Back in the Saddle

I first learned to ride a bike when I was about six years old, and it wasn’t easy.  My father had bought me a blue Schwinn from the neighborhood bike store, and told me to ride it home while he jogged along beside me, keeping a firm grip on the back of the seat.  “Lean!” he kept telling me, “just lean!”  And I did….first to the left and then to the right, and I would have toppled right over he’d let go.  It never occurred to me that he meant I was supposed to lean forward, and apparently, it never occurred to him to clarify.  Eventually we made it the six blocks back to our house, both of us tired and frustrated.  But I finally did get the hang of riding a two-wheeler without training wheels, and all these years later, I still enjoy the occasional bike ride.  It’s true what they say about riding a bike:  once you learn how, you never really forget it.

I suppose that’s true about most of what we learn in life, but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.  I love volunteering at my local animal shelter, and have been going down there at least twice a week for years.  But when I go on vacation for a week or two, I’m often hesitant to go back, as if I doubt my ability to handle the shelter dogs.  Once I actually do it, I’m just fine.  But still, that hesitation is always there.

It’s the same with writing my blog posts.  When I keep to my schedule, I have very little problem writing my weekly posts.  But if I take a break from blogging, writing that first post afterwards is always difficult.  Sometimes it seems that the longer I stay away from something, the harder it is to go back to it.  Even when it’s something that I really love to do.

I’m guessing this is why I’m feeling a little bit cranky and lost these days, because the past year has meant giving up a lot of the things I normally do and enjoy.  Of course Covid has played a big part in that, and I can’t tell you how happy I am to have finally received my second vaccine.  But it’s been a rough year for our family in many ways that have nothing to do with Covid.  The worst is finally behind us, but I find myself struggling to believe that could possibly be true.  It’s as if I’ve been trained to expect the worst and believe that feeling anything other than fear and dread is somehow not being realistic.  But living in fear and dread is not who I am, and it’s certainly not who I want to be.

So I believe that it’s way past time for me to “get back in the saddle” and get back to the business of living my life, as fully and as normally as I possibly can.  It took me a while to learn to ride that bike, all those years ago, and I fell off of it more than once.  But I always picked myself up, wiped off my bloody knees, and got right back on.  And it wasn’t long before I was leaning forward, pedaling hard, and loving the ride…..

102 thoughts on “Back in the Saddle

  1. I’m glad you are getting “back in the saddle”. I haven’t lived in dread or fear but having to be so very intentional about everything is tiring. Remembering to use the hand sanitizer, keep a clean mask with me at all times, and keep my distance is now second nature… I am very grateful that all of the older people in my family have dodged COVID and the younger ones who got it have all recovered without issues. We are cautiously resuming activities with some new twists for safety’s sake. I think we are in the new normal now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It does take effort not to live in fear and dread these days, especially when you have stuff beyond Covid to deal with. But as you say, it is absolutely worth the effort. Things will never be exactly the same, but they will be good again, I think!

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  2. As easy as riding a bicycle did not make sense to me when I learned to ride at the age of 8 on a huge used 28″ Gary bicycle. I had to start off and stop next to a step or alternatively, fall over to stop. I still ride bicycles frequently and put more miles on now than I did as a kid. It has been invaluable during the pandemic. Congrats on your 2nd shot. We have our first here, but may have to wait another 3 months for the 2nd as shots in arms are the priority here for now. We are still being very careful as evidence of Covid cases in those with 2 injections comes to light. It will take time and cohesive effort to get to herd immunity and slow the person to person transmission. Still, we remain hopeful. Stay well Ann. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

    • My cousin used to talk about how her dad taught her to ride a bike. He put her on it, grabbed the seat and ran along behind, steadying her as she rode. When the got to the hill and she started going faster, she turned her head to tell him how glad she was he was there to help her keep balance. And saw her Dad, standing at the top of the hill, waving at her. She crashed about two seconds later….

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  3. Good for you Anne, not sure when I will return to blogging. But speaking of biking, I took a nasty fall a week ago off mine. Scraped knee and elbow plus multiple bruises. Despite my best intentions to keep the wounds clean and covered I had to make a trip to the doctors to be put on antibiotics. Before I head back out, a new helmet will be needed to keep my hard head safe once again. 👩‍🏭🚴‍♀️

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  4. Ann,
    This is a great reflection. I have been talking to others about the transition forward to being around more people. There is a lot of anxiety, and understandably so, after we have spent months training our brains to stay apart. I think it is wonderful that you are speaking about this. It is an opportunity to raise awareness.
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend.
    Ali

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  5. that’s an awesome photo. I relate to you, it is too easy to lose momentum even doing the things I enjoy,. I Hope the ride ahead will be smooth for you. Congrats on the vaccine!

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    • Thank you! It always surprises me how quickly I get out of my “groove” when I take a break from my normal routines. But it’s worth the effort to get back to the things I enjoy, and I do hope the future is smoother too!

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  6. Ann, such a happy spirit like yours cannot stay imprisoned for long. It will seek its release. More than a year has passed since this terrible trial began, so naturally, you’re more than ready to be free and happy and wiser too. I think everyone should celebrate. The US and so many other countries are not out of it yet but that shouldn’t hold us back from finding something to rejoice over. It doesn’t have to big. Small celebrations each week, every few days, can make us strong and bring hope back into our hearts.
    So, I hope you tell us soon how you celebrated. In the meantime, that bike is beckoning beguilingly…

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    • Thank you so much! I agree, the small celebrations will be very meaningful for now, and are a great way to keep our spirits up. The last year has been overwhelming, in so many ways, that I think I need to be intentional about making happy choices. I am happy that the vaccines are moving along at such a rapid rate here, as that gives me hope too!

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  7. Hi Ann (this is Book Club Mom), I am glad things are turning around for you and it seems that way in the world too. Getting back into anything after being away is tough, but we don’t forget how. Great to see your post. I’ve been away a bit too!

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    • Yes, I think we need time to process all that we’ve been through…what with Covid and all the other issues that are a part of our lives. Sometimes it seems that because we’ve been so focused on Covid, we’ve not always recognized all the other stuff that is going on, both good and bad. And now we’re gradually feeling our way to a new normal!

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  8. My first bike ride was a horrible experience. My eldest brother taught me how to ride it. When he thought I had learned to navigate it independently, he let go of his grip on the rack. The bike was made for adults. So I did not know how to get safely off. Out of fear of falling and hurting myself I kept riding and riding until totally exhausted I landed in a ditch. Your post brought back these memories. Many lessons were learned from this experience. Have a great weekend, Ann.

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    • Oh, that must have been so scary for a boy! It’s amazing how many people have stories about bad experiences when they first tried to learn to ride a bike, which, when you think about the balance that is involved, isn’t surprising. But it sure doesn’t help when whoever is supposed to be helping us lets go too soon!

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  9. You’re so right, Ann. Once I am away from something for a while then it’s hard to pick it up and go again. This includes my writing, as well as projects I dread. Just picking myself up and doing the next thing is so important, and nearly always very fulfilling. Thanks for this encouragement!

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    • Yes, I think we have to just make ourselves get back to it, at least the first time. Then once we do, we find it’s not so hard as we think, and often even enjoyable! But that first step back can be a tough one.

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  10. What a beautiful post, Ann! I relived memories of my first bike ride. My father also held onto the bike and I remember the terror when he let go.
    Your post was very thoughtful. It explained to me why I seldom post to my blog anymore. It is true. I guess the longer I’ve been away, the harder it has been to “get back in the saddle.” However, I choose to let go of pressure in my life these days. What I see, is that it has been okay for me to let go of certain things because then I can embrace other new things. For instance, I never expected I would paint for fun. It was always a job and if I didn’t have an assignment, that was fine. I haven’t had any commissioned art assignments for awhile and perhaps I was rusty, but then I learned how much fun it could be to paint for myself.
    I do hope I blog regularly again someday, but in the meantime I feel peaceful. And I treasure that.
    Congratulations on getting your second vaccine. It truly is a relief, isn’t it? Sending hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! And I’m also glad that you’re letting yourself let go of blogging so often if it doesn’t feel like the right thing to do right now. There have been times over the past week or so when I thought, “I really need to write a blog post,” but I was just too tired and too busy to get to it. (My husband just got home from the hospital a few days ago.) And I just let myself let go of that obligation. We all need to do that sometimes. The key is knowing when to push ourselves and when to allow ourselves to step back and take a break!

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      • My goodness! When you said you had tough things going on – now I understand. I hope your husband will be okay, Ann.
        And yes, it is a balance of knowing when to push and when to step back. I find that I can’t write with pressure. I am always waiting for the time when I’m inspired to open up. But it does seem harder the more time goes by.
        I’m just glad I have other forms of expression. That might be why I don’t have energy to write. I perform and paint more now – and that is a lot!
        Sending healing prayers to you and your husband, Ann.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, remember when the lock downs were just supposed to be for a few weeks to “flatten the curve?” Those days seem so long ago! But thank goodness the vaccines are here, and we also know so much more about how to treat the disease and who is likely to get a severe case of it. Progress takes time, but we always move forward, one way or another!

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  11. …. And remember you don’t have to go it alone, Ann 💛 Reaching out to others for support and sharing experiences makes the ride easier. Hey – there’s no need to pedal so hard at this stage in life 🥰

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  12. Sometimes it’s hard for me to relate to all of the anxieties about getting started again post-pandemic, but that’s because I never stopped. My work continued as usual, since I work outdoors, and for the most part the casual, at-work socializing among boat workers never stopped. Other factors are at play, including my preference for solitary roaming with my camera, but my way of life (and probably a good immune system!) kept me healthy. Now, living in an area with a high vaccination rate and a low case rate, things really do feel normal.

    All that said, if my experience were different, I think I’d find your bicycle-riding analogy perfect for moving back to normal life — as well as a multitude of other things, like blogging. As far as getting ‘stuck’ generally, I’ve always found that doing anything often will get me going again. It’s not doing the specific thing that’s as important as just “doing.” Sometimes, even doing the dishes is a start toward a different goal.

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    • I do think that those who didn’t completely change their lives due to Covid are having the easiest time transitioning back. My family was fortunate, because my husband was able to keep working (so were my kids, although they worked for home), and I kept going to the animal shelter too (I even had an official letter stating I was needed there.) With common sense precautions, I was able to feel relatively safe throughout. But my family also dealt with other issues this past year, and adding those to the Covid situation has made me hesitant to truly believe that the worst in behind us. I think that will come with time, I just need to be satisfied with “baby steps.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Those baby steps are important. It’s easy to wish everything could magically go back to the way it was, or at least to a degree of certainty, but that’s not the way life is. Taking baby steps is better than not moving at all!

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  13. Hey, I had a red Schwinn. It’s very good to hear you received your second dose, Ann. I hope you didn’t have too many side effects. Great advice! It’s going to take some strength of will for many people to shake off the fear and return to a new version of normal living after this past year. I was talking to a friend the other day who has received both jabs, is going out a bit more, and is struggling with social anxiety where she never had before. It’ll take time. But, that’s what we each must do. Get back up and move forward as best we can and when we are able. Take care!

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    • I think it will take time, because we’ve believed that being around others is dangerous for so long that it will take a while to let go of that, even knowing the vaccine provides pretty good protection and that things will improve as we go along. Sometimes, patience is the key. And weren’t those Schwinn bikes fun???

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  14. I LOVE this post, and the one previous. Hurray for your second vaccine! I’m getting mine on the 20th.

    And then I fully intend to going back to living my life. I’m going to church, going out to eat, and going out to have a picnic at the park with my extended family. I’ll have people over for get-togethers again. Once we’ve made it the Fourth, everyone who really wants it and needs it should have been vaccinated here in the US. If someone doesn’t want to take the vaccine and would rather sequester themselves, then okay. That’s their choice.

    But I’ve had Covid, and I’ll be fully vaccinated. For pity’s sake, if that’s not safe, then nothing is.

    So then I’m planning on getting back into living my life again. I’ve had about all the pandemic I can take.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s how I feel, too. I know the vaccine isn’t 100% effective, but it’s pretty darned close, and we can’t live in quarantine forever. I think our country has done a good job of getting people vaccinated. In Missouri, anyone who is over 16 and wants one can now get one! And thanks for your kind words!

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  15. What a wonderfully written post . I always enjoy reading you as your stories and feelings are very relatable.

    We were just talking to a musician friend of ours who has a career as a composer and he was saying how hard it is even at his level of accomplishment and proficiency when he takes time off from practicing. He always feels like he has to start learning a piece all over again. Your post confirmed his sentiments. I see it in myself with drawing … the focus has to be regained if I stop sketching and it feels like an uphill slog!

    Great post

    Peta

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  16. I remember how long it took me to get back on my bike after I fell and broke my thumb a couple of years ago. So I totally get it. But we do get back on, and maybe it’s with even more awareness and mindfulness. Great post Ann.

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    • When I was young, I was thrown from my first horse and it actually knocked me out for a little while. I did get back on her right away, but I was scared of her after that and eventually sold her and got a horse that was calmer and more appropriate for a child’s first horse. So I get what you mean! Sometimes it isn’t easy to “get back in the saddle” literally or figuratively, but we’re always better off when we do!

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  17. You are such a bright and beautiful light… like a welcome beacon from a lighthouse in stormy seas. Your honesty is just so refreshing and uplifting, We all go through trials and tribulations; not everyone can talk about them and still try to uplift everyone else at the same time. Thank you for being you and sharing your personal insights and wisdom…I look forward to each and every post you write…

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    • Thank you so much for your kind words….I’m not at all sure I deserve them. But I do appreciate that you understand what I’m trying to do here: be honest about my own struggles in the hope that it might help others who are struggling with similar things. I know when I’m hurting, it doesn’t help me when someone lectures me on what I ought to be feeling or doing, but it does help if someone shares their struggles and thereby shows me a way forward. Or at least lets me know I’m not alone. So that’s what I’m trying to do for others!

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  18. I’m the exact same way about keeping to my blogging schedule. If I do so, I’m golden… but if I go away from blog land it’s difficult to know how to start again. I’m so with you on this point. I’m also tired of living in dread all. the. time. and will be happy to get back into a more interactive life. Just waiting for our second shots here.

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    • Yeah, this year has been horrible, in so many ways. Both the virus and the shut downs have had a terrible effect on our psyches, and have made dealing with all the other difficult stuff in our lives that much harder. I think its going to be a long time before we can free ourselves from the damage.

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  19. Getting back into things can be a hurdle, I agree. Right now, after pretty much isolating except for walks and digital visits and meetings, I have to give myself a pep talk to go out and socialize a bit. It’s been plenty of time since my second vaccine. There are some small reasonably safe places where a few people gather at a time in my little town and I have gone to one or two each weekend, with trepidation. Soon we can at least be outdoors more. I felt like I’ve been hiding at my computer desk forever, the weekly blog has been a good schedule to keep for me. I totally related to this sentiment!

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    • I think it is so hard to resume a somewhat normal life after we’ve been in quarantined for so long, and I’ve found that those who were most impacted by the lock downs are the ones who have the hardest time resuming some semblance of their normal lives. I think we just need to be patient with ourselves and with each other as we move forward. My new motto is, “baby steps!” Thanks for the comment!

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  20. I was wondering about you and happy to hear that you received your second dose of the vaccine and will be back to normal soon. I am still waiting on my first one and it is rough here for now in Ontario with the vaccine rollout.

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    • I’m so sorry, Svet! It is hard to wait for the vaccine, and I remember being anxious as I was waiting for mine, especially since my husband was battling cancer. Here in the States, the rollout was slow at first but quickly picked up momentum. We had originally been told that by the end of May, anyone who wanted a vaccine could have one, but they actually opened it up to everyone on April 9. I’m hoping the same thing happens in Ontario!

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  21. I had a pink Schwinn so I was right there with you learning to ride a bike. My dad, too, held onto the seat and raced beside me until I was confident enough to “fly solo.” What a great memory! This year, in its way, has been almost as challenging as 2020. Thank goodness, so many vaccines are being produced and distributed — now, let’s pray they work!

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    • Remember when everyone was so grateful to be saying goodby to 2020? Who knew 2021 would be almost as challenging? But I have to say that the vaccines are making a difference, at least in my life. I feel much more confident now that I’ve had the second shot. And my mother’s retirement community has loosened their restrictions after they got their second shots, which makes her so much happier there. Here’s hoping things continue to improve!

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  22. It will be nice to get back in the saddle, albeit with little adjustments. I haven’t been to the shelter for a year now, and am not sure when they’ll start doing volunteer-based cat showings again. Hopefully, it’ll be like riding a bicycle.
    Finally got my first Covid shot today. They had some odd priorities out here…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, each state has their own way of doing things, some better than others. Missouri finally just opened it up to everyone over 16 on April 9, I think it was. I was able to get one earlier due to my husband’s cancer treatment. I do hope that your shelter allows volunteers back soon. Ours limited the number of volunteers who could come in, and of course we had to do a health screening and wear masks at all times, but I was able to go on throughout the pandemic. They still aren’t accepting new volunteers though, and they aren’t yet open to the public for walk-in adoptions. People have to look at the pets online and make an appointment to come meet it.

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  23. It’s funny, when I am away.. I don’t miss blogging. If I’m home, it’s so part of my routine that it feels strange if I miss a few days. Either way, starting back up again is always a bit of a challenge for sure.

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    • I don’t miss it when I’m on vacation either. When I first started blogging, I was so careful to keep up with it no matter what, and now I realize that when I’m away or life is simply too busy, it’s okay to step away from the blog world for a little while. Even though it is a little hard to get back into it after a break, it’s better than driving myself crazy trying to stay involved when I really don’t have the time or I’m on a much-needed vacation!

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      • I agree. Far be it from me to deeply disappoint my “followers” (half of whom are family and folks who never read my blog anyway 😂)… but seriously, I don’t think anyone lives or dies according to whether or not I post. I started blogging years ago because my grown (far away) kids were so busy, it seemed we NEVER had time to talk about anything in depth. I wanted them to continue to know who I was and what I was thinking, on their time. Over the years my blog has grown into a bit more than that, but my core raison d’etre is still the same.. If I’m not blogging, chances are I’m visiting one or more of them so it all works out. 👍

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  24. What a fabulous metaphor. Learning to lean forward and always getting back on the bike or the saddle or the writing or whatever we are afraid that we have lost but truly it is always still there.
    Ahhh, the freedom that riding a bike gave me as a child. Even as a 12-year-old I used to go for miles alone enjoying that freedom. Writing gives us the same freedom. I love reading your blog posts. They are always so thoughtful and thought-provoking and I feel like I’m reading a letter from a friend. 💖

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  25. I think of my blog as a horse that I sometimes misplace 🙂 The bicycle analogy is great – I’m going to remember that. I remember riding a bike for the first time – it’s odd how particular events stick in your mind. My Dad set my foot up on the pedal and told me to push – I would have been about 6 years old – and I wobbled off down the driveway of our house while my older brother and his friends watched goggle eyed 🙂

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