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Senior Correspondent

Bicycling is one of my favorite ways to start the day. We have a nice 12-mile trail in our town with just enough hills to keep a person humble, and enough flats to make a cyclist feel like she can conquer the world. At 5:30 a.m., it is perfect. We hit the riverfront just in time to catch the sunrise. As we cycle through the neighborhoods, we smell the coffee brewing, the bacon sizzling, and it's all we can do not to invite ourselves in for a cup of joe. Near the end of the ride, we pass the local bakery where the aroma overtakes our senses, and we fantasize about a dozen donuts. "Surely we deserve a donut or two to make up for all the calories spent on those bloody hills. Maybe just a few donut holes?"

One ride last week I seemed to be having more difficulty than usual. The hills were steeper; the flats were even psyching me out. "What's wrong with me?" I wondered. "Was it the heat? Had I not hydrated enough? Did I not eat the right breakfast snack? Was it the two pounds I'd gained just thinking about donut holes? Maybe I needed to shave my legs?" Desperate situations call for desperate measures.

This went on for a while. Then one of my buddies noticed that my back tire was a little low, and my other buddy measured the pressure in my tire. A little low? I was riding on 16 pounds when the tire required 60 pounds of air. Well, I should check these things before even getting on my bike now, shouldn't I? But, I hadn't done that, and the ride had been way more challenging than it needed to be. Once pumped, voila! It was a breeze.

How often do we attempt to take actions when we are less than pumped? We do what we must; we slog through the situation but for some reason, it's just so darned hard. We may become demoralized. We get the job done, but our own resistance has it take far more effort than need be. We may indulge in denial or procrastination, making things even more difficult.

We drag ourselves down with negative self-talk, asking questions: "Why me?"  "What is wrong with me?" And, once we ask those kinds of deflating questions, we generally find plenty of things wrong. We down shift, peddle faster, and go nowhere. We become discouraged and tired. We wonder why life is so hard, and blame ourselves for being so … oh, just fill in the blank. And, if we're lucky, someone comes along and says, "Hey, looks like your tires are a little low." And, you hop off your bike, have a look, and sure enough, a little air is all it takes. The last time I checked air was still free.

Our good friend, Judy, was diagnosed with brain cancer just 10 days ago. She is in the prime of her life. She is a talented and inspiring leader. And this terrifying diagnosis just comes out of the blue, no warning. I think we can all agree that this just sucks!

What does Judy do? She rapidly researches the diagnosis, gets herself the best medical team available, reaches out to her family and friends through a Care Page blog, and recruits us to stand by her as she sets off on this daunting journey.

She taps into a community of folks who love her, and invites us to join her on the ride for her life. She knows how important it is to pump up those tires before starting the trip and has a plan for keeping them pumped. And, while she is relying on all of us to stay pumped on her behalf, she is busy pumping us up as she confidentially and confidently shares her feelings and her courageous approach. We owe it to Judy to get pumped for this ride, and stay that way. We have our air pump, Judy. We're ready to roll.

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