Easy Rider, Easy

A friend recently asked me what type of motorbike my husband owns. “A black one,” I replied with the blunt voice of the ‘reluctant pillion.’ I am one of those, ‘hold on firmly with eyes shut tight’, passengers, particularly when we sweep low around the many bends and turns on the country roads we explore. Neither am I inspired by the numb fingers and toes on frosty morning rides, or the fleeting pungent odour of roadkill in my nostrils.  

My husband loves to ride his motorbike. I hear it in his voice when he is out riding and stops to call me to let me know he’s OK. I hear the exuberance; the sheer delight and pleasure riding gives him.  

I notice how conveniently and quickly I can jump in my car, switch on the ignition and be way down the street by the time he has put on all his gear- a ritual of respectful devotion to all that is required to ride, safely and well. He has a routine that works, as I have learned after the frustration of attempting to switch up the order, only to find you cannot put a helmet on while sunnies are still on your face. Gloves always go on last, just in case something on the helmet or gear needs a final tug or tweak. The ritual makes sense.

And so, from time to time, we ride. And yes, honestly, it is a bit scary, but exhilarating all the same!

I do it because he asks me. Not often, as he knows how it is for me. But he asks with hope in his eyes, and I become the ‘reluctant pillion’ praying for a safe, smooth ride with a seriously good coffee and lunch somewhere along the journey to ease my tension.

He has passed that love onto his sons and again my mother’s protective heart kicks in and I wonder. I wonder.

I wonder why, for some of us, riding a motorbike seems such a daunting and frightening experience to be avoided, while for others it is a sheer delight. I can see the love of the risk, the thrill of finding a new ‘great route’ to master, the pushing to the edge to find what bike and rider can accomplish together. I get it. In this area of physical safety, I am not a girl who likes to go to the edge and push to see how fast or far I can go. My husband and sons on the other hand, thrive, come alive and celebrate life every time they ride.

I love that about them and while my heart and mind have to process all the ‘what if’s’ every time they ride, I do appreciate and accept it is something they want, need, must do.

But go to the edge I must, if I am to grow. I wonder what my edge of risk is? What areas of life I am exhilarated, inspired and enlivened by? I know that if I am to grow as a person, learn what I can achieve, I need to go there. Otherwise, life remains safe, predicable, unchangeable, full of possibility and potential, but not fully realised.

Life is like a ten-speed bike. Most of us have gears we never use! Charles M. Schultz

My husband and sons inspire and encourage me to go through all the gears of life and invite me to motorbike ride, mountain bike ride (dodging trees and rocks down a steep hill, and yes I hit the dirt), surf, (such a great feeling to stand up on a board), go to a screamer band rock concert, (got stuck in a mosh pit) and learn to laugh, love and live to the fullest even with a niggle of fear tucked away but not holding me back.

What is your edge? What is the place of risk for you? How do you push through fear and do it anyway?  That edge will be different for everyone of us. We all have them, edges that is. Places that trigger fear, anxiety, uncertainty and confusion. The beauty of shared life is that I don’t have to go there alone. My family, my friends and mentors help me see the edge, feel the fear and do it when I’m ready. Maybe one of our first risks is to trust others with our edges, our places where we want to go to but can’t go alone.

So my question is: Where is your edge and who is standing there with you to help?

Isa 54:2 NIV

“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.God asks us to stretch out our tent pegs, do not hold back. Life is risk.

Photos taken by Glen Yeomans Blog: Zed14.com (Iron Butt Rider Legend)

Garlic and other things that eke out of you!

At a recent job interview I was asked to share the three most important things in my life and why. The interviewer pre-empted the conversation by clarifying there were no wrong answers. It was a means of getting to know me and what matters to me.

My responses came quickly to mind. The first two made sense immediately but the third was an interesting self-revelation.

The why for each took more time to consider as life experiences, changing contexts and time have both shaped and deepened my understanding of what is important to me.

Curiosity aroused. I genuinely want to hear how others answer this question. What is most important? Why?

And take the next personal growth step: What would those who know me well, say is most important to me?

That’s a ‘mirror’ question, a vulnerable moment of checking whether what I say, and how I live, are congruent.  Do I really live out of what I say is important to me, or does my everyday life, decisions and activities show something very different?

It’s like when you are on a peak hour crowded train squished next to a person who has recently consumed a garlic infused meal. It’s eking out of them if you know what I mean.  What’s really important to us is obvious to everyone around us even though we may well be oblivious.

“The things that matter stay with you, seep into your skin”
― Christina Baker Kline, Orphan Train

Over the next few weeks of blogging, I’ll unpack what is important to me and why. I won’t mention them now, as I do not want to distract from the impact of the question on you.

Your response is the one that matters and as the interviewer at my job interview said, there are no wrong answers.

I look forward to hearing your responses, to hear if you have gone the next step and asked the ‘mirror’ question too.

“I made a promise never to let myself be deceived again. I would live for the important things in life.”
― Ivy Oakes, The Story of How We Met

The Best Season

Ten thousand flowers in spring,
the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer,
snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life. Wu-Men

From when the boys were little my husband and I had a habit of going in and checking on them each night before we went to bed. We would stand together at the foot of their beds and just enjoy watching them in peaceful sleep. Every time, we’d whisper to each other, ‘I wish they’d stay this age, it’s just perfect.’ But each year would roll by and we found ourselves wishing they’d stay the same in every delightful stage of their lives, except maybe late teens when we started going to bed before they did cause we could no longer keep the pace.

But I do remember that beautiful sense of enjoying them, loving them and celebrating the season and stage of life they were at, every year. It changed constantly, of course, but we loved the learning, the growing, the adventures, the discoveries, the ups and the downs and still do.

But there were many times and seasons when my mind was clouded by ‘unnecessary’ things and I, like many busy working parents, found myself struggling with anxiety, shame and guilt which blocked my vision, trapped me in damaging mind loops and left me weary to the bone.

In these times of loss of flow, hope and clear thinking I found my mentors to be life changing. I valued their fly on the wall perspective, their gentle but provocative questions, their support as I learned to let go of faulty thinking and their genuine desire to see me enjoy life to the full.

If you are clouded by ‘unnecessary’ and necessary things and desire to re-gain perspective and find the beauty in each season I encourage you to seek out a coach/mentor who can help you see that this could be the best season of your life.

There is a gift in everything if only we’ll see it.