Sharing Leads to Healing - Josie
On her blog (Josie’s Bike Life), Josie boldly shares her personal struggles. No topic seems too personal, with this fearless blogger describing IUD issues, eating disorders, periods, relationships, anxiety, and other life challenges.
She’s received some criticism about her candid words, from those who are worried she’ll “scare people away” from cycling with her tales of facing emotional and physical setbacks. But her desire to assist others is at the root of everything she shares online: “I wished that I had someone to tell me ‘Josie, it’s okay, we’ve all been there,’” she writes. “I wanted to provide that [to my readers]. My hope is if anyone has ever felt the same way- they know they aren’t alone.”
Here’s Part 2 of my exclusive interview with tiny, talented, and honest Josie...
What role does your bicycle play in your life?
It plays a huge role, and I fear I won’t be able to summarize it well! The bicycle gave me the courage to step away and make some very difficult decisions in my life a few years back due to the confidence it gave me. A bicycle during my childhood was more or less a source of stress and anxiety. In adulthood, I wanted to overcome that fear- use a bicycle as a tool for commuting, and eventually for fitness. I was tired of who I was and what I was doing. Giving myself permission to be afraid but keep at it, allowed me to grow as a person.
"I was tired of who I was and what I was doing. Giving myself permission to be afraid but keep at it, allowed me to grow as a person."
What inspired you to begin blogging about your experiences?
I wanted to find folks who were either in the same boat as myself, who found the start of their cycling journey to be challenging, and I also wanted to find women who were inspiring. I have a tendency (at times) to romanticize the learning process. Eventually I learned that I would have to face challenges due to my physical limitations of not having been a “fit” person. Emotionally, I would drain, because I had battles with myself whether I should just give up or keep going.
I faced some opposition about my public admittals of how hard biking was, being told that I might scare people away. I felt conflicted and I also wished that I had someone to tell me “Josie, it’s okay, we’ve all been there.” I wanted to provide that. So I started writing more about my experiences, so people could see my progression, and know that it is possible to improve so long as you don’t give up on yourself.
"I faced some opposition about my public admittals of how hard biking was, being told that I might scare people away."
Is it ever challenging to share your stories publicly?
Yes. At times I think I sound completely opposite of what “fearless” means, but I look at “fearless” living as living with fear and understanding it exists and it takes time to overcome.
Do I regret sharing stories that are unfiltered and raw? Yes and no. I shared very personal stories on my blog, stemming from my eating disorder to my relationship with a parent. I don’t share these with the intent of hurting anyone involved, but my hope is if anyone has ever felt the same way- they know they aren’t alone.
I sometimes feel vulnerable and question if I really should put certain things out there. But does it benefit me keeping it to myself? Not really. Sometimes sharing actually leads to healing- if not for you, then someone else.
"Sometimes sharing leads to healing- if not for you, then someone else."
How have audiences responded to your stories?
There are many types of folks out there and I know I am targeting a pretty specific set, so I do expect some folks to read my writing and scoff. The times I get a comment thanking me for the post, and that the reader feels better knowing they aren’t alone...those are the best.
Some of Josie’s favorite posts:
Encourage Your Daughters To Mountain Bike, How to Fail at Introducing Women to Mountain Biking, & The Hardest Part of Mountain Biking.
Finish this sentence: I’d feel naked if I ever rode my bike without ____. (And, why do you feel vulnerable without it?)
Helmet is Number 1 for me, as a helmet totally saved my teeth. I wasn’t familiar with riding off curbs the “safe” way, which is to pull up on your bars so your front end doesn’t slam down. I thought I had, but didn’t, and the front wheel slammed, the front fork compressed, and I was over the bars before I knew it. I remember the impact- everything went white and Travis’ voice sounded further away than it was. My chin was busted open and I had a solid concussion.
"My chin was busted open and I had a solid concussion."
People think “I’m not going to do anything crazy” but really, accidents are called accidents for a reason. New riders or seasoned riders have almost equal risk.
Do you cross-train with other forms of excercise?
No... I am absolutely poor at incorporating any other activity into my lifestyle that would improve my riding. I had a short stint of trying to get myself into running, only to find I wasn’t patient enough with it and overdid it. I decided it wasn’t worth it to me (at the time) and I didn’t want to do something to negatively affect my riding. I may try hiking the trails instead- and be sure to have my phone with me to take photos of flowers and such. Then I find value with the time spent.
Otherwise, I volunteer my time to coordinate more rides focused on introducing women and children to riding off-road. It doesn’t exert much energy on my part, but it does give my body a rest along with “feelgoods” of knowing that I’m making an impact.
What inspired you to start interviewing other women? Why is sharing our stories important?
I wanted to be inspired. I wanted to hear what helped other women get involved with biking (or mountain biking) and stick with it. I figured if I was inspired, other folks would be, too. So it went on from there! Commuters, road riders, cyclocross, mountain biking, you name it! Many different riders and industry folks have been featured on the pages of Josie’s Bike Life. I love that I’ve been able to create not only a community, but an inspirational resource.
What excites you about bike culture in Decorah, Iowa?
I love that we have many types of riding so easily available- and it’s less boring because of the location (hills!) I feel that there is a lot that can be done to improve the cycling community, tho. It would be great to see more folks feel comfortable to commute by bike and kids biking to school. Many people love the Trout Run Trail, but we have some awesome dirt trails, too.
"Our trail group is currently working on a fantastic plan that will finally introduce some 'all-rider-friendly' trails to our system.
Any challenges facing the bike scene in Decorah?
Being in a small, rural area, riding on roads and gravels can be a bit challenging. There are definitely folks who don’t care to see cyclists out riding- but thankfully my personal experience has them as “few and far between.”
Also, the mountain bike trails in our area are notorious for being challenging, which makes my mission to introduce more women and kids difficult. However, the City of Decorah was gifted land for a new park, and our trail group: DHPT: Decorah Human Powered Trails, is currently working on a fantastic plan that will finally introduce some all-rider-friendly trails to our system.