It had been a long summer holiday with the children. Sure, it had been awesome, but it had been draining none the less and I was starting to feel a teensy bit like a slave to my 4 year old and 7 year old! That whole 'life revolves around their schedule' was starting to kick in as I decided it better to let them dictate the actions we took, rather than me rush them in and out of the house unneccessarilly.
They were happily playing with their LEGO and I was desperate to get out of the house and get some fresh air. As I sat their waiting for them (unbeknownst to them that I was waiting) to start fighting so I could break it up with a "lets go biking". I decided this was ridiculous!
I wanted to go biking. I was the Mother. I was the Boss, not them...
But on the flip side, it's just no fun draggling kids out of the house when we are not rushing to make it to school before the bell, or to swimming lessons before its over, or to sports before the team give up on my little players.
I left them to it. They were playing so nicely, it was stupid to break it up. I then decided that if I was so desperate to get into my mountain biking again properly I needed to take it into my own hands and make it happen more often. I wandered off to the office and as synchronicity would have it, up popped an advertisement for a local women's mountain biking skills course that ran every Wednesday night for 5 weeks. I stood their, staring at the screen, convincing myself of all the reasons why I shouldn't do it.
I often go riding with my husband, he is an amazing mountain bike rider. I do my 'thing' and try to keep up and pretend I'm not scared. He does his 'kind thing' and shares advice and tips along the way, and of course encouragement... which I take as patronising... and well.. as I become more frustrated and angry because I don't really understand what he means, and I don't like telling him what to do, he becomes more confused with my feminine reactions.
A lesson from your husband is just not the best medicine for a really happy ride (as good as his intentions are) it all lies with me struggling on a hormonal, emotional level! I always feel like I am holding him back from a great ride OR I find he takes me down some scary as track in the forest and I loose all my confidence... you can see how it's just not a good idea, unless I knew what I was doing and really didn't need his advice or general man speak!
So, I continued anyway to find more reasons as to why I shouldn't sign up. It clashed with my husbands touch rugby night, it would be too hard to arrange a babysitter during the middle of the week, I would be tired come that time of night, I wouldn't be good enough to cycle with those people, I would make a dick of myself, I didn't even know what the parts of half my bike were called... and on and on it went.
Then I asked to myself - what would you say to your client?!
I would remind her how much her battery needed to be recharged and filled with joy as well as everyone else. I would ask her what made her tick as a kid, what gave her passion to keep going, what excited her, what made her feel like HER?... and whammo - the decision was made. I signed up that night, without even talking to the hubby. Babysitters are a common breed. I could make it work, and that I did.
It was time to learn how to get up this hill!
I swallowed my pride and turned up on the first night and met some lovely women, who it turns out were all in the same boat and just wanted to re-gain their confidence on a mountain bike again. The majority of us were Mothers who used to have confidence, but somewhere along the line lost it. I also guess I found more anxiety when I was in the forest or out on the tracks because my brain was overthinking everything regarding my next move on the bike, and I would think silly things like "don't jump that, you can't do it, you will crash and then who will do all of your work?!" etc etc. The majority of us do that.
This Mission WOW bike course had me at 'hello' because one of the first things our coach said was "As girls, we over-think everything, especially in a biking situation...well here we all are to learn more skills and gain some confidence" She had hit the nail on the head. I would be back next week.
Over the next few courses I went from totally doubting my ability, to completely backing myself around some tight, steep, gnarly berms, turns and tracks. I was actually speaking nicely to myself in my head and convincing myself that I could do things. I tried them, and it turned out that the more I backed myself, the more successes I had. I didn't fly over my handlebars and I didn't make an idiot of myself, and even when I did have to stop and push or pull my bike, I didn't care...turns out neither did anyone else!
It was so inspiring and motivating to be around a bunch of about 30 other completely inspiring and wonderful women who all felt the same way.
Everyone knew how everyone else felt and therefore all comments were empowering and supportive and you could just see these women blossoming into confident riders. Heck, none of us a necessarily heading into the competitive mountain biking scene, but everyone learned many skills that they didn't previously have, and more importantly, I think, learned to speak kindly to themselves!
Now that the course is finished I am so excited to jump on my bike and head out for a ride. I'm not the most awesome rider in the pack, and I am not the worst, but the coolest thing now is that I have confidence in my decisions on how and where to ride and I know my ability and what to do. If anyone out there is just gagging to get out and do something for themselves I highly recommend it. I feel like I am me again. I feel like I finally have my Mojo back!
Find your "you time" again and go do something completely random. At the same time as I joined the biking course (I guess I was on a roll...and the kids were still not fighting!) I signed myself up for the local adults hip hop dance classes.
This was again one of the best things I could have done for myself. I used to dance as a child and teenager and pour my heart and soul into it. I sat exams and I did well, but more importantly I absolutely loved every second of it! I have danced with my kids most days of their lives and music plays a massive part in our lives, BUT, I have always wanted to go back to dance class and get my groove on.
So there I was, all signed up and full of memories of the youthful dancer I was. As the ladies rolled in for dancing I felt slightly nervous, and unsure of what I was about to embark on. I decided I could hardly walk out of the studio, Wanaka is too small, people know me! So there I stood in front of the mirror with our amazing teacher (Rachel Erichson from Dance Out Loud studios) and she started to share with us some brilliant dances and moves. I joined in, eyes on the floor and my body only giving half of what it really had because I was too embarrassed to really get into it.
"What if I send my arm off in one direction and its the wrong way and there I am looking like an egg in the mirror?" or " What if I spin the wrong way and crash into everyone? GAAAA! Maybe I should just leave...I know some of these people"
Then she turned the music on, and off we went. WOW. This was AWESOME! I was having the best time. I was doing just fine keeping up. Yeah - Im not about to hop on a stage anytime soon, but I was having a ball. I was beading with sweat and most of all I was smiling and laughing.
Im now up to week 7 and it turns out that I can watch myself in the mirror while I dance with the group. I can even hold my head up and give it my all. It's so much fun! I feel like I did as a young girl. I come home and I am ready to be a good Mum and a loving wife. Its so important to remember what made you tick in your youth and try to get back on that horse.
Go on, swallow your pride; sign up for something that you love or have always wanted to do, or had on your bucket list. I swear. You will have no regrets (even if you do fly over the handle bars!) It makes a great story ;-)
The best part of this whole thing is that I am 'me' again. I remember little bits about myself, things I was forgetting because I was just constantly doing what needed to be done. I can laugh, I can have fun, and I can do the things that I like to do as well as keeping my family happy. I think my family are even happier now that I am off doing my own thing more often because I find I have more patience and time to spend with them when I am present. Do what makes you happy...because it will make everyone else around you happy too.
Written by Jess Eastwood