A Decade Of Reflections

As the year draws closer to the end, I have a hard time believing that it's been a decade filled with bewilderment, change, and copious amounts of growth. Moving to Decorah in 2009 is what planted the seeds of change.

Change is beautiful but scary AF. I could've continued to live life feeling as if it was "okay" but that's all that it was. It was just "okay."

Sometimes there is a comfort in "okay" because it doesn't require change. If it's tolerable, you can continue on with the same ol' same ol' for years to come. However, being "okay" only works if both parties are fine with not growing, changing, or otherwise evolving in their human existence. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I was the person in the party of two who changed. That change was inspired by cycling. The feeling of flying while two wheels are spinning under you is incredibly addictive. I wanted to shout from the hilltops and share it with the world, and with the person I loved, but life had different plans.

In 2012 I experienced a major life shift. I had to make adult decisions. I got a divorce.
I was scared yet also extremely determined to have it end up as a positive experience. To be financially on my own, pay my bills, pay my rent, and still afford small luxuries in life like the internet. For someone who had never lived on her own, it was a huge step. A big leap of faith on my end, especially since I had three mouths to feed- my cats don't care whether or not I have a paycheck so long as the cans keep opening. In the winter months, while I kept the apartment at a barely tolerable temperature, the cats adored having a body to snuggle against. I sure as heck wasn't going to say no to free heat!

I also fell in love.
Shit. Falling in love can be scary as hell. Especially when you aren't sure about yourself and what you're doing. You know you're growing in life, but you're not sure about all of the details. All you know is you want Happyness and sometimes in order to experience it you have to push fear aside and say "Yes."

Eventually, a relationship was cultivated and we decided to make a move and become co-habitants. The cats appreciated having more room to scamper around, and I fell in love with the idea that I would live somewhere with far better heat retention than my previous place. It's also putting trust into your partner and yourself. It's letting go of a security blanket (my apartment/Travis' apartment) and throwing ourselves into a beautiful mess of living together under one roof.

Next would be changing jobs.
For someone who has not flitted from job to job and thrives on consistency, moving from the Co-Op to Decorah Bicycles was very challenging. I walked away from everything I knew and stepped into a new world that would sometimes make my head hurt. There was a new POS system, different procedures, and an entirely different way of working on a daily basis. I wasn't just cashiering, I was doing everything else as well. Not only that, I became a partner in Travis' world not only in life but work. I'm not going to sugarcoat anything. I knew it could be challenging working with your partner, but I didn't care. I wanted to help Travis in any way I could, to help his business grow, and to bring cycling to more folks in the community.

I've been immersed in the world of small business ownership, and let me tell you it definitely has ups and downs. It can be challenging in multiple ways, so you have to be able to adapt. During the busy season, we do not spend a lot of time together outside of work. When work slows down during the fall/winter months we have time to take trips to bike at new places or re-visit favorites. It's a double-edged sword because while it's nice for the workflow to slow down it also means less money coming it. So stress is obviously a factor all year round, it just changes a little bit.

Getting married was another big decision/relationship move, and for me, the decision to re-marry was something I didn't take lightly. There is something about the act of marriage that really resonates with me. I may not care for all of the traditional vows, but I do care about what the act of marriage represents.

A year later in 2018, I experienced the harsh reality of how awful grief can be when I lost my dad. I've experienced loss before, but this was on a different level that was completely unexpected and painful as hell. From May onward, I went through the hardest year of my life and learned how grief can affect someone not only emotionally, but physically as well.

2019 was set up with the goal of self-care as a focus along with having more fun. I went to physical therapy for my shoulder and decided to take medicine to help my anxiety. Both decisions were ones that made me nervous, but at the same time, I knew I had to take care of my needs before I let everything fall through the cracks. I nixed racing, rode my bike for fun, and gave myself a break in life. Basically, if it didn't bring me joy, I let it go. I also made plans for adventures and went out of my comfort zone when it came to riding and socializing. I pampered myself with responsible purchases that were relevant to my interests and/or made me feel happy. I also made plans for 2020 that would bring me joy, like attending Roam Bike Fest again.

Up until recently, it didn't really dawn on me how much I was holding onto emotional injuries from my past. I had been holding back part of myself for years, only now taking steps to break out of my shell and tiptoe into a new space of thinking and being. I'm not going to say that it's easy, and I am continually feeling like I'm taking two steps forward and one step back. I'm determined that I'm not going to allow myself to be scared and backed into a self-made corner. I want to be present in all areas of life which will allow me to let go and have fun. It's a struggle at times to have patience with myself throughout all of this because it would be great to get to a point where self-doubt and criticism don't work their way into my brain. I'm a person worthy of love and Happyness and I'm not going to let myself stand in the way of that.

As I stand back and look at everything, I am not sad that it hasn't been an "easy ride" because I feel my life was never meant to be without some sort of challenge to overcome. I don't expect handouts nor do I say this to garner sympathy, but it's something that I've noticed. I keep being pushed to stay out of the comfortable and get cozy with uncomfortable. I'm 35 years old and I'm still not sure about much in life other than the simple fact is that I want to enjoy it as much as possible. Come what may, I will at least die knowing that I've done some cool shit. I've opened myself up to the world and allowed myself to be transparent and vulnerable. This has been for lack of better words, an amazing journey that I feel is only getting started.