One Orange Bicycle

Today I tucked one phrase into my brain, which rested, as usual, underneath my knit turquoise hat. When I asked myself what I wanted to bring to my Reiki appointment, I thought this: “one orange bicycle.”

I’ve wanted to try Reiki ever since I heard my friend Jane Hewey is a Reiki practitioner. I can’t say I knew a ton about this Japanese stress-reduction technique. I knew it was an energy medicine-type healing modality. I knew some people might roll their eyes when I brought it up in conversation. I knew Jane has this amazing energy and I so wanted that energy focused on my energy.

Years ago, I first heard the word energy medicine from my co-author Astrid Pujari when we were writing The Healthy Back Book. “Do you know what energy medicine is?” she asked.

Nope, I didn’t. It’s hard to describe this field without standing in an open field while the light is just right, say in early October as the leaves are starting to glow yellow, red, and orange, and the sun is warm, but the air is cool. And everything seems possible although the Earth is going to sleep soon for the entire duration of winter.

It’s hard to wear a Western-medicine hat and talk about Energy Medicine. So take off the language you have been surrounded in since birth, and join me here. Stand as still as you can and notice the air moving all around you. There is energy in the cool wind. Feel the air rush into your brain through your ears. The energy is part of you. It moves down your spine, into your tailbone, along both hips, down those strong legs, into the feet, and whoosh, the energy is now in the ground. Feel that solid earth below those hiking boots. There is energy here taking the leaves that are already brown and changing them into something entirely different. This energy also travels up your feet, along those same channels and out the top of your head to the air around you. We are part of an energy field.

Is this too hokey for you? Well, woo-woo stuff fascinates me, so say hello to woo-woo and come along for my Reiki ride. I could go into physics here and say scientists might not go for Energy Medicine, but there is an entire science built around the laws of energy. See your 7th grade science book for more information because I would rather talk about one orange bicycle.

Writing about healthcare has changed the way I go to appointments now, whether I am going to a doctor’s office, to an acupuncturist or to see Jane, a Reiki practitioner. I always think about my questions and intentions before I get out of my car and after I drive to the appointment. What do I want to learn? Do I need help with sciatica? Do I need to sleep better? To access joy with more ease?

If I am getting acupuncture or massage or Reiki, I surely bring an intention, too. I want to work on childhood issues, or let go of parts of relationships that are not working, or think about whether or not I should get a dog. Today I brought the idea of my new orange bicycle. I’ve been thinking that this bike is a way for me to access joy with more ease, and I wanted to think more about that, and I wanted to move toward joy with more abandon.

Yes, this sounds so woo-woo. But this summer I didn’t sleep so well. I was often sad, sad enough for my girls to notice and for Chris to ask me many questions in hopes of finding a happy solution. Why was I sad? Well, this is a big question, but sadness is sometimes where we are at, yes? My girl turned into a tween and watching her be so upset sometimes, well, it reminded me of my sad times as a teen, when I spiraled into a serious depression. I sat with that, and became OK with that, for probably the very first time. It was OK to be depressed as a teenager. It taught me so many valuable lessons. But after sitting and looking at that depressed teenage girl, often late at night when I couldn’t sleep, I needed some joy.

Lucinda Williams sings, “You took my joy. I want it back!” I don’t have her twangy voice, but I would love me a gravel road, wide open, some folk music, a good friend or my husband, and a joy-filled 7-day trip. This, my friends, is not happening. I have so been thinking that running brought me to my joyful place but I’m not running thanks to sciatica. When I went on a vacation with my family and friends in August, we rode beach cruisers around the fake town called Seabrook, and my joy was real, and amplified, and just like the joy I felt as a child riding my bike through my suburban neighborhood. I got my joy back in Seabrook, right there on that bike.

My lovely husband Chris noted this. He has been on a bike mission ever since. After fixing up my old bike, he spied a beach cruiser type bike in Seattle, found the San Francisco-based company called Public that makes these bikes, and asked if he could buy me an orange bike with orange rimmed tires and an orange bell. Monetarily, this was silly. From a joy perspective, there was nothing to say but yes.

My bike came last Thursday. I have been riding it every day since then. I went to Reiki to let go of some old hurts and to grab fast to some new joy. I keep thinking about Margot Page’s Dear Drudgery essay where she admits that she bought a convertible during her mid-life crisis. She also spent a summer dissolving into tears, with her kids gathering close because they wanted to dry her tears. She needed some simple joy. This wasn’t the only avenue to healing, but driving around in a convertible was a great place to start. This orange bike of mine, bought with so much love by my husband, is a great place to start.

I went to my Reiki appointment with the phrase one orange bicycle. I went to Jane’s one-room healing office and sat on her couch. I have known Jane for roughly 11 years, and have gotten to know her pretty well in the last year. We started at a comfortable place, talking to each other, her on a chair and me on the couch. We caught up with each other, as friends do. She finally said she always starts Reiki by talking and asking what people are looking for with Reiki. She bought me to the heated massage table and pointed out two feathers that lay on the table.

“This long one is a macaw feather, it’s strong, a symbol of being male. And this smaller feather is a barn owl. I thought these feathers were right for you.”

This is what a Reiki practitioner does, what any energy medicine person does before any appointment. They think about or meditate on the person they will be working with. Jane said she thought about how I was a Gemini, so very dark and so very bright, always with these two dualities existing within me. I thought about how I yearn for the male presence in my life. My cheerful, funny dad, my brother Mike who tells me jokes, my husband Chris who teases me to help lighten my load. The owl feather brought my 11-year-old to mind, my lover of owls, the person I am so supporting right now as she slowly moves out of childhood and into womanhood.

With that, I get up on the table and lay on my back. I know Jane will be using her hands, mostly above and around my body, but sometimes on my body, to move energy. She said I could talk or not talk, whatever felt right. Almost as soon as we began, as soon as Jane moved her hands above my center, my stomach, my orange chakra, she was sharing with me what she saw. And I was sharing back with her. Soon enough I took out my phrase and said to her, “I brought this idea with me, I’m thinking about bikes, an orange bicycle.”

“Are you riding an orange bike?”

I am, I told her. And I am thinking it is a ticket to more joy for me. I talked about how I used to ride a blue bike, which I called Mo Better Blues, when I was in college and depressed and how that bike brought me joy and freedom. It was a ticket up and out of the dark places inside of me. I talked about how my new orange bike was bought out of so much love, and how I thought it had the same meaning.

“Do you have a name for your new bike yet?”

“I don’t,” I said, “but I think I will call it ‘Freedom.’ ”

As I said it I could feel the energy inside of me and inside of Jane and in that room all meet together in a resounding yes. Yes, ride your bike. And then Jane turned practical, and we talked about how often I should ride my bike. Five days a week, a regularly scheduled time at the right part of the day. How I mostly wanted to ride alone. How it was OK to try running and see how it felt. This is the very medicine side of Reiki. How can I be healthier and happier? By getting regular exercise that gathers endorphins.

We rode the other part of Reiki, the energy medicine portion, well, we rode that train for over an hour. Jane talked about energy in my legs for a majority of the appointment and we both pulled energy to that area. This sounds nutty, this sounds far out. But I can picture my red blood vessels, my strong, strong legs, the earth below me, coming up into my legs, and from my legs to my orange center chakra that I write from, and into my blue chakra right above it where I turn the writing out into the world and it has some energetic effect on the people that read it and the people they love.

See, the woo-woo isn’t so far out there. It’s another avenue to joy when the world has been a bit dark. I have to say that one of the best parts of the session is when Jane throws the things I want to get rid of to the left corner of the room and I watch them leave. Good riddance, I think. Sayonara! I laugh. And at the end, after I lay on my stomach for a bit on the warm table, I feel whole and happy as I move my body into a cross-legged sitting position. One orange bicycle. I got my joy back. All I have to do is ride.





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