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, March 18, 2008

It's time to own the choices you make

You know, reading the news about the Mills-McCartney divorce settlement has me nodding my head.

I understand why the media, the tabloids especially, seems to be biased against Heather Mills; she doesn't seem to want to own the choices she's made.

She misrepresented herself in court. She failed to get proper legal representation when she could have afforded to do so. And she expected an outrageous amount of money from her soon-to-be ex. Not only that, but she tried to blame him for her stalled career. What's so stalled about it? She was invited to perform on the reality TV show, "Dancing With the Stars"? I'm sure she was paid for that.

There's no use trying to understand why she's done or complained about any of this. She'll have to reconcile that in her own time. But for those of us watching and seeing all of this play out in the media, we can learn a few lessons. And if she were to ever read this blog, here's some specific advice to Heather: Take responsibility for your own decisions.

The thing is, we get married because we want to. It's a choice. Sometimes, we're not aware enough to know what's really happening in our lives, and we make foolish choices about getting married, and to whom. Sometimes, our future mates don't reveal important past histories to us, histories that if we'd known about beforehand might have led us to a different decision. Sometimes, we don't want to know the truth; we want to make up our own because it sounds better. Sometimes, we just don't have all the facts to make the best decision we might otherwise make. Whatever the case, once you have all of those facts in order, or enough of them, it's in your best interests to own the choice you made in the past so you don't make the same ones in the future.

To do anything else is a disserve to only one person: You.

I feel sorry for Heather Mills. I really do. To read that she's bashing the English court system, that she's bashing her husband's attorney, and that, during a court proceeding, she decided to pour a glass of water over the top of this same attorney's head, it's clear to me that she has some anger issues to deal with. These people do not care about that. It's time for Heather to get some professional help and pay someone to help her begin her healing process, to help her let go of that anger, and to find out how she can take responsibility for her future in such a way that this anger will not color her decisions any further.

Otherise, she'll continue to live with her crazy behavior. It may subside a bit, but it'll be there, waiting to rear its ugly head the next time she feels she's been wronged.

That could happen soon enough, as she's been ordered to return paintings that the musical artist Paul McCartney himself actually painted. He let her keep the ones he gave her--That's nice of you, Paul--but he would like the rest returned to him. The court agreed. Reading what I have, I wouldn't be surprised if she returned them alright, but returned them destroyed.

My advice: Heather, if you're even a bit tempted to do harm to this man's property, I suggest you don't.

I can say this because I had a similar experience, on a much smaller scale, of course. I also had to return a very expensive piece of artwork to my husband. We'd purchased it together. I'd known about the artist for years. I'd followed his work. It was fun, and we had a few pieces. But this one, in particular was quite valuable, worth nearly $20,000. Because I had a contact, we were able to meet with the artist in person and buy the painting for half the list price. Of course, during my own divorce settlement, my husband at the time wanted that painting and several other valuable pieces of property. It's not unreasonable that he would. In the course of the divisions, I agreed he could have this painting.

But I will say that I did have my moment of regret about that, sort of. I mean, there were times when I wanted to run a knife through the canvas. That painting's image represented a fantasy dance, and I felt like that's what my ex had been doing in his secret life. I felt like that painting represented his fantasy life, the life he'd been living without me. It almost symbolized a slap in my face, I thought. It was a hurtful reminder. So, in truth, I was glad to be rid of it. If I thought for a minute that it had really meant something to him on an aesthetic level, I might very well have slashed the painting. But I'm glad I didn't. I knew that painting meant nothing more to him than the dollars it was worth. He doesn't appreciate art in that way. He simply appreciates its monetary value. But having studied art theory in college and having written about it in my own career, I know a painting is worth far more than its price. And more importantly, I knew my integrity was worth more than either of the two. So, yes, I was tempted. But, no, I did not succumb.

And this is the kind of information I processed from the seat of my bike. When I was out there riding, I was giving myself time to consider my choices carefully. I always wanted to come out ahead, with no regret, with my dignity intact.

If Heather Mills is not careful, she'll forget there are more important things than how much money you can reap from a marriage or a divorce. It looks to me as though she's pretty set for life, though. She was awarded $50 million. That's nothing to cry about, and it's not worth the trouble she'd find herself in if she enacted any kind of revenge.

And this is not to discount any of her allegations that she was mistreated by McCartney. If she was, then she'll have to deal with that on her own. As will he. But if that was just more of her misrepresentation, then it would be worth her time to take personal inventory of who she really is and who she really wants to be. The two might not be the same.

All my best,

Monday, March 17, 2008

It's okay to slow down for success

I've been working on a lot of volunteer work lately. And when I say a lot, I mean that the work is taking up far too much time than I have time for. BUT, it is work that I willingly agreed to do and work that I want to do. So I'm finding time to fit it all in, anyway.

The problem is that I am also finding that I haven't been doing my personal best. I've failed to communicate to some key people information they needed to know earlier than this week. Because of that, I missed a deadline, they missed a deadline, and an additional person will be behind on her schedule.

I'm sure you've had moments, or even days, like this. You want to do it all. You even kid yourself into thinking you actually have the time. Bah!

You know you don't.

I'm realizing that now, as I find myself fighting this sinus infection. In between fits of coughing, blowing my nose into the bazillionth tissue, and keeping track of how many doses I take of this and that--and when--I'm also trying to stay on top of this volunteer work. It mostly involves an upcoming conference. But at the same time, I'm suposed to be on the road working on my travel guide book.

I'm too ill to be on the road, so the give and take here means that I'll be a little behind on the book as well. That's not my personal best, and it's not the quickest route to my success, either.

I'm really having to live a bit of quiet choas as I shift my attention to the conference. I'm organizing and moderating a panel of four speakers, as well as organizing volunteers to host what's called the Green Room. That's the waiting room where panelists/speakers hang out before they present. There's not much to either of these things really. The hard part is organizing the people involved. And that's not bad at all. But it would have gone much smoother if I had started earlier. But I wasn't planning my time effectively. And now I'm sick, and this is what I'm left with--not enough time to do it all.

So what now?

Forgive myself my defects. Yes, I can do that. Hey, I'm only human, right?! Then get to work. Yes, I can do that as well. I'm now busy dealing with one piece of each of the projects at a time. My mind--with its stuffy sinuses getting in the way--doesn't want to take in too much all at once. So I'm having to channel all that patience I talk about and work slowly, deliberately, and cautiously. Otherwise, I might make a mistake while sending out e-mails. I'm being forced to remember that it's a good thing to slow down for success.

When you're in a hurry, or feel rushed to complete something or to get somewhere, can you remember to slow down before you're forced to slow down? You know you're going to get there. It might take a few minutes longer, but you will reach your destination. You will complete that project. You will achieve your goal.

Think of it as taking the crazy times and taming them. If you don't take control of it first, your body will do it for you. It will act as its own reminder if you don't. And then you'll be left with something worse than a head cold.

Next time you recognize that you've overscheduled yourself, like I have, remember to slow the pace down. Start saying no to the next projects that are offered to you, and give yourself time to tackle what's already in front of you. If you can do that, trust me, your sinuses will thank you for it.

All my best,

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sick days

So I've had a sinus infection since the Tuesday after my daughter's wedding. It hit me fast and has decided to stick around for a while. I finally had to go see a doctor for an antibiotic prescription. After only one day on medicine, I'm feeling better but not enough to post much...

Other than a reminder to take care of yourself.

It feels good to take an active step in your healing, whether that's from a cold or something much larger. And let others step in to help when they can. My daughter's come to my house to check on me a few times, and to get her mail and wedding packages, and she's even taken me out to lunch--before what I thought was just a cold turned into an infection. And my BF is the one who actually took me to the doctor and has been bringing me food, including coffee when I ran out, several cans of soup, and dinner countless number of times. It feels good to take care of yourself, and it feels even better to be taken care of sometimes.

Be open to the generosity of the people in your life. Go ahead and ask for what you need.

This is just a reminder to take care of yourself in whatever way works. You're worth it.

All my best,

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Spitzer Scandal

I'd love to meet in person with the wife of the now former governor of New York. What Eliot Spitzer did to his wife is unimaginable to those who've never lived through the conversations and thoughts that must be going on in their home right now.

For those of you who haven't yet read the news, Spitzer has reportedly been having extramarital affairs with prostitutes for what may be the last ten years of their marriage. My guess is that the progression began much earlier, but that's only speculation, and it's only based on what's been reported in the news. So who knows? He knows, but it's not likely that anyone else aside from him will ever know the truth. It may be too painful for him even to reveal.

If he's experiencing what one of my former husband's experienced, these liasons are part of a serious addiction that he needs to address with serious mental health treatment. It's a sad story. The saddest thing about it is that he probably has no idea how his behavior really has affected his wife and three daughters all this time. My ex gave me one of those old platitudes when he confessed his other life to me: What you don't know won't hurt you. He was very wrong about that.

Because it's not just about the prostitution, or about the thought that he may not have used condoms--Spitzer, reportedly, didn't like to--it's more about the mental games he most likely played with his family in order to be able to live this kind of a double life.

You have to read books, such as Patrick Carnes' Out of the Shadows, or another of his books, Don't Call It Love, and even Gail Saltz's book Anatomy of a Secret Life, in order to even begin to understand how the addictive personality affects not only the addicted but also the people he or she come home to at night. I spent several years reading books like these so I could understand how a husband could hurt his wife in this way. The betrayal is so far-reaching, and the pain is so deep. In the beginning you feel as if you'll never know anything else. In the beginning you don't know what to feel. You can't feel. Even that even hurts too much.

The people who comment on the news reports, saying things like, "She should divorce him immediately," well, they don't know what it's like to be hit with a punch like this. The shock is a life saver, really. That is what will get her through these most horrible days of her life thus far. And if she's lucky, he'll really be sorry. He'll be able to apologize with some kind of authenticity. I never got that. That is the hardest thing to overcome in a situation like this.

So I'd love to score the magazine interview with Silda. Because I've been through what she's going through now--maybe not to the same extent--I'd know what questions to ask her. I'd know how to give her the empathy that she needs. And I'd want to share with her my BIKE story.

I know it would help her, when she's ready.

We cannot judge the women who stand by their men in these instances because, unless you've been through something this traumatic, you have no idea what they're trying to hold onto. In this instance, we're talking about more than 20 years of a marriage, a partnership that was supposed to be built on a bond, not on a betrayal.

If I could talk to Silda for just a few moments, I'd let her know that she will find her identity again. Because that's what she's lost. I know she's a bright and powerful women in her own right. So was I. That doesn't mean you can't lose yourself in your husband's life. You can. When you give up a piece of you, as she did, so that he can have his career, you've given up more than you'll ever know, that is, if he's the type of man who will do what these men do. They are too afraid to reveal who they really are, they are afraid to be vulnerable, they don't know how to live an authentic life. So they mask themselves behind a job that puts them in extreme power and wealth--and allows them to travel--and then they dial the prostitutes because they can't handle the stress. Then, they can't handle what they've done. And the wife becomes nonexistent in a way. But she's not. She's there to help. She's probably been there the entire time. But they stave off the stress in a most unhealthy way. And that secret? It hurts. For the wife, oddly enough, once the truth is revealed, it hurts a lot less.

If only these men would use their letter E. With BIKE, that's the Expressive voice. If only they would speak up...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

When do you "get over it?"

After reading the wedding post, Michelle asks in her guest comment, "When is the right time to move on and get over it?" She wants her husband's ex to do that, so, I imagine, her life can be less angst-filled when her new family is around her spouse's former one (or at the least the former wife).

That's a tough question to answer because no one has the answer. It resides within the individual. No one can force you, me, an ex, or a current spouse to get over the hurt caused from a broken relationship. What makes it easier is contrition on the part of the abuser, the one who cheated, if that's what occured in the relationship prior to the break up. But if that doesn't happen authentically, or if you never get that, then it's really dependent on time.

Besides, the term "getting over it" can imply that one's feelings do not count. But they do. Everyone's on all sides of the equation. The challenge really is to be able to arrive at some level of understanding about the feelings of all parties involved. And that also takes time, patience, and the desire to move forward with one's own life.

I'm not sure if anyone ever "gets over" being hurt by someone who was supposed to have loved them wholely and unconditionally but didn't or couldn't.

In the end, we all must just work to do our own individual best. If an ex continues to be angry, that's not your call. And it's not even about you. It's about the ex deciding to hang onto a feeling that isn't productive for her or him without realizing it. It's most likely not a conscious choice but an imbedded one. A few counseling sessions could help overcome that. But again, that's not your call. It's great when everyone involved in, for example, a blended family all gets along and there are no hurt feelings pushing just below the surface of the required get-togethers, but my guess is that's really very rare.

In my own recent situation, I knew I just wanted to get through the days involved and let my daughter have the most wonderful wedding she could have, despite the angst everyone knew was out there. It was not the time to push any of that out in the open. And for me, there may never come that day. I may never get the contrituion I know I deserve. I've learned to accept that and be okay with it. It's not about me; it's about him, or her, or whomever.

That's what Michelle will have to do--accept that her husband's ex is angry, and that the ex will have to come to terms with that in her own time, that her anger is about her, not anyone else, not really. That's how the ex has chosen to deal. It might not be the healthiest choice, but it might just be the best she can do for now. Michelle will have to have patience and understanding that the ex may never "get over it," or when she does, it's not going to be on Michelle's timeframe.

For you, Michelle, and for others in a similar situation, time will be your friend, patience will be your lover, and understanding will be your life partner. You might try looking at it that way. Your objective, you see, is to put the perspective where it belongs--on your behavior. How do you behave when you're around the ex? Just be who you are. Don't try to be the ex wife's friend, don't try to be your husband's children's mother. Just be you. Determine who that is, and be okay with that. And understand that the ex may see you as the person who came between her and her husband, her family. Were you? Only you can answer that. But if you can come to some understanding and truth about how you wound up where you are, that might help you greatly. You might also benefit from a few counseling sessions. I'll always advocate that. I know it can work wonders.

In my view, the term, "getting over it" is really a poor one. I've been through divorce twice, death of a loved one many times, and so much else. I don't know that you ever "get over it." If you're smart and can get in touch with your spiritual side, you become aware of things you can do to move yourself past the pain and worry less about what others are doing. But the loss is always there. There will always be reminders. With time, the loss hurts less and less. With patience, you accept the fact that your feelings exist and will change. With understanding, you learn to love who you are where you are, no matter what, and you are more apt to do the same with and for others.

Keep in mind that we all deserve to feel what we feel. No one should get to determine for anyone else how long it takes to feel a feeling. So cry if this hurts you, and keep crying for as long as you need to, want to, or care to. Journal if you need to spill your guts. Let your husband know what you need from him to make sure you feel secure in your relationship. And take the time to respect that other people in your life have feelings about what's going on, too, especially if they feel forced about being where they are. That's often the case with divorces. Someone feels forced out, and you may not be aware of the unresolved issues. You only know the one side. And there's never just one side, not when two people are involved.

So to answer your question: when do you get over it? Three words: time, patience, understanding.

And while you're waiting or processing this, get on a bike. It'll help you ride out your own angst. That should make you feel better.

All my best,

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Isn't it lovely?

The wedding turned out better than expected. All the in-laws were there, including the exes. So it was a good time to test exactly how well you can stand up when you'd rather sit down. Everything went well. Amazingly enough, there were no crazy drunks coming out of the woodwork.

At the end of it all, however, I knew I'd had enough of dealing with my ex. My bet is my daughter's new MIL--and I know her well--had had enough as well. But there were no cat fights or dog fights or anything even remotely brawlish.

It was all good.

And my daughter looked absolutely lovely, stunning even, in her ivory gown with the green trim. She was definitely princess for a day.

And don't all women deserve to feel that grand?

On the days when you're not feeling like a princess--or a prince, if you're male--what kinds of things do you do to pull yourself back up? Do you have a personal prescription that comes in handy. I'm not talking Rx. I'm referring to something that you actually do. We can't all go and get married every time we're feeling less than the princesses we know we really are. So what do you do?

Here's a list to get you thinking about your own nurturing methods:

Exercise--I love to ride my bike, obviously, and I love going for long walks up the mountain near my home. It gives me the time I need to free my mind or concentrate on something that needs more mental attention.

Nails--I'm not big on manicures, but I think I'm going to start filing and painting them more often. I like when they look nice. But I haven't taken much time to focus on that. So, instead of just rubbing this beeswax cuticle ointment on my nails that I like, I'm going to spend more time taking care of my nails. It's relaxing.

Food--I am not the best cook. I'm not even a consistent cook, but I find that when I plan a meal in advance and buy all the ingredients, I really enjoy the process of putting it all together. The finished product? Even better. I love home cooked meals.

Books--I'm an avid reader. Books, magazines and newspapers are some of my greatest friends. I know that reading a book (novel, self-help, anything that interests me) can always put me in a relaxing mood. This kind of escape also allows my creative mind to process new ideas for stories to pitch to editors.

Movies--I'm a picky movie-goer. I don't just want to go to the movies. I want to be entertained, without the gore or too much suspense. So I'll go see a comedy or a drama of some sort, or watch old movies on TV. Crying during a movie is a good way to release pent-up stress you may not even have known you had.

My son came home for his sister's wedding and told me something that really thrilled me. He told me he'd been playing a lot of basketball again, that he was back to drawing (He's really good at pencil drawing.) again, and that he was writing a lot and playing around with writing some comedy sketches. I told him, "That's wonderful. You're returning to your childhood passions." His response, "Yeah, I think you're right. And I'm happy."

There are a number of ways to nurture the mind, body and soul. Experimenting with your childhood interests, especially, will help you find what works best for you. When you make self-nurturing a daily habit, you'll naturally know the answer to this question:

Isn't life lovely?

All my best,

Monday, March 3, 2008

Speaking of weddings...

I know when I need to slow down and focus, and it's time to do that. So, I'll be taking the rest of the week off to take care of wedding business prior to the big day. We have lots to do over here to make sure the day is perfect for my daughter and soon to be son-in-law.

I'll see you back here next Tuesday night, most likely. That's when the last of my houseguests go back home. It'll be quiet around here again, and I'll have a moment to post some good thoughts.

Make it a great week, everyone!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Weddings--the second generation

My daughter's getting married next week. We've been quite busy around here these last few days with final wedding preparations, including cleaning up in time for guest arrival.

The beauty of that is that my office is neat again. I can see there's a real floor down there, and the piles are put away. It's a good feeling to relinguish myself of the excess paper.

However, during hectic times like these, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to breathe. Between cleaning the house, scheduling the carpet cleaner, meeting with my daughter to discuss wedding plans and what bills need to be paid--NOW--and also trying to fit a little work in between, I keep catching myself forgetting to breathe.

When I observe this, it's a nice reminder for me to get outside, take advantage of the warm weather, and go for a long walk.

Breathing comes easier when you let it happen. The next time you catch yourself getting worked up about whatever stresser is going on in your life--even if it's good stress, like the kind that comes with wedding planning--and if the weather's nice enough, remember to give yourself a break. Consider going for a walk. It's a simple and healthy way to relax your mind, body and soul.

Walking is also good way to connect with who you are when you're not in turmoil. Even if you give yourself just ten or fifteen minutes, when you recognize you need it, give yourself that necessary break from what's bugging you.

Remember, BIKE puts you on the path toward being able to notice more quickly what it is you need and then taking action. That walk is more than just a walk, it's part of the journey that feeds your soul. While you're out there, you may notice the flowers that are blooming. Maybe you'll take time to see the different color variations in the sky. Remember when you were a kid and you'd look for faces in the clouds? If there are clouds in your path, look up and find a face. What does it look like? Who does it remind you of? For just a few moments, let yourself get lost in the beauty of nature. Take the mental images back home with you, or back to your office, and be glad that you gave yourself this time. It should put a smile on your face.

Remember, BIKE brings you to awareness. Let yourself be aware of the good things going on in your life.