GentleSoul Arts

Living a Creative Life

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A quick break

Taking a break at work, I can’t check Facebook or Instagram since both sites are down and there’s really nothing on Twitter but people complaining about Facebook and Instagram. So I thought I’d type out a quick post, and reflect on life before social media. Because I’m old.

I took programming class in junior high (mid 1980s) but it was in DOS and our big project was printing out a big ansi/ascii banner (I don’t remember which). I didn’t spend any other time on a computer. At home I’d watch TV, read magazines, clean my room, sort out clothes, ride my bike. I was in band so I’d practice or play music for fun.

Now, I find myself grabbing my phone for a distraction. TikTok, Facebook, Instagram. I post and constantly look for a like or comment. I’ve contemplating deleting them. I could easily do without Twitter. I am connected with others sketchers & cyclists on FB and Insta, but how connected are we? I check for group ride notifications and cancellations. I thought about how people used to have phone trees, where each person was assigned some one to call to pass along a message. Now we have group texts. Social media is easy, but it’s not simple.

Even though I’m posting this online, I feel less connected with others than I did before I had an online presence.

Luckily my sketchbook is always in my purse with some fine liners and watercolor so even without social media dopamine monkey to chase, I can have “something to do”.

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Clip Clip Clop

Another busy week, with lots of new adventures in cycling and a few adventures in art. 

After my group ride, I decided it’s time to go clipless and work on joining the faster group. I had taken the day off on Wednesday for another group ride (more on that in a bit) so I took my bike to my Local Bike Shop and I now have mountain bike (Crankbrothers Candy 1) pedals on my road bike & easy release cleats on new cycling shoes.  

I practiced a bit in the hallway, learning how it would feel to clip & unclip. I almost went sideways but luckily hallways are narrow enough I could put an arm out to catch myself.  I didn’t have much time because I had a beginner gravel ride to get to!

Gravel is SO MUCH FUN!  I took my geocaching ‘trail bike” (It’s really a fitness hybrid bike but it has big 700×42 tires so I call it my trail bike. It has flat bars so it’s not what people think of as a ‘gravel bike” but it worked well enough!).  Sand is challenging, trying to keep going when you’re being bogged down.  It’s really a metaphor for life.  Gravel & rocks were easier but you still have to let the bike tend to go where it wants and gently steer it back instead of forcing it.  It reminded me of driving on ice.   It was a short 10-mile route but a full-body workout.  Lying in bed, I noticed how sore my abs were.   I will definitely ride gravel whenever I have a chance. 

Thursday evening, stationary clipless practice.  I brought my road bike to the living room and practiced clipping out & in, one foot on the ground while watching TV.  I managed to fall twice, both to the left.   Replaying it in my mind, I had to have leaned left while clipped in.  Well, I think I know now what prompted it but I had my first fall out of the way.  Notice the word FIRST

Friday Evening – Sushi night!!  I planned on practicing on the grass at a nearby park for a bit, ordering sushi, and practicing more until it was time to pick up my order.  Clip-in, push off, fall over.  Okay.. get up and try again.  Clip-in, push off, fall over.  I sat for a while pondering if clipless really worth this effort, should I just have my LBS put my flats back on.  Could I even return the shoes & pedals?  Should I just keep them until later or sell them on a cycling Facebook group.  I reminded myself that I’m a perfectionist and that failing sucks but it’s part of the learning process. Giving in to that is the worst way to go.  Keep practicing.  If you stop to look try to clip in without pedaling, you’re going to fall due to a lack of momentum.  Basic physics. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, so even if you can’t clip in right away, keep pedaling.  

I managed to clip in and go a bit, but when I tried to clip out on my left foot, I fell over. My heart was racing at the fact I did ride clipped in for even a few yards.  I’ve noticed I push off with my right when I start so planned on stopping with my left.  But I also naturally stop with my right foot, then step off the bike, swing my pedal into position with my right foot to take off again.  I’m going to have to learn to push off on my left, keeping it clipped in, and not try to go against what my body wants to do when I’m stopping. 

I fell over at least one more time, maybe twice.  At this point, I lost count.  I order my sushi and kept practicing.  I would have kept going if it hadn’t been for picking up dinner for me & my son.   It was much harder to unclip with my left foot so I practiced stopping on my right, keeping my left clipped in.  It felt more natural but still, I have to actively remember to unclip as I slow, instead of waiting until I’m braking.

Saturday: Morning ride with a new friend.  I took my trail bike because there’s no way I’m going anywhere near asphalt or cement until I can ride & stop without gravity’s assistance.  An easy 10-mile ride.  I noticed we really didn’t come to a complete stop often, and I did practice the “clipping out” motion on my flat pedals to reinforce that muscle memory. 

When I got home I contemplated rearranging the living room to set up my trainer & road bike to practice indoors.   I had a sketching event in the afternoon I had to get ready for too, along with running to the bike shop to have my trail bike’s gearing adjusted & to make sure my cleats were okay.  I was told the more I use the pedals, the more they would loosen up, and that they really couldn’t adjust my cleats to make it easier to unclip. When I got back from sketching, I rearranged bookcases &  made room for my trainer.  I practiced some, so much easier to unclip on my right. 

My Road Bike, Frida.

Sunday:  Stationary trainer clipless practice!  I accidentally unclipped on my left, as I had my right foot down.  When I have my weight on my right foot, my left foot tends to point out. Experiment time.  I clipped in my left foot,  turned my heel towards my bike, toes out and instantly unclipped.  I’ve been trying to turn my heel out.    Also looking at my cleats, the left was angled more than the right. A google search on cleat placement verified that my cleat was angled to clip out heel inward.  So I counted the little marks on my right shoe cleat & lined up my left cleat to be similar.  When I went to tighten the cleat, it shifted …. Ahh, so tightening the cleat is what caused it to go crooked.   After I straightened it again, tightening it equally so it wouldn’t go sideways, I clipped in, heel out, unclip.  SO MUCH EASIER!!!  I can go back to training muscle memory to always go heel out to unclip instead of one foot one way, the other foot the other way, but I can clip out heel in as well.  More trainer practice…. 

In the evening I had another group ride with friends on the trail bike, a slow 10-mile lap which felt good.  Again, noticing my stopping (favoring the right), and working on starting on my left foot to get into the habit of it. 

Tonight I’ll take my trail bike to my long group ride, staying with the slow group as I really can’t ride it as fast as my road bike.  I’ll go back to a park to practice on grass sometime during the week, and hopefully, I’ll feel comfortable enough with it to ride my road bike in the group ride next week. 

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A group of artists I meet with are currently reading Twyla Tharp’s Creative Habit. She mentions Rituals, which got me thinking, What rituals do I already have?

I started lighting a candle and focusing on flow when I set up my bills each month. I started that after reading Tosha Silver’s “It’s Not Your Money” Now I feel off if I pay bills without the candle, and focusing on my intention on the ebb and flow of funds. Loosening my grip, so more can come.

I pull my Faery card on Sunday before I go to bed, or this week on Monday because of the holiday my days are messed up. I pull a Secret Message Society fortune in the mornings, and glue it either in my sketchbook or calendar planner.

I think I used to have more rituals but they’ve fallen by the wayside. Doing something with intention can be a ritual. Washing dishes, being aware of the warmth of the water, the feel of the dish, the sound of the scrubber.

This week I’ll explore where I can add ritual to my daily routines.


Adventures in Painting (a shed)

Oh it was a busy weekend! First I road 30 miles, my longest distance so far, in training for a 33 mile ride in November. A ride I signed up for next month has been changed to a virtual only event, so I wonder if the November ride will follow suit. Get your vaccine people! So that afternoon I was pretty immobile. I did not get my normal post ride headache. I started to get a headache so I would grab some salt and put it under my tongue. I did that every time I felt a headache starting, which seemed like most of the afternoon, but it didn’t go into full blown migraine mode. Maybe I’ve solved the post ride headache mystery.

The next day my mother-in-law was in town and helped paint the shed that was built last month. I think we have about 90% done. I’ll work on the trim this week and my husband will paint the top sides that I wasn’t comfortable painting on the ladder. This was the 1st time in over 30 years that I painted that wasn’t an art canvas. My mom’s voice was in my head loud! “You’re dripping paint, watch what you’re doing”. “You’re getting paint everywhere” “You’re not doing that right, you’re just making a mess”. Every time time a drop of paint landed on me, or the ground, BOOM there’s my mom. I kept reminding myself paint was getting on the walls and we bought WAY too much paint so it’s not like it was being wasted if I dropped some.

I was on the edge of an emotional breakdown. Comments made were hitting a bit harder than they normally would. I tried to explain to my husband, but was told “Don’t be X, be Y instead”… and repeated questions about what color the doors would be, I had to get away and hid in my closet for a bit. No more than 5 minutes, I don’t think anyone noticed I was gone, or upset.

I’m glad to have a quiet day today, prep for the beginning of next month and have time to myself. If you’re struggling today, you’re not alone. Let’s take one moment, one task at a time, pause to rest when needed and if you’re able to have a self-care day enjoy you’re favorite activities.