I recently had the opportunity to cycle from London to Amsterdam with a group of work colleagues in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and NSPCC. For those of you who don’t know…..it is a journey of approximately 340 miles (depending on the number of u-turns made), is relatively flat!! (mmmm!!) and was to be completed over a period of 3 days.
“What’s the big deal?” some of you may ask…..”That's easy isn't it” others may shout!?!. You are quite right to ask these questions as our inner psyche strives to undertake bigger, faster and more daring charitable feats, but arguably you are missing the point. Lying beneath the fundraising activity is a deeper and more profound purpose/meaning. What I have learnt over the past 3 days will stay with me a lifetime, so much so I wanted to share my post-ride thoughts and reflections far and wide. Every turn of the pedal, every painful bump in the road and every application of bottom cream have truly given me the opportunity to make a difference! Not only a positive difference in my life, but just as importantly to make a positive and lasting impression and contribution to those around me.
So as you read my post-ride thoughts and reflections, I encourage you to think about how YOU can #1 Be Courageous, #2 Be Kind, #3 Be Patient, #4 Be Loving, and #5 Be Forgiving. Whether you are suffering from an illness (doesn’t have to be Cancer) or simply supporting others by donating (PS – please please donate), take heed of these words and try to apply them in your everyday work and home lives. You might be pleasantly surprised with the impact you have:
- Be courageous – It goes without saying that there were a fair few crashes on the ride to Amsterdam which required courage and trust of fellow cyclists. I found this quote which I like (and is quite apt) by John Wayne the legendary cowboy who says “courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway”. But this kind of courage wanes into insignificance when compared with the kind of courage battling with Cancer requires. I have seen the effects of Cancer first hand and seen a friend take his last breaths minutes before passing away. It is this deeper and more meaningful courage I want to focus on here. I don’t have any answers here, I guess everyone is different and everyone deals with things differently. For me faith plays a big part and living in the moment (mindfulness). While it is inevitable there will be ups and downs, I love the mindset of Christopher Reeve who said “Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean”. I urge you to run into the ocean!!...The only limitations are in our minds #1 Be courageous
- Be kind - “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” Plato. How true are these words, but seriously, how often do we truly go out of our way to be kind? There were times on the bike that I felt like crying, like I couldn’t go on, that I was hurting and felt like giving up (and I know I wasn’t the only one). This was only temporary/short-lived pain, but it was amazing how a simple comment, smile or kind act turned the feelings of despair into hope (that I would finish) and joy (that someone had my back and was looking out for me). So, I ask you to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has Cancer!! For someone who has a pain that won’t go away and will live with them and their friends / families until the day they die. Just think how much a kind act or loving comment would mean to them?? I urge you to do one kind thing today!!. By the way, a massive thank-you to Dame Kelly Holmes for taking time out to be photographed with some of our cloud racers at Cafe1809, Hildenborough. Double Olympic Gold medalist and inspiration. #2 Be kind
- Be patient - We live in a world where we ask and expect to receive moments later or want to arrive at our destination before we set off….Sound familiar?? (boy did I want the destination to arrive well before the 152miles we covered on day 2). We as a nation are so impatient and this was no different on the bike ride too. But living with cancer we have no choice but to be patient. There is lots of uncertainty, huge amounts of hope and unequivocal trust in medical professionals, but there is definitely no magic wand!!...... We have to learn to accept who we are, the environment in which we operate and live in the moment. Just as a river flows, A.A. Milne, author of Winnie-the-Pooh says there is “there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” While it is almost second nature to want to do things faster, the reality is just like a river we are governed by things largely out of our control. So don’t fight it, I encourage you to close your eyes (just do it), breathe slower and embrace your surroundings. #3 Be patient
- Be loving – To be kind and loving to others, we first need to start being kind and loving to ourselves. It’s a fact we ALL make mistakes, we are far from perfect, yet we live our lives striving for perfection. Just think about the last 24 hours….how many minutes/hours have you spent ruminating over the past, comparing yourself to others or simply worrying about what MIGHT happen in the future? Once you have a number in mind, then triple it and you will probably be nearer the mark. My point is this, we often waste so much time worrying about things that never happen, just imagine if we could use this time to LOVE and be LOVED!! Of course it’s a two way relationship……Lao Tzu the ancient Chinese philosopher, reminds us that “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage”. I urge you to accept who you are, care for yourself and others, be with people that make you smile, don’t expect perfection, express gratitude, engage in things that make you happy, be compassionate….the list goes on, but hopefully you get my point. I encourage you to find some time for yourself, hug someone, drop a friend a text or do a random act of kindness. #4 Be loving
- Be forgiving – Whether you are trying to navigate through Belgium cycle paths (and get lost….more than once!!!!) or are simply caught up in the trials and tribulations of life, it’s no surprise that tempers flare. Words are often spoken in the heat of the moment without due thought and consideration and anger and resentment can overflow…..but for what??? Surely life is too short to hold grudges? Imagine the scenario I experienced last year…….a colleague of mine seemed fit and healthy but went to the docs suffering from headaches. 3 months later he was dead with a brain tumour. That is life. I ask you…..Do you really want to waste your time arguing? We all argue of course, but I urge you to forgive!! Its not easy and Mahatma Gandhi extols the virtue that “The weak can never forgive….and that forgiveness is the attribute of the strong: I encourage you to put your heart, soul and mind in being strong. #5 Be forgiving
My thoughts, like the bike ride went on longer than anticipated….But I hope my ramblings give you some insight into what went on in my head during the ride. I leave you with a quote I recently stumbled across. “There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go”.
A Cloud Racer J
Please Donate and when you leave a comment on the donation page, add which one or more of the 5 characteristics you want to do more of:
#1 Be Courageous, #2 Be Kind, #3 Be Patient, #4 Be Loving and #5 Be Forgiving.