When the leaves turned colour and it was too cold to be on the bike for long, my attention turned to hiking. I did not commit to hiking the equivalent of the distance across Canada, but I did pledge a once-a-week mountain hike, and perhaps a second, not-quite-so-long, second trek each week. Miraculously, the weather has completely, and astonishingly, cooperated. We have yet (touch wood) to have to brave typical Alberta winter temperatures in the minus twenty range. Each week, my hiking partner, Brenda, and I, check the long-range forecast and have so far been thrilled with our luck. More Tuesdays than not, the sun is shining. And on almost every single hike, we’ve had to drop layers as the sun has risen higher in the sky and we’ve trekked along.
Several years ago, my brother bought me a Road ID bracelet for my biking adventures. At the time, my biking partner, Rhonda, and I were meeting once each week for our long ride. In order to do this ride in the safest way possible, we often chose to drive out of the city and to cycle on country roads. The upside to this is the lack of heavy traffic, and the decent sized shoulders for riding. The down side is the lack of cell service for our phones in the less well-travelled areas. We always let someone know where we would be just in case. We also always knew we could be in for a wait if something did happen.
The Road ID bracelet Daniel gave me is one that contains emergency information about me in the off chance I should run into trouble. All kinds of information can be put on the bracelet. Mine has my name, Jim’s name and contact number, and one other emergency contact. The idea is that if I am unable to remember this information, or if I’m in a situation where I’m not responsive enough to do so, someone else can use the bracelet to both communicate with me using my name, to get some help, and to let my family know what is going on.
I love my little bracelet and I wear it anytime I’m off on one of my adventures. As I was coming home from our Tuesday hike this week, I was noticing my bracelet on my arm as I drove. I’m thankful to have it, and to know that if I lose my way or have a breakdown, someone else will be able to help me figure out how to get help. As I drove along, every once in a while glancing at the black band with the blue stripe, I began to think we should all wear such a bracelet, not necessarily for our treks into the woods and onto the country roads, but for all the regular bits of our lives.
It’s easy during a quiet meditation to conjure up an image of ourselves at our best. We do this equally well after a great night’s sleep, or during a rejuvenating holiday. We also do it for at least a couple of hours after we’ve made a New Year’s resolution. But when life gets busy, or when we get wrapped up in the busyness in our minds, we can easily forget who we are striving to be. Somehow during these times, all our best laid plans for living our best life fly out the window and we are left resorting to old, familiar responses and habits.
As I drove along, I was imagining instead of me putting my name and contact numbers on my bracelet, I could have it engraved with things that would remind me who I am striving to become. That way, if I happen to get caught up in the bustle of my life, I can just glance down to remind myself of what is really important, or of how I want to show up in this world. Perhaps even more importantly, if one of my family members or close friends notices I’ve lost my way, or have gotten off-track, they will know how to steer me home.
I wondered what I might put on my imaginary ID bracelet. How, after all, do I want to be identified? Who do I want to be gently reminded to be?
I want to be identified as someone who knows her values and her value. I want to stand strong in my beliefs, and also be open-minded enough to understand the views of others and be willing to change my point of view as I evolve. I want those I love to know I love them. I want to work hard to honour and appreciate my body; to stay as active as possible for as long as possible. I want to be adventuresome. I want others to feel safe when they are with me. I want to be identified as someone who is a living example of my beliefs. I want to dance and sing. I want to feel like my actions make a positive difference. I want to do much good, and not much bad. I want to champion others, and not lose myself in the process. I want to be brave. I want to be kind.
These are all ways I want to be, and be known, but it’s a lot to write on a small thin bracelet. All of those words cannot fit. It’s dawned on me what I want is for me to fully be me. If I can do this, I’ll think I’ll be the best version of myself. Perhaps all I really need is to simply put my name on my imaginary bracelet. Perhaps when I lose my way, or forget my dreams, this will be enough to remind me who I am.
Sometimes all we need is for someone to gently call our name, and by doing so invite us to show up as our best self.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘Whose name am I wearing on my bracelet?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to practice the art of finding yourself.