Earth

Happy Earth Day!

I have to be honest, I’m not a particularly festive person. Most holidays I’m doing the bare minimum to celebrate. Earth Day is no exception.

I’m not planting a tree. I’m not going to be basking in the sunshine. My festivity this year is writing this blog post on my patio (and that’s okay).

But I do love the Earth. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever not loved this planet. And I care about it, too! Today I want to take inventory of where my actions are meeting my affections for our shared home.

How am I doing?

About a year ago I started riding my bike to work. It’s been awesome. Living as a one-car couple has been fun but challenging. Some times I wish I still had a car of my own. But on a day like today it’s really satisfying knowing that I can keep an entire vehicle off the road by choosing a bike instead.

Not everyone can opt for a bike. But what about public transportation? Or car pooling? You might be surprised when you look at your options. I never thought I’d be car-free and biking 5 miles to work, but here I am!

 

1200px-Recycling_symbol.svg

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

You have to admit the branding is phenomenal. The three-word saying is, too. My only critique (and I can’t take credit for this) is that we’ve taken a backwards approach to how we embrace it. We often think of recycling as the end-all, be-all. But I realize now that there’s something even better than recycling: reusing. And even better yet: reducing.

What’s better, recycling your waste, or reducing your waste to begin with? Or what if instead of recycling an old plastic container you can reuse it a few more times first? We could even reintroduce a fourth word, re-purpose. We’ve re-purposed some unwanted coffee mugs for herb plants in our small garden.

Thinking this way has led to the more practical steps taken in the past year for Kelsee and I. We now try to avoid one-time-use products, especially plastic. We also try to buy things in larger quantities to reduce the amount of packing that is involved. I intentionally started buying the peanut butter that comes in a glass jar because it means every time we finish the peanut butter, we have another storage container!

And yes, we started recycling this year, too.

Taking steps to care for our planet better can take many different forms, but one of the most surprising is by choosing what you put on your plate. Yes, the food that you eat has a price tag and also a price that is paid by Earth. A plant-based diet helps fight climate change and animal foods like beef are damaging the environment.

Eat more plants! We eat a plant-based diet and it’s been wonderful for our bodies and minds. It’s great to know an animal didn’t die to feed me. But knowing it also helps this planet that is our shared home is great, too.

Beyond the kinds of food to eat, we also try to source our food well. We’re buzzing in anticipation for the farmers’ market season to start back up so we can get some local, organically grown food. And as unfun as it is to think about, I’ve also been faced with the facts that flying food from other countries isn’t quite the best thing for the Earth. avocado’s are becoming a bit more of a special occasion for me for this reason.

Yes, bananas and plenty of other foods come from across the nation or across the world, too. So let’s not respond with a, “well then why bother,” attitude and instead take interest in sourcing locally and helping people that are growing the foods in the patches of mother Earth we live in ourselves.

There’s plenty for me to improve on. We recycle a lot of stuff, but I’d really love to have less things to recycle! Less waste altogether. Finding other waste-minded people to share ideas with is a goal of mine. Here’s a start.

Tomorrow is also Earth Day

And so is the day after. It’s easy to lose track of the giant sphere zipping around the sun that we’re all riding through life together. But, until we are colonizing other places in this universe, we live every day on spaceship Earth. So another goal I have is to reflect on the Earth on more days than just the one that has a trending hashtag.

Don’t get me wrong, hashtags are good! This holiday is great for spreading awareness. So let’s be more aware together! But I think there’s a hurdle between awareness and action. It’s called apathy.

I feel like I’m recovering from apathy about a lot of things lately. The importance of my home and habitat is one of them. All these years I could have been doing better. There’s damage that I’ve already done. And thinking about how much there’s left to do to fix it can be daunting. It can seem like it never ends, and that I won’t be able to achieve a “perfect” state of being, so why bother trying?

But when I reflect on living these ideas out, I realize this: There is no perfect, there is only better.

So let’s do better.

 

From my mind to yours,

Quinn

Advertisements

The Best Bike Commute

It’s been a while since my last couple of bike posts. I’ve pretty well survived the Winter and have some exciting stories to share on the other side.

Staying Warm

My Winter weather post about the gear I’d be using to stay warm ended up being spot-on. I bought a scarf to pad my neck and face and was able to stay warm enough through all of the really harsh weather. The coldest commute I had was a -17 degree windchill. If you add in the 20mph speed that I was travelling at, it was a bit colder. But after a certain point the temps stop feeling colder and start feeling like stinging pain.

Thankfully my commute averages only 17 minutes long. On the coldest of days the worst that happened to me was having tingly hands just as I was rolling up to my office. Due to various precipitation issues (keep reading), I worked from home fairly often in some of the worst weeks in January and February. Ultimately the temps weren’t fun, but they were manageable. I’m finding anything above 30 degrees totally comfortable.

Last week we had an abrupt season change (somewhat expected in Indiana). It was a surreal experience to go from 24 degrees on one morning to 70 the following afternoon. You can tell I was enjoying the weather riding home in the jeans and hoodie I wore during the work day:

img_20190313_162141459
70 degree ride home in March!

Ice Sucks

Hands down the worst experience of riding through the Winter is ice. You don’t have to think long about the combination of a slippery surface and balancing a bike to realize that there’s some real cause for concern. Unfortunately it took going out on my first snowy day to realize how bad it can be. Coming from the world of driving a car in snow, you know slipping and sliding is bound to happen. But with a bike, you don’t just slide—you tip-over.

My first Wintery-mix commute was a rude awakening. The roads were cleared, but a majority of my route is on paved trails. The ~4 inches of slush proved a bigger challenge than I expected. Even worse, the trails had been ran and biked on the day prior. The packed down snow turned into iced grooves that sent my bike wheels in every direction they went. Fish-tailing on a bike is scary!

After barely making it to the half-way point of my route, I had a gloriously clumsy “fall.” But I wouldn’t call it a wreck, especially because I landed on my feet. As I was riding at a reduced speed around a bend my bike began to tip over, almost in slow motion. I planted my feet and gently laid my bike down. It was going down whether I wanted it to or not. I turned back home in defeat and worked from my apartment the rest of the day. I was bummed!

Round 2

Two days later I gave it another attempt. There was some mixed precipitation throughout my commute but things went much better. I did, however, have another clumsy tumble further along. Same as the previous commute, my bike slowly began to tip from under me while casually coasting around a bend. Thankfully, I landed on my feet straddling my bike. I was past the worst of the terrain, so I just laughed and hopped back on two wheels and finished the trip to the office. Victory!

Weather War

After my first two falls I was a bit more cautious about the potentially icy conditions. A couple weeks after the first fall, another Sunday snow blessed my path to work. I knew that this time there’d be almost no chance the trails would have packed ice as it came late in the evening, so I gave riding to work a shot. After all, everything prior to that was either sheets of ice from rain (no-go) or wet and slushy. Two inches of dry and powdery snow was very appealing!

What unfolded was the most fun I have ever had on a bike.

This commute was utterly magical. Imagine the most serene, glistening snowfall like a picture-perfect Christmas morning. Lightly dusted trees, calm breeze, the world at a stand-still.

My bike did great in the snow. I felt traction and the loose fluff of the snowfall under my tires. I was conquering the elements while basking in their beauty. I made it to the state park and experienced the breathtaking expanse of pure-white wonderland. This was my dream commute.

I was enjoying the ride so much that I spontaneously diverged off the trail to put the bike to the test. And it killed it off-road! I was riding freely across the vast open landscape and felt like there was no limit to where I could go. It was pure bliss.

As I made it towards the exit of the park, the roads were cleared of snow. I came around the bend at the bottom of the hill and made a critical mistake that immediately sounded every alarm in my mind and body. I unintentionally rode over the now-frozen tire tracks of the narrow lane near the gatehouse.

I hit a patch of black ice.

The bike began to slip out from under me, and I was moving at a brisk speed of about 15mph. This time, I was tipping over with the bike, too. I landed on my left hip, left elbow, and side of my helmet in unison and slid through a bit of slush. The adrenaline surged and I managed to shrug the bike off of myself and take inventory of my body.

I had range of motion in my arms and legs and didn’t have any dizziness or blurred vision. After 30 seconds of checking myself I went into get-to-the-office-as-fast-as-possible mode. I looked at my bike to gauge the damage. I sat it up and gave the pedals a revolution and the throttle a twist. The ebike seemed in good enough shape to at least walk the last mile to my office.

However, my milk crate containing my laptop, lunch, clothes, and bike tools came detached from my cargo rack and was 15 feet away from the bike. All of the zip ties securing it to the rack had snapped, leaving me to figure out how to lug the 10lbs crate and walk my bike to the office. At this point I realized I needed to strip my gloves and goggles to attempt to rig my belongings to the bike and get moving.

I used my two bungee cords to secure the crate back to my bike (in the loosest way imaginable). I walked the bike about 50 feet and my mind started weighing my options. I was now extremely cold and starting to feel pain throughout my body. I knew the rest of the route was very flat and cleared from snow. I decided to hop on the bike and cautiously ride the remaining mile to my office. I made it to work and took a very long and hot shower to warm up and parse everything that had unfolded over the last 30 minutes.


It was a commute of the highest highs and the lowest lows. Extreme for better and worse. I went from a state of euphoria to experiencing full-fledged survival instincts. Victory and defeat. That morning ride is so strange to think about, even two months later. I had an AMAZING time until the fall, and then it was one of the most stressful things I’ve experienced in my life. Crazy!

Arguably crazier in hindsight, I rode back home that afternoon. I think I wanted to redeem myself. If I had let Kelsee pick me up, I knew I’d be scared to ride again.

I was beaten and bruised, but somehow made out without any damages to my body that didn’t heal with time. I had pulled my left oblique and had lingering pain in my elbow and hip for about 3 weeks, but was fine otherwise. The bike was practically untouched, and the crate was easy enough to reattach with more zip ties.

I’m choosing to remember the joys and pain of that commute. It would be easy to let my fall tarnish the memory, but it truly was the best commute I’ve had.

Over The Hump

I took it easy following my bad fall. Several days working from home, and less gambling on the road conditions. Following the series of snowfalls was the couple weeks of harsh temperatures. Now, we seem to be nearing the end of morning freezes. Hallelujah!

I’ve had the ebike now for seven months. It’s been incredibly useful and has exceeded my expectations. On my way home today I caught a glance of my odometer sitting at the 1000 mile mark. I had to stop and snap a picture to celebrate.

img_20190320_162146898_hdr
1000 miles on my ebike!

 

I don’t know how long I’ll be riding to work, but at the very least this has been a wild adventure I will always be glad I had. It’s been fun to document and share as well. Apologies to my loved ones for all the worry I’m sure I’ve put them through!

Here’s to more adventures!

img_20190320_162110525

 

From my mind to yours,

Quinn

Groceries in a Plant-Based Life

According to the 21/90 Rule, it takes 21 days to build a habit and 90 days to make it a lifestyle. After being on our plant-based journey for eight months, Kelsee and I can attest that it truly feels like a lifestyle.

We hardly put much thought into what foods we do or don’t buy at the store. There’s rarely cravings for the foods we used to eat. We’re done getting acclimated a Whole-Foods, Plant-Based diet. It feels second nature now!

Now that this eating pattern feels “normal” to us, it’s easy to lose touch with what our “normal” used to be. A while back we went through our recipe list and sorted all of the old recipes that we wouldn’t be eating any more due to our new food choices. I was a die-hard fettuccine alfredo fan growing up, but our favorite alfredo sauce recipe won’t be of much use now that we avoid eating over half the ingredients. It was easier to give up than I would have ever expected!

Another reminder that we get of how different our food habits are now is seen at the grocery store. We spend a majority of the time in the produce department now. If not there, we’re usually looking in the bulk bins for dried fruit and seeds or in the oriental cuisine aisle where beans and grains are located. Just last night we did a run to Kroger and Costco. At Kroger we bought an onion, a sweet potato, a pack of kiwis, and some bananas. Our Costco item list is pictured below:

img_20190312_184714591
Frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries, apples, dried cranberries, spinach, dried dates, and canned corn

 

Every grocery run doesn’t look quite this homogeneous (everything we picked up that night was produce!). In general we’re not buying much, if any, processed food any more.

A quick aside: We eat a mostly whole-food diet. The opposite of a whole food would be a processed food. But many perfectly good and healthy foods are processed. We don’t eat grains straight off the stalk, or bananas with the whole peel, and likewise don’t avoid natural peanut butters if they are simply nuts that are ground into a butter.

I find Dr. Michael Greger’s definition of a processed food helpful. He describes processed foods as food with something good being removed, or with something bad being added. This means olive oil is a processed food because it’s made by taking olives and removing, well, basically the whole olive. Another example would be sugar-sweetened jelly or dried fruit. The sugars are the bad ingredient that is added (and most sugar is made by processing sugar beets and removing most of the good parts).

So in general* we only eat foods that are either whole, or are processed in a way that preserves the nutrition content and only changes it’s form. For example, we make our own flour by taking oats and processing them in our vitamix; we eat peanut butter that has only two ingredients: peanuts and salt; we eat whole-grain breads (like Ezekiel bread in the frozen section).

Alright, back to pictures of groceries, here are some more hauls:

img_20190203_112313025
The super ripe bananas were only $2 and we froze them for smoothies!
img_20190109_182447202
We splurged on frosted flakes when we had a coupon, we eat a few processed foods occasionally*.

 

Maybe I’m weird for enjoying pictures of our groceries, but I think it’s hard to argue the colors aren’t appealing. Our bank account is happier too! This time last year we were averaging over $800 a month for food for the two of us. Now we are eating all of these beautiful and much healthier foods averaging ~$450 per month.

A pleasant surprise for me has been how much fun I have making my meals now. Whipping together something from scratch or following recipes, it’s enjoyable either way. When the reward is such a satisfying meal, it’s hard not to get excited while you’re cooking (and I’ve consequently burnt my tongue repeatedly because of my impatience)!

So to wrap up this post, I’m going to dump some pictures of meals that we’ve made over the past eight months. Excuse the lighting and image quality.

 

Stay tuned for more exhilarating insight into the food I eat!

From my mind to yours,

Quinn

 

* We break this “rule” from time to time to try meat-alternative options like “Chik’n Nuggets” that are soy-based. Also, the Frosted Flakes shown in one of the grocery hauls. These items tend to be our treats, not a regular part of our diet. We’re becoming more and more averse to fried and other oily foods found especially at restaurants, though. Last night we ordered an onion ring appetizer at a brewery and were “over” them after a couple of rings each. We ate the rest mostly out of obligation. My days of being an onion-ring connoisseur are over.

Two Simple Goals

In the blink of an eye, we’re almost in our third month of 2019. I missed the boat on new year’s resolutions, but this year I do have two clear goals that I want to accomplish.

The first is writing at least two blog posts a month. I began striving toward this last year, and I want to keep the momentum going. Seeing as it’s the second-to-last day of the month, I’m using this post to reach my quota. I’d rather reinforce my habit with a lighter post than feel bad that I only had one “good” post for the month. Why beat myself up?

The second goal that I have for this year is to run to work. I started running for exercise in the fall of 2018 and have been building my endurance steadily. I’ve ran 5 miles on a couple occasions on the treadmill, which is the distance between my apartment and office. Even if it’s at a measly 10-minute pace, it’s the farthest I’ve ever ran!

Riding my bike to work every day has helped me realize that I’m more physically capable than I used to give myself credit for. Hitting these long distances on runs makes me want to put it to good use by running the 5 miles to and from work.

In a way, it feels like I’ve already accomplished it (I think sports psychologists call this visualization). I’ve done the distance. I know the route like the back of my hand. I’ll probably have to break it up so I’m not doing two 5-mile runs on the same day. All I need to do is get the logistics in order and wait for the weather to warm up.  I know I can do it, and I’m excited to go for it.

While it’s still cold out, I’m training indoors at my apartment’s gym. I had a chance to run this morning before work and enjoyed a blueberry ginger green smoothie to top it off!

media-1551280366901-Feb_27_2019_9_57_AM
Kelsee pointed out my smoothie matched my shirt

If this year is anything like last year, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of more exciting things to talk about than that I wrote 24 blog posts and ran 5 miles to my office. Most of the big things last year were unplanned! But it’s still good to have a few tangible goals moving forward. They don’t have to be glamorous to be fun and worthwhile.

What are your goals for this year?

From my mind to yours,

Quinn

edit: Maybe I should have been more clear. I want to run to work for a day. Or maybe more than one day. But I’m not saying I’m going to switch from biking to work to running! Just like people have running a marathon on their bucket lists, I have running to work for a day on my list.

Who Tried The Milk?

When I was a young, I spent a lot of time with my extended family. My uncles would often talk about lofty, philosophical topics. A fair amount of it went over my head, but some of it really made me think; questioning little things we all take for granted. One specific memory I have is when my uncle posed something like this:

“I wonder who the first person was that drank a cow’s milk. Think about it–who would see an udder hanging from a cow and actually want to drink the stuff that comes out of it?”

When I heard his idea, I thought about the cows I had seen on television. The happy cows, nursing their calves with their milk. In fact, I’d seen a nursing calf in person at my grandpa’s dairy farm. I remembered the calf sucking directly on the cow’s udder. But then my mind went to an image of a man crouched under a cow, sucking on the cow’s udder just like a calf would.

If you are like me, that’s a bit unsettling to imagine. It feels wrong and disgusting. Teenage Quinn felt kinda grossed out.

But we drink this stuff anyway. I had a, “weird, but oh well…” thought about the matter.

I was probably able to ignore the creepy feelings because I wasn’t a big milk-drinker. Cheese, however, was a different story. I loved cheese! Cheese on pizza. Cheese on sandwiches. Cheese on crackers. Even better, cheese-flavored crackers! These were my favorite foods growing up. To me, cheese was more normal than milk.

Nature

But is it really normal to consume milk from an animal, regardless of the form? Well, we can agree that as mammals we are nursed with our mother’s milk when we are born. The same thing happens when a cow nurses a calf. But do calves ever get nursed by pigs? Or pigs by dogs? I’ll concede that there’s probably a time when an animal has tried or even succeeded at being nursed by a mother of a different species. However, nursing only naturally occurs in nature between a mother and it’s offspring.

Okay, so other animals don’t nurse across species. We humans are superior though, we know the benefits of drinking milk from a cow or goat. It’s good for us!

Or at least, it’s good for someone. What is the purpose of cow’s milk? Obviously it’s to feed a calf. But more specifically, it’s to help a calf grow up to be a heifer or bull. And they need all the help they can get! Calves are born at around 85 pounds and grow to be over 500 pounds in under 6 months while nursing. Dang! That means they grow almost 6 times their original size on their milk diet.

In contrast, humans nurse for 12-24 months on average and are expected to be triple their size after the first year. That’s still impressive, but we’re not having anywhere near the amount of growth that calves do (imagine a 45-pound one-year-old baby)! If cows’ milk can grow an 85 pound animal to 500 pounds in 6 months, it’s a bit worrying that we consume it so much as humans. Even if we don’t solely rely on cows’ milk for our nourishment, I have to ask this question: If the purpose of cow’s milk is to grow a calf into a cow, and the purpose of human milk is to help grow a baby human into an adult human, shouldn’t it be obvious that we should drink human milk and should not drink cow’s milk?

On the other hand, if you want to grow up to be a cow, then the best thing to drink would be milk that baby cows drink. As they say, “you are what you eat.”

Let’s talk about human breast milk a bit more. Most people are nursed by their mothers when they are born, and then weened over time. There are several reasons why we are weened that I’m not knowledgeable enough to speak on, but I think there’s a clear intuition. We aren’t able to eat “big people” food when we are newborns. We don’t have teeth! As we gain the ability to eat whole foods like adults, we slowly transition away from a liquid, mother-produced diet. It makes sense for us to move on.

Think about this: When’s the last time you wanted breast milk? Probably when you were under 4 years old, right? Maybe only 2!

Let’s get weird.

If your own mother was able and offered to breast feed you right now, would you participate?

You should feel pretty awkward thinking about this! I do! Buckle up and keep your arms inside the vehicle…

What if instead of your own mother it was a stranger? Maybe their child finished nursing but she still had extra food to share.

*gasp* Quinn, stop making me think about drinking human breast milk from strangers! I hear you loud and clear. I’m bringing it all home shortly, this rollercoaster only has a few more twists and turns.

It doesn’t have to be a complete stranger. I have a friend I know well and can vouch for her milk (she eats organic, don’t worry). Her name is Julia and she’s able to nurse you right now. Oh, almost forgot, Julia is a hippo! Or maybe Julia is an elephant. Or a gorilla, dog, zebra, cat, or maybe a rhino? For some reason I just can’t remember what species she is.

That won’t be a problem though. Julia’s milk does great things for her kids. Would you like to try some of Julia’s milk?

Oh silly me! Now I remember that Julia is a Holstein cow, like the ones my family used to raise.

istockphoto-909791640-612x612
My friend Julia and her kiddo

 

Unnatural

As humans we pass down the things we know to the next generation. We learn from our parents and society. We take it as good and proper until something challenges us to examine why we believe or do it. This happens over and over again in culture and across civilizations throughout all of history. Consider this post a prompt to reconsider your thinking just like my uncles used to give me.

Most of us have been milk drinkers or cheese, butter, and cream eaters at some point in our lives. We learn to do these things, even if for different reasons or in different ways. But let’s pretend that we’ve never had a drop of milk or curd of cheese in our lives for this next hypothetical scenario:

You’re walking around a really nice garden. It’s lush with beautiful food growing on the ground and on the trees, ripe and ready to eat. A shimmering creek of fresh water is flowing, ready for drinking. At the snap of your fingers, your favorite meal is prepared at the picnic table under the shade of a tree before you. You enjoy your you delicious food but there’s one problem: there’s no drink at the table and you are thirsty.

On your way to the creek you see a calf nursing with her mother. The calf finishes eating and there are four udders open for business.

Would you try the milk?

If you answered “yes”, consider getting help. 

If you answered “no”, I have more questions for you. How different is it to drink cow’s milk from a blue-capped jug at the grocery store? Is the only weird part about drinking milk straight from the cow that you are putting your mouth on its udder? At the end of the day, even after all the pasteurization and processing that happens to cows’ milk, it still started as milk from a cow, meant for a baby cow.

 


 

Well, I hope you survived this roller coaster of a post with me. There’s several other reasons to consider giving up dairy including personal health, the environmental impact, and the way the animals are treated and killed. Maybe I’ll elaborate on them more down the road. I had most of these thoughts over a decade ago and only stopped eating dairy products in the last 8 months. Asking ourselves questions about the things we take for granted is a good thing! It’s why I stopped consuming milk from the wrong species and realized that I was weened over 20 years ago for a reason.

I’ll send one more of my thoughts to your mind. What is worse: reading this post about drinking someone else’s milk, or actually drinking someone else’s milk?

From my mind to yours,

Quinn

 

P.S. If you want an even wilder milk scenario: would you eat cheese made from pasteurized human breast milk? Okay, the ride is over. Please remain seated until the coaster comes to a complete stop. Thanks for riding!

Driven Mad

I spent a total of 45 minutes in the driver’s seat today. There were a few worrying encounters with other people on the road. Sadly, I’m sure the examples I could give would not be surprising to anyone. If you ever drive a car, you’ve undoubtedly witnessed them yourself. There’s a chance you’ve been a participant in these acts as well.

Distracted driving. Operating a metal machine weighing over 2000 pounds without full presence of mind. Texting at the wheel. Let’s go beyond texting: interacting your smartphone at all behind the wheel. Searching for the perfect music playlist. Sometimes we just need that hit of dopamine from the likes we got on our last Facebook post while we wait for the light to turn green, right?

But then you subconsciously start scrolling through your timeline. Checking out a new photo album from a friend’s vacation. Scrolling past all the bad memes. Ooo, they are together now? Ugh, more political stuff… Then comes the rude awakening.

HONK HONK

Whoa, time to drive. That’s embarrassing. Oh well.

Take a second and consider how much this actually happens. Today I was the one honking the horn. Most days I’m the passenger while Kelsee drives. Without having to focus on driving, my attention is instead directed at watching the people around us. It’s frightening how much people are getting their screen time and road time at the same time.

I am no saint in this regard. I have, in the past, actively used my phone while driving. There was a specific event that led me to stop doing so.

I was 17 years old. While driving my first Honda Civic at 45 MPH, I hit a stopped minivan. It was on the busiest road in my hometown. I was attempting to make a lane change while approaching a severely backed up intersection. After I realized I couldn’t make the lane change, I looked forward and saw the stopped vehicle after it was too late to react.

I had a severe accident while giving my attention to the road. I was not using my phone. I realized that even without a distraction I was able to make potentially life-threatening mistakes at the wheel. It was a terrifying experience. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

The most vivid memory from the fallout of this accident was searching for my phone in the car to call my mom. I was coughing from the smoke of the airbag. When I pulled it out from under the seat where it had landed I had a very sobering moment. Sitting in the driver’s seat looking down at my phone. I realized I had done the very same thing while driving the car countless times before. Time to stop.

Two and a half years later, I had another accident while at the wheel. It was the day I moved into my first apartment during my junior year of college. My 13-year-old brother was my passenger. My mother and sisters were following me on the highway. After a tiring morning and long drive, I passed out at the wheel. Our car went off the road to the shoulder and we hit a road sign.

My mother and sisters had to watch in horror. Thankfully my brother was okay. No other cars or people were involved.

I still have a hard time reliving this experience. I couldn’t sleep for a few nights. I didn’t drive a vehicle for over a year out of terror and the heavy burden of fear. What if I passed out again? I was diagnosed and treated for the condition that caused my accident. Even with a sense of closure knowing that I wouldn’t have this issue again, I was still uneasy about driving.

Another automobile accident that happened despite my best intentions. I was not using my phone.

Every single day that I am on the road either as a passenger or driver, I notice other people being distracted at the wheel. Even worse is considering how many people are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs without anyone even knowing. Beyond all of these examples of human ignorance, there’s even more cause for concern.

I have been the sole cause of two automobile accidents. One from human error. Another from health issues.

Giving our best efforts, we are still mistake-makers. At our worst, we fall prey to the addictive, stimulus-seeking desires that we have built into our lives. Just think about that: we are driving these metal machines at blazing speeds within grazing distance of other people doing the very same thing. And yet we can disregard the immense responsibility we have to ourselves, our loved ones, and to other people and their loved ones. We do so in favor of a warped prioritization of picking the right emoji or liking a comment on social media.

Forgive me for being doom and gloom about how dangerous and scary driving can be. It should be clear that I have some anxiety rooted in both the past and in present, every day experiences.

Necessity

I live in a car-dependent culture. Most of our country is built this way. Thankfully, I’m able to get by with just a bike for now. I’m not naive enough to believe that I will always be able to avoid driving a car. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the privilege I have to opt out of a car while I can. For me, driving is a necessary evil at best.

My awareness of other people’s behavior behind the wheel is heightened while I’m on my bike. In fact, commuting by bike has opened my eyes to see how bad the status quo is. People can completely miss a car while distracted or inhibited on the road. How much easier is it to miss a dude on a bike?

You could argue I’m sacrificing my own personal safety by opting to ride a bike instead of driving a car. I consider this every day that I ride. Given my own track record of driving cars, I rest easier knowing that at least I’m endangering less people by riding a bike instead.

From my mind to yours,

Quinn

Considering Legacies

What is a legacy?

Some people take up the mantle of the family business when they come of age. Many families have a certain field of practice that the members gravitate towards like medicine, education, or law. A parent with an entrepreneurial spirit might pass that same drive and motivation onto their children to start businesses of their own.

Beyond work and careers, families have other kinds of legacies that are passed down. A rich faith tradition that spans back decades or even centuries. A fighting spirit of perseverance amid a history of enslavement, exploitation and segregation. An allegiance to a favorite sporting team or athlete. A deep passion for philanthropy and giving. Even something as trivial as a favorite beverage or meal.

Legacies can also be a source of pain and hardship. Alcoholism. Drug addiction. Gambling addiction. Obesity. Abuse. Poverty. Lack of education. Smoking. They might be avoided in conversation due to the emotional burden they carry.

What legacies do you come from?

All long-lasting family legacies come from a more personal legacy, whether started by a single person or a family unit. A tradition of going to a certain university does not begin until the first member of that family attends it. A farming family doesn’t exist until the land is bought and the work begins.

What legacies will you start?

Legacies are like family trees. The foundational member of the tree is the person or unit who began the tradition. At each branch and leaf of the tree is a member who comes from that legacy. They face a choice: to continue that legacy, or to end it. They embrace it, or reject it.

Which legacies will you continue? 

Each branch of a family tree may make different choices about a shared legacy. A family legacy starts with one person or family unit. It ends in the same way.

Which legacies will you end?

Legacies are neither good nor bad. They are remembered for better or worse. Likewise, legacies can be forgotten. They prompt a choice: to be continued or ended. A choice will always be made. For some, it is an active decision. For others, it is subconscious.

What legacies do you come from?

From my mind to yours,

Quinn