Chasing Radical Vulnerability

The first time I experienced yoga nidra was the same day as my friend’s funeral. It had been a long morning of gathering with my fellow friends and coworkers, a full funeral mass in Spanish, and bearing witness to the pain in his mother’s cries as his casket was being prepared for interment. I had resolved to not hide my emotions as I might have in another era of my life and cried so deeply, so many times. I found a new level of connection with my friends by being open and vulnerable. We had lost a friend and a work-family member far too young.

Yoga nidra is a state of deep but conscious relaxation. Done completely laying down, fully supported by props, yoga nidra allows the physical body to fully and completely relax while the brain enters a state of consciousness that is awake and aware yet also supporting deep relaxation. It’s like taking a nap while being fully awake.

I had scheduled this initial session so far in advance there was so way to know how raw I would be. I broke down while explaining to our yoga nidra instructor the events of the day, somehow uncovering more tears and heaving, stuttering breath. My head hurt from so much crying and I was hoping yoga nidra would sooth my aching heart.

In this state of grief, I settled in for the practice and succumbed to wave after wave of sensation. It was like floating in a dark pool, the harness of the instructor’s voice bringing me up to the surface to direct my attention somewhere else in my body before lowering me back into the inky water. My third eye ached like it was going to split my head open from sadness.

Image from Netflix

Floating.

Lift.

Gently back into the waters.

So effortless yet so painful. Soaking inside my sorrow.

When it came time to bring my body back to sensation, it as like breaking hard clay off my body to find movement. I had fallen so far into myself it hurt to move.


I’ve been chasing that level of radical relaxation ever since. My brain doesn’t ever seem to stop; my body perpetually in motion. And I miss my friend so deeply … for someone I only had the privilege of experiencing for less than a year, he left a hole in my heart that is slowly repairing itself. But in this loss, I found a way to go so far inside, to the core of my being, to sit with my grief and really experience it.

I wish it didn’t take tragedy to give ourselves permission to be radically vulnerable.

New Year, New Me

and a new brand ambassadorship as well

Picking back up a good six months after my last adventure, you may be wondering if I fell off the Earth or what. Maybe not – but let’s pretend for a moment.

The first half of 2019 was a targeted effort to do gnarly gravel rides and build up to the Farmer’s Daughter Gravel Grinder in May. I was out almost every weekend either riding or doing trail maintenance on my local trails … and sometimes, both. I spent not one but TWO amazing weekend with my girlfriends camping and biking and having a blast just relaxing. I decided to go on the Taste the Catskills ride, a definite stretch but well within my capacity.

Then there’s the let-down period after a series of epic adventures.

I switched back over to mountain biking and spent a few months doing low miles/high smiles rides. I raced my mountain bike for the first time ever and placed first in the Cat 3 Beginner Women (19+) category. I went back to organizing my fall gravel event, which always takes more time and effort than one might think. I was doing trail maintenance.

I was stressed out, constantly running from one thing to the next … it just wasn’t fun anymore and I couldn’t remember the last time I had a day to just wake up and sit on the couch with a mug of coffee and my dogs.

I hit a wall of just being Too Busy. So I wrote all my volunteer obligations that I was taking a break.

Of course, in that break I came up with other things I wanted to do, like host a spring classic gravel grinder. And just ride my bike because I want to. And sleep in because I love it when I can do that.

So here we are, in January 2020, and I’m slowing working volunteer obligations back into my life and figuring out – what do I want to DO this year??

About a week ago I learned I’ve been selected as a 2020 Nuun Hydration brand ambassador and I am super stoked about this! I’ve been a big fan of Nuun since my brush with heat exhaustion on Day 3 of a 4-day bike tour and adding that little electrolyte tablet to my water profoundly revived me. Nuun has been my go-to hydration product for years and I’m proud to be able to represent the brand!

I recently picked up a 2020 Salsa Cutthroat GRX600 (a bike I’ve been eyeing for years but they didn’t make my size until this year) and am in the process of dialing in a gravel/adventure set up as well as a bikepacking set up. I love my other Salsa “groad” (gravel-road) bike but the Cutthroat has taken my gravel game to the next level. I’ve named her Monster Truck for the incredible traction, stability, and confidence the bike inspires.

For 2020, I’m starting to stack my spring gravel calendar with an eye towards pivoting to bikepacking for the the summer and fall.

Here’s my current roster of events:

Other great events I can’t attend or have my eye on/no 2020 date posted yet:

  • April – Muddy Onion Spring Classic Gravel Grinder, Montpelier, VT
  • June – Poison Ivy Mousetrap MTB race, Rock Tavern, NY
  • July – Chainstretcher MTB race, Peekskill, NY
  • September – Ashford Adventure Ride, Ashford, CT
  • October – F2G2, Tyringham, MA
  • October – Dirty Apple Ride, Goldens Bridge, NY <- that’s my other ride!
  • November – Gravel Gobbler, Nassau, NY
  • December – Ice Weasels Cometh, Medfield, MA

Bikepacking Trips (some on the To Do Eventually list):

That’s a lot, now that I look at it.

ANYWAY, I’m looking forward to reclaiming some balance this year. My New Year’s Resolution is to Be Less Busy so we’ll see good I am at keeping myself uncommitted.

See you out there!