The Power of Inspiration

I’m just coming off of a whirl wind four day of attending a local, award winning, writing conference. I have posted about When Words Collide before (Inspiration, Creativity and Community at When Words Collide), but every time I attend I end up completely compelled to share.

This year was my fourth time attending. Thus, only three years ago, I showed up at this massive conference and I didn’t know anybody. At that time, I had written my book ‘Just a Girl and a Bike’, but I had no idea how to put it together and get it out there. My goal was simply for even one person to read it and feel inspired and infused with belief in themselves. Well, I’ll be honest, tears are trickling right now as I write this, because that goal has been surpassed. And not just because I have been able to get my book into many hands of people who needed the message within, but because this time at When Words Collide I had a profound and touching experience.

The second time I attended When Words Collide, I signed up to give a presentation on steps to self-publish. I was terrified – I questioned what I really knew. But, I had learned that this conference was about sharing with each other what we had learned along the way. It was a fantastic experience. I did the presentation the next year, and again this year.

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Reflections from the Mountains

I’m back from a very full two days in the mountains. After a solid two days of non-stop adventure, my heart is full of gratitude. Living so close to some of the most beautiful mountains is absolutely amazing. Every time I make the trip out, I come back feeling renewed and alive. My being feels open. My soul is infused with a energy and a sense of peace and calm.

The trip was oriented around a fitness expo, paired with the Banff Marathon. The expo itself is a beautifully run little event. People from all over the world come to run through the mountains, participating in the full marathon, half marathon, or 10 km run. The expo is set up such that participants come through to pick up their race packages, and have an opportunity to peruse the vendors. I have been fortunate to be able to be part of this as Just A Girl and a Bike for several years now.

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It’s always exciting to sell a book, of course. But, the conversations I end up having and the connections I end up making are what really stick in my mind. All sorts of people with a wide range of experience show up to run. I find myself relating whole heartedly to those who have never done this beforeor have nervous energy all over their face. I love that I can relate, talk to them, and perhaps even help them to focus their minds and their energy.

This year, after talking to a lady who was quite worried about the run, she said to me, “Thank you. I really needed that.” She walked away with a smile. Now, that made my heart sing.

So, not only did I sell some books, and selling books means more money raised for World Bicycle Relief, but I talked to many amazing people. And, I made a connection that could turn into a wonderful opportunity to encourage girls to be confident, seek the activities they love, and find their whole selves. Yes. I’m excited.

Now, of course, being in the mountains, I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to get in some activities. I LOVE activities. I went up early the first morning and snuck in a bit of cycling. I was able to do a short, sweet loop up to Lake Minnewanka, with enough climbing to get my heart pumping.

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On the way up, I saw about eight or so mountain sheep, with babies! On the way down, I rolled right by two moose munching away at the gras on the side of the road. What an experience. These animals are truly magnificent, majestic, and have an aura of calm about them. I was even able to sneak in a side trip to Johnson Lake, adding on a couple more km and a wee bit more climbing.

I just felt SO good to be on my bike, surrounded by mountains, the fresh air kissing my face, and the essence of nature infusing my soul.

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After a long second day of talking, interacting, and being ‘on’, I unplugged by hiking aggressively up a series of switchbacks to the top of Sulfur Mountain. The peace and quiet of nature, the smell of the trail, the fresh air, and the earth, and the general calm that clings to the air on such a trail, absolutely refreshed me after expelling so much energy.

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Of course, I was happy to be home, in my own bed, back in my sanctuary. And now here I sit, writing, reflecting, and feeling happy and full of life. What an amazing place to live, so close to such mountains. And what a wonderful path I have been taking on by sharing my own story of facing my fears.

Reflection: Where Have I Been and Where Am I Going?

 

Italy - Mortirolo - me with mountain background

This morning, this memory from about six years ago today popped up into my world.  This was the day that I biked to the top of Mortirolo, a very famous mountain in Italy.  This mountain belongs to the professional cycling race known as the Giro d’Italia.  Mortirolo is one of the the most talked about mountains in the road cycling world.   Some of the pro cyclists themselves have claimed it to be the most challenging climb they have done.  Yet, little ‘ole me somehow made it up there, one pedal stroke at at time, pigtails in tow.  It’s true.

Sometimes I still can’t believe that I did make it to that summit.  The picture of me was taken right at the point where I doubted that I could do it, and wondered what I was doing there.  My husband, who has played the role of my coach numerous times over the years, convinced me that I was choosing to talk myself out of it.  He was right.  He told me to do one switchback at a time.  He told me not to stop during a steep incline as it would be really hard, if not impossible, to get going again.  He told me to take a break at the flatter part of each turn.  He told me breatheand to regroup during each break.

Putting the pieces of advice he gave me into action, I made my way up some of the steepest sections of road that I have ever encountered.

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Orcas Island

We left Friday Harbour on a ferry and headed to Orcas Island.  We didn’t have confirmation of a place to stay that night.  We had contacted one of the few places that may have some vacancy, so we took a chance.  When we arrived, we drove the peaceful, quiet road, easily sinking into the slow pace of everything and everyone around us.  We found the one small ‘main town’ and a lovely breakfast.  How delightful!! The food was tremendous, the view was spectacular, and who knew what the day held?  After our adventures in escaping from the blazing fires in Oregon (Burning Eyes of Fire) we were definitely ready to turn over a new page on our road trip!

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Burning Eyes of Fire

I was SO excited.  We were finally hitting the road!  It had been a while since we had done any travelling.  We had just moved into our first house.  It was a huge endeavour that took much more time and energy that I had anticipated.  The fruits of our labor included an amazing summer in our new oasis.

I was craving some time on the road.  Some time away to explore and be free.  We had a great two weeks planned, packed full of craft beer, cycling, and outdoor exploration.  We arose before sunset.  As we backed out of the driveway in our little Subaru, packed to the brim with bikes and outdoor gear, we were guided by the soft glow of the moonlight.

The summer had been an absolutely terrible one for forest fires.  We were fortunate.  Being in Alberta, and the fires mostly burning in British Columbia, the most we experienced were some minor inconveniences when we had to cancel cycling or hiking plans due to poor air quality.  For those in the heart of it, lives had been changed.  I didn’t realize how much, until we embarked on our exciting little road trip.

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Choosing to Face the Impossible

Henry Ford Quote

Henry nailed it on the head.  You can, literally, talk yourself into or out of anything.  It is up to you.  I could not have had any more of a lesson on this than the day that I found myself at the bottom of a famous mountain, broken, terrified, and in tears.

Alpe d’Huez is a very famous mountain that has made many appearances in the Tour de France.  Composed of a series of 21 switchbacks winding their way up from the valley to the peak, this mountain is not something to take lightly.Alpe d'Huez switchbacks

When I showed up at Alpe d’Huez, I was not an experienced cyclist, I was not an athlete, I was not in the type of physical condition that one should be to ascend such a monstrous beast.

I had a choice.  I could not even try.  I could simply give up and declare that I needed to find a way to get back up to the top of the mountain without using my own two feet.  Or, I could try.  I had travelled all that way.  I was at the base of a very famous mountain.  I did not know if I would ever be back there.  Crying is great – it relieves a lot of tension.  Allowing myself to completely break down, be honest about my fear, and to fully take stock of my situation, took me to the conclusion that there was only one option.  I had to try.  By choosing to face my fear, I found a mental resilience that I didn’t know was there.

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Snippet from Just a Girl and a Bike – The Book

I was willing my body up the side of the of mountain, one stretch at a time.  Any progress I made was a result of mind over matter.  Logically, I should not have been able to ascend.  There is nothing logical about will power…it allows you to will yourself to do what seems impossible.  When you completely decide to do something, when you choose to believe that you will, is when you really put things into motion.

Alpe d'Huez Book Snippet 3
Snippet from Just a Girl and a Bike – The Book

My journey was nothing as smooth or graceful as the one shown here, by the famous Pantani who holds the record.  My journey was one of struggle, brute force, and putting one foot in front of the other.  I made my own valiant attempt, in my own way.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was one that I will never forget, and one that changed me forever.  The day that I chose to climb a mountain, I chose pain, I chose to suffer, and I chose to find my inner strength.

Check out my Alpe d’Huez climb page for more details about the cycling route, where to stay, and my personal experience with this amazing mountain.

Want to read the full story? Find it here: Just a Girl and a Bike – The Book

Break on Through to the Other Side

 

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I was completely numb.  My body was numb.  My mind was numb.  Everything was numb.

I could feel myself leaving my body.  It was as if I was looking down at myself, from outside of my physical being.  Everything was hazy.  There was no time.  There almost wasn’t any space…but not quite.  I still knew where I was, but only faintly.

I was drenched in heavy, sticky sweat.  I was so thirsty that I had stopped being thirsty.  All my beings had definitely melded into one.  There was no separation between physical, mental and spiritual.  I was just one single being, floating in the air, looking down at my physical representation and drifting in a weird, hazy existence.  I wondered if this is what Jim Morrison meant by breaking on through to the ‘other side’.

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My Book Release – The Story of How I Learned to Reach for the Peak

It is official.  ‘Just a Girl and a Bike’ the book is now available.  This has been a long project as I made my way through a brand new journey as an Indie Self-Publishing authorThere were many times when I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing.  But it didn’t matter.  It was a learning experience.

Most importantly, I connected with many people along the way.  My goal was to inspire even one person with my words.  Based on the feedback on my blog posts, I believe I have already done this.  If even one person picks up my book and feels inspired, more positive, like they can accomplish something and maybe even face their fears, then I have succeeded.

The cherry on top of this wonderfully delicious sundae is that the whole project is a fundraiser.  My bike changed my life.  Thus, all of the proceeds of my books sales will go to World Bicycle Relief.  This amazing organization provides bikes to children in Africa who need transportation to get to school.  Instead of walking miles each way everyday, they can now ride.  Their chances at an education are greatly increased due to these bikes.

Some of these bikes are also given to healthcare workers to increase the number of places they can reach in one day.

So, if you have enjoyed my posts, please consider helping me out to change lives.

Details:

Books are $20 (CAN).  Choice of two covers.

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Order green mountain cover

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Order snowy mountain top cover

Peace and love!!!

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