This Gave Me Goose Bumps

Hands Free by StormyPetrel

When I was 10 years old, my best friend, Mary Jane and I, would ride on one bike. We had so-called girls’ bikes, without the bar. I’d be on the seat and she would pedal. When we decided to change positions – as the bike was slowly moving – we delicately shifted. I would move each of my feet to the pedals: left foot first. As I moved my right foot, she would move back, go to the seat, and I’d take my place in the pedal position. We had balance, unbelievable balance. And, we had fun spending lots of time outdoors deciding how to play.

We taught ourselves this small feat as we cycled a lot. My mother gave me permission to venture throughout a 4-block square, and I listened. MJ and I enjoyably rode. One day I didn’t listen to my mother’s direction, and we cycled to the beginning of LaGuardia Airport. This was in the late fifties, and I remember a sculpture with a man and donkey, which I thought was quite exotic. This was an adventure. Another time we almost tumbled on a hill in the brush overlooking an entrance to the Grand Central Parkway. An elderly, man with a monocle saw us, stopped his car and steadied my bike to make certain we were not in harm’s way.

Very often, MJ and I sat on each other’s stoop reading Nancy Drew, and Hardy Boy Mysteries. Summer was relaxed and easy with little cares. There’s one thing I don’t remember though – teaching myself to ride hands free…

A lot of time has passed between the exploits with my best, childhood friend and now. There were years where I didn’t ride a bike at all. I remember picking up a bicycle in the nineties, a few years after I moved to Brooklyn. Mind you, I don’t even remember wanting to bicycle hands-free as a child. Riding hands-free still wasn’t on my radar until several years ago. And, I didn’t ride with my hands off the handlebars until last week. It’s not that I haven’t tried – I’ve had different bikes, and made various attempts, but I lacked the balance and was afraid to let go of the bars. Two years ago I practiced, yet I couldn’t sustain balance in my lower body.

Riding in Prospect Park last week I spied a man with a loose-fitting, paisley-like shirt. He passed me in the fast lane with his arms outstretched in the shape of a T. The wind blew against him and I was struck with a sense of adventure. I wanted to do the same thing…I wanted to spread my arms…my wings. I started slowly. I held my hands just over the handlebars. Lifted them higher. I raised my hands high up and I was free. Joyful. I practiced repeatedly. At this point, I am gleeful…

I got to thinking. Why now? What is different? Why am I able to cycle – hands-free – after limited success in the last few years? To answer my own question, I’ve been facing my fears through twice-daily mediation, mindfulness, counseling, and old-fashioned reflection. I’ve taken serious action, as needed, to fill in the thoughts and behaviors I feel are essential to have me grow into my skin. This hasn’t been easy as the challenges I’ve faced have been more nuanced and deeply rooted…

There is a spiritual concept that we heal our self on the inside, and it manifests on the outside. This is a striking example of success on this point. I’m moving – riding – as a person, woman, mother, friend, writer and spiritual coach. I am more grounded. The stability I experience in my emotional body creates balance in my physical body. It may sound simple, but I’m not exaggerating to say that I’ve pushed through a wall to ride my bicycle hands-free, and I will continue to get better and more consistent. I plan to practice…because it feels good to be so free.

If you hear a metaphor between the freedom in riding a bike hands-free, and my life’s path, yes, we are in the same video. Life IS like riding a bike. We need to accept uncertainty, courage, momentum; and a sense of adventure, to make it fun. We’ll want to be mindful during the process, because things change all the time and we need to make adjustments, so that we can enjoy the trip.

Yes, letting go of fear is like that. Riding my bicycle hands-free is glorious. I want to keep it going, soaring as I feel like I’m flying……

Well, almost…I have a lot more practicing to do J

It will be 4 weeks until my next posting.

Enjoy July…

Speak to you on August 6th…

Peace and Love,


#bestfriends #bicyclinghandsfree #LaGuardiaAirport #GrandCentralParkway #adventure #ProspectPark #joy #facingfear #meditation #growingintomyskin #spiritualcoach #pushingthroughawall #creatingbalance #Lifeislikeridingabike

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Linda Marsanico

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