Truly, I never envisioned this. I couldn’t. My imagination, while I daydreamed of my future, could not comprehend belonging to a biking group like this.
At that time, waaaaay back in 2007, I didn’t even know 40 people who liked to bike! I barely knew 10 people who liked to bike. All I knew is I wanted to feel happier than I did and I knew it was important to pursue the activities that felt like joy. Biking felt like pure, unadulterated joy – still does – and I wanted more of it in my life.
But first, I had to re-invent myself. I’d been through hell: life had sucker-punched and kicked me in the teeth. I’d sunk to depths of despair I didn’t ever want to visit again.
Times of challenge and change call for us to re-invent ourselves.
It becomes exceedingly clear we can no longer be the person we once were. The roles we played in our past will no longer completely serve our happiness. (The woman who desperately wanted kids and the white picket fence existence wasn’t going to bring about a new future.)
Truly, it can feel insurmountable in the midst of sorrow, to believe we can, or ever will, craft a vibrant, beautiful life for ourselves filled with events and people we love.
And yet, it can be done. I know it; because I did it.
And I did it, one small, brave, baby-step at a time.
I share with you, in broad strokes, my journey to my life today – a life I couldn’t truly envision in all its current glory.
I share my re-invention story with the hopes it inspires you to start dreaming, to start getting clear on what you want, and to start the small, brave steps which will take you closer and closer to what you want.
Here is what I wanted for myself:
I wanted to be happy and healthy.
I wanted to pursue my passions: biking, running, and traveling.
I wanted a partner who was happy and healthy; who had processed all his baggage and was free to live life fully and completely with me.
I wanted a partner who liked to bike, run, and travel.
I didn’t know how to go about creating all of this, but I did know one thing: it was up to me to make it happen.
Of course, there were many, many other things on the list, too. This is an abbreviated version. You wouldn’t really want to sit here reading the whole-hog version. (Did I mention I spent the entire weekend in Iowa? Yep. I’m practicing speaking Iowan. “Whole-hog” sounds quite Iowan, to me.)
But, back to the main point of my story…..I also instinctively understood the most important ingredient to kick-start this next phase of my life was for me to be happy and healthy.
Now, the thing about re-invention is this, it sounds rather scary and full of inauthentic trickery.
Like wave a magic wand….
Presto! – pumpkin into a carriage
Presto! – scullery maid into Princess … or some bullshit like that….
And, yes, you can choose the “Presto!” route. This is the one where you sell all your stuff, travel the world, and eventually find yourself selling woven rugs and living in a roof-top apartment in Marekesh. (Actually, it does sound quite lovely and exotic!)
Or, you can choose to re-invent yourself through a series of small, yet very brave baby-steps.
Here are the steps I started out with (you will likely choose your own…so these are for illustrative purposes only!)
First Small Step: Saying “No”
One of the very first, small, brave maneuvers towards my happiness was to say “NO” to going home for Christmas 2007. I declined family Christmas in favor of staying in town and hanging out with a couple of women friends I had met a few months earlier.
Why? Because I knew I didn’t want to re-live the pain of the previous Christmas, the one where my husband left me, and I drove to Kansas to stay with my parents. (It was my father, who was a nurse, who administered the various shots I needed to keep my recently implanted IVF babies alive.)
By taking the time to get clear on what I really wanted – a quiet Christmas where I didn’t have to put on a happy face. Following through on what I understood would contribute to my happiness and healing was new. In fact, it was a HUGE, baby-step for me.
It doesn’t seem like that big of deal looking back, and yet, this one small act, started an amazing chain reaction. Choosing to stay put for Christmas opened up the door to spending Christmas Eve spent in the company of a few women friends who I had met a few months prior. It was at that Christmas Eve gathering, where a lot of wine flowed to stem our sorrows, I met my friend Marcela.
A Second Small Step: Reaching Out
This felt like a HUGE, (yet small) brave step. I wasn’t really in the habit of calling up people, specifically, other women I’d barely met, to find out if they’d want to go out for a glass of wine. What if they thought I was weird, or needy, or boring, or who knows…the list could go on forever.
However, I made a point to follow up with Marcela after Christmas, to see if she’d like to go get a glass of wine with me. I liked her straight-forward, gregarious personality and since she’d been divorced for a few years, I figured I could learn from her bold independence. I will always be glad I called because a fast friendship formed.
A Third Small Step: Following Joy
Another small, brave step I took involved purchasing a new bicycle (a Scott Contessa). I decided if I was going to pursue happiness, I was going to find it on a bike. I loved biking and hadn’t ever done it enough while married, for three reasons:
- My ex-husband hated biking.
- Time-constraints imposed by kids and a husband of the girlfriend I did bike with, limited bike rides to 15 to 30 miles on a Sunday.
- I wasn’t brave enough to bike alone, hence reliance on a riding with a busy girlfriend.
Let’s just say….I did not follow my own sense of joy enough during my marriage (a list like this, sadly, reminds me of this fact!).
A Fourth Small Step: Riding Solo
Another small, brave step. I forced myself to ride solo. I rode short distances at first, working up to longer and longer rides as I got braver and braver, exploring beautiful country roads.
A Fifth Small Step: Being a Joiner
In hot pursuit of happiness I joined a biking group I’d heard about, WNBR, otherwise known as Wednesday Night Bike Rides. I’ll never forget my first ride with that group. My heart pounded nearly out of my chest. I felt so ridiculous showing up to ride with a group of “real bikers” that I nearly packed it in and went home.
Luckily, Marcela – yes – the very same Marcela whom I had called a few short months earlier, to get together for a glass of wine, had agreed to join me for biking and brought her friend Paul. It was the start of great rides, fun post-ride partying in the parking lot, and meeting lots of people, who over time also became friends (and who are featured in the very first photo).
A Sixth Small Step: Happiness begets Happiness
I ate, slept, and biked. I trained for the Horribly Hilly Hundreds. I trained for the Dairy Land Dare. Marcela was instrumental in introducing me to various people who also liked to bike and hike and camp and run. Eventually, I met Jason. Our paths continued to cross at WNBRs. And, as we biked together, hiked together, and ran together …things began to fall into place.
And, one-by-one, all the small, brave baby-steps began to pay off….and finally…
“Presto! Reinvento!” ….
I find myself on a biking trip in Perry, Iowa – a rollicking festival of friends willing to ride a seventy-plus mile loop, the last 13 miles straight into a 22 mile an hour headwind. (Truth be known, we’ve biked more exotic places, however, not with 40 or more of our closest friends!)
Looking back, it seems silly how thoroughly nervous or scared I felt each step along the way; the first time I did anything new, something outside of my comfort zone, and yet, the pounding in my chest and the sweat on my palms was quite real and really shouldn’t be minimalized.
Reinventing yourself isn’t for the faint of heart, no matter how you do it – one giant leap into something new, or with small, baby-steps moving your closer and closer to your dreams.
Either way, I recommend, you “Just Do It”.
Feel free to check out a few more pictures of our Iowa bike ride on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/TimetoThriveCoaching?ref=hl