Another 5 Things I’ve Learned About Life Through Mountain Biking

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When you open your mind to learning and growing, you discover opportunities everywhere around you. Over the past ten years, mountain biking has become a parallel universe for me to learn about myself and the world around me. As my enthusiasm for this style of learning has developed, so too has my love of mountain biking. I wanted to share my excitement with everyone around me and so I began my blog, Daisy Spoke. And my very first post in Daisy Spoke was “5 Things I’ve Learned About Life Through Mountain Biking”.

So ….. now here at last are another five ways that mountain biking has helped me to keep learning and growing as an individual!

1. Look up

Look upI instinctively look straight down in front of me when I ride my bike. This means I wobble a lot and react to every little lump and bump in the terrain. Having a one way staring competition with the trail right in front of me does me no favours. My imagination fixates on small details that don’t really matter. I didn’t even realise this was happening until I learnt at a coaching session the importance of looking up, to keep my eyes focused further along the track. This gets me into flow and enjoying a smoother, more connected ride. I’m still learning to trust myself, to have confidence that my brain has registered the terrain directly in front of me and that my body will know how to handle it. Every ride is a reminder to keep my sights focused ahead in all areas of my life – my work, my personal life, and my riding!

2. Absorb the bumps

Absorbing the bumps while mountain biking
Photo from Chicks in the Sticks 2017

The bumps and jumps are all part of the fun of mountain biking – in fact a very large part of it! But it’s taken me a long time to see it that way. Fear of falling and lack of confidence creates tension which in turn leads to a rigid framework, sore muscles and stiff joints at the end of a ride. Learning to relax my stance and go with the bumps instead of resisting them is an ongoing process. Mountain biking gives me the opportunity to experience a sense of lightness instead of a sense of lack of control. I can visualise my legs as natural built-in shock absorbers. With improved inner resilience, or bounce-ability, I’m also able to relax a bit more in life in general, to see past the hiccups, and rise above the challenges.

3. Move around

Move moreHaving ridden mostly on smooth paved surfaces like roads and bicycle paths for most of my life, it’s been a huge learning curve getting onto mountain bike trails. You need to move your weight around constantly adjusting for the ever-changing terrain. Forward and back, side to side, up and down, as well as every possible combination of these movements. The hard lesson is that if you don’t shift your weight around you can’t get up that hill, or down that steep slope, or round that tight corner. Riding can quickly turn into hike-a-bike (which isn’t much fun) or hitting the ground (which also isn’t much fun). So when I ride I try to be conscious of how I move my body – above and around my bike frame. As in life, the more you move around, the more fun you’ll have and the healthier you’ll be.

4. Be present in the moment

Mindful concentration while mountain biking
Photo from Chicks in the Sticks 2016

A distracted mind is on a road to mishap. At least, that’s my experience on my mountain bike and life in general. On my bike, the terrain is constantly changing and I need to keep my wits about me at all times. When I tune my sensory antennae into the environment around me, I’m fully present in the here and now. At least that’s the theory! The reality is that sometimes when I’m riding my mind wanders off and suddenly, oops, there it is, a rut the size of the Grand Canyon about to swallow me and my bike. It’s an ongoing learning process of training my brain to come back to the present, Not only does this make me safer on my bike, the ride is heaps more fun too. The same technique applied to other areas of life can lead to more satisfying relationships, more efficient and effective business decisions, and reduced anxiety.

5. Keep trying!

Patiently persist!Throughout life I’ve tended to focus my energy and attention on things that come most easily to me. If I couldn’t do something perfectly the first time, I’d usually move on to the next thing fairly quickly. As far as mountain biking goes, I’d had a few short rides on unpaved paths and paddocks over the years but didn’t develop much interest in “that kind of riding”. I’d fallen off a few times so there wasn’t a lot of incentive to keep going, so my bike tended to stay in the garage most of the time. A few years ago I decided to give it another go. Maybe there was an inner knowing that it would open up a whole new world to me, that there was much more to be gained from riding than simply mountain biking skills. With the support of my Courage Coach, I learned to develop persistence and this has had a profound impact on me. I’ve discovered how valuable persistence can be when life gets tough and I feel like giving up. Persistence speaks to that fiercely determined part of my soul and keeps me trying, practising, modifying, trying again, and finding ways to bring my hopes and dreams into reality. I’ve learned that I can work really hard at things that don’t come naturally to me and to experience immense satisfaction from that!

Read PART 1 of this article (my very first ever blog post!) “5 Things I’ve Learned About Life Through Mountain Biking” including:

  • Look where you want to go
  • Lean into what you most fear
  • Going slow is ok
  • Take a break when you need it
  • Practice, practice, practice

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn 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.

Frights, Flights, and Fears: Look back to see how far you’ve come

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Life can hand us plenty of frights, flights and fears but it’s good to look back occasionally to see how far you’ve come. I’ve been reflecting on this over the weekend when I noticed some old fears resurfacing, and rather than get caught up in the stories they told me, I chose to look at how far I’ve progressed.

I was eager to get back on my mountain bike after a couple of weeks away road tripping, bushwalking and trail running which I absolutely loved, but I also love riding my bike and Kathryn on MTB riding through a gullywas missing it. When I started riding on the weekend, I noticed some of those old worries pop up that only surface when I’ve been off my bike for a while. They used to hang around me a lot. Well actually, most of the time! But I’ve worked really hard at keeping them in their place in recent years. Deciding to blog about them has been one of the most empowering actions I’ve taken. They could no longer lurk away in the dark depths of my mind, stewing and multiplying and expanding by the minute. Many of them simply lost their power when I brought them out into the light of day. Have you read my blog about how I worked through a step-by-step process to manage my fear of “the scary corner”!

So here I was on Sunday morning with an incessant barrage of inner talk going on in my head:

“That’s too slippery.”

“I can’t ride down that gully.”

I’m going to hit that tree.”

I’m hopeless at riding on ‘technical’ terrain.”

My back tyre keeps slipping out. I can’t ride up here.”

There are too many rocks.”

There are too many low hanging branches.”

I have to go slowly round this corner so I don’t fall off.”

I’d better walk this bit.”

That’s where I fell before.”

That’s another place I fell off.”

That’s where I nearly fell on the snake when I stopped too quickly and went over the handlebars.”

..and so on and so on. It was very loud in my head!

NOW I want to say that the most powerful step YOU can take if you find yourself in a similar situation is simply this: NOTICE what’s going on in your head. Simply NOTICE. The situation doesn’t’ have to be about riding a bike. It might be the thoughts you have associated with speaking to an audience, introducing yourself to someone, going out in the dark, driving in the city traffic, swimming with sharks, flying on a plane, or absolutely anything at all! Simply NOTICE what your mind says. And with the power of noticing what’s going on in your head, you can then choose what to do next.

Kathryn looking calm and happy on her rideI’ve been practising and teaching this technique for a lot of years, and yet still I sometimes forget to do it when the moment arises. The thing is that on Sunday morning I DID NOTICE those fearful thoughts bouncing round my head. And guess what? I didn’t care about them. I didn’t let them bother me. Instead of giving them the power of my attention and allowing them to expand and bully me into playing it too safe, I chose to dig up another thought from my mind vault:

This is a confidence cycle. I only worry about these things when I’ve been off my bike for a couple of weeks and out of practice. Just ride. Focus on how far you’ve come over the past few years. Don’t let those worries bully you or keep you small, or limit the fun you’ll have today. You’re sensible. You won’t do any crazy dangerous stuff. You’re safe. Just ride.”

And so I focused on how strong I felt and that all the recent running has made a positive difference to my strength and aerobic fitness. I enjoyed the feeling of sprinting up a couple "Tough Girl" socksof short hills engaging my quads in an exertion that a couple of years ago would have been painful (if not impossible)! I pedalled in a higher gear than normal and found it easier than expected. I noticed what I did well and trusted wholeheartedly that my confidence will be back real soon. I glanced down at my fabulous new “tough girl” socks reminding myself of my strengths and the stories I can tell myself about what I CAN do. And as I looked back over the past few years, I could see how far I’ve progressed in managing my fears on the bike. I’ve developed resilience and practised some of life’s most valuable skills that I’ve transferred into other areas of my life.

Yes, frights, flights and fears will always be there, but you can choose how to handle them. Practise. Persist. And occasionally look back to see how far you’ve come.

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn 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. 

8 Strategies for Handling Unease During an Adventure

Daisy Spoke BannerHaving been on the road with my daughter now for over a week on my April Adventure road trip throughout central, northern and western Queensland, and heading north through the Northern Territory to Darwin, I’ve managed to settle in and really enjoy myself despite feeling unprepared and unorganised when we started. I’ve fairly easily challenged some of my underlying fears and assumptions about travel including leaving half my family behind, not researching details about the route and destinations, not planning my return flight home when I leave my daughter in the tropical north to start her new job, being female and camping in out-of-the-way places and driving on remote roads, and the list goes on. 

View from car windscreen

My latest challenge came only last night. Arriving at Elsey National Park near Mataranka I felt somewhat unsettled. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was about. The environment was not like any I’d spent time in before. It looked like a combination of wetlands and dry scrub with earth that appeared to be recently wet with rain but had since dried to a fine powder as silt does after a flood. There was a plethora of wildlife. The insects were very diverse, big and plentiful. I saw some grasshoppers that reminded me of the vivid yellow plastic toy grasshoppers you can buy in cheap toy packs from the dollar stores. The sounds of the bush here also seemed strange and haunting. I couldn’t tell the difference between bird and insect calls, or perhaps even other animals yet unseen. It was eerily quiet with only one other campsite inhabited by humans and the campgrounds extended well beyond sight in every direction. The facilities buildings were half fenced off and I was curious about this but couldn’t think of any rational reason why they would be fenced in this unusual way. 

We decided on a campsite with some shade, green grass and a picnic table, andCampsite at Elsey NP before we even set up camp we had a short walk around the area. A sudden loud rustle in the bushes next to us startled me. Turning around and expecting to see a wallaby, my daughter tells me I wouldn’t want to know what made that noise. On further enquiry she tells me it was a rather large snake, and I began to seriously wonder about moving our campsite further away from said snake. 

Roper River, Elsey NPMy uneasiness only increased as the evening rolled on and in particular when we came face to face with another snake only a few metres from our tents. Still, I wandered why the uneasiness was there in the first place. Was I sensing a spiritual presence? Was it simply that everything seemed strange and unfamiliar? Or perhaps the absence of other humans? Was I simply tired and misreading my intuition? Was it FEAR welling up and testing my inner strength? 

But how to handle this uneasiness? I decided to take some of my own advice and implemented these strategies:

  1. I chose to “be” with my uneasiness. I acknowledged how I truly felt instead of denying or avoiding it. 
  2. I shared my feelings and concerns with my daughter, getting them out into the open instead of hiding them away and pretending they didn’t exist as I would have in the past. 
  3. I listened and looked, tuning into my surroundings in the present time, focusing on grounding myself to the moment rather than flying off into a fantastical and irrational anxiety about what might happen. 
  4. I set an intention to be open to possibilities and new experiences. Instead of being closed-minded and putting up barriers to enjoying myself, I chose to embrace the experience and adopt an adventurous mindset. 
  5. I intentionally invoked a relaxation response when I noticed my anxiety rising. I brought my attention to my breath and let go of the physical tension that I felt. 
  6. I used rational and logical self-talk such as “Just because I’ve seen a snake (or two) close to camp doesn’t mean I’m in any greater danger than if I hadn’t seen them”; “Not all snakes are deadly”; “We have a snake bandage on us at all times and an emergency signalling system if we need to use it”; 
  7. I immersed myself in the sounds of the night as I went to sleep, setting an intention of getting to know them better; an intention of curiosity, wonder and awe. 
  8. I also created an action to take during the night that however irrational it was, it really helped! It may seem funny to anyone else, and in fact it does to me now too! Whenever I stirred during the night and noticed that I’d rolled off my camping mattress or that I was touching the sides of the tent, I rolled back onto the mattress telling myself I can go to sleep safely now because no snake can bite me through the mattress even if does manage to slither its way under my tent!

Kathryn at Elsey NPAnd so I survived. In fact I thrived and had possibly the best sleep so far on my April Adventure. I awoke before dawn, spent a couple of hours silently meditating, embracing my surroundings and feeling entirely captivated by what seemed so haunting and difficult the day before. I feel an immense sense of satisfaction that I didn’t allow my anxiety to rule and limit me. I chose to respect it but also to stand up to it. In doing so I’ve come to know an amazing spiritual aspect of this sacred land which I may not ever understand, but I can accept it and embrace it. And when I do that, I also accept and embrace myself. 

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn 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. 

 

 

 

The Fearful Adventurer: 5 hacks to turn fear into adventure

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I’ve always believed I operate best when I can plan ahead and organise or control the situation around me so it was with a deep breath that I set off on my current journey with barely a glance at a map. In fact I didn’t even pack my bag till the morning I left, and had so much on my mind and so many work tasks to complete that I hadn’t given the two week “April Adventure” road trip covering approximately 4200kms much thought at all. 

RainforestMy Year of Adventure in fact began on New Year’s Eve as I set off on a week long road trip with my family to Melbourne and back home again traversing half the eastern side of Australia. With one daughter now settled in Victoria, I refocused my attention on developing new online programs and resources for women. I was thrilled to take my “February Adventure” to Hahndorf in South Australia to participate in and present at the Thriving Women 2018 conference. My “March Adventure” was closer to home with weekends and day trips to several magnificent National Parks, immersing myself in one of my great loves – bushwalking. 

So here I am on my “April Adventure”. This journey has snuck up very quickly on me, and if I had paused for a moment to think about it, I’m sure I would have had2 single tents a lot of “what if’s” and identified as a fearful and hesitant adventurer rather than a brave one. My April Adventure has brought up a number of ‘firsts’ for me – I’ve left half my family behind, I’m travelling with only one companion (my younger daughter) through some fairly remote parts of Australia, I’m camping in a tent by myself, I’m having to step up and make decisions I’ve not been responsible for previously, and I’m operating a business far from home and frequently without mobile reception or internet connection. 

With a firm belief in stepping outside my comfort zone in order to learn and grow as a person, I chose to embrace the opportunities that my April Adventure has gifted me. And to satisfy my need for structure and predictability, I’ve created 5 hacks to manage potential feelings of overwhelm and anxiety about the ‘bigness’ of this adventure. I know you’ll find them useful too if you ever experience a sense of trepidation when stepping outside your comfort zone. 

5 Hacks To Turn Fear Into Adventure

1. Break the task up into smaller tasks (or adventures) and focus on one at a time. 

For me, I’ve been focusing on the day and night ahead – my next destination, my next meals, my next fuel stops – instead of worrying so much about the camp site and weather conditions at my final destination. Each day is a mini adventure in itself. Don’t miss out on these little adventures because you’re looking too far ahead. 

View from car windscreen

2. Look around you, focus on the moment.

I never tire of looking out the window on road trips. The subtle changes in scenery, weather, road conditions, flora and fauna, lifestyle, language, and local industries. I absolutely love it. I wonder what it would be like to live here, to have been here hundreds of years ago, the stories of the First Nation’s people in this area, I wonder who built these roads and when and how,  what do the local people do in their everyday lives…… Captivated by my immediate surroundings, I’ve found my wandering mind is creative and free, and not constrained by my fear mongering reptilian brain. 

View of landscape

3. Maintain a routine

My social media posts on Facebook and Instagram during my trip have reflected a very important part of my routine that keeps my mind, body and spirit healthy – morning exercise! It’s not always possible to complete my entire routine but by taking a flexible approach I’ve kept my head and heart on an even keel. 

Bushwalking

4. Listen to podcasts, Commonwealth Games news, audio books, music, anything of interest!

How lucky was it that my trip coincided with the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Never a dull moment on the radio when we can pick up the commentary, and always opportunities to listen to pre-downloaded podcasts, training videos or catch up on a bit of blogging! Giving your attention something to hook onto prevents it from wandering away into the land of the most feared!

Reading at camp

5. Chat to people around you. 

You never know your connections until you have a conversation with someone. Connections bring the world closer together, enhance empathy, and create opportunities for sharing stories and understanding. Looking outwardly minimises anxiety about our own situations and relaxes our mindsets. 

Person standing on viewing platform

NOW, has anyone got any hacks to help me deal with the outback flies????!

What hacks do you have for managing the discomfort you feel when stepping outside your comfort zone?

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn 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. 

 

 

 

Women Empowered: Framing My Future with Financial Confidence

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Have you booked for the evening of retreat “Women Empowered: Framing My Future” coming up on Wednesday 21st March 2018 in Warwick, Queensland? It’s going to be an absolute delight to welcome you along! The Women Empowered retreats have been very popular in past years, and to keep up with changing times I’m offering this retreat in the evening instead of during the day. I’m keen to see how that suits everyone and whether this is a format you’d like repeated in future. I’m also keen to tell you a bit more about what to expect when you come along to “Framing My Future”.

Women Empowered Logo

Dream Big!

There’s no shortage of media images these days prompting women to dream and achieve Dream Biganything they want. It’s a message that’s intended to be encouraging by chipping away at the gender stereotypes our society has constructed over many generations. For so many reasons we know that women can, and do, achieve amazing things in our world. There are many wonderful role models who inspire and propel us towards our own version of success.

Obstacles lurking beneath the surface

Yet beneath it all continues to lurk a tangle of obstacles, deeply rooted and barely visible to the eye until we dig down through the layers, bringing them into the light of day. Thus begins the process of empowering women to not only take charge of their dreams, but to have the skills to manage the obstacles along the way.

The voices in our heads

I’m a big fan of dreams (and I do a lot of dreaming!) and I’ve often written and spoken about goal-setting previously. When used appropriately, dreaming and goal-setting is very powerful. It brings us to a position of being future focused. Sure, not everyone is comfortable with this. Human brains are preset to focus on problems (that’s how humans have survived for so long!), and so our angst rises with every thought of following a dream. The barriers, the obstacles, the hurdles, the roadblocks – call them what you willthey generally get in the way preventing us from following through with actions, and even from getting started in the first place. They wield their power not so much through their actual ‘being’, but through the unseen voices in our heads telling us we can’t do it, it won’t work, we’re not good enough, and we’ll fail if we try.

Don't believe everything you thinkSounding familiar? The thing is we often don’t even realise it’s happening, and when we do notice it, we keep it to ourselves because we think we’re the only ones. But have I got news for you! All of us have those critical voices. YES! All of us! They’re the voices of self-doubt, fear, hopelessness and pessimism. They keep us small when we need to be big. And the way to deal with them is to bring them out into the open. Straight away their power begins to diminish.

Read more about the voices in my head here!

Financial confidence is an obstacle

Two of the hidden obstacles that frequently impact women are financial confidence and emotional confidence. These are the key themes at my next retreat “Framing my Future”. We’re going to dig them up and shine a light on them. We’ll bring them to the surface and get to know them a little better. We’ll scratch away and see what they’re made of. And we’ll use them to propel ourselves forwards towards our hopes and dreams for the future instead of allowing them to trip us up and keep us where we are.

Create a powerful mindset for your future!

Well actually, yes I can!The beauty of the process is that you don’t have to even have any real idea of where you want your future to be heading in order to benefit from this retreat. You’ll leave with the skills to create a powerful mindset to identify, challenge and manage your financial and emotional confidence no matter what path you take.

Retreat activities

I’m truly excited to be a part of this unique retreat! I believe when women gather together in groups with openness, warm-heartedness and shared intentions, that’s when magic happens! So I hope you’ll join us for this exquisite evening. Donna Neale-Arnold will be my co-facilitator. Donna brings a warm, caring and holistic approach to her financial therapy and homeopathy practices. She has a rich experience having worked in the corporate sector as well as community services and the health sector for many years.

Donna and I will guide you through a series of personal reflections followed by simple yet Creative Artspowerful creative activities. The gentle pace will support you to make valuable connections with your own beliefs and actions around financial confidence. You’ll identify the mindset you need to bolster your financial and emotional confidence, and to frame the future you choose. You will be provided with a light meal, delightful company and a gorgeous keepsake to take home with you that will frame your future perfectly.

Bonuses!

CD Give-awayWe will be giving away some special bonuses and door prizes at the retreat including beautiful journals, meditation cushions, carry bags, a Tony O’Connor CD of relaxation music, and more – fabulous gifts to support your self-care and progression!

Bookings are essential

Bookings are essential and limited spaces are available. It’s more fun with a friend or two (or more) so we are offering discounts when you book multiple tickets at the same time.

Here’s the deal: 3 hours of guided reflective retreat with two experienced facilitators, a light meal, all materials, a take home keepsake, a nurturing atmosphere to support your financial and emotional confidence, and opportunities to leave with a special bonus door prize.

Your investment: 

  • Single ticket: $55
  • Double ticket: $100
  • Triple ticket: $140

To book, click here

For more information view the Facebook Event here

If you have questions, email Kathryn here

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn 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.

Metamorphosis: change is on the way!

Many animals and plants go through periods of rapid and remarkable change: caterpillars morph into butterflies, stone-like seeds generate lush green shoots.

There are infinite examples of other animal and plant changes that are no less remarkable, but perhaps more gradual over time, so the effect may not be as dramatic to the eye: kittens grow into adult cats, seedlings grow into trees.

The inner world of the human is also subject to transformation over time. This is a more abstract concept, but very real and can have a profound impact on the individual and others around them.

Organisations also experience change. We often associate this with unwelcome change such as restructures and redundancies.

Being a small business owner in a regional town for over 12 years, I’ve experienced the effect of many changes in our society including drought, flood, the global financial crisis, government policy changes and a decline in my local economy. I have adapted my business routines, structures, services and systems to meet the changing needs of my community and family.

And NOW I am stepping forward to initiate a NEW and exciting CHANGE! ….. A TRANSFORMATION…… A METAMORPHOSIS. I’m incredibly excited about this change! It’s the next step on my journey of MAKING A DIFFERENCE to my world and making a difference to the lives of many individuals.

 

I’ll shortly be announcing the LAUNCH of my NEW WEBSITE and rolling out my transformational NEW OFFERS including online courses, workshop packages, speaking services and FREE downloads! You’ll have access to the best current evidence-based information about health and wellbeing. You’ll be offered opportunities to be INSPIRED and EMPOWERED on your own wellness journey, as well as events and resources to support YOU as you support OTHERS in your work environment and personal life.

STAY TUNED for all the details as 2017 draws to a close, and JOIN WITH ME as the new year UNFOLDS offering us the next part of our journey in life.

(And remember! You can follow me on Facebook and Instagram too!)

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.

Ode to a Headwind

Ode to a Headwind

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.

Accidentally getting it right – OR DID I?

There’s been a rock garden at the beginning of our mountain bike track on our home property ever since we built it. It’s always daunted me, especially being right at the very start! I’ve been pretty proud of how I’ve come to face some of my fears along parts of our short track including this rock garden at the beginning. As time has gone on, my progress has gone from bike hiking through the entire length of the rock garden, to riding through the first couple of metres then walking through the next bit, to finally being able to ride most of the rock garden and dabbing my right foot once or twice on the boulder on my right as I squeeze through the narrow gap between the craggy rocks.

I often walk or run along our trail as well. It’s so accessible and I don’t need to go any further afield to step into our beautiful Australian bush country! As I’ve traversed the trail over the past few months, I’ve sometimes stopped to look at the rock garden and visualise myself riding through the narrow gaps between the rocks without clunking my pedals. I knew that I would need to develop a lot more skill, line accuracy, confidence and power to ride this section. Basically I’d been riding it so slowly that I didn’t have enough power to get over the craggy rocks. Although I enjoyed my brief little fantasies of riding effortlessly over and around the rocks, I certainly didn’t have much hope that I’d ever actually be able to do it.

Last week I was closely following my husband as we rode the trail. Normally I’m a long way behind and do my own thing. I watched the line that he took through the rock garden and without even thinking about it I probably followed a very similar line, dabbed my foot once on the big boulder on the right, and kept going. I noticed quite a powerful thought come to my mind “Wow that seemed pretty much seamless.” Even though I’d dabbed my foot, it felt smooth and flowy.

A few minutes later as we rode the trail loop again, I was conscious that I was thinking about something that was upsetting me. I wasn’t very mindful of where I was or what I was doing. Suddenly I realised I’d already ridden through the rock garden! I hadn’t dabbed my foot, I didn’t jab my pedals, and the smooth flowy feeling hit the pit of my stomach and came out of my mouth with a loud shriek, my previous upset forgotten in a moment of elation as I realised what I’d done. I’d accidentally got it right!

OR HAD I? What acknowledgement do I owe MYSELF for the consistent work of practising, the walking it through, the visualisations? How often do I mindlessly disregard something I’ve achieved seeing it as a random event which I’ve had no control over? How would it be if I paused for a moment to celebrate my work and my successes, however small they might seem to another? Would this impact my perception of progress over time and keep my enjoyment and motivation rolling along?

Today as I walk the same trail and peer along the rock garden, I can clearly see the line that I need to take on my bike. The rocks seem so much smaller than before, the gaps between them seem so much wider, and I realise just how powerful the images and thoughts in our minds can be.

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.

7 Step Action Plan to Conquer Scary Stuff (Part 2)

In Part 1 I explained how I used a 7 Step Action Plan to conquer an irrational fear I had about riding “the scary corner” on my mountain bike. While everybody else seemed to effortlessly glide round the corner at speed and then over or around the craggy rocks as they exited on an uphill slope, I’d turn to hike-a-bike mode. I had previously ridden this corner, but somehow the fear escalated and made me feel very small and incapable.

The Scary Corner is quite photogenic! It really doesn’t look so scary here!

The same 7 Step Action Plan that I used to conquer my fear on “the scary corner” can be applied to other scenarios in ordinary everyday life. Here’s how…..

First of all, what is it that’s got your heart pumping, your mind racing and your stomach churning? 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? Or something else? Let’s apply the 7 Step Action Plan to your situation:

  1. Walk it through

Think it through calmly. Maybe talk it through with someone. Stay rational, logical and reasonable.

  1. “Is anything missing?”

Are there skills or equipment that will help you be successful? For example, learn how to make small talk, have a dot point list in front of you, play music through your headphones.

  1. Make modifications – physical and / or psychological

Would it help to ask a friend to accompany you, place your chair near the exit, or use the phone on speaker so your hands are free?

  1. Identify your focus

Refocus your attention on what you want to happen, where you want to go, what you want to say, how you want to feel. The scary thoughts or feelings will keep popping up, but don’t give them the attention they are seeking. Keep refocusing.

  1. Practise your exit

Have an exit plan. If things get too much, what will you say, what will you do, where will you go? Knowing there’s a safe and valid way out brings a greater sense of ease and improves your rate of success.

  1. Make your entrance!

This is where you just do it. Every thing’s in place. You have a plan. Trust it. Trust yourself. What’s the worst that could happen now?

  1. Celebrate your growth

Your reward for stepping up to the challenge my be felt internally with a surge of relief or confidence. Or perhaps you’d like to reward yourself in another way.

Remember, everyone feels nervous about something at least some of the time. It’s a normal mechanism designed to keep us safe, but if it’s keeping you small, then it’s time to do something about it. If your nervousness is impacting heavily on your functioning or contributing to ill-health, you can seek support from your GP to access counselling. Counselling is a bit like having a coach provide step-by-step guidelines and support as you learn new skills to achieve your goals.

7 Step Action Plan to Conquer Scary Stuff (Part 1)

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”:

  1. 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!

  1. “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.

The Scary Corner is quite photogenic! It really doesn’t look so scary here!
  1. 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.

  1. Identify your focus

    Keep your eyes on the sticks, NOT the cactus or the steep slope or the rocks!

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!

  1. Practise your exit
Practise the technical parts of the exit – keep on track, get over the drop-off, & time your peddling to get past the craggy rocks as you go back uphill!

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.

  1. Make your entrance!

    A short steep downhill section between and over the rocks forms the entry to the sharp-ish left hand corner.

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!

  1. 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.