I am not sure that any of the women on that ride realise how awesome they are…or why I think they are awesome.
Yesterday’s ride was a special celebration; one incredible volunteer’s hundredth ride. That is 100 rides that she has led; giving up her time not only to lead the rides, but also to plan, pre-ride and promote them. This is a phenomenal achievement in a relatively short space of time. There were several Breeze Champions on the ride, including myself. We all give up our time to lead free rides for women, and we do it because we want to support more women to get on their bikes. And it works. Breeze has spread across Scotland very quickly over the past couple of years and there are now hundreds of women across Scotland enjoying cycling because of these dedicated volunteers.
But it isn’t just the time these women give up for others which makes them awesome.
I had met all the women on the ride today before. Some I know more about than others. I know some of their stories. I know one woman took a leap of faith to start a business she was passionate about and who has built it up to the phenomenon it is now. I know one woman gives up her time to lead a Rainbows group. It’s not the group my daughter goes to, but I know how much my daughter loves her own group and how hard the leaders work so hard to make it amazing.
All awesome achievements, but it wasn’t that either.
Yesterday, I was not feeling good when I headed out to meet the group. For a while I had been caught in a bit of a downward spiral of negativity and anxiety. I am not one to give up easily, but I have felt like giving up on lots of things. My daughter is struggling at school, building up my coaching business presents an ongoing challenge, balancing work and family life is fraught with guilt which I heap on myself.
My tale of woe is nothing life threatening. It is nothing special. It is nothing which is not faced by millions of people – millions of women – every day. What tipped me into my downward spiral over the past few weeks, was some of the people around me. People who judge, people who say one thing and mean another. What tipped me further was that these people were women; women who must have faced their own struggles with work, or with family, or with both.
I set out on my bike yesterday ready to close my coaching business and never speak to anyone in the school playground again. I wanted nothing more than to retreat into myself and be alone.
But I wasn’t alone. I was out with eleven other women.
Eleven awesome women.
Women who listened and who cared and who did not judge. Who recognised that I was feeling vulnerable and who genuinely wanted to help. Who took the time to stand on a street corner and listen to me offload when I am sure they had a million things they should of been getting home to get on with.
By the time I got home, my spiral was starting to head back up. I felt more positive, I felt more ready to take on challenges and ignore the negatives which I cannot control. I felt my life was back in perspective and I knew how to focus on all the positives.
None of the awesome women on the ride yesterday gave me the answers to my problems. None of them made my problems go away. But they listened and they didn’t judge, and that made all the difference.
Women are awesome because we can be so good at supporting each other. There are lots of awesome men out there too, but I think men have a different way of listening and a different way of being supportive.
So, on International Women’s Day, I hope that I can live up to the awesome women around me.
Let’s all be awesome!