We’re all in this together

The last few months have been the hardest of my life.  I had been unable to find a job, even with more job applications that I’d ever filled out.  There was also a huge unknown of whether I qualified for unemployment and money was running out fast with no income stream in the foreseeable future to speak of.   The week before I raced at San Rafael was one of the toughest weeks of the two months.  Sleepless nights, crying, absolute fear and terror that I’d never felt before.  Will I be homeless?  I can’t even buy food!  Who lives like this?  Completely insecure.  Yes I had laid the ground work both on and off the bike but I didn’t know how to trust that.  The ground work on and off the bike.  My good friend saw me while I was course marshaling before my race started and said that she’d never seen me like this, and she knows how strong I am.  I told her I’d never been more afraid in my life.  Was it all going to go away?  Was my dream going to go away?  I had worked so hard for a year and a half to build something that could support myself while I chased my dream and I still couldn’t support myself on it.  Was all that going to go away?  I didn’t know what to do with that fear.  She said I had to hope.  I told her I didn’t know what that felt like.  I didn’t really believe in anything anymore because so many bad things had happened, so many let-downs, so many backs turned, lost so many friends, most of my family didn’t support me.  I didn’t know what having hope or believing in something felt like anymore.

Hope and belief were completely foreign concepts to me.

I live my life one day at a time. Literally.  The fear was turning me into someone I didn’t want to be.  I had done and said things I never thought I’d say and do. Fear will strip you bare and rub you raw and you’ll find yourself returning to primal instincts of survival and make no mistake, you will do what you have to to survive.  To my statement about fear that I made to her at San Rafael, she said something that changeed everything for me:

‘Sit with it.

Hold on to that fear until you strangle it to death.  Feel it. See it. Breathe it.  

Sit with it.

It’s a part of you.  It is not you.  It is your power base to break out of.

Sit with it.’

So I did.  She said, it’s just a feeling and it’s sucking your energy away from everything.  So I did. I sat with it and a few days later, something amazing happened.  I let go. The fear actually went away and I swear to god hope floated.  It was the first time I’d felt hope in 4 years.

I let go. I let myself fall and hope floated.

It’s all starting to pay off, slowly.  All the work I did on and off the bike chasing my dream month after month.  All the e-mails, research, meetings with clients, with city governments, with business developers, intervals on the bike, climbing, riding, racing, all those miles and hours of training I did over the winter when nobody was there.  No one made me go out and ride six hours and push harder when I knew I could. When I knew I should.  No one made me start my own business and pursue my dream.  No one told me how to market my business and build my clientele.  I did, however, surround myself with the right people, got great advice and counsel.  For the most part, I reached out to the right people.  Slowly though, after awhile, people started reaching out to me.  I’d like to think they started to see that I was for real.  They started wanting to help me.  They wanted to see me succeed.  I can’t tell you the hundreds of e-mails, texts, messages and phone calls that I’ve received from people all over the world lifting me up, making me laugh, providing advice, throwing every idea they could at me like they were playing a game of darts, telling me how inspired they were by me choosing to live my dream.  Some mornings it was the only thing that got me out of bed.  Some days, I was riding my bike for those people, not me.  They told me that most people don’t have the courage to live their dream.  All I could tell them that the choice to live the dream was the easy part, it was surviving the nightmare that was the hard part.  Honestly, I don’t know any other way to live than to follow my heart.

It started out being all about the bike and in the end it’s become about the cycling community and family I’ve built and surrounded myself with.  The last year and half became way more than about chasing my dream.  I believe that through following my heart, it allowed me to be open to personal growth that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.  I’m not afraid of anything anymore.  I trust people again.  I have hope again.  I believe in myself and my ability to do anything I want to.  I’m still learning to open up to people again and let my wall down.  I have the best friends in the world now that I would do anything for.  My dream of racing professionally is still there but it has morphed and become so much more than that.  It has become about seeing the looks of confidence on peoples faces after I coach them for an hour to learn the basics of riding a bike.  It became about the smiles and heckling while running my crit series every Thursday.  It became about the incredible women I race with every weekend as we tear each other’s legs off then immediately congratulate each other because we know what it took to get where we’re at.  I left everything I knew in Utah and came to California to chase my dream and I created a cycling family and community that in the end, I had to learn to trust.  Without you I wouldn’t be where I’m at.  I made a deliberate choice to live the life I wanted.  The sacrifices and fear that I’ve felt while passing through the unknown became the investment that I’m only beginning to see the return on.

Today I got a job. That’s the only thing that has changed.  The dream and focus are unaltered.  However, the cycling community and family that I created and surrounded myself with has become the biggest achievement of my life.

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