Sunday, March 25, 2012

Living life out of my comfort zone

A few years ago one of my New Year's resolutions was to spend more time living out of my comfort zone.  I felt that in my earlier life I was overly cautious and put too much emphasis on doing what people expected of me.   After my first marriage ended, living on the edge meant keeping my finances organized, traveling without getting lost,  buying a new car by myself, not feeling out of place at a dinner party where I was the only single guest, or bravely submitting a personals ad to Match.com.  

Now that I'm happily remarried, retired and living the life that dreams are made of, spending time outside of my comfort zone has taken on a different meaning.  Now it's about being willing to camp in the Sahara Desert to experience the most remote music festival in the world, rock climbing in an ancient Mayan cave in Belize, paddling upriver by canoe to spend a couple of nights with former headhunters in Borneo, traveling across the distant deserts of Namibia to visit the vanishing Himba tribe, climbing down the steep, rocky escarpment to connect with the exotic Dogon people of Mali, and now in May of 2012, riding my bicycle 2000 miles up the Mighty Mississippi from New Orleans to Lake Itasca, Minnesota, the source of one of the world's great rivers.

So, as you know, I'm leaving May 3rd on my Mississippi River adventure where I'll spend some time living outside of my comfort zone while riding 2000 miles for 40 days.  I will be joined by 31 awesome women.  Some of them have ridden their bikes across the country, but others have never been on a bicycle tour in their lives.  One Mississippi rider recently wrote that we should think of this bike trip as "Mommy Camp", but I know nothing about being a mommy. Another rider said she will be happy not to cook two meals a day or make anyone's bed.  Now I can relate to that, but since I did a 30 day bicycle tour a few years ago, I know it's not about giving up domestic life or taking a vacation.  Instead -- It's all about you and the bike!  

This bicycle trip is about rising between 5 and 6 AM every day for 40 days, tugging on the spandex, repacking your luggage, wolfing down a healthy breakfast, studying the route map over and over, praying it won't rain and hoping the wind will be at your back.  It's also about riding safely, obeying the rules of the road, hydrating well, and making sure you are consuming enough calories to support the long daily distances.  It's even more about bonding with women and forming life-long relationships, sharing funny and sad stories,  supporting those who are having a tough time and accepting support when it's your turn.  It's about spending at least six to eight hours a day sitting on your butt, and even more hours alone in your head while finding comfort there.  It's about pedaling that last ten miles which are always the hardest, wondering who your roommate will be that night and hoping she doesn't snore.    This ride is also about enjoying home-cooked meals by our traveling chef who is responsible for providing the energy you will need to succeed the next day.  It's about celebrating personal goals like riding 96 miles one day and 70 miles the next, wondering if this trip will ever end and sobbing when it finally does.   And yes, you can lose weight, build amazing leg muscles, see a beautiful part of our country and even learn some American history, but this bike trip is more than any of the above.  It's really about self determination, perseverance, resilience, acceptance, understanding,  confidence, and regardless of age this ride is about personal growth.  

12 comments:

  1. Pam, this is so beautiful and inspiring. I am looking forward to your posts, your beautiful writing and your amazing courage and adventures. Brava, beloved girlfriend.

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  2. I hope you have a wonderful trip, snoring roommates and all. I look forward to reading about your trek. Given that you're going with WomanTours, it's sure to be awesome.

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  3. The alone time in your mind is one of the best parts and also a BIG part of the whole growth aspect!! Have a grand time - I know you will, largely because of all of the challenges this poses.

    Lynne

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    1. Yes, The alone time while riding is precious even though I can be riding with friends.

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  4. Pam, best of luck and great tailwinds to you! My husband and I started this Mississippi River trek last September. We had a series of adventures and misadventures, rode a total of 850 miles (as far as Iowa, going south) and loved it. I had originally planned to do this WomanTours trip also, but my husband ended up wanting to bike along, so we planned it solo. You will come across amazing country, wonderful people and generally, accommodating drivers. Be safe!

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    1. Thanks for your input, Mandy. You are fortunate to have a husband who bikes. I'm fortunate to have a
      husband who supports my biking. Maybe we'll meet on a WT trip some time.

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  5. Hilda Andrews NafarrateMarch 28, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    This is a whole new world to my system. Am gulping in your description of a day on the road, knowing I could never do it but loving that you can. We'll all be richer from your experiences, Pam.

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  6. Pam, you are a great writer!! I am planning to blog too but will hold yours as the example of what could be said! Loved reading it. Maybe I'll cut and we go along the ole Mississippi.

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  7. I hope that you're practicing your "y'alls .
    Your blog is such a great read that I think it could easily top the Best-Seller list were you to ever publish your exploits.
    How sane to live in the circle of magic that happens when you've left your comfort zone...can I come visit you in wonderland?
    Thanks for sharing your process that has led you to this next challenge and kudos to Bruce for being so supportive of all that nurtures your spirit.
    xo Sandi K.

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  8. OMG, Pam I had no idea you were planning this trip. I can understand how it came about, reading your posts during your last few trips. I will be reading your Blog and may send copies to my sister, Sally and my friend in CT, Lorraine. "We'll be watching you." God Bless!
    Marilyn

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  9. You go girl! As always, quite the inspiration!
    Tami

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