“If there’s one thing that’s universal, it’s the fear of failure. Everyone has it. It’s what you do with that fear that determines whether or not you will actually succeed. Some people choose not to try at all rather than fail. Others seem to be immune to the sting of failure. I fall somewhere in the middle.” Rebecca Rusch.
The skies are clearing as I fly home from Paraguay after my first Project Bike Love experience. I just finished reading "Rusch to Glory" and am inspired by yet another woman who has achieved unfathomable goals. The words Rebecca writes ring true in my heart and for my two friends Erin Machan and Belen Ramirez Bourdage. These two are sisters. They may not look alike, one fair skin blond and 5'10", the other dark Brunette at 5 foot nothing, but they are similar in their souls. Each have entirely different backgrounds. Erin grew up in Alabama with a tough "wild child" childhood, while Belen grew up with a "very Paraguayan" loving family that I have had the opportunity to witness and embrace. Yet both of these women have a passion for life, for helping others, and for bikes that they want to share. They have this uncanny ability to read each others minds and I watch as they look at each other in a telepathic way and suddenly blurt out their next amazing goals for PBL. "Rwanda!"
How on earth are we going to make this work?
That fear of failure doesn't even touch their lips much less their telepathic minds. Instead, as we complete the first of three deliveries in Paraguay, Erin and Belen are already planning the next location to empower women in need through bikes. This empowerment is real. I've witnessed it myself as we traveled endless hours by plane, by bus and by boat ( there were burros too but we didn't ride any, thankfully) all to deliver bikes to 40 women. These women all have different stories, single moms, students, widows who all work hard to make ends meet in these barrios in which they manage to survive. The opportunity to ride a bike to their jobs and schools will change their lives. I've seen it in their faces. I've heard it in their Spanish and Juaranese. Although I hardly understand a word, I have shed many tears of joy for them because this bike, has changed my life too. It has changed my life by giving me freedom and showing me the world. From my backyard excursions to my worldly adventures, new friendships that I have made, and now the opportunity to give back to something that is greater than just me, my life is now different and bigger.
I owe so much of this to the bicycle and to the inspiring women in my life. "I love to see the world though your eyes" Belen says. My eyes are wide open now. I see the need and the difference we can make. I am thankful for Erin and Belen, the sisters who have encouraged me and included me on their quest to share bikes. I'm thankful to my parents and my kids for being so supportive and encouraging as I trek around the world or when I just need to get out on a bike in my own backyard.
So as we plan our next adventures to share our passion for bikes, I try not to think of how overwhelming the next tasks may be and the possibility of failure, but instead I choose to change that fear into excitement. I choose to make Rwanda a reality.
Excerpt From: Rebecca Rusch & Selene Yeager. “Rusch to Glory.” VeloPress. iBooks.