In June of 2020, my husband Jim and I picked up our new bicycles. Our nephew Graeme, owner of Frontenac Cycle in Kingston, took care of all the details for us. We arrived and within a matter of minutes were fully outfitted with bikes and the appropriate gear. After a hiatus of 30+ years we were ready to hit the bike paths. Now these were not ordinary bikes. They were PAB’s, Power Assisted Bikes, and may I say they are ‘kick ass’!
Most folks misunderstand PABs believing that the bike does all the work. Let me clarify what really happens. First the bike is a regular 10 speed bike with power assist. You have to pedal. You cannot sit and let the bike do the work for you. AND you have three levels or power assist, low, medium and high, which you use for hills, going against the wind or simply when you are pooped. For someone like myself who had bilateral knee replacements in 2018, these bikes are ideal as I use the low or ECO setting at all times as it allows me to bike in comfort.
We are now biking 3-4 times per week, travelling anywhere from 25 to 70 km per outing. Distance is not a deterrent as when you get tired you simply power up. Now you might say that is cheating, yet studies completed over the last few years examining the difference in fitness levels for cyclists on regular bikes versus PAB’s have shown that the PAB users have similar to better fitness results, largely because they bike more frequently and longer distances. Good news for us!
Last Sunday, while out on a 40 km ride, I began to study how I was using the bike. I noticed that when I approached a hill I first geared down, as you do with most bikes and only then, when the hill was too steep, did I power up. I kept thinking about this, first gear down, then power up. I reflected on the sequence and realized what a great metaphor of life, work, responsibility and more.
What if, when faced with situations which have become too busy, too overwhelming, or simply too… we geared down. That would imply slowing down a bit, taking a deep breath, perhaps simplifying or letting go of something. That would be a great start. And what if we still needed help and we chose to power up by asking for help, discussing a situation with a colleague or family member, sharing our concerns, or collaborating. Hummm, a second great step. Imagine that, lessons from a bike, a PAB: First Gear Down, then Power Up. Simple and Effective.
I am by nature a curious person, so when my colleague Aileen spoke to me regarding radical curiosity, yes, my curiosity was peaked! Of course, this conversation came after a period of significant reflection for me where I had been wondering what I was missing, what lessons had I failed to learn as a result of the world events over the past few months. I wrote about this and lessons learned in last month’s column and found myself wondering, ‘now what’?
Radical curiosity is simply deeper than let’s say idle curiosity. It takes the ‘no stone unturned’ approach and asks different questions, which interestingly can lead to different answers. For example, some questions that my colleague and I looked at:
·What is in this moment?
·In what ways can I shift/change future moments?
·What do I need? ·What am I doing right? What can I do differently?
·What is the deeper meaning of what is and has been happening?
·How is this changing me?
·How can I put this new learning into action/ into practice?
·In what ways has my world shifted?
·What do I like/love about this? What do I want to retain?
·What will I release that no longer serves me?
·What has shifted within me?
·How does this influence what I value?
·What is truly important to me?
Yes, I could continue AND are these not great questions to consider, especially as we all begin to emerge from our cocoons. Yes, we want to resume life. Yes, we want things to return to normal (or do we?). And as our new wings dry in the sun, we have choices to make based on answers to the questions posed above. You can fly in new directions and set a new course; the decision is up to us.
I encourage you to exercise a little radical curiosity and have a truthful moment with yourself asking, what do you want your ‘new normal’ to look like? What are your new boundaries? What will you say YES to, NO to? What will you drop? What will you adopt?
As we have all experienced over the last 15 months, life can change radically from one moment to the next. Let’s choose to pause and look before we leap.
Until next time,Betty Healey, MEd, CAPPBetty Healey, MEd., CAPP
Your thoughts and strategies are always welcome and if you care to share you can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org