This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Missed opportunity

BIKE is about awareness, and this is a story about why it's important to pay attention -- even when you're eavesdropping...

I've mentioned my trip to Sedona a few times already, and I'm still feeling the effects of that trip. I've been thinking, for example, about a specific moment. I was with my boyfriend on this trip, and as we headed out of town to come back home, we stopped off at a creekside restaurant for dinner. We sat out on the patio which overlooks Oak Creek. It was a quiet day, a slight breeze in the air, very relaxing. After the meal, I went to the restroom. On my way back to meet up with my boyfriend by the stairs and head for home, I overheard the conversation going on at one of the tables. It seemed to be a husband, wife, their teenage son, and perhaps a family friend at this table. They were chatting, having a good time.

They were speaking loud enough that it wasn't difficult to hear what was said. When one of the men made a comment about how angry his ex-wife was as I walked by their table, I couldn't help but smirk just a little bit. Though I can't recall his words exactly, they were enough to cause me to make a face while I eavesdropped. The man caught me but didn't take offense. Rather, he invited my boyfriend and I over to their table to join in on the conversation. "We're discussing personal growth issues," he said, "It looks like you might have something to add."

But knowing we wanted to get home, I declined with this reply: "I wouldn't want to bore the poor kid."

"Oh no, you wouldn't. He's been sharing his own knowledge. Listen," and then the guy cojoled the young man into revealing what he knew.

The boy shared the usual stuff..."Don't take drugs. Finish school. Go to college."

It's all good advice we want our kids to adhere to, but it's rote commentary. There's no depth to it, I thought.

Still, I didn't offer my own words of wisdom, nor did my boyfriend. We just left the party behind.

It wasn't until I'd reached the parking lot when I realized I did have some good advice I could have shared, but I didn't take the opportunity when it was given to me.

If I had, I would have shared my BIKE philosophy. "Find your BIKE," I'd have told him. "If you want to live a good life, making decisions that move you forward into a positive and productive future, find your BIKE -- It's mental, not metal."

In the next few weeks, I'll share with you what that means.

All my best,

Friday, May 25, 2007

"You've Got a Friend"

That's the name of the song that I was referring to..."You've Got a Friend." Can you hear the words in your head? As a child, I think it was Dionne Warwick I heard sing that song on the radio. I remember singing it at my eighth grade graduation. It marked a new beginning.

Music has a way of lifting us up in our darkest hour, doesn't it? It also can turn the tears on, if the right song appears at just the right moment. We connect with the sounds, the words, the harmony. There are certain songs that I bet you'll never forget, songs that evoke very specific memories. Music as a healing mechanism works very well for this reason. It helps you connect thoughts to feelings so that you can release energy that needs to be let go.

During your rides, I imagine you might have tapped into some music from your past. A song may sit in the subconscious, just waiting to be released at the perfect moment, to provide the needed comfort.

Our bodies really do know what we need to nurture it. The key is to tune in and be willing to listen.

Let that be the thought that carries you into your weekend.

We'll talk more next week.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pause for effect...or...affect

Back from my Sedona weekend for several days now, my mind is filled with thoughts about growth, lessons learned, and what they really mean. If you've ever been on a merry-go-round and all you could think of during the ride was, "When is it going to stop?" I'm kind of feeling that way now.

I want to slow down a bit. I want to make sure I'm taking time for thoughtful decision-making. I wasn't always this way.

Before I found BIKE, not all of my choices were chosen thoughtfully enough. I made far too many mistakes, reacting, instead of acting proactively. Still, even my mistakes have paid off, so I'm not judging myself. But it's important to note that my mental BIKE taught me to recognize when to slow down. This lesson might have had something to do with the fact that I came close to getting hit by a car several times. Survival instincts had a lot to do with the learning. I'm sure you can see the metaphor in that. But no matter the reason, I can now recognize when there's need for pause. I'm not always as successful as I'd like to be, but I'm getting there. It's part of the journey.

That's the beauty of having your own mental BIKE; it won't go away. The lessons you learn during your miraculous rides will stay with you for as long as you let them.

It makes me think of the song that includes these words, "Won't you let them?" If you can name that song for me, will you post a comment?

Thanks for joining me today.

All my best,

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Growing, growing, grown?

During our childhood, our growth is apparent almost on a daily basis. Our parents or our caregivers make note of our weight gains, whether a new tooth is forming, and they may even mark our height in notches on a wall for all to see. Snapshots and videos also record amazing feats that we've achieved as a toddler. If you happen to be the first-born, that first step you took may have been welcomed by a family celebration, beginning your first family tradition. Most everyone I know had their very first birthday caputured on some kind of film, to be shared over and over again.

This early growth just seems to feel so good.

As we get older and grow into adulthood, however, we seem to forget how good growth really does feel -- beginning with those hormonal and frequently chaotic adolescent years. We put away the party favors, the cake and ice cream, and maybe even skip the presents. Our growth becomes less visible, less celebrated, less important. Often, we don't even pay attention to it. Some even prefer to ignore it. We don't want to get "old."

Today, I've returned from a weekend assignment that really forced me to notice areas that could use improvement in my own life. It reminded me -- and yes, we need those reminders -- that the growth continues; it's never-ending. So I challenge you today to consider areas of improvement that you could make in your own life. Focus only on you, not on your loved ones, nor your friends. It's easy to point out the flaws and mistakes made by others. It's much more difficult to look inside our own imperfections. Doing so, however, will wake those senses. It will arouse your curiosity, and it will remind you that growth is always a good thing -- even when it hurts. And there will be times that it will. Those are good times, too. They need not be fearful times. Often, they are the moments we really should be celebrating the most!

For your ride today, think about where you are in your life. As you paint or draw that still life, as you pedal past thorny bushes and up over the bridge ahead, as you take this time to yourself, think about the choices you've made in your life. When have you been the happiest? When have you felt nothing but pure joy, the kind that keeps you giggling for hours or laughing from deep down inside? Think about that, then write down your thoughts. Remind yourself of the last time you felt child-like, as if you were that little girl or boy playing on the monkey bars once again. Even if you recall the falls, think about how you got back up.

Being able to bounce back from your falls is key to continued growth.

In your "ride" today (The quote marks mean your ride is your choice, not mine. If it's a bike, that's great. But if it's something else for you, if you require something less physical -- or more physical -- that will work just as well.) for your "ride" today, think about your own growth.

It's not over.

Let this one be a smooth ride. No bumps today. As my therapist would often say to me during some really rough moments, "Be gentle with yourself."

I heard those same words again from a yoga instructor this past weekend. So, Johanna Mosca from Sedona Spirit, if you're reading this, thank you for a lesson I can share with my readers. Yours are celebratory words, belonging to us all.

Let's celebrate growth today.

All my best,

Friday, May 18, 2007

To clarify...

..."When I rode..."

I still ride, of course, but I mix it up now. I ride. I hike. I jog -- very slowly. I walk, mostly doing something I call "curb walking," and I'll explain that later as well. And I journal regularly, pretty much every day. Sometimes, I even engage in yoga-like activity. I don't knit or crochet -- that's my sister's deal -- and I sometimes engage in other artistic endeavors. But those things don't draw me, personally. They just fill time when desired. For you, however, something along the creative lines -- even painting -- might be exactly what you're drawn to. If so, it'll be the perfect activity for you, because it'll be a natural fit -- something you'll most likely stick to on a daily basis...or close enough. Oh, and guys, your thing might be the tinkering you do in the garage. That may be the perfect place where you'll find your BIKE.

But just in case you were wondering..."Is she still riding?" Yes, I am. I believe the continuous repetitive action must go on in order for BIKE to be most effective as your journey continues. Remember, your journey is simply your life. How do you want to live it?

Think about that in your daily "rides."

I'll be back Monday to see where you are.

All my best,

For the next few days...

I'm on assignment and won't be able to post here for a few days.

So take this time as an opportunity to test your commitment. Whether you're riding a bike -- and I hear some of you have been inspired to buy one -- knitting a new scarf, or taking up jewelry making, schedule at least one-hour a day on your calendar for this activity. Then do it. Set your alarm clock for an hour earlier if needed.

When I rode, as soon as I woke up, I got dressed and headed out the door. It was automatic. Help yourself transform your way of thought into an automatic response. If it takes a little nudge from someone else, even, do whatever it takes to get out there every day.

Remember, this is your time to yourself for your benefit.

I'll "see" you in a few days. You can post comments about your progress if you like, or if that helps.

Till Monday, then,

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The transformation begins

Like inflating a flat tire, BIKE is about renewal. To get to that state of transformation -- to become your best self, for starters -- you'll first need to see that a problem exists. Understanding why you need a BIKE is as easy as understanding why you need a pump to put air back in that tire. The pump is a necessary tool for a very specific fix. Likewise, that's what BIKE becomes. If you've been living a deflated life, BIKE can be the tool that will help fill you back up.

To begin your journey, commit to daily rides. If you don't ride -- if you'd rather use something else -- consider walking, hiking, jogging, even knitting. Find something you love to do, or loved to do as a child, and begin doing it. Finding your mental BIKE will require continuous, repetitive physical action. The action is what instills the positive change within you. It is what allows you the time and space for reflection. And it acts as the reminder of your new and improved habits.

Transformation begins when you commit to it. For me, I chose to pedal my way past my problems. From the seat of my bike, I was able to recognize where I could make change happen, and I decided what path I needed to take to get where I wanted to go.

What have you decided to use to navigate your growth?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Practice patience

I've had e-mails come in asking me this already, so you, too, may be having similar thoughts. You may be wondering by now if I'm ever going to tell you what BIKE means and how you can incorporate it into your life.

My response: Be patient.

I found this spiritual navigation guide after a very long journey. And, I believe, in order for it to be effective in your life as well, you'll need to follow a similar course. In order to fully appreciate it -- and then to embrace it -- you'll need to see the growth occur for yourself. People talk about "a-ha moments," the ones where you reach enlightenment about a certain question you might have. This will be one of them for you. If you open your eyes -- not only to see but to accept -- you'll experience complete awareness.

But that takes time, and you must take the journey first.

Here's an exercise for you:

Think about the last time you made a mistake, whether at work, at home, or with friends. Maybe you said something you wish you hadn't. Maybe you agreed to do a job you weren't qualified to do, or didn't want to do, and the task suffered because of your decision. Maybe you missed an appointment. Make a note of how you felt after the fact. And then make a note of how you responded to that feeling or to the people who may have been affected. This exercise isn't about judgment; it's about awareness.

You may want to keep a journal to record your thoughts. The journal will be a valuable resource as you make your transformation.

All my best,

Monday, May 14, 2007

I know BIKE works because...'s measurable.

We've all participated in some project or activity that required continuous performance in order to see or arrive at a result. No matter what you set out to accomplish in a day -- the dishes, laundry, a math problem -- you begin the task, and when you've completed it, you've accomplished something. The results are measurable.

That's what happened to me when I began riding my Huffy. Trust me, for those of you who might still be saying, "Yeah, right. This sucks. It really IS all about exercise." Well, as I mentioned earlier, yes, it was for me, initially. Because that's all I had to count on at the time. It offered me a safe and measurable way to see growth.

At the time, I was forty plus pounds overweight. I felt it, but I wasn't seeing it. More accurately, I was problaby ignoring it. But the reality is, I had gained those forty pounds in one year. I found myself stepping on a scale one day, reading the number out loud, "160 pounds!" I couldn't ignore it any longer. I knew something was wrong. For me, that was not a healthy weight. I was a size 6 who had inched her way up to a size 12 in one year! Folks, that is a major signal that something is not quite right. And I knew it. I just didn't know what "it" was.

I'd soon find out...and I'll get to that later...but for now, you can simply know that my Huffy provided me the pathway to a visible success that I also experienced internally.

I remember feeling the physical effects, and it, too -- just like the Ron Carlson quote -- has stayed with me. When a moment touches your heart, mind and soul, accept its significance and positive change will follow.

I remember riding along my usual bike path. I'd reach my turnaround point, pulling into a park area to add some laps to my ride, and maybe ride under the sprinklers if the weather was really warm. In those early morning hours, I'd pass by the women walkers who also frequented the park. I couldn't seem to help myself, but with a smile on my face, I'd literally wave hello and call out to them, "You should try riding. You won't believe how much weight I've lost." I wanted to share the joy that comes with progress. I wanted others to experience what I was experiencing, despite the turmoil I was dealing with back home. It felt significant to me, and perhaps I looked foolish, grinning as I know I was, but I knew I was onto something.

The truth was getting clearer and clearer with each ride.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

It was a Huffy, not a Harley

Paraphrasing Ron Carlson, an author famous for his short stories and also for his ability to connect with his graduate literature students, the former Regents Professor at Arizona State University, Tempe, shared this line with me during a recent telephone interview:

"I'll start with what I know, and then write towards what I don't."

It has stayed with me.

I think it's a statement that can be adapted to more than just writing. To me, it speaks of how life works, in general, particularly when we're going through some kind of change or when thrust into chaos -- not necessarily of our own choosing. When that happens, you literally start with what you know -- the situation -- and then work your way through what you don't to get out of the situation. In this case, sometimes life is all about the unknown.

Sometimes, we don't even know what we don't know. And that can be a frightening predicament in and of itself. But it's good to know that even paralyzing fear can take you places, and those places can wind up being better than where you began.

When my husband of ten years left me for another woman in 2002, I had conveniently forgotten that I had once written down in my journals 12 years before that, "This man's not good for me."

I can see that girl clearly, even today. She was lying on my bed, a pen in one hand, notebook in the other, writing her thoughts down. Praying. Those were my thoughts, my prayers, my fears. But I ignored them.

Sometimes, we don't know what we don't know.

And that's why I'm glad I found that bike -- the metal one. It was propped up on its rusty kick stand over in the corner of my garage, collecting dust. In the eight years it had been housed there, I'd maybe ridden it only a handful of times. But the momment chaos came knocking on my door (in the guise of my husband's betrayal), my purple 10-speed answered. Because I was otherwise engaged with panic, fear and an anger that would take years to surface, my bike became the one thing I could count on. We met up every morning, sometimes as early as 5 a.m., for the rides that I truly believed saved my life.

The rides weren't glamourous by any stretch of the word. I mean, we're talking Huffy, not Harley. But they did the trick. They helped me release a lot of negative energy, gave me time to process feelings when no one else was around to hear my rants, and those rides led me on the path to conscious living.

That old bike became the mechanism that led me back to me.

I began to ride -- and write -- towards what I didn't know, so I could connect with what I did.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Welcome to my blog!

I'm joining the blogging world to introduce you to something I know can change your life. I speak about it to women's groups and conferences, and anyone else I get a chance to tell my story to during my travels. And because we all face some kind of challenge in our lives -- some more than others -- people relate to the story I tell that introduced me to my special BIKE. Although I know it saved me from a very traumatic divorce, don't worry, this blog isn't necessarily about divorce; it is, however, about overcoming life's obstacles. Divorce just happens to be a common one.

BIKE is a philosophy on one hand, a lifestyle choice on the other. It's about changing the way you perceive your own challenges, large or small. It's about facing them and taking responsibility. And it's especially about finding joy.

Beware! Or, be relieved. BIKE isn't about exercise. But it could be.

It did start out that way with me. Initially, my rides were bumpy, long and grueling. I wanted to turn around and go back home more often than not. But I needed those rides. And I learned to confront them, despite the falls I took along the way. The rides became metaphors for every difficult task I faced during the three-year-long ordeal that was my divorce. My special BIKE taught me to see and appreciate the strengths I had within me, naturally, to push forward. And that's what I did.

In this blog, I'm going to show you how to do the same.

I hope you'll join me.

Together, we'll learn how to ride the mental BIKE.

All my best,