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Don’t think for a second that because I haven’t mentioned it, I’ve given up on single track mountain biking. I’ve been a couple times since the first time with all the wrecks. Practice makes perfect!
Which brought me to a bit of introspection during today’s ride. I am a person who keeps at something until I get it right – if I like it, that is. It struck me today that this probably is my parent’s fault for making me practice piano every day after school.
When I was just a little girl, my big dream was to play the piano someday, and play it well – in front of people, specifically serving in the local church. My parents went with that dream, purchased a used piano, and paid for piano lessons for 14 years. I became the church pianist at age 12 (and kept going for the next ten years), went to college and majored in piano (culminating in a senior recital), and still serve in church.
My parent’s rule was: practice piano every day when you get home from school. Period. Not only when you feel like it. If you have a cold – practice. If you have a ton of homework – practice. If you never learn how to fix dinner because your mother is always doing that while you’re practicing – practice. Above all else, the piano was practiced. A few years in, I decided to go on strike from practicing. Guess what – there was a big altercation between myself and my parents (the united front), resulting in my dad walking me backwards to the piano bench, sitting me down, and declaring that I was going to practice. I decided that was never going to work and decided to retire from being on strike.
And you know what? It worked! I am a product of my parent’s determination, and I thank them for that, and also for their monetary sacrifice – all of those piano lessons, dozens of Chopin, Bach, and Mozart pieces, and ultimately, a college education.
So that brings me back to the subject at hand. I am still “practicing”. If I want to be good at a recipe, I practice. Pie crusts and bread were the biggest challenge – but guess what, I even taught my girl’s homeschool home ec class how to make a pie crust! I decided to try my hand at aerobics instruction a few years back. I picked out music, made up exercises, printed out the moves in big letters, laid them on the floor in the front of the room and used them until I no longer needed them. Granted, there were a few missteps (and lots of times when I forgot even what my notes meant, resulting in a surprise move to everyone in the room, including me), but I learned – and thrived!
I shared these thoughts with Aimee (riding mentor) today. After a great ride, she gave me praise for learning and gaining speed and confidence. She left earlier than me, and suggested a trail we had just ridden. I took the trail, but missed the turn-off and took a longer trail (I’m still learning to look up and read signs while navigating at a decent clip) and by the time I realized it, it was too late to turn back. Remember that first long, hard trail I rode – the one I wrecked all the way through – the one with all the whoop-de-doos? I haven’t been back on that one since the first day – on purpose. I decided to suck it up and see what I was made of. Surprisingly, this trail was not near as hard as I remembered! There were a couple of really hard climbs that got my heart racing – I was panting like a maniac, but then the reward was the downward hills and whoop-de-doos! I convinced myself to stop and take a couple of breaks, even though I was in some very isolated woods all by myself with lots of animals rustling and a bear sighting is not out of the question. It was well worth it, and I came riding out of there victoriously!
The key to success – perseverance. So the next time your kid says to you, “Mom, I don’t really wanna play this nice saxaphone anymore” (the one you put a down payment on so he could play in the band at school), or, “I just really don’t like playing the violin that much” after you’ve just invested a month’s salary and went to all the trouble of hiring a teacher (never mind the scheduling headaches), back little junior up and tell him, “Then you will never be a single track mountian biker!”
Hey, it’s worth a try, right?