I’ve already illustrated my tendency to linger (here’s a story about being in the Teton National Forest long after dark) but whether on or off the road, I’m still working on my time management skills. It may be a lifelong project.

Driving fatigued

Me at Devil's Tower, WY

Me at Devil’s Tower, WY

After a morning visiting Devil’s Tower during my first solo trip in 2010, I lingered over a delicious lunch in Sundance, where I chatted up the proprietor of a the coffee shop who had relocated from the midwest a couple of years before. She had a “major prize leg lamp”  like the one in the movie, A Christmas Story, which should give you an indication of her sense of humor.

That night, 273 miles later in Cheyenne, I would meet my fellow Conga riders, about whom I would eventually write the book, Live Full Throttle: Life Lessons From Friends Who Faced CancerBut how I spent those 273 miles is the focus of today’s life lesson.

First, I could see rain ahead of me, and riding in rain would be a new experience, one I didn’t relish. I had a sense of dread that I think played a role in making me tired. About 100 miles north of Cheyenne on 18/85 I was bewildered by my physical fatigue and the sprinkles that had begun. I just wanted to GET THERE, unload and get a hot shower.

Cheyenne is a railroad town, so 18/85 was frequently paralleled by railroad tracks. As I started having difficulty staying fully alert, I played head games like trying to guess how long it would take for me to intersect with a train coming in the opposite direction. When there wasn’t a train, I tried to count the number of phone poles in a mile. If I’d had an iPod at the time, I would have blasted away a few cochlear hair cells trying to stay focused.

We all play head games to stay alert, whether in a car or on a bike, which doesn’t excuse the practice of driving while fatigued, but I guess I’m trying to gin up sympathy points before I get any further into my tale.

Speed, my new weapon

At this point, I looked around and didn’t see another soul on the road. That’s it, I’m gonna throttle up.

For the first time I got it up to about 90 mph (the legal speed limit is 70 mph) and I was surprised that 90 didn’t really feel faster than 70. I was pretty pleased with myself, but a prickling feeling on the back of my neck made me wonder, is that car about a mile back law enforcement? I couldn’t tell whether it had an equipment rack or blue lights on the roof so I slowed back down to the legal limit. Watching the car for about five minutes, which didn’t get any closer, I decided to get back to the business of speed.

The blue lights

Me at the Cheyenne, WY train station

Me at the Cheyenne, WY train station

I will confess to hitting 95 mph when the blue lights did indeed come on. The sheriff’s deputy pulled me over and I could tell he was surprised to see that I was a woman. He looked me up on the computer in his patrol car and then (hit the miracle music) didn’t give me a ticket. He did, however, give me a lecture. “Ma’am this is an open-grazing state, and I don’t want to take you out of my state in a body bag!” He really laid into me, and truthfully, I deserved it.

How many times do we get negative feedback and instead of saying, “You’re right,” and being graceful about it, we instead bristle and try to worm our way out of the lesson at hand?

Whether at work or home, it seems there’s always constructive feedback on how to live our lives. I’m working on seeing the truth in negative feedback and acknowledging its truth to the person doling it out. It certainly isn’t easy, especially with people who seem to make it a personal mission to call me out. If you’re one of those people, maybe you’ll be gracious enough to limit the sheer volume of feedback, okay? I promise, I’ll do the same with you.

Today, maybe you’ll be a graceful giver AND receiver of constructive feedback.