It’s like riding a bike…
One of my first memories in life occurred when I was about 3 or 4 years old. It was me, completely filled with joy, riding my bicycle by myself for the first time with my family watching and cheering me on. I don’t remember many details about that specific moment, but I do vividly remember being so incredibly happy and proud of myself in that moment.
A few days prior to this shining proud moment, either my mom or my dad (I just can’t remember who), ran over one of my bicycle training wheels with the family minivan. I was devastated. I loved to ride my bicycle all around the neighborhood, doing my best to keep up with my older brothers. But after a quick assessment it was clear the training wheels were damaged beyond repair and had to come off.
If my parents were still living today I would ask them if they remembered this moment in time. Could our family not afford to buy new training wheels at that time? Did they think I was ready to ride without them? How did they know I was ready? Or did they not know, but just pray that it would come to me sooner than later? I will never know how it all transpired, but the twisted training wheels came off and there I was staring at my big girl bicycle.
Me learning how to ride my bicycle was a full family effort. I remember my knees and elbows being all scraped up. I even vaguely remember in one of my post training wheels ride attempts accidentally swerving and putting a nice little dent in my nemesis, the minivan. But I had my helmet on tight and determination in my spirit. And I kept on trying.
After countless failed attempts I was on my bike ready to give it another go. My dad (I believe) helped keep me steady for the first few peddles I took and then let go. And there I was riding my bike. I remember excitement taking over my whole body while I was riding down my street all by myself. I remember my mom, dad and two older brothers watching on and cheering me on. I did it.
How sweet that memory is to me decades later. It is my very first memory in life of conquering a challenge. I didn’t let failed previous attempts or scraped up knees faze me. With my loved ones rooting me on, I accomplished what at the time seemed almost impossible. It was not easy, but the reward was worth the journey.
As I sit here three decades later, I find myself coming back to this memory often as of late. Specifically it was that moment of pure joy of personal achievement, surrounded by those I love that is resonating for me. I’ve been living lately in place of second guessing myself and as I could only describe it as “living small.” I’ve been overanalyzing all the possibilities of what could happen, good and bad, as I stare at “the bike” while it collects dust. I’ve been living as if since my mom and dad are gone, there is no one who cares if I get going on that bike or not.
Life thirty years removed from this moment is infinitely more complicated. But this memory has come as such a gift to me. It is the reminder that no matter the challenge, as long as I take the risk and get on the bicycle without training wheels, I have a chance of succeeding. It will not be easy, but nothing worth it ever was. It is a reminder that I still have a family cheering section, with gained loved ones along the route rooting for me and a newly installed upper deck of stands for fans needing a higher view.
How the journey became twisted, much like the training wheels, is irrelevant at this point. It is what it is. But with prayer as my helmet and determination in my spirit, I will continue to try. I will try to boldly conquer the challenges facing me, with that same courage as 3 or 4 year old me had.
If it’s like riding a bike then I know at least I’ve got a chance.
Holding Gratitude and Pain
Where to begin…
A few weeks ago I had an epiphany about my story. One day it hit me suddenly that for the majority of my adult life I have repressed my childhood, trying to just forget it all. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but the direct result of simply trying to navigate all the complexities of life after the death of my mother when I was 16.
Walking through the world as a motherless girl, and now woman, is something I would not wish on anyone. The saying “a part of me died that day too” has never been more true to me. From the day breath left her body, my body, spirit, soul and mind have never been the same.
When mom died suddenly everything got exponentially harder. Friends, family and community members who knew our loving family, didn’t know what to say to me so they didn’t say anything at all. Every joyful memory I had with my mother, and with our immediate family of 5, suddenly made me twinge with pain the second it came into thought. The words “broken home”, in an untraditional sense, instantly became very real for me. Even hearing the simple word “family” was just heartbreaking every single time it was spoken.
As the unbearable days, months and years passed, I unconsciously learned to cope by attempting to forget it all. All the wonderful vacations my family took together, the countless times we gathered around the dinner table, the holiday traditions we cherished doing together each year and the many ordinary days we spent as a family doing ordinary things were all just easier to forget than remember without my mother being present. I guess I must have calculated that for my “peace” in this post mom world, it was just easier to forget the bad and the good altogether.
But as I sit here today, decades later finally a mom myself to a sweet toddler boy, I find myself for the first time in almost two decades wanting to remember my life in totality. At first I thought this urge was somehow connected to me becoming a better mother to my son, but as I dug deeper within myself I knew it was much bigger than that. I know now that “peace” I created by trying to forget my life before mom passed, turned into me forgetting the foundational pillars that created me. I realized I have been only bringing a tiny piece of myself to womanhood, wifehood and motherhood. And I cannot begin to become the woman, wife and mother I dream of being, without finally accepting all that made me who I am today.
I need to allow myself to remember the good, bad and everything in between of my years before my mother died to move forward in my life wholly. This rather simple sounding task, may be one of the most difficult I have ever faced. It will require me to willfully sit in pain, be vulnerable, seek help in new ways and bring down protective walls I have spent decades fortifying.
So although I know this won’t be easy, I know deep down that this is where I need to begin in my storytelling journey.
Today is the day.
I have been contemplating starting to write again for an incredibly long time. What took me so long, I’m still not sure. Possibly a fear of rejection or that I wouldn’t keep up with it again. Maybe I hesitated because I was afraid I’d say something wrong, offensive or be misunderstood. Being vulnerable is like climbing Everest for me, so I’m sure that too has been playing an equally-sized part. Regardless of the reason, the idea would percolate in my head and heart, however that is where it would remain.
The words “story” and “storytelling” have been smacking me in the face from every direction as of late. It’s honestly beyond comical that I would continuously ask higher powers to show me signs all the time, then proceed to willfully and blatantly ignore all signs presented. What is my purpose? What do I have to share? These are questions I have asked and answers I have been given over and over again.
I’ve always felt I wanted to share my story. The highs, lows, twists, turns and everything in between. It is not that I think I have the most important story to tell. But I believe if I can help one person out there in sharing any one of my stories, it would be worth it all. And finally telling my stories allows me to continue to move forward to the journey that lies ahead.
Today I find peace in knowing that this sharing space is ready for me and I am ready for it. It was there all along patiently waiting for me to return to truly begin my storytelling. Yes I may say something wrong, misunderstood or offensive, but that fear will no longer freeze me. I have always found healing, joy and purpose in writing and I will lean into that. So today is the day I begin this journey again.
All you need…
I needed this one today.
It’s funny how often I look past the this soul-centering reminder right in front of my face.
Most often I miss it because I am rushing past it, simultaneously preoccupied by yesterday and worried about tomorrow.
The irony of it all.
~ C.A. ~
How incredible is it that every day we get the opportunity to start anew?
~ C.A. ~
Every Win Matters
I was reminded today that every win, both enormous and tiny, matter.
Wins build on wins.
They create a pattern.
Which becomes a mentality.
A mentality becomes a lifestyle.
A life styled on win after win, creates a life designed to matter.
But the true key here isn’t in the details of the wins, but the pathways they ignite.
A pathway ignited is possibility.
And all of life’s greatest achievements started with possibility.
So I will celebrate all the wins in every size that they come.
Thank you 2021.
Thank you for making me the person I am today.
Thank you for your disappointments, as I now see they were a necessary part of the plan.
Thank you for the fear you evoked in me, as it challenged me to face them and find strengths I forgot I had.
Thank you for showing me it is okay to disappoint others, particularly when it allows me to stay in alignment with my authentic self.
Thank you for the little joy that steadily lit the way, as I realized how watching a tiny human grow is the very best balm for the soul.
Thank you for teaching me how to show up for others, reminding me that small gestures can make all the difference.
Thank you for your uncertainly, as I found so much of what I needed in life while wading in the abyss of the unknown.
Thank you for introducing me to a new definition of home, as it’s far more about the feeling I get than it ever was about the place I was.
Thank you for helping me create tradition and the comfort that comes along with it.
Thank you for teaching me how to honor healthy boundaries, both my own and those of others.
Thank you for reminding me to lean into life with open arms and malleable expectations, to focus on life’s blessings as they come rather than the disappointment of how I thought they would show up.
Thank you for allowing me to step into womanhood, learning how to balance all the daily complexities of being a wife, mother and myself.
Thank you for being you 2021. This time was meant for my journey and for that I am forever thankful to you.
For those who are leaving this year with grief, heartache and pain, my heart is with you. Sending you much light and love.