We Are Not Alone: This is a marathon, not a sprint

During this time of isolation, we are sharing prayers, poems, inspirational music, videos and quotes that uplift our spirits in a special email newsletter each Tuesday. Here is an excerpt from our January 26 edition.

This is a marathon not a Sprint

Tour du Canada and Lockdown Life – Lessons Learned

Reflection by Vicki Thompson

Over the past +10 months we’ve all been adjusting to this strange world of lockdown living. As I reflect on how I’ve navigated this experience, I can’t help but draw parallels to my 72 day bike ride across Canada in 2015. While both have been challenging in unique ways, the lessons I learned about resilience during my journey on two wheels have been incredibly helpful through this latest journey of pandemic living. I hope my insights help you navigate whatever lies ahead for you in 2021 with greater resilience and courage.

Acknowledge the tough stuff, but keep moving forward

During the challenging moments of the ride, whether it was riding through a thunderstorm, climbing a grueling mountain pass in the Rockies, getting lost, or falling off my bike (after falling asleep while riding), there were several times of near defeat where all I wanted to do was pull over to the side of the road and let my exhaustion and emotions get the best of me. But in the middle of the TransCanada, that just wasn’t an option. So I’d acknowledge the emotion, have some compassion, and then keep moving forward. Always.

While it’s important to recognize difficult feelings and be kind to yourself through them, you can’t marinade in them for too long. The longer you sit at the side of the road, the harder it is to get going again. But, if you keep riding, eventually you reach the other side of the metaphorical mountain pass – that sweet, sweet downhill.

Be grateful for all that you have, especially the simple things

During my trip I experienced a newfoundappreciation for the simple things in life – like a beautiful sunrise, a delicious piece of blueberry pie at a local coffee shop in rural Ontario, the 100th cup of Tim’s coffee, my health, and my new friends. It was a completely no frills trip – sleeping in tents, eating PB&J for lunch every day, and cooking simple carb filled dinners each night together. While I missed the comforts of home, nice restaurants, and putting on a new outfit, I learned to appreciate that the simple things were all I needed to be truly happy – a sense of belonging, being outside, and having a goal that mattered to me.

When you shift your attention to what you do have, instead of what you don’t have, overtime you start to shift your mindset to one of greater positivity and satisfaction. Go on, give it a shot and think about 3 things you are grateful for so far today.

Respect each others’ differences

Being on the road for 2.5 months away from home, with a brand new group of people taught me a lot about life in a “bubble.” While we weren’t officially a bubble on the Tour du Canada, we spent every single day together as a small group with very limited interaction with anyone else. There were tense moments along the way as our different personal habits, opinions, preferences and experiences came out and were at time exasperated by exhaustion. But through it all, by the end we felt like a family and to this day I am still in very close contact with several of them.

This experience taught me some important lessons:

  1. Always be open to new connections, especially with people who are different from you.
  2. Get creative with how you stay in touch with the people you love and miss – physical distance doesn’t have to mean emotional distance
  3. Substitute judgement of differences for curiosity and respect – especially around how others handle challenges (like COVID). Everyone’s boundaries are different. Stay open and be respectful and you will likely get the same in return.
  4. Give others the benefit of the doubt – no one wakes up in the morning wanting to piss you off
  5. Communicate what you need (calmly) – no one can read minds
  6. Fill the reservoir of good vibes and thoughtful acts – you never know when someone had an especially hard day. Go out of your way to be kind and thoughtful, knowing there will be days when you need to tap into that reservoir of goodwill.

Take care of yourself – listen to your body. Fuel it with nourishing food, keep it hydrated, get outside, tend to your injuries, and build in rest days to truly rest. Whether it’s riding across the country or making the most of the dark winter in lockdown, our physical health is the foundation of our wellbeing.

While the road ahead with COVID is unknown, there is so much in our control to make this segment of the ride one we can be proud of coming out the other side.

Happy trails and stay safe!

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