Crash Landing is Finally and Officially Available

by Liz Jansen

officially availableWith all the twists and turns inherent in Crash Landing‘s writing and publication, I shouldn’t have been surprised that a few glitches prevented it from going fully live yesterday. But that’s in the past. After a circuitous and adventurous journey, Crash Landing is finally and officially available!  

And so begins the next part of its journey—helping it reach those for whom it’s intended. It’s an exciting time, full of conflicting thoughts and emotions, feelings of vulnerability, and anticipation mixed with gratitude.

I hope you’ll consider purchasing your own copy if you haven’t already (and thank you so much if you have):

If you prefer digital:

Or you can get it wherever good books are sold! I encourage you to support your favorite indie.

Obtain a highly-prized collector’s edition (signed copy) through this website or at one of my upcoming events!

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Finding Home From Wherever You Are

by Liz Jansen

find your way homeOn a lazy Sunday afternoon in 1998, I lay on the sofa looking up at the massive beams holding up the structure I’d waited so long for and worked so hard to finish. Did I really think this house on this particular plot of land was the only place on God’s earth where I could be happy? Of course not! That epiphany severed my attachment to the house and fed my restlessness, but it would be another two years before I left it, along with my marriage.

Since then I’ve lived in five places, none as grand as that house, but all of them more like home. Home, I’ve discovered, is more of a state of being than a physical place.

It means you can find home wherever you are. When I camp, it’s my small tent. Although tissue paper-thin, the walls separate me from the elements and other people, and the space becomes my own. At my yoga studio, it’s my mat. While staying with friends, it’s wherever I lay my head. In fact, I hesitate to call anywhere home, choosing instead to refer to my street address as home base.

Home is that place of stillness that radiates feelings of peace, serenity, and security in the midst of chaos. It arises from the awareness and acceptance of who you are. This welcoming place breeds self-assuredness, comfort, and contentment with one’s self, foibles and all.

From that calm center, it’s easier to stay grounded, keep life in perspective, and make wise choices. Whenever I get lost, I trust my heart to guide me home.

Yet there’s still something to be said for a physical place. Recently I spent more than five weeks on the road. With mixed feelings, embracing the chilly ride while accepting the season was drawing to a close, the cold of the final two days challenged me physically. When I opened the door to my cozy little place, felt the rush of warm air against my face, and sensed the familiar setting, I exhaled a big sigh of gratitude. Welcome home.

How do you find your way home? Where is home? Tell us in the comments.

Related post: Finding Calm When Quitting is Not an Option


Photo credit: anoldent on Visual hunt / CC BY-SA

Author Interview from Readers’ Questions

by Liz Jansen

author interviewLast week I asked for your help in preparing a simulated interview. They’re great questions and a tough interview! Here are my responses to your answers.

How does your family respond to your riding and your writing? 

I began riding a motorcycle on the family farm when I was sixteen and my younger brothers bought a Honda Cub. My parents didn’t blink an eye. They had more pressing concerns, like making ends meet. My five younger siblings grew up with me riding, so to them, it was just another thing I did.

Now it’s been part of my life for so long they’d think it odd if I was without a motorcycle. They do get concerned when I head out on long solo journeys but know it’s futile to try and persuade me not to go. I don’t know what they think of my writing.

What do you consider to be your greatest 3 accomplishments either in in your personal or professional life?

  1. Getting over my phobias of flying and cats. Both used to strike terror in my heart. Now I love2 cats and tolerate flying.
  2. Leaving my marriage and then my corporate career eight months later (2002/2003). As my spirit awakened, both decisions were part of the same overhaul, and necessary for me to thrive.
  3. Completing the quest I wrote about in Crash Landing. It reconnected me with who I am.

Tell me why you are such an ardent motorcyclist?

Being out on the open road on my motorcycle feeds my soul. It introduces me to the most amazing people and experiences—that includes fellow riders, and the curious people who approach and share their stories with me—moto and other. It challenges me, pushes my comfort zone, and makes me grow. It opens my heart. It teaches me about life and myself, and gives me stories to write about. I experience life and the landscape I’m in, rather than being an observer.

How did you morph from your corporate/nursing career to writer of self discovery-type books?

Nursing was my first career and I entered without giving it much thought. After working in hospitals for five years, I morphed into occupational health and safety and from there into corporate human resources, and training and development. It took many years for me to realize the roles I was in weren’t a fit. Once I let my heart have a voice, everything changed, but aside from the dramatic transitions in my marriage and career, which were catalysts, the rest was an evolution.

I started my new life doing motorcycle tours, with the intent on creating the space for others to experience the same expansion, confidence, and personal power I became aware of through riding. Those assets don’t disappear when you get off the motorcycle and I became aware of a deep desire to help others discover their gifts. The writing came unexpectedly and I have two people to thank for getting me started: Claude Aumont gave me a chance to write for Ontario Tourism/Destination Ontario, and Mark Richardson, then an editor with the Toronto Star, kindly published an article I wrote. It took years for me to find my writing voice.

How did the crash change your life, your perspective, yourself?

It’s been the biggest change of my life. It made me accept the futility of thinking I’m in control. I learned planning is overrated. I still plan and follow through on my intentions, but am open to whatever happens. Experiencing how quickly life can change was sobering. It brought me face to face with the “crashes” of my ancestors (although mine paled compared to what they went through). I understood better why they believed and acted as they did. It showed me how values like stoicism, efficiency, and the need for achievement can be both assets and detriments. It consolidated and strengthened my values.

Why did you want to take the trip? What were you hoping for?

I was searching for an answer to who I was and what I was on earth to do before my culture gave me their answers and tried to shape me. Who was I under all the layers of roles and expectations? How could I live my greatest potential in my remaining years?

The answers, I thought, would come from two sources: exploring my lineage and visiting the lands my ancestors had landed on as they established themselves in Canada, and a better understanding of earth spirituality through Indigenous wisdom.

I thought what I’d learn about what the earth has to teach us and from Indigenous wisdom would be far more insightful than a deep exploration of my ancestry. That I could research through stories and family and cultural records.

Did what you hoped for come in a different way or did what you hoped for change?

It absolutely came in a different way. I thought I knew how the answers would come and that they’d come from outside of me. But it turned out I had them all along. I just had to listen and know where to look. What I’d hoped for didn’t change but how the understandings arrived was unforeseen. They were also far more profound and meaningful than I could have imagined.

What was the hardest part of the crash and how it impacted your body, your life?

Losing my mobility and independence, even temporarily, was very difficult. Having to ask for help was humbling. Living in relative stillness, having so much time for thoughts to wander in and try and mess with my mind, was a challenge. I had to come to terms with them, which turned out to be a big step forward on my journey.

What happened that you could not possibly have foreseen?

The response from people when I spoke my truth, with honor and respect, without worrying about how it would be perceived. Reconnecting with extended kin reacquainted me with a powerful heart-bond. I learned that when I gave my heart voice, other hearts responded in kind. Entrenched fears dissolved. Relationships deepened to a new level. Understanding the stories behind dysfunctional beliefs dissipated their energy. It made me aware of how easily I judge without understanding the full story.

What are your dreams for the future? and everything else!

I don’t have specific dreams. My intentions are to follow my heart (with a little input from my mind), be open to any possibility, and not put up roadblocks induced by fear—and follow where that leads. I know that when I do that, magic happens, beyond anything I could dream up!

Where in the world would you like to ride if money and time were no issue?

I’d love to travel to Russia, Ukraine, and Poland—the lands my ancestors called home for centuries. Besides money and time, I need to consider the condition of the roads in the area I’d be traveling in, and whether I have the skills to navigate them.

What little luxury would you never set out on a bike trip without?

My sleeping cot and/or mattress.

When are you coming to Europe and what is your favorite coffee/cake?

I’d love to get to Europe but don’t see it on the radar. Yet. These things can change on a dime. My favorite coffee is organic herbal tea. I avoid wheat/sugar/processed food so that rules out most cakes.

What was your motivation to start writing about your riding experiences?

When I left my corporate career in 2002, I had the good fortune to work with an executive coach. In response to her guidance, I wrote out five and ten year goals for anything I wanted. Somehow, writing a book got on the 10-year list. Before I could start such an aggressive project, I needed writing experience (and courses). My riding experiences, the people I met through riding, and what those things meant to me were what I knew. They also became the subject of my first book: Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment.

I would love to know more about the solo aspect of traveling and camping as a female out there on the road. Things you look for to be safe and helpful tips for ladies that are thinking of doing this.

It’s an amazing experience and I highly recommend other women (and men) get out there and try it. Make sure your riding skills are up to the conditions you’ll be in. Have an understanding of basic mechanics. Start with a one- or two-night ride. Ask for help when you need it. Most importantly, if you want to do it, get out there and do it! Have fun! I have many articles about how to do this throughout my blog.

How is aging changing your approach to adventure?


My definition of adventure has changed. I’m more conscious of staying healthy in body, mind, and spirit so I can perform at my best. When I’m riding my motorcycle, I don’t push myself as hard as I once did, or try and wring as many miles out of a day. My stamina and strength aren’t the same as they once were, nor is my reaction time, so I adjust my riding style accordingly. I want to live life to the fullest, to embrace each moment, and to ride a motorcycle for as long as I can. If anyone asks me about retirement, I tell them that means new tires on my motorcycle.

There are other ways I have adventures, but motorcycling is the most demanding, thus more susceptible to potential effects of aging. I know I have more days behind me than ahead of me and I want each of them to count!

What is something you wish you could have told/asked your younger self about life and some of the preconceptions/assumptions you might had then?

Be who you are. Don’t be afraid to follow your heart. Listen to your intuition. Don’t be afraid of what other people think, or what you think other people are thinking. They have their own hopes and fears. Share your gifts with others. That’s where you find the most meaning and how you can be of greatest service.

What are questions you wish you could ask your future self?

How am I doing with living my fullest potential? Want to go for a ride? 🙂

While you were writing the book, did you continue to gain a better understanding of yourself, your family, your lineage? Did more of your story come together as you were writing; things you didn’t realize become more clear?

Yes on all counts. When I started out to research my lineage, my expectations of what I’d learn and how I’d learn were very different than what happened. I didn’t expect to crash and that changed the whole course of my story—in a good way. I started off expecting to write a historical non-fiction book about my Mennonite experience and ended up with a very personal memoir, with universal messages. So much became clearer during the writing, and my whole perspective changed. It had a profound effect on me. Through that, I was finally able to reconnect with who I am.

As someone, familiar with your upbringing, I’m curious as to how your family reacted to your fiercely independent self! What pressures, if any, did you feel regarding a single, non-traditional lifestyle…..eg a motorcycling woman doing her own thing?

The only pressure I was under was to attend church and adhere to traditional religious beliefs.

It’s ironic. On a collective, cultural level, Mennonites have always prided themselves on being different from “the world”, so while there have been expectations around cultural conformity, that independence is woven into the fabric of those born into it.

I come from a long line of independent women. The following examples don’t begin to tell the story. My paternal grandmother, Liese, defied the Tatars when they invaded her home, and did what she needed to do all her life to survive. Susa, my maternal grandmother, (and her twin sister Anna) did not give in to the church’s demand to get rebaptized when she married because she came from a different branch of Mennonites than her husband. That would have been a big deal!

My mother was determined to have a nursing career, even if it meant alternating years of work and school to get there. Although both my parents were involved in church activities, they enjoyed personal and professional activities outside the community. They loved to travel to foreign countries and try different things. My dad gave up stable, well-paying employment for the uncertainty of farming. My parents encouraged all of us to be work hard and be self-sufficient. Once I was on my own, they were unconditionally supportive of what I did. They may not have envisioned where life would take me, but then, neither did I.

 


Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC

Looking for Your Questions and Help to Create an Interview

by Liz Jansen

This week I’m turning the tables and looking for your questions and help in preparing a simulated interview. Here’s your chance to ask what you’ve always wanted to know about me or my work.

Smashwords, a worldwide distributor of ebooks for Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, recommends that authors create and post a simulated interview, addressing what we think readers want to know about us.

They have stock questions as prompts and I could guess at others, but I’d rather hear it straight from you. That way I know I’m answering your questions, not what I think you want to know.

I’m up for the challenge, fun, and the openness (although I do protect my privacy), so here we go.

What would you like to know about me? About my background? (You can ask for a friend 🙂 )

What would you like to know about the story behind Crash Landing (or my previous books, Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment, Life Lessons from Motorcycles)?

Submit your questions in the comments below. You can also send them to me directly at liz@lizjansen.com. None of the questions will identify their author.

I may not have room to answer all of them, but I’ll give it my best shot.

Within the next week, I’ll post the “interview” on my website for all to read.

Thank you!

PS: Crash Landing is now available for pre-order at B&N, KoboKindle (US), and Kindle (Can). Start your shopping now! It will be delivered on December 6, 2018.

 


Photo credit: Oberazzi on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Remembrance Day 2018: With Honor and Gratitude

by Liz Jansen

Remembrance Day 2018Sunday I’ll walk to the cenotaph at the Orangeville town square. I’ll join hundreds of others gathered to remember the men and women who have served, and continue to serve, during times of war, conflict, and peace. With each step, I’ll breathe a prayer of gratitude for being able to live in a land of peace, freedom, and opportunity.

One hundred years ago when the Armistice was signed, my ancestors lived in southern Russia, now Ukraine, in the self-sustaining Mennonite colonies they’d thrived in for more than a hundred years.

During WWI, Russia and the British Empire (which included Canada) were allies; Germany an enemy. Russian Mennonites were loyal citizens, but they were of German ethnicity and spoke German. Non-resistance was (and still is) a core Mennonite tenet. Rather than participating in conflict at the front, (most) men served in alternate services, such as medics.

WWI may have ended on November 11, 1918, but Russia was not at peace. Precipitated by the 1917 abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, followed by the Bolshevik overthrow of the Provisional Government, she was in the throes of a savage civil war. My grandparents were still teenagers.

Anarchy reigned and Russia seethed with turmoil and conflict. Years of living with indiscriminate plundering, terror, and mass murders, compounded by starvation and hyperinflation, followed for all citizens. German-speaking Russian citizens, who because of their values had not fought for their country, became direct targets of terrorists. Not until 1924 and 1925 were my ancestors, penniless refugees, able to flee to Canada.

Deeply divided Canadians resisted opening the doors to these people who looked different, came from a foreign culture, and spoke German (a reminder of their recent enemy). Under the leadership, vision, and courage of Liberal Prime Minister William Lyon MacKenzie King, legislation barring immigration was revoked and émigrés allowed in.

Sadly, Johann Klassen, my paternal grandfather, died at age twenty-eight, two years after arriving here. Mom’s father, Gerhard Reimer, lived to age eighty. Having a say in government was new for someone who had grown up under the Tsar. Gerhard voted in every election. His perspectives and work ethic aligned more with Conservative party policies, but his gratitude overruled party lines. Out of gratitude to the Prime Minister who made it possible for Mennonites to come to Canada, he always voted Liberal.

Remembrance Day is a special day to honor those who made it possible for me to live in this land of peace, freedom, and opportunity, but I remember their sacrifice every day. With each step, I breathe a prayer of gratitude.

May we never forget.

Preview the Prologue and Chapter 1 of Crash Landing—a memoir exploring how the experiences of my ancestors shaped me.


Photo on Visual Hunt

Related articles: Remembrance Day 2016: Remembering Isn’t Enough

Special Announcement—Goodreads Giveaway of Crash Landing is Now Live!

Thanks for being a loyal blog subscriber. I wanted you to be the first to know that the Goodreads Giveaway for 10 autographed print copies of Crash Landing is now live!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Crash Landing by Liz Jansen

Crash Landing

by Liz Jansen

Giveaway ends November 27, 2018.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

The offer is open to anyone in Canada and the United States.
Please forward this invitation to your book-lover friends, especially if they are fans of memoir, motorcycles, or adventure.
I so appreciate your shares and love in spreading the word!
Thank you!
Liz

Finding Calm When Quitting is Not an Option

by Liz Jansen

quitting is not an optionIt was a two-part challenge. First came a day of riding big-rig-dense Interstate 20 across Texas during autumn storms. The second, heralded by foreboding skies, came the next day and took the first day’s lessons to a new level. My goal was to reach my friends’ home in northern Georgia ahead of the outer rain bands of a hurricane blasting the coastline 300 miles south. Little did I know how remarkable the final two hours of that 640 mile/1,000 km ride would be.

Showers that started gently, intensified as darkness fell. At least the previous day’s storms had been in daylight.I debated stopping for the night but there was nowhere convenient and I was so close to my destination. I could manage a little rain. Soon I was past the point of no return.

Heavy rain and darkness shrouded me as I turned north through unlit secondary highways of western Georgia. Raindrops found their way inside my helmet visor and dotted my glasses. When I lifted my visor to clear the fogging, they pelted my face but it gave me better visibility than trying to see through three watery lenses (glasses, inner, and outer visor).

For two intense hours, I stayed on the road by following my GPS and the tail lights (sometimes far) in front of me. Once when there were none, I waved someone to pass me so I could follow them. I couldn’t see well enough to do anything else—like pull off the road. Judging by the torrents falling from the sky and the deluges that covered me from oncoming vehicles, there was a lot of water on the road. I prayed I wouldn’t hydroplane.

I remembered the lessons of the day before (10 Tips for Being in the Flow Through Life’s Storms). I thought of Leslie Porterfield’s words when I interviewed her for Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment. During her racing career, Leslie broke numerous land speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flats. She described three tactics—staying focused, mastering fear, and not letting panic set in—as key strategies for success (and survival).

Although I felt little fear, my senses were on high alert. I prayed for focus and good judgment. I had no choice but to trust my skills, intuition, and my Higher Power, knowing that no matter what the outcome, it was for my greatest good. Letting thoughts of failure intervene served no useful purpose. I envisioned my heart-family (and dinner) waiting for me, and pulling into their garage.

I relaxed into the moment and trusted. Like the day before, a sense of peace and a deep inner quietness permeated the darkness. It’s the best possible place to act from when everything looks black. I maintained a steady throttle, trained my eyes on the tail lights, and kept splashing down the road. Trudy’s (my Triumph Tiger) road-handling skills were impeccable.

Storms always pass. Fighting them and thinking about how we’re suffering creates conflict and stress. Letting go of those thoughts brings us into the now and that place of peace. From that calm center, it’s easier to find and use the guides and resources that are always at hand, focus on where we’re going, and keep moving forward.


Photo credit: mmartinsson on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

The Awe of Travel and Mystery of Life

by Liz Jansen

mystery of lifeAccording to the calendar, this year’s road trip, at just over five weeks, was the shortest extended (more than three week) journey I’ve taken. That didn’t diminish the intensity or the insights.

My intent was to get out on the open road and for head-clearing time. It marked the transition from the concentrated work of writing, editing, and preparing Crash Landing for publication, and opening myself for whatever comes next.

The two halves of the journey were very different, almost as if balancing female and male energy. Moderate daily distances (230 miles/360 km daily avg.), almost all on secondary highways, characterized my trip west. The landscape under me transformed from industrial Michigan to prairies, heavy with crops, the majestic Rocky Mountains, the expansive high Great Basin desert and finally, the Sierra Nevada range, before arriving at my destination in California’s Central Valley. Most of the time, I rode under clear blue skies that mirrored the expansiveness my spirit thrived on.

Many magical moments occurred during the trip, from chatting with strangers who shared my path, spontaneous insights that hit like lightning, both on and off the bike, and absorbing the energy of the land I traversed.

To experience them best, I had to let go of my own expectations. I’d pictured doing more “work” from the road, especially preparing for the launch of Crash Landing. It only took three days for me to realize I had to revise my perspective. I had neither the time, energy, or inclination to pull out my laptop and write after I’d ridden three hundred miles, set up camp, and arrange dinner.

While I’ve always known that riding across the open country delivers freedom and inspires creativity, I discovered that best happens when I let go. It’s not easy. I’d set an intention for the day to rehearse my HU presentation, or decide what to blog about. Then I’d catch myself, having gone miles without taking in the beauty around me.

That’s when I realized the ride itself was my primary “job,” and not separate from the rest of my life. Letting the day unfold without trying to control it and surrendering to beauty of the present opened space for those magical experiences I couldn’t have planned.

The ride east gave me more opportunity to put my new awareness into practice. It started out serenely enough, but then the weather became tempestuous, stormy and rainy. Weighing my choices, I decided to push through to my friends’ home and safe harbor in Georgia (370 miles/600 km daily avg.). I crossed the south on Interstates and their relentless truck traffic. Even in this chaos, I experienced serenity, but only after I reassured the nervous voices in my head. While it was beyond my comfort zone, (many times I pictured Trudy in one of those semis and me riding up front in the cab) I could still ride safely, and knew my best option was to push through, and trust my skills and intuition.

Although the weather—alternatively heat, rain, wind, and cold—was physically demanding and I arrived at my home tired, I was also more energized than ever.

When I mapped my route, I was incredulous at how much distance I’d covered, yet that path just shows miles on a map. It doesn’t even scratch the surface of where I’ve been.

Pushing our comfort zone, however that happens, is transformative and empowering. It calls to a deeper place within us and makes us draw on strengths that emerge only when they’re tested. Letting go and watching events unfold demonstrates the mystery of life’s journey.

 

 

 

 

3 Profound Lessons from the McDonald Observatory

by Liz Jansen

McDonald ObservatoryMy recent trip east from Los Angeles to Atlanta became a race against time, aiming to reach safe harbor in Georgia ahead of Hurricane Michael. The relatively leisurely pace I envisioned was tossed to the wind as I followed Interstate 10 across California and Arizona into Texas. I could not, however, pass by Fort Davis, Texas without stopping for a tour at the McDonald Observatory.

According to their website, this research unit of The University of Texas is one of the world’s leading centers for astronomical research, teaching, public education, and outreach.

For three weeks I’d connected with the energy of the land as I traveled west across plains, over mountains, and along valleys paralleling the Pacific. A visit to the observatory offered time to gaze skyward and connect with the heavens.

Powerful telescopes sit atop Mount Locke and Mount Fowlkes under some of the darkest skies in the continental USA.  Astronomers train their lens skyward, searching for planets, exploding stars, and black holes. Soon they’ll begin a project to better understand of dark energy.

We’re part of the same system, bound by the same universal laws, so it’s not surprising that in addition to the telescopes teaching me about stars, they taught me about myself.

3 Profound Lessons from the McDonald Observatory

Clouds Block Awareness

As powerful and state-of-the-art as these telescopes are, a cloud floating across the viewing area blocks the connection with the universe. If rain threatens, the viewing window closes, which stops data collection and the decoding of light transmission.

Thoughts are often compared to clouds. They form, float through our consciousness, and dissipate. But these thoughts lead to judgments and interfere with our connection to each other, and true self, and the universe.

New Insights Come from Old News

As exciting as it is when astronomers decipher the messages in the light energy that arrives from far away, it’s old news. By the time light from the edge of the universe arrives at the telescope, it’s traveled 46.1 billion light years to tell us about galactic events that happened 13.8 billion years ago. That’s very old news, but the best we’ve got.

As humans, we also operate on old news, except we’re usually unaware of it. Our thoughts and beliefs are based on stories that have been passed down through the generations. They form the basis for life choices. It’s only when we explore and question what we’ve accepted as fact that we begin to see that there are other perspectives. We learn that we’re working with data that served our ancestors, or us, at one time, but is no longer relevant.

Awareness Comes from Darkness

Data from the forefront of research arrives from darkness. Astronomers at the McDonald Observatory collect their information primarily at night as sunlight would damage the telescope’s lenses.

We learn most by exploring our shadows—the parts of ourselves we deny or repress, the wounds where we hide hurt, or the aspects of our self we dislike or disown. As hidden as they may be, these qualities inform our thoughts, choices and beliefs. They draw energy, diverting it from creativity and our search for happiness.

By becoming more aware, we see that maybe things aren’t the way we thought they were. Only through deep exploration of our inner space that we discover these aspects, learn to give them a constructive expression, and free the blockages that keep us from expressing our full potential.

A skilled healer is invaluable in facilitating this process. Contact me if you’re interested in learning more.

 

 

 

 

10 Tips for Being in the Flow Through (Life’s) Storms

by Liz Jansen

being in the flowThis week I had the unenviable experience of riding through two separate, large storm systems, one on the fringe of a hurricane, as I rode east across the southern U.S.

It wasn’t my preferred manner of travel, or what I’d planned, but life has a way of overriding the best laid plans. In the end, I was trying to arrive at my friends’ place before a hurricane tore through the state.

The storm that enveloped me for 400 miles/640 km across Central Texas brought wind and rain. There was no time for introspection or enjoying the scenery. It was only in retrospect lessons to weather life’s storms—like relationships ending, financial woes, illness, and job loss—emerged.

10 Tips for Being in the Flow Through (Life’s) Storms

  1. Be alert to impending change. A storm usually lets you know it’s on its way and gives you time to prepare. That gives you more options than when you feel blindsided. I could have waited a few days and taken a chance with the weather or cancelled my visit. I weighed the pros, cons, and risks, and decided to go for it. Once you’re committed, there’s no turning back.
  2. Call on your skills. Whatever it is you’re dealing with, you’ll have resources to help you. I have tons of riding experience and moderate riding skills. This was not my first stormy ride, but even when you know what to expect, the reality is unpredictable.
  3. Keep things in perspective. At one point when I’d pulled off to gas up Trudy, I could observe traffic plowing by on the highway. The mist thrown up by vehicles only rose a few feet off the pavement, right where I was riding, but above that it was relatively clear. When we’re in the thick of a storm, it feels all-encompassing and everlasting, but it may resolve sooner than we think.
  4. Avoid getting caught up in other people’s turmoil. They too are navigating the storm they best they can and you have no control over their choices. The steady barrage of semis, added wind turbulence and kicked up a heavy mist. While I couldn’t avoid them, I learned how to position myself around the various profiles to cut the buffeting.
  5. Avoid getting bogged down. The safest speed for me was slightly faster than most trucks. That minimized the number passing me and put me in a better position of control. Falling into a victim role gives away our power and with it our ability to deal with change.
  6. Watch for help. A stranger at a travel plaza, a self-professed weather buff, came over to review the weather radar with me. Together we strategized how best for me to get through the next four hours of travel and stay in the lightest area of the storm.
  7. Respect and consider the needs of others. Everyone we share the literal or metaphoric road with is weathering their own storm. They may not be on a motorcycle but they’re experiencing it in their own way and carrying their own loads.
  8. Look after yourself. It’s important at all times but even more so during upheavals. I took more frequent breaks, and stayed nourished and hydrated. Drying off was out of the question.
  9. Reassure your fear. The most ridiculous thoughts pop up and try to scare you off your path. What if the bike slid out from under me? What if I lost control in the wind (it wasn’t THAT bad), or skidded off the road? I’d ask myself why that would happen. My tires had lots of tread, I’d checked the air pressure that morning, and my load was balanced and well-positioned. I’d increased my buffer zone and the situation wasn’t beyond my skill level. I couldn’t let the “what-ifs” take hold or I would crash.
  10. Trust—your self and your Higher Power. I knew I was guided and cared for. I had the skills, a trusty motorcycle, and could navigate the weather. It wasn’t comfortable, it wasn’t easy, and it tested my abilities to stay focused. As soon as I surrendered to that trust, I experienced serenity, a sense of being in the flow of life, (and traffic) even in the midst of the storm.

Storms help us grow. We don’t chose them and can’t control them but when they arrive, we must deal with them. How we weather one, determines how prepared we are for the next.


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