Posts Tagged With: Fear


Back in the Saddle, Again

June 14, 2016 Tuesday  ~ A month after my bike crash.

I woke up to a debate in my head.

I was tired and so I thought maybe I could justify not going out on my bike because of that. But I knew I’d feel better psychologically and physically if I rode. I tried to tell myself I’d exercise somehow at home. A bike ride sounded scary, potentially dangerous. My face remembers hitting the sidewalk; my head remembers the pain that lasted several weeks. My whole body remembers feeling out of control and suddenly, inexplicably, thrown to the ground.

I somehow have to push past all of that and make myself get out of bed, dress in my biking clothes, put my necessities in my pockets, fill a water bottle, tie on my shoes. I remember to leave the bedroom door open so if I have to call Lynn he’ll hear the phone ring. I put on my helmet, tighten up my chin strap a bit, since I remember the helmet coming off after hitting the sidewalk, or at least it seems like it did. I set my phone to track my ride distance and speed. I roll the bike out of the garage; push the button to close the garage. I adjust the pedals; I walk to the end of the driveway with the bike in hand. I look both ways down the street.


Not my helmet.

And then I’m riding. Every push on the pedals feels awkward, I can’t get comfortable on the seat, and my grip is too tight on the handlebars. My knees remind me that they took a hit and aren’t quite fully recovered. I’m on high alert for any tiny obstacle, extra careful on turns. I’m tired already after only half a mile. I remember that the first mile is just to loosen up. I try to relax and start to get a rhythm.

I turn the bike south, the sun already too warm on my left; I push through and start to find I’ve settled in to the seat. I start to remember the exhilaration of moving under my own power, although I’m certainly not riding at any speed to remark about. If a runner came by they’d probably pass me.

I told myself I would only ride four miles and not cross any major streets. And yet, I find myself at a major arterial road and wait, probably longer than I need to, for traffic to clear. Then I ride past my own personal boundary line. A half mile later I turn and ride back to the same road, take my time, cross back, negotiate a curb and ride north an entire mile. At that point I’m sensing the bike react to every nuance of the terrain beneath me. I lift myself off the saddle to negotiate a large bump in the path. The bike manages through some rocky terrain as I turn south again. My hands squeeze the handlebars too hard and go numb. I shake the feeling back into each one, hesitant to let go even briefly. I regret this unpaved section, with its unpredictability and slippery sand and varied rock, but I remember that I’ve ridden this path dozens and dozens of times without incident at a much higher speed.

I turn, I negotiate another sidewalk to cement, and then cement to sidewalk and I don’t slam to the ground. I finally remember to breathe, although I’m sure I’ve been unconsciously breathing the whole time. I roll into the driveway, hop off the bike; punch in the garage code, back my bike into its parking spot.

I remove my helmet. I look at my phone and the app tells me I rode four and three quarter miles. Not much, not far, twenty-five percent of what I was doing with frequency only a month or so ago.

I report in to my cousin with a text.

Her response heartens me, makes me feel like a champion.

I did it.

I can do it again.

There’s no guarantee that a fall or crash or some craziness won’t happen again. In fact, it’s probably inevitable. But I’m more mindful now, less cavalier. I know there’s a lot I don’t know about the sport that only experience will teach me.

I know I can’t give it up. It’s one of the major things that keep my mind alert and my depression-prone psyche on an even keel.

Maybe next time the pre-ride debate will be shorter. And the time after that, or two or three, maybe there won’t be a debate at all.


“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”   ~Dale Carnegie




Categories: Biking, Mental Health, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Got My New Shoes On

My cool cousin introduced me to this song. It’s pretty kicky. (Ha, notice the pun? Shoes-kicky?) I dare you not to feel like dancing while this song plays.

Some things in life elicit an automatic response. No thought required.

  • For me, a new pair of comfy shoes makes me want to dance.
  • Something fun to look forward to can kickstart my endorphins.
  • Breathing the scent of mountain air relaxes me all the way to the molecular level.
  • Those smile wrinkles at the edges of MSH’s eyes melt my heart.
  • Happy laughter makes me want to join in and laugh along.

Of course, not all automatic responses are good feelings.

  • a cop running into a store I’m just walking out of makes me want to run to my car
  • a baby crying makes my heart flip-flop
  • feeling cold and not able to warm up sets my nerves on edge
  • hearing someone yell at someone else skyrockets my blood pressure and discomfort level
  • a near miss in traffic instantly triples my heart rate
  • the phone ringing late at night or early in the morning sets off the panic system in me

Neither of those lists begin to touch the depth and breadth of possible autonomic responses we humans come programmed with.

English: Mountain Combat Boots

What I don’t get is why some people purposely expose themselves to those triggers. Haunted houses, for one small example. Why is the Sam Hill would anyone want to feel terrified for an extended length of time? I don’t get it.

Or jumping out of an airplane? Never, ever, not even for a million bucks. No way. I’d die of a heart attack on the way down if not the instant I leaned out of the plane. Can’t, won’t.

I’m glad some people can overcome natural responses. Firefighters for one. Police officers for another. Doctors, nurses, teachers.  (Okay, maybe I exaggerate with the teachers, but only a little. Have you been in a classroom lately?) Military people.

I suppose some people don’t have a reaction to the sight of blood and such. And some love the sound of shelling and gunfire. And it’s possible that danger just feels great, like a new pair of shoes maybe, to others. I can’t imagine it, but it’s possible, right? How else to explain people who take on risky, scary, nauseating, crazy jobs.

My new Naturalizers! Mmm, so comfy!

My new Naturalizers! Mmm, so comfy!

I just meant to write about how great my new shoes feel on my feet. Like a little hug, supportive, warm, snug, protective.

Who knew I’d end up being grateful for people who are okay with the uncomfortable, cold, lonely, not-so-safe, daring pairs of shoes or boots.

Well, why not? If you’re one of those people who make sure I’m safe  and can walk around protected in this crazy world, this “THANK YOU” is for you!

Categories: Gratitude, People, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Popping the Thought Bubbles and Inflating the Speech Balloons

Reading the comics, I’ve wondered what it would be like if we had actual thought bubbles and speech balloons hovering over us in real life. Imagine, all those unspoken thoughts we harbor, hide and simmer inside of us, out in the open for all to see! Wowser. Pink slips galore! Friendships ended! Marriages broken!  Or would it really be that way?


(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wonder if we allowed at least some of our thoughts to become speech balloons instead, thoughts made into words spoken, if it wouldn’t cure more ills than it creates. Instead of resentment, maybe there would be resolution. In place of anger, perhaps understanding. Hurt could be changed into healing, and maybe even loneliness could morph into community.

It could happen…

“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed.  But when we are silent, we are still afraid.  So it is better to speak “– Audre Lorde

Fear seems to dictate so many of our decisions, so much of what we do, where we go, how we are, who we choose to be.


Why do we let fear be the ruling emotion in our lives?

Can’t we choose to let joy, or love, or compassion or excitement be the main feeling we experience, the main emotion we focus on, the decisive straw that wins the vote?

I for one, feel life more fully when I allow my voice to be heard.  Even if I am the only one who hears what I have to say, at least I have said it, out loud, into the universe.

That, I think, is part of where the power of prayer comes from. As we give voice to the darkness and fear that’s within us, we diminish the potency of those things. Speaking the difficult things aloud opens up space inside and makes room for fresh air, hope, revelation, inspiration and joy. Vocalizing our concerns awakens possibilities within us.

A flower among cactus thorns.

A flower among cactus thorns.

The same is true when we address the positives in our life. Expressing gratitude, telling someone that we love or appreciate them, sharing a joke, even simply saying ‘hello’ broadens our possibilities and makes way for more good stuff.

I don’t have any research to back up what I’m saying. Only one life’s experience and observation tell me these things. I made the choice years ago to open my mouth, which then opened my heart and opened my world.

I decided to bloom, right where I was, cactus and thorns be damned. The hurt will happen anyway, silent or speaking, quiet or singing, forlorn or joyful. Bloom! That is the best choice. It has been the best choice for me.

Categories: Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tripping All Over Myself

Do you ever get in your own way?

Or does everyone else get in your way?

A little of both, maybe?

Recently I had some plans, kind of long-term stuff I’d been working on, working toward.  Then a few things started to hinder those plans.  Scheduling conflicts, the pending holidays, sleep, laundry, work, life.

Then, in the midst of all these interruptions in making my plans happen, MSH had some ideas he’d been thinking about that would involve me and my time.  I’m not talking an afternoon or an evening.  We’re talking big plans that would use a significant amount of time and effort.

Sure, I could see the wisdom in his plan.  I could admit that it wouldn’t be a waste of time to commit to doing this work he was proposing.  But where would the time and energy to do this come from?  When you add one thing to the calendar then something has to come off the calendar or get moved to another spot.


Surprisingly, writing in one more item on the TO-DO list does not create the extra time it will take.

My gut reaction was that my project, my plans and my life would suffer because of this new extra-large to-do item on my unending list.

The next morning, I whined and complained to my walking partner, logically expecting sympathy. Her response was not what I had anticipated.  She asked if I had any fears associated with my own plans.




Fear of failure, fear of being laughed at, fear of looking silly or stupid, fear of hurting someone, fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, fear of falling on my face.

Yeah, you could say I have a few fears about my plans.

While we walked she suggested gently, with kindness, that perhaps, there is a possibility, just maybe, I could consider the idea that, I was sabotaging myself.

A Shocking Thought

This wise woman posited not that MSH is trying to get in my way, or hinder me, but that I’m using his idea, turning it and tweaking it, until it becomes my excuse for not proceeding with my own plans, not succeeding, not facing my fears.


The truth can sting a little. And this one did.

Now, what am I going to do about it?

Categories: Relationships | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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