I'm thrilled to be the first stop on a virtual book tour for Liz Jansen, an author, speaker, coach and motorcycle aficionado. Her book Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment resonates with stories of adventure and self-discovery. She says that "The Road to Empowerment may lead around the block or around it world. It always brings us back to who we are."
I agree! I've gotten to know Liz over the years via social media and phone conversations, and we finally met last year and became fast friends. We found that we shared many of the same experiences as motorcycle travelers timidly starting out, working through our fears and doing that thing we really wanted to do – get on a motorcycle and explore. If you are, similarly, trying to figure out whether you're brave enough to work through the fears that have stopped you – well, we're here to gently push you toward your dream. If you've done it, you'll recognize yourself in these 7 Steps for Adventure Travel, so wonderfully illustrated in her book, which is discounted for this tour – 25% of signed books from her website and reduced ebook price to $6.99 for the tour from Amazon and other ebook retailers.
Now… here's Liz's 7 steps for getting past fear and hitting the road.
Hitting the Road: 7 Steps for Adventure Travel
Excitement tinged with fear framed where I stood looking forward on August 1, 2003. Forty-nine, single, healthy, unbound by work commitments, I was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime: a two-month solo motorcycle odyssey across North America.
Recognizing I had migrated into roles which no longer fit me, I had left a thirty-year relationship and a successful corporate career in the preceding eight months. I was footloose and fancy free.
I had a new bike, been riding for more than thirty years and was confident in my skills. The opportunities ahead of me were endless.
So why the fear?
That little self inside of me was keenly aware that a tectonic shift was occurring. She was concerned for her survival, scared and throwing thoughts at me about things that could happen. She even questioned my judgment. The anxiety wasn’t based on motorcycling at all.
Not all adventures are on this scale. Some are smaller, some are grander. In all cases, following these simple steps opens the door to adventure.
1. Follow your heart. When your heart speaks, listen. It’s telling you something for a reason. Ignoring it or turning back only creates anxiety. You will hear from naysayers. Remember, they are projecting their own fears on you.
Walls designed to protect me had built the perfect marriage and the secure career. In fact, they had constrained me. My fear wasn’t about going for a ride; it was about leaving an illusion of security.
2. Realistically assess the situation. Sit back and think about the reality of the situation.
While I had initial concerns about physically managing the trip, I knew I could ride a motorcycle, read a map, had good gear for various weather conditions, had a cell phone, was resourceful, was not on a set schedule, had sufficient financial resources and wasn’t traveling to foreign countries where I couldn’t read the road signs or ask for directions. Besides, I could always turn around and go home.
I even had an offer that to pick me and my bike up if it became too much. That was out of the question!
3. Prepare. Plan, but avoid overdoing it. Leave room for those magical, serendipitous experiences.
Know a few basic proactive steps – like how to check tire pressure, oil levels and adjust your chain. Consider what maintenance you’ll need, when you’re likely to need it and where you can get it. Depending on the length of your trip and travel conditions you may need things like oil changes or new tires.
I knew I had two months and had some places I wanted to see: my mother’s birthplace in northern Saskatchewan, the small Alberta town where my father grew up, the Badlands, friends in San Francisco and the Grand Canyon. I connected the dots and had a general outline.
4. Expect amazing people and experiences. These are the treasures adventures are made of and show up with perfect timing.
I met Verna over breakfast on Day Four. Seventy-five years old, she’d been camping solo across Canada every year for the past ten since her divorce. Although I was beginning to catch my stride, her joie de vivre left an indelible impression.
5. Go. Perhaps “Let Go” is more accurate. This is the hardest step. All you need to do is take one step at a time.
Even though I was excited and looking forward to the adventure, I had to give myself a nudge to move off. I got up each day and went for a ride. The next thing I knew, I was at the Pacific Ocean.
Even now, before an extended trip, there’s last minute resistance I have to get past. I know that as soon as I start up my motorcycle, the Universe is in order and I’m ready.
6. Enjoy. Enjoy the gifts of each moment.
When you catch yourself worrying about the “what-if’s”, come back to what is. Most of the things we worry about don’t materialize and while our thoughts have taken us into an unlikely future, we’ve missed the beauty of the present.
Riding through the Rocky Mountains, a mountain stream carrying ash and pine cones appeared alongside the road, in an area ravaged by forest fires. In the middle of blackness and destruction, water rushing over the rocks was already carrying the seeds of new life with it. What a poignant message!
7. Repeat. You will have such an amazing time, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.
You discover a lot about your strengths and shadows on such adventures. Nothing you do is ever wasted time. Experiences become mulch in which the seeds of new growth germinate.
Little did I know it was the beginning of a whole new life. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade that experience or the intervening years for anything.
Thank you, Liz! You can find out more about Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment: Fifty Inspirational Stories of Adventure and Self-Discovery. and where to buy it on her website, and hey, check out this great morning show interview with Liz on Global Toronto. You can also follow the rest of her book tour – I will!
WIN A FREE EBOOK!
Just post a pertinent comment on this blog post between now and 3:00 pm EST Friday May 11, 2012, and Liz will draw randomly from those who post a comment. Do remember that the comments will have to be pertinent the theme of the post – perhaps offering your own story of getting past fear.