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My Journey with an Old Friend

Since I was little, I always had a fascination with bicycles. I remember my first bicycle (not counting the tricycle) was gifted to me by my grandfather. It was pink with a basket and had little tassels on the handlebars. I grew up in a trailer park with dirt paths and I remember riding that bike all around the park, feeling the freedom that came along with soaring on two wheels and the freshness of air on my skin. One day the neighborhood kids were out in front of our house building a ramp out of wood and other spare scraps. I was feeling brave and decided I would try my skills of riding off it. Somewhere between me hitting the ramp and hitting the ground I made a small miscalculation and ended up disconnected from the bike and on the ground. I ran inside with bloody knees, wet eyes, and broken pride, still hearing the laughter of the other kids. I locked that little pink bike up on the fence in our backyard, never to be seen again. A few days later it had been stolen, lock clipped and all.

Years passed and I rode a bike here and there, but it was not until 2013 while working on my bachelor's in physics that I took up cycling as more than just a weekend hobby. That year my bicycle became my best friend and I often referred to being on my bike as my church or spiritual practice. I could spend hours out in the desert mountains of Las Cruces, New Mexico riding as if nothing else existed but me and my bicycle. On the days when my children were with their biological father, I would ride as often as possible to escape the realities of the court system that I felt had failed us, and the fears of what might be happening to my little ones. During this time, I also became acquainted with a group of cyclists and found myself right at home. There I was with a group of wild and seemingly fearless individuals who seemed unafraid to be themselves. In this space, I felt accepted for who I was and supported by a community of amazing individuals who seemed to always have my back. One man Smokin Ray (who I would refer to as the Godfather of Mountain Biking) took me under his wing as he had with so many others. He would get me out on my bike and encourage me to ride in places all over New Mexico that I did not think I had the courage or skills to ride in. He taught me that riding was all about mindset and an internal knowing that I could do it.

My favorite thing about being on my mountain bike and on rides with Ray and the rest of the crew was that generally, we would have a plan of where we were riding and what we were doing but mostly, especially when riding with Ray, we were downright riding right into the unknown. I could never fully anticipate what would happen on the ride or where we would end up. I loved the spontaneity of the rides and how I did not know what to expect. On rides when I felt like I couldn't go on or when I felt I was too exhausted to get back to the car or to my house Ray would say something like "You got this... The end is just right there." Even though the end was miles away, I would repeat this mantra in my mind or under my breath until I was home free.

I took up mountain bike endurance racing and participated in various race events with the goal always being to have fun. I was really never out there to win, I just wanted to be on my bike. The various 12 and 24-hour races that I participated in were an excuse to be on my bike for an extended period of time, to push myself beyond my limits, and beyond my comfort zone. Some of these races I rode with Ray or other members of the cycling crew and many of them I did solo. I placed in all but a couple of them, but I know the races I won were the ones that I was just doing for the FUN of it and the races I lost were because I was there trying to win.

The 24-hour races that I did solo, were the most life-changing. They required a state of mind and a stillness in my being that I know now was ultimately training ground for the rest of my life. My favorite part of these races was always when I was by myself riding in the middle of the night where the silence of the night was only broken by the sound of my tires on the trail, the beating of my heart, my breath, and the movement of animals off in the forest. Completing these races required me to fully let go of my thoughts of who I was and what I thought I was capable of, and to simply be in the moment with nothing by my body and my bicycle. When my mind would start to feed me thoughts of inadequacy or I would become uncomfortable and tired, I would pull in a mantra with my favorites being "I am strong, I am one with the earth" and I would remind myself that the "finish line was just right there".

The mountains were always my favorite place to be on my bike. I loved getting away and feeling the freedom that came along with being in and one with nature. My bicycle seemed to become a part of me and me a part of it.

In 2016, my husband, children, and I took our first step out of our home nest and moved from Las Cruces to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I began a full-time job teaching and once again found myself in the midst of a journey with the courts to obtain full custody of my children. My free time felt intensely limited, but I would make time on the weekends to get out and ride my bike. My bicycle was once again my confidant helping me through what I felt was one of the toughest moments of my life. After a year of teaching, I found myself sacrificing my soul and everything I believed in for my job, I made a small shift and underwent a year of service with AmeriCorps while working on my Master's in Education and moving through the concluding custody hearings. In 2017, I was awarded full custody of my children and it seemed that I could finally rest easy. As with all things, life kept propelling me forward and in 2018 My husband and I moved our family from New Mexico to Colorado so I could work on a Ph.D. program in Science Education. While the area we moved to was close to mountain biking, the closest trail required me to drive 30+ minutes and the "good" riding was even further. The once easy commute of leaving my home on my bike and arriving in the mountains turned into a chore and something I "didn't have time to do because of my other responsibilities". My riding turned into commuting from my home to school and/or riding miles on the bike trails that weaved between towns and country. During our first winter here, I convinced myself the cold was too harsh for my desert bones and stayed inside for most of it but still tried to get out at least occasionally. The winter dragged on and so I supplemented my time on the bike with intense yoga classes including hot yoga, power yoga, and some other class that involved weights.

Then in March of 2019, I had one intense moment in a yoga class where I felt an agonizing pain in my back that radiated throughout my entire body and just about collapsed on the floor. Somehow, I made it through that class, I don't know how but my ego and pride wouldn't let me leave and show everyone I was injured. Shortly after this, I was diagnosed with scoliosis, degenerative disk disease, and had two herniated disks in my back. I blamed this diagnosis on the intense yoga classes I was doing and my lack of time on my bike. I told myself I would never be able to do yoga again and that type of movement just was not suited for me. Though somewhere inside me I knew that this diagnosis was a culmination of the trauma I had been through, put my body through, and from all the running away from my emotions I had done instead of feeling them. I returned to riding my bike as often as I could and even though I was riding less than I wanted each week, I spent only a few weeks completely off my bike forcing myself to keep going. The doctors and my physical therapist told me that it would be good for me to keep riding as it would keep my body strong which was what I needed. They told me I needed to keep my body and core fit and in shape so they could support my spine. So, even when I was in pain, losing feeling in various parts of my legs and arms, with my body crying asking me to please stop, my habits, my ego, and my pride told me to keep going, and so I did. 2019 was a year that tested all I had. My Ph.D. program was requiring more of me than I knew how to give, and I found myself waking up each day cursing the life I had been given. My once light heart felt weighed down by darkness. I felt silenced, alone, and unimportant. I gave in to every surfacing feeling of fear, inadequacy, and not being enough. I felt like I had lost complete control of my life and most importantly I had lost my ability to connect with my spirit. I would tell myself that riding my bike was what I had, and I was holding on to it for dear life afraid of who I would be without it.

By our second winter in Colorado, my husband and mother had gifted me with an indoor bike trainer so I could still ride (or really so I could get my fix). I was riding 100+ miles a week most of which were inside and let me tell you I am not sure that I enjoyed even a handful of those rides. My bicycle which had once been a friend and a way for me to deeply connect with the earth and cosmos had turned into something I had to do, to stay in shape, to stay strong, to accommodate my "disease", and to uphold my identity as a "cyclist".

Right at the end of 2019 and the New Year of 2020, I once again hit rock bottom. I knew that I could not go on living my life the way I was. During the dark night of my soul, I prayed to God and my Angels to save me from myself and to help me find my way through the darkness and back to the light. As with any call for help, the Universe answered with my unwavering willingness to change, to heal, to grow, and to be open to the signs. I noticed small shifts beginning to take place in my life and I slowly began finding my way again. Step by step I began pulling out old wounds, buried memories, and slowly began rebuilding myself. I began meditating daily and returned to some of the spiritual teachings that had helped me through prior dark nights. I found myself praying and communing with God and the Universe in every moment that I could. I made a promise to myself that I was going to heal my body, I was going to heal my heart, and I was going to take the road less traveled and embark on the journey into my soul. I promised myself that I would not return to the life I had once lived, I would not return to the old me. When the pandemic hit while there was fear in my body, I made every effort to see the light in the moment. To perceive this challenging time as an opportunity for great growth. Mother Earth was sending us all to our rooms because we had been fighting and in turmoil for so long and it felt so important to devote this time to changing, healing, and growing myself so I could do my part in uplifting love on this planet.

I continued to ride my bike, on the trainer with some outdoor miles until June of 2020, when I decided it was time to take a break from my dear old friend. I put my bike away and vowed to myself that I would not return to it until I could ride solely for the purpose of having fun and for the enjoyment and connection I had once felt. What was interesting was, when I stopped riding, I hardly even missed it at all. I knew that one day, the time would come that I would once again get out on my bike.

I began spending the time that I would have been riding focusing instead on deeply healing my body and my mind. I began waking up each morning around 3:30-4:00 am and engaging in a 2-3 hour meditation/spiritual practice before the family woke up. I mostly stopped exercising altogether and stopped going to the doctor, physical therapy, and eventually to see my chiropractor because I knew that all I needed to heal myself was inside of me all along. I used all the perseverance and courage that I had found on my bicycle and focused it on meditation, changing my thoughts and habits, and the stillness of simply being. I began incorporating a heart coherence meditation practice into my morning practice and started training myself to maintain this state throughout the day. My soul was calling to me, I could hear it telling me it was time to let go and surrender to the unknown. I vowed to myself to keep on healing, to keep on focusing my attention on my vibration, to keep on focusing on love. And slowly but surely, I watched as my world around me began to change and dissolve. Relationships that no longer served me began to fall away and my relationships with family, husband, and children began to become even better, even more connected. Most recently I even took a leave of absence from school started my business Journey into the Soul.

It has taken more courage than I have ever known to move down the path of my soul, though not taking this journey felt like a much greater sacrifice than staying in my comfort zone. When I would become afraid, or feelings of not being worthy enough or not well enough equipped, I would ask the universe for help, and not long after I would hop on a call with other heart-centered individuals or find myself in a conversation with someone close to me and would receive the exact message I needed to hear to keep me going. Truly, there were signs coming in all around me in the form of animals appearing in my yard or out in nature, images I would see while driving, and even in the grocery store that would let me know I was on the right path and my angels were with me guiding me along.

I no longer believe that I have scoliosis, degenerative disk disease, or herniated disks. I have not been to the doctor, but it does not matter to me because I know how I feel internally. There have been days since I made this decision about my own health where I would feel pain in my body and fall into old traps and habits of not being good enough to heal myself, but then I could immediately associate these feelings in my body with the stress I was under and return to the breath. I began taking these moments as pings from my body as opportunities that there was something else still buried that needed to be healed and once again refocus. I would pull these pings up in my morning meditation and continuously return to the love I have for myself and my body.

A few months ago, I began practicing yoga again and even more recently I embarked on a deep study of the ancient traditions and texts of yoga with a spiritual teacher. In each moment of this study, I find myself breaking open and letting go of just a bit more of who I think I am, and the identity and habits that keep me living in the past. I continue to heal and let go so I can truly live up to my divine purpose that I came to this earth to live.

I still wake up each morning around 4 am and engage in my morning meditations and spiritual practice and each day that I open my eyes I am met with gratitude and joy for the beautiful life I am living and creating. I do all I can to maintain a peaceful and light heart throughout the day. Though I am still only human and fall out of alignment. I continue to take these moments as opportunities to forgive myself, to heal the unhealed, to learn, and to grow.

Then yesterday I rode my bike for the first time in 10 months. Even though I had been doing basically no exercise during this time I felt stronger in mind, body, and spirit than I had when I stopped riding. On my ride, I was reconnected with the childlike nature and feelings of freedom with the fresh air touching my skin. I felt safe and secure knowing that all I had to do was simply be in the moment and be one with my bicycle. I was able to once again experience the joy that being on my bike had for so long brought me. I was not in my head planning my next ride or thinking about how fast I needed to go or worrying about my body. Instead, I was able to relax into the flow, flowing with my body, flowing with my being, flowing with my bicycle, and allowing the moment to be simply what it was. I do not know when I will ride my bike again next and it does not even matter, because I know when I do choose to ride it will be for the FUN of it and nothing more.

Being on my bike is a great metaphor for how I strive to live my life. Embark on a journey into the unknown, breathe deep, be in the moment, and most of all Have Fun while doing it.

Thank you so much for reading dear soul. May you be inspired to follow the path of your soul, may you do only what brings you comfort and joy. May you heal and find safety and security in simply being. So much love, light, and many blessings to you. Until next time, I'll see you in the quantum field.

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