On The Brink Of Change

I feel really good about today. My pathway 3 application to the IBLCE was approved, and today I start my lactation course. I’ve been reading books about breastfeeding, mostly from a cultural and sociological perspective, and while it is fascinating to study and certainly critical to a comprehensive understanding of breastfeeding, I’m also very anxious to finally delve into the biology and clinical practice behind it.

Today is also the last day that I will be driving my car to drop Eve off at daycare and to go to work. I’m picking up a folding bike, a beautiful vintage Raleigh Twenty, which I will be using for mixed mode commuting. Starting on Monday I’ll be dropping the baby and the car off at daycare, then riding my bike to the rail to go to work. It’s the first step towards becoming a full-time bike commuter and I am excited.

While both of these things seem minor, they are actually pretty big deals for me. I spent most of my life being absolutely befuddled about what I wanted to do career-wise; I’ve been miserable at the same crappy corporate job for the past six years and to finally have a path – and to take a step onto that path! – is at once exhilarating and terrifying. In order to put my all into this, I’m eventually going to have to quit my job; and despite the fact that my job has always made me unhappy (and at a few times has been literally detrimental to my mental health and wellbeing and my physical health and wellbeing), I am really afraid to leave it because for almost seven years it’s been everything that I know. The idea of changing jobs scares the shit out of me.

Unfortunately, due to the bike-unfriendliness of my city, so does commuting. I didn’t grow up using buses or rails because my brother and I were never allowed to use them without my parents – and my parents refused to use them. We did everything by car, even little stupid trips a few blocks away. Cycling in the road scares me (although not as much as it did before I started doing it), taking the bus scares me, and riding on the rail scares me. Even walking scares me. I feel so vulnerable when I’m not in my car and I worry about people trying to hurt me whether it’s particularly warranted or not.

I’ve come to realize that my decision to go car-lite (with the eventual long-term goal of being car-free) requires much more mental rewiring than I anticipated. Just the other day, I rode my bike two miles to Home Depot to pick up some brackets. I felt so proud of myself for doing a chore by bicycle, and then soon after getting home I drove about 500 feet to a 7-eleven in my neighborhood. It wasn’t until I was actually parked in front of the 7-eleven that I realized what a massively stupid and thoughtless thing I had done. I tried to rationalize it by telling myself that they wouldn’t have let me bring my bike in anyway (and I don’t have a bike lock), but then another part of me said, “Well then you should have walked, asshole.”

I’m trying to undo the training that compels me to use my car for every simple thing. I have to remember to ask myself, “Can I do this another way?” before reaching for the keys. It’s a work in progress.

So yes, today is a day of changes, and despite my fears and reservations, I feel good about them. I have butterflies, but I’m trying to tell myself that butterflies are okay.

How about you, dear readers? Any changes brewing in the distance?


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5 Responses to “On The Brink Of Change”

  1. theroamingnaturalist Says:

    You’re such a rockstar! I’m so proud.

    We have a pretty bike-friendly town, but I have a hard time finding a light bike that I’m comfortable riding; staying in the bent-over position is hard on my lower back, and the sit-up-straight bike that I have and love is sooo heavy it takes forever to get anywhere. There’s a shuttle to the town I work in from the town I live in, and I am forever mentally beating myself up for not using it more often. It’s just a matter of conveinence: it leaves a half hour earlier than I usually do and gets back a half hour later than I usually do, so it’s just an extra hour but it’s enough to make me lazy. I also have to have my lunch, breakfast, and shower taken care of the night before so I have time to walk the dog, but once I get in the groove, it feels awesome. For one, I can nap both ways (always a great thing), and I can go like 2 weeks without getting gas in my car (usually I have to fill up every week, ESPECIALLY if I decide to go somewhere on the weekend).

    Reading about your bike adventures is making me itch to start taking the shuttle regularly… keep it up!!

    • August Says:

      Try to start small, just pledge to take the shuttle one day every week. Then increase slowly! I’m discovering that I have a lot more mental than logistical barriers, so it’s a matter of readjusting my thought process.

      You always have the option of changing the handlebars on your road bike so that you don’t have to ride in the drops and can be more upright. You could also have the brake levers moved to the top of the handlebars so that you can sit more upright. I suggest taking your bike to a local bike shop (or REI – members get discounts on bike services even if you bought your bike elsewhere!) and just telling them, “Hey, I can’t ride like this because of my back, what can you do for me?” It might be a lot cheaper and easier than you think.

      • theroamingnaturalist Says:

        That’s great advice – I had no idea the bike could be rearranged to accommodate sitting more upright! That’s awesome. I think I need to start saving for a real commuter bike – I think having a good, solid bike that I trust and is comfortable would go a long way. My bike is also a little tall for me, so when I stop I sometimes fall over, which I don’t want to do in the road with cars. It’s also mildly embarassing. >:)

        I took the shuttle on Tues, carpooled today, and will either carpool or take the shuttle tomorrow. I’m getting nervous about leaving the dogs alone for 10 hour days (which is how long my days are with the shuttle), but once my roommate gets back from vacation I plan to start taking the shuttle more regularly. (The dog already ate the sofa twice and I’m nervous he’ll remember the delicious flavor of foam. Good thing it only cost $30 at Goodwill.) Even just one day of not using my car is a total relief. Loving it!

  2. poeticdesires Says:

    I took your advice, bit the bullet, and rode to the Metro today without practice. Things I learned:

    1- Take a different way; there is a killer uphill I never noticed before because I’d always drive it.

    2- Pack another shirt to change into. Thankfully I had a stupid dress code today, so I packed that shirt and threw it on before work.

    3- A little rope goes a long way; I used some old ropes to secure my back pack to my rack. I refuse to buy the bag specially made for the rack when I like my backpack, dammit.

    4- I look badass as a bike commuter; sweaty undershirt, rolled up pant legs, bandana, and helmet attached to my pack. Reminded me of the archetype bike messenger from the early 90s.

    Yeah for saving $5 on parking and getting in a workout without going to a gym!

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