My kids go to a Montessori school nestled at the base of a table mountain in Golden, Colorado.
For years I was in the rhythm of dropping them off at school and then hopping on my mountain bike to do a quick lap in the early morning. I’d finish my ride feeling exhilarated, and be home, in front of my computer, showered and ready for my work day by 9:30.
In the 75 minutes it’d take me to do a lap, I’d climb for a bit on the narrow trail, pass by the back of a quaint horse farm, ride through two fields of flowers, and then make the arduous trip to the top of the mountain where I was rewarded with spectacular views for miles. After racing across the top, I’d then descend catching air here and there feeling the pure joy of floating down the face of the mountain.
Flying down a dirt trail is one of my favorite life experiences.
But to go down, one must go up. Which never seemed to be a problem until it was. The beginning of the end? Four years ago, on a ride with my husband Randy. Not even halfway up the steep climb to the top, my face was beet red and I was gasping desperately for oxygen. Randy took one look at me and got concerned. And at request, and for the first time ever on this particular trail, I put my foot down.
Up until that moment, I had always prided myself on being able to make it to the top without stopping.
It took 20 minutes of me lying on the ground, chest heaving, eyes closed, to catch my breath.
We knew something was wrong.
That something was invisible toxic mold and it’s poisonous by-products that were quietly ravaging my body and health.
I finished that ride, and I’ve been on my bike since then, but even on much easier trails, I’ve struggled massively to be able to get enough oxygen. The minute I exert myself, it’s as if my lungs close for business. I have mold-induced asthma, and no inhaler (or functional or integrative medicine protocol) has been able to help with my wheezing thus far.
So a year ago I decided I was done with the bike.
I spent a lot of my time telling myself it wasn’t fair, being jealous of anyone else who got to ride, and feeling sorry for myself.
My husband looked into eBikes and told me it’s not if, it’s when.
Initially, this soured me. Getting to the top of a mountain on an eBike didn’t count. Frankly, if I couldn’t get to the top of the mountain on my own, then maybe I didn’t deserve to. And the most painful thought of all? If I got on an eBike, then clearly I was a quitter. I believed the act of getting an eBike was a subconscious message to my body to stop trying to heal because it meant I had lost all hope of being able to heal myself.
These heavy thoughts weighed me down for years.
Then just last week I had an epiphany.
It hit me that the eBike could mean whatever I wanted it to mean.
And that I could choose a thought that would serve me, instead of sentencing me to a life without a beloved bike.
Instead of the eBike signifying that I was giving up on my healing, maybe it meant NOTHING about my recovery, and could just be a tool to get me flying down a mountain trail again.
So I rented an eBike and joined Randy and my 11-year-old on their mountain bikes. Suddenly the trails that I hadn’t been on in years, were welcoming me as I flew up the mountain, only a little out of breath. The blue sky celebrated overhead, and I told myself how sweet it felt to be back.
The point of this story?
I let go of ONE thought and my life transformed.
That thought was mental clutter. It was keeping me stuck, getting between where I am and where I want to be.
So allow me to ask, is there a heavy thought that you’re stubbornly holding onto? Is there a lighter way to think about it?
The choice is yours.
You’ll never regret taking the lighter path, which will always lead you to a life where you feel the most alive.
So decide now, what thought will you let go of so you, too, can live light?
About the Author: Heather Aardema is an optimistic build-er-upper, momma of two boys, mountain biker, and fan of homemade and not-perfect. She’s the founder of School of Living Lighter—where she helps women tackle their clutter, un-complicate their lives, and lose weight for good—read more of her essays at SchoolofLivingLighter.com.