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, December 20, 2010

Motivated Mondays: The Artist's Way check-in for week 12

Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way book cover
Whoa! I can't believe we're here. Today, I report on results from Chapter 11 and have already read Chapter 12. I've just about made it. How about you?

Hey, I know you haven't been coming around or posting as often as the first eight weeks. Things have slowed down. But don't give up now. Keep reading. Take a few extra weeks if you need it. But don't stop now. You're almost there with me. We've almost gone through the entire book.

So no giving up now. If you somehow got lost in the hurried year-end schedule, remember to take some time for yourself. The Artist's Way offers good reason to do that. I know it's tough and that you're learning some rough lessons. I realize you may be connecting with stuff you might wish you hadn't. Those nasty inner demons. But you're also growing and learning to push yourself past those blocks. Most of them are mental, you know. You can take charge of that if you cultivate the necessary inner awareness.

"You don't know what you don't know" is not a bad motto to live by. Ignorance has saved me many times in my life. But that's not the only path to success. Knowledge is a good thing as well. Knowing what you're passionate about, knowing what you like or don't like, knowing what motivates you or what drives you -- and that it isn't necessarily money, though that's nice to have -- knowing that you'll move past the setbacks, knowing that you can believe in yourself, knowing that competition is good, knowing that you can handle critique or rejection, knowing how to surround yourself with love, knowing how to nurture your artist self, knowing that your artist self needs to be nurtured, etc.

This is about the B.I.K.E. It's about finding your Best self, your Inner strength, that Killer instinct, and being able to use your Expressive voice to get what you now know you need. The lessons in Cameron's book mirrors the lessons I learned from the seat of my bike. They're so closely matched, it's why I connect so well with Cameron's work.

I know what she teaches works. With all my heart, I know that if you gain that insight, that inner awareness about what makes you tick, you will grow your business. You will be naturally directed to the things you need to do, toward the work that gives you joy, to the life that helps you fill the well, and you will prosper in ways that have more to do with your spirit self than your financial self. And, yet, your financial wealth will grow as well. Just give it time. Give yourself time to trust yourself, to learn to trust your better judgment, to go where your heart takes you.

Last week's work was really difficult. I faced some demons that made me take action I'm still not sure will give me results I'd like. But I'm sure I needed to take the action. It was a start. I did think it was funny how the chapter about self-protection made me feel the least protected. But then, thankfully, Chapter 11 changed things back around and led me back toward a more peaceful feeling.

About recovering a sense of autonomy, it focused on something I'm pretty good at: understanding the importance of self-nurturing (Note, I didn't say doing, which is why I still need this book. Ha!) and accepting that I am an artist. I do accept that. I do know it's all I have, in terms of any talent. So I HAVE to be good at this. Pure and simple, I do believe that I am an artist, that writing is the skill I've been entrusted with by God, and that I can experiment with that skill in order to make the most of that skill. And I'm very open to that concept. Just like the book says, if I need to write a poem, I write the poem. I'm very open to whatever creative sparks occur. I go with them. I am happiest when I follow the natural currents. And I'm okay if I do it poorly. I love the rewriting process. Or I'm okay with trashing something that just doesn't work. I am not afraid of what's next. I know something will take it's place. I will write again, or I will write something else. This is also good reason to continue reading The Artist's Way and reminding myself to "fill the well." This chapter reminded me that I am where I need to be.

That reminder alone is worth reading the entire book. I am where I need to be. Can you say that about yourself? If not, what will lead you to that conclusion? Let me tell you, it's a very self-empowering conclusion to reach.

What thrilled me even more was the section on exercise. For me, THE BIKE LADY, the woman who waxes poetic about the benefits of moving meditation, just as Cameron does here in Chapter 11, I was thrilled to see that I naturally gravitated toward this when I needed it most. I still do. When I'm stressed, I walk or I ride. When I have difficulty coming up with a solution to a challege, I walk or I ride. I pray in my car -- it's moving. I do very much believe in the zen that occurs during time alone on the bike. It's why I prefer doing my exercise alone. I can be with my thoughts, and I can solve world peace -- all in the space of an hour. All kidding aside, this chapter gave my blog here some credibility. And that felt damn good!

I particularly struck by these words in the book...Exercise moves us from:

"stagnation to inspiration, from problem to solution, from self-pity to self-respect."

Yes! I am in total agreement with her line there. Total agreement. I experienced that myself during my three-year bike ride away from a life with a man who was spiritually killing me.

I like the idea of an artist's altar and have had one in various forms over the years. At the moment, I do not. But I'm going to reconnect with that in the days ahead, as I begin to reorganize the way I work in my personal space. In other words, I think it's time to clean out the office once again!

This week, I wrote in the Morning Pages every day. I took my Artist Date like a good little girl, writing limericks in response to a page I read in a magazine, and I spent time on Chapter 10's exercises. I have work yet to do for Chapter 11, and they look like fun. Don't forget! The beauty of this book is that you can continue to do the chapter exercises. Just pick a few to work on a weekly basis, and you will continue to see the inner growth that's going to continue unblocking or releasing your creativity.

I pretty consistently run into this. This week, it just happened to be the exercise portion of the chapter and realizing how that relates to my work here. It led me to buy Jeff Herman's book about finding agents and publishers, as recommended by an agent to me last year. It took me more than six months to follow this gentleman's advice. So it was funny to see that happen, to see myself drawn to that particular book this year, this weekend, in fact. I see that as a recommitment to make my B.I.K.E. book happen, perhaps in 2011. I believe in timing, and I trust in the project, but I see no reason to birth the book till it's time. This is a project that can't be forced.

Oh my, did I have significant insights this week! The biggest one had to do with self-sabotage and the positive results I am seeing simply from awareness alone. It's something I've had to deal with all my life. Usually a very sneaky demon, I haven't always caught it in time. But I see myself healing from it, and that makes me very happy with myself.

Experimenting with the BLASTING THROUGH THE BLOCKS exercise from Chapter 9, I was also able to move past a personal hurdle in my life, which was significant for me. I am going to use that exercise more often, as I found it quite useful and helpful. I also did THE DEADLIES exercise from Chapter 10. Surprisingly, "food" kept coming up as an issue for me, something I don't see as reality, but it is going to be something I watch for in the future. I suppose it is a problem that I can go for hours without eating when I'm in writing mode. I can go all day without eating anything, in fact. I think that's probably why I don't lose weight, even though I exercise regularly. My metabolism has slowed down. So I'm going to watch that and work on creating a better eating habit during the day. I'm not a big eater, and I don't snack much at all, so this will be a challenge for me. But I am now fully aware of it, and will take action to correct it.

Creativity, after all, requires action, as we learn in Chapter 11, and I'm good at that.

How about you? What have been some of the most significant lessons you've learned and tackled in your work with Cameron's book so far. We have one more week left. So be sure to read Chapater 12. I'm hoping you'll want to post some overall thoughts about the book in Week 14.

Motivation for Mondays is a part of a weekly Twitter party called #MotivatedMondays initiated by Lorrie Shaw, a professional pet sitter, a regular pets contributor at, and pet blogger in Dexter Township, MI. Together, we post a combination of inspirational notes, links to motivational blog posts, and tips to help kickstart your week ahead. Look for us online every Monday morning--and throughout the day--if you need to kick start your week or want to share your own motivational thoughts.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Motivated Mondays: The Artist's Way check-in for week 11

Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way book cover
This was a tough chapter for me. And just to prove it, after I typed in a very lengthy post here about said chapter, my log-in died or something, and I couldn't log back in. Blogger wouldn't accept my password. So I had to get a new password. But guess what? That wiped out my entire post. Since I am taking care of myself on this one, and refusing to be any more frustrated than the chapter itself made me, and thinking that maybe what I'd posted shouldn't have been posted, I'm going with this short version.

In other words, I'm not rewriting. So please forgive me. Let me rely on your wisdom this week, because as I said this chapter was difficult for me. I learned some insights I'd rather not have. And now I have to deal. Blech. I'm also disturbed by technology at the moment.

I will tell you I wrote the Artist Pages three times this week. I know I need to write more. I did my Artist Date this weekend. I'm counting my trip to Old Town Scottsdale and the view of Paolo Soleri's bridge, even though I didn't go alone. It was amazing, with or without company, and I enjoyed the visit and took several pictures.

I didn't do any of the exercises until I wrote my earlier post that disappeared. In that, I had written out a list of about 20 things I love. I enjoyed that moment of pleasant thoughts, and I'll repeat them in my journal later. I also intend to do "The Deadlies," as that sounds interesting and insight-provoking.

I apologize for the short post, but I am going to leave Blogger for now, get back to my assignment, and work on letting go of my frustration.

Please post your comments here about Week 11/Chapter 10, and we'll be back next week to talk more about Chapter 11, where we recover a "Sense of Autonomy." Just two more weeks to go, and then a final follow up to go over any extra thoughts or questions you may be having at the end. We'll also begin anew for any stragglers who want to participate or continue with further practice. See you next week!

Motivation for Mondays is a part of a weekly Twitter party called #MotivatedMondays initiated by Lorrie Shaw, a professional pet sitter, a regular pets contributor at, and pet blogger in Dexter Township, MI. Together, we post a combination of inspirational notes, links to motivational blog posts, and tips to help kickstart your week ahead. Look for us online every Monday morning--and throughout the day--if you need to kick start your week or want to share your own motivational thoughts.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The healing power of human touch

kangaroo time with baby

We are lying in her king-size bed, having just crawled into it after what must have been the tenth time up that first evening home from the hospital. Is it really 3 o’clock in the morning? Our eyes, though heavy and bloodshot, won’t close too easily. What if he cries out again, we wonder, will we be able to wake up this time?

She grabs my hand. Her young skin, as always, feels soft to the touch. But her once nimble and slender fingers are now stiff and heavy, filled with fluid after the birth of her first child. She reaches out and gently latches her warm fingers onto mine. I latch back.

It won’t just be the two of us in bed together. Her husband will join us on the other side. He’s in the bathroom, finally found time to brush his teeth. To some, this might seem like an unusual arrangement, but to my daughter and me, this is how we do life. We do the tough stuff together. It’s always been that way. It’s times like these when she reminds me it always will be that way. I sigh.

It started after I divorced their biological father. My son was two and my daughter was five. It was just the three of us after the papers were signed and their dad disappeared. He never wrote. He never sent a birthday card. He never even made a single phone call to find out if his children were being well fed and cared for. Not once. The letters I sent to him were left unanswered.

At the time, I felt it was my fault. I divorced him. But I didn’t understand how you could willfully disappear so easily out of your children’s lives. Since I couldn’t explain that, I didn’t talk about him much. Only when the kids asked. And they did. Occasionally. So we’d sit down, just the three of us, holding onto each other, and I’d show them our family photo albums. I was just 16 when I had my daughter. I was 19 when her brother came along. Our pictures reveal what looks like it would have been a happy family.

And I suppose it was until I decided I would attend college after high school. Because of that, and the fact that he didn't want me to finish college, I became a single parent at 21. The three of us moved to a university town.

Later, I married again, but this time, my husband died. He’d been my college sweetheart. We’d dated throughout our college years and a year after before he proposed. He was the man who voluntarily took on the role of father to my kids one day, and he was the man who was dead the next, killed in an auto accident less than two months after we married. Death was hard to explain to my kids, but losing a second dad was even worse. By then, they were old enough to feel heartbrake.

Even so, it was the third loss that really upset their world. When that one occurred, they were 19 and 21--old enough to understand betrayal.

I’d married a third time to the man who eventually adopted my kids. It made them feel whole again. He had two of his own children, and we became a blended family. It was challenging, challenging enough for him that he couldn’t handle it, had an affair or two or three, and left our home.

He tried to blame his behavior on me, but when he wouldn’t even try to make things work, I had no choice but to divorce him. I didn’t think he’d disappear, though. But he did. Emotionally.

Or maybe he was, as he said, never really there.

It was the loss that nearly tore our family apart. What it couldn’t break was our bond. Once again, life left just the three of us behind.

That first Thanksgiving alone I took my now college-aged kids on vacation to Mexico. I could afford a room with one bed. We slept in it together. Mom in the middle. Daughter on one side. Son on the other. And we held hands.

You do that when you want to comfort a loved one. You hug. You plant a kiss on the forehead. You hold hands. It’s about connecting. You can try it with words. You can send cards. You can offer money because you care. But none of that goes deep enough, I’ve learned. Parents disappear. They die. They may be emotionally absent. That’s the worst. If you can’t connect to your loved ones on an emotional level, you won’t know when they need you on the physical one. When they reach out, you won’t know to reach back. When they're gone, you won't trust they were ever there in the first place.

Without touch, there is no connection. Without connection there is no understanding. Without understanding, there is no compassion. Without compassion, there is no love. It all weaves together. Naturally, you'd hope.

So there we are in her bed. Because this is my child, the daughter I gave birth to more than 30 years ago last September, and because she knows all she ever has to do is ask, she asked me to stay. Her husband doesn’t object. He wants to be sure they know what they’re doing. They will, I think to myself, as I feel her skin against mine. They are listening. They are paying attention. They are learning the meaning of his cries.

Most importantly, they understand kangeroo time, the skin-to-skin contact the hospital nurses encouraged them to frequently do with their newborn. If they can connect on an emotional level with their little boy, they’re going to be stand-up parents, and it begins with that willingness to touch.

Aside from food, water, clothing and shelter, even Maslow knew what their little boy would want and deserve--to feel safe and secure in his surroundings. Touch will do that for you. Not just as an infant, but for the rest of life. If his parents can give this precious little boy that, 30 years from now it will be the three of them holding hands through the difficult moments.

To me, that's a comforting thought.

(Photo credit: Jackie Dishner)

Motivation for Mondays: The Artist's Way check-in for Week 10

Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way book cover
We've made it to Week 10. After this, there's just two more weeks to go before we finish the book and can see how well we've unblocked our creativity. If there's still more work to be done, we may have to start all over again.

I hope that doesn't scare you.

Whatever the case, I'm sure we will see positive results. Sometimes, the first time around doesn't net us quite what we may have expected, and a do-over is a good thing. Especially if we wait it out and see what happens when we're NOT doing the Morning Pages regularly, or NOT scheduling those Artist Dates, and NOT focusing on healing.

But first, let me ask you: What did you focus on with Chapter 9?

More synchronicity for me, I tell you! The chapter was about compassion. So appropriate for me this week as I waited for the birth of my first grandson. He arrived midweek, during that first hour of December 2. Everything went smoothly. My daughter did so well. Her husband was a great coach. And the baby was born healthy and near perfect. It was a great week to focus on compassion. Compassion for self and for others. Could there be a better way to spend a week? I don't think so.

The event that unfolded last week turned out to be a nice twist to what had been happening in my life the month before. It brought about relief.

And offered time to reflect on what it means to be healthy, live healthy, and think healthy thoughts. All of this matters if we are to succeed in growing our creative selves.

In Chapter 9, Julia Cameron writes about FEAR and how that can affect how blocked we may feel. It may actually give us an excuse for NOT doing something. I can admit that fear played a large part in my early career. It also creeped in early last week. I was fearful that my daughter would have a difficult labor. I wanted the baby to arrive a healthy human being. I didn't want my daughter to experience pain. So a writer friend suggested I focus on seeing the baby born healthy, seeing the delivery go smoothly. I did that. And I prayed. I prayed a lot that day. And all went well.

Cameron talks about calling things as they are, not using cop-outs or lying to ourselves. We are not lazy if we procrastinate doing our work. We are merely afraid of the outcome. So we need to practice looking at the reality of any situation and assessing the truth. What is getting in the way? Write those things down. What are we gaining by letting those things get in the way? Be honest. Let them go. And move on to complete the work.

Cameron also looks at enthusiasm versus discipline. Basically, she says we won't get far if we try to rely on discipline to do the job. Creatives can't work that way for long. We need to be enthusiastic about what we're doing. If we're not, maybe it's okay to move on and try something else. That's what drives writers to be able to complete book-length projects. Enthusiasm. Discipline will not last long enough. Enthusiasm is what will keep you going. I agree with this 100 percent. Do you?

I so related to this! Creative u-turns. The things that take all of your progress and squash it into a pile of doo-doo on the floor you never want to touch. That's a bit dramatic-sounding, but I confess I have done things to sabotage my very own career. I have missed deadlines, not without advance warning, but I have done that. I have failed to turn in invoices. I have ignored signing contracts till the very end. I have done those things and more. I have let fear get in the way. Both of success and of failure.

Sometimes, I still have these moments. When I am in the midst of too much stuff to deal with, I take my time. I purposely slow down. I don't know if that's good or bad, but it's what I've done in order to be able to muddle through. I have learned to access that self-compassion and focus on doing the best I can. Sometimes, the best may not be good enough for others, but it has to be good enough for me. Working alone sometimes means I get overwhelmed. And rather than letting that get the best of me, I work on accepting my weaknesses and doing the best I can. Thank goodness we're allowed failures before we can reach the successes. If we weren't allowed to fail at all, I'm not sure where I'd be. I'm grateful for my vulnerabilities. They allow me to embrace my strengths. And one of my strengths is that I am not afraid to ask for help when I need it. Sometimes, I've delayed asking, but I will always ask. How about you?


To me, this part of the chapter was even better than the exercises at the end of Chapter 9. To me, it's the single most helpful part of this chapter. Although I didn't do it this week, I have done this before. You list out your resentments or anger that you may feel toward a project. You list out any related fears toward the project. You ask yourself if that's all there is. You ask yourself what might happen if you didn't the do the project at all. And then you make a deal with yourself about completing the project. It makes so much sense to get all of the negative thoughts that might show up out of the way at the beginning, or when you start to feel blocked. Then, you can carry on. It's like any relationship. If there's stuff getting in the way, you need to move it. You need to hash it out, so you can move on. Have you ever tried this when you were feeling resistant to a project? Maybe you discovered the answer was to drop the project. I find this exercise to be a very wise one, and one I hope to utilize more readily in the future.

Since work was not on top of mind this past week, I did not write many Morning Pages. Six or seven at most. Pages. Not days. As for an Artist Date, would it count that I shopped for a special gift after the baby was born? I spent 20 minutes in the hospital gift shop and found the new baby's initials: W.O.W. His name is Wyatt Owen Waddington, which makes him a WOW baby. And he is exactly that. I also had my book signing at Costco, and though it felt like a hectic thing to do in the midst of the new baby's arrival, I did manage to pull some creative stuff together and haul it over to the stores with me. I did manage to interact with a lot of people. And I did manage to sell some books, despite it all.

I'm sure there are other things, but I can't think of them at the moment. So now it's your turn. Post your chapter thoughts below. And next week, we read about "Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection."

Motivation for Mondays is a part of a weekly Twitter party called #MotivatedMondays initiated by Lorrie Shaw, a professional pet sitter, a regular pets contributor at, and pet blogger in Dexter Township, MI. Together, we post a combination of inspirational notes, links to motivational blog posts, and tips to help kickstart your week ahead. Look for us online every Monday morning--and throughout the day--if you need to kick start your week or want to share your own motivational thoughts.