motorcycle

Life Beyond the Minivan

life beyond minivan

When I was about ten my mom got me a book called What’s Happening to Me by Peter Mayle and Arthur Robins. It was pretty much the hippy parent’s guide book to puberty, complete with cartoon sketches of sperm and girls in training bras. I remember my friends and I would flip to the pages of girls and boys in their varying states of puberty and marvel at what we would become in a few short years.

The thought has crossed my mind that it wouldn’t have been cool over the past couple years if the guys who wrote that book had made a version for us forty year olds, you know: “So You Want to Buy a Motorcycle: Revelations of the Midlife”, with cartoon drawings of 40 year old women getting their kids out of the minivan, or men test driving convertables.

For me, and I think a lot of women, the metamorphosis in our 40s is less about changes in our bodies (though that is happening as well!), but more it’s a transition from our mundane existence into finding our true selves.

My life is good. It always has been. I have a wonderful husband who listens to me and provides for the family as much as we need. My kids are smart and clever and (relatively) well-behaved. We have always enjoyed family dinners, vacations together, evening bike rides in our quaint little beach town, but a few years back something inside me started tugging. Actually it did a lot more than tug, it shook me to my core. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, and the room would feel cold, my heart beating deep in my chest, in what felt like an out of body experience. It was as if some external source was telling me “You needed something more”. I had no idea what was going on.

During my days I’d look at my husband, my kids and feel riddled with guilt. How could I even entertain the idea of being anything but a mom and wife to these good people? Yet as the months passed I kept feeling it, this calling, a yearning for a life beyond carpool lanes and grocery stores.

Pretty soon my thoughts began to wander and I started planning imaginary escapes to far away places, scheming more and more on ways to get away. These were all fantasy of course, but their presence in my mind became so prevalent that it took on a sense of realness.

Meanwhile my life outside the house was getting more and more exciting. I had made lots of new friends and my writing career was budding. I was more socially engaged than I ever had been before, but as I did this I became more detached from my family. It was clear that I was happier when I was out and about, then when I was home.

One day, in the midst of this change, I visited a friend who is a hypnotist. During hypnosis she did a basic healing exercise where I was asked to visualize the blood in my veins going to and from my heart. As I followed her words something remarkable happened—it felt as if my heart had burst open with joy, like a warm white light was glowing from my center and I was filed with an overwhelming sense of wellbeing.

For days afterwards, I swear I felt like I was a teenager who had just found herself a new boy friend, totally in love, but not with a single person, with everything! The people I met, the songs on the radio, the play of waves on the shore were all divine.

Unfortunately after a few days the sensation wore off, and I returned to my sense of isolation. So, with guilt as my constant companion, I went into therapy hoping to bring myself emotionally back to my family. Talking to someone worked in the short term but inevitably I always returned to a state of yearning.

Around this time I bought myself a motorcycle and taught myself to ride. This was a wonderful, empowering outlet for me. So, I continued with my writing career, took regular walks on the beach, and kept tapping into things that brought me to a place of wholeness. Peace became my prerogative.

Around this time I took up mediation and fairly quickly I was able to tap into that heart center that I found in hypnosis. On command I was now able to awaken that inner joy. My daily practice became an exercise in simply being love.

As I read spiritual books and quotes from the masters I realized that the thing that had been calling me had always been my own heart. It was a call for joy. A call for divine love. I awoke to the possibility that maybe conditional love had driven my life thus far….an unhealthy play of give and take, neediness and want. I was seeing how flawed these sort of relationships were and was learning that unconditional love, even in small bursts, was completely possible.

Of course, knowing a truth does not make releasing old habits easy, so one day, still steeped in the muck of guilt and desire, I told my husband I wanted to get away alone. One night. I reserved a room in a bed and breakfast about an hour out of town, packed my bags and rode my motorcycle away from home.

While I was there, I spent time alone journaling, writing letters to the people I love, listening to music and crying, purging myself of the twisted pain I left back at home. In the morning my host, (who I’m pretty sure was an angel), fed me and shared her stories of travel and motherhood. She was both a spiritual being, deeply connected to that same love I was uncovering, yet also wonderfully present and grounded as a mother.

As I watched her cook breakfast for her guests while pausing to wipe dirt from her two-year-old’s face, I had an ah-ha moment.

I had compartmentalized my spiritual awakening, separating the divine sense of yearning and adventure from my plain, seemingly mundane sense of family. All this time I resisted my role as a wife and mother, opting for something outside myself.

As I rode my motorcycle home that day I felt a change. I got it. Life is not always about outward adventure, it’s not always about attaining the next big goal, sometimes it can be (and more often is) beautiful and subtle.

What I had been searching for was actually with me all along. Love is within, it is in the details of a leaf, the creases of your lovers eyes. There is nothing wrong with looking outward, there’s nothing wrong with yearning, in fact desire is what pulls us forward, but it’s when that yearning, that sense of seeking takes possession of you that the problems occur. When illusion and desire become your master, the path home is obscured.

What I have learned on this journey is that Love is alive in EVERYTHING…it’s not out there waiting for you on top of some big mountain, or hiding in some deep cave or in some sacred book or some magical mantra. It is right there, in the mess of cracker crumbs that your child left on their chair, in the completed art project hanging on the wall, in the playful teasing of a friend, in the greeting of a stranger, or the dance of clouds across in sky.

The call I heard those nights a few years back was not of some external being telling me to run away, but instead it was my own heart asking me to find my source.

As I walk this daily path away from fear and towards my heart center I am reminded that guilt, worry, jealousy, anger are all just spoiled children vying for attention in my mind. They need not be given power. In fact the less we give them, the quieter they become.

Love is calling. Listen to its song and you will be free.

Peace is in your palm.

In Love,

Becky

Advertisements

Little Did I Know

 

I’m riding my motorcycle down Old Dixie Highway. The trees are arching overhead; thirty feet high. Below, the woods are thick with palmettos, gnarly oaks, and scraggly pines. The air is cool as it courses past my cheeks, across my arms. I am alive with intensity.

I am a new rider. This is the second time that I’ve ridden the historic Ormond Scenic Loop and I’m all in, focused intently on keeping up with the bike in front of me, watching my acceleration, braking when needed, turning with the curves.

As I ride, a funny tune pops into my head “ram, ram, sita ram.” It’s Sanskrit…and actually not a song at all but a chant I had been listening to the previous week, with hopes of gaining a sense of balance and calm that I have sought for a very long time.

So, as I focus intently on keeping my bike rolling and this little mantra chimes in my head, I smile. Here I am a Jewish housewife riding a motorcycle, singing a Hindu chant as I ride to Daytona Beach for a bike rally. But as absurd this may seem, in this little moment it makes perfect sense. I’m exactly where I should be. And although not in my wildest dreams could I have ever pictured myself in this situation, I’m where I always wanted to be. Simply here.

Of course, my mind still wants to rattle on. It wants to think serious, deep thoughts about my “complicated” life. My emotions want to take me on unneeded trips, egging me on with all sorts of drama, but my heart, this little thing in the center of it all, is simply present…there with the road. In this moment as everything stills the only things I know are the actions of my feet…my hands….my heart.

TDA-Buddha-Bike-2013-04-02-600x453

I have recently taken up meditation as a daily practice…and I have to say as difficult as learning to ride a motorcycle has been for me, I think mediation is harder.

Just you try, telling this neurotic, obsessive Jewish girl to not think…to just sit and be. Ha! Preposterous.   But I’m doing it…with the help of my lovely motorcycle rides…and a dedication to end this cycle of suffering, to be the present for the people I love, and to bring joy to this world.

So, here I am, embarking on the hardest thing I have ever agreed to do… making a vow to myself to be with my heart…to no longer live in fear, greed and selfishness. I know I’m going to screw up. Of course I will! It’s part of the learning curve. There’s no exact road map for me to follow. I will make mistakes…just like I know I will probably spend many meditation sessions trying not to attach to the chatty noise in my head. I will still hurt and I will still fall, but I will try my best to do it with compassion, forgiveness and the heartfelt intent to make good in this world.

And so, I plan to write good stories, love my family, be good to my friends, ride my bike, sing goofy mantras, and mediate  all with the intent of doing what I discovered that day beneath the trees on my motorcycle…. Being here now with beauty, love, and joy.

There’s nowhere else to be.

Peace.

 

Just Call Me “Clutch”

WP_20150912_001

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.

WP_20150913_001

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!!