More Than Along for the Ride

Last weekend I hopped on my aging mountain bike and soared down my hilly paved street several blocks south to neighborhoods with flat, meandering asphalt. Of course, my ride back is an uphill challenge, but it’s always worth the expansion of my lungs and a slight burn of my calves.

A few minutes into my warm fall exercise, I turned a corner to find a little girl in a bright fuchsia helmet wobbling along on her coordinating pink bike. A few feet behind trotted her proud father. The training wheels were nowhere in sight and this excited grade schooler looked at me in my burgundy bike helmet on my coordinating burgundy bike and started yelling

My sweet friend, Maris, in her  early training wheel days.

My sweet friend, Maris, in her
early training wheel days.

“Hey, I ride-ED my bike! I ride-ED my bike! I ride-ED my bike!”

Talk about a moment of pure joy. As I passed by this beyond enthused big-girl- bike rider, I grinned and shouted to her, “Way to go! Congratulations!” Instantly, I flashed back fifty years to the memory of my first attempt without training wheels. I can still clearly see my mom and brother, Dan, trotting behind me on the soft dirt track at our local sports field. (I’ve been riding bicycles for five decades??? Get out!)

As I continued on my Saturday ride, I sensed a fresh lift in my soul (and no, it wasn’t my gasping for air on the incline home). I wondered about the things that keep me from cutting loose with the thrill of accomplishment or the joy of discovering new adventures. I pondered: What is holding back the adult me from childlike glee? How have I let the cares of being a grownup crowd out my celebrating even the little, everyday moments?

How about you? Are you ready like me for bravely tossing aside the training wheels and pedaling ahead with exuberant abandon? I challenge us both to be more intentional about adding some fun and freedom to our days and instead of just going along for the ride. Even if that means a bit more endurance on the hills home.

Brave and Resilient Tip #122: Break free and be brave celebrating new adventures.

Let It Go—Part 2

“Let it go, let it go,” Queen Elsa sings in the film Frozen, but isn’t life a little more complicated than musical advice from the latest Disney sensation? Last week’s look at learning to let life’s stressors glance off us, elicited several post comments and personal emails to me. One person shared that letting go is not just a resignation, but more of opening your hands and literally offering the situation or person
to God.

iStock_000010378236SmallAnother friend shared the following:

The turning point for me was realizing that much of my dwelling on events was because things hadn’t gone my way and I was wrestling with God about life’s situations—pretty much fighting for control. But the day I admitted that I was refusing to acknowledge God was in control, and I finally relinquished all to Him, my life changed. I’m now learning not to get tangled up in the whys and why nots and this takes my focus off myself. This gives me more time for quiet reflection and maintaining a thankful attitude for all God’s blessings, which I find difficult in our fast-paced, loud, option-filled world.

Busyness and overstimulation get my focus off track. It’s crucial not to drown in a sea of activities. One of the best ways to do this is saying “no” to draining situations. Also, the apostle Paul advises us to “press on.” I can’t press on while looking back. I just don’t have the energy and I don’t want to miss what’s ahead. So now I’m deliberately choosing to keep my eyes off my selfish plans and desires and asking myself along the way, “Does this really matter?”

So what are some practical steps for learning to let go?

         • Stop fighting for control over life’s events and people.

• Offer everything to God with open hands and an open heart.

• Take your focus off yourself and your plans.

• Reevaluate your activities and priorities for a more even pace.

• Practice saying “no” more to prevent over busyness.

• Ask throughout your day, “Does this really matter?”

Brave and Resilient Tip #63: Letting go frees you to enjoy life less tangled in the whys and why nots.