The Start of a Journey

The start of a journey is happens with the first step or in this case, the first rotation of the pedal. Sometimes a dream motivates a person to take a first step toward an end goal. Sometimes a first step is really a matter of ‘let’s try something new’. Cycling wasn’t on my radar growing up. I learned to ride bike practicing with my brother and sister, going down a grassy knoll in the school yard until I could ride. Then we moved to the farm where there was less opportunity to ride bike. We did live at a dead end and I did ride a few kilometres to visit friends so now that I am reminiscing, it seems I may have had a bit of a bent toward cycling, or perhaps all kids were riding bikes that much or more.

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This was 1990 after I rode from Calgary to Seattle with a friend. My husband came to pick us up and my friend Kim took this photo of the two of us. 

When I met my husband, he was a cyclist. He and his friend had done a couple of trips. One of our first activities together was a bike ride. I wasn’t really comfortable on a bike. My bike didn’t fit me really well and I had a substantial a$$ over tea kettle incident going down a hill on a rocky city trail a few months before. Fortunately the extent of my injuries were not serious but included scrapes and holes from pebbles and extremely sore muscles likely from tensing up while I was going over the handle bars.

Another reason I didn’t feel comfortable riding was balance. I have always struggled with balance. I walked late and to this day struggle with standing on one foot for more than 2.3 seconds. On a bike despite my confidence now, I still struggle if I have a very narrow path on which to aim the tires. I prefer a 1 foot width for wiggle room.

The year after we got married I got a new bike. He had a 1986 Myata 610 already and we found a 1987 Myata 610 a young lady was selling due to a bike accident that had caused a cycling limiting injury. We started training and the next summer took 6 days and road our bikes from Calgary to Kelowna. The following year a friend of mine and I rode from Calgary to Seattle in 13 days, took the ferry up to Victoria, then road to the ferry and took it across to Vancouver where my husband met us. We stayed a couple days with friends in Vancouver before making the trek home.

The next summer we had our first child. Cycling took a hiatus through the next few years with children. Still the feel of the open road was in my system and in time my cycling legs and ambitions returned. It’s interesting looking back on an unplanned journey to try to figure out what the instrumental point was when it all started. I am not sure there was one specific moment but I believe marrying my husband was definitely the biggest reason I took to cycling.

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Start By Starting

Think back to that moment when you were terrified to start something that you ended up doing anyway. What was the outcome? was it easy peasy right from the beginning?

I learned to ski as a teen and then after having children, did not hit the slopes for 12 years. Then one time the kids and I went with as part of a school group.  While they were in lessons, I took the tow rope to the top of the bunny hill. I stood there for 5-10 minutes, considering taking the skis off and walking down, thinking to myself, “It sure looks steep, what if I can’t turn, what if I hit someone, what if I can’t stop?” Skiing was something I had done adequately in the past, yet the delay in time made me feel like I was going out for the first time.

Contrast the experience with my first time on a snowboard at an age when women don’t usually start new sports. I had been skiing for a few years again, I was working out, I was cycling (strong quads) and I had lost some weight. I went to my first lesson with confidence and did surprisingly (to the instructor) well. I was still fearful of falling, I was still worried I wouldn’t be able to turn or stop. I fell many times. But I started anyway and I persevered.

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Sometimes we have opportunities crop up and we pause and wonder. Will I fall? What if I don’t know how to do something, what if I fail. What if it doesn’t work out. More often for myself, I consider whether I want to add one more thing to what I am doing. Do I really want to spend my energy doing the new thing? This is usually exasperated if I am tired or not feeling well.

Sometimes we are bogged down with the what ifs and never start, never pursue that thing that is niggling in the back of our mind. I can pretty much talk myself out of anything, especially exercise.

Is there a solution? I believe the number one solution is to just start. Start by starting. This might not mean starting without thinking, but it means that if you are only thinking of ways you may fail then the thinking isn’t productive. If the thinking is an effort to work out solutions to soar, then a little thinking can help. One thing that I have learned though, is when a person works out all the details, they often fail to start. Finding a happy medium is best. Most things you learn when you start because most times, you don’t even know what it will be like until you are immersed in the process.

Looking back at the things I started, and pursued, I sometimes consider what would have been different if I had not started. What would I not have learned by now. There are many things I started and did for 5 or so years and then moved on. And sometimes the fear people have is also connected to the feeling of permanency. What if I don’t like it? Time isn’t wasted in doing something where you are learning. Through the seasons of our lives we do different things, we learn, we move on to the next thing in the next season. I will be giving up chickens by attrition. They served well through the years with fresh eggs but now the commitment is too much with other projects and the plans for travel.

So, if there is something you have been holding back on trying, a language you keep thinking you should learn, a vacation you haven’t booked, a business you want to try or an exercise program you want to get started. It’s time to just do it without thinking too much. Just start by starting.

Making Tracks Toward the End Goal

Last week a friend invited me to go walking with her in a sports facility near home. She was going and desired some company so we made arrangements. Making tracks is so much easier when distracted by good conversation. We walked for about an hour and 45 minutes (over 11 km) around the track. That’s a lot of talking and walking. It was a great substitute for my running efforts that were foiled by the cold weather the last week. It looks like we will have really cold weather again this week and finally warming next weekend, so my plan now is to go to the track on Tuesday again and this time walk and run and get on the spin bike, then next Sunday I will run outdoors when it is nicer.

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Making tracks which I am doing in snow right now but dreaming of making them in sand.

My efforts to go out and run on Sundays and Tuesday is my way to increase my days of exercise. I currently have hiphop dance on Monday evenings so that gets me moving. Wednesday’s bootcamp is a mix but is mostly strength work, and sometimes I sub for wallyball in the evening for 2 hours of play time (I will be doing that this week). Thursdays I play wallyball for an hour and half in the morning, and basketball in the evening for more than an hour depending on how many show up. Fridays has me cleaning house and other chores that often involve movement by not cardio or strength. Saturdays I rest for the most part but I have gone for runs or bike rides on occasion (but not recently).

I haven’t gone snowboarding this season and completely missed last season. The last 2 weeks we got a lot of snow so as the weather warms my desire to hit the slopes will increase. I was thinking a lot of it today. Last year, time got away and there wasn’t much snow; conditions seem better. I feel an urge to get a couple days in as my goal in learning to snowboard at a later age than most people, was to one day be able to go snowboarding with my grandkids. That will be when they are between 4 to 8 years old, because after that they will be so much better than me. Still it is something to keep me motivated by having something to work toward.

I am really pushing toward getting my cycling legs in shape. With the hold on our cross Canada tour, I have been a little less motivated to train hard on the bike. In fact the last couple summers I haven’t got on my bike as much as I would if we were going on a trip. This spring I will push myself to hit the road on my bike as soon as possible. It is in the spring that my running takes a back seat when I get on my bike seat and head down the road.

The last couple of years I have done less than I previously was. Don’t get me wrong, I still do (was doing) more than many people but some things have fallen by the wayside. I am feeling better now and will work toward getting my strength and activities up again. With good training and nutrition (and thankfully few injuries and joint issues), my increasing age should be a small influence on my activities. So I go into the next 11 months of 2018 with much hope and anticipation. What gives you hope and anticipation?

 

 

Just When I Think…

Just when I think I have my act together, it falls apart. Or so it seems, it seems the world is conspiring to sabotage all the efforts, to wear me down, to poke holes into my resolve, to keep me from my goals, from success. Such was my week last week. I started out Sunday last week with energy, and accomplishments galore. I went for a run planning to run again on Tuesday (the forecast was for nice weather again). I had my other sports/workouts on the roster and I felt rested and motivated. Monday went just as well, and then…

Tuesday happened. It isn’t always a Tuesday but this particular Tuesday was the day. We were getting ready to take Furgus to the vet when my hubby started feeling pains in his back. By the time we got to the vet 40 minutes later my hubby was doubled over and almost passing out. I dropped Furgus off with the receptionist, signed the examination consent form and drove Lorne to hospital. Drugs and drugs helped his pain and tests and tests and the next two days more tests, finally revealed the sharp object moving in his urinary system…yep kidney stones. That was Thursday.

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You can see his right leg is swollen. He rested a lot. He also got his boosters when he went to the vet.

Back to Tuesday. The day was spent in the hospital, waiting, so much waiting and not knowing when the doctor would come in, and no food, no planning was involved…How do you plan food around an emergency visit to the hospital anyway? Furgus was okay, his swollen leg the result of a cat bite and treated with antibiotics. Arriving home in near dark having animals to feed and us to feed, I did not go for a run. The sheer exhaustion of the stress from the day did me in to the point of feeling ill. And we had to go back in the morning.

Wednesday morning did not start out with my scheduled bootcamp (nor Spanish class which is also on my dream board) and the day passed with a bit more stress being told, no stones showed up so you have to go to a different hospital tomorrow for a CT scan. That appointment was set for the afternoon.

Thursday I got to play wallyball in the morning as is my custom. An hour and half of good fun and exercise does wonders for the mental state. After getting the CT scan in the afternoon, we returned to the original hospital. After waiting there for over an hour we got confirmation of the moving stone, size and plan of action. Another late day and late feeding of chickens, eat quickly and head out to basketball.

That too was foiled with the sudden and rapid falling of snow. No visibility, I turned around and cancelled basketball.

At some points I felt rather discouraged, especially when I was feeling particularly exhausted. At other points I just went with it, because that’s really all you can do. I also felt encouraged because despite the chaos that was my life in those few days, I still got in some exercise, I still got in time to do Spanish homework, I still had a tidy house and still made good food choices (when I finally got to eat). Despite the upheaval, the things that needed to be done were done. Despite the stress of ‘not knowing’ at the beginning, we got the good news of kidney stones…yep good news because we know that ‘this too shall pass’ and all will be right again. Not without some pain (oh he will suffer greatly still) but then it will be done.

What my hubby was going through was terrible, that is his experience, his story; I am not saying his situation was about me. Still when my loved one is going through something, I am affected and that part is about me. That part is my experience; it is okay to feel it, to know it, to accept it, to talk about it. It is what is happening around me and does influence what is happening in my world. It changes my plans, it affects what I am doing. In accepting that part is about me, I can accept what I can’t change in the situation. In accepting what I can’t change, I can discover what I can control and in that way, I am empowered and not beaten down by the things I can’t control.

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I become aware of how terrible others have it. I am grateful for the ‘smallness’ of my struggles. When I think I have it together, it sometimes feels like the world conspires against me. In those moments I remember ‘This too shall pass”, to relax, to take a breath, and know that I can still be successful in some things, even if not in what I had planned.

 

Dreamscapes

Dreams do come true. It is really easy to say if you haven’t dreamed really big. Sometimes we don’t dream big because although we believe that the small dreams and goals can happen, believing something bigger isn’t possible is way more difficult. This weekend I made my first vision board. I worked on it for a couple hours from start to finish and came up with something I am pretty happy with. As with many of my creative works, I will revisit it to rework parts of it. I missed some items I had forgotten until it was put together. So I won’t be posting a photo of it just yet.

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One of the things included was my list of current commandments for myself (of which I missed one on the list and there is not space for it). I got the idea after reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. She has 12 commandments and a list of Secrets of Adulthood. I was inspired to do up a list of commandments for me. The first one is Be Dawn (her first one is Be Gretchen). I think it is important to remind myself to be true to myself. One of the others I have is Write. In an effort to keep that commandment my goal is to write a blog post every Sunday. I love to write but as with many things, it gets put to the side when life gets busy. As with most things I need to schedule what I want to do or it will be neglected.

I am wanting to write more about cycling. I started that last summer but…well I already went over that. So I will get back to that in the next while. It has been pretty nice out lately (for here), and when the shoulders of the road start clearing and the sun is high, I get the bug for cycling. It is a bit premature in January to get excited. Yes we have a trainer upstairs, but it isn’t quite the same. With the nice weather, I went for a run today for the first time in months. I didn’t really think about out it, just went.

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Sometimes you just have to start by starting, but starting can be difficult, because there is always a ‘reason’ to not. In fact, if I think about it long enough, I am pretty good at talking myself out of anything. I am better off not getting in my head; not a great place to hang out. So starting without thinking is my go to way of starting. Continuing is done the same way. Making a habit is a great way to stop thinking and just doing. So many things to work on.

Having said that, today I got a ton accomplished. I had a ton of energy. As I have mentioned in the past, I have struggled with some age related health issues, as well as incident related injuries. Over the last few months I have been concentrating on my insides and it is beginning to pay off. Having a ton of energy is super helpful in reaching goals, smaller ones and lofty ones.

With my vision board on my wall and my energy up, I have hope for the future. I will keep you posted.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! The one thing I have noticed, and so love reading on fb today, is the abundance of hope; hope for the new year, for a better life and more abundance. Along with hope, is thankfulness for many things of the past year but also to make it to another (hopeful) new year. It is a welcome change to feel more hope, to be inspired by people showing some self love, ready to make changes, to face what is ahead with joy. This is the time people vow to get healthier, to work out more, to eat better, to sleep more and to take care of themselves daily. In 3 weeks, it will be the time when many people have been living with the reality of life again after the holidays, and fall back into their routine, of less sleep, too busy or tired to exercise, to busy to put together a good meal or healthy snack (or even think what that means), falling back to being too absorbed in life’s obstacles to mindfully engage in self care.

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Do you make New Year’s Resolutions, or do you write down New Year’s Goals, or do you just hope to recover from the eating season?

 

It is probable you have experienced the gym seen in January. People are eager to get exercising, often not feeling great after the prior weeks of eating season. Some may have felt like they needed to make changes before the holidays but put it off until the bustle of the ‘extras’ was over. How do we get to this point? Going back a few months: for some after the summer vacation, there is the start of school and kids lessons and sports practices and games, and trying to get organized with that, then the fall/winter holidays start stacking up and there are the obligations and fun things we want to do associated with life surrounding the events and that leads us to “I should have a little more time in January and I really need to change what I am doing”. Of course as we know, the ‘extra time’ is short lived, because the rest of the year is filled with wonderful opportunities, fun things, and of course the struggles that are just part of life but we would rather not have to deal with. So, the gyms are extra full at the beginning of January and the regulars get a bit annoyed with the newbies who come in and change things up. The newbies, if they are really new, are really uncomfortable with this and will feel discouraged by the scene and the busyness of it all. Others won’t even attempt the setting opting for self-motivated, on-line programming. As the weeks go on, as the self-motivation dwindles gym attendance drops, on-line programming is relegated to “I’ll do it tomorrow” and the busyness of life takes over. This can happen in whatever realm a person has endeavoured to move forward.

But there is hope! There are those who make really hard choices and stick with it. There are those who make little steps toward new habits and make those habits…well, habits! There are those who fall off the bandwagon for a short time and start up again in something they find fits their lifestyle better. There are those who didn’t start, but as the new year is moving along, find the need or desire to make changes and they do.

That’s where the thankfulness comes in (along with the hope) that I have been reading on fb. People who made changes at the beginning of 2017 or through the year who are thankful for just doing it. The people who recognized their need, who made big or small changes that made their lives better or changed their lives substantially. Those people who are so thankful, their happiness flows out to those around them. Those people who are so thankful and inspire others to push forward in efforts of betterment.

This is my wish for you for 2018, that you will have both hope, and thankfulness. I hope for you that you will start your year with not only hope for the year but with solid plans to make the year better. I desire for you to carry your hope through the year and your desire to grow will continue to spur you forward. I pray you find the joy in the journey even when the journey is not pleasant; that you see the blessings of the mountains and valleys and take rest in the meadows of your year. I ask that you see the many blessings bestowed on you, the things you have accomplished, the many blessings around you, because sometimes it is hard to focus on what is good when we don’t feel like things are good. And please seek gratitude daily and seek to be true to you. For in these things we become happiest and we shine that on others, and they like a mirror reflect it back. It is a beautiful thing!

Thirty Days Live

Over the years I have pushed myself to do new things; things that are beyond comfortable, things that were hard, things others would not do….and others do comfortably. I learned to snowboard, I relearned piano, I started learning Spanish and speaking it when in Colombia (tourist Spanish) and hiphop dance among so many more things.

In the month of September I challenged myself to do a live video every day on FB. It was a challenge, and way beyond my comfort zone. I had done a couple in the past months and did not like doing them. I fumbled my words, I rambled and I felt like my voice was shaking (at least that was my perspective). I felt sick to my stomach with the thought of it and relieved when it was done. I went back and watched one of those early ones. It wasn’t as bad as I thought.

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Stepping out of my comfort zone. This is the footwear for adult hiphop dance performance of Cinderella I was in last week for it’s remount. I started hiphop a couple years ago and it includes going on stage in costume and dancing which was new to me before I started.

Starting out the month of September was okay…the first day. Then I had to do it the second day and my stomach was in knots. I was so not wanting to do it. I did it anyway. The third day, not quite as bad but I still dreaded it. After that it got easier. It got easier and I was able to find some entertainment in the process. I did my live videos at my worst (I had some low energy, close to tears days) and my best, days I had dressed up for a day out. The thing I liked most was finding a different place to do the video every day. I posted from the garden and chicken pen, from the yard and forest and from a spot on the couch more than once. I also went live from some activities I was involved with.

The topics were another thing. My exercise in doing the live videos was to become comfortable with it. It was really a show about nothing but not nearly as funny as Seinfeld. I started with a plan but that lasted all of 2 days and then I went with the things that came to mind, things that were happening at the time.

I started out the month rambling, and ended the month rambling but I think it was a lot smoother near the end of the month. I was definitely more comfortable and my desire to not do a live video at the end of the month was more about boredom, or rather not feeling like doing ‘yet another video’. I have yet to go back and watch any of them. I really don’t have a desire to see them. If I decide I need to do live videos for ‘other people’, I will go back to watch to see where I can improve but my goal in doing them was to get a level of comfort in doing them….and that, I accomplished.

When we are presented with an opportunity, we are often nervous and feel we can’t do it. We recognize when we are out of our comfort zone and often pull back and choose and easier path. Pushing the boundaries of comfort moves our line of comfort, increases our comfort zone and keeps us growing. How often do you challenge you comfort zone?