Friday, June 10, 2016

Bold New Learnings

It's Poetry Friday, and I have a couple of thoughts today on my new learnings.  It is another uncomfortable zone to put myself in.  BOLD.  Bold is not necessarily "comfortable"!  As a matter of fact, it is mostly UNcomfortable.  I am outside of my comfort zone lately - definitely in my UN-Comfort Zone.  It is something that is good for us to do, especially as teachers, I think.  It puts you more in tune with the students' zones of comfort and uncomfort...?  Perhaps that is the "Discomfort Zone"?

New Learnings

So many things to think of,
So many things to do,
So much to be aware of,
So much I never knew!

Someday it won't seem novel,
Someday it won't feel strange,
Somehow it will come natural,
Somehow it all will change!
by Donna JT Smith

I have barely had the time (and definitely ran out of energy) for posting this week.  After last Thursday's departure from my motorcycle riding class... I was too slow and holding back the rest of the class of men who had ridden motorcycles before.  Who knew the basic class would not be to learn how to ride a motorcycle?  It said I would learn how to... but I guess if everyone else already knows, then that is the baseline.  And I was too far below it.  Of course I was disappointed.  I haven't ever been asked to leave anywhere.  I have never really failed at things I've attempted.  So this was crushing.  I cried all the way home.  Two hours.

But when I got home, my son and husband were there to support me.  They encouraged me and immediately got my Burgman out of the garage and drove it to a parking lot.  There they had me practice starting and stopping, turning and balancing.  It was a redeeming exercise.  It was really quite like the old saying about getting back on the horse after a fall.  I hadn't fallen off my horse, but I'd been told that I wouldn't be able to ride.  So I basically had fallen and wasn't confident in my abilities at all!

I re-enrolled in another class at the end of the month at a different school.  Then I realized, my Burgman is an automatic, so practicing on it for long, was going to only help with my fear of speed and get me some turning practice.  I still wouldn't be ready for clutch, brake, throttle coordination to go with that.  The grips on the Burgman are both brakes and your feet have no jobs to do except hold the bike up when you come to a stop.  It's like moving from an automatic to a manual shift car.  Just because you can drive an automatic doesn't mean you can drive a manual.

Sooooo - I needed a manual motorcycle to learn on.  And that is just what we did.  I searched Craig's list one more time, and came up with this:
2004 Yamaha 250
We picked it up the next day after insurance and registration were all set.  My son drove it home after work, and he IMMEDIATELY spent about an hour with me at an empty parking lot, getting me comfortable on this bike!  Phew.  I can't tell you how nervous and anxious I was... and still am!  I go back and forth with feeling like "I can do this." to "What am I thinking?"!

I am a little more comfortable than the first day.  I still don't know if I will ever be totally "at one with the bike", but it is still too early to tell.  When my husband or son talk about taking it on the road when I get my license, I start to sweat and want to get rid of the bike just so they will stop mentioning it!  I'm so far from that it seems.  I don't seem like it to them for some reason.  Maybe because they are not inside my head listening to me do the checklist of things I want to remember.  "hand on brake, hand on clutch, ignition on, red engine button on button, push start engine button, press shifter (left foot) to get into first gear, release hand brake, slowly release clutch, start rolling, feet up, don't touch the brake pedal or shifter when you put your feet up...look up, not down".   I'm getting a stomach ache just writing this down.  And yet, it is becoming quicker and more automatic all the time.

If you don't ride a motorcycle, then going through the checklist is just a bunch of words.  When I think about it, it is like reading.  When you come to a word you don't know as a first grader, and we put the list of strategies in front of them:
Look at the first letter, get your mouth ready, look through the rest of the word, skip it, go back, think of the meaning, listen to yourself as you read... It is a confusing jumble of things to do when they are reading, but pretty soon it is all happening without them even being aware that they are doing it.
Pretty soon they are just reading. Pretty soon they are just writing.  Pretty soon they are blowing a bubble, whistling, swimming, diving, dancing, painting, hitting the ball...
And it seems like they always have been doing it to them and even us.

I'm looking forward to the day when I don't overthink it, when it feels like I've always been doing this!  And if that day never comes for me... well at least I can say I tried it, did it, and decided not to do it! 
Look, I'm riding!

I once became a reader -
Words tumbled from my tongue;
I once became a writer -
With pencil words were sung.

I learned to dance and whistle,
I swam and gulped at air;
I swung and hit a baseball
No matter foul or fair!

Each day I keep on learning,
There's time for one more lesson;
Each day that I am breathing
Is time for one more blessing.

by Donna JT Smith

Please visit other Poetry Friday contributors!  Head to Carol's place at Beyond Literacy Link There's lots to learn out there!


  1. Good for you, Donna! Sorry to hear about the big disappointment with your class, but I'm glad you've enrolled in another. Congrats on your progress with the Yamaha! You're an inspiration. :)

    1. At least this time around, I won't be the person to raise my hand as never having ridden a motorcycle! I may not pass the driving test yet, but I've got a better handle on it than before.😃🐢

  2. It's my final day at the beach & everyone is gone. I will be too very soon. I saw the beginning of this & had to write to send a hug for the disappointment, and then that you didn't quit, you've kept trying, & will keep on working at it. It reminded me of when I began riding a horse again, & felt terrible when I didn't please my teacher. I'm proud of you Donna. Enjoy if you can, or not. But you're so right, at least you can say you tried it, & then decided to keep going, or NOT!

    1. Oohh, somehow I missed that you were at the beach! East or west?Fun! There is nothing quite so relaxing and invigorating at the same time! On my way to Laconia Bike Weeek with "the guys" today! I'm driving car (the support vehicle my sone calls it!) and the guys are on motorcycles. Just spending the day. It's couple hours away. Should be fun. Lots and lots of bikes gathering there!

  3. I was sad, reading of your experience at the first motorbike school, Donna. So glad your hubby and son were supportive and you're back in the saddle... #onyourbike

  4. Thinking of you and wishing you well as you carry on with adventures, big and small! I love the connection you made to student discomfort -- we do forget what it feels like.

  5. Wow! I admire your perseverance. Not a fan of motorcycles, but if it makes you happy, go for it. I enjoyed your poem New Learnings.

  6. Bold you are, Donna, and a risk-taker (not once but twice and continuing)! What a wonderful lesson you shared with us-perseverance counts! Poems exemplify your thoughts.


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