It’s been a long few weeks since I’ve had anything to say. I have gone through cycles of feeling like I ‘should’ write something, but since I’m currently practicing quieting down any thoughts that start off with ‘I should…’, I’ve been waiting for inspiration to strike.
There has been lots going on in my life. I got a new job! I start next month, and it’s a slightly different niche than where I’m working now. I am really excited to get into it, it seems like a great opportunity. Yay!
Other than that, I’ve been outside a lot. We’ve been having almost daily bike rides (usually between 7 and 10 miles), and I’ve been running when I can (though with how hot/humid it’s been, this has been less often than I’d like). We have even ventured out on some longer rides on weekends, and a few weeks ago we rode about 50 miles over a few days. It was awesome. There’s just something about being outside, especially in the woods, near a stream, that really calms me down and brings me back to center. We’ve been watching all the local wildlife on our daily ride route as well. It’s been so fun watching all these little ducklings and goslings and baby bunnies scamper around. We get to stop and get close up views of these critters growing up, right in front of us. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day. I’ve been spending less time in the gym, which is typical for me. When it gets nice out, I’d rather be outside having fun than staring at a TV or doing group fitness classes. I still venture indoors for yoga though, because if I run and bike without it, I’ll be all bunched up, and it is necessary for my general mental and physical wellness also.
So a few weeks ago, we were out on a ride one day, and a stranger felt the need to impart his thoughts upon me. Always appreciated. This kind young man felt so inclined as to slow down, while driving, and lean over out of his SUV window, and yell to me that he ‘appreciated my effort’. What. The. Hell. What does that even mean? I mean…what was he going for there? Was I supposed to feel honored that some dude appreciates my effort? What effort would that be? The effort to ride my bike for an hour a day – because I WANT to, not because I’m trying to burn calories – in the 100 degree heat while he drives through the park in his SUV, wasting money, wasting gas, polluting the air and sitting on his butt??
I just stared at him, making sure he was, in fact, talking to me. He actually had to lean OVER his buddy in the passenger seat to tell me this. So, my first reaction – brief as it was -was that he and his friend were laughing at me on my bike, thinking whatever it is that they were thinking, and really feeling quite proud of themselves for coming up with that clever remark to throw at me. And you know what, I don’t know what he was thinking. I wasn’t in the car. Maybe in his mind, that was a compliment, maybe he really meant to tell me that he was impressed that I was out there, doing something he himself wasn’t willing to do. But of course, that is not the story that ran through my head at first. I just figured he was a jerk, and he meant to hurt my feelings, and he wanted to see the overweight girl on her bike cry at the park, just like the kids did when I was 10. Well, guess what? I didn’t cry, or try to insult him back. It stung for a second, but mostly I was just sorry for him. I let the words sit with me as we kept riding, and I think I said a few not so nice things about him, and his ‘effort’, but in the end, I was surprised at how much it did not make me feel bad about myself. He knows nothing, NOTHING, about me. He doesn’t know that I rode near 20 miles in that same heat the day before. He doesn’t know my fitness level, or anything about my health. All he knows is what he saw. An overweight female, riding a bike, through the park. Those are the facts, the rest is story, manufactured by my emotions. I was offended that he singled me out, and wasted his time to slow down and say anything AT ALL to me (other than ‘that is the coolest bike helmet I’ve ever seen!’, which would be acceptable, because it is awesome), and for only a slight second did I feel like I was the problem in this scenario. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. His motives, his words, his actions, none of them matter. Whether or not he wanted to hurt my feelings, or meant it in a harmless way, it’s all about how I reacted – that is the only part that affects me. People are going to say and do dumb and inconsiderate things. Previously, most of these stupid things would just set me off, and I wouldn’t let go for hours, maybe days. Not this time though, and it took me by surprise.
This is huge for me. Huge. For me to not fall into old patterns of self hatred, feeling ashamed about my body, wanting to hide it and never ride my bike again, riding the whole way home in tears, while explaining to Michael that that frat boy in his SUV thinks he knows, but he doesn’t know!!! Instead, I just let it sit, and thought about how awesome my ‘effort’ really is. I thought about how much I love riding, getting fresh air, seeing the little animals, hanging out with best friend, and also getting a workout. This is a really big deal. I didn’t even have to think about it, I didn’t have to talk myself down off the ledge. I just never went there. This man’s words DID affect me. I did mope for a few minutes, wondering why he would say anything. But the difference was internal. It was shocking, really. To know that I know myself, my body, my health, my happiness, and that no one else’s words can take that away…that is a beautifully powerful thing.
So while this man have thought his words would cause me harm, or cause motivation, or some other intention that is not known to me, I’m sure he doesn’t realize just how much good he has done. If he hadn’t said anything, he wouldn’t have shown me that I’ve grown. I don’t think I would have noticed. Because in my own little world, where I make up the stories, nothing feels incredibly different. But when thrown into a real life situation where my guard is down, and I’m unsuspectingly thrown a curve ball, I didn’t fall. I flinched, but I kept going. I kept riding my bike, and have been riding ever since and that won’t stop. I’ve not let him deter me from my endeavors, and I’m pretty damn proud of that fact.
So, thank you kind sir, for showing me how awesome I am.
Here’s our friend the heron!
He (I am basing his gender on absolutely nothing at all, but in my mind, it’s a boy) was so beautiful and regal. We also got to see him (again, I am only assuming it was the same bird, for all I know, it was not) taking a bath this week. He’s completely calm, even though we are just standing there staring at him. Love it.
Hope you’re doing well, and enjoying this lovely early summer weather. Don’t let anyone knock you down off your pedestal of awesomeness.