Spring cleaning can happen at any time of the year
It’s spring at the moment in Australia where I’m sitting at my computer writing this blog post. As I reflect on the very warm day we’ve had, and the cool breeze wafting in through the window, thoughts of spring cleaning come to mind. But, why wait for spring??? Spring cleaning can happen at any time of the year!
Let go of what is no longer needed
What a great feeling it is to clean out the house, office or car; throw away, recycle or give away the excess that has accumulated over the past months, year, or more. Spring cleaning offers us a sense of lightness, organisation and order. It gives us renewed energy, like a gentle breeze after a hot day. We’ve swept out the cobwebs and feel fresh and clean again.
Our minds can do with a spring clean too
It’s not just our houses, offices and cars that need regular spring cleaning. Our minds need de-cluttering too, and in my opinion we can all benefit from a little de-cluttering every day. When we organise our thoughts and simplify our lives, our lives run smoother.
You can choose how to de-clutter your mind
Spring cleaning our houses is one thing, but how on earth do we go about de-cluttering our minds? One of the best ways to do this is by going for a walk, especially in a green zone. But you might prefer to spend some quiet time in the garden, listen to music, or do some painting. Perhaps you prefer more energetic methods of de-cluttering your mind like running, boxing, swimming or mountain bike riding (a personal favourite!).
Consistency and regularity are key!
Whatever your choice, remember to be consistent and regular with your actions so that things don’t get on top of you. Caring for your mind is just like housework and yard work. When you take regular small steps to clean up and clear out, life seems a whole lot less messy and there is space and energy for the things you value most.
Remember …. no matter the season, no matter the weather, you don’t need to wait till spring. Jump into spring cleaning today!
What works for you?
How do you de-clutter your mind and organise your thoughts?
Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.
HEADWIND, how you frustrate me. You visit without warning in all seasons.
You turn a fun time into suffering. You change direction without warning. Swirling, confusing.
In SUMMER, you bring the hot dry desert to greet me as I walk out the door to ride.
Thirst and weariness always by my side. Dust and dirt worn with pride.
In WINTER, you sneakily invite the Antarctic spirits along for the ride.
Icicles and frostbite ripping at me, destroying my soul. In winter you take a toll.
In SPRING, you howl and whistle all around me, invading every space, disturbing every peace.
Your gale force beckons fears and nightmares. Felling trees. You have no cares.
In AUTUMN, the chill is in your breath. Pushing me. Compelling me. Exerting force.
You face me on the open hill. A reminder that change is inevitable.
HEADWIND – you are a force. Meet me face to face or back and forth.
Strength training is all I need. Ensuring power is matched with speed.
But, OH HEADWIND, honoured be your cause. The summer flies are no match for thee.
Gladly I face you as I ride east. Goddam flies! Pesky beasts!
Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves.
I knew I was physically capable of doing it, I’d done it several times in the past. So what was getting in the way of me ACTUALLY doing it NOW??? Over a period of a few months, the idea of riding “the scary corner” on my bike loomed bigger and scarier and I felt worse and worse. I don’t know what had changed in my mind – nothing had changed on the trail, so I figured it was some sort of powerful intra-psychic voodoo playing with my confidence and keeping me feeling small and pathetic. I couldn’t even blame it on a fall or anything like that!
After much soul searching, I made the commitment to myself that I was going to conquer the fear that had irrationally built up in my mind. I really wanted to take charge of my fearful thoughts which seemed to be controlling my actions. It was as if my own thoughts were bullying me. The longer it went on, the worse it became. I knew that if I could get this sorted, I’d be able to transfer the skills and processes to other situations that make me nervous and better manage them as well.
So here’s the 7 Step Action Plan that helped me overcome my fear of riding “the scary corner”:
Walk it through
That’s right. The first thing I did was leave the bike behind, put on my sports shoes, and simply walk the corner – repeatedly! I familiarised myself with every stone, stick and slope. I walked it forwards and backwards. I looked at it from every possible angle. “The scary corner” and myself got to know each other well, and we gradually became friends!
“Is anything missing?”
By getting down close and personal with the scary corner I was able to see that there was, in fact, nothing in it that I couldn’t ride. Tight left bend – check. Six inch drop over a rock – check. Angle of slope – check. Width of trail – not a problem. Nope ….. I wasn’t missing any particular skills apart from the ability to curb the fantastic stories my mind was creating about how scary the corner is! And as for equipment, well my bike is well maintained and more than capable of negotiating this terrain.
Make modifications – physical and / or psychological
I’d been noticing that other people often lowered their seats when descending. I also noticed my own urge to get my weight lower and further back on similar corners on other trails. So, I lowered my saddle and instantly felt a lot more secure about my body position on rough descending trails. This triggered a whole new attitude of positivity and hopefulness.
Identify your focus
Our eyes are naturally drawn towards danger. It’s a protective mechanism which sometimes backfires on us. Mountain biking is often counter-intuitive. If you focus on the obstacle, that’s where you’ll go. To help train my eye away from the steep slope, rocks and trees that I wanted to avoid as I approached the corner, I lined the ground on the right side with small twigs to act as a visual aid (a bit like the white line marking on the road). Then I walked the trail again and again, practising keeping my eye on the twigs and not looking at the stuff I wanted to avoid!
Practise your exit
I now began to think about actually riding the corner. But there were a couple of tricky parts and I noticed a feeling welling up inside me – the fear of getting halfway round the corner then getting trapped because I mightn’t be able to exit properly. I visualised myself falling off on the rocks and knocking my head on a tree as I tumbled down the slope and through the prickly pear. So, I needed to do something to allay my concerns. I set to work practising my exit skills on “the scary corner”. Repeatedly I walked my bike halfway round the corner so I could ride the second half of it only, over the drop-off and carefully navigate between the large protruding rocks, timing my pedal strokes just right so that I didn’t knock myself off. This built a lot more confidence and eliminated a few of the scary factors that had been distracting me.
Make your entrance!
Well now that I knew I had it all together in my head and that I could physically do it, all that was left was to make my entrance. Get down low and go, go, go! I think I even remembered to breathe, and suddenly I’d done it! In a brief second or two, I’d successfully navigated “the scary corner” and wondered what all the fuss had been about!
Celebrate your growth
It may seem trivial to other people, and you may be the only one who truly knows what your achievement means to you. But don’t let that stop you from learning, practising, growing, and celebrating. Whatever your style – whoop out loud to the universe, punch the air, pat yourself on the back, or maybe even write a blog about it!
What things make you feel nervous? Maybe going to a meeting or party where you’re not sure if you know anyone? Going in a lift? Making a phone call that you’ve been dreading? How might the 7 Step Action Plan help you to conquer your fear or change a behaviour habit?
Read my next blog post about applying the 7 Step Action Plan to some “everyday scenarios” that commonly get our nerves going and our minds racing.
This is another life lesson that I’ve been reflecting on over the past few months as I’ve challenged myself in “My MTB Experiment”. My hypothesis was that I’d reconnect with the fun side of mountain biking by getting out on my bike more often, and so far it’s been proving itself correct!
One of my discoveries has been that those things that freak me out on the trails (you know those things …. normal everyday features of nature like stones, sticks, tree roots, mud, sand and dust) really aren’t so bad after all. Sure they’ll always be there and I can’t do much about that, but I can change the way I react.
It happens that these trail features have led me to feeling like I lack control of my bike, and I’ve actually fallen off a few times over the past few months and hurt myself. A few bruises and scratches and scrapes here and there is all part of the fun, like collecting souvenirs on a holiday. But then there was a chest injury from a heavy impact fall when I fell on a rotting tree stump, and a suspected broken toe from another tree stump. I don’t like falling off and I don’t like hurting myself. It’s scary, and ….. well, hurt-y! And it stops me getting back out exercising at my preferred intensity for WAY TOO LONG afterwards!
Recently, as I’ve focused my attention on my body position whilst riding, I’ve become more mindful of my whole self. I’ve become more aware of my self in space, my thoughts, body feedback, and internal reactions when encountering unpredictable elements on trail rides. I’ve found that I’ve had time and space to take a breath in between noticing what’s going on and responding. With this time and space, I’ve been better able to choose my response rather than simply reacting in an instinctive way. So, for example, as my back wheel slips sideways because a stone has kicked out from underneath, I’ve been able to breathe and stay calm, keep my weight low and centred and focus on steering myself in the direction I want to go, and I know that my back wheel will follow me.
Dealing with unpredictable trail features has also helped me to deal better with the unpredictable nature of life in general. I’ve noticed that when various unexpected things have happened in life recently, I’ve been able to keep going calmly in the direction I choose, holding onto my power and control, refusing to be thrown by situations that I can’t control.
BUT ….. I CAN control MY own responses. And that’s where the real power is!