Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year!

A very happy New Year to all! I hope you're looking forward to the start of 2015. I know that it has been a bit of a crazy, chaotic mess for the E.V.L. household at the end of 2014. As stated prior, I knew we were in for a busy several weeks and months, but it's been no joke! The last several weeks have been challenging, sad, and somewhat fulfilling, making it a confusing end to the year, for sure.
*Image found here
The start of renovating the home we purchased has been nearly all-consuming. We wanted to do our best to get as much completed before moving in. We've managed to do much more than I anticipated thus far, but along with the projects came some frustration and realization that not everything is going as smoothly as we'd hoped.

In addition, just before Christmas, we lost one of our dogs. My heart still stings when I think about it. Our small dog, Gandolf, had been dealing with a lump on his head near his eye and I'd taken him to a variety of veterinarians in an attempt to have it removed. It was quite apparent that it was causing him much pain, but no one was taking the steps to move forward with removal.
Finally, one vet agreed to remove the lump. I was nervous, but knew it needed to be done because he was now avoiding eating due to the pain. Before surgery began, I was informed that the (as I'd been told prior) benign cyst was actually a cancerous tumor and it was very aggressively eating the bone in his skull. There was nothing they could do to help him and we suddenly found ourselves switching from how-much-is-this-surgery-going-to-cost to holy-cow-we're-going-to-lose-our-family-member.
Always digging for trouble... you'll be missed my little man.
It was crushing to say the least. I still cry and miss him because our dogs are very much our children and such a huge part of our lives. This little guy was a ray of sunshine, always protective of me, the best lap dog ever, and always looked at me as though I could do no wrong. He had a rough start in this world and sadly I couldn't protect him from the cancer that stole him too early. His just over 12 years with us were full of times I know we won't forget. It's difficult not to have him around every day, but I've tried to keep the good memories close to prevent the heartache which takes over more often than I'd prefer.

In the midst of all of dealing with the loss of our little guy, we had drama with the house closing and weren't sure it was going to take place. It did close, though not without delays and road blocks. Eventually, we were able to get into the house and put hammer to walls and scrapers to flooring and work got under way.

Through all of this, I have learned that I am not nearly as resilient or hearty as I believed prior. We've completed many home renovation projects through the years, but attempting to finish an entire house in a matter of a few weeks by ourselves is exhausting, daunting and overwhelming. Each project seems to take 2-3 times longer than anticipated, and often the costs fall in line with those same figures.

By no means are we at the end of our renovations, but soon it will be time to begin moving the household over which will no doubt bring another layer of difficulty to the process; but paying for two homes simultaneously isn't exactly prudent (or an option) either. The super messy projects will hopefully be completed before the move and the rest will be items to work on as we go forward.

In all of this, I've been pondering my inability at times to look at things in small segments or to allow things to simply be what they are rather than trying to force an outcome. I think I have done just this with the blog and allowed myself (at least during more stressful times) to feel as though I'm letting someone down by not posting. Velouria made an excellent point in her comment on my last post when she stated that perhaps I've put pressure on myself to put up posts and I should allow the freedom for posts to be more of a when-I-feel-like-posting sort of thing. Others made similar comments at various points and I've appreciated every idea and have let it all sink in.

With this, I intend to move forward with the blog, but I know it will be entirely sporadic for at least several weeks and/or there may still be a long lag time before anything remotely thoughtful is written. I believe 2014 was one of the roughest years I've experienced in some time and I'm looking forward to a better coming year. Sometimes I seem to let the life stuff get to me and it can be challenging to find equity in all parts of existence, but I have hope that with some work I can find that balance in the coming year.

Wishing you and yours a very peaceful, prosperous, and happy cycling New Year! I look forward to continuing our chats about bicycles in 2015.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Winner #2 - Random Holiday Giveaway

Thank you to those of you who participated in the second holiday giveaway this year. The winner of the second round is:

Congratulations Bike Nut! Drop me an email (endlessvelolove {at} gmail.com) with your mailing info and I'll get the bike light off to you ASAP.

Happy Holidays to all. I hope you're enjoying the season!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Heart to Heart

First, I just want to say thanks to those of you who have participated thus far in the giveaways. Giveaway #2 is still up and running, so if you'd like a chance to win, please get your responses in soon (You'll have until Monday morning - Dec. 15 - to get your name in the hat pull).

On that note, I have decided to end the giveaways with that second round. There doesn't quite seem to be the interest that there has in the past (and that's completely okay) but I still want to do something with the items I had ready to go. I'm debating what to do, but I'll either donate them to a local bicycle group that can give the items to those less fortunate, or I may store them for a bit and decide what to do after we're through the holidays. Either way, the items will find a way into the hands of someone who will use them and/or enjoy them.
*Image found here
If this blog is still up and functioning, I may simply do one-at-a-time giveaways over the next year. It's difficult to say at this point.

Which brings me to my next point for this post: The blog itself. The last several months I have been debating whether or not to continue the blog. It's not the first time I've questioned why I continue to write here, and if the blog continues to exist, I'm sure it won't be the last, but I have seriously pondered walking away. I have been writing here about bicycles and related topics for the last nearly seven years and it's difficult to think about giving up on it.

I started writing as a way to document my own experiences and to use this platform more as a journal type of spot and it has remained a great location for me to get out my frustrations, ideas, and it has grown into a place to get input from others who may or may not agree with my thoughts.

Right now, I think it's possible that I am clinging to a lost form of communication (It's a bit sad when even blogging seems antiquated). I know that many prefer to get information via Twitter, and while I have an account, I frankly don't use it as much as I should. Twitter is an easy way to get small tidbits of information out without having to sit and think more thoroughly, edit, attach photos, edit the photos as needed, and so on. However, as someone who doesn't sit at a desk a good chunk of the day, it's a bit more challenging to use it regularly.

Even with that, there are so many different ways that people are communicating. Twitter is a big one, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Google+, and on the list could go. It's challenging to keep up with all of the different possible forms of communication in this day.

I wish that I had the time to be active on all of these sites, but the reality is, it can be challenging to choose even one and remain a valid participant. It is really why I have clung more to blogging over the years. It simply made sense to me to have one location to share ideas and then link to the thought via other outlets on the web. I don't know how valid much of this has been, but it's been a lot of fun for me to get feedback from others and to talk with people via e-mail about various happenings with bicycles in their own lives. I wouldn't trade that for anything.

From the beginning, I never sought out a means to be a superstar blogger. I never worried about how many people were reading or whether or not I hit a list of the web's greatest. I know I'm not the best writer and I have never pretended to be. There are those who have found a way to remain relevant, funny and insightful, and I enjoy reading their blogs (and will continue to do so) as well, regardless of what takes place here.

Perhaps in my passiveness with blogging it has prevented me from remaining of interest to others. It's difficult to say as I know there is an ebb and flow to many things in life.

Much of my motivation with the blog has been simply to share my experiences and to get thoughts from others who may have their own opinions. It can be challenging to continue when I'm not sure I should further spout the thoughts in my head or the things that take place every day on a bike. We all have our own experiences and perhaps this space is simply no longer needed or even a source of information -- or perhaps there are just better places to get the information.

While I could go on about reasons for thinking perhaps it's time to give up the blog, there is no point in further boring anyone who does read here. I suppose I have simply reached a juncture at which I must make a decision whether to continue on in this same manner, to move on to other possibilities, or to give up on any/all of it, and I thought it was only fair to share this with those of you who have remained and/or continue to offer your responses.

If I do choose to continue blogging, I know that posts will be sporadic for quite some time. Our family is preparing for yet another move (It's a local move, but it's time to move out of our rental... and, hopefully, we can stay settled a bit longer this time, as moving is getting quite old). With this impending move comes a substantial amount of renovation which is going to keep us busy for some time. I'm expecting long days of labor for many months, so I am already aware that posts will likely be more sparse than even the norm for this space if the blog continues on.

As always, your thoughts are welcome on any/all of this. Perhaps there is a better way to communicate and I should seek it out, or maybe you think blogs are still relevant? While your ideas may or may not influence my decision, I am always open to opinions so feel free to comment here or even drop me an e-mail if that is more comfortable for you.

Thank you to all who have continued to support my sometimes crazy and more often than not erratic posts, and particularly I am grateful to those who have offered your own thoughts along the way. We will see where this journey takes us, but no matter what I am grateful to have had the opportunity to chat with some really amazing individuals along the way. I will keep you posted! {Ha! No pun intended} :O)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Winner #1 - Random Holiday Giveaway

The winner of the first random holiday giveaway is...

Congratulations, Corny! Please drop me an email at endlessvelolove {at} gmail.com with your full mailing information and I will get your gift off to you as soon as possible. Thanks to those who participated and don't forget to enter giveaway #2!

I look forward to more giveaways this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Happy Holiday's Random Giveaway #2 - Anonymous Gifting

Before we get started with giveaway #2, a quick reminder that you have until Wednesday, December 3 @ 1:00pm MST to enter giveaway #1, so go and check that one out too!

The holiday season seems to bring out the best in many people. One of the things I enjoy the most this time of year is hearing or reading stories of inspiration or recollections of a moment when a person went out of his/her way to help out someone in need or to make someones day a little more special. The list of tales is quite long and often I am amazed at humanity and our ability to do the right thing when it is most needed, or simply to bring a smile to someones face without expecting anything in return. Stories of mysterious or anonymous gift-givers appear frequently in December and it truly warms my heart.

Personally, there are a lot of stories that have touched me, but there is one in particular that makes me smile (and tear up a bit) each time I watch it.

I encourage you to watch the video, if you haven't seen it, because it really is one of those instances in which no one was expecting to have exactly what they asked for sitting at their destination.

I cannot think of much that is more rewarding than giving without expecting something in return. Some of my favorite memories involve giving a gift to someone I knew was in need and never revealing who the "mystery Santa" was that provided the gift. It's a great feeling, certainly! I always wish that we could all keep the spirit of giving and generosity alive throughout the year.

For this giveaway, I'd love to hear about a time (or more than one, if you choose) that you gave something to a person in need. Did the person know that you were the gift-giver? What was his/her reaction? If you've never had a memorable gift-giving moment with someone, I encourage you to go out and do so and post your response here. It could be something simple like paying for coffee for the person behind you in line, donating to a local organization, or even offering kindness to someone such as opening a door for a person with his/her hands full. There are really so many opportunities every day that I will leave that up to you to decide.

The gift for this round of giveaways is a MonkeyLectric M204 light set.
If you missed my post (or just want more information) about the MonkeyLectric lights, you can find it here. I have really enjoyed using this light so much already this season, and I'm sure I will continue to. Hopefully, one of you will enjoy your own wheel light set very soon.

All entries for this giveaway must be time/date marked no later than Monday, December 15, 2014 at 10:00am MST. Your reply will serve as the date/time stamp, so please check to make sure your response goes through (There have been some issues with Blogger sending comments into a black hole, never to be seen again). I highly recommend copying your response before clicking the reply button. If you don't see that your "comment will be visible after approval," then it probably didn't go through. I'd prefer to delete duplicates than have someone miss out, so please don't be afraid to send something twice if you're unsure. I will do my best to be quick with approving comments/replies to help facilitate the process as best I can.

The winner will be announced no later than Wednesday, December 17, 2014, so check back here to see if you're the winner.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Holiday's Random Giveaway #1 - Holiday Traditions

Yippee! The first giveaway is ready to go, and I hope you're ready to participate in some of the fun. If you didn't get a chance to read the rules quite yet, please do go here and check them out before posting your response. If you're ready to proceed, please keep reading.

Growing up, I was a ridiculously enthusiastic lover of animals (some things don't change). My love of animals was so great that I often came home with stray cats, frogs I'd found nearby that I thought needed shelter, wounded birds, and so on. It became a bit much, I think, for my parents but they tolerated my need to "protect" the animals from harm. I'm certain it was a little frustrating because some of the animals ended up being pets of neighbors.

Although I don't go to quite the extremes I did as a child, I still find it difficult not to help animals that are lost, injured or homeless. This time of year particularly, I am always grateful for the fur-family and all of the joy they bring into our lives. We have a small shoot each year with the pups just before the holiday season begins and we send the photos out to friends and family.
A small selection of family photos from the holiday season through the years.
At first, the holiday tradition started as a means to give to our local animal shelter, but it's become a fun (and sometimes challenging because the four-legged kids don't always cooperate) way to have a timeline of sorts of the entire family. We enjoy some of the photos more than others, but it's fun to see the changes through the years.

For this particular giveaway, I am wondering what one of your favorite holiday traditions is to do or participate in this time of year? Is there that one thing you look forward to doing each year, or maybe it's the one thing you dread, but still end up appreciating in retrospect?

Bonus Entry: 
A few years ago, Sam and I rode our bikes to the grocery store to pick up a couple of items and came across a wounded animal. If you can tell me the type of animal Sam and I rescued that day in your response, you'll get an extra entry into this giveaway. If you know what I named the animal, you'll receive two extra entries.

The gift for this giveaway will be Caz Nicklin's The Girls' Bicycle Handbook in paperback form.
Men, please don't feel you need to shy away from entering this giveaway. I'm sure there are plenty of females in your lives who would appreciate this book, or perhaps you know someone who is teetering on the edge of giving in to riding a bike? Maybe you yourself would like to give this book the once over? This book is full of bright photos and pulls together a reasonable list of how to's for anyone looking for information or who may be a bit shy asking for help.

All entries for this giveaway must be time/date marked no later than Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 1:00pm MST. Your reply will serve as the date/time stamp, so please check to make sure your response goes through (There have been some issues with Blogger sending comments into a black hole, never to be seen again). I highly recommend copying your response before clicking the reply button. If you don't see that your "comment will be visible after approval," then it probably didn't go through. I'd prefer to delete duplicates than have someone miss out, so please don't be afraid to send something twice if you're unsure. I will do my best to be quick with approving comments/replies to help facilitate the process as best I can.

The winner will be announced no later than Thursday, December 4, 2014, so check back here to see if you're the winner.

I look forward to reading about your favorite holiday traditions!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy Holiday's Random Giveaway Contest - 2014 Edition

We have arrived in December! This year has flown by quicker than any I've experienced to date. I'm honestly not sure where all of the time went, but here we are, right in the thick of the holiday season. With that, I am very excited to get started with the random giveaway contest this year, so I thought that now would be a good time to lay out the ground rules for any and all who would like to participate.
*Image found here
First and foremost, this is not meant to be anything stressful or difficult. I want to be able to have the opportunity to share a little something this time of year, and hopefully everyone will have a good time just participating.

Additionally, I know there are many different people who read here that also celebrate a variety of holidays this time of year. Please know that I do my best to keep things as general as I can, but I will apologize in advance if an occasionally-Christmas-specific item pops up. If it does, please feel free to insert your own preferred holiday instead, as I in no way mean to offend or upset anyone.

In the past, I have randomly posted a question or asked for an opinion on a random day and provided a time cut-off for entries. It may be something simple or it could be slightly more complicated. As an example, perhaps I would ask for your favorite holiday song or it may have nothing to do with the holiday season and I'd ask for your favorite bike tale. Really, I've left the possibilities quite open (because sometimes it's nice to have a simple task, and other times it's fun to dig in a little more), so who knows what thought may cross my mind.

As you may notice (if you played the last round a few years ago), the overriding rules have remained pretty much the same. In case you missed the last iteration or need a refresher, here they are again for your review.

These are the things you should know for each giveaway (though exact rules may vary from giveaway to giveaway, these will remain the same, unless otherwise noted in the specific contest):

1) Entrants must have a mailing address within the U.S. to win, but anyone is welcome to share and participate in the individual contests just for fun. Also, if you are outside of the U.S. and are willing to pay the shipping costs of the item, I am happy to send it off to you (or I will pay the costs of shipping in the U.S. and you would pay the difference). If this should apply to you during the game, we'll have an email chat and you can let me know what you've decided. Otherwise, another name will be randomly selected to win the giveaway item.

2) Anyone may enter. As with prior contests though, entry is limited to humans, and my family members are ineligible, though friends... and enemies... are welcome to play along. As stated in the past, I truly hope I don't have enemies, and if I do, please don't identify yourself. I prefer to live in my fantasy world in which we all get along. You may re-gift the item (I'll honestly never know the difference), or if you want me to send the item to a friend instead of you, that's acceptable as well (see rule #1 above if this is applicable).

3) Having the ability to post anonymously on the blog is great - but, for a contest or giveaway, not so much. Because of this, if you are someone who generally posts anonymously, please do include your name (or a nickname, if you prefer to not tell others your real name) with your answer/entry so that I can add you to the entries. If you don't provide a name in some fashion, I won't be able to put your name in the "hat pull" so to speak.

4) Participants may only enter each contest once, but may enter any and all contests.

5) Any taxes, fees, and so on for reporting purposes and other reasons are the responsibility of the winner (Check with your professionals, which is certainly not me. You don't even want to know about the tax bill we received recently because of my mistake three years ago. Needless to say, I am not a tax professional, and probably shouldn't even be doing our own taxes - but I digress).

6) Shipping of each prize will be paid by Endless Velo Love (except as indicated in rule #1, if applicable to you).

7) Please read each contest requirements carefully, as they will likely vary.

8) All winners will be chosen by a random name generator selection process online... which also means that it is possible to win more than once. However, I am placing a limit of two wins for any single person throughout the contest (we have to keep this somewhat fair and spread the love around...you know, to all three of my readers). I don't think anyone was a winner more than once with the last round, but it is possible. 

9) If a prize isn't claimed in a reasonable amount of time, or in the time frame given after the winner is announced, and/or if I am unable to reach the winner, I will move on to the #2 participant or possibly do a new giveaway (completely at my discretion). 

10) Though I'm not a very good rule follower myself, participants must abide by all rules for each contest, or the entry will not be included in the selection process.

For anyone who may be wondering about the random selection process, I don't want any means of interfering with the selection, so I use an online random generation process by putting all names into a list like this:
A sample list of entries for any given giveaway
*Generated at random.org
Then, I hit the "randomize" button toward the bottom of the page and it provides me a ranking for each entry like this:
This is a sample of what might turn out given the list above. In this case, Bernie would be the winner of the giveaway.
It makes things really easy for me so that I don't have to pick favorites from a bunch. Whomever is listed as #1 gets that specific gift. If s/he doesn't respond by the time cutoff, then I move down the list to the #2 person (or do a new giveaway) and so on. If the prize isn't claimed, it goes back into the prize pool and someone else can win it at a later time.

Time is of the essence, both with entering the giveaways and with responding if you are a winner, so please do check in often. Generally speaking, only a few folks have entered each contest in the past, so there are decent odds that you will win something.  I do my best to provide a reasonable amount of time for entries and responses for those who've won; however, having said that, I may allow shorter or longer periods of time for entry, depending on the giveaway, what I have going on in life, and so on... so, as stated early on, please do read each giveaway carefully to know how long you have to enter and check back soon after the end point to see if you've won.

There haven't been an exact number of giveaways set quite yet, so it could end up being just a few or it may turn into more. There may be more than one giveaway in a day, or they may end up being several days apart. Regardless of when they show up here, I hope that you'll participate in the giveaways.

So, what's going to be given away exactly? That's still a bit up in the air, but in the past giveaway items such as a year subscription to a bicycling magazine of your choice, bicycle decor, small personal items, and other such sundries were up for grabs. Generally speaking, all of the giveaways will more than likely have something to do with riding a bike.

I'm excited to get going, so the first giveaway could go up at any time. If you have questions, please feel free to ask away. Otherwise, I'll look forward to hearing from you all soon in the form of your entry. Happy Holidays!!