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Packing a positive attitude for your pursuit will always
make it more pleasurable and satisfying. Establishing some accountability will
help you stay on track.
When you are touring by bicycle, you
never know what to expect when setting out each morning. All you know is that
you will encounter something new and interesting, and perhaps learn something
in the process. On one particular day during TheHopeLine Tour, we would
encounter another new state and learn a trick to becoming a better person.
Despite a cool and overcast start, we had wonderful weather
for the remainder of the day. An early-morning race with a pair of deer proved
too much for us, yet we persevered for our third consecutive day of biking more
than seventy miles.
Leaving Metropolis, Illinois, and cycling into Kentucky all
in one day felt like quite an accomplishment. For some reason, I thought
Illinois would be flat, but it isn’t. We climbed up and down hills until we
stopped for lunch at mile forty-one. We also switched maps, leaving the Great
Rivers South map and heading in the direction of the Underground Railroad
route. Our new route and new direction foreshadowed a change I would make later
in the day to improve our travel experience.
The end of our time in Illinois came at Cave-in-Rock, where
we caught a ride on the free ferry across the Ohio River. No cars accompanied
us on the ferry, just the two guys who operated the boat. As soon as we entered
Kentucky, nothing awaited us except more hills—no people, no homes, and no
crops for miles. Just like in other states along TheHopeLine Tour, we had the
place to ourselves. The hilly terrain meant we had some challenging climbs,
while the dense forest with no people around made for a lengthy and uncertain
ride to civilization.
In our travels, we’ve used maps published by a nonprofit
bicycle-touring advocate called the Adventure Cycling Association (www.adventurecycling.org). Those
maps mentioned the possibility of loose dogs in Kentucky, so Tim had a bright
orange whistle hanging from his neck, and I had one in the outside pocket of my
handlebar bag for easy access. Mine offered the added benefits of serving as a
compass and a thermometer. I had used the thermometer and compass more than the
whistle, but I must admit I loved blowing the whistle on dogs that chased us.
At that time on TheHopeLine Tour, we’d already had to blow
the whistle on dogs in Missouri and Illinois. I can remember thinking, Kentucky dogs: be prepared! We won’t be
wasting our precious water squirting you or fending you off with our bicycle
pumps. The whistle would be the way to ward off unwanted canines in
Before encountering any loose dogs, however, I discovered
another use for the whistle, but you need the assistance of a spouse or a
friend. I’m talking about breaking a bad habit I’d had at times on that
trip…well, actually, two bad habits.
It all started on the prior day when I’d made a sarcastic
comment and Tim blew the whistle as a referee would and shouted, “Unnecessary
sarcasm, fifteen yards!” He was joking, of course. However, after entering
Kentucky, I thought, What a great way to
break a habit!
So, I said to him, “If I complain about anything for the
rest of the day, I want you to blow the whistle on me.”
It may sound strange, but my request for Tim to hold me
accountable kept my grumbling in check. I set goals for myself every day, and
many days, I pray that I will not complain. Day after day, I fall short. On
that particular day, I thought blowing the whistle on my complaining would be a
great way to break that horrible habit. And it worked!
Instead of complaining to Tim, I started thinking of ways to
put a positive spin on things. My knee hurt, but instead of complaining about
it, I thought about the beautiful sky. I was so sick of the endless hills, but
instead of dwelling on it by talking about it, I said I was grateful for the
lack of traffic on those hills! The fear of the whistle blowing with each complaint
kept me from whining. I tested Tim while pedaling up a very steep hill and
complained about it. Sure enough, he blew the whistle!
If you have a bad habit to break, ask someone to “blow the
whistle” every time you indulge in that habit. The list of habits that could
benefit from some whistle-blowing interference includes gossiping, complaining,
swearing, being late, smoking…the list is endless. Chances are this
behavior-modification plan will get you into shape rather quickly. You will be
“a better you” once you’ve broken the bad habit and replaced it with a new,
healthier one. Instead of complaining, turn it into gratitude. No one will blow
the whistle on you if you’re grateful and full of joy!
Thirty-two miles into Kentucky, we ran out of sun. Yet we were
glad to have entered state number eleven on TheHopeLine Tour. After climbing
4,700 feet of elevation, we were heartened when a woman at a convenience store
in Sturgis reserved a motel room for us. The map listed none, but she knew of a
place with cabins for rent. They had closed early, but she had an “in” and,
therefore, so did we. Small-town Kentucky hospitality was in the air.
When we arrived at the cabin, we had more pleasant
surprises: it was beautiful, the price was right, and the adjoining market packed
us a home-cooked meal—which goes to show that when you stop complaining, things
will work out well in the end!
Attitude. It has so much influence on the success of a
journey and the fulfillment of a destiny—and whether you will be miserable or
happy along the way. Make sure you check your attitude at the door to your
Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble,
whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely,
whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is
anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
1. Which bad habit would you like to “blow the whistle” on?
2. Can you think of anyone who could help hold you
accountable in overcoming this bad habit?
3. Which is more agonizing: continuing to struggle with the
bad habit or giving permission to a trusted individual to help you stop it?
Tim and Debbie Bishop have coauthored four books about their midlife
launch into marriage, cross-country bicycle touring, and other matters of faith
and inspiration. Two Are Better: Midlife
Newlyweds Bicycle Coast to Coast captures the story behind the stories,
while Bicycle Touring How-To: What We
Learned shares their knowledge with bicycle touring wannabes. Now, Wheels of Wisdom: Life Lessons for the
Restless Spirit conveys some deeper truths that apply to virtually any life
pursuit. Metaphors in Motion: Wisdom from
the Open Road is an e-book containing more lessons like those found in Wheels of Wisdom.
The Bishops serve as volunteer Hope
Coaches for TheHopeLine, a nonprofit
organization that seeks to reach, rescue, and restore hurting teens and young
adults. They are available for speaking engagements about their touring and
life experiences. The couple blog at www.openroadpress.com.
addition to consulting for small businesses, Tim Bishop has written Hedging Commodity Price Risk: A Small
Business Perspective, an e-book that explains hedging in easy-to-understand
language. He is a CPA and former corporate treasurer with over thirty years of
business experience, and blogs at http://hedging.openroadpress.com.
Tim is a native of Houlton, Maine.
Debbie Bishop has taught for over
twenty-eight years. She has a passion for reading and seeing that young people
do it well. She also has a strong interest in recovery issues and encouraging
others with her own triumphs over such struggles earlier in her life. She is a
featured author in Love is Out There
by Melissa Williams-Pope, in which she relates her own story of finding love
later than most. Debbie volunteers as a facilitator for www.findingbalance.com,
an online support group dedicated to helping women who are struggling with
eating disorders. She also has New England roots.