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Just Call Me “Clutch”

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Our bikes for the weekend

This weekend I learned to ride a motorcycle. Yes me!  I did it!

I’ll be honest, my first ride felt horrible. There were so many things to pay attention to. It all got garbled up in my head. I worried and panicked and overthought, making it all worse. I stalled, pulled the throttle at the wrong time and forgot everything I was supposed to know.

Dave, the instructor was a tough-love kind of guy…he was a big dude, with a Southern accent, a white goatee, and a missing tooth. He told it like it was and didn’t give me any breaks for being the only girl in the group. I kept messing up, he kept yelling at me, and man, I wanted to cry.

After the first lesson of the day I had to step away. I actually hid in my minivan and yes, even cried, angry at myself for screwing up. I decided then in my misery and anger that I was going to leave and be done, walk away, and cut my losses.

So I approached Dave and said, “I think it’s better if I leave.”

He looked at me and said “You’re doing better than you think you are. Just don’t over think it. How about one more round and then decide?” And so I agreed.

And you know what? The next lesson went so much smoother. I actually had fun.

I returned to the break area with a smile on my face. I had practically forgotten about my escape plan.

But then, of course, in round three things got hard again…I mean really hard. I kept stalling the bike and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to shift into second. Do a figure 8? Forget it. I failed at it four times, with Dave yelling at me the whole way…pretty soon I had the whole class shouting at me “use the clutch!!” As crappy as it felt at first, it became almost comical. At one point I found myself even smiling….and suddenly out of nowhere I was getting it right, taking the turns like a pro. I had stopped overthinking, and was just doing.

At the end of the first class everyone patted me on the shoulder and said “We’re so glad you didn’t leave.” They were rooting for me.

After another round or two Dave gave me the nickname “Clutch” because of my frequent neglect of this vital component. Pretty soon all the guys were calling me “Clutch”. I sort of liked it. I felt like the kid sister who everyone picked on but still loved.

I had far from mastered anything except maybe putting up the kickstand, but I had come a long way. All I could think is “When am I going to get my own bike so I can practice, practice, practice?

At the end of the final day, after all our work and testing Dave had us pull up in our spots.  He said to the group “I‘d like to congratulate you all…you’ve passed.”

Me!? With a motorcycle license? When Dave handed me that little card, you’d think I was receiving my diploma. I was grinning ear to ear.

Before I left I asked I asked Dave for a hug, which I’m sure looked out of place out on a range with a bunch of guys and their bike’s, but I didn’t care. He wasn’t just my instructor he was my weekend guru. He didn’t let me give up.

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Me and Dave!

And so here I am with A MOTORCYCLE LICENSE!!!! I did what I thought I couldn’t do. Thank God I didn’t quit.

The funny thing is that all the work I did this weekend seems to directly apply to the rest of my life. There are many moments lately where I feel stupid and want to walk off “the course” and hideaway, but I’m going to keep on riding, because I know if I let go and stop worrying so much there are good things to come.  There always are.

One thing I learned out there this weekend is when you ride is that you need to look in the direction of where you want to go…not at the ground, not at your speedometer, or your foot brake… look ahead.

And when you do, the bike follows…wherever you want it to go.

And so, as I continue dealing with life, I’m going to keep looking ahead…looking out to where I want to go… and when I do, though I may falter once in a while, I will still ultimately ride in the direction of where I want to be.

Many thanks to Dave and all the guys today who supported me (and thanks for not running into me all those times I stalled).

Keep on ridin’

Becky (aka Clutch)

P.S. I go bike shopping tomorrow!! I’ll post pics!!

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Confessions of an Agnostic: Why I Believe in God

Twice in my life now have I had the odd feeling of waking up…not in the literal sense, but more, I suppose in the metaphysical sense.

It’s very weird, and difficult to talk about because it is so personal. We’ve all experienced it, I’m sure, we just deny it because it messes with everything we take to hold true.  I’m not crazy, though I have certainly been treated as such for most of my life. In fact its the exact opposite of crazy.

The first time it happened it was very abrupt.  It was terrifying.  I literally thought I was dead.  I was sitting on my boy friend’s bed talking with him when I was hit with this sensation of divine stillness. The chatter in my mind stopped and I was just there. Purely Me. It was beautiful and frightening at the same time.

The self I had spent 19 years with, listening to her strive, worry, and grope and  was gone.  I mean completely gone, leaving me with this thing, this feeling I suppose one could equate with God.

I remember two friends of ours knocked on his dorm door and we let them in.  As they spoke I could hear everything.  Beneath their words I could hear their fear, their need for love and acceptance.  They soon left and I told my boyfriend what was going, crying for the loss of self.  He assured me I was okay.  He had known this feeling himself.  This in fact was something to welcome, he told me.

The months went by and like a good student I l asked questions to my boyfriend who seemed to know exactly what this was all about. But time passed and the magic of his insistent wisdom wore off.  It was all replaced with a new fear–a fear that I was loosing God, that it was slipping out of my hands, leaving me in the world alone.

Anxiety engulfed me like a raging fire and I plummeted into my own personal hell.  Suddenly no choice seemed like the right one.  I was paralyzed with the fear of failing God.

The boy friend and I went our separate ways and I eventual found my balance.  I did the only thing I could do, resorting to the comfort of psychiatric drugs and talk therapies that brought me back to this world.  I do not look back at this period of my life as not good or bad.  It is what I needed to do at the time.

So life went on.  I grew and learned, and continued to hold the unspoken knowledge in the back of my mind that this God-ness I experienced might very well be real, that love is all there is, but whenever I thought too much about it I was sent literally into panic attacks, for fear that the demons wouldn’t slip in again.

So now 20 years later I have an amazing family and devoted husband, life couldn’t be more perfect.  But for a long time I was not satisfied.  I wanted more.  I wanted the other, not what I had, but everything else.  I complained incessantly about people..my friends no less.  I didn’t just expect perfection from myself, I expected it from everyone else.  While I could feel God on my walks on the beach I couldn’t control my fear and anger.

So, this next part I’m hesitant to say, because it just feels so odd.  In the reality I help for 20 years this was not supposed to be.  I was not supposed to feel God every second of everyday, to look at everyone I meet with compassion and love.  These are not things meant for this little neurotic Jewish girl. My story went like this: you are helpless, the world is out to get you, you will try but never suceed.  Yuck!  I’m done with those thoughts.

I’m letting go of my need to be good. No, I’m not turning into some crazed sociopath.  Good is something that is my essense, I don’t have to try  I am good, because I let myself be…and sometimes I’m bad. If you saw what I ate for dinner, or what thoughts jjust crossed my mind, you’d see) But bad is all part of it…so ultimately that’s good too.  Does that make any snese?

I am the one writing this book. I choose where I go.  I have control because I have faith in myself.  I am God!  As are you! We are beautiful.