Category Archives: Making Life Matter

My Cycling FAIL: Falling, F-bombs, & Finding Balance

I started going to cycle classes at the Y a few years ago. I even have the fancy cycling shoes that clip into the pedals. This, of course, makes me a cycling expert.

Sadly, my expertise ends at the part where you clip in and ride an actual road bike in the actual world. You see, on the stationary bikes at the Y, you don’t have to worry about things like terrain, traffic, or falling over. You just clip in and ride. (Well, I guess technically you COULD fall off one of those, but that may indicate a drinking problem more than a bike problem. I digress.)

Unlike a stationary bike, when clipped into the pedals of an actual road bike in the actual world, people can totally fall over. How, you ask? Well, imagine coming to a stop on your bike and being unable to put a foot down on the ground because they’re BOTH ATTACHED TO YOUR PEDALS. That is LITERALLY the scenario when you’re clipped in on a bike. So, if you don’t UNCLIP soon enough, you’re screwed. I’ve heard these stories time and again, and while other people seem to think it’s hilarious, I am terrified of falling over.  (I am also terrified of being run off the road by a car, running into a ditch, and flying over the handlebars. But mostly just falling over sideways at a stop sign.)

My husband, Matt, has wanted me to ride with him for awhile now, and when a friend generously hands down her road bike to me, I can’t avoid the challenge any longer.  Matt and I go to the bike shop to buy a helmet, and I mention my fear of falling to the expert-cyclist-employee. He says, “Everybody falls. At some point, you’re going to get distracted, forget to unclip, and fall over. Stop worrying about how to NOT FALL, and start making sure you know how to FALL WELL.”

Hm. Okay, I’m listening. Teach me your ways, cycling yoda.

“For example,” he says, “it’s best to not stick your arm out to catch yourself at all. But that’s not realistic because it’s such a natural impulse to try and break your fall. So, just be sure you don’t have your arm locked straight out when you’re going down. Instead, keep your arm bent a little as you land. It’s easier to deal with a broken collarbone than a broken wrist.”

Mayday. What!? My face clearly reveals my horror because he immediately exclaims, “Oh, that probably sounded terrible. You’ll be fine! Just don’t lock your arm out! You’ll be great!”

Thanks.

Not long after, we’re in our driveway, ready to roll. I’m trembling, but I am going to get on this bike dammit, and hopefully wherever I fall, it won’t involve broken bones. Or oncoming traffic. I clip in my right foot. “Now what?” I say to Matt.

“It’s just like the bike at the Y. Just do what you do there.”

Spoiler alert: it is NOT just like the bike at the Y.

While the scrapes and bruises have healed (my pride, not so much), I’m still chewing on 3 lessons from that first ride. Okay, and still laughing too.

With my right foot clipped in, I lift my left foot (completely ignoring all rules of balance and motion BECAUSE THOSE DON’T APPLY ON THE STATIONARY BIKES AT THE YMCA) and proceed to fall over onto my right side. Like, immediately. It’s the weirdest sensation. I’m falling and there’s literally nothing I can do to make it stop. (Except throw out my arm to catch my fall BUT NOT ALL THE WAY BECAUSE OMG PLEASE DON’T LET ME BREAK ANYTHING.)

I do not break anything. But there is blood. And I cry.

I proceed to say things like, “I can’t do this. This is so dumb. I’m not doing this.” I go inside and wash off the blood. I’m a little bit hurt and a lot embarrassed. I don’t really know why I feel embarrassed. It was only in front of my husband, and I had already been told by literally every person I know who has ever clipped into a road bike: EVERYONE FALLS. Yet, it feels like the most stupid failure on my part.

Matt says, “Come on, babe. You really need to get back on the bike.”

“Um. No. I can’t do this. I knew that would happen. I’m not doing this.”

“Look, I’m going to talk to you like a coach. Stop crying about this and get back on the bike. You are totally overthinking it. You are completely capable of doing this.”

I go back out to the garage and stand by the bike. I stare at it. I am paralyzed with fear and humiliation. Finally, Matt calmly says, “Just get on the f$@*% bike.”

And I do. I straddle the bike and clip in my right foot. But, before I lift my left foot (and before we repeat our last mistake), Matt clarifies, “So, this is NOT like riding the bike at the Y. This is completely different. You have to be MOVING FORWARD to have balance. Be sure you have forward momentum before you clip in your other foot.”

I take a deep breath. Well, maybe six deep breaths. And I move forward. I feel the momentum under me and add my left foot. And I ride. When I’m actually moving forward, both legs engaged, it’s incredible. I love a lot of it, and I white-knuckle my handlebars for the rest. I don’t fall anymore that day, which feels like a small miracle.

Several days later, the scrapes and bruises have healed, but I’m still chewing on three valuable lessons from that day:

1. You’re going to fall. Learn to fall well.

We can waste a lot of time and energy worrying about falling or failing or not measuring up. As a recovering perfectionist, I have spent much of my life trying to avoid failure. Or trying to measure up to something – everything – anything. The problem is, failure is inevitable if you’re really DOING anything. If you’re not EVER failing, what are you really even doing? Rather than trying to avoid failure, why not invest that energy into failing, or falling, well? Sometimes the more we try to self-protect, the more we end up injuring ourselves. Sure, there will be some self-protection — but don’t stiff-arm the world in an attempt to break your fall.

2. Get back on the f$@*% bike.

Just because you fell doesn’t mean you can’t ride a bike. It just means you fell. It just means it takes practice. Just because something requires effort doesn’t mean you’re not any good at it, or that you’ll NEVER BE any good at it — or that you aren’t ALREADY good at it. You just FELL! Yes, it hurt. Yes, it felt humiliating. Feel that. Cry for a minute if you want to. Wash the gravel out of your skin. And then get back on the f$@*% bike.

3. You have to move forward to find balance.

“Finding balance” sounds like quiet zen, humming and meditating. Sometimes I try that. Well, maybe not the humming. But I do try to quiet the noise, shrug off the demands, and find some peace. Some balance. And that was my mindset when I first tried the bike. It went like this: clip one foot in, deep breath, quietly gather all my courage. And promptly fall over. But the problem wasn’t my “quiet zen.” The problem was, I wasn’t moving forward. The same applies in my life: yes, I need space to rest, clear my head, and find some balance in my life. But, too much rest and head-clearing, and I get all out of whack. Take a moment to steady yourself, find your bearings, and then MOVE FORWARD.

In what ways are you afraid to fall?

Or is there an area where you’ve already fallen, and you’ve been afraid to get back up and try again? What are you waiting for?

How about finding that elusive “balance?” In what ways can you move forward to find the balance you desire?

begin.

A really special book launches tomorrow, and the fact that I’m part of it is a dream come true in more ways than one.

Just six months ago, I had been thinking and praying about our generation’s need for more voices to speak life and truth and practical spiritual application into the hearts of women. More voices pointing women straight back to the voice of the One who knows us most and loves us best.

And then Elizabeth called.

She described a project she was working on — which happened to be EXACTLY WHAT I HAD BEEN TALKING TO GOD ABOUT. And she invited me to join her and a few others in writing it.

You guys. Sometimes, God lets YOU be part of the answer to your prayer. I could cry every time I think about it. This book is so important, so timely, and so beautiful.

If your soul is weary, and you know you need something - but you can't quite put your finger on what - it may be time to simply... begin.

Friends, if your soul is weary, and you know you need something – but you can’t quite put your finger on what – it may be time to simply… begin. It’s true for so much in life, and especially in our relationship with Jesus: begin. Period. It doesn’t even need a fancy uppercase letter.

Begin where? Great question.

As Elizabeth describes, begin. will give you the basics of spiritual disciplines and then get you quickly on your way to actually practicing them.  Following a few non-bossy suggestions, you will be provided with 40 days’ worth of readings to help you tend to your soul – that inner life that so often goes unnoticed and neglected, and yet is the most important part of you.

So, what are you waiting for!? Jump in with both feet or stick your little toe in — it’s your call, but whatever you do: begin.

If your soul is weary, and you know you need something - but you can't quite put your finger on what - it may be time to simply... begin.

Click image to purchase your copy today.

Throwback Thursday: Here’s to You. Yes, You.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you know I’m training to run the Boston Marathon in April. (!!!!!!!!!) Most days I’m super pumped about it, but today’s tempo run kicked my @$$. It was a physical strain, yes — but more than that, today was a mental battle.

About halfway through, the negative thoughts drummed through my head:

There is no way I’m going to make it through another whole marathon.

Richmond [where I qualified] was a fluke. There’s no way I can do that again.

This is so hard. 

I started fighting back with myself at that last one:

It’s supposed to be hard, dammit. That’s the point of this workout.

I am stronger than I think I am. I’m doing better than I feel.

And then I almost threw up.

So I stopped.

And THEN I remembered seeing this:

“If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit.”

"If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit." Here’s to you, the one who forgets how far she’s actually come. That she has moved forward. That she’s still tired, NOT because she’s still so weak, but because she’s RUNNING FURTHER. Here’s to you. The one who’s still showing up. You’ve come further than you think.

So, I gathered myself. And I started running the rest of the way in. Not as fast as I had been, and not as fast as I’d hoped to. But I gave myself a moment to rest, and I finished.

How about you? How are you doing today? If you’re struggling too, hang in there, okay? And in the meantime, here’s a throwback to one of my favorite (and shortest) posts:

Here’s to you. Yes, You.

Originally published July 14, 2015

Here’s to you, the one who got out of bed this morning. Who put on her big girl panties and drove to work. Who stayed home and made another. blessed. PB&J. Who got outside and ran one more mile. Who cleaned up somebody’s mess. Literally or figuratively. Again.

Here’s to you, the one who thinks she’s not making progress. That if she were, then things would feel easier by now. That she wouldn’t be so tired. Still. That she would just be somehow, some way, better.

Here’s to you, the one who forgets how far she’s actually come. That she has moved forward. That she’s still tired, NOT because she’s still so weak, but because she’s RUNNING FURTHER.

Here’s to you. The one who’s still showing up.

You’ve come further than you think.

Here's to you, the one who got out of bed this morning. The one who thinks she's not making progress. The one who forgets how far she's come.