Gearing Up to Move Your Body—Cycling and More

Although I ride all year on weekends, weather permitting, daylight savings time marks the boundaries of my official cycling season. Since I don’t race, and most organized rides are canceled because of COVID-19, this year’s cycling season means that I will be able to ride a few evenings a week after work, and I will start to increase the distance of my weekend rides, improving my bike fitness as I train.

I get excited just thinking about warmer weather and longer rides to come!

Daylight savings time begins on March 14 for most of the United States in 2021. That means we are just two weeks away from cycling season!

Whether you are a cyclist, want to become a cyclist or would like to get started in some other form of physical activity or sport, the longer daylight hours ahead provide a terrific opportunity to launch an exercise program or to step up your training, perhaps with a goal in mind.

It is important to set yourself up for success and fun by taking steps to prepare.

Here are some tips to help you get moving or upgrade your movement:

  1. Start safely: If you are new to your chosen activity, have any underlying health condition or have been sedentary, make sure you are medically cleared to start exercising. There is something for almost everyone, but it is important to make sure that what you are planning to do is safe for your current level of health and fitness.
  2. Assess your gear and update/upgrade, as necessary. Do you have what you need to get started in your activity or to start a new season?  Consider:
    • Equipment—Some activities require specific equipment, but others may require almost nothing you don’t already you have. Depending on the activity, make you might need a bike and components or accessories, helmet (non-negotiable if you are riding a bike, skiing, climbing, skateboarding, etc.), sport-appropriate shoes, water bottles, a yoga mat, resistance bands or dumbbells. If you don’t know what you need, your best bet it to visit your local bike shop, running store or other outfitter and tap into their expertise. You don’t necessarily need the most expensive equipment, but it does pay to get high-quality gear. It will last longer and be more fun to use. Beyond just purchasing equipment, take a look at what you have and upgrade or replace, as necessary. This can apply to things like bicycle chains or tires, running shoes, water bottles and more. Get a tune-up (or do the work yourself) to make sure your bike or other equipment is season ready.
    • Clothing—Again, some activities won’t require any special clothing, but for certain forms of movement, like cycling, investing in some high-quality clothes will enable you to have more fun and be able to perform better. Your clothes don’t have to be fancy or expensive, but they should be functional, comfortable and something you enjoy wearing.
  3. Training plan—Think about what you know about your chosen activity. If you are not confident that you have the knowledge you need to start and progress safely and effectively, engage a coach, trainer, other professional or experienced friend to help you. There are some great books that can guide you, and, of course, there are countless online resources these days. Feel free to ask me questions or check out my coaching page for information on options if you would like a personalized training plan.
  4. Nutrition & Hydration—Fueling your body with high-quality nutrients is important all the time and will make your exercise more effective. You can’t go wrong with a whole-foods, plant-based diet consisting of loads of dark, leafy greens; fruits, including berries; a wide range of vegetables; legumes, including beans, peas, lentils, tofu and tempeh; whole grains; raw nuts and nut butters (the fewer ingredients, the better); seeds, including flax, hemp and chia; herbs and spices, including turmeric; and lots of water. A smoothie loaded with many of these great plant foods is a great way to start the day on a positive, nutrient-filled note. (I’ll cover smoothies in more detail in a future post.) If you are engaging in endurance activities, like cycling, running or hiking, you may need some portable nutrition and electrolytes to sustain your efforts, as well as pre- and post-workout food.

These are essentially the things you need to consider before starting a new exercise program, returning to an activity or increasing your training load. Depending on your activity, there may be more, fewer or different considerations, but this should help you start thinking about what you need. Below, I list some of my time-tested favorites in each of the above categories. Some are cycling specific, but others are relevant for any activity. This is not an exhaustive list—just those items where I have true favorites.

My Favorites

  • Bike saddle (women specific): Serfas Niva-I have ridden this saddle for years after suffering through thousands of miles of misery with saddles that were not right for me. A bike saddle is very personal and may take trial and error. When you find the right one, stick with it. (I hold my breath every time I need to replace mine, afraid that it will have been discontinued. So far, so good!)
  • Cycling shorts (women specific): Terry Breakaway-This is another very personal and very important piece of cycling gear. I am considering looking at some other options this year, but I keep returning to the Breakaway because it has served me well for several years and quite a few pairs.
  • Rechargeable bike computer and lights: There are probably plenty of good options, but freeing myself from items requiring little watch batteries several years ago has been a game changer. A quick search reveals that all of my favorite products seem to have been discontinued. My main suggestion here is to choose rechargeable front (white) and rear (red) lights that flash and get a bike computer that is easy to install and remove from your bike so it can be recharged with a USB cable.
  • Cycling shoes: It looks like my specific shoes may be discontinued, too, but I can recommend the Sidi brand. Granted, that is the only brand of cycling shoes I have ever ridden, but they last! Since 1999, riding at least 4,000 miles most years, I am only on my third pair of cycling shoes. One really didn’t wear out. Kenny just got them for me as a gift to replace my 13-year-old shoes (yes, really!), and they were a bit too small for riding in hot weather, when my feet swell. I still use them on the indoor trainer. Although I am a road cyclist, I ride mountain bike shoes with SPD cleats for ease in walking when I am off the bike.
  • Helmet: For years, I rode Giro helmets because Kenny swears by them. They hurt me. I had a dent in my upper forehead that never went away. Yet I kept replacing worn-out helmets with new Giros. Until one day it occurred to me that I could try something else! Why it took years, I have no idea, but I have ridden Kali Protectives Maraka Road Helmets ever since, and they work so much better for me. Giro is a good brand, but this is a lesson in paying attention to our own bodies and realizing that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. So, take my recommendations with a grain of salt! 😊
  • Nutrition: I eat ENERGYbits® spirulina before I get on the bike and RECOVERYbits® chlorella for recovery. These are not cycling specific; they are an easy way to add a terrific nutrition boost for anyone, whether used for physical activity or not. High-quality algae is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and these bits make it easy to incorporate it into your diet. Use my partner code, JustWind, for a 20% discount.
  • Hydration: Plain water is perfect for most activities. For longer, harder and/or hotter efforts, I use a combination of electrolyte fizz like Nuun in water and Hammer Endurolytes ® capsules. No sugary, dye-filled sports drinks for me!

Feel free to reach out to me if you would like recommendations on other products or if I can help you brainstorm your fitness kickoff. And keep an eye out for next week’s blog post and probably a video announcement about an upcoming free opportunity to help you spring into action for both your body and your mind.

In the meantime, click the button below to subscribe to my newsletter and receive a link to download my Blossom 2021 Self-Coaching Workbook to get you inspired and in the right mindset for the opportunity I’ll present next week.

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The World Needs Your Light

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” –Marianne Williamson

The first time I heard these words was in January 1995, at my first Northern Lights Alternatives AIDS Mastery Workshop (NLA), in Oklahoma City. When I decided to attend the workshop at the urging of my ConnectCare coworker Philip, I had no idea how profoundly it would influence my life. The workshop was so powerful that I drove down to OKC every three months for several years to attend in a supportive role on the “Back Row.” I also attended NLA Workshops in Tulsa and Dallas and helped to bring the Mastery to Wichita. I met people who would become some of my dearest friends and was changed in ways that I could not have imagined. The workshop and the people I met through it were instrumental in helping me make a necessary, if painful, decision and act on it. The core message of the Mastery is that quality of life is not dictated by circumstances or duration, and its motto is “Live with Passion!” It is hard to convey to people who haven’t experienced it just how special the workshop is. This quote by Marianne Williamson was only a small part of the workshop, but it stuck with me and meant a lot to me because of the encouragement it provides to allow ourselves to shine brightly and live our best lives.

Even though the OKC Mastery ceased producing workshops in 2016 because of the changing nature of HIV (a good problem, really), and we stopped in Wichita several years prior, to this day, I carry so much of the Mastery and its people with me, and I am incredibly grateful that it is part of my life. I was deeply changed because of my experience with NLA.

Each of our lives is comprised of so many different experiences melding together to make us who we are. Some of the experiences play minor roles, but still have an additive effect in shaping our identities. There are others that play decisive roles, leading us down the road in one direction or another so that we emerge from our involvement different people than we would have been without those experiences.   The Mastery is one of those seminal experiences for me. Biking Across Kansas (BAK) is another.

As I prepared to set out on my bike ride last Sunday, this Williamson quote was the one I randomly selected for contemplation on my ride. Cycling into Mount Hope, Kansas, I thought about these words and the way they connected two pivotal paths in my life—NLA and BAK.

While eating in a small café in Garnett, Kansas on Biking Across Kansas 2003, Kenny and I met three young men who were cycling across the country on a self-supported adventure. We talked for quite a while, listening to their story. Since this journey pre-dated smart phones, they stopped in libraries across the U. S. to update a blog about their travels. In their early 20s, these boys had decided to take on this challenge in order to raise funds for a children’s charity. They wanted to test themselves before life’s commitments got in the way and made a trip like that impossible. They were fascinating, and, after a very pleasant conversation, we ended up exchanging email addresses.

As they continued pedaling across the country, we communicated via email, and I read their blog. Their mission and the spirit behind it reminded me of this Williamson quote, so I sent it to them. The quote is more widely known now, but back then, the only place I had heard it was at the Mastery. After I emailed them the quote, telling them that it made me think of them and what they were doing, they emailed back in awe to say that those exact words from Marianne Williamson were what had inspired their journey. The coincidence felt truly magical. What were the odds?

Thinking about the amazing coincidence, I recognized the intersection of these two very important parts of my life—NLA and BAK. I had been encouraged by both to use the gifts I had been given in ways that allowed me to shine more brightly than before my involvement with either. I had grown as a human through both.

That’s what these boys were doing—using their gifts and allowing their lights to shine brightly so that they could help kids in need, while they celebrated and honored the gifts that they had been given. Their adventure was an inspiration to others, and they grew in the process.

All of us have gifts of various types and degrees. The apparent disparity in the distribution of gifts doesn’t always make sense, but we have an opportunity to use what we have been given to make a positive difference in the world. I have long believed that we have the responsibility to give back in proportion to what we have been given. It is both a privilege and an obligation to shine our lights.

Our stories are powerful ways to do that—both while we are living them and later in the telling of them.

When we live our very best lives, honoring our gifts, we make the difference we are meant to make in the world.

What are some of the pivotal experiences that have shaped your life and inspired you to shine your light brightly, giving others permission to do the same? Every time we do this, allowing our light to spark someone else’s light, the world grows a little brighter. And I think we can all agree that our world needs all the light it can get right now.

I’d love to help you shine your light and make the difference you are meant to make. Claim your free Blossom 2021 Quick Coach Power Session by clicking the button below to sign up to receive a link to schedule your session. In this coaching call, we’ll get right down to business with a powerful coaching conversation designed to help you blossom in 2021.

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A Fresh Perspective on Regret

As I have accumulated more and more evidence of how quickly life moves and of how short it really is, the specter of regret has loomed increasingly large in my life. The idea of looking back and wishing I had made different choices scares me. In one of the evolutions of my coaching practice, I even identified as a “No Regrets Coach.” I thought most other people must be as frightened as I was of ending up with regrets. Since that concept never gained traction, writing a blog post about regret may be risky or futile. Maybe there will be no interest.

Recently, though, I have been introduced to a fresh perspective that I find tremendously helpful. You might, too, so I decided to share my new insight.

My bike ride a couple Sundays ago started out pleasantly. I knew it was the calm before a front moved in, but I was happy to be out there enjoying my ride. I had had a rough track record of harassment by badly behaved humans and dogs (still the fault of their humans) over the previous couple weeks, but I was riding highly vetted roads on a Sunday morning, when it is generally quiet. Suddenly, just as I was really settling in to enjoy my ride, I spotted a dog ahead—large; black, with a white chest, and jumping out of his skin with excitement. He had clearly seen me before I saw him and was eagerly waiting for me to enter his chase zone.

After a really scary encounter the previous weekend with a different dog, I just couldn’t handle a confrontation. Abruptly, I made a U-turn in the middle of 247th Street. Realizing I was turning around and not wanting to lose this opportunity, the dog took off after me on a dead run. I hammered the pedals and blared my dog horn. It took two blasts, but the stronger second one stopped him in his tracks, stunned and confused, giving me the break I needed to watch him drift farther and farther back in my mirror. After that adrenaline surge, I switched directions and recalculated my route in my head.

Several miles later, “Hmm, is that a sprinkle I felt?”

A few more questionable sprinkles, and soon there was no wondering. Heavy mist settled upon me, coating my sunglasses and dripping off my helmet. On my altered route, I would make a pass by my house and resigned myself to ending my ride then, six miles short of my goal for the day, since the heavy mist was making it harder to see.

But then inspiration hit.

Not wanting to lose the moment, I rode right past my street and felt a surge of excitement as some ideas I had been pondering for a couple days really started to gel.

A few days earlier I had seen a Facebook post that Mel Robbins shared. It was a quote from Nakeia Homer:

“Forgive yourself for learning some things the hard way.”

I had no idea who Nakeia was (I have since learned.), but those words really spoke to me.

After seeing Mel Robbins’ shared post, I started tossing the concept around in my mind, but it was on my soggy, rerouted bike ride that I saw, through my mist-covered lenses, what the words really meant to me.

They offered a fresh perspective on regret.

For several years, in my quote collection, I have had Brene’ Brown’s quotes: “Regret is a fair but tough teacher.” and “’No regrets’ doesn’t mean living with courage, it means living with no reflection. To live without regret is to believe you have nothing to learn, no amends to make, and no opportunity to be braver with your life.”

Those words must have struck me at the time I originally read them in Rising Strong because I recorded them in my quote book, but in the years since, I have resented them and rejected them. When I have landed on them while randomly select a quote for reflection, I have brushed them off and chosen something else.

Suddenly on that bike ride, alongside Nakeia Homer’s words in my head, I saw them in a different light.

I recognized that the feeling of regret—and my fear of it—is actually learning the hard way.

This is such a helpful perspective for me. I invite you to explore it, too.

It allows me to shine a compassionate light on a personal paradox. There are certain big decisions that I made years ago that I have, at times, viewed with a twinge (or more) of regret. The paradox, though, is that while the person I am today would not make the same choice as I did back then, I wouldn’t be the same person I am today, if I had not made the choice I made back then.

On that wet bike ride, I realized that these regret-evoking decisions were opportunities to forgive myself for learning the hard way. Having made the choice I did propelled me down the road toward a greater understanding of the lesson I needed to learn.

Learning the hard way is still learning. It is valid and deserves to be recognized for the lessons and progress it brings.

What occurred to me on another bike ride last week is that learning the hard way may be incremental. That is okay, too. We make a decision, choose a direction, take an action. If the results of our movement are not what we hoped or expected, it is important to acknowledge that. With the acknowledgement that our decision or action didn’t lead to what we wanted, we can choose to forgive ourselves for learning the hard way and then make an informed decision about how to proceed. Sometimes the results of our next decision also may be disappointing. This is where the recognition that learning the hard way is sometimes incremental comes in. We move farther along our journeys with every decision, become more fully the people we are capable of becoming, and we forgive ourselves for—and release ourselves from the pain of—learning the hard way.

I have come to recognize another paradox around regret. This quote is often attributed to Mark Twain, but that attribution is disputed. I am not sure who actually said it first, but for a long time, I have taken it as a caution and held it to be true. Taking this fresh perspective on regret opened my mind to the paradox. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”

Regardless of the original author of those words, what I realized while pedaling with a push from a strong northwest wind was that it is not that simple. Everything we don’t do—whether by conscious choice or by the default of not choosing—means that we do something else. Every time we leave one action on the table, something fills the void. We may come to regret—and learn the hard way through—whatever fills the void. It may not be clear whether it is what we didn’t do or what we did instead that led to the disappointment, regret and, as long as we recognize it, learning.

I have always found forgiveness to be difficult, whether for myself or others. I have tried to understand it and to embrace it more openly, but it has been elusive much of the time. During my yoga practice last week, it occurred to me that, not only can I acknowledge regret as learning the hard way and forgive myself, but I can also more easily find my way to forgiving others when I recognize that we all learn the hard way.

That doesn’t mean that everything is excused. Some actions are just wrong and cruel, and I can’t begin to understand what is behind them, but we are all flawed works in progress (unless we have stagnated through hopelessness, callousness or deprivation). When I can look at people who have hurt me, but who still play a role in my life, and see that they, too, sometimes learn the hard way, it can open the door for me to forgive them for being flawed and still having lessons to learn.

The essence of the JustWind mindset is that we have the freedom and power to choose our perspectives, and the ones we choose shape our lives. Viewing regret as a marker of learning the hard way and having the compassion to forgive ourselves for needing to learn that way in some (many) instances feels life changing. Instead of being stuck in a stew of regret, disappointment, shame and guilt, we can acknowledge the hard lesson for what it is, recognize that learning the hard way is still learning, compassionately forgive ourselves (or others) and choose to move forward in a way that serves us and our world more powerfully.

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Honor Your Fears, But Don’t Let Them Paralyze You

I decided the time was right on Saturday. I had avoided a particular section of road since last November, after I had an upsetting encounter with three dogs, coming at me from two different directions. Avoiding this section was inconvenient and limited my options because it is just about five miles from my house and a major route to the west, where some of the best cycling is.

I was finishing a very enjoyable, solo 55-mile bike ride on Saturday and was feeling emboldened because I had already come through several miles that I hadn’t ridden this year, in part because of mild dog fears. Although this section, farther away from home and easier to avoid, had caused me distress in previous years because of a very aggressive, chasing Australian shepherd, I had not had a problem in the last couple years. But, after my closer-to-home stressful encounter last November, I had shied away from this stretch as well. Considering my options on Saturday morning, though, I found myself drawn to this route and made the decision to ride it. It was empowering to come through it without incident.

This was part of what inspired me to try the closer, scarier route. I thought about it while I rode. Besides my success that day, another cyclist had told me recently that he had been through that section several times without encountering the dogs. Also, I knew I would have a cornering tailwind as I passed them, and it would be hot, so the dogs would be less motivated to move from shady resting spots.

The time felt right.

As I approached the intersection where I would have to make a decision to proceed north, avoiding the dogs, or to turn east toward them, I told myself that either choice was okay. I would listen to my instinct.

I made the right turn toward the dogs.

I used some of my calming mantras as I approached their houses, which are across the street from each other, with the bigger problems across the road from me. I also grabbed another gear and accelerated—no need to dilly dally! I made it past them without encountering a belligerent canine.

Victory! I had done it. For the firs time in nearly 10 months, I had been brave enough to calculate my risks and face my fears.

It made me think.

As you know if you have read many of my previous posts, I find lots of analogies from the bike that apply to the bigger picture of life. This situation is no exception.

Allowing myself to ride this section of road opens options for me. It means less need for backtracking and more possibilities. Similarly, facing our fears in the rest of life creates possibilities, too.

Facing our fear, in a way that acknowledges and honors them allows us to see options that might be hidden from us otherwise. It literally opens our minds. When we don’t—or believe we can’t—face them, routes remain off limits. The doors remain closed. We can’t see down a certain path.

There are some things in my life off the bike that have me feeling fearful lately. The lesson from Saturday’s ride can serve me as I navigate these situations in the upcoming days, weeks and months. I can analyze the situation, like I did on the bike, and calculate my risks. I can also empower myself by providing opportunities for victory in lower-stakes decisions and circumstances. Doing this can embolden me to face the tougher, scarier things with more confidence and to see creative possibilities.

This doesn’t mean the fears go away. I’m not ready to ride past the dogs on their side of the road yet. I’ll need at least a few more passes on the opposite side with some degree of tailwind. Then, when the time is right, I may try it heading west.

The same is true in the rest of life. Navigating the changes that life brings us can be frightening, but it doesn’t have to paralyze us. Remembering this can help us to optimize our circumstances and live the best lives we can, while helping others do the same.

I’m no expert at this, but Saturday’s experience taught me some lessons that I can share:

  1. When something scares you, think about your options around it.
  2. How risky is facing it? Analyze the risks.
  3. What factors could mitigate the risks?
  4. Is the time right to face it?
  5. What does facing it look like?
  6. Listen to your gut. Even if you feel some fear, do your instincts tell you to take that turn toward what scares you and explore it openly?
  7. If so, go for it.
  8. Consider the possibilities that open for you once you are willing to openly acknowledge your fears.
  9. What is the next action you could take to move you forward in the direction of your dreams?
  10. Is there anything stopping you from taking it?
  11. If nothing is stopping you, and you have analyzed your risks, make that turn toward the thing that scares you.
  12. Once you have done it, what changed for you because you were willing to face your fears?
  13. Celebrate your courageous decision and decide how you will move forward next.

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” –Jack Canfield

Several years ago, this quote really spoke to me. It still does, although I am not sure that everything I want is on the other side of fear. Or that I will find everything I want if I face my fears. What I do believe is that there will be more options, and I will see more possibilities, if I do face my fears, rather than remaining stuck in paralysis by them.

I am going to work to remember this and practice facing my fears more often. I know I will have several opportunities to do that coming up in the near future.

Have you had the experience of facing your fears and finding creative possibilities and unexpected alternatives on the other side of them? Let us know in the comments.

“Choose courage over comfort by vitally engaging with new opportunities to learn and grow, rather than passively resigning yourself to your circumstances.” –Susan David

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Taking My Lane: Being Seen and Establishing Boundaries

There is an intersection about a mile from my home where, when coming from the south, I am particularly aware of the need to remain visible and present myself confidently. As I approach it, I watch all sides and move to the center of my lane. By moving away from the white line towards the middle of my lane, I position myself in the best place to be seen by traffic, particularly those who might turn left in front of me.

Kansas bicycle laws state that cyclists should ride as close to the right side of the roadway as safe and practicable, and I definitely do, but there are times when it is important to be seen and to set expectations for motorists’ behavior. Like so many lessons I have learned on the bike (and will share in my forthcoming book), this one has high applicability to life off the bike, as well.

In addition to being seen at an intersection, there are other situations that call for taking my lane. A couple weeks ago, I was headed south on a quiet, but narrow, two-lane road, when I saw two cyclists on low recumbents heading north. Behind them, a car was approaching on a gentle hill. I moved to the center of my lane, in order both to be seen and to discourage the car from passing between us, squeezing all of us toward the edges of the road. The cyclists and I waved at each other as we passed. As soon as we did, I moved back to the right edge of my lane, smiled and waved at the motorist. In my mirror, I watched the vehicle pass the recumbent bikes safely, and we all went about our day. The driver was delayed for no more than 10 seconds. As I continued pedaling south, I reflected on the brief encounter.

I realized that I felt powerful—in a good way. I had assessed the situation, identified a potential danger for myself and others, found the courage to take a position and acted confidently (and with trust in the driver). The small act of taking my lane made things safer for me and allowed me to advocate for the safety of two oncoming cyclists. Those recumbents, just inches off the ground, are probably more maneuverable than I think (I’ve never tried one.), but I felt like I was in the better position to make a strong move and protect us all.

One of my daily mantras during meditation is, “I am rooted in my power. I stand in it and own it.” As I have gotten older, especially in the last couple years, I have become better at living this mantra. The first step for any of us in doing this is recognizing our power.

I am not perfect in my practice of standing in my power and owning it, but I have gotten so much better at recognizing that I have some power and that I have a right to assert it in situations where I need to set boundaries for myself or others who don’t have, or haven’t found, their voices.

In recent years, I have realized that I lived much of my life fairly passively, deferring to others and feeling like I didn’t have a right to speak up and be heard or to stand up and be seen. I could do it for a cause or a principle—like becoming vegetarian at age 12 and becoming vegan in 2008. I recognized that animals didn’t have a voice or choice, so I stopped eating them in 1982. Then, I stopped eating or using their products in 2008, after I found the courage to learn more about the egg and dairy industries. For many years as a vegetarian, while I didn’t apologize for my principles, I would say, “I recognize that I am the weird one.” As I type that, it actually sounds a lot like an apology. Now, I may still be the weird one, but I own it, and it is not an apology.

I’ve advocated comfortably for others in different contexts, too—for victims of sexual assault, for people living with HIV and AIDS, for my son, for my students—but it has only been in recent years that I have really felt okay about advocating for myself.

Cycling has helped me to realize that there are absolutely times when we need to take our lane to make ourselves more visible or to be heard.

What has taken longer is cultivating the courage to do it, on the bike or off.

When I pull into the center of my lane to make sure I am seen by motorists or to promote proper passing by a car, I am setting a boundary of sorts. I am teaching the motorists how to behave around me. Of course, there is no guarantee that they will respond the way I intend. Most will, but a few may get enraged by what they perceive as my audacity (or sometimes by my very existence). Most, even if irritated, will drive the way they should, to avoid hitting or otherwise endangering me.

Taking a strong position in any setting to be seen or heard and to help other people understand how they should treat us requires courage and comes with risks. But, if we meekly remain against the white line on the bike or in the rest of life when we really need to take a bolder stance, our expectations may be misinterpreted. As Brene Brown has warned, this is likely to lead to resentment. We expect others to treat us a certain way, and they don’t. We haven’t asserted ourselves to instruct them how to treat us, but we resent them for not meeting our unstated expectations.

“What you permit, you promote. What you allow, you encourage. What you condone, you own.” –Unknown

We have both the right and the responsibility to set boundaries, but this doesn’t excuse blatant bad behavior—by drivers, by the humans in our daily lives or by society and institutions. As I was recently writing a book chapter about taking my lane, I thought of two 21st-century social movements: #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter. In both of these movements, members of communities—people who have experienced sexual victimization and African American people—are positioning themselves to be seen and heard and are instructing society in how to treat them. This is a version of taking their lane.

Finding the courage and recognizing our right to take our lane can be a gradual process. I think we often have to live our way into it. For me it has come with the recognition that life is moving ever more quickly, and time is short. With that realization, I have less and less patience and, quite literally, less and less time to shrink into the white line and risk not being noticed. On the bike, it is my life and safety. Off the bike, it is my quality of life and my ability to make the contribution I want to make in the world.

Because time is short.

So, I will keep digging deep to find the courage to take my lane, and I encourage you to take your lane. Position yourself to be seen and heard. Share your message with the world. Speak your truth.

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Comment below to share your experiences with taking your lane. How have you found the courage to do this? Did you live your way into it, like I have, or have you always known how to do it? How has it served you?

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