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.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Remembering Jean McFarland

This weekend, the group I've blogged about--and with--many times here at BIKE WITH JACKIE, lost a good friend. Jean McFarland, who I recently interviewed after she published her Bullies book, died on Saturday, March 28, 2009, from a cancer that knew no mercy.

Jean was a dear friend to many, a wife and mother, and an advocate for bullies in the workplace, among many other things I never got a chance to learn about because of her too-early death. What I do know is that Jean loved to travel. She was a collector of beautiful art. And her understanding of many different cultures around the world gave her a depth that few are blessed to call their own.

She was also generous and paid attention to what she learned about the people with whom she surrounded herself. I am a recipient of one of her gifts. I believe it came the first year that we met, in early 2005. I had given my BIKE presentation to the folks at NSA-Arizona just a few times, but Jean latched onto the importance of my message, the importance it had for me, especially. She listened. She got it.

So after one of our speaker lab meetings, Jean came up to me and presented me with a gold bike pin. It was an old-fashioned style bike. And I thought it was the sweetest thing. I knew she had remembered what Steve Tyra had said to me after my very first presentation, the day I literally brought and gave my presentation from the seat of my bike. He suggested I find a way to use the BIKE as an acronym, which I did (and is why you're here). And he also suggested that, instead of bringing my Trek 4300 in front of my audience, I just use a pin or something. I could stick it on my lapel. Because of Jean, I was able to do that. I have worn that gold pin at a few of my presentations.

In light of the significance of a single moment and in memory of Jean, I wrote a poem about this gift. It's a healing thing. I hope you enjoy it:

Her Gift
It was just a pin
a simple reminder
to add to my own
But now it's more
It's a thought
a memory
a gift
an honor to wear
It's her smile on my lapel

Friday, March 27, 2009

Are you growing a positive attitude?

The executive director of a national writers' group to which I belong asked members to spread the word about the conference we're hosting next month. I'm on the planning committee so am happy to do that. And I did. I sent out messages via Twitter and to several of my groups on LinkedIn (those I thought relevant). I also e-mailed the message about the upcoming conference to a private group of writers in my hometown.

Suffice it to say, the conference is next month, in New York. I know most people won't be able to attend. But there might be one or two who would consider it. I'm sorry to say one of the first responses I received back (not that I was asking for one, but some people feel they must) went something like this:

"It's way too late now to make plans to go."

Right off the bat, this person complained not only about how late in the day the notice came but also about the cost of going altogether. Before she even had time to consider the idea, she put the conference out-of-reach for herself, suggesting the same for the rest of the group. She also said something about the conference, unfortunately, being the only way to meet the people who can hire you to make a decent living, which she doesn't believe is fair.

Now, those weren't her exact words, but I know her, and I know that she has an unfair attitude toward this particular group. She has this mistaken belief that it's an elite group she might never qualify to join. I wish she didn't think that way. I wish she could see it more as a possibility, should she decide to follow that path. It's certainly not a necessary path one needs to take in order to have a successful writing career. Less than 2,000 writers belong to this group nationally, and that's not because they're the only ones who qualify. Many writers are not in the least bit interested in the group. And I've never used it to get work. I don't even list it in my credits when I pitch a story idea, unless an editor suggests that I should. That's happened...never.

Besides, it's inaccurate for her to think it's too late to make plans to go. Anyone can plan almost any trip at last minute. I'm a chronic last-minute planner myself. It might cost more, yes, but if someone wants to do something or go somewhere, they can figure out a way.

And while it can be an expensive trip, cost is relative. She'd do herself a favor by considering the pros and cons before deciding right off that it costs too much. Economically speaking, you decide to pay for something when you see the benefit. I get that she does not see a benefit, but others might. They might see what I do: You may meet someone who would like to work with you or partner with you. You may make a new friend. You may find an unexpected revenue stream because of the workshops you attend. You may find any number of benefits, but you won't have that opportunity at all if you won't even consider it a possibility.

Anyone who knows anything about networking knows that it takes time to build a relationship. But you have to start somewhere first. A conference is a great place to initiate this. That's yet another benefit.

Finally, she insinuated in her e-mail response that if you don't have the money to attend this conference, you might as well kiss any big-paying assignments goodbye. That's a faulty assumption on her part. Most of the editors I work with I've never met in person and may never meet in person. We don't have time. The editors that I have met at this conference haven't always had work to give me, or they edit magazines or departments I don't even write about. That's not the point. The work I get I get because I pitch ideas that fit the magazine. And I network like crazy--in person, online, by phone. I do it all ways possible. And that's how a successful writer lands assignments at major magazines and publishing houses. It has very little, if anything, to do with a conference of any kind. If, by chance, you can meet an editor in person, that's certainly a good thing. But it's not necessary, either.

I was merely announcing the conference to this group in case anyone might like to know about it. Perhaps they could plan to go next year, if that's what they'd need to do. Perhaps, on the other hand, they might wish to jump and take the chance, despite the last-minute rush. I wish this woman could see the idea as a possibility and not as a roadblock.

I wholey believe that if you put an idea out there, there's magic in allowing yourself to see the possibilities in it. You have nothing to gain by squashing an idea right off the bat.

Let her negative response be a lesson for you:

The next time an idea is offered to you, give yourself time to consider it. Let it become a vision in your head. If it works out, fine. If it doesn't, that's fine, too. But first let the idea become a possibility in your head. See how your gut feels about it. If it's a good fit, you'll find a way to make it happen. If it's not, you haven't lost a thing. But there's no need to respond negatively. That not only hurts you but it may influence someone else--and not in a good way. Give yourself room for possibilities.

That's how you grow a positive attitude.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Setting boundaries for your mental health

Without boundaries, without lines drawn on the sand, mile markers on the road, road signs to tell you where you're going, we'd get lost. We wouldn't know how to get where we're going. Without a clear sign, we might not even know if we'd arrived or gone too far.

To get to a place like Oatman, pictured above--a tiny off-the-beaten path town on Historic Route 66 in northwestern Arizona--you also have to have a map. It helps. A lot.

Human boundaries are similar. They help us stay focused. They help us find where we're going so we don't veer off in the wrong direction. They keep us on the right path and away from something that might take us where we don't really want to go.

Yesterday, I got a call from someone who belongs to one of the same professional organizations to which I belong. We're both working on the conference committee. It seems he was asked to co-chair next year's conference, and he was calling to ask me if I'd join him in this effort. I had to say, "Thanks, but no thanks." And I'm glad I did. It's easy to get "roped in," if you will, to something that sounds grand. But it's a good thing to think about accepting the offer before you do; it might not be the best idea. Give yourself time to consider the full scope of the job, how that will interfere with your personal and professional life, and how it might impact your life for the duration of your involvement.

I must say, I was honored to be asked. This is a conference I've worked on for several years now, and I could see myself in charge of the entire thing. But not this year. I have a book coming out in November that is going to require my time, focus and energy. Organizing a huge conference would just get in the way of what I really need to do. So I had to decline the offer.

And I was somewhat sorry about that. I could even hear the frustration in this guy's voice, as he's new to the organization, doesn't know many people, and it will be harder for him to find the help he needs. But he will. I did offer my help on the committee--same as I've done this year. And I did offer some names of people he can contact in my stead. The other person he asked, who also declined, did the same. Thankfully, we both know our limits.

There have been moments in my life where I have not. I have accepted jobs, positions and volunteer posts when I shouldn't have, when I knew better, when I did not have the time. I did it for the wrong reasons: for the glory; for something I thought I'd get out of it but didn't; for something that wasn't authentic. The problem with saying yes when you mean no? The people who are counting on you aren't going to get the best work out of you, especially if you agree to do something out of guilt, let's say, or coersion, or because you just can't say no.

Best piece of advice for you: LEARN TO SAY, "No, thank you."

Do it now, in the mirror. Get comfortable with how that phrase feels on your lips. It will be a lifesaver when you least expect it.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to know where you're going, know what you need to do to get there, and have a plan in place that helps you determine where you can help others if the need should arise. But be able to help yourself first, just as they tell you to do on an airplane. In case of an emergency, you're told to put your oxygen mask on first. Why? Because you can't help someone else if you can't breathe.

It's a wonderful thing to be able to help in times of need. But it's not so great if you're doing it for the wrong reasons, to be a martyr, for example. If that happens, you can bet the complaints will come in soon enough...from others and also from yourself. And you won't have anyone to blame but yourself.

If you can remember a time when you've crossed a boundary or someone's crossed yours, or you failed to set boundaries in the first place, post your story here. Tell us what happened and how you worked it out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring time fun

"You are an optimistic person by nature.
In even the darkest times, you are hopeful about the future.
You feel truly blessed in life and can sometimes be overwhelmed with emotions.
You have an artist's eye.
You are always looking for beauty in the mundane.
You have a good sense of aesthetics, especially when it comes to shapes and color."
Does that describe you? I just found out it does me.
If given the chance--and since it's the first week of the season--would you want to know what part of spring you are? Today, I learned I am the blooming flowers of spring, as defined by the above description in orange. I completely agree with the assessment.
But I wouldn't have thought about it in quite this way if it weren't for one of my followers. Debbie at Heart Choices, recently posted about a Web site that offers short five-question quizzes to take that analyze who you are. They're just for fun. The one she mentioned--and the one I took as well--is called "What Part of Spring are You?" There are others. For instance, you can find out which celebrity you are, what your chakra is, what kind of street sign you are, and other silly things. It's good reason to have followers on the World Wide Web. You'll find fun things to do, such as the quizzes at Blog Things. You'll make new friends. And you'll surely learn a new way to think about yourself. Who knew I'd be blooming flowers, but I like that thought.
If you'd like to know what kind of spring you are, give the quiz a try. And if you find out that you're something other than blooming flowers, come back and let us know.
Make it a fun day!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In a pinch--will you help or walk away?

Yesterday, I was sitting outside of an ice cream parlor with my boyfriend, enjoying an evening treat. A young man came up to us, asking for a quarter. He wanted to make a call. My boyfriend didn't have any change in his pockets. I knew I did, but I let him be the one to decide if we'd help or not. I stayed quiet. When my boyfriend said, "No, no change," the young man walked away. As he was walking away, I kept looking at him, wondering if he'd get to make his call. Why didn't I offer him the change I had in my purse? Fear? I didn't trust what he really wanted? I don't know for sure. But I felt bad. I could have helped, and I chose not to.

It wasn't at all like the other day when I was at a meeting and, at the close, the emcee asked everyone to pick up after themselves. He suggested, "If you've left a bottle on the table, can you put in the trash?"

At my table in front, which I had moved to for the second half of the day, there were several bottles in front of me. I'd already tossed my trash in the garbage during a break. My seatmate, who had been sitting in the front all day, said to me, referring to several empty bottles on the table, "I've got my bottle. Are these yours?" I said, "No." And she walked away, leaving the bottles there on top of the table. She didn't offer to pick them up. I don't think she even thought about it. But I was left to think about my response.

I had a choice. I could pick up those bottles that weren't mine, or I, too, could walk away.

There was actually one bottle left on the table in front of me that hadn't even been opened. So, after I visited the recycling bin to toss the empty bottles away, I took the still-perfectly-good bottle of water to the kitchen area and returned it to a half-open box on the counter where it could be used again.

I then went back to the meeting room and started picking up other bottles. It's what I do after almost every meeting I attend with this group. We're a large group, and not everyone cleans up after themselves. It's always been that way. So I stay to help a bit with the others who do the same. We all know it's appreciated. It only takes a few moments of our time. So I'm always slightly stunned when I notice the person who won't take that one extra step--especially in this group, which was founded on the basis of "help one another." It's just a few steps extra over to the garbage can or recycling bin.

So this person sitting next to me decided not to help, but then I made a similar choice not to help that poor boy in front of the ice cream parlor. It would have only taken me a few extra steps--dig in my purse, open the zipper, pull out change, hand to the boy. But I didn't do it.

Then yesterday, I had another opportunity to help, and I chose to do it, only I didn't even have to think about it much. One person needed a source for a story and asked a group of friends for referrals. I don't know who else responded to him, but I knew I might have a source or two he could use. So I looked up the information and sent it to him right away. He responded greatfully, even saying he thought he definitely could use the information. He seemed surprised, though, and thought it was "too kind." Not only had I responded to his source request, but I had also given him additional information where he could possibly find more. I took the extra step or two, because I knew it would be helpful to him. I really didn't think much about it. I knew I could help, so I did.

So what's the difference between helping this man versus not helping the young boy? Why did I make two different choices?

If you were similar situations, what would you have done? I know you'd appreciate it if you were the one who was helped in either case. But if you could help a colleague, a stranger, a friend--even if it meant extra minutes out of your day--would you? Would your response depend on the situation, the place, the time of day, the type of help needed? What is it that fuels our desire to help?

If you want to live in a world where you can find peace and joy and fullfillment, wouldn't that happen if we were always willing to stand up and do more than what's just required. Yes, my seatmate picked up her bottle, as she was asked, but she chose not to do any more than that. Yes, I wanted to help that young man make his phone call, but I didn't.

We need to be more aware of how we can supply help when it's requested. In today's world, where we spend much of our time online, I realize it may seem more difficult to help others. It may make things less personal. But it also may make helping an easier thing to do, because it's safe. For instance, on Twitter, even though you get all kinds of requests all day long, and it would be impossible to fill all the needs, the help you can provide is more often than not right at your fingertips...and you're in control of it. Someone needs a link to a site, you have it, and can provide it in seconds. Or, someone asks you to visit his blog or take her poll. You can click to the Web site immediately. It only takes a few seconds, and no one's peering at you, waiting. You can then exit Twitter (without anyone knowing where you are) to take care of your other obligations and return later to start the process all over again. Or, come back another day.

I realize there are a billion ways you can "twitter" away your time online and at home, and even in the office. But helping each other is the most basic way to start and build relationships, whether it is online or in person. You can do that by helping to clean up a room after a meeting, providing information that you have on hand to someone who needs it, by visiting each other's blogs, by reading each other's articles, by buying what your colleagues are selling (if it is of use to you, of course). It only takes a few seconds to do something significant for someone else.

If there's a safety issue involved, okay, you probably do need to proceed with caution. But what if I made my decision not to help because there wasn't going to be anything in it for me? No relationship gained. No return favor granted. No payment.

No payment? That's not exactly true. Every time you help another human being, it makes you feel good. Plain and simple.

So next time someone asks for your help, whether it's for a quarter to make a call or contact information to finish a job, do you know what you'll do. Will you help or walk away?

Which response is going to be the one that leaves you feeling best about yourself?

Think about it...because that next time's coming. And when that time comes, come back here and post about it. We'd like to know how you feel.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Close calls

I almost got hit by a moving van on my ride this morning. It was a close call. I've experienced several since I started to ride regularly seven years ago.

Once, a guy nearly sideswiped me as he turned a corner. He hadn't bothered to look my way. He'd just started to pull out onto my road. I was headed straight, so it was my right-of-way. Plus, I was in the bike lane, exactly where I was supposed to be. If I hadn't been paying attention...

And yesterday, it was a similar set of circumstances. I was riding on the main road in my neighborhood when a van behind me passed me to pull into a side street on our right. But then, as soon as he turned, he immediately started backing out without warning, without stopping to see what might be coming up behind him. With a car coming up from behind me, I knew I had no place to go without getting hit by either the car or the van, and I had no time to stop. If I hadn't been paying attention, if the car behind me hadn't been just far enough behind me to swerve in front of, and if he hadn't been paying enough attention to see what was ahead of him...I would have been hit. Goodness knows why the driver in the van started backing up without waiting for me to pass. He'd just seen me and knew I was there, for goodness sakes. But that kind of thing happens. A lot.

It's really up to me to be aware of what's in front of me, off to the sides, and behind. I need to know what's going on all around me, so I can be prepared to act in a moment's notice. Truthfully, I really doubt the plastic helmet on my head is going to save my life should I get hit by a moving vehicle while I'm riding my bike. It's not a body shield made of armour. But I wear it for the same reason I pay attention--to do what I can to save myself from harm while on the road.

My sister (pictured, left, above with me on the right) just experienced a close call of her own yesterday morning. She was driving to work in a town that is forested, and as she was getting ready to drive onto a freeway, a deer jumped at her car and wound up going straight through her windshield, landing in her lap. When she told me what happened, that blood was everywhere, I wondered how she could know she wasn't injured. But she knew. She knew it was the deer who had caused all that bloodshed. And it was the deer who lost its life. She was saved. Somehow, the deer didn't do her any harm. He didn't even try to get up, she said.

Her car was totaled in this accident. And when the police arrived, they had to shoot the deer to put the poor animal out of its misery.

In my sister's case, the deer arrived so suddenly, it wouldn't have mattered how well she was paying attention. This kind of close call is not so much about being aware, it's about being lucky.

Or is it?

Some people might say it wasn't her time to go, or, she was in the wrong place at the right time, or some other cliche to explain why she's still alive after an accident that one would think would have, at the very least, left her seriously injured. She did receive a cut on her finger, she said, from a piece of glass. But that's it. She was virtually unharmed, though very shaken, by the whole ordeal.

Maybe she is lucky, or maybe it wasn't her time to go. But she's feeling very happy to be alive today.

What kind of close call have you experienced in your life? Has it made you stop and think, or reexamine your life up to that moment?

If you were to reflect on your close calls, your turning points, your reawakenings, what lessons would you say you've taken away from them? And if you have received lessons, how do you continue to use those lessons in your life today?

Journaling your thoughts down on paper might bring additional enlightenment. If you meditate on your responses, you might also learn something new about yourself.

Today, let the close calls in your life become life-long lessons.

All my best,


It's more than just exercise

I love it when someone reads my blog and "gets" it.

Yesterday, I had a reader comment about my post that he understood (and this is not a direct quote) that riding a bike is more than just about exercise.

He's right.

Here, the bike goes beyond that. Here, the bike is a metaphor for the way you live your life, for the way you work through the challenges that threaten your progress, whether that's personal or professional.

Today, I challenge you to give yourself time away from your usual schedule to find a quiet corner, or some other space (whether it be on a bike, on the patio out back, on yoga mat...), and consider the biggest challenge going on in your life right now, at this very moment.

What's the worst-case scenario? What might be the best outcome? More importantly, which would you choose? Consider how you might get there? What steps will you need to take? Can you do just one of them today? If so, follow the NIKE approach and "just do it." No ifs, ands or buts. Just do it. Get it done. Pick the easiest if that's what it takes.

One step forward--no matter the size--is all you need to move closer to the desired end result. Even if you feel like crying while taking that step, then go ahead and cry. Just grab a tissue, and keep moving forward.

In my case, during my darkest challenge, my steps grew to miles on the road. Let yours be whatever it takes. But first you have to consider where you're going. You must know what lies at the end of the road. That vision will be key to your success.

For me, it was a physical bike that took me to my destination. For you, it may be something else entirely. But if you're having a difficult time reaching your goals, understanding what's going on in your life, making progress of any kind, you might benefit from a physical form of exericise. The physical growth you are sure to experience can become the mental growth that's far more important. It's that mental growth that will act as the reminder of what you are truly capable of achieving, of what you are made of within, of what is the best response you can employ in any given circumstance.

It's something to think about, anyway.

All my best,

Monday, March 16, 2009

Speaking from the soul

Funny how things line up exactly the way you need them at exactly the moment you need them.

That's how I felt on Saturday when I attended a meeting at the speakers' group to which I belong. It had been several months since my last visit, and Saturday's line-up featured a presentation by Dr. Carl Hammerschlag who spoke about "Speaking from the Soul." I had never heard him speak before, but I'd heard many good things about his work. So I was glad to pay my fee to attend.

And I wasn't disappointed.

The man's easy manner with the audience, the warmth reflected in his voice, his slow and steady pace, the natural way he moved in his space...I'm sure it wasn't just me who sat there transfixed.

Of course, the doctor's message is something that rings true for me, so it could have been just that. I doubt it. I think the entire roomful of people felt much the same as I did.

I'll be giving my first presentation next week after several months off the platform and have been feeling out of practice. So it was good to be reminded to speak with authenticity. I can do that. Dr. Hammerschlag told us that people are craving this right now. And I have been told I do this well. Listening to his presentation renewed my sense of self, thankfully.

Interestingly enough, since my recent travels included time on the Navajo Reservation, I could relate to his mention of the Navajo word for truth, hozho. He explained that it means more than that. It's a word that comes from the Navajo way of life, to walk in beauty or harmony. It's their truth. It's who they are, their soul. In other words, to speak your truth, is to speak from the soul, he explained.

It seems simple enough.

But he said it requires risk-taking, and people don't necessarily like to be vulnerable in front of others. But to speak your truth, to speak from the soul, requires it.

What you say with your words, he told us, you must mean in your heart, and it must be reflected in your actions--at least most of the time (His assessment allows for imperfection.).

Although he was talking about speaking, or presenting on the platform, his directive to "risk the unknown" goes beyond that. We can all benefit from risking the unknown. He says it's about trusting your gut. As I've learned from my own experiences, there is no greater truth than that.

If you haven't done this lately, ask yourself these questions:

What risks have I taken lately?
Are my words reflective of my actions?
In my own struggles, how have I shown that I can trust that which I don't know?

If you speak from the soul when you answer these questions, you will begin to find your hozho.

That is some of what I've learned from the seat of my bike. I was pleased to have the good doctor confirm it for me.

All my best,

Sunday, March 15, 2009

When was the last time you felt alive?

Sunday--the holy day of rest, to some--seems like a good day to post a few thoughts about feeling alive.

What does it mean?

I remember asking a friend once if she ever just felt really good inside, for no reason. I asked her more specifically if she ever found herself driving down the road and all of a sudden noticing that she was smiling.

I was sad when she responded all too quickly, "No."

There are times when I feel that way frequently. And there are times when I don't feel that way at all. When I don't feel that sense of aliveness, I know that's when I'm too focused on work or something that's not going right in my life. I'm tuned in to the outside world rather than the inside.

But I'm really glad I notice when that smile appears.

I'm glad that I have the ability to recognize that.

It's happening in my life right now. I feel alive again. I've been so focused on my book project that I've neglected to maintain a sense of balance. I don't regret it, because I was accomplishing something I really wanted to do, and I knew it would require a sacrifice on my part. Someone told me after I announced that I'd finished my book that I should be careful now, that I should be sure to maintain the pace I've been keeping, because I could fall into depression if I'm not careful. My mind's become used to working, I guess, is this person's theory. So if I let it relax a little too much, I might feel a void.

But I don't feel a void. I feel free. I feel like I can get back to doing things I've missed doing while the book was my main focus. I feel alive.

I know this is true for several reasons. When I was in the midst of my divorce and focused solely on that, my senses were numbed. I didn't feel much of anything except anxiety. But I do know the exact moment when that numbness began to lift. On one occasion, I was out with friends at a favorite hang-out. We were sipping glasses of chardonnay when a man walked by our table. Instantly, I smelled his cologne. I couldn't help myself when I reached out toward him. Before I knew it, I had grabbed his neck toward my nose so I could take in that scent. It smelled so new and good and strong. I asked him, of course, if I could smell--and smell again--and he obliged.

He also took it the wrong way. I wasn't coming on to him, as he suspected. I was merely regaining my sense of smell and recognized it. I was thrilled and didn't want the moment to pass me by. I wanted to take it all in, and I did. My friend was aghast and told me I definitely needed a chaparone when I went out; she was not going to let me go out alone. Not ever! I laughed at her assessment of what just happened, and I got it. But I don't think she really understood the giddyness I felt during this moment of recognition. It was the beginning of my reawakening to all of life's possibilities. I'm forever grateful I recognized it.

It happened again to me this past week. After several months of being cooped up in my office with nothing more than the pile of notes, books, and other papers needed to complete my book--and a computer--I didn't realize how numb I'd become to the outside world until I went back out there. My first outing turned out to be a spontaneous visit to the Farmer's Market on Wednesday afternoon. I arrived and immediately went to the vegetable stands and bought apples, grapes, tomatoes, big thick carrots, and a few other colorful veggies to take home and make a salad with that afternoon.

Then I proceeded to walk around to see what else was for sale. I stopped at the soap booth. A woman was selling fresh soaps that she'd made herself in her own kitchen. Before I knew it, I was picking up each and every scented soap and sticking it to my nose. Smelling. I found a scent that I adored and couldn't put the soap down. I was laughing. I was talking out loud to myself. I was enjoying every minute with these hand-made soaps. And I bought quite a few to take home so I could continue the silly excess. I even bought something for my neighbor who'd been taking good care of me in my last few weeks of work on the book. I was in heaven with these soaps. It was just like that moment in the bar with the man and his cologne and my nose in his neck.

But that's what it means to be alive. You notice things with your five senses. You can smell better, see more clearly, observe more closely, hear things louder, feel textures. You pay attention to things you may have ignored before...the birds chirping in the trees, the way the wind makes the branches on a tree sway back and forth, the cologne on a strange man's neck . You feel a sense of joy, and it's unexplainable. You smile about nothing in particular while driving down the road in your car, or sitting on the bus, or walking from room to room in your house.

It's something that comes from the inside. You can't force it. It just shows up when you're ready.

When was the last time you felt like that? Post a comment about it here so the rest of us can be sure to recognize when it's happening. It could be right this very minute.

All my best,

Friday, March 13, 2009

I'm back!

Hey, sorry it took me so long to get back here.

The book writing took a lot longer than I expected. I turned in my manuscript--finally--this week, along with photos and captions. And then, I had to take a mental break. After a long, long project, down time is a must. And I'm still not back 100 percent.

There are so many things to catch up on. I have a presentation next week, another one a week or so later, and another in April.

And then there is the marketing for the book. I'm only just beginning.

When you take time off to write a book, the world around you doesn't just stop. But you do have to postpone some things. Now, I have to reconnect not only with former clients but also with friends, who, if I'm not careful, will be former ones. LOL

Anyway, I hope all of you out there are doing well. I'm doing great. It's another notch on the belt to get through the hoops of completing an entire book manuscript. It helped to have a great editor on my side, who understood why I was taking longer than the deadline demanded. And then, thankfully, I spoke to a few other first-time authors who said the same thing happened to them: they had to extend the deadline. Made me feel much better about my tardiness.

But that's part of the BIKE work, you know, taking care of yourself. I was working very long days, every day. But I knew when I needed to take breaks. I knew when I needed to ask for help. And I did.

And now I can breathe again.

It's great to be back.

I hope all of you out there are doing well, reaching your goals, achieving the success you've only thus far dreamed out.

Make it a great weekend!