A Freedom Long Overdue

Do you ever stop for a minute,  look at your life and realise things have to change?

If you’re anything like me, you actually do that quite a lot.  It stems from having lived my life never completely under my own control. And this has meant that there always seems to be something missing.

A wanderlust supressed

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a pretty good life all things considered.  But soon after leaving home I got a job, and found myself with a family.  The husband, 2 kids and pets happened quickly, and for the next 20 years every personal decision I made involved being mindful to all the others in that mix.  That’s ok though, as a parent (of children, husband and animals) it’s what you sign up for.  But, and this is a big but, the underlying yearning in me is to explore. The world around me excites me, but it’s not really somewhere that I understood well. Somehow, earning a living, and everything that went with family life supressed this wanderlust, and family holidays were as far as I got.  But this feeling never went away.  My bike became the way that I satisfied the itch, as I could disappear for the odd day into the hills on my own, and just enjoy the freedom I felt for a while. With the sun on my back, and the wind in my hair, it was a time before smart phones, and I could be just me for a while without any disturbance. But, before I knew it I was 40, kids had left home, I had moved on from the husband, moved across the country, and found a new job.

Moving on

I think this was the first time I really considered what I wanted in life.  In reality, I had no idea what I actually wanted, it just wasn’t what I was had.  Each time I had a ‘reset’ there were changes to how I lived my life, and very slowly over the next 10 years things changed and I became a very different person to my 40 year old self.

Yet, still my life wasn’t under my own control.  I had a new husband, more pets, and every decision I made needed to be mindful of their needs.  Don’t get me wrong though, this husband was more than happy to let me go off and scratch my exploration itches, and sometimes he even came along for the ride.  He supported me when I went to ride across/around countries, and even supported me on my GWR LeJogLe. He drew the line though at supporting me to take a year off and ride the Americas.  I understood why, but still! It remains on my bucket list, perhaps though until I retire.

I’ve known though that there’s been something missing still for some time and eventually illness hit me at the end of 2021, which knocked me sideways.  It lingered on and off through all of 2022, scuppering cycling plans, and messing with my head.  I was physically and emotionally exhausted.  It would seem that this didn’t make me a great person to live with either.

Planting seeds

I started 2023 on my own, just me, my beloved old dog Jess, and an old ginger cat.

I spent January sometimes angry but also like an emotional weight had been lifted. It was time for another review of my life.  I wasn’t going to let more opportunities pass me by, and although financially I knew things would be tight, I vowed to start enjoying life more. In May, I said my final goodbyes to Jess – at 17 she had lived a good life, surrounded by love. My cat is disinterested in me, and so I started focussing on the challenge that I had set myself back in 2021 – to ride GB Duro.  I had about 12 weeks of intensive training ahead and there was still a very good chance that I wouldn’t be in the time cut for very long, but I had committed to it, and it was going to be my last long timed race.

But still, there was a nagging feeling that I still didn’t have control of my life.  And then, a few days ago it hit me.  The reasons for entering GB Duro back in 2021 just didn’t apply any more.  With a year of illness, marriage breakdown and lots of offroad riding to ponder, I realised I was no longer looking to find out what my limits were. I found my limits on LeJogLe, but I also knew that if ever I needed to dig deep, I could do so.  I had nothing left to prove to myself. The days of chasing time over a big ride were behind me.  I had moved into a new season in my life. 

At the age of 57, I realised that I no longer needed to consider other peoples needs when making decisions, and this was a first for me. It’s been such a long time coming that I didn’t even realise that I needed this to happen. As well as working full time, I also now run a cycling event’s business, and therefore my spare time is precious. I don’t want to spend it all training for an event that I am no longer emotionally invested in.  I want to have fun.  I want to go bikepacking with friends, or alone exploring some of Britain’s amazing trails. I want to start running, go swimming or lace up my walking boots. There are so many jobs around the house that need my attention and my garden is a mess. I’d like to actually finish the book that I started writing in 2020, that’s been sitting only half written for a really long time.  It even has a different ending now!  Writing is something that I love, but barely gets a look in. I don’t want to have to decline an invitation because I need to train for this or that. It’s a long list of wants, but I finally understand what’s important to me in life, and that means knowing what it is that I want.

I hope that my life will span over a century, but equally it could end tomorrow.  I don’t want to waste another moment.

The job I need to keep, it pays for my fun, But what I do with the rest of my time is entirely down to me now. It seems that over the last 6 months, all those little changes that I made at each ‘reset’ have finally started to bear fruit.  It’s totally true that small seeds planted, even if they take a while to get going, do eventually grow into something tangible that you can bring a big change and opportunity.

I finally feel that the future is looking bright.  I’m damn sure I’m going to make the most of it.

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