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, April 30, 2012

My book takes a trip

A big shout-out to Larry Michon, pictured above, whom I met last April on the rafting trip down the Colorado. This year, he came back to Arizona (from New England) -- with a copy of my book. He's traveling the northern part of the state, looking for rocks. In his spare time, the accountant acts as a rock hound. Now he's acting like a reader. Go Larry! Authors love others to promote their books for them. Monument Valley (pictured above in the background) is a great place to do that.

Have you been to Monument Valley? It's just as picture perfect as his photograph.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Join me for the 2012 WordCount Blogathon!

It's that time of year again.
May 2012 represents the 5th year of Michelle Rafter's 
WordCount Blogathon. Here's sample of this year's badge:

It's also my 5th year participating. We started getting 
our badges three years ago, and they've added an extra 
ounce of fun to the month-long event.
If you haven't been around long enough, let me 
share with you that the annual May Blogathon
offers a whole new dimension to BIKE WITH JACKIE.
I use the 31 days of daily blogging to focus 
on a theme. Since I've recently gotten the sense
knocked back into me, I'm choosing the "bike"
as my theme this May. So I'll be blogging about
all things bike-related. It'll help me stay focused
on the bike, and it'll give you a greater 
appreciation for what those two wheels really mean. 
Expect to see photos of bike imagery I have collected
over the years. Expect to read about other bike blogs,
maybe a few interviews and guest posts. Expect to find 
out what the bike means to the folks I follow on Twitter. 
And when Haiku Day rolls around, you can expect 
to read more Baiku, instead.
It'll be a fun month. We'll keep it upbeat, and 
I'll toss in some inspiration for you as well. You'll 
also be introduced to a whole slew of blogs you 
might not have visited otherwise.  
To find out what exactly this Blogathon is, click on 
the link above. It'll take you to the registration
page, where, if there's still time, you can sign up. 
Also, Michelle invited me to guest post about the event
last week, and she ran the post yesterday. Visit her site 
to find out why I keep signing up for the challenge.
And be sure to keep coming back here to read
all the about the bike. Lance Armstrong may say in 
his book that it's not about the bike. But I say, 
yeah, it really is. 
See you in May when you'll find out what I mean. 

Have you heard of the Tweet Cloud?

Have you heard of TweetCloud? It's one of those applications you use with Twitter to create a cloud of words you've written about or retweeted on Twitter from a chosen time span. Between prepping for the upcoming ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) conference, where I'll be either presenting or moderating for three separate panels, and the need to rest, I stopped by this site to see what it's all about.

Pictured above is the cloud generated for me from the 379 updates I wrote in the past three months. It includes the top 48 words used in my content on Twitter. Why 48? You get to pick the number of top picks, and I chose 48 to represent my age. You also pick the range of time you'd like included in the cloud. I let the program use its defaut--the most current time frame.

It seems to be a good way to know what your focus is on the social media network. You can discern whether or not your message is where it needs to be, relative to your purpose. I am pleased to see the most obvious highlighted words in my cloud are: thanks, love, bike, Arizona, travel, writing. This makes me feel as though I'm representing myself appropriately.

It might be interesting to go back to a time frame where I know this was not the case and compare clouds. For now, however, I have other work to finish.

What do you think you can learn from your TweetCloud? Do you think it would represent you well? If you decide to try it out, come back and post a comment with the link to your cloud and share your thoughts here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Living life with purpose

When Rick Warren's book, A Purpose-Filled Life, first came out (how many years ago?), I bought the hard cover and read it right to the end. What stayed with me more than his overall content, however, was simply the concept -- that we can live a life devoted to our purpose, and that we all have one.

What I've learned since is that when you resist accepting your purpose, when you ignore it, it won't let you. It keeps coming back to you in ways that can seem downright annoying. For example, it'll distract you or make you procrastinate on projects that have little bearing on your purpose. It's trying to tell you something very important: We're wasting daylight here. Get on with your purpose, already!

It's just best to follow the command when it first begins to make its appearance. Otherwise, you can expect further annoyances -- and failures that will make you doubt who you are. That's because you're not behaving like the you that you really are or were meant to be. 

Ideally, you would perk up and listen, then act immediately, right? But, hey, we live in an imperfect world where we make mistakes. At the time his book came out, I was on to my purpose. I had him in sight. I was ready to reel him in and get cooking. But some time after 2010, I let it go. Poof! Just like that.

I got scared. I feared failure. I questioned myself: What if I can't make this work? What if no one wants to hear my story? I don't know what I'm doing!!!

But in the back of my mind, I still believed in my story. I still believed in the message. I still believed I had what it would take to deliver it. And I had all the encouragers I could possibly need. My purpose should have been ready to roll.

But I wasn't. I kept letting ego get in the way.

Even though I had given myself the opportunity to practice my purpose -- to prove myself -- I was looking for approval from the outside, not from within. In order to live a life with purpose, I have come to realize, it doesn't matter what other people believe. It matters only what you believe. Your purpose comes from within you. It's part of who you are. Based on your life experiences, yes. Based on how you respond to them, yes. Based on a host of other things that have little to do with them but everything to do with you and your spiritual connection with the world. Now, Rick Warren says it's not about you. But I'm certain it has to be about you in the sense that you have to come to believe and accept your purpose. If you don't embrace it, you're not going to live it. Trust me on that. That means, whether you live out your purpose or not rests on your shoulders, not anyone else's. All the amount of encouragement -- or discouragement -- you get from anyone else won't matter.

Ultimately, the responsibility rests on your hands, your shoulders, your action.

It's your purpose and your life, and no one else can live that out for you. 

Still, we're in the habit of seeking outside approval, aren't we? From our parents. From our religious leaders. From our friends. From others we mistakenly think might have a say. We do it out of habit and don't even realize that we have all the answers we need within. We just need to listen or pay attention, and then act on it.

That's what my BIKE work was all about. I still believe in the philosophy. I still live it. Now I'm ready to teach it again, but this time to teach it outside the safe confines of this blog or the volunteer work that I've done, or the commercial venues that weren't going to allow me to grow my purpose financially, because they were the wrong venues.

I'm ready to put the package together that will be directed at the right venues, the right market, the right people...people like you who want to be inspired to take positive action for yourself.

If you've been around long enough, you know I've been thinking about this for a while now, and I was thinking I needed to move away from the BIKE. I didn't feel I was clear enough on the message. I thought it was too cumbersome. But that wasn't true. That was my internal struggle talking.

If you're wondering what took me out of the struggle, it's simple. For some reason, I was drawn to the right article at the right time, and that article led me to a person I needed to meet. I found the courage inside of me to introduce myself via an email. I asked for his help (though he didn't know he was helping me, really). And he responded in the way I'd hoped. He said yes, inviting me to speak to his class.

Simple, yes? Well, yes and no. You have to be open to the opportunity. You have to seek it out. You have to be ready to accept the help. And, thankfully, I was.

And then a miracle happened. At least, it felt like a miracle to me. His students responded...not only to the topic I showed up to speak about -- writing travel guides -- but they also wanted to know about my BIKE. This BIKE. The one you come here to read about. The one I'd set aside as a lost cause. And they weren't the only ones. A few days before that, I'd met a woman who wanted to know more as well. One curious inquiry is good. But two or more in the same week? That's not encouragement. That's a sign. And I'm a big believer in signs. The whole BIKE story wouldn't exist with a sign, without a spiritual force guiding me exactly where I needed to go. Yes, I believe in signs -- especially since I hadn't given a BIKE presentation at all in at least a year. I hadn't written much about it, either. I had basically tossed it to the ground, as if I were fed up with it. I wasn't, but I was afraid.
And that fear caused me to redirect myself in the WRONG direction.

That's so annoying.

Turns out this class was acting as the Universe, pushing me when I didn't even know I needed the push. The Universe has known all along what I'm supposed to be doing. And deep down inside of me I knew, too. That's why I was drawn to this instructor. That's why I asked him if I could speak to his class. That's why he said yes. And that's why I'm posting this message today. My glorious God who runs my Universe told me to get back on the seat of my bike and ride. Dammit!

Ride, Jackie ride!

So this is me, embracing the moniker someone gave to me when I first started talking about the BIKE acronym. They called me the BIKE LADY, and they wanted to hear my story. Who am I to deny them? After all, my natural affinity is to inspire people. I've done it all my life without knowing it. Not every single, teenage mom finishes high school or graduates from college as I did. Not every young widow knows how to provide a safe and secure home for her children who are grieving the loss of a second dad, as I did. And not every ex-wife can take the lessons she learned because of a cheating husband and spin them into a positive message like I did -- the one you're reading here. Not every woman comes out of chaos still smiling because she knows how to connect with her inner joy. But I do.

The lessons I've learned from the abuses I've experienced in life, and from the tragedies as well as the triumphs, are lessons that other people can learn from. We are not perfect human beings. We are not exempt from making mistakes, big ones that will affect our lives long-term. But we are capable of learning from our imperfections so that we can do a better job next time around. And that's what my BIKE gives us the opportunity to do -- to get the do-overs.

This is my purpose -- to teach the lessons I have learned so that others behind me can find their own understanding, their own forgiveness, their own joyful life.

I have arrived in the great state of TRUST, where I can trust in the Universe and what the Universe has entrusted me to do. It's that simple.

And if I read your comments over, I can see you've been telling me this all along!

I, apparently, needed just one more push, and I got it while talking about guidebook writing to a small travel writing class last week. When one of the students wrote on an index card I gave them, "You could really be an inspirational speaker," I had to laugh because I already am. It's time to act like it! 

See? Acceptance. We all have a purpose in life. We just first need to recognize it. And then we need to accept it without struggle. 

Last year, when I was writing about my re-branding process, this is where that has taken me.

From here on out, I have a clear purpose -- to guide you, inspire you, lead you to trust in who you really are at your core. That was the lesson I learned from the seat of my bike when I first started riding it back in 2002. And here we are, 10 years later, and the message still rings true.

Just as I did when I began my journey, you, too, can uncover your Best self. You can access your Inner strength. You can pay attention and even act on your Killer instinct. And, yes, you can utilize your Expressive voice. That's what the BIKE is all about. You just have to become aware of it. Once you do, it's all forward movement from here.

We'll continue to talk about that here, and I hope you'll continue to join me for the ride.

And if you like, please share your own story about your struggle with your purpose. I think we've all had one at some time or another. Let's hear yours.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Be Fearless

It's funny how two simple words can inspire an idea. But that's exactly what happened to me this morning -- the day after an already particularly inspiring day -- when I opened a package that revealed those two words on the cover of a book:
Yes, that's exactly the way to live a life. Reach out. Reach up. And breathe in every single moment. Deep breaths. Take it all in -- even the scary stuff.

Most of us shy away or back away from the stuff we aren't sure about or don't know the answers to...yet. But hidden in that word "yet" could very well be surprises that you, alone, would never have dreamed up yourself.

That "yet" is not so out of reach if you are open to what it might take to get there.

Be fearless.

That book title spoke to me in so many unexpected ways. For one thing, I'm so glad I noticed the package sitting outside my door this morning. I didn't remember ordering anything. But then I tore open the thick brown envelope to see what was inside and remembered...My writer friend Alisa Bowman had posted about her upcoming collaborative book project earlier this year on FreelanceSuccess. And there it was -- the review copy I'd requested. Her book project lay perched against my doorstep at the precise minute I needed an inspirational boost to take me where I've been wanting to go. And I wouldn't even have known exactly how I wanted to get here if it were not for the chance I took introducing myself to an ASU writing professor a few months and asking him if I could speak to his travel writing class about guidebooks. I was thrilled when he said yes, and I didn't really know why. I just knew I needed to do exactly what I did.

Be fearless.

The comments I received yesterday from him and his students stayed with me overnight. Then they joined the words in that book title this morning. Some back story entered the picture. And there you go -- an idea emerges.

So where am I going with this? I've decided I'll be teaching inspirational classes. I don't know what they look like yet. I've been doing them in hundreds of different ways already, but these will be more precise, more niche-directed. That's my "yet" to figure out. I don't have all the answers yet, but I do know I'm glad I've been open to reading the signs.

This week has been full of them. All of a sudden my BIKE work has returned to the surface, revealing my talents once again, reminding me that even when you resist what you're supposed to do -- maybe out of fear -- the universe does not forget. It will find a way to pull you back where you're supposed to be, or to set you on the correct path once again. The universe knows you better than you do.

My metaphorical BIKE reminds me to pay attention. I talked about this yesterday with those students. And I told them it's about moving forward. It's about awareness.

And today I was reminded it's also about being fearless.

What's your story about being fearless?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Things that make you go...


You know what I'm talking about -- annoyances -- the things that really test your ability to "let it go."

I'm of the mind that it's okay to express those annoyances sometimes, that it's actually okay to be annoyed with stupid or unnecessary situations. When you stuff those feelings, you know you're just asking for a trip to go nuts.

Besides, no one walks around with a smile on the face all the time -- not even me.

Just ask the person who shall remain unknown by you but should, by now, know that she's annoyed me to no end. Not her fault. She's just doing her job. But, can I say? It's a STUPID ONE! Or the policy is stupid. Whatever the case, here's the backstory:

I am considering taking on a new client. Sort of. Maybe I'll get assignments. Maybe I won't. It's all conjecture, in my opinion. Nothing's set in stone. But first, the client requires a lot of paperwork. They send it to me. It's A LOT of paperwork -- something like 15 documents. I get in half a dozen different emails that are from a name I'm not yet familiar with, as in, not the person I expect to be dealing with directly. At least, not that I know of (Silly me).

Okay, fine. I'm in the middle of other work, I have projects on my desk and trips to plan. Yet, this client wants me to sign all of these documents. Now. Um, I don't have time to read all of those documents and sign them, yet. I have other clients. Actual clients. I tell this person who keeps sending me this stuff that I have to put this paperwork on the to-do list and get through other projects first, and that I'm going out of the country in between. I see no need to rush this. Remember, it's all conjecture. I may or may not get assignments. I just don't feel the need to rush when I need to focus my attention on other things.

This person does not understand or get that and keeps sending more emails -- reminders to fill out all of this said paperwork -- remember, something like 15 documents. She keeps mentioning a position. But there is no position. This is all in case I land an assignment. There is clearly some misscommunication between this person and the person I'd actually be working with, because there is no position. I am not sensing the need to rush this. And I have other work to complete first. Just reading these documents is going to take an entire day. I don't have it right then, and I tell said client that I will do this, that I am reviewing it.

But I get more emails and more emails and still more emails, week after week. I'm getting annoyed, but I'm having to set it aside. I'm out of the country now, and there's no way for me to print this stuff out and send it back. I have no start date. I have no position that I'm trying to fill. There's no assignment! It's all pre- whatever might come next.

But, finally, I return home, I have some time, and I take it when I find a break in my schedule, I take time to print out all of the documentation, review it, decide how I want to proceed, wait a day to think about it, review it again, sign it, find the EXTRA information I didn't know was necessary until I reviewed the documents, and turn it in.

Guess what?

I'm not done yet! There's more. Somehow I've missed something, and have to sign still more or do something else. I do it, according to their request. That works out but is followed up by more questions, which I answer.

But guess what?

There's still more. OMG! I do that also, according to their request.

And, wouldn't you know it?

That gets rejected.  

And...said client wants me to clarify why that is.

Guess what?

OH MY EFFING YOU-KNOW-WHAT...I don't KNOW why that is!

Yeah, by now, I'm starting to get real over it. And, yes, right now, I'm venting. But you know what? Sometimes, you have to be able to express frustration, or you'd go nuts. THIS just happens to be one of those times. This just happens to be one of those things that make you go...


How about you? Do you have anything that you'd like to vent about? Do it here. Do it now. Before you go nuts, too.