Sharing Stories = Letting Your Light Shine

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson, from A Return to Love

In college my friend Jackie shared this quote with me and said it made her think of me. I think of this quote every time I share my story and every time someone shares their story with me as a result of hearing mine. After you finish reading this post today, share a glimpse of your story on instagram @pedallove/@forestfirebears and/or twitter @pedallove/@forestfirebears. I'd love to see what my readers have been up to! I'll start with some stories of my own:

I went to my 5-year college reunion in May in NC. It was amazing to have the use of a bicycle (thanks for letting me borrow it, Lou!).  Those are home-made, hand-sewn-by-Lou panniers from cat-food bags, by the way.  The view is part of the NC Museum of Art

I went to my 5-year college reunion in May in NC. It was amazing to have the use of a bicycle (thanks for letting me borrow it, Lou!).  Those are home-made, hand-sewn-by-Lou panniers from cat-food bags, by the way.  The view is part of the NC Museum of Art

At the end of May I took a ride to my favorite place along the American River on the PEACE bike

At the end of May I took a ride to my favorite place along the American River on the PEACE bike

In June I took Amtrak to Oakland for San Francisco Pride (packing tips for next year are welcome, but I'm keeping the pinwheel)

In June I took Amtrak to Oakland for San Francisco Pride (packing tips for next year are welcome, but I'm keeping the pinwheel)

A view of the 6th Annual Freedom Ride (July 4th), organized by my boyfriend, Mel, the man in yellow. I got a good taste of the ride even if I didn’t complete all 65 miles of it.

A view of the 6th Annual Freedom Ride (July 4th), organized by my boyfriend, Mel, the man in yellow. I got a good taste of the ride even if I didn’t complete all 65 miles of it.

On the same day, I chased a fire by the American River on my bike and this is what I captured. Surreal and very sad.

On the same day, I chased a fire by the American River on my bike and this is what I captured. Surreal and very sad.

My friend, Greg, with me during his visit in July. We rode my tandem to the bus stop for him to catch a plane. We laughed the whole way there because it was so fun! Sorry it's such a grainy cell phone picture.

My friend, Greg, with me during his visit in July. We rode my tandem to the bus stop for him to catch a plane. We laughed the whole way there because it was so fun! Sorry it's such a grainy cell phone picture.

Here’s evidence of a bike picnic with Mel at Camp Pollock in July

Here’s evidence of a bike picnic with Mel at Camp Pollock in July

Some fun during a “Summer BBQ Parklet Party” in my driveway as the first passenger on Elle's Haul-a-Day folding cargo bike prototype she’s testing for Bike Friday.

Some fun during a “Summer BBQ Parklet Party” in my driveway as the first passenger on Elle's Haul-a-Day folding cargo bike prototype she’s testing for Bike Friday.

I’m tooting my own horn a bit here, but I want to let you know what I’ve been up to in the advocacy world. This disease has been trying to hold me down – and succeeding sometimes – so I’ve been a lot less active in a lot of ways and I’ve been reassessing what it means to be happy with what I can and cannot do. At the same time, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to share my story with a lot of different audiences and that motivates me to continue fighting for better treatment and a cure for Ankylosing Spondylitis.

1) In April, I testified in front of the California Senate Health Committee about a bill that would make specialty drug costs more transparent on Covered California's website. This is an article on a NPR health blog highlighting my struggle, and this other is a YouTube video of my testimonial.

2) My pedallove.org blog post from December 23rd, 2013, was partially featured in the first edition of the California by Bike Report this summer.

3) Melissa Balmer did a splendid job of writing a story about my struggle with Ankylosing Spondylitis, my advocacy as a model, and my need to keep moving by bike for the current issue of Momentum Mag. Read it here. I’ve heard “inspiring” more times than I can count after this article was shared, and I’ve been able to connect with more people with AS because of it. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to connect with people who get what I’m going through.

4) In June, I was featured in the Alumnae magazine for my alma mater, Meredith College.

Keep pedaling forward, beautiful.  Yes, you!  Until next time.

Charis Hill

Charis is a car-free bicycle advocate, healthcare advocate, and fashion model living in Sacramento, CA. A native North Carolinian and graduate of Meredith College in Raleigh, NC with a B.A. in Sociology (minors in Psychology and Women's Studies), she has lived in Sacramento since late 2011. Charis lives with a severe, progressive, autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis; her bike keeps her moving which is crucial to maintaining her current quality of life.