It's Like Riding a Bike

One of the perks of being an empty nester is taking an empty nester trip! I don't know if this is officially "a thing" yet, but it should be :-).  Much like many new moms get a "push gift" to reward their efforts during childbirth; I think every new empty nester should get a trip to reward them for 18 years (or more) of hard work!

We were fortunate enough to vacation in Hilton Head Island with our dear friends from St. Louis. When we were asking about activities for the week,  many people recommended renting bikes as a fun way to see the island.  Although this sounded fun, the idea of riding a bike produced a little fear and anxiety for me. It had been years since I had regularly ridden a bike.  In our pre-children days, we bought some nice hybrid bikes thinking we would ride a lot.  We rode some, but living in Houston at the time we underestimated the distinct unpleasantness of riding in near constant heat and humidity.  As time went on and we moved to different states, we would occasionally dust off the bikes and go for a ride, but sad to say I was always the complainer.  The seat hurt my butt, the biking position made my back hurt, I couldn't figure out the gears, there was too much traffic-whine,whine, whine!  Eventually my children grew big enough to ride my bike and I was happy to let them.

So now here I was, many years away from regular bike riding and we had just committed to renting bikes for a week.  I was about to have a moment of truth! Would I remember how to ride? Would I fall off? Would I be in control enough to ride along other bikers, pedestrians, and cars? Would I be physically able to keep up with others?

We walked down to check out our bikes and take them out for the first time.  My immediate observation was that this was a bike I could love! This was a beach cruiser- sturdy wheels, upright handlebars, pedal brakes, no gears, big cushiony seat, and (wait for it) a basket! Just add streamers to the ends of the handlebars and a bell and this would be the bike of my dreams!  After a few seat adjustments, we were ready to go.  I nervously climbed on my bike and took my first few unsteady pedals.  Pedal, pedal, wobble, wobble, pedal, pedal, pedal, wobble, and suddenly  I'm moving!  And then...

Smiles and laughter and JOY! Absolute child-like joy!

I was riding a bike, hair blowing in the wind, laughing with friends!  It was impossible not to feel like a child again remembering when riding a bike was the ticket to freedom.  As a child, you could ride your bike places where you could have never walked.  It was the first feeling of independence that I can remember.  Hopping on my bike and riding to a friend's house, or going to the library, or riding to Dairy Queen were the best activities an 8 year old could dream of.  A bike made you feel like your world was full of possibilities! Connecting to that feeling again was magical.

As we all become more comfortable with our bikes, we developed a routine where we would ride along the beach in the morning and then ride our bikes to town for breakfast.  And when I say ride along the beach, I mean we could literally ride on the sand right near the water.  I've never been on a beach where that is possible.  Because of the basket on the front, we could stop for coffee or shopping and take it all back with us! It ended up being one of my favorite memories of our whole vacation, but it wouldn't have happened if I had let my fear stop me from doing it.

Isn't that how it is sometimes? You have to break through the fear to get to the joy. The joy is just past the fear. and at times the fear is so big that we can't even see the possibility of joy.  This experience made me wonder, what other joy am I not experiencing because I am afraid?  Our fears and anxieties may be keeping us from joys that we can't even imagine.

I am motivated to start pushing through more fear.  It won't be easy, but I know it will be worth it. Now is the time for joy!

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