My birthday celebration began with my mom coming to the breakfast table singing Happy Birthday. For as many years as I can remember she has called me early on my birthday and sung to me. It was quite special to hear her in person.
After breakfast I took a 15 mile bike ride. I miss the smooth, trafficless paths back home, but I was blessed to ride under the bluest of skies with the best weather anyone could order: perfect temp and just the lightest breeze.
Now I’m playing Scrabble with Mom. We play two games in the morning and two in the afternoon. We set the limits because more than two games without a break leaves Mom exhausted.
This is not how I saw my birthday unfolding as 2019 drew to a close. I imagined eating out with my husband and having special time with friends. We would watch baseball and I would tease with my grandson. I would revel in the blessings and treasure the moments.
Last year when I felt led to adopt “Go further” as my mantra and motivator for 2020…I had no idea where it would take me, or what it would mean for me—or my family.
The impetus for this motivator came to me last summer when I pushed myself to ride 30 miles. For me it seemed like an unlikely, if not impossible goal. But I decided to try and I achieved what never though I could.
What else could I accomplish if I decided to try instead of believing I couldn’t? What would it mean to go further?
Do you know what the hardest part of a long bike ride it? For me, it’s not the steep hill at the end of the ride. The hardest part for me is getting out the door. I can find countless reasons to not do something. I can put up the best arguments…in my own mind. And to often, I’m my own strong excuse.
So this morning, I decided no internal argument was going to keep me from taking a birthday ride. The sky was gorgeous and the recent strong winds were completely absent. I headed to the shed got on my bike.
Recently, I increased my distance from 11 to 13 miles. In the winds lately, that was a chore! But today a voice whispered my ear, “Go further!” The battle began. Why? Why not? I was getting a little saddle sore. Would I have to walk up the hill? Why not stick to the known? Why not stretch? You can! But should you even try?
I rode right past the road that would have taken me home in 13 miles. I approached the hill I had told myself was too steep. If I had to walk it part way, fine. But I was going to try. I was going to push myself further.
That hill proved to be easier than the one I normally chose and struggled through. I used my gears. I had plenty left in my tank to finish the last mile strong.
The first quarter of this year has been a challenging time, especially with the COVID19 crisis. But the challenges for me began before I ever heard of the virus. I came to visit my mom in southern Arizona after I finished at a clergy women’s retreat in Phoenix in early January. She came down with pneumonia. I’ve been nursing her back to health ever since.
Here’s something I have learned: don’t make a promise unless you intend to keep it. I told my mom if she every felt she needed me to come and care for her I would be there in a blink. I assumed somehow that referred to a physical need. I hadn’t considered the power of an emotional need. My mom buried her second husband two years ago and subsequently went through two major health events alone. The pneumonia broke her independence. She doesn’t want to face life alone.
So I’m here.
My husband and family are in Ohio. He will be moving before the end of the year to live with his mom who needs him.
Our belongings are being sold. Our home will be sold. Our marriage will be tested by distance and change. But it’s making us aware that life is always moving further forward and we can fight it or we can figure out how to adapt and find purpose and joy.
So today I am 63. And I’m going to figure how, in this new normal, I will continue to move forward—Go further!