René has done an excellent job of taking a favorite childhood activity and using it as an analogy for life and all of its lessons. His passion for cycling and for helping others shines through as he leads the reader to tools they can use to create success and fulfillment in their lives.
René was in the final stages of submitting his manuscript to Balboa Press when his mom, who was his biggest cheerleader about his book, passed away suddenly from a massive stroke. While her death had a major impact on René’s efforts to complete his book, he applied his own advice, using the tips that he mentions in this book to “keep pedaling” towards his dreams and goals.
Whether you’re reeling from a setback that threatens your dream… or trying to figure out how to keep focused on that dream… or wondering what to do about those friends who say you can’t succeed… or even if you lack purpose and simply want to find your passion… take advantage of René’s experience. Delivered in a warm, conversational style, his stories can show you that you aren’t alone. That you have what it takes to live a fulfilling life. The stories, along with tips at the end of each chapter, will help the reader move beyond obstacles that may be holding them back.
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YOU ALWAYS HAVE MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU HAVE
Life is like riding a bicycle — in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.
— Albert Einstein
Do you remember riding your first bike? If you didn't have a bike, think about a time when you tried something new and how many times you practiced to be good at it. How did it feel as you hopped on your bike and thought, "Wow! How in the world am I going to keep my balance and not fall?" How many times did you crash or skin your knees and elbows? A lot of times, I imagine, if you were like me! My knees were always scraped or bruised from the many attempts to keep my balance. But in the end, it was worth my effort and time.
I vividly recall how, when I first began riding a bicycle, my older sister's bike was too big for me. I could not even reach the pedals from the seat. I was so short that I had to sit on the frame of the bike or stand up all the time to make the pedals turn. This made bike riding difficult for me, but I was willing to deal with a little pain to experience the joy and freedom of being on a bike.
During this period, I discovered the "Don't give up" mind-set each time I fell off the bike. My pride and ego would suffer, but they didn't hurt as much as my knees and elbows did. Yikes! It was quite painful having to ride a girl's bike, if you know what I mean. Despite my friends' teasing, I was determined to make it work because I enjoyed it so much. I didn't care what they thought as long as I was riding.
My bike allowed me to experience my first taste of freedom: traveling wherever I wanted to go. All I needed to do was to pedal and steer my bike to the destination and watch out for the cars.
Most of my rides were to a small hobby shop in my neighborhood. The shop was a couple of miles from my home. It seemed a long trip by bike, but I remember how great it felt to have my own transportation and know I could go as far as my body could take me. My friends and I enjoyed riding to this store because it had models of the cars and planes we dreamed of owning someday.
Sometimes we would carry our kites to a vacant field and fly them all day long. We would enjoy the clouds passing by, imagine different characters in their shapes, and eventually fall asleep while lying on the ground in the warm sun.
Hanging out with my friends, riding my bike, and enjoying the natural world outdoors are some of my best memories. I would bet that you've had similar experiences. But not all of us grew up playing outside. More people now are caught up in social media and spend more time indoors on their electronic devices. If this sounds like you, I would encourage you to step outside more often and connect with nature and with yourself. It is easy to lose oneself to digital communication and not live in the present moment.
At age fourteen, for my first job as a paperboy, I woke at the crack of dawn to fold and rubber-band the papers. Then I'd deliver them by bicycle. Some days were rough, especially when it rained or snowed. The paper had to be delivered daily, without fail.
My dad was willing to drive me around in the car when it rained, but he was not able to do so all the time. Riding in the rain for seven blocks to compete my route was kind of cool. I rose to the challenge of keeping my balance while carrying a huge sack of papers on the bike. I felt like Santa Claus as I carried bundles of papers that, most likely, weighed more than I did!
Riding my bike was teaching me lessons that I never knew I was learning, such as perseverance, endurance, mental and physical strength, digging deep into my reserves, courage, and faith.
I called on every one of those lessons when I rediscovered cycling over seventeen years ago. It all started at a health fair, I realized that many years in a sedentary job had allowed my six-foot frame to grow to 216 pounds, with a thirty-six-inch waist.
I looked like a doughboy.
In a classic knee-jerk reaction, I signed up for a two-day, 150-mile charity bike ride. I was terrified when I signed the registration form. My heart pounded rapidly, and my hands sweated just from thinking about how long and challenging the ride was going to be. I remember looking at my wife, Tricia, and asking her, "Do you think I can make it?" She reassured me that it was possible. In fact, she believed in me more than I believed in myself. I went on to survive the ride and have never looked back.
What activities have taught you your greatest lessons?
As adults, most of us have the responsibility of balancing children, spouses, family members, work, bosses, coworkers — all the factors we must manage. These demands can overwhelm us at times. Life can sometimes be a challenge, but you have to keep moving in any direction you can. If you did stop moving, life would become boring because you would not be not challenging yourself or learning new skills. You wouldn't have the life you were meant to live.
At some point, you may say, "Enough is enough," or "I just can't do it anymore." You feel as if you've reached a threshold where the pain is so intense that you tell yourself it is time to give up. Your body may be in such pain that your mind screams, "I can't move another muscle — just stop what you're doing to me!" How often have you made a similar statement and then later realized you made it through anyway?
It is your mind that tells you, "No more," and that you've reached a saturation point, the end of the road. Marriages can fail when one partner has reached the point of frustration due to differences or challenges or has just fallen out of love. This is a tough road to follow when you feel that you're the only one out there. Without support or someone to talk to, it can be a challenge. But you must keep pedaling to maintain your balance.
Giving up is like watching the light go dim in your life. The joy and fun of doing something that pushes you to your perceived limit becomes unbearable, so you click into the off position. Life can appear so challenging in your mind that you want to quit; you just don't care anymore. This is when you really need to dig into your reserves and claw your way out from the deep cave that you may be entering.
Several years ago, I was out on a bike ride with a group of friends. These guys rode really fast, so it was tough for me to keep pace with them. We had ridden close to sixty miles when we stopped at the top of a hill to take a break. It was a hot Texas summer day. I was completely exhausted, or at least I thought I was. As we stood around, eating and sipping from our water bottles, we started talking about our ride and how beautiful the route was.
I told the guys that I couldn't make it back to my car, which was parked at a boat launching area about eight to ten miles away. I didn't think I could even get back on the bike. I was in bad shape: sweat pouring down my face, my legs cramping, and my neck and back hurting. I was ready to give up, and I was whining away to whoever would listen and agree with me. When you complain to others, you may be seeking people to agree with you and provide an excuse to give up. Having that person agree rather than challenge your thinking is not in your best interest.
We finished up our food and ended our conversation, and then my friend just looked over at me and said, "Are you ready to roll out?"
I nodded, painfully put my feet on the pedals, and slowly started making my way back to the car. My body was screaming at me as we started back. I could not understand why the guys would not just go get my car and pick me up from the route. We started out slowly, and before I realized it, we were going 22 mph. I was barely hanging on at the very back of the group. My heart was pounding, sweat was pouring down my face, and my legs hurt from turning the pedals.
I knew that I needed to stay with the group to get back to my car quickly. At this pace, it would not take very long, so I sucked it up and put every ounce of energy I had into staying with the pack. As we rounded each corner, I knew I was getting closer. I was barely hanging on, and these guys were pushing me to my limit.
We arrived at the last bridge before the marina, and then we sprinted for the finish. We all sprinted hard and reached over 30 mph. It was crazy! I put every last bit of energy into the sprint and was gasping for air after we finished. I painfully rode to my car. My face was red from the exertion.
As I stood by my car and gulping water, my friend walked over and asked me a question: "Do you remember our conversation at the top of the hill?" I looked at him, puzzled, dripping with sweat, and barely able to stand up. He said, "Do you remember what you said about not making it back?"
With a slight smile, I nodded. As he laid his hand on my shoulder, he said, "Remember that you always have more than you think you have." I stood in silence, taking in his words, and realized what I had accomplished without even knowing it. I had more energy than I had ever realized. I had tapped into that energy while riding my bike, which allowed me to make it back to the marina. The words he spoke to me that day have been permanently etched in my mind.
That day I realized I could do anything I chose. What my friend told me has become my mantra whenever I find myself wanting to give up. Many times I have been on my bike and willed myself to get to my destination.
The only limitations we have are the ones we tell ourselves that we have. I encourage you to create a mantra or find a few words that will inspire you to keep moving toward your dreams and goals.
When you think you do not have what it takes to get moving, always know that YOU have more than you think you have!
René's Rules for the Road
> Grab and hold tight to the keys to your own life and have the courage to move forward. You can do it! Unlocking your potential will set you free.
> Your mind has unlimited potential to take you farther than you realize. List the top five challenges you have overcome. Then, beside each, write down what kept you moving. These are important attributes that will always be a part of you.
> Don't give up. Keep pedaling to keep your momentum going. Even if you are slow, realize you are still making progress. How do you deal with physical or mental pain? Do you allow it to stop you?
> Believe in yourself and tap into your inner strength to endure your situation. Believe in a positive outcome.
> Develop a mantra that serves as an inspiration to you and hold it tightly in your mind and heart. When you roll over a few bumps in the road of life, it will serve you if you repeat it. Write it on a three-by-five-inch card and carry it with you or place it where you can read it daily. This mantra will remind you of the power within you.
GET BACK ON YOUR BIKE
The bottom line is, what defines you isn't how many times you crash, but the number of times you get back on the bike. As long as it's one more, you're all good.
— Sarah Dessen
Human experience is full of peaks and valleys. When we feel stuck in a valley, we always have the opportunity to decide how to deal with adversity. When times get tough, some people dwell on the negative aspects of a situation rather than lean on the divine and see that a lesson is being taught in every situation. Motivational speaker Harvey MacKay stated, "Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it."
Sometimes we may feel that life is not giving us what we want. We want more money, friendships, happy marriages, nice homes, or jobs that fulfill our passions. You may be working hard but things don't seem to be going your way. Relationships are falling apart. To top it off, you don't like your job.
On the other hand, I've heard people say they feel that their lives are spinning out of control or as if they are riding on a merry-go-round, unable to stop the spin or even catch their breath. We may feel that we are drowning in the relentless search for happiness. As I grew older, I came to know exactly what they meant.
We must ask ourselves, "What do we really want from life? What is the vital factor that we seek to find happiness? What is happiness?" Some people describe happiness just as having the events of their lives flow smoothly. Others depend on buying something new. However, the happiness from making purchases wears off, so the buying continues, and so does the rise and fall of their fulfillment or perceived happiness.
Life can be like an EKG test. It will have its ups and downs or even a flat line, which means you're dead. But regardless of how many ups and downs life throws at us, we must learn to embrace all challenges that come our way. This is how we continue to grow and learn what we are capable of doing and becoming. For every challenge we overcome or experience, there is an underlying lesson.
At times we may feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel. We become disenchanted because of our circumstances. It is easy to fall into a trap of self-sabotage because we have too many plates spinning in the air. When one plate stops spinning, we don't have the time to capture it before it falls.
With social media so prevalent nowadays, we can look up friends on Facebook or Twitter and see everyone smiling and having a great time. Most of us have this idea that everyone is happy and their affairs are going well while our lives are going down the drain. We feel this way because we start comparing our lives to others' lives.
When we start comparing, we come up short every time.
Why do we compare ourselves to other people? Most of us believe that other people have it better than we do. Our friends may have fancy cars or bigger homes with heated pools while we have what we consider less than they possess. We may not realize that their mortgage or car payments may be causing them serious stress. They may be unhappy due to constant struggle in their relationships or marriages.
I believe we are prone to tell ourselves that someone else is always going to have it better than we do, but that's not true. Most of us are going through some struggle, but we tend to hide or suppress our difficulties. I'm not saying that people are not happy, but we all have our day-to-day challenges.
To discover happiness, we must first love and embrace ourselves. Knowing that we are divinely created, we have the capability to manage anything and everything that shows up in our lives. We must develop and utilize that internal strength and know that we have to get back on the bike and just keep pedaling. We each have a strength that we may not even realize we have when we deal with adversity. This strength can remain dormant when we allow fear to keep us from moving forward.
In reality, we have the keys to our own choices. Life doesn't owe us anything — we have to reach out and take action to create what we want. Practicing daily meditation to quiet the mind is one way to seek direction for our next steps.
In April 2013, my ninety-two-year-old mother-in-law was admitted to the hospital. She had been in the hospital many times over several years. My wife and I were at the hospital all night long and did not know whether she would survive. Time spent in a hospital can be quite draining, particularly when you're seeing someone you love fade. You also have many sleepless nights because you're not sure what's going to happen. After her release from the hospital, she continued to decline and was eventually placed on hospice. It was heartbreaking to witness but I was grateful to be at her and my wife's side. Sadly, my mother-in-law passed away on July 6, 2013.
During this period I began to have a lot of doubts about my coaching, speaking, and even writing ability. I felt that I was not making any progress — but I then I sat down and created a success list and realized that I had actually accomplished much. A success list can include activities like cooking a new recipe, riding a bike, passing a math test, completing a home project. Your accomplishments do not have to be monumental to be successes. All the activities you have ever done can be listed, including those we take for granted and forget. Believe me, you have a list.
I hadn't acknowledged or appreciated the fact that I had written several blogs, held workshops, spoken at chamber meetings, started writing this book, and posted inspiring messages on Facebook. The Facebook posts were reaching people in over twenty countries.
In 2013 I attended a writer's retreat in Sedona, Arizona, with five fabulous women who were also writing books. The landscape was stunning, and the beautiful hotel where we stayed was a perfect place to connect with God and nature and to feel the energy of the vortex. During a morning walk, a fellow writer and I discovered a large cross that was erected against a mountain backdrop. I took a picture, knowing that this cross meant something to me and that I would later find my own personal message in it.
Excerpted from "Life Is Like Riding A Bicycle"
Copyright © 2017 René Guerra.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 You Always Have More than You Think You Have, 1,
Chapter 2 Get Back on Your Bike, 9,
Chapter 3 Lessons Learned on the Bike, 17,
Chapter 4 Uphill Finish—Dig Deep, 25,
Chapter 5 The Road to Discovering Your Passion, 33,
Chapter 6 Living as a Freewheeling Spirit, 38,
Chapter 7 Who Is in Your Peloton?, 44,
Chapter 8 Keep Pedaling, 52,
Chapter 9 You Had Enough, 59,
Chapter 10 Measure for Success, 65,
Chapter 11 Cooldown ... Inspiration from the Road Already Traveled, 73,