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

Saturday, July 21, 2007

What are "they" saying about you?

Anyone who works in the mental health field will tell you that it's important to surround yourself during recovery with people who support you in your goals. Since I tend to believe we're all in recovery at some point in our lives, I think this is true for all of us.

Surround yourself with people who support you in your efforts to grow in all ways: spiritually, financially, physically, mentally, and any other way you're working to heal your life. Dealing with traumatic events, life-changing events, or any other obstacle can be difficult in and of itself; you'll benefit greatly by having friends, family and colleagues beside you or with you in thought and spirit to cheer you on.

I was reminded about that this morning, after telling a writer friend of mine about my upcoming trip to Kenya. I was so pleased to get this e-mail from her in my box today:

"That is so cool! I cannot even begin to express how proud I am of you. I remember when things were not so great for you a few years ago, and you were wondering how you would get through. You've not only gotten through, but you've flourished!"

While I believe this to be true of myself, it's a wonderful testament to know that someone other than myself, someone whose been through her own ordeal, believes that and took the time to send her thoughts to me. What wonderful words she offered?! They're a gift. Thanks Wojo!

In order to make such words even more meaningful, I keep all the kudos I get in a file. On the days I'm feeling not so great or overwhelmed, I try to remember to take a look inside that file and remember what's so great about me.

What are people saying about you? Do you know yourself what's so great about you? Think about keeping your own list as a reminder. When you get praise and thanks from others, treat the words with the spirit of love, because that's how they arrived. And place the kind words in a file where you can easily retrieve them on days when they can come in handy a second or third time.

When "they're" saying good things about you, that's a gift that keeps on giving, because even if you forget to save the words somewhere, they'll still be in your heart and mind. Don't let yourself forget them.

All my best,

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Let's talk exercise

Even if you think you abhor the word, keep reading.

Exercise, of course, is a good thing. I know you know that, but let me share with you a story that might nudge you a little bit closer to getting on that bike, going for that walk, or digging out those yoga tapes.

I've mentioned that I found my special brand of BIKE while going through my divorce. I found it while riding an actual bicycle. A year on an old Huffy (and then two years on the Trek 4300 when I wore the Huffy down) taught me many lessons. One of the more important lessons learned came from this story:

The year before chaos hit at my house, I had gained 40 pounds. Some of you may not think that's a lot, but on my tiny frame, that was a lot of excess weight to carry around. And I felt it. I felt heavy. I felt unhealthy. I felt, well, I felt fat!

And when you feel fat, you start thinking fat. Even my son made fun of the size of my butt. And I'd laugh it off. Sometimes, that's how you deal when you're not really dealing. My head was telling me, "Oh, what's the use? It's too hard to try to do anything about it." I know some of you have felt like this, and it's not a good place to let your thoughts wander. That's dangerous territory -- physically, mentally, spiritually, and even sexually.

You don't have the energy to exercise, so you don't. You let the negative self-talk override anything that could be positive. You're probably not praying or feeling anything remotely close to faith in a higher power. And sex? If you're not in line with the prior three, the later is probably not even close to happening. And if it is, it's probably not very satisfying. So what's the point, right?

The point is that you're missing out.

I know. Because I was that person. I was missing out. It was as if I'd flat-lined on a gurney. I mean, there was nothing going on in my life. If there was joy to be found, I sure didn't know where to look.

I was too busy opening cupboard doors.

Even though I'd never been a snacker before, I was snacking during the last year before my marriage ended. Things were falling apart at my house. I had become a woman who was turning to food for the comfort I wasn't getting from my spouse at home. He was hardly home, anyway. And even when he was home, he wasn't. What was even worse was this: I wasn't paying attention. I was ignoring. And I was telling myself that things would get better. But I was NOT doing anything to make it better. I was simply getting by, biding time, waiting things out. Waiting for what, exactly, I don't know. But my head was not in an active mode, that's for sure.

There's more to the story than this, but I started to become more aware the day I stepped on a scale at the gym and saw that number. It was 40 pounds more than I'd ever weighed, and I knew then that something was wrong. An alarm went off inside my head that warned, "Jackie, you have to admit, that's not good."

When I started riding, it wasn't long before I started to notice the changes -- not just in my body, but in my head.

Within two months, I could see the belly bulge disappearing. I realized I no longer felt the skin around my middle smacking my leg as I pedaled. I knew that was a good thing. It felt like progress.

I could think clearer, I had more energy, and I felt lighter.

That was in 2002. Here it is 2007, and I still remember what it felt like to not only feel sluggish but also to behave sluggishly. I am now aware of what my body feels like when I'm not taking care of it. I now know I absolutely do not like that feeling. So when I have my moments of inactivity, when life feels too rushed to find time to exercise, it's not long before I notice that familiar slug-like feeling. That's enough to motivate me to get back on the bike, get back on a routine hiking schedule, or hop on the exercise ball. I'll do anything to avoid moving backwards for long. I do not ever want to return to where I was at. It was not a good place to be, not for anyone.

But some of us have to know what the bad feels like before we can appreciate the good, I guess.

So I now pay attention to how my body feels. I pay attention to what I'm doing to take care of it, and I know when I falter, the faltering moments won't last too long.

That's what BIKE is about. It's not about being perfect. It's about realizing when you're not doing your absolute best -- because you know yourself well enough to know what that really is -- forgiving yourself when you falter, and getting back on track. The special brand of BIKE that I'm sharing with you offers you not an excuse to make mistakes but an acceptance of those mistakes and a reason to move past them...simply because you can and because it's the best action to take.

Your mantra today: I am human. I make mistakes. But I still know how to move forward.

All my best,

Monday, July 16, 2007

Read anything good lately?

Finding your way in life is a journey not meant only for yourself. We're here to live life with others, in the spirit of togetherness.

In business, a manager might call that teamwork.

Six months ago I spoke to a community college president for an article I was working on; it was actually an assignment to write short profiles of six or seven successful women involved in Arizona public policy. This particular woman told me during our phone visit that she gave assigned reading to her employees, but not just any reading. She assigned them the current best-selling business books to read, and then they met to discuss what they learned so they could apply the principals to their work. This was only the second time I'd heard of a college president doing that. From our conversation, I learned that she also understood we are meant to work together for the good of all. That's what really makes us successful. Her story inspired me.

In my life, I've known many people who did not seem to understand this concept.

How many times, for instance, have you seen a couple at a restaurant, a nice restaurant even, not say a single word to each other as they waited for their meals to arrive. And then afterwards, while waiting for the bill, they still said nothing! I've observed this many times. And the sad looks I've seen on some of these faces usually said it all. I've often wondered why communication seems so difficult. It doesn't have to be, particularly not with those people in our lives, our loved ones or co-workers, who rely on us. If we chose to say what needs to be said and choose to allow this from others -- without judgment -- that decision can lead to more meaningful relationships all the way around.

If you're in need of learning how to take care of yourself in this way, by speaking up when you need to, I recommend reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Even if you don't agree with the spiritual nature of the story behind his lessons, you'll likely agree with the lessons themselves: be impeccable with your word; don't take anything personally; don't make assumptions; always do your best.

Finding your mental BIKE requires this kind of input, and awareness is key to the knowing. Your mental BIKE rides, when taken daily, will lead you not only to where you really are in your head but also to where you really want to be.

All my best,

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I believe it does take a village

I just found out my daughter is moving back home after a living a little more than two years in another town, another state, another job.

The move back is unexpected but welcomed. It'll be nice to have my not-so-little girl close by again. My son, her brother who moved with her, plans to stay behind; he likes his life. (But I cannot help but wonder if his attitude will change once she's gone. Ummm.)

What brings her home is unimportant other than it shows me how well she can handle a challenge. She's found herself indirectly involved in a life-changing experience, and she's taking responsibility for helping make the transition go as easily as possible, not just for herself, but also for those nearest and dearest to her, such as her brother, who would otherwise be left in the lurch.

She knows it takes more than one person for chaos to occur in a relationship. And she knows how to focus on the solution rather than drain all her energy on the problem. That doesn't mean she doesn't vent. Trust me. I've heard it all. But that's okay. We all need those shoulders, and more importantly, we need to know where we can find them. I'm glad she knows.

I hope you know where your support system can be found. If you don't, today I encourage you to start looking. We are not alone on this journey. My son reminded me of that several years ago, and I can still hear his voice in my head when I need to be reminded again. "You are not alone, mom!" he said to me during one particularly angst-filled morning. His words were so comforting to hear at that moment, and I've never forgotten them. Just as that bicycle sitting my garage appeared at the precise moment when I needed it, his words did as well, and I know they came from a source greater than ourselves.

That's also why I know BIKE is more than just a ride; it's a spiritual ride. The time you have alone with yours will help you find your metaphorical village. Wherever your support might be, all you have to do is be open to the embrace when it arrives.

Enjoy the rest of your day not only knowning but also believing, "You are not alone."


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Can the ride lead to laughter?

I've been gone a bit longer than intended, but I hope you haven't forgotten to ride. If you're still asking what that is, simply put, your ride is how you interpret your life. Is it good, bad, neutral? Are you having a good day, a bad day, a so-so day? How do you want to interpret your day? Remember, you are the navigator.

Here's a tip I just learned at a speakers' convention this past week:

On those so-called bad days that may begin with you in a cranky mood, don't get out of bed without first acknowledging your mood and then asking: What's the BEST that can happen?

Did you notice the difference? Aren't we used to saying, "What's the worst that can happen?"

Today, let's switch it up and ask the opposite. Put positive focus on your thoughts and observe the changes in your mood. Sneaky, huh?

When you consider that you only wake up cranky if you choose to wake up cranky, you give yourself back the power to decide. When you start paying attention to your moods, your thoughts, your habits, you open yourself up to awareness. And more importantly, you open yourself up to your personal power -- the power to choose.

Today, embrace that power and choose to smile.

What's to smile about, you may ask. My answer: create your own list.

Here's my short list from this morning:

good health
my dog asleep at my feet
singing karaoke with my speaker friends from France and Portland
a messy desk
a car that needs cleaning so I get to use the power sprayer

From your own self-exploration, you'll see there's much to smile about every single day. Put your focus on that instead of on that which makes you frown. Problems make you frown. Solutions, however, make you smile.

If you want to feel the power even deeper within yourself, do what my Phoenix speaker friends Kitty Wiemelt and Kathleen Thoren, both laughter leaders, might suggest: laugh out loud.

So, yes, when you take charge, when you set the course in a forward-moving direction -- even if you don't go far at first -- your BIKE ride will not only lead to laughter but even the detours along the way will bring smiles.

How's that for centrifugal force?

All my best,