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3 Life Lessons from Learning to Drive a Scooter

Before settling in Bali my only experience driving a scooter was for a brief hour in Thailand on quiet island roads and almost crashing as I hit the gas instead of break and flew through an intersection.  Needless to say, my confidence was already a little shot going into this.  But here’s the thing…I didn’t have much choice.  Unless I wanted to pay a fortune for a driver to escort me around town I was going to need to learn.  After we arrived I had just over 2 weeks to get comfortable before my husband left to work on his Permaculture project in Zanzibar leaving me alone with my son and required to drive him 25min each way to school daily.

Scoot-Scoot!

The 1st couple days I was a danger to myself and all on the road with me.  I would dread having to leave the house, my heart would race as I put the key in the ignition, and the fear released enough adrenaline + cortisol in my body to make me very nauseous.

Learn more about the body’s stress response: Get Educated: Stress Management

I had a couple of close calls and even dropped the bike (heavy!!!) while going up a small bumpy steep path too slow because I was afraid.  I was finding that when I arrived at my destination it was taking hours for me to feel relaxed and even then, I was experiencing a crash of energy coming down.  But each day it got a little easier, each day accident free my confidence grew.  When the day came for Ludo to depart I felt I was ready to begin to drive with my son on board.  Little did I know the challenge that was ahead!

1st Time in the Rain

Right when Ludo left the rainy season started full on.  This means sunny skies for the morning ride to school, but nature seems to have chosen school pickup as the perfect time to really let it rip, full on Monsoon style, on a daily basis!  We have rain gear but when it lets lose and you are on a scooter it’s intense.  One day coming home we drove through 3 flooded roads where the water was rushing almost knee deep. It was thick and muddy with no way to see if there was a pot hole or rocks on the road ahead besides keeping balance with a child in a rushing river.  Another day a car rear ended us!

So I would just like to say that today I am very proud of myself. Just a month ago I was having panic attacks being faced with learning something new and somewhat life threatening in my 40’s to confidently tackling what’s come my way.

My Top 3 Lessons Learned:

#1 What other areas of my life is FEAR paralyzing me from learning what it takes to master the situation? If Ludo wasn’t leaving I could have happily continued to ride on the back of his scooter and got a taxi on the rare occasions I might need to go out alone.We are masters of finding ways to avoid our fears! Yet look at the outcome if we decide to conquer them and come out the other side.  One of my mentors, David TS Wood, has often told me that all the juiciness in life is outside our comfort zone.  And although I will not pretend that that driving a scooter is ever going to be completely safe, especially in Asia, I now have the thrill of feeling the wind in my hair (ok helmet) and the freedom and fun of scoot-scooting around, a skill that is going to bring me many more adventures and fun in my life.

#2 I have tools that I can use to help me manage my state through fear and stressful situations. Fear is not real, or tangible, it’s something manufactured by my brain in an attempt to keep me safe.  There was nothing bad happening to me while learning to drive and yet my brain kept trying to flash visions of the “what could happen”.  I know that what I focus on I find (like if you want to buy a white truck suddenly you see white trucks everywhere right?) so it was important that I take control of what my mind is choosing to focus on.  Every time those “what ifs…” started to pop up I took control and instead choose to visualize a protective bubble around me.  I started to chant in my head “nothing bad is going to happen, you got this, you are doing awesome, just do your best”.  I found this calmed me, my focus on the road improved and guess what?  I am just fine! I was able to learn to drive safely on the wrong side of the road and move with the flow of traffic. Video Blog in the moment!

#3I received a great opportunity for “world schooling” my son. He had no problem from 1 day hopping on the bike and even learning to drive it with the help of my husband and he wasn’t even 6 years old!  He could see my fear and what a challenge it was for me.  When it came time to ride with me he definitely had some doubts I couldn’t hack it.  He looked me in the eye and said “mom, if you believe you are going to fall you will”.  Well what a wise soul!  Refer back to lesson #1.  I was able to look him straight back and confidently say, “I’m ready, we are not going to fall”.  Now he confidently hops on board each day, he wiggles and points and shouts his thoughts along the road. He’s even a great backseat driver…”mom, if you just lean into the turn more you don’t have to slow down”…  I am so proud to have instilled in him the knowledge that our thoughts become things and to have shown him the power of overcoming fear.  Video Blog shows him giving me instructions.

See also my Video Blog post taken when still shaking after my first time.

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