Continued from Part 1 where I ran through why I left my life as a Bowen Therapist, living on the Gold Coast, Queensland, my beautiful old run-down but comfortable home, sold most of what I owned and took off on my journey to “clear my head” ………..or something.
I really had no idea – just knew I had to go away or go mad.
My first stop was Canada!! I had a ticket booked to go there to be with my Grand Daughter on her second birthday, perfect timing for me.
This trip had been planned for months and seemed like the best place to go to prepare for my next stage of life.In some ways it was like a rolling up or finishing off of being a dedicated mum (not that that will ever stop completely), but something has to change and since I have 6 sons scattered all over the world -being with these guys was like a grand finale, a send off of my previous life.
But first I had to test my mettle and biking down a mountain sure did that.
Riding downhill bikes has never been on my agenda.
If I had ever written a bucket list there would be so many other more inspiring and non death defying things I could do. But here I was, in Whistler, Canada…geared up to the max with my daggy long shorts on, under shin guards, arm guards and an enduro type helmet ready to kill it on the slopes and prove that a grandma can do anything!! But first….
Let me explain a few things about Downhill Mountain biking.
- getting the bike up the mountain is a new experience in dextrous strength, timing and trying not to look like a fool when the bike falls off – having to pick it up and place it properly (so it doesn’t fall off) on the lift. Being surrounded by dozens of fit, athletic, testosterone infused men, geared up to the max who clearly knew what they were doing, didn’t help at all at the time.
- the bikes don’t act like bikes at all
- the gears are weird and the suspension makes it really bouncy
- they don’t go fast unless you are careening downhill
- they can climb UP gravel mountains almost by themselves
- they can be fallen off at anytime especially while going around those nasty tight gravel corners
- the tracks are gravel, dirt, ramps and there are trees and tree roots everywhere.
- the tracks are narrow and busy with cyclists who know what they are doing
- the seats aren’t for sitting on (not really sure why they are there at all)
- people die out there!!
- enough said
hmmm. Not sure how I felt about that, terrified is a word that comes to mind, “being aware of my mortality” is another term that suits. But I did do it and to be honest I will try it again, but next time on a warmer, not rainy day so I’m not frozen and wet to the core…and not such a chicken that I ended up walking down the mountain! I am a little ashamed to say that and my 2 sons (Sol and James) were telling me off (nicely) the whole way, but my fearful nature kicked in.
There are some things I’m happy to know my kids are much, much more proficient than me in – downhill biking is one of them.
Being here with my kids feels like an uncomfortable transitional journey. In my heart I know that I am no longer the ‘mum’ I was but the love I receive from my sons and their families is like being wrapped in 10 feather soft angels. Warm and safe.
It was like being caught midair between the platform and the train, in a limbo of ‘holy shit, it’s about to start and it’s me who’s taking the step onto the train that I haven’t checked the destination.”
so…I treated it like a working holiday. Studying some online courses I had purchased, volunteering on an organic farm and spending time with my sons Sol and James and their families.
The feeling of freedom I experienced being over there for those 6 weeks was very liberating, but ultimately it just wasn’t enough – I knew I had to come home to pursue my search and be ungrounded. Not a mum or grandma or friend, not a therapist or a helper of any kind – just me.
It would be lovely to be able to just hitch up to a country and make myself at home for as long as I wanted – that seems like the perfect world to me – but unfortunately the world – at least, the rules we have set – isn’t perfect.
So after experiencing my second summer in a row (Canada is HOT in summer),
- getting to know my sweet, little grand daughter,
- spending some great times with my sons
- seeing my first ever bear and her cubs up close – yep, it was a bit scary since I was on a bike,
- swimming in warm spring fed and freezing glacier lakes,
- picking our own organic raspberries and blueberries from the farm over the road,
- watching one of my sons compete in Crankworx (a huge downhill competition),
- parties, get togethers, food, drinks…being treated like a queen…….
I had to come back to my third summer in a row (damn, I missed the Australian winter entirely and it’s my favourite season).
What did I learn from this 6 week gap between my previous life and the one to come?
Even though This was a great way to prepare to be No One, I realised that I have a long way to go. The mindset or to put it in context, my attachment to being responsible for my family, keeping up with what I think is expected of me and helping everyone else but not myself had to stop.
The feelings of ‘not being good enough’ or inadequacy are no longer acceptable.
Not knowing what is expected of me is a tough one.
My kids have grown and no longer need me around, although we get along really well and I love them and their families to bits, it’s time for me to move on – to be a ‘grown up’ and accept my middle years are something to revel in, not be ashamed of.
Keeping up with the youngsters is not necessary although it’s fun to try and in my heart I would like to – but when it comes down to it I have other things I’d prefer to do, the adrenaline stuff just doesn’t cut it any more for me.
I learned that I’m not invincible, I’m a chicken and ultimately very careful – which has come from being a mum. The knowledge that I have to be forever vigilant, ensuring my safety is paramount to ensure the safety of my sons is no longer necessary.
They are adults, it’s time to leave them be so I can also be.
When I look back on the notes I have written from this time, the references to ‘doing it for my family’ can now simply ….vanish.
There’s no need for that sentiment any more. It’s time to lead by example and be true to myself, respect what I have learned during my life, to integrate it and let it filter up and allow my own personal, unique self that I’ve been hiding on for decades to bloom.
But first I had to experience the tough time of learning to be alone and embrace the ‘no one’ I had chosen to be – with those Blueberries, in the next chapter!!