Love on a bike…and off

Because I am involved in my own small way in the sport of bike racing, bicycling stories interest and inspire me. In my internet surfing this week I turned up two unusually moving stories about life on and off the bike. While it’s true that writers use sports analogies early and often to drive home points about sacrifice, achievement, and life, often their message is about sacrifice of time, other activities, and relationships FOR one’s sport. The stories below, however, have a bit of a different spin. They talk instead about sacrificing the sport itself, for love.

Alison talking about Tim: “He’s amazing. He’s the strongest person I know”.

Tim about Alison and his definition of love:

“Since the accident…it’s not always about that next adventure. We just enjoy each other’s company. My definition of love: caring for someone so much that you are absolutely and completely willing to put their needs above your own…and not ask why. Just do it.”

And the thing is, a true impression of selflessness rings through in Dr. Tim Delgado’s voice.

As I was absorbing the emotional moments of the Delgados’ story, I happened upon another headline on the ESPN site: Cyclist Willow Rockwell gives up her Olympic dream

It turns out that back in the beginning of April, champion mountain biker Willow Rockwell, somewhere in her lead up to an Olympic spot, decided to give it all a pass. Right before the 2011 World Cup Championships, she’d discovered she was pregnant and had taken time off to have her baby, Raven, and recover. She was gearing up for her next goal, victory in the 2012 World Cup and a chance at the Olympics, when something else clicked into place. In her words from her website post discussing her decision to retire from bike racing:

“In giving birth to my daughter, I also gave birth to an aspect of myself that was buried deep within. The woman. The lover. The feminine mysteries. I have found a love that transcends bike racing.”

I, for one, find it incredibly courageous of Willow Rockwell to admit to herself and to the world that these things she’s talking about have value–beyond her achievement in her chosen profession of mountain bike racing. Women need to say this more often. They need to say it often enough that we don’t wince at the sheer feminine sentiment of it. Here’s a bit more from Willow:

“My soul needs my baby. My soul needs laughter and contentment. My soul has expanded, and I had to let myself catch up with it. When I was in South Africa, I looked around and everything felt wrong. My heart and soul were not there anymore. My body was a shell of it’s former self, just going through the motions. Living is not going through the motions. Living is being engaged, with awe and wonder, in every moment. I have decided to live.”

Just like Allison Delgado decided to live, and her husband decided to enjoy Allison not just for the mountains they could climb and activities they could do, Willow Rockwell gave up a competitive career in bike racing to be with herself and her family. Maybe I am reading too much into a simple human interest story, but this is really the essence of humanity for me–how giving up an external driver (a dream, a goal) can often open you up to new possibilities for love and achievement.

The whole topic put me in mind of a quote from writer and teacher Holly Lisle’s blog:

“Every dream has a price. You need to know this now, because the price can be enormous, and if you don’t know about it in advance, you can wake up one day to find that you have paid with everything you ever loved, and what you have to show for all of that isn’t enough.”

So when is it okay to stop striving for a goal? Have any of you ever quit something you worked for, only to find you were better off?

On Goals, Dreams, and Meryl Streep

I have always been fascinated by Meryl Streep because she is the celebrity I probably resemble the closest, right? Here are Meryl and me in our younger days…

Uncanny, isn’t it? 😉 And thank you to all the friends and aquaintances over the years who have pointed out the resemblance to me. Brownie points to you all!
Ms. Streep’s latest oeuvre is the bio pic of Margaret Thatcher. The Iron Lady. A woman with big ambitions and the iron will to carry them out.

So how are Meryl and Margaret and Me related (other than a slight resemblance)? Well, here’s my point: I have seen some of my fellow bloggers’ fantastic goals for 2012, but frankly, resolution making and goal setting in the New Year give me a rash. I do believe in a vague notion of writing down goals because how will you know if you’ve accomplished what you set out to do if you don’t write it down first? One’s perception changes so much as time moves along, and it is always interesting to see what your intentions were compared to your results, but I truly balk at writing down specific tasks to get from here, at the beginning of 2012, to there, which is wherever I want to be next year at this time. Maybe that’s not productive of me, but there it is.

I love this quote from the recent Vogue interview with Meryl Streep:

“With any character I play, where she is me is where I meet her. It’s very easy to set people at arm’s length and judge them. Yes, you can judge the policies and the actions and the shortcomings—but to live inside that body is another thing entirely. And it’s humbling on a certain level and infuriating, just like it is to live in your own body. Because you recognize your own failings, and I have no doubt that she recognized hers.”

So in the interest of recognizing my failings (reluctance to write down goals) and inspired by these two great ladies, Meryl and Margaret, I am publishing a list of wants this year. Wants that in some way resemble goals. To get the ball rolling for me I admit to a little AhHA! moment reading Kristen Lamb’s blog post yesterday when she asked the question, what kind of writer do you want to be? And this post What’s Your Dream? from Ingrid Schaffenburg’s blog Threadbare Gypsy Soul inspired me too.

So, my wants:
I want to be the kind of writer who touches people with her words, in my blog, in my books. I want to support causes I believe in, like the National Womens History Museum that Meryl Streep has put her name to. I want to give the world to my daughters. I want to feel strong physically and stimulated mentally. I want to get quiet every so often, because it’s OK to do that, and it’s my nature.

And that’s all for now. Do those things qualify as goals? Yes? Maybe? At least it’s a place to start.

And what about you? Do you balk at goal setting and need to trick yourself into it? Who inspires you? Who do you want to play YOU in the movie version of your life? Why?