I was a nervous wreck. I was standing at the bus stop one evening after a grueling day of graduate classes and marching band practice (color guard!) and was ready to be home. It was dark. It was cold. I was hungry. I was on the verge of crying in public. At that moment, I saw the lights of the bus headed my way. I picked up my numerous bags, anxious to board and be done with the whole exhausting, wretched day. I stepped forward ready to board...and the bus blew past me.
It BLEW PAST ME.
People who know me know that I’m a really great fit thrower. But in that moment, I made a decision that changed my whole life. I bought a bike the next day. A nice bike. Like, a bike that says F%$K you to the whole transportation system.
For the next year and half, those bike rides home up and down the hills of Charlottesville are where I found my freedom and faced my fears. Without that time in the saddle, I don’t know if I would have had the psychological fortitude to finish such an intense time of study and personal growth in my life.
When I moved back to Richmond, my life was incredibly busy. Like many 20-somethings that graduated during the recession, I was having to hustle adjuncting to pull together enough to pay the bills. Sometimes, I would wake in a panic, having a morning that would quickly spiral into a full blown panic attack. Unable to skip class, I would hobble breathlessly onto my bike and begin to pedal to class. With each stroke of the pedal and every new street, I could feel the anxiety being cleansed from my skin by the wind, or the sun, or sometimes the rain. I would always arrive to campus with a smile on my face; grace through motion. As the stress would mount through the teaching day, I would wash it away on my commute home.
There comes a moment in everyone’s life who struggles with anxiety where you have to decide if you are going to succumb, or going to surrender. I know, both sound like you’re losing the battle, but surrender is a combination of acceptance that leads to choice that leads to personal freedom, whereas to succumb is to continue to trudge through the unnecessary tides that anxiety can hurl upon you. To succumb is to slip beneath the waves. To surrender is to float on your back and let the tide bring you to shore.
My moment came on my bike. I had been thinking and reading and looking desperately for a way out. Nearing another attack, a phrase from within came floating up:
Yes, F&*K it! In that moment, every worry melted off my body and the clouds literally parted. I started laughing. And soon after, my whole life changed. I got a stable full time teaching position, my physical body got healthier, I was able to take on new projects like writing an opera, I had a baby, I traveled with my husband, I taught in China, I had another baby…
So, when I was handed my layoff papers from the university (no hard feelings!), I knew the Universe had my back. Teaching is tiring. Teaching takes your heart and soul, and there comes a point for many in the profession a break is needed. I was ready for a break. And thanks to my new mantra, I headed home on my bike with my pink slip to build the company I have been craving to build for the past 4 years.
Some may think it’s silly that I credit bike commuting for saving my life, and sure, there are many other factors such as my incredible husband, but without that moment of clarity where I was presented options and I made a choice to surrender, I would not be able to have to the gumption or the creative energy to build what I am building today. I’d be a nervous wreck, curled in a ball on the floor still searching for a way out.
SparkHeart is a creative message to the world to embrace what inspires you, trust your instincts, and live the life you choose to live, not the one that you feel you’ve been dealt. My hope is that my designs will make seasoned riders more comfortable and give them more time in the saddle, looking fabulous with less time packing and planning for their ride, and inspire new riders to try something new and bold. Feel that wind on your skin! Let it blow through your hair! Damn...biking feels good.
So let’s all take a moment to find something that sparks our heart, and see what kind of joy can be found in a simple choice.
#cutcarbon #buildcommunity #sparkheart #lookgoodinthesaddle