I’ve met a lot of really cool, successful and interesting people, especially while on this journey and I always have the same question for them: what inspires you? More times than not, it’s either a person (family member, group of people) or a mantra they think about often to keep them going. Me personally? I’m more of a mantra girl. I may think about someone during a workout that inspires me to push a bit more, but for the most part, and especially on solo bike rides, I spend a lot of time in my own head.
While I’m generally an optimist and see the good in most situations, here are my top 3 mantras that can truly get me through anything…
1. Live Kindly
Of course I had to throw my own one into the mix. It’s my favorite. It means so many different things wrapped up into two simple words. At the beginning of this journey, I made a few promises to myself: I would never look back on the past, I would never compare myself to others and I would think of myself in the most positive light. Unproductive thoughts lead to, well, unproductive everything. By keeping this simple mantra in the back of my mind, I’m able to move past a lot of ups and downs relatively smoothly and cut through any negative thoughts that try to swoop in.
A few days ago, someone asked me if I felt uncomfortable in my cycling kit. Skintight spandex on a body that isn’t as athletic as most (yet). Uncomfortable? I kind of laughed. No, not really. I feel the most powerful, confident and strong on the bike and the last thing I’m thinking about while climbing a tough hill or flying down a descend is how I look in the kit. Are there others who look better in said kit? LeDuh. But I haven’t hit all of my goals and am still on this journey. Plus, science tells me stressing out in the moment won’t help me magically look better in that kit.
If I sat everything out because I didn’t feel as comfortable or confident, life would be really really boring. As I said in this interview I gave to CyclingTips.com after a weekend in the Texas Hill Country with my fellow Rapha ambassadors — it’s all exciting to me. That to me, is Living Kindly.
There’s a saying I learned rather quickly when I started running with Rogue Running last summer — #JFR — Just Freaking Run. I mostly saw this pop up on my feed when we’d have a 5:30am run accompanied by a torrential downpour. Or hill repeats on the hottest day of the year. It was fun and encouraging and kind of made you feel like a boss when using it. And who doesn’t love feeling like a boss?
I started using my own variation of this — #JFS — Just Freaking Smile, also in situations where boss-status was needed. Simple, to the point and cures just about anything. It’s literally the easiest thing you can do as human. It’s infectious and swear on my life, can make a world of difference.
Recently, a friend was having a pretty rough week and told me about it over text message. The only sound advice I had for her was #JFS. She set a calendar reminder for JFS every day at 11am and has had a few brighter days. Even if your day isn’t bad, but you need a boost. . . JFS. So much easier than running, too!
3. My Life, My Rules
“Don’t eat after 8pm.”
“Stay away from gluten.”
“Coffee is bad for you.”
“Only strength train 2x a week.”
“Your cycling socks aren’t the right length.”
I’ve heard them all. And while I know many have the best intentions with their advice, if I listened to everyone’s rules, not only would my diet consist of mostly air and water, but I’d never do things for me. Plus, I’m far too independent and a bit stubborn to listen to everyone or read every How-To book. Thankfully, I do have a mentor for almost every aspect of my life from my career to cycling and everything in between, so I’m able to take bits and pieces of what I learn from them and run with it. But ultimately I get to decide what length my cycling socks are and to which side my braid sits. It’s my life and they’re my rules.
Like you, I’m human and sometimes forget these mantras amidst an everything-is-going-wrong-type-of-day. But I always find that taking a moment to re-center and simply think before reacting helps a lot.
No matter what mantra(s) you turn to, perhaps the most powerful notion and common thread between all of them is realizing you are in control. Your thoughts, moods, reactions, behaviors and decisions all lie within your power. Which, when you really sit back and think about it — control — it’s a beautiful thing that no one else gets to have, but you.