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Your story to tell.

"It looks sketchy." said the girl in my backseat, bladder full, wiggling and unwilling to use the restroom at the rest stop.


"I don't go downtown. So sketchy. I'm going to get murdered." said a smallish teen girl who rarely leaves home without her parents.


"You live in a sketchy neighborhood." said the girl unsure if she should accept an invite for a sleepover at our house.


"Did you do anything before you worked in a bike shop?" asked another small girl without a mental image of jobs outside of doctor, lawyer, teacher, or fireman.


"Is it weird that your mom works in a bike shop? She's a woman." a question, but more a statement posed by a parent to my daughter.


"Hook me up with a discount on that bike and I'd like it before my birthday next week." a demand rather than an inquiry from a well-heeled adult who makes six figures and is oblivious to the world-wide bike shortage in our Amazon culture nor that discounts at a small business directly chip away at how many people can be employed and how said business contributes to the local economy.


"Our house isn't fancy like my friends. I know I shouldn't care, but I kinda do." said my daughter.


+++++++++


Long, long ago, my dad would drive me to high school. This was before I got my license and all the reckless freedom that comes with that car and key combo. No minivan or sedan shuttling. I had the privilege of riding shotgun in a big, bold yellow tow truck emblazoned with B&R Auto Wrecking on the side. We would bumble loudly to the drop-off curb. I would mumble thanks and slam the door, not out of anger, but more because it was heavy and required a lot of oomph, and then wade through the parking lot and the snark that can only come from fellow teenagers. I recall the heat--the flush and sweat of embarrassment. With some time and most certainly not initially but eventually, I remember my stubborn pride stepping in and refusing to accept the judgement. I remember thinking about my dad. How hard he worked physically, not to mention the brick wall of challenges: illiteracy, a temper like no other, and the constant fear that all he had built would be wiped away. He was (is) a difficult man, but that difficulty is understandable. The least I could do was to accept a ride with my head held high. The least I could do was to not be afraid of what others thought. The least I could do was to write my "now"--a "now" of my own hand because this was the true gift of freedom he had bestowed upon me.


+++++++


I am a parent. On some days I steer the equivalent of my dad's bumbling and bold yellow tow truck. It's not pretty, but I am not embarrassed by this. I have worked very hard to be where I am, to make choices that have integrity and keep me rolling forward. I could scream that I have a master's degree; that I once had a "normal" career. I could defensively plead that I am indeed intelligent; that my neighborhood is not sketchy and my house is just fine. I could--I should--not. I will not. Because these are the tiniest details about me; about us and our home.


Last week I gave a little talk at our Descender practice. It was meant to be a lighthearted celebration of the race weekend before--an epic course up at Mt. Hood; my favorite for the season because of the perceived difficulty and the incredible impact it has on those who attempt it. My chat began okay as we cheered for those who completed a lap, then two, then three, and then finally those who completed four lung and leg crushing laps. But then as I directed my focus to those who had mechanicals and lost some blood and tears on the course, my tone got serious because I knew their suffering. The ache that lurks between expectation and reality and an inability to reconcile the gap. I spoke too long (and not my finest oration) of the moving parts on the bike, the moving parts in their bodies and those bodies around them. Racing is about control and navigating the unpredictable--one can be prepared and skilled, but still at the whim of chance. How we deal with the latter is the muscle memory that we take beyond a race; it's how we deal with the comparison game, fear, and the stories others tell about who they think we should be.


And this is where we begin:

Set the goal(s).

  • To simply start

  • To climb. To stop. To reset as needed.

  • To ride without stopping if it makes sense.

  • To listen to our body.

  • To brake less because we feel confident.

  • To say "GET IT" to a competitor. And mean it.

  • To breathe when fixing a flat even though you want to scream.

  • To ask for help.

  • To choose the finish line and be proud of it wherever it falls.

Mountain biking or life. These goals are one and the same.


+++++++


"It looks sketchy." said the girl in my backseat, bladder full, wiggling and unwilling to use the restroom at the rest stop.

Answer: "Totally your choice: hold it or risk the sketch. You should know: I have a no pee puddle policy for my backseat."


"I don't go downtown. So sketchy. People get murdered." said a smallish teen girl who rarely leaves home without her parents.

Answer: "I'd research that story you're telling yourself. Get some crime statistics and then let's talk."


"You live in a sketchy neighborhood." said the girl unsure if she should accept an invite for a sleepover at our house.

Answer: <raised eyebrow>.


"Did you do anything before you worked in a bike shop?" asked a small girl without a mental image of jobs outside of doctor, lawyer, teacher, or fireman.

Answer: "Approximately a zillion other jobs. I will probably do a zillion other jobs after the bike shop, too. This is a long life and I am a super curious human."


"Is it weird that your mom works in a bike shop? She's a woman." a question, but more a statement posed by a parent to my daughter.

Answer: "Not sure what vaginas have to do with anything. But if you had a chance to help others feel strong, confident, and have a good time, like they are flying, wouldn't you?"


"Hook me up with a discount on that bike and I'd like it before my birthday next week." a demand rather than an inquiry from a well-heeled adult who makes six figures and is oblivious to the world-wide bike shortage in our Amazon culture nor that discounts at a small business directly chip away at how many people can be employed and how said business contributes to the local economy.

Answer: "No." As my friend, Tiffany says, no is a complete sentence.


"Our house isn't fancy like my friends. I know I shouldn't care, but I kinda do." said my daughter.

Answer: "I get it, baby. I really do. No, it's not fancy. I won't give you any "buts."


Because the next line to the story is yours to tell.










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