My brother, Daniel, told me on the phone he had decided to do the trip one week from our conversation. His idea was to drive to Nova Scotia in one day, from his home in Ontario, stay overnight with our brother, Matt, then drive to the beginning of the trail, Baddeck, on Monday, where he would begin his cycling adventure. He expected the three-hundred-kilometre trek to take him three days, meaning he’d be back at Matt’s by Thursday night, and home on Friday. As we talked, I told him I was envious. He asked, ‘Do you want to come?’
I told him I needed to check with Jim and to see if I could get a non-stop flight from Calgary to Halifax, and that once I’d done that, I’d get back to him. Jim arrived home about an hour later and I told him about it. ‘Go’, he said. And then about one beat later he asked if we would like him to come and drive a support vehicle for us. Since Dan’s truck would be available, this was doable. I checked flights, called Daniel, and seven days later we landed in Halifax. Our brother Matt and Jacki were home and happy to host us overnight coming and going. The three places Daniel had booked for accommodation for him had rooms for Jim and me too. The pieces just fell into place.
That five-day adventure was absolutely perfect. It was so good to see Matt and Jacki, who we haven’t seen since they moved East. The cycling itself was beyond incredible. Daniel and I are compatible cyclists and Jim, the perfect support person. We’d be up early in the morning, when the fog still blanketed the coast, and we’d begin our days. Usually, we were soaked withing the hour. We climbed hills longer and steeper than I thought possible as we made our way through the Highlands National Park. Most days the fog would lift by noon, and we’d witness spectacular views of the ocean. We stopped for plenty of photos, we sometimes chatted as we rode and often rode along quietly enjoying the physicality of the cycling itself.
On one occasion we came across a construction zone on the road. Our lane was flagged through and as I cycled to the end of it the flagman there, holding traffic so we could pass, asked how I was. I said I was good but would be better if he could tell me that the road flattened out soon. His response was the best. “I’d be lyin’ if I did”, he told me with a grin. It was little interactions like this that reminded me why I love the East Coast and its people. We ate sea food at night and listened to live fiddle music one evening.
We left Calgary at noon on a Sunday, and arrived home at noon five days later, having completed the three-hundred-kilometre, thirty-five-hundred metre gain in elevation, journey. As we unpacked and re-assembled my bike, I could hardly believe it had happened.
As I thought back to the unfolding of the events it wasn’t lost on me that my quick ‘YES’ answer was not my norm. In fact, this was an unexpected, and unlikely answer from me. I often like to pretend I have some semblance of control over things and when I plan I feel more secure. Yet I could not argue with the fact that my quick yes had not given me less control over anything, and it certainly had not detracted from any part of the trip. In fact, this will be a hard trip to beat.
I told Jim that I thought we should have a ‘YES’ account. When he asked what I meant I explained we could have a separate bank account where we had a little stockpile of money just for the purpose of saying yes to opportunities that might come our way. This was to be different than other accounts we might use for saving for planned adventures. This one was to be for unexpected but enticing adventures. It’s hard to describe what they might be when we haven’t considered them yet.
As I’ve continued to ponder the notion of the ‘YES’ account, I’ve come to realize the account at the bank is not the only one I need to invest in. When I look back on the Cabot Trail adventure, the money was just one small part of what I considered when I made my snap decision. In fact, when our kids were growing up and wanted to do something, but thought they couldn’t afford it, I often told them if money was the only thing holding them up, they likely didn’t want it badly enough. I think my new YES account needs me to make deposits of other kinds too.
In my personal YES account, I need to make regular deposits of self-confidence. I need deposits of clarity of my values; by knowing these well, I will know what adventures will fill me up. I need deposits of supportive friends and family; by spending time with people who know me well and want what is best for me, I gain the freedom to reveal more of myself and my dreams for myself. When I first heard about the possibility of the Nova Scotia trip, I called our son, Greg. Greg did not hesitate. “Go Mom”, he said. “You will love it! And I’ve got a bike box you can borrow.” We each need people like Greg, people who believe in us and our dreams even when we have little doubts about our own abilities.
My personal YES account needs practicality too. I think some of my un-imagined adventures will involve physical activity, so I need to make deposits of time into my personal well-being, ensuring I’m not limited by my ability. I need to make small deposits of my dreams, so I can recognize the right opportunities for me. And I think it will benefit me to make deposits of living in the moment, and enjoying the moment I’m in. By doing this, when an opportunity presents itself, I can grab it if I believe it fits well with my idea of what makes a rich and fulfilling life.
YES accounts, accounts of possibility, are unique to each person. These are accounts of the soul. Accounts where we store up dreams we may not even know how to put into words, but when the opportunity reveals itself, we recognize it, and trust in our feeling to seize it.
This week, I challenge you to ‘open’ your YES account, to decide what needs to be deposited in it, to start making deposits, and to watch for the opportunities that come your way. I also challenge you to make small, daily withdrawals from your account. Find small things to fill your soul each day, so you begin to get used to the feeling of what makes you, you. Meanwhile, I assume I’ll be at home next week, following my normal routine, but… you never know….
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What deposits does my YES account need?’
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 open your personalized YES account.