I found the toy car in the gift shop of Elvis’ house, Graceland.
I’d always wanted a Pink Cadillac, so I bought the model and took it home to Nashville. It sat beside our television.
Later that year, I was scrolling Facebook and found something for sale. Without a second thought (and very little financial consideration), we drove to Jackson, Georgia, and purchased Flo.
Flo is a 2.5-tonne 1960 Pink Cadillac. THE worst financial decision I have ever made in my life.
I was 25 at the time.
At 19, I had broken a world record for the youngest person and the first teenager to fly solo around the world, written a book, shook the hand of a man who walked on the moon, and met the Royals. Life was good.
At 21, I was cut from the wreckage of an airplane, flown to hospital, diagnosed as a paraplegic, and spent the next six months in hospital and eighteen months in rehabilitation. Life was not good.
Every day was a battle to find answers, justification, and reasoning. The search for solutions to my struggles and a pathway forward was soul-crushing at times. I was lost, directionless, and unmotivated.
I was on another expedition, this time in search of purpose, passion, place, and, most of all, a way to build resilience.
The decision to purchase the Pink Cadillac was not an attempt to solve these problems, it was a ‘just because’ purchase, yet it went on the become the greatest resilience-building tool I had ever discovered.
The key to resilience had to be hidden within a 24,000 nautical mile flight, solo ocean crossings, navigating oceanic thunderstorms, spinal rehabilitation, learning to walk again, or learning to live with a disability. Surely?
But surprisingly, it wasn’t.
It was this ridiculously oversized, unnecessary car that opened my eyes to what was truly important – smiling like a kid.
It was driving that car and seeing the smiles on the faces of strangers. It was experiencing pure and simple joy that changed the game.
It was throwing away the notion that the answer had to be complicated or complex and understanding that the simple little moments of happiness in life are what allow us to recharge, refocus and build resilience. It was attainable change.
Every one of us has our own battle to fight, personally and professionally. Adversity is simply a byproduct of breathing. Finding a way to prioritize mental wellness and overcome these challenges is not only tough but a battle that many are losing.
The answer lies in the very things we sacrifice first in a time of turbulence – our hobbies, interests, and simple pleasures.
We need to prioritize joy. We need to step back from the desk and do the little things that make us smile – that vacation, darts with the boys, nine holes on Sunday morning, kayaking, hiking, poetry, or rock collecting, whatever your Pink Cadillac may be.
My purpose is to help others identify, understand and utilize their Pink Cadillacs.