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Pushing Boundaries

Obligatory Leaning Tower of Pisa Cheesy PhotoSo much for easing into the riding.The first two days here in Lucca I've been out riding with friends for between 20 and 30 miles. Today ended up being a 65 mile day.  I was planning to be doing between 30 and 40 miles a day this week ... but I'm riding with a group of friends and it's so easy to say, "Yes.  Let's ride to the beach."  We started out from Lucca this morning and road to Pisa to see the duomo and the leaning tower of Pisa.  It was packed with tourists ... the best part was the bike ride there - beautiful and just so gratifying to ride in to a place where others are more limited by parking or train schedules to come and go.When we were done, we went back and decided to detour to the beach just south of Viareggio, which ended up more the doubling the mileage of the day. Beautiful riding, and a beautiful day.  Castles and ruins of watchtowers on hilltops.  Wildflower-lined one-lane roads - buttercups and red poppies and Queen Anne's lace.  Earth colored homes.  Broad fields of bright yellow blooming mustard.  Yellow iris blooming along riverbanks. View from a hilltop castle in Nozzano on a rainy day rideBut a familiar problem for me ... I have a hard time not pushing too hard physically if the reward is good enough.One post-cancer challenge I have is lymphedema.   Part of my breast cancer treatment included removing the lymph nodes under my arm.  This has a long-term risk associated with this surgery of edema, or swelling, of the trunk and arm because the nodes that drain the lymph fluid (which is part of your immune system) have been removed.I have lymphedema in my trunk.  It

Going back to Move Forward

Italy.Italy was where I traveled the first time I ventured away by myself for a weeks-long trip over 15 years ago. Italy was where I learned to use my travels as time to think through all the things in my life that my daily routine prevented.  I scratched out my thoughts and revelations and ideas and “I wishes” in a battered notebook over quiet dinners or on train rides between the sites I’d always heard about but never visited.My first trip to Italy was defiant.  I had quit a job that I’d grown to hate.  I was searching for what was next.  And I was bent on making up for lost time from working too much and holding myself back from doing the things I wanted – like travel.So I charged through the country determined to see everything on the “List”.  Guidebook firmly in hand.  Snapshots of all the important effigies.  If I couldn't take a picture I would buy a postcard to put in the scrapbook – as if to document I had been there.  I had been there.  See?  Quitting my job was worth it because I WAS HERE.That scrapbook disappeared years ago.  What remained were the insights learned during hours of journaling.  Life choices for the next decade sprung from that journey.  I've now traveled to Italy cumulatively seven weeks in two separate trips.  I've seen the monuments of Rome, the canals of Venice, the masterworks of Michelangelo, the black and white checkered Tuscan cathedrals, the ashen ruins of Pompey and Herculeum and the remnants of the Greeks in Paestum and Sicily.  I've traveled with friends.  I've traveled alone.  I've met companions along the way.And now I’m back to Italy a third time for another five weeks.  It’s fitting to come back now.  I’m at another big