Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Big Picture

With April being the official 30-days of riding month, I was excited to get started with a ride - regardless of how short - every day this month. Things got off to a nice start, but then quickly went awry. A few days into April, I came down with what I believed to be a cold. Each day, however, I found myself getting slightly sicker and more tired. By about the fifth day of my presumed cold, I was in bed, trying to figure out who had put such a horrible hex on me.
One of the early days of 30 days of riding this year
And so, my 30 days of riding was only a few days in when I had to call the mission off. Being unable to functionally walk more than a few feet, my body was in no shape to pedal anywhere. I hoped it was only a few day setback, but I soon discovered that this flu was not going away quickly. Days quickly turned into a week and then even extended beyond; and then, as if to make matters worse, a family emergency arose, necessitating a trip to Georgia for the better part of a week. Before I knew it, here we are nearly at the end of April.

For some reason, a story from a few years ago popped into my head when I thought about the goal of 30 days of riding this year and the obstacles that sometimes present themselves.

When I went back to college eight years ago, I knew I wanted to major in art, but I had no idea what I wanted to do within the vast possibilities of that broad subject matter. Like any major, there were basics that had to be taken before advanced coursework was chosen, so I tried to figure out what made sense as I plodded my way through the stuff that had to be done, regardless of my final decision.

One of these early classes was a drawing class. Having never really drawn (other than more of what I'd term doodling as a child), I had more anxiety about this class than I can possibly convey. Tears were a part of every single class. I would shake uncontrollably most days because I couldn't get over my fear of knowing that I had no clue what I was doing, and I was terrified by the reality that I was surrounded by people nearly half my age who had been drawing their entire lives and were quite proficient at it. I often wondered what I was doing in this class at all and had many days and weeks that I considered dropping out entirely.

There was a part of me though that was interested in drawing. Much as I feared the subject, it was something I wanted to conquer. I knew I only had to pass one drawing class, but the thought of getting through weekly assignments and class drawings seemed insurmountable at the time.

I can recall one particular day during which I was having a supreme meltdown. The professor had been so concerned that she pulled me out into the hall to have a chat.  Her words to me were, "You're not going to get through this class crying for 5 hours a week." Of course I knew that, but I couldn't figure out how to make it stop - the anxiety, the fear, the self-doubt - it was all wreaking havoc internally and the only release seemed to be in the form of tears.

As if having the teacher pull me out of class wasn't mortifying enough, she then returned with me to my drawing table to see what it was that was causing me so much grief. Our subject matter was set up in the middle of the room and the students sat in a square around it, each drawing the subject from different angles. I had attempted to start the drawing, but I felt as though I just didn't know where to go. I was overwhelmed. As much as the instructor would tell all of us to simply draw what we see, I believed I couldn't see enough to really put anything on paper.

As the professor and I sat chatting, attempting to work through my problems, she finally said to me, "It's not that you don't see enough, you actually see too much. Stop focusing on all the small details and intricacies and look at the whole; the big angles. You see all of it just fine - too well, really - but you're obsessing about details that are unimportant for a quick sketch."

Somehow it seemed to help that another person believed I could get through the class and that this person understood that I could actually see what I believed I couldn't. I ended up excelling in the course, and by the end my drawings were being used as examples of what to do. Quite the turn around for someone who believed she couldn't draw. If I'm honest though, even to this day, I have moments when I regress and struggle to strip things down to their most basic form. I still want to be sure to incorporate every little detail and can get lost in those details instead of focusing on the bigger picture. Sometimes this is a strength, but for other occasions it can be a severe detriment.

This personality quirk is easily relatable to many situations in life. I can find myself lost in the mire and then don't see the possibilities over the long haul; or vice versa when I find myself wanting to achieve some sort of large goal but then fail to plan or work up to bigger events over time, rather than just going out and completing it. I realize that just because I wasn't able to complete the 30 days of riding challenge, it doesn't mean that there cannot be other goals along the way, nor that I couldn't do 30 days of riding some other month.

Sometimes, I just have to remind myself that I have to look at the big picture and not focus on the little details that are easy to get caught up in if I'm not careful. Are you biking the 30-days of riding challenge? How have things gone for you? Have you found obstacles along the way or have you been able to push through thus far?


  1. I thought I might do the 30 Days of Biking thing, but it hasn't worked out for me, and I don't want to feel like riding is a chore. Last year I did it, and combined 30 Days of Biking with 30 Days of Poetry, and I loved it because the poetry gave my riding so much more daily significance. It was a lot of work to stay on top of it all though. I don't feel the urge to do it this year, so I'm just riding as I feel, when I feel. Like you say, there are going to be many other opportunities to do a bike challenge or whatever other goal you think is right for you.

    1. I enjoyed your poetry and riding last year. It was a wonderful combination.

      Generally, I don't participate in the 30-days of riding challenge; however, I was looking forward to it this year. In retrospect, it just wasn't meant to be. There will be time enough for everything though, I have no doubt. :)

  2. Last year was the first time I had done the 30 days challenge. I had signed up for another challenge through bikejournal.com to ride 250 days in 2015. You have to ride at least 10k in day for it to count. I was pretty far behind my target because I had been sick for nearly the entire month of February (two rounds of strep throat!). So I thought I'd give it a try as a way to catch up, but didn't really expect to make it. Surprise! I did it.

    This year I signed up for the same 250 days challenge, only this time I'm pretty far above my target! I thought I would do the 30 days challenge again, but a couple of work-related trips out of town kept me from making it. Oh well. I'll try again next year.

    1. I'm glad that you're doing the 250 day challenge again, Kendra. That was interesting to me last year as well, so I'm glad to see you doing it again... and that you're in front of your target. Super awesome! :)


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