adventure

Handlebars are mean (but I love them anyway)

Bruises are a fact of life for me. I bruise pretty easy. And some of the bruises you can even see.

I’ve been up since 3 am. Seems to be that’s when I get the urge to write, when I remember that hey, I have a blog. When I’m up at 3 am and I really have nothing to do but sit at my computer and type. I’m not really sure what woke me up today. But once I was up, my leg made it pretty clear that it was unhappy. And I wasn’t getting back to sleep tonight.

This is the bruise I got Saturday. My boyfriend and I finally got out trials riding after almost three months of not riding at all. I wish I had some exciting story to tell of the amazing crash, but I don’t. I was turning around a tree in a new section and somehow between all the dead sticks and leaves on the ground and my body position, something didn’t go right and the bike fell out from underneath me. It wasn’t a bad fall at all. Until the handlebar smacked my leg.

I knew it was bad. I’ve been hurt enough during this sport to know when something is just a minor whack, and when its going to hurt the next day (or later that night). But I kept riding. Because I was outdoors in the sunshine with my friends. I was doing the sport that I loved. I was doing it with the man that I loved, sharing it with him, so proud of him seeing him conquer turns and steep ups over slippery roots and things that would have scared him last year. Seeing the improvement in myself after taking up Tai Chi. Seeing the lines and things that I wouldn’t even have tried last year, and yet Saturday I felt like I had the confidence to take on any obstacle in the world.

A lot of people give motorcycle riders crap. They say they are polluting the world. They take away our trails and riding areas. They look down at us. But the truth is, we are all after the same thing.

To enjoy this world around us. Trials is unlike anything I’ve ever done in this world. It has given me confidence. Family. Self-reliance. It has pulled me out of my introverted, hermit shell. It gave me hope, when my anxiety and depression had stripped every ounce of it away from me. And it taught me that bruises are not something to be scared of. It helped me deal with my bruises from emotional abuse. It helped me deal with my scars, while giving me cool new ones to brag about to people because they can’t believe at 30 I started riding motorcycles.

Without trials, I wouldn’t have traveled all over the United States. Wouldn’t have had the courage to pick up my life when it was darkest. Wouldn’t have met the love of my life. Maybe wouldn’t be here today to write this post.

Yes, my leg is killing me today. The nerves finally woke back up. But I wouldn’t give up these bruises for anything in the world. Because these bruises are my badge of pride. Because I’m having the time of my life getting them.

I needed Saturday. My boyfriend and I have been going through remodel hell. Not only that, but I’m going back to school, carrying a 4.0 GPA, dealing with debt issues, and trying to start a new trials club something I’ve never done before. Not to mention just the stress of a long, cold winter. I needed a day out in the sunshine with my other riding friends.

I guess this came up because its getting so hard to find places to enjoy this sport I love. To spend that time outside with great people.

I know a lot of people will disagree, that there’s other things I could do other than trials that would bring me joy. And I would maybe agree with you. Until I get on that bike. Then there is nothing else.

Before you hate something and ban it, think of the people who might get something out of it. Something that they desperately need. Something that brings life and hope into their life. Talk to the person. Learn about their love. It might not be your cup of tea. It would be a pretty boring world if we all loved the same thing. But maybe we could understand each other enough to respect each other’s choices and loves and get along together instead of constantly fighting.

Find something that brings you joy, even if other people say its weird or odd. Even if it brings you bruises. Pottery. Skydiving. Mountain biking. Riding a motorcycle. Whatever it may be. Don’t give up on life just because the world tells you its wrong or you can’t do it.

Yes, my leg is killing me today. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. This bruise is telling me I’m out living my life, not letting it pass me by like I did before. Because that’s the scariest thing in the world to me. Getting to the end of my days and regretting the things I didn’t do, because I was too scared to try for fear of getting hurt. I want to live a life of hope and no regrets. I hope you do too.

 

Shame on You (and dealing with it)

Today’s culture is obsessed with the idea that you can change your future, no matter how old you are or what you’ve been doing up until this point. Which is an amazing and positive thought. I love it, and am currently trying to embrace it. I’m going back to school. I started trials when I was 30 (I mean, who starts riding motorcycles at 30?) I’m starting to get into photography. I’m working on my attitudes. Dealing with my anxiety and learning how to work with it. Not apologizing because I think or act differently. Not apologizing for being interested in ‘nerdy’ or ‘geeky’ things. Becoming more confident in myself.

For a long time I had it stuck in my head that whoever we were coming out of high school or college was who we had to be for all of our lives. Even when I started cracking my shell and letting new things in, I really struggled with the ‘new me’ vs ‘old me’ aspect, like two sides fighting a war inside of me. Then, within the last year or two, I realized that there really wasn’t a ‘new me’ or ‘old me’. It was the same me. I was just letting go of the shell and becoming more freeform. And feeling ashamed about it.

I know, it might seem weird. Why would I feel shame for trying to be a better person? But the fact is, I felt it. Some of it was the friends I had at the time. They had settled for working minimum wage jobs and sitting on the couch watching movies and being out of shape. Nothing wrong with that, if that’s what you choose. But it wasn’t what I chose. Fights ensued because I was working and trying to get better, and they had their own issues with that. Whether they realized it or not, they tried to shame me into feeling bad for wanting a different situation with my life. At first, it really hurt me because I was hanging on to the memories of the friendship and I didn’t want to lose it. But I finally realized that no one had the right to make me feel ashamed of myself for wanting to have more confidence. For wanting a life where I was happy. So I made one of the hardest decisions in my life and let them go.

I felt shame because by understanding myself and becoming more of who I felt comfortable with, I was letting people down. A friend got me into a MLM health business. The company was great. He was awesome at it. Me, the introvert? Not so much. I struggled for two years, always making promises and beating myself up because I couldn’t make it happen. Then I realized something. I’m not good at sales. Some people are and that’s great. I’m not. I’m an introvert. I have anxiety. I hate talking on the phone. I hate talking to strangers. That’s not my zone. My zone is writing. Art. Getting to know someone one-on-one. I felt a lot of shame for letting him down because he believed in me so much. But I realized that people have to accept that not everyone is like them. And I was tired of doing the same thing over and over again. Trying to jam my square into a circle because someone else believed that I could. I’d been doing it for my entire life, and it never worked. There was no shame in standing up for myself and not wanting to keep banging my head against a wall.

Finally, I felt ashamed because of how unlike me I had been for so many years. For a reason I still can’t identify, I feel the need to apologize to myself for doing things differently. I mean, I recently started working out in the mornings. Just little things, like shoulder rolls and arm circles and working on a balance board. Takes about 5 minutes. It feels amazing and I can already feel the difference in my core and my upper body. Yet it makes me feel ashamed that I spent so many years not doing this simple thing. Why didn’t I just do this before? Why was I always lazy? Why did I procrastinate? I’ve been doing this with so many things lately, as my boyfriend helps me recognize all of the really bad habits I have that don’t have to be there. Mainly my procrastinating. Why don’t I just do the dishes while I’m waiting for my toast? It’s right there. Walking by things when it would take 5 seconds to fix them. I felt shame realizing how much I procrastinate. I felt shame doing the right things because how could I have not been doing them for so long. Shame that threatens to undermine the new thing so I can just go back to the comfortable old thing that isn’t any good for me.

But that shame I feel is wrong, all the way around. I can’t change how I acted in the past. And how I act now is a really good thing that I can carry on for the rest of my life. Every day I try to push myself to find one little thing to change, one bad habit that I can start nibbling away at until it falls away and its not a habit anymore.

Standing up to your shame and going ‘NO! You don’t get to have a hold over me anymore” is a hard thing. Like I said, I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost jobs. I’ve lost a lot trying to get myself out of bad situations that weren’t any good for me. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Getting yourself to a good place mentally, physically and environmentally takes work, sweat and a lot of hard decisions.

But in the end its been worth it. I’m going back to school to finish my degree in Technical Writing so I can finally get a good job in a field that I love. I live in a beautiful state where I can go hiking and ride my trials bike, and have made some great new friends that have become family. I met my boyfriend, and can’t imagine my life without him. And most importantly, I’m striving forward to make me better everyday. Exploring this world unapologetically. Having fun and finding all the excitement and wonder the world has to offer.

Shame probably has its place in our lives to tell us when something we’ve done is wrong, or has hurt somebody’s feelings. Yet it can grow and take over our lives, stunting our growth. It gets misplaced, and we feel it in places where it shouldn’t ever be.

We should never be ashamed for wanting to take care of ourselves. For wanting to get ourselves in a happy place, whatever your individual happy place turns out to be. Other people do not have the right to make you feel ashamed for anything. Shame steals so much of our happiness, and we let it. For no reason other than someone else told us that we should feel ashamed about that.

Identify your shame. What specific things make you feel ashamed. Why? If the answer is anything close to ‘someone else is making you feel ashamed because you aren’t acting like they want you too’, it’s time to dump it. It’s time to move on.

 

Writing Wednesday: Fantasy

Just got done with my early morning jog. Third week in a row of jogging three times a week, going out right when I get up. I’m only up to jogging about 3/4 of a mile right now, but it’s going pretty well. It’s amazing to me how my brain drifts when I get into the rhythm of my run now. It’s kind of like brainstorming, the writer in me looking around at the world, letting stories drift into my brain. So I thought I would share another experimentation with writing poetry this Wednesday.

 

Fantasy

Mind’s eye

Dream’s eye

Seeing beyond the fog of reality

Unicorns running through the fields

Dragons in the sky

Colors that live in another realm

Stories that have never been told

Where magic lives in everything

And music fills the world

Shapes and colors and meanings

Beyond the literal mind

Where the painting tells a story

And the story tells a dream

Where worlds are never ending

The word impossible is never spoken

And every day is a journey to find that which tries to hide

Behind the veil of reality

A child sees through quite easily

That which fogs the older mind

But all can see within the dream

If they tear down the walls that block their sight

An ephemeral world where all can exist

All one must do is believe

Mind’s eye

Dream eye

A fantasy born true

When I was a Tree…

 

“If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree.” Jim Rohn

Recently I picked up a camera, and found that I really like photography. It’s finding art in the world around me. The colors, shapes, lines…I love it. Going through photos today, I saw this picture. Silent sentinels, rooted to the spot, always the same as the world changes around them. And this quote popped into my mind.

I’ve recently made a lot of moves in my life. Moves that have been amazing for me. But moves that haven’t come without their own storms, and losses.

These losses have been a lot, including a good friend that I’ve now become estranged with, and have been plaguing my thoughts recently at night. But when this quote came into my mind I realized something. I’ve been a tree for most of my life. Yet I got tired of that life. I got bored. And I changed it. I became something else. Something better. And sometimes that change means leaving behind things that were a part of your past. It made me think that maybe there should be a second part to that quote. Something along the lines of “Don’t remain a tree just because that’s what all your friends are. You don’t have to remain a tree just because that’s what you’ve always been.”

Tomorrow I’m going to get up and go running. I don’t particularly like running, but I needed to do something to start working out. So three days a week the last two weeks I’ve been going for a run when I get up. I run slower than a turtle through molasses, but I run. The first few days were rough. But now I find myself looking forward to the run. To those moments of peace. Of running past the pond, seeing the cormorants. Those surprising mornings when the pelicans show up. Watching the magpies hopping around. Feeling the energy of the mountains in the distance. The warm sun on my skin.

Right now I’m sitting here editing photos. A new plot twist for a book spinning through my head. Sitting on the deck with my boyfriend, looking out at the hazy mountains in the distance. Thinking about my story that made the finals of a contest because I finally had the guts to enter one.

The point is that my life has changed. And it changed because I moved. Not just physically, although that’s been a big part of it to. But also mentally. I moved from a place where I thought I was worthless. Where I thought my life was nothing. I moved from a place of guilt and shame and to a place where I started believing in myself. Standing up for myself. Fighting for myself.

I stopped beating myself up over things that had happened in the past. I stopped blaming things, other people, myself and just moved on. I set down all the heavy emotional baggage that I’d been carrying for so long. I took control of my life.

There’s a lot of things I can’t control in my life. I used to waste so much energy on them. What people thought of me. How other people acted. Other people’s expectations of me. Living by other people’s rules. Worrying about other people’s opinions. Letting people do things to me and not making a fuss because I didn’t want to be a ‘bitch’. I used to worry and obsess (thank you anxiety) to the point I would become paralyzed. I shut down, including my life. In my private mind, I was worthless and dumb and no matter what I tried I was a failure in other people’s minds. I became a tree. I stopped living. I stood still.

And then one day, I had enough. I was tired of being told I was wrong. I was tired of paying for other people’s issues and insecurities. I was tired of putting my life on hold so that other people didn’t feel bad. I was tired of people putting me in molds and then getting mad at me when I didn’t fit. I was tired of letting myself down, of not being the person I knew I was because of the person that I had always been. Of always apologizing for everything. Tired of running around the hamster wheel, spinning around but never going anywhere.

So I grew up. I got rid of my roots. I moved.

Is it always easy? No. Even though I’ve been enjoying running (more than I thought I would), it’s still a struggle every time I hit those first few strides. I still have to push myself up that hill. Still have to push myself to keep going. Past the doubts and fears. Past where my body starts making excuses, wanting to stop. Past that point, and onto the point where it starts to become fun and relaxing. To where my body stops complaining so much. To where I feel the positive energy. Feel it refreshing me. Feel the rush of endorphins that make me excited to get back home and start my day. And that’s just one small change I’ve made to my life recently.

It’s not easy shedding things that you’ve had for a while. Thoughts. Habits. Friends. Memories. Familiar places and things. But sometimes you have to. Sometimes you have to drop the baggage. To rip up your roots, to move away from the spot you’ve rooted yourself to. To try new things, even if you might fail. To dare to become something new, even though it’s something completely different from what you’ve been before.

Some people like being trees, and for them, that’s fine. But I think I’m done being a tree.

Don’t let people make you feel bad for not wanting to be a tree anymore. I’m really lucky. I have a boyfriend and friends around me now that push me, even on the days when I fall back into old habits. Who support me. Who love exploring and adventuring and trying new things as much as I do.

Those people who try to make you feel ashamed for moving? Usually just jealous that they can’t find the strength to do the same thing. To change their life.

I used to feel shame for changing. I thought for a while I was pretending, or being something I wasn’t. But then I realized that being a tree was when I was pretending. That the old part of my life wasn’t being true to me. And any person who wants to make me feel ashamed for changing, really doesn’t understand who I am at all.

The truth is life changes all the time. Every day is a new day to discover something new about yourself. And we are under no obligation to live our lives for anybody else other than ourselves. Or to continue living them a certain way. If you want to try something new, go for it. If you want to explore new things, go for it. If you want to shake a bad habit, good for you. If you are unhappy, move.

We are not trees, and I am so grateful for that. I never want to be a tree again.

Fun and Friends at the Gallup Trials

Wow, what a weekend!

We just got back from the Gallup trials down in New Mexico, and it was amazing. First off, I’ve never been to Gallup period, let alone to ride. But I love anything down in New Mexico. I love my trials family down there. And I grew up falling in love with the Tony Hillerman books, and everything here was like stepping right into one of those novels. The desert landscape, the mesas and mountains rising up into the distance, places like Gallup and Shiprock.

So first impressions…

I love the town of Gallup. It’s very quaint and full of touristy stuff, but also full of a lot of history. The whole town just gives you this quiet, slow-paced sort of vibe. Everywhere you look is color, and a lot of the stores have gorgeous old original signs that are just really cool. There’s a lot of open, free parking and parks and stuff to do. And the food! The food is outstanding. We ate at four different places while we were there (Sandra’s Cafe, Jerry’s Cafe, Gerrano’s and El Rancho) and each one was better than the last.

Going into El Rancho was fun. There’s so much history there. Wandering down the red carpet halls, looking on the name tags to see who had stayed there. Hearing the story of how John Wayne rode a horse all through the hotel and into the bar. Seeing all the old photos. The giant amethyst geode. The furniture made up out of cow horns and wagon wheel motiffs.

But now to the main event. Trials!!!!

We got there on Friday and just spent some time playing around. It’s an amazing motorsports park owned by the city! It’s huge, and what’s more, people want us there. It’s really sad how many times motorcyclists get kicked out of places, so having an entire city welcome us with open arms is absolutely awesome.

It was actually kind of scary pulling into the pit because instead of the field of trailers we were used to, we actually stumbled into some kind of National Guard war games. Oops!!!

Friday night was when we visited Jerry’s Cafe. It’s small, and there’s not a lot of seating, but the food was so good! I don’t really handle spice well, but since I’ve been dating Dave I’ve been getting a crash course and getting accustomed to it. The green chili was so good, and the rellenos were to die for!

Saturday dawned sunny and warm, and it was FUN TRIAL day! Of course, Dave and I went out scoping the numerous trails in the area first. It had been three weeks since we had last rode and it wasn’t long before my legs were crying. But the views! Riding along ridges, high above the desert and the city, nothing to obstruct your view.

So what is a fun trial you ask? Basically we all spent some time setting up five sections, and ran a ‘gate’ trial. By gates, meaning that we put gates in the section on obstacles, and each gate was worth a certain number of points. To get your points, you had to ride through the gate and ride the section clean (meaning no putting a foot down). Put a foot down…no points. So even though you might have been completely awesome and gotten every gate (including not crossing your tracks or backing up), put one foot down and all your hard work and eleven points goes down the drain. The New Mexico group did something really cool too, where they gave a points bonus to the lower level riders who maybe didn’t have the skills or confidence to rack up a ton of points. Meaning that novice riders got 9 points, amateurs got 8, etc etc down to champs.

We got in groups of five or six and headed out. It was so much fun just competing to compete. No medals. No year end trophy. Just pushing yourself to see how many points you could get, balancing that against having to ride clean. There was even an ‘endurocross’ section, with hills and tires and a twisting track that we raced on. Best time would get points. I knew I wasn’t going to challenge anybody for time, but it was fun racing! Especially because I could have taken the lower level route, but I chose to take the harder route over the hills and big tractor tires and actually managed to make it around without crashing. The guys in our group were having a blast trying to go faster than each other.

The end of the day came, and I didn’t win anything (the winner got a brick with Gallup scratched into it), but I ended up 18 out of about 33, which was pretty cool. But I couldn’t stop smiling. This is what life is for me. Good friends, good fun, and spending the day with people that make you smile and laugh. Not to mention I put in some kickass riding.

Supper that night was Gennovo’s. If you ever go, get the chile rellenos. You will not be disappointed!!!

So Sunday came, and it was another amazingly gorgeous day. And it was time for the regular trial. Lower classes were up first, and I wasn’t really sure what the day was going to hold. Gallup is dirt and rocks, but the dirt crumbles, so the possibility of not having traction in certain places was a major possibility.

The sections were everything I could have hoped for. Tight, twisty technical. Unfortunately, my score didn’t really reflect my riding. I ended the day with four fives. Once because I slipped off a slanted rock. Once because I popped over a rock and Spitfire (my Beta bike) decided to pop herself into neutral and dump me on the other side. Once when I missed a gate (all the rocks look the same on the hillside!) and once more just because at the end of the trial when apparently my bike was tired in a turn and decided that she needed to lay down. Unfortunately that meant I ended up in a thorn bush with a bent clutch lever. Bad bike!

But I also had some really awesome saves. I’m getting better at riding things in second gear. I hope to actually get some video of me soon, but of course I always think of video AFTER the event. Which is so helpful.

I fought for a lot of things Sunday. To save points and get myself in better position to ride well. And that’s what I love about trials. It’s not really a competition against other people. It’s a competition against yourself. To ride that section clean after fiving it. To make it up the scary rock. To find that line that sets you up perfect for going in this curve. All the people that watch and encourage you. Give you tips so that next time you can pull off the perfect line. That one moment when you try so hard and finally clean the monster section that defeated you the first two loops.

I ended the day four out of eight for the amateur class with 37 points. Kind of sad point wise because I felt I rode a lot better than that, but I did have the four fives. And it was still a really great day, so I’m proud of my ride.

In the afternoon we checked upper section 3 (sportsman class up to pro). I finally pulled out my camera because I wanted to play with my polarization lens. I also had read some tips to start using a new more manual function on my camera. The section we were in wasn’t great for what a lot of people think as “action shots”, the big jumps off of rocks and stuff. But I loved the way our section was. It was a fight uphill, turning around on the face of the cliff, then back down through a slick dusty section filled with large rocks that moved and constantly shifted during the afternoon as people hit them. Still, most people rode it clean or with just a dab. However, more than one person got to the top, turned to go back down and exclaimed “That’s a lot steeper than I thought!”

Everything looks bigger when you’re actually on the back of the bike.

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It was a great afternoon, and sadly it had to end, but it was a great ending to a great weekend. That was the evening at El Rancho, and then just chilling out in the hotel room after a long, happy day.

I love the New Mexico group, and I can’t wait to go back. So until then, Trials Up!

Just Because You Haven’t, Doesn’t Mean You Can’t

“How will I know who I can become if I don’t give myself the chance to try new things, to push myself beyond my normal boundaries? Who might I be if I am away from the things that I currently use to define myself?”
― Eileen Cook

 

So for the last few years I’ve wanted a DSLR camera. You know, one of the ones with the interchangeable lenses which takes the really amazing photos you see in magazines. Or the ones framed up on people’s walls. Not that I really thought I could be a professional photographer or anything. I just loved the art aspect of it.

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Vacation Days

Sometimes it’s really great to take some time…to do nothing.

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