I’m back in “my office” hurtling through space at a cruising altitude of 30,000’ in a giant metal vessel. Today, I’m in the aisle seat for a quick exit. I’ll try to make my very brief 30 minute layover and pray my bike and suitcase make the sprint into the next cargo space on the next plane. I’m on my way to the east coast for a couple weeks. My days at home in Boulder have been very limited this year. My friends are wondering where I am, and I’m thankful they still try to squeeze into my frenzied schedule. Some of them even mark on their calendar when I’ll be in town. I’m thankful they don’t give up on me. I have lists on my phone and computer of things I need to get done and feel frustrated that I always seem to be behind and overcommitted. I want to do it all… but I know I can’t and I’m simmering a little too close to the boil over point.
I just put down an issue of one of my favorite bike magazines- Switchback. This issue was particularly special. I like the feel of the paper in my hands and the photos. I had to pause as I felt my eyes fill up and my nose start to burn as I read Heidi Swift’s recount of MTB Ayiti. She did an amazing job bringing me back to the event as if I was there… and the fact of the matter is that I actually was there with her, and my story about it is in Mountain Flyer. Hers was much more eloquent- I deeply admire her writing style. I realized I used to write more personally and from the heart on my blog, and that now my posts are rushed just to get the words out so I can move onto the next thing. I decided to open my computer and decided to type my thought process like I used to do. I had a similar eyes blurring/nose burning reaction 2 nights ago during a presentation I gave at Primal Wear in Denver about my race in Nepal this past March. “What’s with me?” I wonder as the pressure in the cabin changes as we take off and hope that no one notices my emotional energy swirling furiously in seat 27C.
I sit quietly for a few moments eating my almond butter and cherry jam sandwich I brought with me and realize that although these events seem like a dreamlike whirlwind, they actually happened. I travel alone 90% of the time, and I actually enjoy sitting on a plane for hours because it gives me the rare downtime I crave if I can convince myself not to work on the plane. I delve a little deeper about my emotional state and I realize my reaction is one of extreme gratitude and almost disbelief. This is my real life. I still can’t believe I got here. It seems like just a year ago, I had my head down working 2 jobs, trying to train and race my bike as a first year pro, dealing with a heart wrenching break-up, and struggling through my masters degree in Electrical Engineering and wanting to quit. NO DNF. I was 22 years old.
Now it’s 7 years later and somehow I’ve gotten to where I’m at by not giving up. My parents taught me to always do my best, to work hard, and not settle. It seems like if I keep being true to what I want to do, things work out. It’s working, but it’s not always easy. Between dashing off to the airport every week between work, racing, and dating a Canadian, there’s a great amount of life in just one action-packed day. I forget the great amount I’ve done and downplay it dramatically. I break my New Year’s Resolution daily – take 10 minutes to reflect on my life with a deep presence. If I have a free minute, I pack 2 minutes into it. I need to stop. I am out of control! So as I sit here, I tell myself a few facts from the year- I actually did trudge through thigh deep snow carrying my bike up to 17,769’ for the second time in my life on top of Thorong La Pass in Nepal 3 months ago. I went to Haiti despite the CNN news reports and US safety travel advisory back in February. I saw the devastation in Port Au Prince, I rode my bike across the unforgiving and ruggedly beautiful mountains across Haiti in the first race ever with an inspiring bunch of individuals. I danced on stage with Haitians at the pre-carnival party wearing a mask in Jacmel…and then I remember I also danced with the Nepali women in Pokhara. And I just got a hug from Thor at the airport – my friend from the Yak Attack (a pilot) who rode/hike-a-biked with me during the most beautiful and trying stages of the race. Apparently the airport is his office too. He commented on the helmet hanging off my backpack; something I think of as insignificant because I always have it. Seeing Thor reminded me of the profound friendships I’ve made along my journeys on the bike around the world. I’m thankful to have crossed paths with so many brave, passionate people and I know I’ll see them again. And now I’m going to race the 2nd annual Pisgah 111K in a mountain range I’ve never set rubber to on Saturday on a brand new Canyon 29er full suspension hardtail, spending the week in Charlotte and Chapel Hill doing work meetings and shop visits, Ergon product videos, speaking at 3 community clinic and group rides…then loading into a sprinter van on Friday with a fun and rowdy group to drive the 8 hours to State College, PA to test my mental and physical will for 7 days at the Transylvania Epic Stage Race. I’ll have been to 5 countries and 8 states by the end of May in 2013.
Whoa. I’m moving so quickly and doing so many things that I find I miss out on fully processing the things I’ve done.
I want to do it all, but I need to take time to slow down. I criticize myself for my lack of presence lately as I rush through what I’m doing so I can tackle the next task or pack the next suitcase, and I’m probably late to wherever I was going. As I watched a video that fellow Yak Attacker, Rob Burnett made at our presentation the other night, I realized that all the big things I take on don’t seem that intense when I’m doing them. However, when I stop and look back at them, I realize from an even bigger scale what wonderful life experiences I’m getting and I’m thankful. It seems that when we’re in a situation(good or bad) that’s big and requiring a lot of energy and power, we get into a mode where we just do it. Humans are extremely resilient creatures… and then when we get through it and take a step back, we say, “Whoa! I don’t know how I did that!” So I am thankful.
I’m thankful for my health, for the things that come naturally to me, thankful that each experience builds upon another giving me more confidence, empathy, love, and a much deeper capacity for the well of life. I’m thankful for the wonderful, loving, supportive people in my life. I’m thankful for opportunity. I’m thankful to simply have been born in New Mexico, U.S. and A and all the opportunity that comes with being lucky enough to simply have been born American. I could have been born in a less fortunate place without a chance to live my dreams…or even have equal opportunity as a female, or weekly trash pick up! I’m thankful I’m stopping for a minute to think, to write, to return to myself, to who I am not just what I’m doing. I also am trying to slow things down. Maybe slide 50 seconds into my free 1 minute instead of trying to shove 2 minutes 1. To maybe do a little less, to travel a little less, to let a few opportunities slip by(*cringe cringe*) so I can recharge and have more balance too.
Now back to my to do list….