Ride with Purpose - [PART ONE] Day one to day twelve || Words and two rolls of film by Birralee Hassen

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DAY ONE 5th August.

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So today is the day! I still have a few little errands to run on my way out of the city, but I’m aiming to start heading for the coast today. I feel a little nervous, and also excited. Yesterday was a nervous day. A BIG nervous, and excited day. I inadvertently gave myself a tour of the city as I went up and down and back and forth.  I bought a bike, from Daniel on Craigslist. I knew that it was my bike when I saw that a guy named Daniel was selling it. It’s little signs that I have to look out for these days. It’s the only connection I have. Maybe it’s just me making things from nothing, but to me it means a lot.

 

I bought panniers for the bike, which I got second hand, they are actually bags worn by a dog in the snow. These bags have already had some adventures I’m sure, and they are about to have some more. Gas cooker, phone charger, inflatable pillow, all little things that I needed added up, bike lights, head torch, I think I’ve done most things that I need to! I’ve been keeping a bag with my waste on me; I think I’ll ride with it. I need to decide if I’m doing waste or plastic. If it’s plastic I have used a bit, but there isn’t too much, I’ve been trying my hardest to keep it to a minimum. But if it’s waste then I’ve created a lot, even if I will be able to recycle most of it! Cards with addresses written on them, instructions on how to use the camera in different lighting settings, packaging for everything that comes in packaging, even if it is paper. It’s pretty crazy, the more I am aware of it the bigger the issue seems to be.

 

Today as I ride out I need to stop by the camping store again, buying spare tent pegs, a bike pump and I need to ride past a whole foods store. Then I’ve decided to head straight to the coast. I was thinking about changing my route, about heading south first and inland to Silver Falls state park, to see some waterfalls, but I don’t like the idea of not knowing where to camp tonight. If I head to the coast (To Cannon Beach which is a spot so many people have told me I have to visit) then in 76kms I will pass a forest, which I’m sure I can camp in. And from there start making my way down, via the coast.

 

Last night I went for a beer and pizza with Jake, a guy I met at the first camera store that I went to yesterday. We walked to Mississippi Street, a street that is well known for bars and food. It was really cool, I nearly didn’t go as I was organising the bike, but it was really good for a couple of different reasons. One was because I was hungry. Two was because I was putting myself completely outside of my comfort zone, and three was because I just absolutely love that with travelling, you can have a connection so crazy with someone that you didn’t know that morning, and most likely may not see every again. I’m four days older than Jake, and we had so many similarities. He helped me from one camera store to another yesterday; I used his uber account and just gave him cash. He emailed me with information about a camera I was looking at buying off craigslist, when I thought that mine had broken. Anyway later when I left I got an email from him being like if you want a tour guide while you’re here! Why not, I thought to myself, I had a good feeling about him. (Maybe because we were both Libra’s, we decided). We spoke incredibly in-depth, about many things, it reminded me of conversations that I have with my best friend Lizzy. Death, fears, travels, people being true to themselves (ourselves), the difference between what persona we portray to others and what we truly feel. I recorded some of the conversation as a test run as to how I will record some of this trip. I’m still not sure of the exact approach that I will use on this trip. Written word of course but I think it will be cool to have recorded conversation as well.

 

I have best be off, I have to be aware of how I use my time. Be impeccable with your word, don’t take things personally, and don’t make assumptions, always do your best. These are my goals for the month. I want to write them out every day so that they stay in the forefront of my mind. Oh and remember to exhale. You’ve got this.

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DAY TWO 6th July.

I did it! I started, which is always the hardest part. I rode 35kms yesterday, I didn’t actually get out of Portland ‘til about midday, by the time I went and picked up some tent pegs and a bike pump. I think I chose the hilliest route out of Portland too, with this one massive hill that just seemed never ending as I left the city behind. I had to get off and push my bike towards the top. But – and there is most definitely a but; I have learnt in one day that all hills have another side, and that it goes down! Woohoo.

 

I camped last night in a paddock; I really liked it as my first camping spot. I nearly stayed another ten km’s back, but something told me to keep going and that I would find another spot. I am working with listening to my intuition (with a little help from Google maps). The first place I stopped had blackberries, much like the blackberries that were next to my tent the first time I camped alone along the great ocean road. But they weren’t that sweet, and the spikes from the bushes covered the ground and I don’t want to get a flat tyre. So I kept going, and now sitting with my swag to my right in a paddock of yellow, I have a blackberry bush to my left with the sweetest berries I could imagine.

 

It got cold last night, too cold for how hot it is in the daytime. I think I am going to need to purchase a sleeping bag from the next town I go through. I will try for a savers or goodwill first though.

 

Yesterday in the shops an old lady saw my bike and me and told me that I should try and stay as in public places as possible. I told her that I think quite the opposite. I feel safer hiding away in this paddock than I would if I were camped in a park. I also told her that while I appreciated her concern, I don’t need her putting ideas of fear in my head. It seems that everyone is so quick to tell me how dangerous this is, how unsafe I’m being. “Do you know the serial killer count in Oregon?” a girl asked me. No I don’t, and I don’t want to. I want to think about the flowers that I pass and the wind moving in the trees, not how many people have been killed in this state. If I’m going to allow negative thoughts to be in my head while I ride then I will think about the plastic and waste that I pass. 

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DAY THREE 7th August  

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I woke up next to a blackberry bush, again. This was my sign that it was a safe place to camp. I rode about 60kms yesterday, uphill for the most part. Oregon is very mountainous, I have discovered.  Why I didn’t think to check a topographic map before I chose this state I don’t know, maybe I wouldn’t be here if I had. I climbed two mountains yesterday. The uphill seemed to go forever, gear one and one my favoured gear as I slowly slogged it up. If I looked up, I saw that the hill would keep going, even around every misleading bend. If I looked back, I saw that I had come far, but it made me wobbly and the road is too narrow for that, trucks and cars passing me along Sunset Highway 26. Instead I turned my head to the side, and would watch the tiny white clusters of flowers pass me, or the purple bell shaped flowers that grow in groups. Moss growing on tree branches, the leaves; so many shades of green. There is something to be said for taking your time and paying attention to what is directly in front, or either side of you.

 

The downhills are amazing. My legs rest and the wind hits my face and makes my lips chap, I dodge the rocks on the side of the road, always in my mind to keep my tyres as safe as possible. (I say this as I sit typing outside the little clearing I camped in last night, spiked blackberry bush brambles lining the ground that I half pushed half carried my bike over the top of.)

 

I will make it to the coast today. Three days I have been on the road. This trip usually takes people three or four hours by car. I guess they don’t realise how advantageous having an engine is when elevation reaches 1600ft above sea level. I am undecided as to whether to stay on the highway again today, or to take the windy back road through the forest. I would be cutting off a chunk of the coast that I have been told to visit, but it would spare me the noise of cars and trucks. And I will be on the coast for the next week at least anyway. Hmm. We will see. What will be will be. 

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DAY FOUR 8th August.

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I’m in my swag, head touching the top. I slept 11hrs last night. I woke a few times, at 2:20am and again at 5:05am, which is the most I’ve slept through since on this trip. It was raining softly when I woke again at my usual time of 6:30, so back to sleep I went until now, nearly 9:30. I feel like I needed it. It’s been a big couple of days, making it to the coast. When I woke at two I was scared, just because it was the middle of the night. So many people who I have met on this trip, their first response is to project their fears onto me. What are you going to do as self-defence? Do you have pepper spray? I’m not scared, the universe is working with me, not against me, but it can be hard to remember that when people say things like that. So at two last night, in my sleepy state, I started telling myself “I am so loved and protected” which I am. Dani messaged that to me yesterday and I like thinking those thoughts far better than scary thoughts.

 

I’ve been thinking the last few days about how fear makes us create stories, assumptions, scenarios in our heads that will most likely never eventuate. Wouldn’t it be better if instead of all the time we spent creating stories built from worry and fear, if we used those thoughts to instead build stories of safety, love, success in our goals and dreams.

 

I’ve been having really vivid dreams the last few nights. The night before last I dreamt that I was watching Jake do CPR on Tyler. I saw the Bali greens growing in the garden, the colour of the pool filled with no air, just water, and the look on Jake’s face as he realised it was too late. I think about Tyler a lot as I ride. Mostly when I see the sun dancing on the waters surface. Sometimes I think of him when I’ve been waiting to sleep, and a scary thought pops into my head. Out it goes, and in comes a memory of his arms wrapped around me, a bear hug big spoon so large that it was nearly impossible to sleep, while he slept like a giant baby.

 

Yesterday, I had to choose the highway or the back road. Cannon Beach or Nehalem River. I chose the back road, and I am SO glad that I did. It was the most incredible day, a glimpse into Oregon better than I could ever have imagined. Lush forests, a river that ran clear over and around rocks, blackberries growing beside the road. For about three hours there was dirt, which was sometimes a bit hard, but it was so beautiful.

 

I did my first mental health interview, with a lady I met where I cooked quinoa for breakfast beside the river. Megan. “Would you be interested in telling me about your journey with mental health?” “Sure”, she replied, “my brother has heavy autism and it has affected everyone in our family.” I recorded the conversation, and I will either type it out or use the recording, when I get the film picture that I took of her developed. 

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DAY FIVE 9th August

Day five on the road today. I camped at Cape Lookout last night, my first night in a designated camping spot. They have these hiker/biker camps set up. I met a group of riders yesterday who told me about this place. It’s nice, right near the beach and I had my own little clearing in the pines. I had a shower last night! What a treat, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a hot shower so much. I washed my undies too, and dried them under the hand driers in the bathroom.

 

I’m having crazy dreams at the moment. I think it’s because I haven’t been smoking weed. It’s getting easier though I think, to not want to smoke. Four days ha. Maybe I am a little more hooked on it than I thought. Four days isn’t that long. Each town has at least one dispensary, and it can be very tempting to stop and buy a joint. But I think of what Mooney said in Portland “there just doesn’t seem to be a good time for me to smoke”. And I guess she’s right, at least for now. If I smoke when I’m alone on the road it just takes my mind into a different place. I don’t want to be not thinking. At least for these three weeks. I told myself I wouldn’t smoke on this bike trip and I want to stick to that. Be impeccable with your word. Before I left Byron, I wrote out every day what I would do to achieve my goals I wanted to before I left. Stop smoking weed, was something I wrote out every day, but didn’t stick to. Everything else I did, but not that one, which was a major one. Maybe that’s why I didn’t achieve the monetary goals that I set for myself before I left? Who knows, but I will try to stick to it for this bike trip at least.

 

Anyway, my dreams have been wild, slightly disturbing even, as they often are when I don’t smoke for a bit. Last night I was in a mental asylum, a crack in the window showing a paddock filled with sunlight and yellow flowers. Looking at that would keep me sane, I thought, as I glanced back at the room, which was all grey, curved walls and not a thing in there. But then looking at the field of flowers also made me feel crazy, that I was in the room and couldn’t be out there. I started to have a panic attack and scratch at my skin. Then it turned to a girl with dark hair and sunken eyes, she was also in an asylum, stuck in a chair with her arms taped down that spun her around as she wailed. It looked like she was being tortured. Giants that came and ripped peoples arms from their sockets, people in boats throwing plastic over the edge and laughing, sleep paralysis that had a little creature come and bite me through the mesh of my swag while I lay there unable to move. It felt real.

 

I’ve been noticing what I think about when I’m riding. It’s crazy how thoughts just happen, just like breathing happens. I don’t even realise that I am thinking, constantly thinking. Except breathing needs to happen. Thinking about the past, the future, making up stories, it doesn’t need to happen. It is so much more enjoyable when I remember to exhale, to pay attention to the thing that happens the most that we think about the least.

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DAY SIX 10th AUGUST

I’m in a real funk right now. I didn’t write this morning. These are before bed pages today. I didn’t want to write at all, but Madi made me. I guess she’s right; writing will probably make me feel better. I shouldn’t really be feeling like this, but I am, so I am. I had a rest day today. Yesterday I rode 70kms, and came into the outskirts of Lincoln City. I stopped at a state park, by the river, and sat there while I decided if it were where I wanted to camp. It didn’t feel right, so after a while I got up and kept riding. I was slugging it up a hill when two guys came up behind me on their bicycles. “You’re seat’s too low” said one as they passed “where are you riding to anyway?” “Burning man” I replied, short of breath. They stopped at the top of the hill, and long story short offered me a place to sleep on their hotel room floor. They are doing a weeklong cycle/ flying tour of some of the states, and last night we ate buffet dinner at their resort and ended up taking mushrooms, having a spa and laughing all night long. This morning Mark took me flying while Michael fixed my bike, lifting the seat and pumping up the tyres.

 

So I shouldn’t be feeling like I do really, because I flew today, such an amazing feeling, we spun over the forest and ocean, and passed so close that I saw a seal break the surface of the water and stick its head up before diving back down.

 

I have just felt unmotivated, I didn’t do any of the things that I needed to, and instead I just lay in my swag. Which I guess is ok. I have been riding pretty hard out for the last five days. My body probably needed to do just nothing. After Mark and Michael left I just cried. I felt so alone, physically. I am camping by myself on the side of an airstrip, in a state and country where I know hardly anyone. I guess Madi was right; this was never going to be easy. Always do your best. I don’t really feel like I have done my best today. Maybe because I have done hardly anything. I guess I can do my best tomorrow. I will stop in a café or somewhere with Internet and do my to do list tomorrow. It’s ok to have a down day today. Tomorrow is a new day.

DAY SEVEN 11th AUGUST

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Well I have woken up feeling better than I went to sleep last night. I’m still feeling a little slow, unmotivated and it’s nearly eight and I’m still in my swag. But that’s ok. I’m going to get up, have a stretch, meditate, make some breaky and get on the road. There really isn’t any rush; I’m riding more each day than my allocated average.

 

Yesterday was an interesting day. I felt annoyed at myself. Annoyed because I knew I was in a funk, and I know that I can get myself out of those mindsets, but I just didn’t want to. Couldn’t be bothered. Instead I wallowed in my slumped thoughts and was happy to stay there. I even wanted to stay there. But that’s ok. I don’t have to always be feeling up.

 

I interviewed a few more people the other day at Cape Lookout. Scott, one of the guys I spoke with, talked about how when he had niggly things he knew he should be doing at home that they eat away at him. I am going to stop this morning in Newport and set up somewhere with Internet and get some niggly little things done that I should have ages ago. And some lip balm because my lips are chapping and dry.

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DAY EIGHT 12th August

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I woke up with bad period pain starting to make its way through my belly and body. I took some Advil before it got too bad. I need to re-read the part of Eckhart Tolle’s book that I have with me, A New Earth, on the pain body. It’s interesting how we identify so strongly with pain. Even me now, it’s the first thing that I went to type about.

 

I’ve found it too, when I am cycling up a hill, and all I want to think about is how hard it is, or how much it’s hurting my legs. Instead I could be paying attention to what is around me, which takes my mind straight away to a far better place. “Your quality of life is in direct proportion with your capacity for delight. And your capacity for delight may be measured in how well you pay attention. “ I remember reading that in The Artist’s Way and it’s always really stuck with me.

 

I have another day or two of riding along the coast, and then I will start to cut inland. I shared on Instagram that I had a tough day on my rest day. I found it daunting to share that. I deliberated for ages whether to or not. But I decided to, as I said that the reason why I was doing this ride was for mental health awareness. Be impeccable with your word.

 

I definitely didn’t do my best yesterday. Like I said I got my period, and so yesterday I ate so much bad food, didn’t cycle that far, and I also smoked a joint. I’ve been so good at not smoking weed and I’ve been feeling great, but yesterday I did. That’s ok though, I will start today off by doing my best, and take it from here. I can always start again. Today is a new day.

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DAY NINE 13th August.

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It’s raining this morning. My first day that it’s actually rained. Most mornings carry with them a heavy fog, sometimes feeling like light rain or walking through a cloud. But this morning is the first morning where I can hear the droplets, falling above my head onto the canvas of the swag. It’s really beautiful, I have the swag unzipped and the trees and moss in front of me are a saturated green. I do hope it clears in the next few hours though, because I don’t really have wet weather gear. I have a windcheater, but that won’t suffice in actual rain.

 

I was thinking yesterday about what I want to write about. Listening. Fear. Motivation. Recognising that the mind can easily play tricks on you. So I guess I will just start with one topic a time, for now. Breaking things down into manageable chunks.

 

Listening to others. Most of the time when we are listening to others, we are listening to reply, not listening to learn. There is a big difference. I am guilty of this myself, quite often, but it’s something that I am working on. I like what I read once, about not approaching conversations like I was trying to teach people something, and instead choosing to approach them with the intent of learning something. Everyone we come into contact with on a daily basis can teach us something, if we choose to listen. Being able to truly listen to what someone says keeps us in the present. When we are thinking about something other than what the person is saying, we are distracted and not in the present moment. Being heard is one of the things that humans crave, so listening to others not only makes them feel valued, it also enhances your knowledge base as you learn from them, and simultaneously strengthens your focus.

 

Listening to you. This is a big one. Our bodies and minds know what they want. We just have to listen for it. But to listen for answers, we need to ask questions. To ask questions we need to be aware that answers are needed. Learning to listen to ourselves is a vital part of self-growth. Allowing ourselves the time to listen is imperative. With stillness comes the little voice that speaks, sometimes with words, sometimes without. A feeling or a knowing, an instinctual gut reaction, are forms of listening to yourself. Taking the time each day to just sit quietly, to be present with your breath and your mind, and see what comes up. Often times people think that ‘meditating’ means no thoughts at all. Yes we can learn to quieten our thoughts, to find a calmness and clarity to the mind, but it is also important to observe what thoughts come up in these states of stillness. Sometimes it’s things that we need to think about. We all know deep down what we really want or need. The answers are there, if we listen for them.

 

Listening to nature. When we listen to nature we remember to breathe. Nature is breathing, and listening to her breath slows us down to the same pace. Nature has so many lessons to teach if we choose to listen and learn. The sound of the waves on the shore, the sound of the wind in the leaves, the sound of raindrops on your tent roof, there are myriad ways that we can choose to listen to nature. It’s easily done, but also easily forgotten. We tend to rush around in our busy little worlds, so consumed by our own inner workings that we forget that we ourselves are nature, part of something so much bigger than ourselves. Our quality of life is in direct proportion with our capacity for delight. Our capacity for delight, may be measured in how well we pay attention. There are many ways that nature speaks, and many ways for us to listen. So pay attention to the patterns and colours around you, to the sounds that aren’t words. There is so much to learn by listening to nature.

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WOW. What a day. I stopped in Florence around lunch, stocked up on trail mix, avocados and apples and started heading for Mapleton. Rather than taking the highway, I chose instead to take a back road. Adding on another 15kilometres yes, but also adding to my most favourite day of riding so far. The difference between travelling on a back road and travelling on a highway is huge. Even if I were in a car the difference would be huge. When it’s on a bike it’s massive. The first part of the road was lush. Cruisy downhill tarred road, through green paddocks filled with cows and horses and lined with the juiciest of blackberries. I took a break at a stream, looking down at the clear patterns in the water and then up at the sky framed with pine treetops.

 

The second part of the road turned to gravel at the base of the mountain. I should have known then what I was in for. Thankfully I didn’t. I ended up pushing my bike up, and up, and up, that gravel for the better part of three hours (Including the Pioneer Trail which I took the bike on a hike on – I also got lost and took the same loop TWICE… anyway ha). I didn’t see a soul on that second part of the road. Instead I saw very old trunks, I saw sunlight peeking through layers of limbs, I saw grand mountaintops and tiny trickling streams.

 

It was challenging, I’m not going to lie. There would be times when I would have been pushing the bike up, up, and up, for a while before I caught my thoughts and realised what they were. When I found myself thinking negative it was often fear related. That or negative thoughts about the plastic bags, bottles and straws that somehow found themselves in the mountains. But fear was definitely there, even surrounded by all that beauty, I would be making up scary scenarios of if a bad human passed by. When I caught myself, I would bring it back to the present moment by focussing on the beauty that was directly in front of me, patterns in the tree trunks, the different shades of green as dictated by the beams of light coming from the ball of fire in the sky. But it sometimes took me a while to catch myself, even though I was aware to. It’s crazy how quickly the mind can run away with thoughts, whole stories fed from fears. Fears of what? Being alone in the forest with no phone reception and a scary human passing by me and stopping? Yes. That was fear. But for me, it was more worth it to face that fear because in reality nothing bad was going to happen to me, and by focussing on the fear I was missing the beauty that lay directly in front of me. It took doing that, being in the experience to learn that lesson. As it is with most scenarios, I had to make the realisation for myself. 

 

I also had to be aware of what I was telling myself as I pushed that bicycle up the gravel road. At some points the bike slipped, tyres not gripping the uneven surface. “I can do this,” I said to myself. “ I am doing this”, “Imagine the downhill on the other side it’s going to be so epic”. There was also an element of – “I literally have no other choice. It’s six pm and you have a few more hours of sunlight, you haven’t seen a soul in the last few hours, get moving.” Sometimes I think it is great to do things by yourself because you have no one else to fall back on. If I had another person there I bet I would have been complaining and maybe questioning our route. By myself I had no choice but to suck it up and do it, even though it was physically and mentally tough.

 

The downhill was a relief, but maybe just as intense. The road was loose, and my hands cramped as I clutched the handlebars and brakes. I went rolling downwards, struggling at points to keep the balance of the panniers and swag behind me. When the road turned back to tar after hours of gravel, my spirits soared like the birds that have been flying over me today. I did it! I’m doing it! I’m a week in to the adventure of a lifetime and today I think something clicked. I have two more weeks of being alone, of listening to nature, of being aware of my mind and completely immersing myself in the present moment. BRING IT ON.

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DAY TEN 14th August

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I am laying in my swag, mesmerized by the morning mist making it’s way down the river in front of me. Effortlessly gliding across the surface of the still water, it is being pushed by an invisible hand that guides it on its way. There is a symphony of birds singing in celebration of a new day, I can hear the flutter of wings as a swarm (?) fly above me. There is a calmness, a freshness that comes only at the same time as you can hear the rooster crow.

 

Solitude brings with it a deeper level of self-awareness. The silence that accompanies solitude speaks louder than many words of well-wished wisdom. Something that I have learnt (and re-learnt and re-learnt) about myself through solitude is that I need to improve my self-discipline. Self-discipline is really mind-discipline, and mind-discipline is mind-awareness. By practicing awareness of my thoughts, I can remind myself that I get to choose them. And when I get to choose them then I can choose them to shape my reality in the direction that I want it. Life isn’t lived all at once; it’s a compound effect of many days merging. What I choose to do with each day will dictate how my life is lived as a whole. I need to practice self-discipline on a daily basis, so that my life will take the shape that I dream for it. It is important to remember that I am human, that I will make slip ups and there will be time when lacking self-discipline is part of my day. But as long as I strive to always do my best, to practice thinking about my thoughts before my thoughts turn into my actions, then I’m on the right path.

 

I have learnt that self-improvement takes revision. I can’t just decide to make a choice to think one way, and that is it for the rest of my days. I need to keep that thought fresh, to revise my aspirations. Otherwise they fall to the background of my mind, covered up by the many new thoughts that are piled on top like a never-ending jenga stack. Self-improvement is a constant project, a daily project. I can even break it down further still and make it a moment-to-moment, breath-to-breath project. With each new breath I allow myself the chance to start fresh, an exhale cleaning the slate of what lay before, the next inhale fresh with opportunity. I find it easiest to take revision on my life when I give myself even ten minutes in the morning, of just sitting, just being still with my breath, body and mind. What is important comes to the surface, that which may otherwise lay dormant beneath the busyness of a day. I am the one that is in control of my life, and if I want to improve it, then the responsibility to do so is mine to pick up and run with.

 

DAY 11 15th August

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I’m at my couch surfing host, Ryan, place in Eugene, Oregon. I slept on the floor on my mat. I had a big sleep, I’m sure much needed. Yesterday was an intense day of riding. I arrived into Eugene feeling dehydrated, stressed, and sore. It was a day of riding on the highway, 73kms from Mapleton where I camped the night prior. It was a pretty highway, hilly but the hills didn’t last too long, which was great, and there were many of my little white snowflake flower friends lining the side. There were also trucks, campervans, RV’s, cars and motorbikes. I don’t mind the sound of a vehicle passing me, but after seven hours the sound and close proximity at which they pass does start to get a little jarring. My right knee started hurting too, so I am thankful that today is a day of resting. I’ll get my film developed, and put my morning pages online.

 

I was thinking yesterday as I rode, about the saying “Your health is your greatest wealth”. I agree, but I think that it is important to either add, “Your mental health is your greatest wealth”, or to place more emphasis on how mental health needs to be more readily recognised as part of overall wellbeing. With strong mental health, even a physical health issue can be seen with a positive mindset. But how do we work on our mental health? The same way I guess as we work on our physical health. Small changes, conscious actions, there are myriad ways to develop a practice that works for the individual when it comes to mental health. Breathing exercises, meditation, cold showers, writing, painting, colouring in, and expressing yourself creatively.

 

What all of these things, and the many more techniques, have in common, is allowing yourself time for you. Taking time to do something for yourself, to be by yourself, with yourself, is the starting point for a healthy mind. What follows afterwards is up to the individual, everybody is different and different techniques will resonate accordingly. It is so easy to feel too busy to do something nice for yourself. It is easy to lie in bed and scroll through a Facebook or Instagram or news report or stock market feed, as opposed to getting up. Getting up to sit in silence for fifteen minutes, or to write three paragraphs of anything, or to stretch your body after drinking a glass of water. It’s little things that show your mind that you care for it, that you want to work with it, not against it, that make all the difference. Mental health isn’t a click of the fingers thing, it takes practice, time, and effort, to achieve and maintain a positive mindset.

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DAY TWELVE Aug 16th

 

So I had a day of rest yesterday, got my film developed and stocked up at the bulk food store. I think it will be my last chance for a while for bulk food and definitely for getting film. The riding is going to start to get a little harder I think in the coming weeks. Or maybe the terrain. I have to cross the Cascade mountains at some point in the next four or so days, and then getting closer to Burning Man I will be riding in to the desert. Eeeep!

 

It’s important to have days off. Yesterday I didn’t do much, and that was perfect. I feel like today I will be ready to go, and fingers crossed a day off was all that my knee needed. I uploaded the first two interviews to the blog, and this morning before I leave I will finish uploading my morning pages along with the photo’s that I’ve taken. I love getting film back it’s so exciting. Most of them worked out well, there are a few there where I didn’t get the lighting right but overall I’m really happy with them. Beautiful little moments, memories captured in time.

 

This bike ride is making me focus day to day. I had all these plans before I left Australia, working on the weed farm after Burning Man, Central America after that, Canada after that. Maybe those things will happen, but also maybe they wont. I have to be fine, and I think I am, with whatever happens happening. What will be will be. I do feel confident that whatever does happen, it’s going to be great. So rather than thinking about the coming months, I’m going to focus on the day that is ahead of me. One day at a time of cycling it out, of recording my thoughts, of hopefully inspiring some people around me to care more about our environment, or making some people feel ok about their mental states. For me, right now, that’s enough. 

 

 

Birralee Hassen