by recognizing the similarity of what I was experiencing to some important aspects of what I dreamed of experiencing. It took my transportation geekdom to the next level: no longer was I merely experiencing another municipal transit system—albeit a well-known one I had looked forward to riding—but I was now a person who vacationed in various cities via rail.

The shift was powerful. Within one year of that moment, I became an international passenger-rail tourist: In January of 2013, I took a two-week “California rail adventure,” stopping in five cities. In June of that same year, I took my East Coast Empathy Tour, offering on-the-street empathy in four major metro areas while traveling between them on long-distance trains. And then in December, I took a 30-years-in-the-making two-week trip to Australia, where I traveled by train between Canberra and Melbourne.

I’m choosing to start that mind-shift again now, on my bike. As I enjoy my morning or afternoon commute, or take a spin around the neighborhood to do errands or explore a new food cart, I now think to myself, “This is my life! I’m a bike tourer. This is how I get around, wherever I go, and I enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery.”

I’ve always enjoyed biking for transportation here in Portland anyway. But now, I can feel that it’s part of something much larger. I am riding into something much larger.

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The magic is building

Wow… the magic of this trip has begun!

I had sensed from the start that as I began to write about it, and to share the writing on various platforms, people would start to come together to offer advice, encouragement, and the like… and that I would begin making connections amongst inspiring people and resources.

That’s how this all works. If I’ve learned anything from living my life, and working as a life coach, it’s that when we put our scary and exciting visions “down on paper” and begin to talk about them with others, things start to come together in really inspiring ways.

When I shared yesterday’s blog post to my Facebook page, I wasn’t sure if it would garner much engagement, because I thought “the rain” was a pretty unexciting topic, even if it was top-of-mind for me, and felt very relevant to my vision and planning.

But when one of my friends read the post, she tagged three of her friends whom she knew to be bike travelers, and two of them weighed in with some great pointers and encouragement. One of them also re-referenced the third person, who hasn’t (yet?) chimed into the conversation himself, but who has apparently written several books about his own bike-touring adventures! I want to read these books. I think the more I learn firsthand about others’ experiences, the more I will get a feel for what I want, what I should perhaps avoid, and how I can best prepare for this adventure.

Most importantly, though, one of these friends of my friend—Matt Picio, whose name I recognized as a multifaceted leader in the local bike community over the past ten years or so, but whom I had never met—imparted some wonderful words of wisdom, and I want to share them with you too, because they apply to so many areas of life and dreams, not just bike tours:

“Someone told me once that everyone on a major tour hits ‘the wall’ at some point, where they are ready to give it up and go home. If you get past it, then nothing will faze you anymore and you can ride pretty much indefinitely at that point. It was true for me, and for me it was in Virginia City, Montana, slogging uphill after a few particularly brutal days riding from Twin Bridges through Sheridan and Alder. I was ready to be done, and go home, and I had a couple of soul-searching phone calls with friends. What got me past it was having to get to somewhere I could catch a train home, and riding over the crest and downhill into Ennis, MT, I truly experienced why Montana is called ‘Big Sky Country’ – it was a breathtaking, humbling moment coupled with a several mile 30mph+ descent into Ennis that reminded me exactly why I was out there, and why I wanted to ride.

Your moment will probably be different, but whatever it is, remember that everybody has theirs, and if you can (safely) push past it, you’ll be able to do whatever you put your mind to on the tour.”

I loved this nugget of wisdom. It was another example of something I had sensed, and imagined would be true on my journey, but to see it expressed so eloquently by someone who had actually done a similar trip really helped to reinforce the principle.

Matt continued:

“Oh – one last piece of (unsolicited) advice. Never let anyone tell you ‘you’re doing it wrong’. I was notorious among people touring the US that year for carrying a cast-iron skillet. (For the record, it weighed 3.5 lbs and I lost 33 lbs during the trip – so really, did it weigh that much? I ate really well.) A couple I met toured with a full Coleman stove strapped to her rear rack. And one guy I met in Gothensburg, NE had a 70s suitcase with buckle straps bungied to his rear rack. Whatever you choose to tour with is YOUR CHOICE. We weren’t doing it wrong, and you won’t be either. The best mental skill you can have on tour is a willingness to accept everyone where they are at and not take anything personally. Everyone will have an opinion – you’re doing it wrong, you shouldn’t be touring alone, you shouldn’t be touring with a partner, it’s so dangerous to be on the roads, etc. Let them roll off you and enjoy the moment. … This is your tour, your life. You’re not doing it wrong. It’s yours.”

This was another wonderful affirmation, exactly when I needed it. Just yesterday at the optometrist, I told the doctor about my plan, and he was excited for me, but then he began speculating about what kind of bike I “should really be using” for a trip like this, rather than my Brompton. He wasn’t the first I’ve encountered, to hear my dream and then try to “edit” it, to “optimize” things for me. (And clearly he will not be the last!) I’m pleased to say that I mostly did take Matt’s advice, before even reading it today; I smiled and let the optometrist enjoy his own “twist” on my dream—perhaps he will even end up making some part of it his own!—while remembering that I have my own vision, and I can take others’ advice, but only if it truly feels right to me.

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