Dragon slaying

I’m struggling again with writing, as you may have surmised from my absent blog posts this week. I’ve started second guessing my ideas: Who would want to read that? I’m worried about my tone: Sheesh! You sound like Pollyanna, always turning things into glib sunshine and rainbows. I lose my grasp on fleeting ideas: I just can’t think of anything interesting to write about. This old insecurities (explained in I am not a-mused) have flared up again.

I can’t let that happen.

So here I am, writing about the insecurities themselves. By giving them voice and then countering with the truth, I intend to put them to rest. I know I’ll likely have to do this many times and they may never be permanently defeated. Hopefully, though, each time will get easier and the process of cutting them down will become second nature.

It just takes practice, and to show I’m serious about slaying my dragons, I’m going to do it publicly.

  1. Who would want to read that? C’mon, T. You’ve said since Day One that you’re not writing for anyone else. Remember how you said that writing every day jumpstarted your creativity and helped you organize your thoughts? Yeah, you really said that. Why don’t you own it now? Write like you mean it.
  2. Sheesh! You sound like Pollyanna, always turning things into glib sunshine and rainbows. Life isn’t sunshine and rainbows, but there’s nothing wrong with trying to find the nuggets of wisdom in everyday situations. It doesn’t mean your life is perfect, T. Actually, you need to find those nuggets for yourself. (See item 1 in case you forgot your audience.) There are days when you feel like buckling under the weight of all that’s going on; it’s perfectly normal to look for ways to make sense of it. In fact, this exercise is vastly healthier than wallowing (at which you’re also quite accomplished).
  3. I just can’t think of anything interesting to write about. Jeez, T, you’ve always prided yourself on being able to make something out of nothing. How many times have you told people that’s what your blog posts reflect? After all, you just wrote a whole post on how you couldn’t write. Talk about turning nothing into something!

I doubt that I’ve slain the dragon of self-doubt, but hopefully I’ve beaten him back for a while so my body of work–my armaments–can grow.

So friends, here’s my formula for dealing with fear/self-doubt/whatever is holding you back: bring it into the light. Call it out; share it with someone else. Then present your counterarguments. If it helps, do it in third person. Pretend you’re counseling a friend or your daughter or someone important to you. Write them down, point by point, so you can SEE them. Then go do the thing that scares you. Your legs may be wobbly, but they’ll get stronger as you go. I promise.

Flat out

During the summer, I do a lot of long training rides on my bike to get ready for the PMC. Considering that I’m usually on desolate country roads for hours on end, I find it fairly surprising that I haven’t encountered much adversity. No flat tires, no pop-up rain storms, no close brushes with death.

Until last weekend, that is.

Giddy after picking up my freshly tuned-up bike from my local bike shop, I set out on a 45-mile ride. Less than two miles into it, I heard a hissing whoosh of air that could only mean one thing: I had a flat.

Frustrated and indignant, I did what any capable, middle-aged woman would do. I called my dad. I figured that my plans were shot and that he could pick me up and take me home.

While I waited, however, it occurred to me that I had a tire-changing kit in my saddle bag. I had never changed a tire, but I flipped my bike onto its seat anyway. I grabbed the new tube and the tools and tentatively set about making the swap.

Having only a vague idea as to what to do, I was thankful to find instructions on the tube box (instructions!). Although somewhat more difficult than the box led me to believe, my inexperienced hands had the new tube in place and the tire almost completely reinstalled by the time my dad pulled up in his truck. Under his watchful eye, I finished the job and put the wheel back on my bike. Giddy with accomplishment, I decided to continue my ride.

Alas, the adversity continued. Though the tires rode well, the black cloud over my head turned out to be more than figurative. Just before the halfway point where I was meeting some friends, the skies opened and drenched me, thundering menacingly all the while. I made it to our meeting place, waited it out, and eventually rode home on wet, steamy roads.

Bummer of a day? Nope.

Even though I certainly didn’t wish for it, I faced down two of my biggest bicycling fears that day. First, I’ve always been petrified of “flatting” when I’m out by myself. What would I do? Well, it finally happened, and I was forced to deal with it. In that exercise, I now know that I CAN. The idea of flatting no longer seems so daunting. I rode, I flatted, I conquered.

Second, the idea of riding in the rain with smooth, skinny road tires has always left me shivering with dread. Besides the gritty, oily goo that sprays my legs from the tire, the pavement just plain gets slippery. In fact, the painted road markings might as well be a biker’s version of a Slip ‘N Slide. With no other options on Saturday, I had to face down that fear, too. I rode in the rain and I survived.

I wouldn’t have chosen to flat my tire or to ride in the rain. Given the choice, I would have avoided both at all costs. Fate had other ideas, though. I couldn’t cut and run; I had to face down my fears, and I DID IT. I felt like the master of my universe.

Flat tire + thunderstorm = one great day. Who knew?