This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Back to basics

When all else fails, go back to the basics.

Have you ever heard that phrase--back to basics? It works with most things. If you don't have the foundation set in stone, you're likely to build a wobbly home, or write a sentence that's missing something important, or somehow feel an imbalance.

Whenever I'm feeling that imbalance, no matter what it is, I go back to the basics. For me, that means I'm back on my bike again. It's the thing that gave me comfort as a child, and it still provides a sense of comfort today. When I'm riding, that's where I'm able to release stress, find some breathing space, and relax.

I've been riding at least five miles a day and expect to work back up to 10. Not every day, but on the days I ride (at least four of the seven), I prefer a solid 10, because it gives me an hour outside, alone with my thoughts initially, and then I'm lost in the ride. Less time doesn't allow for the meditative part. I'm getting that in yoga right now, so it's okay. But I really like getting whole process on the ride. I'm out of practice and a little bit out of shape, so I'm having to build up the stamina. I'll get there. It's an enjoyable process for me.

If you happen to be in this same place, if you're feeling somewhat stressed or unhinged, I urge you to do like me and find your ride. Just get out there. Take it one mile at a time. Soon, you'll notice what I discovered long ago. My bike provides that quiet place where no one else is present. It's the place where I can go to process my thoughts or let them go. It's a place where I can pray. It's just me, the bike and fresh air. Sometimes I hear the birds in the trees. Sometimes I listen to the traffic. Sometimes I find myself watching people walk by. Sometimes I don't notice a thing. Not even the silence.

If you don't have a place for this, I recommend finding one. Decide today that you'll start the search for your "bike," that you'll commit to taking time out just for yourself during some part of the day. It doesn't have actually to be on a bike. Walking works, or running, or some form of artistic activity. Even doing the dishes can do wonders when you're stressed or your mind is preoccupied on stressful things, as mine as been lately.

Go back to the basics. Find the thing that settles you, the place where you can recover some sense of balance. Go ahead, metaphorically speaking, just pick that bike up off the ground and ride. I think you'll like it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Coping Strategy: Raw Art Journaling

It feels like healing time to me, folks. And there's no better way to work on healing than through journaling. But not just any type of journaling. This time, let's try raw art journaling.

My friend and creativity coach Quinn McDonald wrote a book this year on the topic (the cover pictured above). It's a new concept to me. I've never tried it. But Quinn's book arrived at my doorstep today, and I decided to take a look. I mention it to you because making raw art seems like a great way to get lost in meditation without having to sit in a yoga pose one breath or minute too long. This looks like a fun way to meditate and I'm all for that!

Meditation, of course, is a great healing technique. I do it on my bike rides, and it always sounds like a good idea to me, no matter how it's done. I know people who mediate while running, others who meditate while painting, and still others who crochet. I like to journal for the purpose as well. So after flipping through the 127 or so pages of Raw Art Journaling, I see it will be great practice for me and others who enjoy exploring their creative side on or with paper and creative utensils.

The concept involves a combination of artistic endeavors--and none of them have to be done perfectly. They're all about expressing your creative self in ways that help you explore who you are. From doodling with pens or pencils, to making art with photographs, water colors or found poetry, to actually writing out your anger or sharing secrets you don't want anyone else but your journal to know about, this book looks like a winner to me as a coping mechanism.

I'll probably be playing around with it for the next month or so to see what kind of journal I can devise. What about you? Have you ever tried raw art journaling? Would you like to now? If interested, you can order Quinn's book directly off of her Web site. And if you visit her blog, you'll learn more about this interesting writing/art form and read about the review her book received in Pages magazine.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Abuse by the numbers

If you've been following my blog lately, you know I've been writing about a heavy topic. Childhood sexual abuse is not something people like to talk about. It's a topic that scares most people. It's definitely misunderstood. But I'm staying on it for now, as I'm determined to open minds.

Awareness is a beautiful thing if it helps people from turning the other cheek. Besides, we have children to save here. Even if the news is uncomfortable to read, it's important to realize that sexual abuse does not just happen on college campuses like Penn State or by the parish priest in your neighborhood Catholic Church. It happens everywhere. In fact, maybe you have been a victim yourself--or your children could be. To further understand the depth of this often ignored travesty, let's take a look at some of the cold, hard stats that have surfaced in the news since the Penn State scandal made the headlines:

_The National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect reports the abuse of more than one half a million children in the United States.

_I've read this over and over again, and the numbers shock me: As many as 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are sexually abused before they turn 18.

_According to the advocacy group Stop It Now, in up to 93 percent of reported child sexual abuse cases, the child knows the person who commits the crime.

_Enablers make the problem worse. More than 15 people at Penn State may have known about Jerry Sandusky's behavior with young boys. Yet, they didn't do enough to stop it.

_Experts say about 70 percent of abuse victims never tell anyone. Bottom line, that means children are not being protected, and we don't know the exact numbers of those being abused. 

Let's vow to do more to stop the violence. Here's an article that offers solid tips on how to abuse proof our children.

Friday, November 25, 2011

More survivors of abuse speak out

What is it about this Penn State sex abuse case that has touched a nerve with so many survivors? It's not the first such case ever to be reported. It's not the largest? Whatever it is, we are telling our stories. This case has opened a door to allow some kind of relief to be expressed, the tears to flow, and the truth to be revealed. These stories continue to show the world that childhood abuse is far more rampant and far more hidden than anyone wants to believe.

Here are more survivor stories. If you would, please pass them on:

_Goldie Taylor, an Atlanta-based writer, finds the courage to tell her story for CNN.

_In his own memoir, Transparent, Don Lemon, a weekend CNN anchor, tells of his own childhood rape, and for CNN, questions why the young boy in the Penn State locker room wasn't saved at that very moment the witness saw the rape occur. Would the witness have saved the child if he had been a girl? Lemon reminds us that gender doesn't matter. Rape is rape, and we need to open our eyes.

_Robin Quivers from "The Howard Stern Show" tells of her abuse story. The victimizer was her father. Not atypical, in case you were wondering...

_A champion gymnast, Jennifer Sey, retells the story about how her coach got away with sexual abuse (not aimed at her) and why winning trumps everything else when it comes to sports.

_QuinnCreative responds to my Ms. Magazine story with a story of her own. Hers was one of the first stories I read after mine was posted that reminded me words have a healing power we won't even know about until they are read or heard. Let the healing begin!

_Kelly Salasin, who found her way to my story also, was inspired to share something that happened to her one summer--after reading the next story linked below. What do you think, moms? Share this one with your high school daughters?

_Eve Ensler spews her anger over the mere idea of rape. She says she over it. But can we be? Really? Read her essay to see what she really means.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A curated list of Penn State essays, Part 2

The updates to this story just won't quit. And now it's been reported that one of the latest allegations of abuse by Jerry Sandusky may have come from a relative, a child. I'm not sure how State College, Penn., is ever going to get past the trauma they have only begun to suffer.

I'm posting new articles because I want you to know just how serious a challenge creating awareness is going to be. I feel like we have to create awareness in order to get a dialogue going that leads to policy change everywhere--and that doesn't mean it has to be legal enactments but policy change in your own household, on the job, around family. We need to observe more closely what's going on around us. To pay attention is to be part of the solution. Here are the latest reports that might be of interest (no longer just essays here, folks):

_This article, Sandusky's Legacy: Adults With Permanent Mental Health Disorders, describes the lasting effects of childhood abuse. If you read my essay, you can see the legacy article covers the highlights. But it doesn't delve into the nuts and bolts. Still, you get a sense of how deeply a person's soul is affected.

_Two lawyers on Huffington Post try to argue that Jerry Sandusky may be a victim as well. I'm not buying it. But I think it's worth the read so you can make your own mind up.

_Is there more of an uproar over the Penn State story than there was over the Catholic priest sexual abuse cases? A CBS Sports article says this seems to be the case. Interesting comparison. 

_On, Richard J Gelles, a dean at the University of Pennsylvania opines whether there is necessity for more laws to combat child abuse. He doesn't think so. In the end, he asks if no new laws or policy changes, what should we do? I sent him a copy of my Ms. Magazine essay.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A curated list of Penn State essays

After yesterday's post, I decided to compile a list of other essays and commentaries that have been written about the Penn State story. They are eye-opening and may help you to understand more fully the full effects of childhood abuse and why it can happen. The essays are listed in no particular order, but if any of them stir up any emotion or ideas of your own to write about, please pass on the links. It's time to say no to "Jerry":

_A young man and former Penn State graduate shares his thoughts about his loss of faith in the community where he grew up. Find out why he considers himself lucky.

_Charles P. Pierce writes about what really matters from this story, not that Penn State could lose football, God forbid, but that children were raped. It's the brutal truth.

_A commentary in which Mark Madden questions who knew what and when. Haven't we all? 

_David Brooks explains what research says about why we may not intervene when we see a crime, such as sexual abuse, occur, or why we look the other way.

_A trauma therapist speaks out on what you can do to help.

_A male sex abuse victim speaks out, telling us the abusers are not monsters. Calling them that, let's the rest of us off the hook. We're looking for monsters when abusers can be your family member or friend.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Is it "brave" to speak out?

People are telling me that it was brave of me to write the essay that appeared last night on Ms. Magazine's blog. I don't know if that's true. My intent was emotional release--and to save myself. In the process, though, maybe the words will save someone else. Ultimately, that's what a powerful story can do.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Spiritual thought for the day

Remember the fruits of the Spirit:


If we live in the Spirit, may we keep in step with the Spirit. (from the Holy Bible, Galatians 5:22)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lucky number 11

On today's morning news shows, the anchors have been all over the fact that today is November 11, 2011. Eleven. Eleven. Eleven. 11/11/11. 11-11-11. How many different ways can you write that? If you're superstitious, you might think the number means something other than what it looks like on face value. You might think it's a lucky number. You might think it has some mystical power. Personally, I'm not prone to think any of these things. To me, it's just another date on the calendar.

Still, out of curiosity, I did happen to search on Google to find out what other people have to say about the number, and you might find this curated list worth investigating:

_This site includes various interpretations of what the number and/or date means. Some of it's beyond my understanding or interest. But scroll down and take the poll about what you think might happen today--Something interesting? Something bad? Nothing at all?

_If you think this date is somehow tied to the Mayan calendar, you might like to visit Live Science for an explanation.

_This Huffington Post article mentions that the Egyptian Pyramids will shut down on this rare binary day because they don't want people showing up to try perform mystical ceremonies on the property. Read the article to learn more about what a binary day is and how few there are in a century.

_For those of you who lean toward the supernatural, here's an article for you.

_I love the graphics on this site, and the information about the meaning behind this winter solstice day, as it relates to the number, is both fascinating and informative. If you go, you'll see this person is clearly connected on some kind of spiritual level to the number. 

If you'd like to post your thoughts about today's date and what it means--or doesn't--to you, I'd be interested in reading your take on it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What's a reputation worth, Penn State?

I'm not a huge football fan, so I didn't pay much attention to the story unfolding in front of us at Penn State when it first aired last week. But someone on an online forum I belong to is infuriated by the student riots on campus--in favor of the now fired (and beloved?) head coach, Joe Paterno--and she started a thread about it. Someone else commented that it sounds just like the Catholic Church pedophile stories, She's right. It does. The abuses happen. There are witnesses. Someone tells a higher up. And the response is: hush-hush. We wouldn't want to ruin the reputation of the Catholic Church, now would we? It appears that the higher-ups at Penn State were of that same mind-set.

The school's reputation was more important than what was reported to have happened. It's been reported that boys as young as 10 were being molested right on campus grounds! Yet, those who could have stepped in to save the little boys from any further harm instead chose to take the least action to prevent it. In other words, they did what amounts to nothing about it. And now at least eight boys' lives have been forever changed, with more boys reportedly coming forward with their own horrific stories of sexual abuse, rape and demoralizing behavior by a man and former Penn State football coach, Jerry Sandusky, who should be in jail but has bonded out and says he's not guilty. Yet, he has admitted to showering with boys, so...

So just this morning, I heard on the news about the young graduate assistant who witnessed one of the reported rapes in 2002. Instead of stopping it right there in the shower room, he wigged out and called his dad who told him to tell Paterno. And then what? He's become an assistant coach, been there all this time, knowing what he saw, knowing this guy, Sandusky, was still on campus hanging around young boys, bringing them to games even, according to the Grand Jury report. I can imagine the coaches must have run into Sandusky after that. But they never wondered why this accused pedophile was still around--with little boys, no doubt? Was their only thought to save Penn State's reputation. Really? Maybe they thought if they refused to think about it, it would go away? Turn the other cheek, you know. Don't face it. Pretend? It's not really that uncommon a response to abuse. Not really. And that's exactly why they should have done something more. Because they failed to live up to their own school motto that promotes success and honor, their response backfired. How do you live honorably when you know there is more you can do? The hindsight Paterno mentioned he wish he'd had then can't be good enough now--because we're talking about young boys' lives. Ruined! To what extent, only they can know. But can football really be that important that it's worth the pretense that was most certainly going to cause harm to others, especially these young, impressionable and vulnerable boys? I don't get that.

I do get that it's possible they were so shell-shocked by what they were seeing and hearing that they didn't know how to react immediately. But after you have some time to consider the seriousness of it, you still don't act on it? You don't follow up? You don't do anything more? Yet, you know this guy is still around little boys? What's a reputation worth, Penn State?

I hope this school, now that it has fired the only people who could have stopped the accused predator in his tracks, is now reaching out to the professionals. This school needs to act now. It needs to set up a campus-wide program immediately that will train employees, staff and administrators (Janitors witnessed these egregious acts as well and did nothing out of fear of losing their jobs.) not the minimum that must be done but the best response to end the abuse (i.e.: CALL THE POLICE!). It can't do anything less than create a climate where it's not only necessary but imperative to report abuses like this immediately. Reputation be damned! Children are worth far more than that.

Too bad about that hindsight, though, because now Penn State can be prepared to lose all that they believed Paterno brought with him--the reputation, the money. More victims are coming forward, so surely the lawsuits will clean them out. Rightly so.

And to address my friend's comment from that thread that led to this opinion piece? I can't believe these riots are occurring, either. Those college kids are so hyped up about losing their coach that they aren't even digesting why. A local sports journalist reporting from the field on MSNBC explained it like this: The school lives in its own bubble. I agree. But this is not a time to hail the hero inside of it. There was just never one there.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

COPING STRATEGY: Find your creature comforts

The dictionary on your desk may define "creature comforts" as material things or luxuries used to provide for one's bodily comfort. Or it may say they are things that make you feel comfortable or at ease. I define it more specifically than that. In my book, it's an old bath robe
I love that thing! 
I've had it for 15 years and counting. It was given to me by a friend who said it didn't fit her. It was too short. To her, it was nothing more than a castaway, not at all useful. To me, it was a bright yellow piece of luxury I didn't have to buy. I gladly accepted her gift, and it's become that one thing I use the most in my bathroom--and it has yet to be replaced.
Of course, after so many years, so many washings, and so much use, it's no longer that bright yellow it once was. It's now a dingy sort of cream, the edges are frayed, and its plushness has worn bare in some spots. But I can still get five good uses out of it before I have to toss it in the laundry hamper. After which, I note my regular towels never feel as nice. I can't sit around in them as comfortably if I want to sip a cup of hot coffee or tea on a cold morning after my shower. Regular towels slip off. They have to be tucked in, and they unravel. Not my old bath robe. It stays on, no problem. And because it's so worn, the threads feel so soft. I love the sensation on my skin. It just makes me feel so relaxed and warm--like being wrapped in a big bear hug.

I look forward to slipping it on and tying it up, as I feel an immediate sense of calm when I put that thing on. It's something I'm not yet ready to give up--not just yet. I have been scouting a replacement for when that time comes, though, but haven't seen exactly what I'd want. I do have other robes, but they aren't towel robes like this one. One is made of that cottony waffle-like material and is not nearly as soft. The other is a fuzzy material I think might be man-made. It's not as plush and itches my skin. It definitely wasn't meant for use directly after a bath or shower. Neither compares to the usefulness of my old bath robe. And nothing I've seen in stores looks as comfortable. So I'm not quite sure what I'll do if this one ever fully gives out on me. 
But for now, while I still have it, I use it. It's that one thing I can always count on providing exactly what I want when I'm in need of some self-love. If stressed from work, if tired after a long day in the office, no matter the cause, if I'm looking to be self-comforted, that old bath robe helps me do the trick. I realize it's a material possession, but it serves its purpose well. I know exactly where it is at all times so am able to reach out for it when the mood calls for it. Plus, it is harmless. When I reach for it, it's only purpose is to comfort me--not make me fat as comfort food might, not get me drunk as alcohol might, nor judge me as others might if they don't want to hear me rant. That old bath robe helps me rely on myself to feel better during difficult times. And it's especially useful when I just want to lounge around writing in my journal for that extra dose of self-care. 
So tell me, what are your creature comforts? What is the one thing (or the few things) you turn to that provides you with a source of comfort when you're feeling anxious or unsteady? Please post your comments here so we can share our ideas that work.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

ARE YOU CRAZY? Signs you've underpriced yourself

I write a lot about trusting your gut here at BIKE WITH JACKIE. It's something I learned while riding my bike to move past a difficult time in my life. Like a do or die effort, it was learn that or go crazy making the same mistakes over and over again.

On the seat of my bike, I learned to pay closer attention to my instincts. I realized I hadn't been doing that much at all in my prior life. I was not well-practiced and certainly not clearly tuned in to what my inner thoughts might even mean. They mean to protect you (via sensory perception), to steer you back in the right direction, and to lead you away from trouble, whether it's on-coming traffic or mistaken business decisions. 

What I know now is that this takes constant practice. To train your mind to focus on a new and better habit, such as paying attention to warning signs, takes time and lots and lots of continued practice. You have to train your mind to be alert, and the key word is: CONTINUED. You have to keep at it. Otherwise, you slip and wind back up in the nuthouse.

This knock on my noggin came from a recent experience with a now-former client. I took on a job that, in the beginning, I suspected might not be a good fit for various reasons. But this person needed the kind of help I had to offer, and I let ego get in the way. I thought I could help this person achieve the desired result, but I knew it would take a lot of coaxing. And I knew it would take a lot of one-on-one time. I thought this client was prepared for that, and I wanted to be the hero. So I offered a cut-rate deal, thinking we'd get through it soon enough.

What I wasn't expecting was the resistance to the amount of work necessary. And even I didn't know the full scope of the work that would be needed until we got into it, but I was committed. I wanted to help with this project more than I wanted to earn anything from it. That was another mistake on my part. To court personal satisfaction about seeing the person achieve the desired result above courting the bigger paycheck is downplaying the consultant's role, and that's bad business. 

That attitude allowed me to ignored the signs that my deal might have been a good deal on the client's end but not such a good deal on mine. Here's why I know that now. The signs. They were there. I just chose to ignore them: 

_During a discussion of ours early in the process, I called myself a consultant, and the client literally said to me, "Yeah, whatever you want to call yourself..." It was a blatant show of disrespect toward my abilities, and I ignored it so we could get on with the task at hand. There was work to do. Was this insult representative of my low fee? I think it might have been. SOLUTION: If you are ever dissed during a business meeting, chances are the person who dissed you does not respect you. Choose right then and there to acknowledge the comment. Find out where it's coming from. Perhaps the business relationship should end on that note. Perhaps there's something else going on. Whatever it is, you need to know about it so you can move forward successfully. 

_Midpoint, I developed the nagging feeling that I wanted the project more than the client wanted it. There were telltale signs I noted: lack of focus, irritability, work avoidance, distractions, introducing new project ideas with more excitement than placed on the current one. SOLUTION: If this ever happens with a client of yours, call a spade a spade. Ask the pointed question: Do you want this project as much as I do, or not? If any hemming and hawing (another sign) ensues, it's time to cut 'er loose. 

_Finally, if meetings, consultations, get-togethers, or the communication between the two of you feels frequently strained, the only solution is to pay attention to that, notice it, and make sure you've included an exit strategy in your contract. It might be coming from either end. Regardless, it's not the way to do business.

If you continue to underprice yourself by offering discounts where they aren't necessary, taking on clients who can't afford you, or accepting work from those who don't fully appreciate your skills, talents and abilities, you're not doing yourself any favors. And you're only going to drive yourself crazy with second-guessing. This is not the way to grow a business.

SOLUTION: Set your fee and stick to it. As my sister told me: The only discounts worth giving out are the ones you give to long-standing clients. They've earned it.  

What are your thoughts about underpricing? Do you have a story to share that might illustrate another solution to this challenge? If so, post your comment here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Deep thoughts NOT by Jack Handy

I'm guessing you've seen the "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy" on Saturday Night Live. They were a hit back in the 90s. The funny part wasn't that they offered great wisdom. The funny part was that they were presented as if they offered great wisdom. Can't you hear the slow and steady sound of the intro now..."Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy"...followed by the scrolling of his words down the screen?

I'm not sure how deep my own thoughts are going to sound here, and they're not going to scroll or anything cool like that, but I wanted to address a few things that have come up in the news lately. I can't help but wonder why we should care about any of this...

For instance, did you know Kim Kardashian is getting divorced--after less than three months? It's been reported that she made $18 million from her wedding. I'm guessing in wedding photos, stories and access to the tabloid magazines. Do we really care about this? Do we even have to be bombarded with the idea of such nonsense, especially when we know there are families who are in actual need, and yet, this is what we spend our money on? It makes no sense to me.

And did you know that the bickering on "Real Housewives of New Jersey" has only strengthened the public profile of Teresa Guidice, the one person the other cast members seem to despise? Why should we care about that? Do any of you out there even know her? She comes off as arrogant and righteous on TV. Why would she want herself to be portrayed as such to the general public? None of this makes no sense to me, either.

Of course, there's always "news" about the Lohan clan. They can't seem to stay out of jail. It's absurd!

What is it with our obsession with Hollywood and all things artificial? The Real Housewives might be real housewives. But seriously, if you said some of the things these people say to each other and about each other on national TV to your friends, you would have no friends. This is not real, people. This is a show. Even if the ugly behavior is staged or scripted, why do we care? Do these kinds of shows make us feel better about our own lives?

And the Kardashians? They came out of obscurity, became popular because of goodness knows what, and now they make millions. It's ridiculous. But does it mean we care that much about looks? I mean, I think the girls are lovely-looking girls, but they don't represent reality. The rest of us cannot go out there and flaunt our Target-bought fashions to the highest bidder. We can't get a cameraman to follow us around and report on our every move, thank goodness. And no one's going to really care if we divorce the NBA player who may have just married us because of our money. We don't have any money! Some of us don't even have jobs.

As far as the Lohans go, I am hard-pressed to remember the first names right now...

What I want to know about is how are we going to get out of this financial crisis that continues to burden real families in real life, from coast to coast and border to border? I want to hear more stories like the one I watched on TV last night about the oil drilling that's bringing jobs, people and financial security to North Dakota. I want to know that our next presidential election is not going to turn into an embarrassing free-for-all. As far as I'm concerned, no one's qualified to be president of the U.S. These people who want our votes don't seem to care at all about what really matters. What they care about is getting elected and forcing one-sided policies onto everyone, regardless of what those policies mean to the future of this country and the people who live in it. Politics has gone Hollywood. It's glamour. It's pretentious. But it's not real.

So the more I think about it, the more I think I'd rather have Jack Handy's wisdom retake the airwaves. It, too, might have been absurd. But if we're going to be forced to live with fake, it might as well be funny.

What do you think?