Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Moving Forward

Wowza! This round of 30 Days of Biking has been a tough one. Here in Minnesota we've had crazy weather instead of a normal spring. A half hour ago when I was sneaking in a ride for Day 17 it was raining. Right now it's sleeting. I've heard another 6 inches or so of snow is on the way.

I'm wondering how people are fairing who are doing 30 Days of Biking for their very first time. I'm guessing some people are frustrated with the weather, not to mention frustrated with the challenge of riding every single day for 30 days, and maybe want to quit.

I've been there. Oh believe me, I've been there. This round of 30 Days of Biking is my 7th. I've been doing this challenge since the very first one in April of 2010. I'm no athlete or super biker. I'm a middle-aged mom of two. Finding time and energy to ride my bike every day for 30 Days of Biking is a struggle. It feels impossible sometimes. And this round, with the crazy weather we've been having, has been extraordinarily tough. But I keep riding away because along the way I learned something that may come in handy for others who are struggling and may want to quit.

I've learned that thinking about riding every day, especially thinking about riding in the cold/rain/snow/sleet, is my worst enemy. I start to psych myself out when I starting thinking about having to get out to ride when it's yucky, about having to put on my biking gear, about breaking away from the stuff going on at home or work to get out for even a quick ride.

Sometimes I get as far as opening the garage door and am about to push my bike out into the rain but I still want to quit. Suddenly I have work to do. A book to read. Chocolate to eat. Laundry to fold. Anything sounds better than riding my bike in the rain! And I almost push my bike back inside.

But I don't. And this is why - I've discovered that the moment I swing my leg over my bike and start moving forward I'm home free. It's at that moment, the moment I move forward, that I realize I have completed my day of 30 Days of Biking. There's no distance minimum to the challenge so I could decide to quit biking right then and there. But I never do. Once I'm all kitted up and moving forward it just seems silly to stop, so I keep on biking. And it feels so good!

Tonight, for instance, I decided to just bike up my block and back and call it a night. But he moment I moved forward I didn't just feel a great accomplishment for completing Day 17, I felt the day's troubles melt away as I rode my bike. And, instead of stopping after riding my self-imposed minimum quarter mile, I just kept riding. In the rain. Up and down my block. Two times. Three. Then four. About a mile.

So if you're doing the 30 Days of Biking challenge for the first time or you've done it before - just do your best to keep on going. Get your gear on, swing your let over your bike, and start moving forward! You're already over halfway there!

Wet weather? I don't have rain gear but my winter parka works well enough at keeping me dryish. My rear fender is a great help, too.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Read and Write. Write and Read.

Last Saturday morning I met Joy Riggs and Christine Lienke, two of my best writing friends, and headed out for a mini road trip to Zumbrota, Minnesota.

Why drive to Zumbrota, a city of just over 3,000 tucked between the farm fields of southeastern Minnesota? Well, it's a great little town with nice shops and a great arts community. I love small towns and Zumbrota is well worth a visit. But our main draw for the day was a talk on writing - Writing from The Middle of Nowhere given by Michael Perry.

I first learned of Michael Perry when I read his book Population 485. I think that was back in 2003 or so. I've since kept an eye on him and have heard him speak on writing and read from his books a couple of times. He's down to earth and funny. He's smart yet not the kind of person who tries to make you feel less than when he talks to you. He, with his plaid shirts and jeans and humble manner, reminds me of my relatives, the hard-working farmers on both sides of my family. I like what Perry has to say and how he says it so when I heard that Perry was going to give a talk at Crossings in Carnegie, a wonderful arts center in Zumbrota, I signed up.

I've been needing a little writing pep talk of sorts. Perry's talk was inspirational and full of great information about the writing life. The biggest thing I got from the talk, though, is something I know but something I haven't been doing. A writer, said Perry, has to read and has to write. A lot.

I've gotten so caught up in working all the time that I feel like it's wrong somehow to sit still and lose myself in a book.

But it's not. As a writer, I need to read. Perry brought this up again and again in his talk. Writers must read and write. Write and read.

So I started reading The War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. It's a book I've wanted to read for about a year now but haven't because I kept telling myself I had more important things to do. Oh, and it's a horse story so I probably have been avoiding it because I know it's going to make me cry. A lot. Horse stories do that to me.

And this morning, instead of checking work emails to start the day, instead of writing website content or getting caught up in my computer, I read a couple more chapters of my book.

And now I'm writing.

Read and Write. Write and Read.

A good way to start the week.