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.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

I made it!

I was mistaken. Yesterday, I thought I had two more days left in the blogathon. Today, I was told it's May 31. Somewhere, I lost a day, at least in my head. No biggie. I still made it. I posted 31 days in a row, one post a day for the month of May. I did it! It's worth celebrating.

If you've hit a milestone in your life today, or are about to, definitely plan on celebrating your success--even if it's for something that might seem inconsequential. In my book, every achievement is an achievement, no matter its size or implication.

So maybe you're asking, "What's the big deal about blogging once a day for an entire month?" To me, like many things in my life, it's symbolic. It means I can set aside time for something I'm passionate about, even if I'm not paid for it. To me, it shows me I can commit to something from start to finish. And it's a good example of how motivation works: you sign up for a contest, for example; you know that other people are participating and watching your progress; now you have accountability. When you have accountability, you want to perform well. If you're competitive, you probably want to perform really well. Maybe you'd post twice or three times a day. Once was good enough for me. I believe I said in the beginning of the blogathon that it would be a great example of what teamwork can accomplish; it is, indeed, that to me.

I think I'll go visit the blogs of my friends who also participated in the contest.

No need to celebrate alone.

All my best,

Friday, May 30, 2008

Blogathon near its end

Only two more days till the Blogathon ends.

It's been a fun challenge to see if I can handle a post a day for one entire month. Time will tell if I can. I nearly missed it today, though, because I took a day trip for my travel guide project and didn't get home till after 8 p.m. I went back to Miami-Globe, Ariz., to visit with an independent book store owner and to see if I could climb 150 concrete stairs like the miners used to do in late 1800s to early 1900s. I couldn't. By the time I got to the stairs, it was after 2 p.m., and about 100 degrees outside. I also met a saddle maker, a boutique owner, and if there had been more time in the day, I'd have done several more site visits. The people were lovely and shared wonderful stories about their lives in these small, nearly abandoned mining towns.

I wound up getting some nice pictures of the stairs, a few shops, the mission-style Catholic church in Miami with the stained glass windows and several other things. I also met a gallery owner fairly new in town who promised to host me for a book signing next year. I told him he could pair that with a show of travel photography. I know plenty who might be interested. How cool is that?! Remember the post about asking and receiving.

Oh, and the book store owner said she'd do the same. What sweethearts. I'm glad I went back.

Even if the trip almost cost me a perfect record. Oh, wait! I still have those two more days...

Happy reading,

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I'm less than three days away from beginning a brand new path in my writing and speaking career--coaching. I'm not sure if it's something I set out to do, necessarily, but it makes sense. And I'm a big believer in giving things a try, including calling myself The BIKE Lady.

I think I've always known I could try new things, but there was a time in my life where I didn't have the courage. I could see that the possibilities were there, but I was afraid to try out new ideas. I had to work really, really hard to convince myself that I was worth it, that someone would be interested in my ideas, that I'd get honest acceptance. I'd learned to allow myself to trust in my abilities, but only up to a point. Not completely. For example, my thoughts might have been: I can write a story for this magazine--it's local--but not that magazine--it's national. Why would a national editor want my work.

My internal dialogue was awful. I may have had the confidence somewhere, but I sure wasn't connected to it, at least, not fully. How many of you have been there, even if only for a moment? It's not a great feeling, not to believe in yourself.

I do now, and I owe that attitude partially to my special brand of BIKE.

It's mental, not metal, I say, because once you have it in your head who you are at your very core, you have the ability to turn your obstacles into opportunities. You have the ability to change your perspective. You know who is charge of you, especially when it's a spiritual thing. You know what your true limits are. And you can transform any of that awfulizing talk that you may do into something so much more promising and positive. That's what BIKE did for me; it's what it can do for you.

Does that sound like a good way to navigate your life?

As some of you know, I already teach my BIKE Lessons or give BIKE keynote presentations in small- and large-group settings. But I've never taught the one-on-ones. I've been coached before. I've been mentored before. And I've been involved in some of the best cognitive therapy there is. I know what's worked for me. My job now, as I begin this new path, will be to find out what might work for you. That's why I'm offering the coaching at this time for free. It's coaching, not counseling.

Note the word might above. I used that word about what "might work for you" on purpose. It's relevant only if you don't intend to do the work. If you intend to do the work, and do it, that word becomes will, as in "free will." If you choose to take control of your life in the way that BIKE allows, you will see benefits beyond anything I would ever promise. What I'm saying is that I can give you the tool. I can teach you how it works. But then my job ends. The rest is up to you. You have to remember, for yourself, that there's a BIKE in your head, and it's there for good reason--to help you handle the challenges of your life in the way that works best for you. I hope that sounds empowering and not like just a lot of work.

Don't get me wrong. It is work. It's the BIKE doing it. BIKE works wonders for me. It has since about 2004. That's when I developed my very first presentation about it. That's when I understood I had this thing, this ability, within me that I hadn't had before. It was 2005 when I had a lightbulb moment and gave the presentation again, this time, with my bike in tow. I literally brought my Trek 4300 into the meeting room and shared my presentation with a group of speakers for critique. It was an amazing experience. I got a standing ovation from professional speakers. I wanted to cry because it meant so much to me to see the impact my story, my work, my passion could have on others. I began to believe I had something that I knew was helpful to me and could actually be helpful to others. It wasn't long after that, with the help of several speaker friends, that I put all the lessons together into one acronym I call BIKE. I refer to it daily. I'm constantly refining the message, getting closer to it, understanding more and more completely how it works. It was my miracle, and it still is.

As you contemplate whether or not this BIKE's for you--and that I can help you apply it in your own life--I'll share a recent experience, with specifics, of how it's helped me. First, know that BIKE keeps me sane. It keeps me focused. It keeps me aware. But it mostly helps me overcome the challenges in my life. Who doesn't want something or some way to help do that?

Here's a prime example:

I needed to make an uncomfortable call to an editor of mine about a copyright violation that had taken place with a story I'd written for his magazine. It could have been a confrontational mess, and who needs that? But I had to make the call, so I referred to my BIKE in order to take care of the matter. Letter by letter, here's how I prepared for this call I really didn't want to make:

B--I assessed what I needed to do to be my best self. I needed to make the call. That I could not avoid. I found out about the violation; I had to address it. Doing otherwise could imply I accepted the violation, but I did not. But neither did I want to attack the guy, because I wanted to maintain the business relationship. I deserved to know what happened and how I was going to be compensated and to be assured this wouldn't happen again. I was taking care of myself.

I--I determined I had the inner strength to make the call. In fact, I knew I had the courage to face the guy and ask my questions. I'd overcome far greater injustices in my life than this. So that helped me turn this challenge into a miner inconvenience (See? There's that perspective thing.). But I took the amount of time I needed to digest the information, consider it, and prepare a list of my needs. That takes courage, and I had it. Again, I was taking care of myself.

K--I trusted in my killer instinct and my knowledge of the contract I had signed that I was right to make the call, that the violation had occured, and that I had a right to challenge it. I saw and was aware of the need to protect my rights. So when the editor gave me his excuses, I was prepared and could state clearly and matter-of-factly what I knew to be true and stick to what needed to be done.

E--I armed myself with knowledge. I read the contract again. I talked to other writers. I talked to a previous editor at this magazine who was familiar with the contract and the rights of the writer. The contract hadn't changed. I learned whatever I could before I made the call. I had my list in front of me of what my needs were, and I made the call. I used my expressive voice to make sure my needs surrounding this issue were met and that the violation would not occur again. If it does happen again, I know what I need to do to act on that as well.

When I hung up, I felt like a champion of my own rights. It's a good feeling.

Before BIKE, I wouldn't have made that call. I would have felt too timid. I wouldn't have believed in the voice I have to speak up for myself. I wouldn't have had the courage. I may have understood the violation to be wrong, but I might not have allowed myself to trust my feelings. I would not have likely taken care of myself nor even known what my needs were regarding the matter.

That's not the me I am today. The me I am today is stronger, smarter and saner.

BIKE helps me see how I can right a wrong situation. It helps me take care of me. And that's the best I can do. I understand that. I don't expect more or less of me than possible. But I do embrace challeges. BIKE has staying power. Once it's there, it's always there. You can ignore it, but it won't go away. It'll nag at you. It'll tease you. It'll work with your conscience and your gut so that even if you don't take care of your needs today, you're more likely to do so tomorrow. BIKE won't let up. If you're wrong, it'll convict you. If you're mistreated, it'll give you the way out. If you're depressed, it'll help you do what needs to be done to heal that pain.

So teaching others how to apply BIKE is just one more way I am diversifying my talents, knowledge and passion to help others. It's also another opportunity for me to learn.

I gain a lot by teaching my BIKE Lessons to others. Sometimes, I am reminded of areas in which I've faltered or could use more work. Ultimately, BIKE leads you on a constant path of growth. It's a gift, and I'm so happy to have it to give.

All my best,

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Reminder--just three days left to sign up

Last week I posted an offer for free BIKE coaching and wanted to post a reminder.

Here's the offer again: it's four months of free BIKE coaching.

If you're interested in learning how you can live a more stress-free life and find your true joy, post a comment. I'll draw a name and contact you personally to get started. The work will include one hour-long session per week by phone and a specified number of follow-ups by e-mail.

My only requirement is that you allow me to post the progress here on the BIKE blog and that you allow me to use anecdotes/stories from our work together in my upcoming book and other literature that I may need to promote my BIKE philosophy. If you'd prefer to use your first name only in print, that's fine, but I must know your full name, etc., for my records.If you're interested, post a commment below and let me know why/how you think finding your Mental BIKE would help you overcome a specific struggle you are now having in your life.I hope to hear from you soon because this opportunity ends on May 31.

All my best,


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

To be or not to be...friends

How many of us have had an issue with a friend? My guess is...everyone.

Friendships are tough. Like any relationship, they require work. And even on your best days, you may say or do something that upsets one of them. But we still want them in our lives, we still need them, and they are generally a great resource to help us out during our difficult days.

To help you navigate the wonderfully challenging world of friendships, there's a blog that you may find interesting. It's called Fractured Friendships. I've posted a link to my "friends" list at the bottom of my home page as well. But here's a direct link, in case you miss that. The owner of the blog, Irene S. Levine, has written a book on the subject and knows her stuff. She posts some fascinating facts about friendships, informative interviews, and her post today is about the upcoming movie, "Sex and the City."


Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

It's a weekend to remember the loved ones you've lost or known to be lost during war time or some other act of military service. I imagine it must be a difficult time for those who've most recently lost their sons or daughters in the war with Iraq, over in Afghanistan and beyond.

I found this Web site online that I thought was interesting. Maybe as your weekend winds down, you can take a look:

I hope you've had your moment of silence or said a few prayers. Our families involved in the military could use the support, I'm sure.

All my best,

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A surprising victim in domestic violence cases

A friend of mine is an initial appearance court judge in the county in which we live. One of the more surprising stories I've heard from him about the cases he covers is how often the cell phone appears in the police reports.

I don't know how many cell phones are thrown in the pool, smashed on the ground, run over, or otherwise vandalized, but according to him, you can almost always bet that a cell phone will fall victim to its own story of violence in a domestic abuse case.

Men get angry at their girlfriends who they think are calling other men. So the cell phone gets destroyed. Women think their men are calling other women, so they throw it at him. Parents get upset at their children for violating a curfew, and the cell phone gets tossed into the pool. It happens every day somewhere in Maricopa County. I suspect it happens elsewhere as well.

I guess that means the cell phone companies are an unlikely financial beneficiary because of domestic violence, as these people will wind up replacing their cell phones.

I tried to locate stories online documenting this, as I find it interesting, but Google didn't come up with any. Must not be that important in the news world, maybe only to the cell phone owner/user who no longer has access to his or her text messages...until the new phone comes along.

Which is easier to replace, I wonder, the cell phone or the intimate partner?

For some, I guess it could be a tough call.

All my best,

Saturday, May 24, 2008

BIKE riding is more than just fun

I'm not the only one who believes in the benefits of riding a bike. Lincoln, Neb., was just named one of five "Bike Town USA" cities for 2008.

Scott Grossenbacher, owner of Re-Cycled bike shop in Lincoln (in the article highlighted above) touts the mental AND physical enjoyment "that comes with peddling instead of driving."

Of course, the article doesn't talk about my BIKE philosophy, but maybe I should call the editor and suggest another article.

I'm always pleased to read articles that talk about the benefits of riding a bike. I'm a big believer. If you haven't considered it yet, I encourage you to give it a try.

(By the way, if the above link doesn't work, click here for details about these special bike-riding cities.)

All my best,

Friday, May 23, 2008

My challenge for the day

It's no fun, but I have to make a phone call today that could result in a conflict.

I don't like it, but it's an issue I must deal with. I've put it off for a few days while I thought through the matter.

So, how to best handle it?

I've created a script of what I can say to this person.
I know what my needs are in this instance.
I know where I am willing to compromise and where I'm not.
I know my truth about the situation.

I can now say I am ready to make this call.

If there is a conflict or a challenge that you are dealing with today, have you determined what you need first? Before you confront the challenge head-on, before you say something you might regret, hash out on paper what the problem is and how you think you would best like it handled. Then work backwards and see where you can compromise. I learned to do this during my divorce; it really helped me stay focused on what I needed the outcome to be. I knew what the worst possible outcome could be. I knew what the more likely outcome would be. And from there, I knew what I could handle.

My lawyer gave me the best piece of advice when she told me to remember that I always have time to think about it. So I wrote down these words, "Let me think about it first" on paper, and I used them throughout my entire divorce proceedings. Those words may come in handy for me again.

Let me think about that while I dial the number.

All my best,

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The "F" word


Who is to blame for your pain and suffering? Is it him? Is it her? Is it them? Does it have to be me? Why does anyone have to be at fault, anyway?

One of my guest commenters used this word, the "f" word, today, and it sparked today's thoughts.

The answer is "no" to all of the above. No one is to blame, necessarily, that is, if you can remove the word from your vocabulary.

Leave "fault" at the courts. Bringing it into your personal relationships--even your personal relationship with you--is like begging for conflict. Owning responsibility is not about fault. Rather, it's about realizing what you can and cannot control. The fault part is irrelevant. Slip that word into an argument, and the argument continues. Why? Because no one really wants the blame, at least not for another person's words or actions.

Even if I slapped you across the face, I'd find a good reason for doing it, and it wouldn't be my fault. That is, if that's the way I processed responsibility. And believe me, I did process it exactly like that at one point in my life.

I can remember an argument I had with my daughter, who was a teenager at the time. She wound up getting so angry, she spit at my face. Do you know what I did? I spit right back at her. I was the adult, and, yet, there I was, acting just like the child. It was ridiculous. My behavior was ridiculous. I allowed anger to control me. It didn't matter what she had done. To this day, I couldn't tell you why we were upset with each other. What I do know is that I really messed up. At that time in my life, however, I could not have accepted that. I wouldn't have. Of course it was her fault. She did it first, right?

Do you hear the childishness behind this story?

It's the perfect example of why fault is not the issue. Self-responsibility is. What do I have control over? One answer. Me. I'm not talking about the parent of a toddler, of course. That's different. I'm talking about two adults, really.

The bottom line is this: You are responsible for your feelings, your actions, your outcome. No one else. When you begin to look at your life in that way, then you begin to let go of the fault concept--the blame--and your challenges in life become less conflicted. You become better able to address them, deal with them, and move on.

Today, it might be a good day to consider removing the "f" word from your vocabulary.

It's something to consider, anyway.

All my best,

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's a sad day

My Google alerts sent me several stories this morning about people who are getting singer Shania Twain, actor Dylan McDermott (Didn't I just see him on a talk show not too long ago talking positively about his family?) and others. A writer colleague of mine today announced her divorce was final. And all of this news just made me feel a bit sad.

I'm sad that we can't work things out.

I'm sad that divorce is so easy.

I'm sad that we have to suffer through that kind of pain.

It reminds me of my own. And I don't think you ever really "get over" it. I believe I've written about this before. But, really, I don't think that you do. There will always be reminders.

So I guess I just want to say to you that when you arrive at those moments--those reminders--go ahead and feel them. Then let them go again. And try not to worry too much that the sadness might return. It probably will. But it's just a feeling. It's not who you are. It's not what defines you. It's just a feeling. Accept that it's there. Being able to feel your feelings makes you human. Being able to tap into feelings means you're a sensitive person. That sensitivity is what helps us understand each other.

If there's anything that you feel sad about today, post a comment about how you're dealing with it. Maybe your thoughts and ideas can help someone else.

All my best,

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

BIKE coaching, anyone?

I'd like to offer one four-month free trial of BIKE coaching. If you're interested in learning how you can live a more stress-free life and find your true joy, post a comment. I'll draw a name and contact you personally to get started. The work will include one hour-long session per week by phone and a specified number of follow-ups by e-mail.

My only requirement is that you allow me to post the progress here on the BIKE blog and that you allow me to use anecdotes/stories from our work together in my upcoming book and other literature that I may need to promote my BIKE philosophy. If you'd prefer to use your first name only in print, that's fine, but I must know your full name, etc., for my records.

If you're interested, post a commment below and let me know why/how you think finding your Mental BIKE would help you overcome a specific struggle you are now having in your life.

I hope to hear from you soon because this opportunity ends on May 31.

All my best,

Monday, May 19, 2008

Are you getting the picture?

By now, perhaps you're getting an idea of what I mean by this BIKE thing. I often refer to it as my BIKE philosophy. The reason I say it's uniquely yours is because no one can really tell you how to handle your personal challenges.

How you deal with anger, how you deal with fear, how you deal with the everyday challenges that sometimes get in your way (a flat tire, perhaps, or traffic on the way to work) is dependent on your response. Your response is dependent on your perspective. A healthy perspective comes from your willingness to observe and learn.

Take, for example, yesterday. I'd been on the road, traveling with other travel journalists for a week. On the weekend, I was able to fit in yet another two-day trip with my boyfriend. On Sunday afternoon, we drove home. It was an easy ride. But as we pulled into the Phoenix metro area, a sign on the freeway said the road ahead was closed. We needed to be on that road to get home. But we had to exit much sooner than expected, and take an out-of-the way path home. My boyfriend was in much too much of a hurry, I suspect, because when he found an open lane, he pulled in quickly. And since it was clear, despite all the cars backed up on the inside lane, he sped up. As he did so, a car pulled out of that backed up lane and into our clear one, the exit lane. It seemed like a move one might expect. But he got upset that this car pulled into his lane. He had to quickly put on the breaks. We nearly had an accident. I didn't think it was the smartest move on his part, the speeding up, I mean, and I told him so. He was upset with the car ahead, and he was upset with me. But I think he should have been upset with himself first. He didn't need to speed up. He should have anticipated a car pulling out in front of him, under the circumstances. Thank goodness there was no accident. He's over it now, of course, but I'm left to wonder why he wouldn't take some responsibility in this close call. It isn't the biggest issue in the world, but I may bring it up for discussion again sometime because I'd really like to know his way of thinking. I'm curious to know why he responded the way he did.

What I'm saying here is that you are responsible for your response in any given situation. If you can own up to that responsibility (and I don't think he did that in this case) you'll have less stress in your life. You'll be able to see things from more than one perspective, and your conflict will be lessoned.

As I was sharing my BIKE philosophy with a fellow writer a few days earlier, this writer told me that he had just spoken to a woman he knew had been divorced ten years earlier. He told me she was still bitter about it. I told him that's why I am continuing to share my BIKE story with others. Holding onto that kind of discontent toward another person does you no good. It holds you back. It locks you in the past. An accident, a divorce, a dispute of any kind--they each require the involvement, generally, of more than one person. In order to find the best result for yourself, you must know where your responsibility lies. When you own that, you'll own the best outcome you can control. When you understand that, you'll move forward without regret.

Where there is no regret, there is acceptance, and where there is acceptance, there is peace.

I wish you all peace.

All my best,

Sunday, May 18, 2008

My greatest fear

My answer to the three questions:

1) My greatest fear is to be abandoned.

2) I developed this fear as a child. My mother used to threaten she'd leave us kids when she got angry about something. I was in elementary school, probably fourth or fifth grade. But I remember she'd get so angry and pack her bags and literally leave the house, drive away, and not come back for hours. I never knew if she'd come back. I didn't know what her behavior meant to me then, but it later materialized into my greatest fear. It didn't help any that my father died when I was only three. So I was well aware that parents did go away and never come back.

3) What that did to me as an adult, and how it still affects me today--though I'm aware of it now--is teach me that people will leave you if they get upset with you. I never wanted people to be angry with me. I became a people-pleaser. If only you didn't get mad at me, you wouldn't leave me. The problem is, people do get upset, they do leave, or they do die, and there's not much you can do about it. I've learned to be okay with this fear. I still have it. I still don't want to be abandoned, and there are times when I can still find myself building those walls to protect myself from this kind of pain.

But, for the most part, I have reached a level of acceptance about what could happen. More importantly, I've learned that I won't abandon me. I know I have my higher power which won't abandon me. For that, I am grateful.

Have you come to terms with your fear? Post your comments.

And if you like what you're reading, if you're finding my blog helpful, please sign in at the bottom of this page for updates.

Thank you,

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Three questions

Today, I'm asking you three questions. During the rest of the weekend, think about the answers, then journal your thoughts on paper.

1) What's your greatest fear?

2) Where do you think it comes from?

3) In what way does this fear affect your life today?

Think about this carefully.

All my best,

Friday, May 16, 2008

Down time

As I make my way through the White Mountainsregion of Arizona, I'm seeing so much and hearing so many stories, writing down so many notes. It's enjoyable but quite tiresome. I am reminded, forcefully, that I need down time.

It's going to be a struggle for me to schedule that in over the next couple of months as I settle into the writing part of this book project. I know me. I'll stress about it. I'll fret about it. I'll go crazy.

What do you do to de-stress? Can you give me a few ideas? Let's help each other out this time.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Do you see what I see?

I've been traveling around Arizona for the past few days, driving through a region that was once a favorite of the late Western author Zane Grey. I wrote about him for a magazine called Valley Guide Quarterly.

I've been to something called the Tonto Natural Bridge--believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. We had a picnic lunch where Zane Grey himself probably once stood as well. He wrote about this place in his novels. The cabin where he came to hunt and fish and write was built not too far from here. It was burned down several years ago in a forest fire but was rebuilt in Payson. I'm not sure if we'll get a chance to see it, but I'd like to. If not this trip, I'll be back.

This week, I've also been to the Mogollon Rim, which I'd only seen from afar while in Sedona. I'd only literally seen the rim from canyons down below and also from a helicopter ride above. And I've been surrounded this week by the world's largest stand of Ponderosa Pine trees in the White Mountains. I am amazed at the beauty that I am seeing on this trip. I'm heading next to the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. I've seen neither before and am looking forward to both.

This was my dream to travel all over the state of Arizona. I hadn't yet taken the time to do it. I finally decided if I could sell a travel guide, it would force me to follow my dream. And I was right. So here I am, traveling the state of Arizona, one road trip at a time, to see what beauty awaits me out here in the wilderness and beyond. It's even better than I imagined.

I have a lot of writing to do when I get home, but it's happening. I'm making my dream come true.

Now that you've thought about yours, are you thinking about the steps you could start taking today to make it happen?

Please do.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What's your dream?

I've been writing a bit about Kuki Gallman's dreams about living in Africa, which she did do. Hers was an adventurous life, but it was not without adversity. Despite the pain, she lived her life with joy. Her story is a great example of living your life to the fullest, no matter what happens to you. She accepted the death of her spouse and her only son, and she learned how to live a life despite the horrors. She could see past the pain.

We can all do this. She shows us it's possible.

If you could have your dream come true, and if you could accept the pitfalls that may come with it, what would your life look like?

Just something for you to think about today.

All my best,

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Keeping a diary

Keeping a diary or journaling thoughts has been a common custom handed down for generations. Blogging is an extension of that custom. But there is good reason to do it, if only for yourself.

You may find refuge and solace by writing down your thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams. You may come to terms with something that's been distracting you. You may answer your own questions. You may just need to vent.

While I was reading Kuki Gallman's I Dreamed of Africa, I discovered she, too, kept journals. She said her diary was a like a pyschoanalyst to her--"a healthy way of gettings things out of my system, pouring them out on the blank, unjudging, tempting pages," she wrote in her book.

I thought of my bike rides in this same way when I was going through my divorce. I cried from the seat of my bike, screamed from the seat of my bike, thought horrible thoughts about my soon-to-be ex from the seat of my bike, and no one judged me. It gave me a sense of freedom that I didn't have when talking to family and friends about my problems. They wanted to help me solve everything. They wanted to hush me if I became too emotional. They just wanted me to feel better.

But I didn't. I felt like crap. And I wasn't going to stop feeling that way just because someone else was uncomfortable. We all need our time to mourn, no matter what we're mourning. We all need to give ourselves the gift of time. Better yet, give yourself the gift of a place to feel your real feeings, as tough as they may be to face. Let a bike do that for you. Let a jog in the park do that for you. Let an afternoon swim be your refuge. Or write down your thoughts in a journal.

No matter what is aching you, no matter what the challenge is that you must face today, you can move past it. You might not be able to change it to your liking, but you will move past it. Just allow yourself to feel the feelings, respect them for what they are--temporary--and "ride" right through them.

Let it be as difficult as it must be, but don't stay there longer than you need to. Focus on one step at a time. Your goal is not to continue hurting. Your goal is to grow from the pain and become a better person for it.

Writing your pain on the page can be a tremendous source of strength for you during times of turmoil. Find that strength, trust in it, and use it to your advantage.

All my best,

Monday, May 12, 2008

Awareness is key

I'm out of town this week, doing research for my travel guide. So I'll be posting a few quick thoughts to help you consider how you're handling your own challenges these days.

One thing I'd like to point out that occured to me during my bike rides--and it was something that I learned later to apply to other areas in my life--was the need to be aware. I believe I've mentioned this before, but riding a bike on a street that carries a lot of traffic meant I had to pay careful attention if I wanted to arrive back home safely.

There were several times where I could have easily gotten clipped by a car that pulled out too far past a stop sign and didn't see me. It's a bit jarring, to say the least, to see a big truck, for instance, coming at you full speed and you're just on a skimpy little mountain bike. Even though I do wear a helmit, I wouldn't be so sure that would save my life. So I learned quickly that when I'm riding anywhere near traffic I do need to pay attention. In certain circumstances, I may have the right of way, but it won't matter if the driver in a car is speeding, can't slow down soon enough, or doesn't see me coming. It was easy for me to see that I really needed to be responsible for my own life. I couldn't exactly expect someone else to do that for me.

It's like that in a relationship as well. If it turns sour, you may not see it coming, but if you're paying attention, the odds are that you will. You might even be able to turn the situation around if you catch it in time. But if you can't turn it around and right the relationship, at least you can save yourself. If you know what's coming--and you don't ignore it--you'll be better prepared to handle what comes next. That is, if you pay attention.

Learning to become aware is about developing that sixth sense, your intuition.

So here's a question for you to think about as you begin a new week:

Can you think of a time when you felt that something wasn't going quite right in your life, you didn't know exactly what it was, but you were aware--what did you do about it? If you ignored it at first, did the feeling coming back? What happened then? If you can come up with several instances of awareness, journaling about them might help you begin to see a pattern. What you don't want to see is a pattern, for example, that illustrates that you tend to ignore problems even when you're aware of them.

This was an issue I had to work on with my therapist. I wasn't aware I ignored my problems in the hopes they'd go away, or that they'd correct themselves over time. I wasn't aware I was doing that, but I was. And problems don't just go away. They generally just get worse...until there's no turning back or you reach that dead end.

Awareness is key to solving many of our personal challenges. I'll say this again and again, because it's that important. If you think you have an issue with this, don't hesitate for a second to call a counselor. A good one will help you correct this behavior pattern. Sometimes, all it takes is becoming aware that you're not aware.

All my best,

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Spirituality. It means something different to different people, I read, in a Bottom Line newsletter I get regularly in my e-mail box. To some, the article said, it can mean religious observance, prayer or faith in a "higher being." For others, the article continued, it can stand for a deep appreciation of nature or art or participation in a secular community.

The article cited research in Virginia that included an analysis of 16 studies on illness and "religious intervention," specifically, praying or attending religious services, that suggests spirituality can do the following:

*decrease the length of hospital stays
*decrease fever in patients with severe infections
*increase immune function
*help relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
*reduce anxiety
*improve outcomes in people with heart disease

That's pretty powerful healing without any cost, don't you think? Prayer, for sure, doesn't cost a thing.

Since it is Sunday, it seems like a good day to ask: Do you have a special place you reserve for your prayers and thanksgiving...a place where you can practice your own spirituality--however you define it?

For me, I do most of my praying either when I'm riding my bike or driving. They are the two places where I can have my conversations with God undisturbed. The car, especially, has always worked well for me. I've been praying in my car regularly since 1989--the year my second husband died.

When I feel a sudden rush of anxiety, I'll turn the car radio off and just speak out loud, say my fears, talk things out, and then let it go. I'll follow with a prayer of thanks and then continue driving, feeling much more relaxed. My car is also the only place I ever listen to Christian music. I have several such CDs in my car for those times when I need a pick-me-up.

It's good to be reminded that you are not alone in your troubles. Even when friends or family have too much going on in their own lives--which they often do these days--you always have a spiritual side to connect with. It will never leave you, but you have to connect with it first.

When was the last time you prayed or asked for help or guidance from that greater being you cannot see? If it's been a while, there's no one stopping you now.

Think about that as you head into a new week. It's always a good time to pray.

All my best,

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Since I'll be spending the morning with my daughter, her new husband, and his mom tomorrow, I wanted to be sure to wish all the mothers who read my blog a very happy day.

Spend it well.


Friday, May 9, 2008

What inspires you?

As I was reading and surfing through the many blogs I posted yesterday--I still have many more to visit--I was inspired by the photographs. They represent individual inspirational moments, such as the one here (It's a photograph of a foggy morning at the top of Mt. Graham in Safford, Ariz. You can barely make out the road below.). Even the picture I saw of a single sunflower is the mark of someone's inspirational moment. You see a moment in time, no matter what or where it is, and something about that moment speaks to you. You take a picture. It's a beautiful thing. I own boxes and boxes of inspirational moments like this.

If I were to take a moment and write a list of what inspires me, not necessarily represented in a photograph, here is what my list would look like:

_red hibiscus blooms
_the gardenia plant at the front of my house
_my son
_my daughter
_the fountain that refuses to work in my front courtyard
_the restaurant on the top of the hill that I can see from my office window
_books about writing
_other people's memoirs
_my own life story
_my dirty car after a road trip
_hiking trails
_my bicycle
_the image of a bicycle
_the canal bank where I sometimes ride

And my list would go on and on.

What insires you? Today, take a moment to write down a few things that really make you think, make you want to act, make you want to live your life differently. I think you'll surprise yourself.

All my best,

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Blogathon--Day 8

I've signed on with a group of writer friends from an online professional writers' group to make May a month of continuous blogging successes. For this Blogathon, every day in May we're expected to blog at least once. Michelle Rafter got us all started. And one of us, Jane Boursaw, has set a goal to blog 10 times a day. She just announced that she met her goal yesterday.

The reason I'm posting this message is because, for one thing, I'd like to share these blogs with you--You might learn something, get inspired, or just find something of interest to you. Plus, this Blogathon is a great example of what you can accomplish when you work together. It's proof that we are not alone in this world. There are always friends, family and colleagues out there willing to help you meet your goals. And I happened to need a little push. Remember, in a previous post I wrote about asking for help when you need it. That's what Michelle has done. And here we are:

Amy Grisak talks family, food and Great Falls, Montana in her blog called Living in Season. She posts beautiful photos, too.

Barb Adamski, who lives in Vancouver, writes about a sport I know nothing about, Lacrosse. The Lacrosse Blog explains it all, from the past to the present.

Carolyn Erickson, in her blog, Choose Your Words Wisely, blogs about her writing life. She's just getting started with this one, and the Blogathon has given her the momentum she needed. How cool is that!

Charmian Christie writes about real food and real life at Christie's Corner, joking that "It Ain't Always Pretty." But aside from the burnt toast at the top of her blog that captures her humorous side, the photos of berries with yogurt and Honey Carrot Cake (and more) look pretty good to me. She posts recipes, too. Yummy!

Claudine Jalajas writes about The @$#!% Extension in her blog. Yes, that's French for home remodel. If you've ever thought about remodeling your house, you may reconsinder after reading about Claudine's experiences. Great photos, though. No, seriously, it's funny.

Dara Chadwick was Shape magazine's 2007 Weight-Loss Diary columnist. She blogs about her continuing weight-loss habits here at Fit In Real Life. This is a great companion blog to mine, if you're looking for this kind of inspriation and just can't get into riding an actual bike.

Dawn Weinberger inspires us and provides information about her journey with her husband Carl in Carl's Liver Transplant. Her message is about faith, hope and healing. And I'm going to add love.

Diana Burrell is one of two at The Renegade Writer. You can buy the book by the same name. In any case, you'll get great advice on how to break freelance writing rules here, and also read interviews and sign up to win things.

Elizabeth Kricfalusi teaches you how to Embrace Adventure at this blog. Scroll back a few months and check out her photos from the trip she took to Antarctica. Wow! Good stuff here.

Jackie Dishner. That's me! You're here to ride with me, learn how to BIKE with me, and, hopefully, turn your obstacles into opportunties. Since you're here, why don't you take a moment and subscribe to my blog. Get motivational messages regularly. It can't hurt.

Jane Boursaw is the Film Gecko. She writes movie reviews, shows trailers of upcoming films and shares industry news. She also interviews celebrities. Can you tell Jane loves movies? If you love 'em, too, you'll want to check this site out.

Janine Adams can help you turn chaotic spaces into orderly ones through her words at Peace of Mind Organizing. Visit her blog if you have some rearranging to do.

Jen A. Miller is the author of The Jersey Shore: From Atlantic City to Cape May . She's been blogging about her travels Down the Shore since last year. She continues to update regularly. It's very much worth a visit if you've never been. Plus, be sure to buy her new book!

Leah Ingram is the proud owner of The Lean Green Family (formerly Suddenly Frugal); this is where you'll find advice, tips and stories about "living green" on a budget.

Marijke Durning is a nurse who turned to writing as a second career. She writes about health here.

Meredith Resnick writes about that "age thing" in her blog, I’m Too Young to be a Woman this Old. She's funny.

Michelle Vranizan Rafter is the woman who got things started. She suggested the Blogathon. We signed up. And here she is, speaking about writing at WordCount: Freelancing in the Age of Digital Media. If you're a freelancer, you'll find a ton of helpful information here.

Roxanne Hawn is the biggest dog lover I know. In her blog, Champion of My Heart, she shares true tales, brags, and whines about her life with a rescued border collie named Lilly. What's not to love?!

Sandra Hume is a true fan...of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Remember TV's "Little House on the Prairie"? The show, starring Elizabeth Gilbert as Laura, was based on Wilder's writing. Sandra talks about Wilder's books and more in her blog, Only Laura - A blog by and for fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Sarah Ludwig Rausch blogs about what it's like raising four kids on a ranch at Parenting by Trial and Error - find your best journey.

Sue Poremba has a unique perspective on the writing life. Read about it and more at I Breathe; Therefore, I Write. Even if you don't write for a living, you'll find worthwhile thoughts here.

There are others who joined in later, and I'll add them in another post. For now, I hope you'll consider visiting some of these blogs. Maybe they have the information you've been looking for. Or maybe they'll inspire you to keep looking.

All my best,

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

To start the day... right, decide it will be a good one from the moment you wake up.

In college, I remember going on a trip with the school newspaper staff. It was a journalism conference to be held in Colorado. It involved my first-ever airplane ride. My best friend at the time was my roommate. I was terribly excited about the whole trip. I couldn't stop smiling.

But because I'm an early riser, and she was not, she did not want to hear me say to her--ever--any words that even resembled anything remotely close to a "good morning."

But even since I was a kid, I've almost always gotten up in a good mood. Perhaps I'm lucky that way. Or maybe it's just an early-riser curse. But I still think it's a good idea to decide how to start your day the moment you wake up. So why not make it a good one?!

I think waking up with a smile on your face plants a certain kind of protection from the get-go about how you'll get through the day--even the stumbles. So what if the paper doesn't get delivered to your doorstep?! You'll call and have them send it as soon as possible. Worse-case--you'll have to read it after work, instead of with your morning cup of coffee. Who cares if the office gossip insists on making you the brunt of her words today?! Ignore her as best you can. Keep that smile on your face. Perhaps she's just jealous she isn't smiling. Maybe she'll get a clue. And if someone rear-ends you on the way home?! Well, that's not going to be a fun moment. But let let your insurance company handle it. Call the company and get the matter settled. Why waste energy getting upset? There's not much you can do about certain things, this kind of thing, in particular.

Remember, it's how you respond that matters.

Go ahead and cry, scream or yawn if that's the most appropriate or most helpful or most stress-relieving response initially. Have your bad moment. Respect it for what it is. But then put that smile back on your face and get on with the rest of your day.

It may take conscious effort to do this, but it's a habit anyone can afford.

All my best,

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Return to Africa

No, I'm not going there physically, but mentally, yes.

One of my new friends who joined me on the trip to Africa last August (Actually, she invited me to go with her and her group.) loaned me a few books about Africa, and I just started reading one of them.

Called, I Dreamed of Africa, it was written by Kuki Gallman, an Italian who fell in love with Africa when she first visited the country and then went back to live there. She wound up where we did, in Kenya. She even stayed at the Norfolk, where we stayed. But her Africa was a very different country from the one we visited. Her book tells her story of times that began in the early '70s. The book was made into a major motion picture in the 1990s and starred Kim Basinger. I never saw the movie, by the way.

I've read about 50 pages of the 300-page memoir; it's literary non-fiction and beautifully written. It appears that this woman overcame many of her own obstacles, so I'm eager to learn what helped her move past them.

I can tell she's a spiritual woman, for one thing, because she's a fan of quotations, proverbs and beautiful language. I think spiritual people are similar like that. I think we understand how important communication is, and that involves languages of all sorts. Anyway, one of the quotes she uses in her book I really love. It's a Chinese proverb. It says simply, "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."

I love the simplicity of that statement. We're all on a journey, and to move forward in it takes only one step at a time. Just remember that it doesn't have to be a big one.

All my best,

Monday, May 5, 2008

From yardwork to yardsticks

Momentum and pruning shears. What do the two have to do with each other?

Yardwork that might involve pruning bushes, mowing the lawn, or planting a flower bed is meditative work. It allows you time to just be. And giving yourself time to "just be" is good for your mental state of mind. You may not even realize how much your body craves down time. We spend too much time as it is worrying, thinking, obsessing about work, what to feed the kids for dinner, or that bathroom sink that seems to have a leak but will have to wait till next month to fix. Maybe you can see why down time is a precious commodity that is important to fit in as much as possible, especially when you think there's no time. If you look, you'll find it.

I just wrote yesterday about meditating, and I'm speaking of meditating again for good reason. Like yoga, which requires focus in order to maintain a pose, yardwork requires focus as well. If you didn't focus on what you were doing outside, you'd be like me and stab a pair of pruning shears in your arm--on accident, of course. Ouch! Or, you might even push the lawn mover right over your electric cord and have to end what could have been a very productive afternoon. Bummer.

All joking aside, I've chosen not to hire a landscape company to come and take care of my yard because I enjoy the process and the ability to give myself the time to do the work myself. On yardwork weekends, I get to spend time outside mowing the lawn and then adding fertilizer so the grass will grow as green as it can. I get to trim back the bushes--one of them is particularly unruly and requires a lot of patience--and decide which plants will go in what pots. I then spend time raking and sweeping up the resulting debris.

I particularly enjoy the moments where I have to sit on the ground around a ridiculously large pile of twigs and leaves from that unruly bush--a 20-year-old bougainvillea--and chop up the thorny mess into smaller pieces so I can stuff them into the garbage bag for trash day. I enjoy doing that because I'm outside, I get to chat with my neighbors who happen to walk by with their dogs while I'm doing the work. Sometimes, they even offer to help, and sometimes I let them. For me, yardwork is just generally a very relaxing way to spend a hot afternoon underneath Arizona's mid-day sun. Depending on how much yardwork I have to do--sometimes I have to skip a few weeks if I'm really busy with work--it can take me an entire day.

But it's a day well spent, and I love it.

It gives me time to consider what's going on in my life. And when the meditation is at its highest level, I won't have a single thing on my mind other than the moment I'm in. I might hear the sound of the clippers breaking through the bark, or maybe I'll notice the smell of my fresh cut lawn. Before I know it, my work will be done, and I can put all the equipment back into the garage and go take a hot shower.

I love the way I feel after a hard day's work like that. I may be bone-tired, but my mind always feels refreshed and invigorated, and I know I've earned a dinner out. I always go out to eat--either by myself or with friends--on yard days.

And the momentum I'm talking about? That has to do with the fact that I feel like I'm getting somewhere on yard days. I've made things happen. I've found a little bit of success in a week where I might not have had any otherwise. It symbolizes progress for me, and that means I know I'm moving forward.

Do you have a home project, such as yardwork, that you can use to illustrate your success on days or weeks that might not otherwise give you that feeling? If so, capitalize on that. We all have bad days, bad weeks, bad months, and sometimes even bad years. It's a good idea to find a routine activity you have to do anyway and turn it into your success project.

When I needed it, I used bike riding this way as well--as a means to measure my success. With each added mile, I saw progress. With each new hill I could climb, I saw progress. With each pound lost, I saw progress. It was hard to miss that kind of growth. I was building momentum by building my inner strength. I now use yardwork in a similar way.

Think about the things that you do regularly that you could use as your yardstick. If you can find a way to measure your progress (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically or otherwise), you'll soon begin to see it as well. Visuals can be a very powerful thing.

Happy counting!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Meditate on it

Even if you're not a bike rider--avid or otherwise--you can still use the BIKE acrynym to find your own spiritual navigation system.

Remember, we're looking for our:

Best self
Inner strength
Killer instinct
Expressive voice

These are the four ingredients of your spiritual core self--the part of you that knows yourself well enough to be able to handle even the most difficult of circumstances. If you don't know what it means to be your Best self, if you don't know you have enough Inner strength (or how to access it), if you don't trust your Killer instincts, and if you're not comfortable using your Expressive voice, you'll stay stuck in the past. You won't be able to move forward--not from heartbreak, not from anger, not from anything that holds you back. The reason is because you haven't taken the time to get to know what you're really made of on the inside.

We really don't learn this stuff in school, and a lot of times, not at home either.

And don't be confused about the word "spiritual."

BIKE isn't a religion. It's more like AA's 12-step program. And just like the 12 steps, BIKE requires taking personal inventory of yourself. I sometimes refer to the process as my 12-step program reduced to four. That makes it seem easier, but you still have to look deep inside yourself, reveal your flaws, and then figure out how to either accept them or change them to suit your needs.

What BIKE can do for you, once you've discovered your own path to a better you, is keep you from getting lost, help you find your way, and steer back to the best course possible. Notice I didn't say the "right" course. My therapist used to remind me all the time, "We're not judging. There is no right or wrong. There just "is"." So with BIKE, you don't judge your behavior, you just work on improving it. You look back only when it's necessary to move forward.

When your spiritual navigation system is set and ready to go, it means you understand you're following a path that is meant for you, and you alone, and that you won't always have control of where it leads (or sometimes you hand over that control to others by mistake). You know you need to "let go" of that and focus, instead, on that which you can control--namely, how you respond to the events that occur in your life.

Once your mental BIKE is in place, you will know how to respond. It's like working with teenagers, you pick your battles. Not all of them are worth having. This is true of life, in general.

I've given you this assignment before, in some version, but here it is again for the newcomers:

In a journal that you keep just for this, make a checklist of your traits. Write down the traits that you admire about yourself. Write down the traits you wish you didn't have. Include descriptive entries that explain your conclusions. Give examples of times you've used these traits when addressing challenges in your life. Especially consider the times when you knew you were stuck. Then look for patterns of behavior. Is there a pattern or habit that needs revision?

Because this process involves taking time for yourself, you don't have to write down anything right now. Hopefully, you'll be spending a lot of time with yourself as we learn how BIKE can work for you. But if you're not comfortable with the writing part for now--and some people aren't--then think about this while taking a bath, pruning bushes, or riding your bike. Meditate on it. You can write your thoughts down later. There is something about putting thoughts to paper that helps lead to solutions. So make sure, if you don't journal today, at least by a notebook.

I bet you'll soon want to write this all down. As you see your own growth occur, you'll want to do everything possible to see more. But be patient. You're on the road to recovery. Recovery from what, I don't know. That's what you'll discover on the way.

All my best,

Saturday, May 3, 2008

We're just practicing

I use this phrase a lot when talking to friends about difficult moments in life. We all have them. Sometimes, we get there because we made a mistake. Sometimes, we get there because the circumstances were beyond our control. Sometimes, we land exactly where we needed to fall in order to learn a lesson on how to get back up again.

This happened to me during my marriage. I married a guy I knew from the beginning wasn't right for me. But I chose to ignore my gut. I married him, anyway. And then I had to live with that choice. I accepted that, but I paid dearly. I finally learned my lesson when I decided to listen to my gut. I now pay closer attention to those inner voices. I'm not saying I'm perfect. That's impossible. But I do my best. Every day I make a choice to do my best. And I take time to listen, realizing it's okay to make mistakes, especially when you don't have all the information needed to make a better choice.

What I learned from my experience in a marriage that wasn't meant to be is that I can survive my decisions--no judgement necessary, not of him, not of me. I think it's important to remember that as long as we're living on this earth, we're just practicing. We won't necessarily ever "do it right." You probably know people who always seem to get it "wrong," if that's how you would describe it. They are the ones who wind up in jail, or in detox, or maybe even homeless. They are the ones who keep hooking up with the wrong partners, or continue to write checks that bounce, or stay in a marriage where they are continuously abused. They all know better, but they haven't figured out that they can do it differently, that they have the right to do it differently--even if it means offending someone or leaving someone behind.

Then again, that place that doesn't sound so great to you and me may be exactly the place where they need to be. And they may have to stay there till they learn their lesson. They haven't yet received their whack on the head, their ah-ha moment. We all get one from time to time, some more than one, and some of us need to get it over and over again until we finally decide, "I get it!"

It happens because we're all just practicing.

We're just practicing.

The beauty of those three words together is that they mean we get do-overs--even those of us who are repeat offenders. We all get a second chance to prove ourselves, or, to improve ourselves. That's a gift from a spiritual force that is beyond understanding. It means we have the power to bestow on ourselves that unconditional love we don't always get from other people in our lives. Isn't it nice to know you can do that for yourself?

The next time you find yourself in a sticky situation, and let's say you don't pick the best choice possible. Let's say you're dealing with the fallout from the mortgage crisis. Let's say you're one of those people who decided to just turn their housekeys in and call it quits. You're not paying another dime on a house that cost more than it's worth. Eventually, you'll have to deal with that. But once you do, once you've nailed down the solution, you will be able to try again. That opportunity may not come right away, but it's out there, waiting for you.

Or, let's say you've met a potential mate. You fall madly in love. You overlook all the flaws, because you just know they'll go away once you're married. But then you have second thoughts. Right there is your time to act. When we take time to realize we're just practicing, that's when we realize we also have the right to change our minds.

Even if you keep on making mistakes, time after time, as long as you realize this, you will never lose the opportunity to try again, to change your mind, to reconsider.

Should anyone suggest to you otherwise, just tell them, "You know, I was just practicing. And it didn't work out. I'm going to try something else, instead."

There is power in those three words. Be sure you know you can use them, at your will, under any circumstance.

This is why it's important to develop your Killer instincts. They give you the power to protect yourself when no one else can. And eventually, practice may even make perfect. And if it doesn't, it'll be close enough.

All my best,

Friday, May 2, 2008

How you say it matters

In a phone conversation with a friend recently, we were talking about a problem she was having. She wanted my advice.

I listened to her rant on and on (Sometimes, complaining helps release the negative energy. So it can be good. But you do want to know when to stop.) and then I had to interrupt her in mid-sentence.

"Did you hear what you just said?" I asked her. "Are you listening to yourself?"

There was quiet on the other end of the line.

Then she spoke up, "What do you mean?"

Without going into her personal issues here, her challenge involved passive-aggressive behavior. She was upset about how someone was treating her, but she wasn't being direct in her response. She was beating around the bush, though she didn't realize it. Instead of telling him point-blank, "No, that won't work for me" or "No, I can't do that right now" or "No, I'm not interested", she was telling him things like "I wish you wouldn't do that" or "That really doesn't work for me" and such, expecting him to "get it," to respond the way she wanted, without her having to actually say it. And when her conversation ended with this person, and he wound up getting from her what she didn't want him to have (her time, her money, whatever), she was upset with him. In all fairness, she was really upset with herself, for not taking care of her own needs properly.

I explained to her why her response needed to be more direct. Passive-aggressive behavior allows the person you're directing it towards to interpret your response in the way that works best for them. It's not evil. It's not mean-spirited. It's human. We all want to get our way, including me.

The reason we behave passive-aggressively--and yes, I've done it, many times, before I became aware of my behavior--is because we know what we want, but we don't know how to ask for it. That could mean we're too timid, we don't trust our own judgement, we think we might be perceived the wrong way if we are direct. Or, maybe we've just never learned the appropriate way to get our needs met.

This happens all the time in relationships of all kinds. A good way to know if it's happening with you is if you hear yourself or someone say to you in an exasperated tone, "I can't read your mind." It's true. They can't. You can't. It's virtually impossible, and it's actually dishonest and unfair.

If you want your relationships to work at the highest level of honesty, you have to be honest with yourself first. That means you may have to do some truth-seeking to find out exactly what it is you need or want from either yourself, another person, a service, or what have you. If you don't do that, you'll wind up as my friend felt--completely frustrated. And worse, she wanted it to be about him. Okay, maybe he wasn't listening to her words exactly. Maybe he did place his needs before hers. But the responsibility to get what she wants rests solely on her shoulders, not his.

It's so easy to project our feelings onto others. It's a much better idea to avoid that by taking responsibility and owning your own words...and to let that anger be about you. Be mad at yourself. Then, you can convict yourself, forgive yourself and alter your response to fit your needs. The conflict may have a better chance of righting itself this way.

Therefore, how you say things does matter.

Here are a few questions that might apply to you today:

Are you really in the relationship because you want to be there?

Are you really making that move because you want to do that?

Are you really taking the job because you choose to, or do you feel forced into it?

Be honest with yourself. Say no when you mean no, and yes when you mean yes. Don't leave room for someone else to interpret your answer. And there's no need for explanation, either. You don't owe explanations or excuses for your decisions. You just owe an honest response. That way, the person you're working with can move on or work around your schedule. You can do what you need to do. And progress can continue, ending up with the best results over all.

If you're now wondering if you are exhibiting passive-aggressive behavior in your relationships, here's a simple solution: The next time someone asks something of you, take time to consider your response carefully, trust your judgment, and then offer a direct and honest response.

You'll be glad you did.

All my best,

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Body image unzipped

One thing is certain to happen when a long-term love relationship ends because of adultery, abuse or addiction--your body image will be affected.

When my husband left me for another woman, I spent a lot of time standing in front of the mirror wondering what was wrong with me. I let it be about my body--I was overweight at the time. I let it be about the color of my hair--he told me he wanted a blonde; I was a brunette. I let it be about my breast size--they were practically non-existent. He constantly suggested breast implants. To him, I would never measure up. And I was letting his ideal of what I should be get to me. I was buying into his poor image of me, when, in actuality, that was his poor image of himself. He was projecting, and I was buying into it. I had let his issues become mine. And it was destroying me.

It took me a long time to learn to be okay, to be happy, with who I was as I was. And it took me even longer to admit that if I wasn't happy with anything about me, I could change things. I could do something about it. If I didn't like the color of my hair, I could dye it. Not for him, but for me. If I didn't like the shape of my body, I could exercise and change that, too. Not for him, but for me. And if I wanted bigger breasts, well, I could buy those as well.

But I didn't necessarily want or need any of that.

What I did want was to be happy with who I really was. But first, I had to figure out who that person was, where that person disappeared.

Getting on my bike was where I began to rediscover her.

Of course, as soon as I started losing weight from the rides, I was thrilled. Who wouldn't be?! And I was smart enough to know that it wouldn't matter to him. Even when friends would say, "Wait till he sees you now," I knew better. And I didn't much care what he thought about me by then. I was learning to be happy with myself without needing anyone else's approval, and certainly not his.

That's a tough road to travel on, as you probably already know. If you're in the midst of this kind of struggle right now, if you're having a hard time with your body image, it is something you can overcome.

It's no fun spending any amount of time wondering if you're good enough for your husband, your lover, your partner, your friends or your family.

The person you need to be good enough for is you.

Today, promise yourself that you'll spend time making sure this is true, or that you're working toward that truth. How can you do it? Start by listening to your self-talk. The next time you hear yourself utter words that put yourself down, stop yourself. If you're saying things like, "I'm such an idiot" or "I'm never going to lose this weight" or "I hate my nose," stop yourself. Then, immediately find a way to turn that phrase around so that you're no longer discounting your self-worth.

Maybe you did do something that wasn't the smartest thing you could ever do. Maybe it is taking more time than you thought it would to lose those last 10 pounds. And maybe you are having a bad hair day, or maybe there is a pimple on the tip of your nose. The truth is, we all experience these things. They are not just your flaws. Neither are they the end of the world. If you can stop the self-talk that helps keep your self-image at its all-time low and affects your self-esteem, you can begin to reverse your perspective.

That's what you're working on here, your perspective.

You are good enough. You are smart enough. You are beautiful enough. But it doesn't matter what I say. It only matters how you perceive yourself.

Today, make it a point to look at yourself in a more positive light. Look in your bathroom mirror and tell yourself something flattering. Don't wait for others to flatter you. Learn to flatter yourself. Learn to rely on how you feel about you, not how others might feel about you. When you can do this, others will then see the same. You won't have to convince them. You won't even need to convince them. You won't even worry much about what they have to say about you at all. You'll have figured it out for yourself. That's what these BIKE rides are all about, taking the time to figure yourself out, taking the time to get to know you and become the you you want to be. When you give yourself this precious time, you're giving yourself a better life, an abundant life, a life that you deserve.

All my best,