Mind’s Eye

Somehow, the act of sitting down with yourself with the willingness to simply be with yourself as you are, whether you show up in your most brilliant or puniest form, relaxes the inner critic or whatever stands behind our oppressive self-criticism and incessant efforts to improve ourselves. Meditation says, “I don’t care if you are the most excellent person of all time or the most absurd- I love you. Right now.” This is the love that most of us have never received. Surprisingly, it doesn’t look like affection or approval. It looks like companionship. If you’ve ever wished for a friend who would love you as you are, appreciate your genius, and make space for your foibles, welcome you when you’re funny and shiny and when you’re a complete mess- well, I can introduce you to this person. Rather, your meditation practice can. He or she has been there the whole time. You are the one you’ve been waiting for as they say. ~ Susan Piver “An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation”

I’ve been fighting a battle I’m never going to win. My intentions have been pure, always with my heartsong in mind, but the barriers I face (and always have) are bigger than my greatest efforts. Resistance is futile, as they say, and what goes up eventually crashes to the ground. Looking back, I never even had a chance. So I’m here now, picking up the pieces of what appears to be an endless war. And it is just that- a war. As always, just when I’m about to give up and give in, the intelligence and gifts I’ve been given rise to the occasion. This will be with me until my dying day, and it’s a constant struggle to stay afloat. But I will.

Because I have to.

Getting back to the bike isn’t as simple as I want it to be. There are things that need to rise above pedaling on the list of personal priorities. I need to find the courage to be myself. I need to find that mindful awareness and find new ways to embrace this life I’ve been given and this body my spirit has chosen to live in. You might think all this seems a bit hokey, but when you have two doors and you’re at the end of the line, you have to pick one or the other. My alternative isn’t the greatest place and it’s rather dark and maybe not worth the trouble. Actually, trouble is exactly what lies behind THAT door. The other door isn’t a walk in the park, but I know I deserve everything I will receive when I’ve put in the work. And fuck, there’s so much work to be done.

The thing I used to love the most about bike racing and training was experiencing my mind and body being present at the same place at the same time. This synergy is SO POWERFUL, and a lot of the reason I kept coming back. In learning about meditation and working to make this a part of my life, I’ve realized just how similar the two are. The “white noise” I often made reference to is my own personal form of meditation. My hope is to get back to it soon, but my mind is tired and my body can’t work without my mind. For now, I’m left to break down the walls and build them up in a way that’s more sustainable in all conditions. My wall just couldn’t weather the storm anymore.

Part of getting back to a “normal” existence is accepting that I’m not normal. I process things differently and I really just need to be more compassionate towards myself. Much of my upbringing and life experiences have molded me into this, and a lot of it was passed through conception. In short, I have to choose whether to carry it on my back willingly, or drag it across the earth shackled to my feet. I’ve done both, and I think it would benefit me the most to choose the latter. And I simply cannot allow fear to guide me through the wrong door.

Be kind to yourself. Rest. Recharge. Remember what was positive from the past. Take the good and restructure your future. All is not lost, and the sun will come up tomorrow just as it always does. Whatever you do, don’t give up.

“Sports may be a patient’s entire raison d’être. Don’t just tell somebody, ‘Hey, maybe you’d be better off not being involved in sports.’ Consider the athletic temperament of how they define themselves. Don’t just put sport involvement on the shelf.”~ Dr. Antonia Baum, George Washington University Medical Center Department of Psychiatry




January again

I’ve been working on this post for a couple months. I feel a moment of inspiration and just as soon as it arrives, it leaves me with only a few sentences. I have wounded soldiers all throughout my WordPress draft folder. I’ve been searching for motivation on and off the keyboard, and taking refuge in the words of others. I was reminded while reading someone else’s blog tonight…I never write when I’m happy. I used to think that was weird, but now I feel like it is a normal thing and frankly, I’ve just run out of energy to care either way. So I’m here tonight, and who knows when I’ll return.

January 1st, 2015. I was finishing up my most successful ‘cross season to date and preparing to embark on my very first Nationals in Austin, Texas. I spent Christmas with bronchitis and wasn’t sure I could finish out my local series, let alone fight for position at the big dance. I spent the weeks leading up to the new year pawning off my ski and snowboard gear to finance the road trip from Tennessee to Texas. All of a sudden, my decade-long love affair with the ski industry became obsolete, even though I left my first love behind in Mammoth on that sleepy summer morning in 2010. Selling everything was the final stamp in my passport, and I had no regrets. I still don’t.

January 1st, 2016. I was frantically putting together the final pieces for the 2016 Cyclocross Nationals after party, while prepping myself for a week of spectator debauchery. I felt a little gloomy because I wasn’t racing nationals in my own backyard, but I knew hosting out of town guests and throwing a huge party would take most, if not all of my energy. That gloominess quickly faded as soon as Asheville began to swell with bike racers, and I never looked back. The week was a total success and the fundraiser was the perfect way to end a fabulous week. I was overwhelmed with all the good feels, and my motivation to train for the upcoming mountain bike season was on fire.

January 1st, 2017. It was a day of reflection. I spent the morning skiing the worst lines imaginable with my roommate, which allowed me to shift my focus from the burden of the past 365 days to the art of not dying on the hard-packed moguls. This holiday season has been one of the hardest in quite a while, and coming down with the flu days before Christmas was basically a nail in the coffin of anxiety and frustration. Christmas day was the crescendo of 2016, and a day of silent suffering of mind, body, and spirit. In my 36 years of living on this planet, I don’t remember a day I’ve felt more alone.

My heart turned her back on bike racing this ‘cross season. In hindsight it was probably for the best, as I was in no shape to handle the mental demands of my physical shortcomings, and the financial burden was too much. I crawled backwards into a hermit-like existence. My body wasn’t happy and hadn’t been for a long time, so it was only fitting my mind followed. It’s funny how unimportant bike racing actually is when everything around you feels foreign and askew. Life happens.

I haven’t ridden my bike since the middle of November, and I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself into the ground over it. I’ve been struggling to survive in the big scary world, and my less than adequate ability to afford a normal existence has taken a toll on me. I think I just got tired of fighting for bike racing in the midst of everything else in my life that I couldn’t get right. I’ve managed to keep the stoke alive for the last couple seasons, but this year I just couldn’t muster up the courage.

I’m not sure if everyone experiences a physical melt down in their mid-thirties, but I sure have spent a lot of time in the panic room this last year. Hearing loss. Tinnitus. The $20,000 jaw surgery I can’t afford. Doctors appointments and tests and food elimination and medication trials and fuck are you serious? I wanted to buy a new mountain bike this year because YOLO, but now I have to entertain a $3,000 hearing aid. Do I really want to hear out of both ears again? Do I just have bad luck or is everyone fucking up these days? I’m really good at freaking out for a minute, then stuffing it down in a place I never talk about. I’m not sure if I can keep doing that. I’m literally falling apart from the inside out.

I’ve learned a few things, though, and sometimes the silver linings are terrific.

I still miss my mom terribly, and that pain comes and goes like the wind.

I fell back in love with winter, and have reignited the flame for skiing.

It mostly doesn’t bother me that I’m not in New England this week with all my favorite people, racing my bike in the mud and snow. I think if I still loved bike racing for myself as much as I once did, I would be more upset about missing it. But let’s be honest, I’m missing it.

I want to feel safe again so I can sleep at night, and I WANT to want to ride my bike. I know I’ll get back there, but sometimes you have to take care of yourself first. I’m working on it.