In one month I am leaving on a cross-country journey from Seattle to Miami – via bicycle – with my husband and my two dogs, Oliver and Samantha. I am 40-years old and a recent empty nester. My name is Lynn Roden. This is my story.
Ten years ago I was a successful web designer/graphic artist and although I loved my job, I woke up one day to discover I was not the size I remembered. How come my size 6 pants were now starting to feel tight? Some may say “Only a size 6!” but you have to take into consideration that I was thin my whole life leaning between a size 0 and a size 2 – going up to a size 8 would have been the equivalent of going from a size 6 to a size 14 to me, a big difference.
I started with a personal trainer at Olympia Gym in Aventura, FL. working out two times a week. I started watching my nutrition and added cardio into my workout routine. Two days a week gradually became three. I loved this new more confident, stronger me and decided to become a personal trainer myself.
At the gym there was a front desk manager who took his job very seriously. It seemed that every time I came in this man would come out of nowhere to make sure I had signed in. It became a game and I would start coming in just to buy a bottle of water at the juice bar just to defy the need for me to sign in upon entering Olympia. He had a Harley Davidson motorcycle and I had been wanting to ride. One day my trainer hooked us up, we went to lunch, and were married six months later.
On our first year anniversary my husband, Roy, was diagnosed with YOPD – Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. I entered my first triathlon. Somehow becoming stronger physically was akin to being strong emotionally. In addition, my two teenage daughters were grown and independent enough to want to leave home. I found myself 40, an empty-nester, and with a new husband with a degenerative neurological disease.
Truthfully, it has been a struggle. I am at a turning point in my life – trying to redefine myself as a new woman, one where my children no longer need me but my husband will. One of independence but with a strange tethering twist. Wanting to find myself, I have been begging for a cross-country bike journey for the past year needing to push myself even further after successfully competing in and completing a myriad of obstacle course events.
Fortunately, my husband is a man of great courage. This past July, Roy underwent DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) surgery to help alleviate his symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Upon wakening he acquiesced, “I’m ready to go.”
While my children are finishing school in Brazil, Roy and I are bicycling from Seattle, WA, down the West Coast, and across the lower part of the United States until we make it home to Miami, approximately 4,500 miles. All with two dogs. We are selling all of our things, we bought an all-original ’69 Airstream trailer, and my brother, David Rambo, will be driving the sag vehicle along the way.
Our mission: To raise funds and awareness for Parkinson’s disease. Follow us at PDChallenge.com.
This journey, through the grueling physical and emotional trial of biking cross-country, will allow me to clear away the minutia, to find my new purpose in life and still make a difference. I strive to be strong for the continuing challenges life throws at each of us. By making sure my vessel is taken care of via nutrition and exercise it allows my spirit to grow and offer strength to others. Change can be scary and unsettling but either we wallow in misery and fight it or embrace this new path.
There is a beautiful poem by Emily Perl Kingsley entitled “Welcome to Holland.” I was fortunate enough to come across it while volunteering with handicapped children. It is about acceptance and a willingness to see the beauty where you are even if it’s not where you expected. I’m off to enjoy the tulips.
Perhaps soon we’ll see a favorite quip from Holland on an inspirational poster, as Lynn is using her graphic skills and the beautiful original paintings of another Parkinson’s patient to motivate us all.
The PD Challenge 2012 – Roy and Lynn’s Parkinson’s Ride Across America will begin on Nov. 1, 2012. Lynn and Roy Roden will start in Seattle and travel 4,500 miles to their hometown of Miami, FL. Roy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2009 and he and Lynn have since been dedicated to raising awareness to those afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. Their goal is to engage in a nationwide journey to educate, inspire and raise funds for those in the Parkinson’s community. They are riding in support of several non-for-profit organizations that hold 501c3 charitable status, including the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the National Parkinson’s Foundations, the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, and the UM Miller School of Medicine. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive and degenerative neurological disorder in which those afflicted suffer from tremors, cramping, involuntary movements, bradykinesia, insomnia, difficulty swallowing, and walking, amongst others. One in 100 people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease with estimates of 65,000 new diagnoses each year. To date, there is no known cure. Visit PDChallenge.com for more information.