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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


For my book project, I just returned from a trip to what's known as the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness in Eastern Arizona. It's beautiful country, out in the middle of the desert, in the middle of what looks like nowhere. Yet, I was definitely somewhere amazing during this wilderness retreat. You could see canyons, saguaros climbing the hillsides, and desert scrub for miles and miles. I even saw for the first time a mesquite bosque--a forest of mesquite trees--so green and lush. I've never seen anything like it before. But because of the underground river, the Aravaipa Creek, the water is plentiful for the wildlife and plants that dominate the desert here. I loved it. I loved the subtle differences in the desert landscape. It's more lush here than where I live. It's greener. It's very remote.

We stayed at a country inn nearby called Aravaipa Farms. With only six casitas and no electronic means to connect with the outside world, it was the perfect place to be unhooked. We had no internet connection, no cell phone service, and there were no TVs in sight, anywhere. You definitely need to be okay with that if you want to come out here. There's plenty to do, though. There's a swimming pool, hot tub, and plenty of places to sit outside by a waterfall and read. At night, it gets cool, so you can light a fire. And the birds are abundant. They say there are hundreds of species of birds out here in this wilderness area. I'm sure we had at least a hundred of them outside our casita door. One cardinal in particular would knock on the shower window every morning. It was as if he wanted inside.

One morning we hiked the canyon itself. It's a water hike, so we were in the creekbed, with water sometimes up to our knees, for most of time. You can hike the full 12 miles, from one end to the other, or you can just go as far in as you like. There is no trail exactly. You just stick to the creek path. Because the number of visitors allowed in the canyon on any given day is limited, up to 50, I think, it was so quiet out there. Our host at the inn prepared sack lunches for us to take with us. The food was yummy.

I'll definitely go back.

On our way home, we decided to take a detour to find this artist commmunity that is about 20 minutes outside of Benson. It's on a dirt road, very backcountry, but we didn't find the artists. I'll go back soon to look again. I'd like to include the community in my book, if I find anything worth noting. I think I will.

If it's time for you to disconnect from the outside world, even if you cannot find a place like this, you can still unhook right at home. Just unplug the TV, turn off the cell phone, and don't answer the house phone. Let the news happen as it will. Let your family and friends leave voice messages. Skip your favorite shows, even if it's just for one weekend day. By the end of this experiment, you'll be refreshed and ready to tackle the next task. If you have children at home, it will give them the opportunity to see what life can be like without text messaging or video games. I know that one might be a tough call to make, but I think you'd find it worthwhile.

Maybe you'll play cards or a board game. Maybe you'll cook dinner together. Maybe you'll just find it nice to relax and read a book or that stack of magazines you've been meaning to get to for weeks.

Going unhooked allows you to explore the quieter side of life, spend quality time with your loved ones who live at home, and reconnect with yourself.

When was the last time you spent quality time with you?

Aren't you worth it?

All my best,

Sunday, April 20, 2008

End bitter divorce now!

Oh, I wish that would be possible.

And that's why I've posted a second time today.

I couldn't help myself and wanted right away to post the above headline. I just read an article about David Hasselhoff and the end to his bitter divorce. I would love to be able to teach him and his now ex-wife about my mental BIKE. We can all use a way to transform our anger. No one needs to live a life that fuels bitter feelings.

Not that you shouldn't feel anger. There are plenty of things in the world to feel angry about. Divorce is one of them. But if the anger drags on, if you don't respect the feeling (bury it, pretend it doesn't exist, avoid expressing it, etc.), it can turn into revenge. You'll want to get back at someone for hurting you. And what a wasted use of your energy. I encourage you to use that energy for positive action instead, for forward movement.

The more I talk about my BIKE, the more I believe I need to teach more classes. I need to open my BIKE Lessons up to more of the public. So I'm going to look into doing that by year-end. I'll keep you updated. Maybe I'll be able to travel and bring the class near you.

But right after I read Hasselhoff's news this morning, I ran across a column written by Billy Graham. In it, he quoted the Bible, responding to a question another divorced father had about the broken relationship he had with his children because of divorce. Graham put it to him straight. He told the man he needed to own up to his mistakes. He needed to be honest about what he had done to cause that rift. And then he reminded the man what it says in the Bible, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1).

It's okay if you don't read the Bible, believe in it, or don't even want to acknowledge it. But please don't be offended by my opinion that the words within are words of wisdom that can help us live a happy and prosperous life. Some people, I know, look at the Bible differently. But I am very sure my God wants me to live a joyful life here on earth. One way I can do that is by avoiding bitterness. That's something my BIKE allowed me to do. With my BIKE, I grew closer to my spiritual guide, and for me, that is the Lord, and he gave me the knowledge and the ability to be able to do that. I am so grateful for His work with me.

I do believe a gentle answer works much better than harsh words. Speaking of which, I know someone I can speak to right now who deserves a gentle response.

Do you?

All my best,

BIKE your way to good health

The beauty of my special brand of BIKE (as I've mentioned before but reiterate for new readers), is that it's always with you. Here's the key: Once you've determined who you are at your core--your Best self...once you realize you can move past those obstacles, that you have the Inner strength required...once you trust that Killer instinct of yours...and once you begin to stand up for yourself and begin using with confidence your Expressive voice (Finally! There's the meaning behind the acronym!), you will let nothing hold you back. At least not for long.

I'm reminded of the lessons I've learned daily, but I particularly want to share this reminder that been's occuring this month. I've begun to redirect my attention to my physical health. Why? Because I'd let myself get out of shape, to the point that I wasn't meeting my boyfriend for Saturday morning runs. I'd find some excuse..."I'm too tired...I've got work to do...I'm drinking my coffee...It's too cold." And on and on. The truth was: I was out of shape. I don't run as fast as he does, so I'm not really running with him. But I wasn't even feeling up to running any distance at all. I'd let myself go.

My overall excuse was my work. I'd gotten caught up in it. Life was out of balance for me bacause I was choosing to put all of my focus on work. I'd neglected to fit in the all-important (for me) exercise in my morning route. Instead, I'd been getting up, fixing my coffee, and heading directly to my office to pitch stories, research ideas, or work on my book. Then, for the rest of the day, I'd work some more. And into the evening I'd work. When I decided I needed a break, I'd take time to have dinner or drinks with friends. But I was not exercising. It got to the point where I wasn't even walking my dog. If she needed to go out, I'd take her for a quick walk a few blocks and come right back home to my office. So my bad habit was even affecting my dog, and it had been going on for several months. My body was feeling the effects. And I had no choice but to notice.

It wasn't that I was gaining weight, but the weight was being redistributed to places I didn't want--my waist, for one--and my hard-earned muscle was changing to fat. The thing about BIKE is that I know what I feel like when I'm being my Best self, when I'm taking care of my physical self, for example, and I was now not feeling great. I was tired. I was getting cranky easily. I was not my normal joyful self. I was starting to lose my stamina. And the good thing is I recognized that.

I decided this month I had better change that.

Since my bicycle is in need of repair, I've once again gone back to my regular hikes up the mountain. In less than two weeks, the changes have become apparent. I have more energy. I feel lighter. My tummy's thinning out. I feel better.

So anyone out there who may doubt the power behind this mental BIKE of mine, doubt the power no more. You can find your own mental BIKE, and you can learn to take charge of all things in your life. It's a simple matter of awareness, of paying attention, of knowing what you really want yourself to feel like, to be like, to do.

I want my body to be able to continue moving forward just as much as I want my career to move forward and my bank account to increase. Not only that, but I don't want to miss out on trips with my boyfriend anymore. I was planning to go to hike the Grand Canyon next month, but I'll have to forego that trip for next year. I'm just not in good enough physical shape to keep up with him. It wouldn't be fair to him. So I'm staying behind. I'm mad at myself for that, but, again, that's why I'm refocusing my energy on my health. There are many good reasons to take care of your physical self. Not missing out on the fun you can have is just one of them.

But being aware, well, that's the beauty of this BIKE of mine.

It's not about always doing the right thing. We're not striving for perfection here. My special brand of BIKE is about knowing that if you get off track, you can and will--if you choose--get back on. Detours are sometimes necessary in life. They help you appreciate what you had and what you can have again. You just need to be aware of your behavior and take responsibilty for your own actions, without trying to blame someone else. No one else is responsible for my good health, or my poor health, but me. It's the same with you.

You really can BIKE your way to good health, in more than one way. I hope you're giving it a try.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to post them here. Let's continue this journey together.

All my best,

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Screening for abuse

Because of the work that I do and the life that I've lived, I keep up on what's happening in the world where it concerns spousal abuse. Today, Google Alerts sent me an interesting press report that gives two reasons for pediatricians to screen their patients' mothers or caregivers for signs of physical and/or emotional abuse. The report interested me because it cites a study that came up with results I believe to be obvious: This type of screening could help save both the parent/caregiver, and also save their children who may be witness to such abuse and become victims themselves...if they aren't already.

The study was conducted at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, and the results are published online in the Journal of Pediatrics. It claimed nearly 1/4 of the women screened (133) for the study reported abuse, and half of those admitted a child had witnessed the abuse. In my opinion, these numbers are frighteningly high, and probably on the low side. This particular study did not examine the effects of what the children witnessed, but it's already known that these children are more than likely to repeat what they've seen. We see it daily in our public schools, in the courts system, in the newspapers. Children follow the behavior their parents model, and not just at home. That means this is not just a private family matter. This is a societal concern. Screening the parent seems like a good idea. I wish I'd been screened. It could be a way out of an otherwise impossible situation.

And abuse is not that difficult to recognize. The report suggests if a child misses scheduled doctors' appointments, if the parent/caregiver and/or child show signs of depression, if the child exhibits recurring unexplained headaches and stomach aches, then maybe this kind of screening could detect a problem that isn't easy to discuss openly.

Says Megan Bair-Merritt, M.D. M.S.C.E., a Hopkins pediatrician who led the study, "Our findings speak loud and clear. Domestic violence happens often and children witness it, so it should be on every pediatrician's radar." Because of her study, she'd like to see more pediatricians conducting this kind of screening.

So would I.

I realize that might be putting an awful lot of responsibility on these doctors' shoulders, but their job is, afterall, caring for children. This type of screening might be another way they can do that. The study says it takes only a few minutes for a doctor to distribute a simple questionnaire and ask a parent/caregiver to fill it out. Just a few minutes that might save a child.

Then, of course, the question becomes: What happens when the results are in and abuse is acknowledged?

What does the pediatrician do then?

Maybe Johns Hopkins will come up with a study about that.

Meanwhile, if you haven't already done so, be sure to hug your children today. We all deserve it.

All my best,

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Speaking of spirituality

Check out my story about the spiritual side of Sedona in the May issue of Arizona Highways. Remember I'd mentioned I went there last May looking for those mysterious vortexes, to find out what exactly they are and what exactly they do.

I spent a lot of time with a guy who goes by the name of Mr. Sedona. Nice guy. I'd read his book, What is a Vortex? And I wanted to know more. He was kind enough to show me places I never even dreamed about. The wonderful thing about Arizona is that the mountains that you see have many layers. The outside layers, the ones you see from the side of a road or from a distance, make lovely landscapes. But inside those canyon walls awaits mystery, suspense and amazing beauty. It reminds me of abundant opportunity...and also of the famous phrase Forest Gump recites, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get." It's true. Inside those canyon walls, you never know what you'll see. If you go in the early morning hours, you'll view something different than if you visit at dusk. If you travel there with friends who've been before, the trip will be quite differnt than one you might take with novice Sedona tourists. I'll be going back for another visit soon and am already wondering what my experience will bring me this time. Will I hear sounds from the couple who came to start a drum circle meeting? They were on their way in as I was leaving last time. I would have liked to have sat around and listened. Perhaps they would have loaned me a drum, and I could have found a comfortable beat to tap into while sitting on the red sandstone. Anything could happen.

This next trip I take there will net stories for a chapter in my travel guide book. It's part of my plan to live the life I want, and that includes writing, travel, speaking.

Are you living the life you want?

Today, start thinking about that. Start thinking about the way you organize your time, the work that you do, and the people you surround yourself with on a regular basis.

Are you living the life you want?

If not, what steps can you take today to ensure yourself the life that you deserve?

It took me more than 40 years to understand I had the power to make these choices and not just fall into a pattern of what I thought others expected of me. Not only that, but it took me a long time to recognize I had to be willing to accept the power. It's one thing to understand free will. It's quite another to know what it can do for you and to act on it in a positive way.

But now I know it doesn't matter how long it took me to get here. It's good that I am.

You don't have to walk on eggshells just because someone else in your life is unhappy. You don't have to accept the judgements that others might make of you. You don't have to buy into anyone else's expectations of what you should do, be or say. When you do that, you minimize the personal power you have to be your true self.

Today, take a stand.

Begin the steps today that will lead you to your very own happiness. If you don't know what that is exactly, you first may need to determine the definition for yourself. It's okay. This isn't a one-day-only gig. No need to worry that you don't have the answers yet. None of us do. They will arrive when you're ready to accept them. You'll know you've found a good path when the momentum carries you forward. You'll feel the positive energy.

Getting to know who you are at your core--getting in touch with your mental BIKE--is about trusting yourself. Maybe for the very first time in your life. It's about becoming self-aware. The best life you can life for yourself is a conscious one. It means you take responsibility for who you are, what you do, and where you go.

That involves life-long learning, and your answers will change with your growth. That's a good thing. Be open to the possibilities. Let your own spirituality speak for itself. That means trust your gut.

To allow growth to occur, however, you do need to take the steps. There is no forward movement if you don't take the steps.

So here's an exercise for you:

Try writing down on a piece of paper, in a notebook, or in your journal if you have one five things that have crossed your mind in the last year that you thought you might like to do. You're simply experimenting with ideas. They can be outrageously unlikely. They can be superficial. They can be anything you think they are. But don't judge them enough that you discount them. The more outrageous the better. This is an exercise about looking at the possibilities that await you. If you have more than five ideas, write them down. A possibility, by its own definition, is limitless.

Do this during your lunch hour, after dinner, or before you go to bed tonight, and then enjoy the rest of your week!

All my best,
The BIKE Lady

Monday, April 14, 2008

What is a spiritual life?

I discuss this question with my son frequently.

I was raised outside of a religion per se, but as a child, I went to church anyway. In my hometown (in northern Indiana), the church bus came to my neighborhood on Sundays. The driver would hand out candy, and the word got around. It was his way of attracting children to the word of the Lord, and it worked. I was a kid. I liked candy. I was curious about where this bus would go. My mom didn't seem to mind. So I hopped on the church bus every Sunday morning. The bus driver, named Bill, got to bring children to church (It was Nazarene for a while, but he changed denominations a few times. So we did as well.), and we still got our Snickers bars. Everyone was happy.

Going to church meant I did, indeed, learn about the Christian faith. I learned Bible verses. I was given my very first Bible when I was in fourth grade--for learning a certain number of verses and reciting them out loud in Bible study class--and I believed. I did. I developed a deep sense of faith as a child. But the beauty, I think, of having switched churches a few times was that my faith was well-rounded. I learned how different churches used the word of the Lord. And I learned to distinguish those beliefs. I learned to accept what worked for me, and to reject what didn't. I learned to believe in a loving God and a God that really was everywhere I went.

When I had children and married a man who happened to be Lutheran, I learned that the Lutheran faith was not as flexible as my own beliefs. But I also understood I could still use my own free will and ability to think, and accept and reject what worked and didn't work for me. In my mind, God was still the same, Jesus was still the same. But I preferred to think of my Lord as a loving, forgiving presence. I didn't alway feel this Lutheran faith operated on that concept. Sometimes, I felt the pastor's sermons made God seem like a tyrant. But I was okay with that. Because I could still believe, still have faith, and still pray. And I still had a church that gave me the time and space to do that. So I raised my children to be Lutherans, mostly because I wanted them to have a connection to the God concept. I knew they would have to some day develop their own understanding about it.

And my son has since grown up and now questions his faith. Rather, he questions his religion. But he sometimes confuses the two. I do not think they are one and the same. I'm kind of sorry he didn't have the experience I had. I learned as a young child to distinguish faith from religion, but I didn't realize that till I'd grown up. He learned to believe only one way--the Lutheran way. The challenge there is that he's not a one-way kind of kid. He's more like his mom. He wants doors to open up. He wants to experience and see more than what one religion sometimes seems to allow. So he's exploring. He's been studying other religions. I think that's a good thing.

And so we've discussed this idea about having a spiritual life rather than a religious one. It seems to work for both of us best.

Whatever the case may be for you, I do believe we are spiritual. We all have a soul within us that speaks of a greater being than ourselves, something that is beyond our human body. And I think that's where your spiritual side resides. It is the part of you that cannot be seen, only felt. It is the part of you that believes and doesn't have to see. It is the part of you that knows there is some force working in your favor, if you let it. That's called faith.

If you haven't spent any time considering this for yourself, and if your troubling times are holding you back from something you are trying to achieve, maybe it's time to consider where you are on a spiritual level.

There is no one else who can determine that for you but you.

When I was riding my bike through my divorce, I spent a lot of time on that bike seat praying, believing and reconnecting with my faith. It's why I kept moving forward. It's why I live the best life I can possibly live. It's why I wake up most days with a smile on my face. It's why I approach the day's difficulities with creativity and excitement. It's why I know a challenge won't end me. Instead, I believe challenges make me who I am today.

Does your spiritual self do that for you? Do you need a spiritual navigation guide?

Just something to think about...


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ask and you will receive

It's as simple as that.

And it's a message I've been telling my kids since they were little: Ask and you will receive. My daughter is particularly adept at it.

It always works, in some way or another. Maybe the answer will be no, maybe the answer will not be immediate. But it's always a good thing to ask for what you need, especially when you feel as though you shouldn't. When you feel that way, it might mean you've reached a plateau and help is the only way you'll move past whatever hurdles might be in your way.

The moment you feel you can't is the precise moment when you must.

You must take action to get the help you need.

I have a perfect example, and it happened to me this morning. I've been fretting about this for a few weeks, since I was sick and knew I'd be traveling soon. What was all the fretting about? I had no idea when I'd be able to make time to do my taxes. I have an awful lot of paperwork to sort through, and a lot of numbers to organize--and I'm not a user of Quicken. So my tax work involves a hand-held calculater and lists that are not made with spreadsheet ease--I don't know how to use Excel, either. (Clearly, I have a few classes I could sign up for, don't I?) So, finally facing reality, I just e-mailed my tax guy, asking him if I can file an extension. I had to admit it: I simply won't have time to do my taxes until I return from a trip to New York--after tax day.

He wrote me back immediately--"I'm filing it today," he wrote.


Happy dance.

I love it when I speak up and ask for what I need, and get it. It gives me such a good feeling to know I'm taking care of myself.

Is there anything in your life that you've been needing lately? Are you fretting over it? Is worry settling in? My guess is there is something you can do, or someone you can ask, that will help you meet this need.

Ask and you will receive...something. Most likely, it will provide the relief you seek.

All my best,

Monday, April 7, 2008

More about patience

My daughter and her new husband just moved back in with me for a few months. They moved in with me the first time last summer, because he got laid off from his job. This is the second time, and it happened again. My daughter is frustrated and worried but wants to be supportive, of course. And she doesn't want to worry me. I'm not worried. After she told me about the job situation this time, she mentioned that she thinks God must be trying to teach her something.

I told her this:

"God is teaching you patience...[He wants you to know that we] do not get all that we want just because we want it. Accept what you need with graciousness--shelter, food, comfort from a loved one--and know that all the extra stuff is just that, extra.

I further explained to her that when I was going through my worst days with her father who had just left me--and I wasn't sure what was coming next--I just tried to focus on being thankful for what I had at the moment. I joined a Bible Study class for assistance. And I was praying a lot! At the same time, I allowed myself to be open to the possibilities, whatever they might be.

"You may take some detours," I told her, "but you will find the road you're meant to be on."

If you find yourself in a similar situation, where you're not sure what's coming next--and that scares you--remember to focus on the now. Ask yourself: What can I do today to plan for tomorrow?"

It may not be the complete answer to your fears, but it's an action step. Focus like that will help move you forward instead of allow you to stay stuck.

And, by the way, if you noticed I've been MIA again, that's because I'm working on my book. I've been on the road a lot lately and will continue to be for the next four months or so as I complete the research I need to do for my travel guide. I'm exploring the backroads & byways of Arizona for my book of the same name. Many of the places I'm visiting are without cell phone service and Internet connection. My book will be out in the spring of 2009 (Countryman Press). More details on that later.

For now, choose to enjoy the rest of your day.

All my best,