What Gives You the Courage to Be the Change You Want to See?

Image by Allan Crawford

Image by Allan Crawford

Last spring, a couple of weeks before Mother's Day I was asking my sister Michelle about being selected by her company to participate in the Oxford Leadership Academy, the global leadership consultancy specializing in the people and culture side of organizational transformation in very large enterprises. She shared with me that one of the key questions they ask you is what's your mission in life, not with the company you work for, but you yourself personally. What truly motivates you?

Michelle went on to ask me what my own personal mission statement was. Right in that moment me the wordsmith was at a loss. I felt strangely like I was suddenly a deer caught in the headlights. It was there somewhere, that pithy phrase that wrapped up what I was truly all about with a bow. I could feel it looming (after all I've made bike advocacy my life for the past six years) but in that moment it wouldn't materialize and come forward. I told her I'd think about it and let her know when I saw her on Mother's Day.

A few days later, starting my morning with a cup of tea, the idea hit me with both the sensation of *hello it's obvious* and *this is really going to be a challenge for you to be okay with owning all of.* Tears sprung to my eyes as the pithy phrase made itself loud and clear in my head. My mission is that I peddle love. I stopped dead in the middle of my studio. I whispered it to myself because I realized I couldn't say it yet out loud (I can do it now, but tears still come). It was too big. A jumble of emotions hit me, rightness as in "ah yes finally," mixed with a massive shot of self doubt as in "who am I to think I can remotely pull this off?"

"This is an Oprah sort of mission statement," my self doubt continued. "Not the mission statement of a 50 year old woman struggling with her health (will I finally be granted health insurance this month?) and thus often her finances."

But then that voice in my head that forewarned how challenged I'd be with this new "peddle love" mission reminded me that Oprah is 60 and she would tell me to go for it. And don't we know that Oprah likes to ride her bike? And don't we want to get Oprah to cover more than the "hot bike to have" in her magazine and television shows? Don't we want to get her to help share inspiring stories of how the bike is a tool for optimism helping ordinary people make extraordinary changes in their lives?"

Yes and yes. Also, that small quiet voice reminded me "you're a work in progress obviously," and finally, "you're not in this alone." Whew.

I am, obviously a work in progress on this mission. I am not perfect. I don't always peddle love as I pedal love. I still have very very cranky moments and even hours. But the horse is out of the barn and stubbornly refuses to go back in. Every day I wake up and go to sleep asking the universe to show me how I might better peddle love with Pedal Love. Every day I'm reminded by what I see and read and encounter that there is often a better, kinder, more authentic and more mindful way to communicate what I want to say, and who I want to be, than what my ego often recommends.

And I truly am not alone in this. I have an amazing, talented group of people who have helped me every step of the way to get here. From my partner Charlie Gandy, to the expanded network across the state, and country, I am blessed by generous people who inspire me every day. Now as 2014 winds down and we head into 2015 my personal "peddle love" mission has given me the courage to have our core creative team here move forward with an expanded vision that allows all of us to be more fully who we are in our advocacy efforts.

You see, none of us here are just bike advocates. Obviously, all of us are pedestrians. Most of us ride transit frequently. Some of us are drivers frequently, some of us on occasion. We are not anti car at all. Instead we are committed to inviting people to consider more options - such as the idea that for some of us car light, or car free living works really well, for our health, and economic wellness, and catching up on our reading. We invite people to consider if more of us were open to car light and car free living it would do wonders for traffic congestion, the health of our communities, and the health of our planet.

So here at Pedal Love and Women on Bikes California, we are committed to working on creating more mindful mobility, to creating safer, more healthy and vibrant streets for everyone. To do this we feel we need to cultivate "Civil Streets Conversations" across our state which has been inspired by the "Civil Conversations Project" at Krista Tippit's Onbeing.org. And we want to open up these conversations to a much broader audience beyond "bike advocates" and "pedestrian advocates" and "transit advocates" to better understand how to positively engage whole communities in what we feel is one of the most important conversations of our time.

On Twitter right now I see that another of my heroes Marianne Williamson will be speaking at the “Reclaim America–Strategy Conference” Dec. 14 in San Francisco at the University of San Francisco McLarin Hall hosted by Tikkun Magazine. This is exactly the type of organization and network we want to reach out to. Tikkun "is a magazine dedicated to healing and transforming the world. We seek writing that gives us insight on how to make that utopian vision a reality. We build bridges between religious and secular progressives by delivering a forceful critique of all forms of exploitation, oppression, and domination while nurturing an interfaith vision of a caring society — one whose institutions are reconstructed on the basis of love, generosity, nonviolence, social justice, caring for nature, and awe and wonder at the grandeur of the universe."

In other words, they are peddling love.

Which brings me to you. What gives you courage to be the change you want to see? Who and what have inspired you to have a personal mission statement that aligns fully with your beliefs and then motivates you to get out there an actually do something about them?

Over the past six months as I've pondered how best to move forward not only with an expanded idea of what the Pedal Love team and website will be talking about, but also how to write a book about this adventure. I've always wanted to write a book and I've decided there's no time like the present. Which is what I'll be using this particular blog for. I'll be writing it one step at a time, one blog post at a time - inspired by Gretchen Rubin's wonderful "The Happiness Project." which I highly recommend you check out.

I've asked you about what gives you courage to be your authentic self because it's something I've longed for and struggled with my whole adult life, starting in my teens. I was almost completely inauthentic for my entire 20's working in an industry that brought me no joy at all because I wanted to be considered a sophisticated adult people could count on instead of the flaky head-in-the-clouds artistic child and young teen I'd been. I was somewhat more authentic in my early 30's, but it wasn't until I was 36 that I finally ripped the band aid off of false-self-to-be-more-acceptable.

The journey to finding my bliss in bike advocacy has been quite an adventure. I want to record it as courageously, honestly and hopefully as entertainingly as I can (but don't worry, the story isn't only going to be about me, not with this fabulous cast I characters I've had the privilege to collaborate with and learn from).

On the being courageously honest note I am just finishing up writer/performance artist Caitlin Moran's book "How to Be a Woman" and can't wait to read "How to Build a Girl." Caitlin is a Feminist with very capitol F. She makes people at her live performances stand on their chair and shout "I am a feminist." To which I say bravo - and she is absolutely brilliant at using the concept of "civility" when one is faced with modern day's very sly misogyny.

I am a fantasy fiction Lord of the Rings, Hunger Games kind of gal and one of my favorite writers in this realm is Neil Gaiman, not only for his superb writing, honestly about his own creative journey, but his amazing generosity in promoting other authors and creatives. He works social media like no other with such grace and magic on Twitter. And also has an amazingly talented wife you might know - the musician and now author Amanda Palmer, whose new book "The Art of Asking" is the very next thing I'm going to read (and I found out about this book being available now from one of my other writing/speaking heroes Dr. Brené Brown of Daring Greatly fame - more on her soon).

You see, I'm very good at asking for things on behalf of other people, but not myself - such as raising money. I need to learn how to do that. That is one of my big goals for 2015. We have raised money in the past but right now we are a labor of love here at Pedal Love. I want to be able to pay all of us, including myself, so we can focus on raising the caliber of our conversations everywhere. So that we can be the absolute best storytellers and conversation cultivators.

We will be cultivating these conversations online in blogs and social media (follow along with #CivilStreets and #MindfulMobility), in online forums, and at live events. We'll keep everyone following us on Twitter, Facebook and who sign up for our email newsletters (you can do so easily and safely on our front page!) up to date - I hope you'll become an active participant.

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