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, December 31, 2008

Find your refuge in 2009

On a visit to Jerome this past year, I stayed over night at the Surgeon's House. The owner has created a refuge for the guests who join her. The rooms are decorated with keepsakes from her childhood and local artist paintings of the historic home. The breakfasts she makes out of love; you can taste it in the way she presents it and serves it to you on china with silver and ironed linens in a dining room filled with antique furnishings.

The community space includes handcrafted iron railings, balconies, secret gardens, and hidden walkways like the one pictured above. This one begins at a gate that opens up to a fence lined with rustic Noah bells. Ring them, and the sound is said to release negative energy and help inspire the day ahead. At the far end sits a bench where you can rest, reflect and observe your surroundings.

Located high up on a hill, you can see the former ghost town-turned artists' community down below. You can see the red rocks of Sedona and the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff in the distance. Behind you is a mountain with the big white letter J painted on the side. In front of you are koi ponds, fountains and various plants and flowers that mostly bloom year-round: jasmine, rose bushes, day lillies, gardenias, irises, daisies and more.

Each morning, you'll find the owner of this B&B in her kitchen, sitting at a table with her legs crossed, meditating over tarot cards. She lights candles and incense, surrounds herself with beautiful things, and this is how she begins her day. She understands the importance of finding your refuge, knowing who you are at your inner core, becoming aware. She's created a space to do that for herself and where you can come to do the same.

Invited to stay with her, I was working on my trave guide when I was in Jerome this last time. I've vowed to return to this hilltop site another time, however, as I felt an inner peace there that I couldn't quite fully reach as I was working and interviewed her and the guests she invited over for me to meet. My next journey there will be more about reflection. A weekend retreat could provide that, and I know I'll return there this year. I'm drawn, and when I'm drawn somewhere, I listen and follow.

In the year ahead, think about where you'll go to find your refuge, what you'll do, how you'll fit it into your tight schedule. If something's been calling out to you in your subconscious, give the call a voice. Let it be heard. It's clearly telling you something important.

Perhaps it's saying you need time alone. No matter how difficult it may seem, trust this is true. Yes, you work all day and then may have to prepare dinner for the family in the evenings. Yes, you must get the kids to after-school activities. And, yes, there is shopping to do and your favorite TV shows to watch. Don't forget there is also a YOU to look after. Finding your refuge is one small step you can take to do that in 2009.

I hope you'll have a happy new year.

P.S. If you visit me at The Phoenix Traveler, you can enter a giveaway for a special treat from the Montelucia Resort.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How to find focus in four easy steps

I'm working on a long-term project that has required my utmost attention as of late. I've run into a few snafus with my concentration levels. In other words, I've slacked off. In order to find the focus I need to complete this task, I've had to do several things.

If you're in need of finding focus for a project you're working on, maybe you'll benefit from these tips:

1) Walk away. Listen to what your mind and body are telling you. Sometimes, you just need to break away from a big project. Rather than fight the procrastination, embrace it. Do something else. Go shopping for those grocery items you need to restock in the fridge. Clean that bathroom. Do the laundry. Ride your bike. No matter what other task you decide to take on, it will help you clear your mind. When you come back to the original task, you'll be refreshed and able to move forward on the job.

2) Start small. Stop thinking about the immensity of the project you need to complete. Hone in on one small part of it, and do that first. Then hone in on another small part of it, and do that. Before you know it, you will have completed a larger piece of the project than you would have thought you could.

3) Think big. Now you can consider the job in its finished form. What will it look like when you finish it? Is this a project that will have your name on it? Will you achieve recognition because of this job? Accept the potential impact and how you will affect that. Be proud of what you've achieved, the trust others have given to you. Be pleased with your progress as it is now so that you can honor what it will be when complete.

4) Sit down. If you continue to feel the urge to move away from your desk and away from the piles of work yet to do, don't. Stay seated. The contradictions in our mind during a difficult project are similar to the contradictions that play out in any difficult moment. The yes/no, the back and forth. These struggles are meant to test you. Show this project that you are worthy. Show this project that you are capable. And then do the work.

5) BONUS: Repeat steps 1-4. Whatever it takes, you've earned the responsibility to move from start to finish. Honor the responsibility by taking on the obstacles that get in the way, even if one of those obstacles is you. It's not uncommon to engage in self-sabotage for fear of success. Whether your obstacles are real or imagined, caused by yourself or others, leading you down a path that takes you further away from progress, decide today to face them head on.

Only then can you find your focus.

If you're experiencing a challenge right now, what steps are you taking to overcome it? Post a comment and let us know. Your thoughts may be useful to someone else who joins us here at BIKE WITH JACKIE (BWJ).

Thanks for visiting. If you'd like to subscribe to BWJ, you can find the subscription icon on the right-hand side of the page. Scroll down and when you find it, click on the appropriate link, and add your e-mail address. It's that simple.

All my best,

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Serenity Prayer--the original

When I look at the photo above, I see a beautiful pasture in front of me. With mountains in the distance and all the green and blue shades, it's a very serene-looking view. Actually, it's a golf course in Tubac, Ariz., but the lodgepole fence makes me think of it differently. If you saw this particular place in person, you might feel the serenity as well. It's a peaceful spot, with a lot of history that has more to do with horses and cattle than it does golf. Tubac, in fact, is Arizona's oldest European settlement, as I recall reading.
As I looked at this photo today, it reminded me of the Serenity Prayer, a four-line stanza I can never quite remember exactly. So I looked it up on Google this morning. To my surprise, I discovered the serenity prayer I thought I knew at least part of wasn't even half of what it really is in its entirety. I didn't know, till today, that there is more to this prayer.
So, here it is, in its entire and original form, the prayer as it was written by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)...

"The Serenity Prayer"
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Today, I needed this reminder. If you are ever in need of the same, here it is. Take time to reflect on these words. They can and will make a difference in your perspective.
All my best,

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The fight against procrastination

I've been procrastinating.

I have a huge project that has been going on for too long, and I'm tired of it. So now I've resorted to procrastination as I'm nearing the finish. How absured is that?!

I need to stop it, and I need to stop it now, if procrastination is or has been your constant companion on the very days it shouldn't be, what tricks or advice have you used that actually worked to beat this productivity monster?

If you'll share your thoughts here, it might help not only me but other readers as well.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday greetings from The Phoenix Traveler

If you haven't had time to check out my travel blog--or, if you didn't know I wrote one--I've posted a few holiday posts today. It's Christmas Eve, if you'd kindly gift me with a click of the mouse, I'd appreciate it:

Luminarias in Phoenix.
A holiday hike in the mountain preserve.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Reasons to ride a bicycle: Reason #4

For the challenge, for awareness, for time alone...these are three good reasons to ride a bike. The fourth--and final (on this list)--is even better.

Reason #4: It will act as your reminder.

Remember that phrase, "It's like riding a bicycle, you never forget." That phrase applies here as well, in terms of the mental aspect of riding a bike. What happens on the road, doesn't stay on the road. It comes home with you. It stays with you because it's now embedded in your mind.

You remember your thoughts, your concessions, your decisions. The mind-body connection takes over. That's how I transformed what, for me, started out as a metal bike into a "mental" BIKE. As I thought about who I had been, who I was, and who I wanted to be, I realized there were ways that I had behaved in my past that wasn't the me I knew I was. I began striving for the better me.

I wanted to laugh again, to love again, to trust again. I wanted to believe I could have good things in my life. I wanted to believe I didn't have to live the soap opera life for one minute more. But it all had to begin with who I was and how I defined myself. I needed healing.

Just as a deep physical wound can heal, so, too, can a mental wound. There may be scars left as reminders, but reminders are a good thing. They tell you how far you've come, and they tell you what not to do again, because, clearly, it didn't work before.

I was too fearful of challenges before. I wasn't paying attention before. I wasn't taking care of myself properly before. And I wasn't sure about who I really was. I hadn't really given much thought to that. I'd just been going through life in survival mode. That's what I'd learned to do best. But it wasn't the best I could do.

From the seat of my bike, I took a good, hard look inside myself and saw areas that needed improvement. Once I realized where improvements could be made--for one thing, by taking that moral inventory I mentioned earlier--I could begin the real work. Not only that, but I realized I wasn't alone in this process, that I had a spiritual advisor who would help hold me accountable. Some people might call that conscience, but if you're a spiritual person, you know you have a higher power to act as your scaffold. You, alone, do not have all the answers.

When you reach the ability to believe this, you can release the mental chains that pull you down and begin to embrace the freedom found in abundance. Abundance comes from self-love, and I don't believe you can have self-love without your higher power living within your heart. I really don't. I don't define that for anyone other than myself, but that's my belief for me, for how I expect to achieve success.

It's a worthy endeavor to seek personal development and improvement in our lives. But it requires a reminder. Just as a business needs to reevaluate its performance, so, too, does the individual. To hold yourself accountable requires something to remind you of what you're seeking to achieve. My bike did that for me...and still does to this day. Every time I ride, I remember what I've learned about myself. I remember how I expect myself to behave. I remember who I am at my core. But I don't have to ride to be able to go through the letters one at at a time:

B--Who am I when I'm being my Best self?
I--How deep do I need to go for that Inner strength today?
K--Am I listening, am I in tune with my feelings, have I connected with those Killer instincts?
E--Have I spoken up, reached out, asked for help by using my Expressive voice?

The bike I rode became the BIKE in my head. Every time I'm now faced with a new challenge, my special brand of BIKE acts a reminder for me to connect with my core being so that I respond in ways that move me forward. It allows me to be the person I know I was meant to be. It's there for me whenever I need it. I don't have to ride to find it now. It's there, with me, always. It's the spiritual navigation tool that leads me to live a life that I deserve.

Isn't that the best reason to ride a bike?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Reasons to ride a bicycle: Reason #3

While the lessons I learned from the seat of my bike seem endless, I've narrowed the list down to four main reasons why I still ride. I've posted two of them already here at BIKE WITH JACKIE and have two more to share with you this week. In two prior posts, I mentioned how riding a bike can be a challenge and also teach awareness. Today, I explain the importance of time alone with your thoughts and how a bike can provide that time for you.

Reason #3: It will serve as a refuge.

As wives, as mothers, as parents, as friends, as co-workers, as employees, as bosses, as everything that we are and have ever been in life, those of us who have learned to be caretakers frequently forget to take care of the one person who counts the most in our lives--us.

We forget we count, too. Women, especially, seem so willing to give up on taking care of number one in lieu of taking care of everyone else in our world. Everyone else, even the family pet, seem to come first. How can you begin to make time for yourself then, to begin redirecting attention inwardly.

You can start riding a bike. Provided it's not a tandem, pedaling a bicycle along a quiet path is something you can do alone. For as long as possible. For as long as you need. Daily, if you can.

When I first rediscovered the bike in my garage, I don't know exactly why, but I started riding it. In fact, I was drawn to it. There wasn't much thinking involved, thank goodness. Recently separated from my husband of 10 years, I was too numb at the time. When I woke up in the morning, or got out of bed, I would immediately get dressed, put on a pair of tennis shoes, and go for a ride. It became as automatic as making a pot of coffee. It became equally as important to the start of my day. It didn't matter if I'd been up all night crying. It didn't matter if I'd been unable to sleep and watched black & white movies on cable TV all night long. Just as soon as I decided to get up, I knew I'd ride. I was prepared for it.

I literally moved past my divorce from the seat of my bike.

It served as my refuge. It was that one place where I could go and no one followed. It was that one place where I could cry out loud, laugh to myself, or sing if I wanted to, and no one else heard me or judged me.

The time I spent on the seat of my bike provided me with time to ponder, time to consider, time to wonder, time to dream, time to see things from a perspective that was mine and mine alone. It also allowed me to step back from my own thoughts and consider the input I recieved from others. People are always quick to tell you what to do, how to feel, what to say in times of stress or turmoil.

That time alone saved me from later saying or doing things I might have regretted, because, as you know, what works for some doesn't work for all. From the seat of my bike, I learned what would work for me. For one thing, just because my then husband may have said something childish to me, I didn't want to respond to him in the same way. Perhaps ignoring him was the best response. I could think that through from the seat of my bike. My sister would have preferred I use a few choice words, but that isn't my style. I learned to get clear with the message that needed to get out versus the message that might have gotten out had I not taken the time to think it through first. Time alone is good for that.

My bike rides also gave me a safe and healthy place to release my anxiety. As I stretched my body to push past those steep hills I'd confront every few miles, I saw the hill as my soon-to-be (or not soon enough) ex, or his divorce attorney. When I could see that I had left that nasty old hill behind, that symbolized to me that I'd reached another milestone. I'd taken care of myself yet another time. I was going to survive the trauma. In fact, I was going to be all the more stronger because of it.

I may not have recognized that without having the time alone to think through the ordeal for myself. It's easy to be pulled along by others when you're hurting or feeling defeated. But when you turn inward, look inward, and see for yourself what you're really made of, confidence compells you to act in a way that will leave you feeling better not bitter.

If someone wrongs you, no matter who it is or why, it's important to take the time to consider how you will respond so that you don't feel victimized but instead feel victorious. From the seat of my bike, I gave myself that time. The rides were my refuge from other people's thoughts about what I should or shouldn't do. For once, I gave myself time to decide what was best for me.

Isn't that also a good reason to ride?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Reasons to ride a bicycle: Reason #2

Yesterday, I wrote about one good reason to ride a bike: for the challenge. You will test your limits. You will see growth as it occurs. And that brings me to the next reason to ride a bike.

Reason #2: You'll find awareness.

From the seat of my bike, I learned that awareness is key to all growth, and that a bike can act as the vehicle that attracts this awareness. As I rode, I had to pay attention . I learned to tune into my surroundings. If I didn't do that, I could have gotten hit by a car, run a stop sign, or driven off into a ditch.

And I had to be prepared for this awareness to occur. I had to keep my eyes and ears open. I had to observe. I had to listen. Since there were no distractions, other than what was going on outside of me, it forced me to let go of what was going on inside.

Or, if I wanted to pay attention to that, then I could actually hear my own self-talk, maybe for the first time. In the beginning, what I heard were garbled negative messages. "He's going to leave me. We're going to get divorced. No, maybe we won't. What will I do if we do?" The messages went on and on like that. I realized I was focused on fear, which got me nowhere. My rides were shorter at that time.

From the seat of my bike, however, as I added on the miles, I learned to let go of that nonsense. What did it matter what he was going to do? He cheated--and not just once, but repeatedly. No one deserves that. I didn't deserve that. So I learned to focus not on what he said we'd do--We'll work it out, he'd once told me--but rather what he was actually doing--He left. And then I learned to let him go and focus on me, instead.

That was difficult to do. It took lots and lots of meetings with my therapist and many, many conversations with other people for me to realize what I needed to do for me. I'd put my faith in this man, in the ideal picture that he painted for me of our family. But he lied. He hadn't earned my trust.

And though I felt as though I was losing a lot, I learned to pay attention to how I felt inside and to be okay with those feelings. Of course, I was losing something. But I gained something I didn't even realize I'd lost--my life. Where, in the beginning, I felt like little more than a shell of a woman, now I was beginning to refill that shell--one part of me at time. And those parts involved accepting how I really felt about what was happening to me. I learned to become aware of what it felt like to feel sadness, fear, anger, the miniscule amounts of joy that would seep in every now and then. I learned to cry for myself, for the little girl inside of me, for the loss of what once was. And I learned to embrace what was happening now.

If I felt anger, I learned not to be so quick to shut it aside. I started listening to it and to access where it came from. Was it because of something he said or did? Was it because of something I said or did? Was it because I was acting out of spite or behaving too timidly? I learned to consider my motives before taking action or responding to requests. I learned to trust that my response would be appropriate for me.

I also realized that I had to stay ahead of the game we were now playing. Even though I didn't like this game--I hadn't asked to play it, and I certainly didn't know all the rules--I learned to trust that I'd know what to do when it was my turn to move. I began to pay attention to my own intelligence.

My bike rides gave me the time I needed to consider my options. They also taught me just how important awareness is to who we are at our core. The rides allowed me to forget trusting him and learn to trust myself. The time on my bike taught me to be cautious and led me to reconnect with my instincts in ways I never had before. I had not learned how to pay attention to my gut, because my childhood had not prepared me for that.

I learned this important skill while riding my bike.

If you think you could benefit from learning how to pay attention, to become aware, to listen to what your mind, body and soul tells you, it might be a good idea to get a bike. You can transfer what you need to do for survival on the seat of your bike into what you need to do to survive your life at home or at work. That's what I did, and it saved my life.

Don't you think that's a good reason to ride a bike?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Reasons to ride a bicycle: Reason #1

It's true I rode a bicycle to move past a long and lonely three-year divorce. In so many ways, it was a tough ride. On some days, it was pure escape. But on the seat of that bike, I learned a lot of lessons.

Breaking those down, this week I'll post four reasons why you might want to start riding yourself. You can benefit your life in many ways by riding a real "metal" bike of your own. If you're open to it, it will lead you to the "mental" one.

Here's Reason #1--It's both a physical and mental challenge

If it's been a while since you've ridden, or if you haven't ridden a bike since you were a child, especially if you're out of shape, just considering riding a bike can be a frightening move to make.

No matter if you choose a mountain bike, a road bike, or a hybrid of some sort, once you accept the challenge, you'll gain a new respect for yourself. That's because it will take discipline and focus to ride daily. It will take time out of your schedule. You may have to juggle a few things around to fit your rides into the day.

When I first pulled my old bike out of the garage, I consciously committed myself to daily rides. They took me places where I never thought I could go. That's the benefit of a challenge; it tests what you can handle.

I started out with very short rides but soon worked my way up to very long ones. I went from being able to ride just one mile to as many as 20. I also wasn't very strong physically in the beginning--and I was overweight. I wasn't sure I could push myself up over those hills ahead. When I saw them at first, I wanted to turn back. I didn't want to confront what I saw then as a difficulty. But I paced myself. And soon, I was riding right past those hills, just waiting for the next one, ready to stand up and push harder if need be.

I didn't feel very good about myself in the beginning, either. My husband had just left me for another woman. I wasn't sure I was good enough, pretty enough, smart enough. I was at my lowest low. But the bike helped me turn that attitude around. I lost weight. I gained physical strength. And I felt better about who I really was on the inside.

It was symbolic to what I was going through in my divorce. The truths, the confrontations, the legal paperwork. It was all very daunting, and I didn't want to face any of it. Just as I had on my bike, I had to figure out a way to pace myself.

I had to learn what tools I'd need to keep moving forward. On the bike, I needed a pump to keep going, and a few other tools as well. For the divorce, I needed a lawyer, and a financial advisor. I also had to learn how to keep myself operating at my best. Just as my bike required tune-ups and regular maintenance, I needed to see my therapist once a week to keep going.

The parallels helped me see a strength in my character that I had forgotten I had. That's what taking on a new challenge can do for you. It can prove to you that you can do it, that you can push past the struggles, that you can move forward, especially when you think you can't. And then you'll begin to notice that you can. The word "can't" won't even enter your consciousness any longer--other than to realize you aren't even thinking that way any more. That's such a eye opener!

And it's good reason to ride a bike.

No matter what, we'll all be tested at some point or another in our lives. Riding a bike will help you see that you can meet the challenge, that you can handle it, and that the outcome will be whatever you need it to be--or close enough to hold your head up high. That's called self-respect.

Isn't that a good reason to ride a bike?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Free yoga classes

Feeling stressed out? Need a break from your holiday planning? Visit my travel blog this week and enter a contest to win a free pass to At One Yoga studio in Phoenix or Scottsdale. If you'll be in town soon or live here, why not give it a try. I'm giving away two passes this week. But you have to post a comment at The Phoenix Traveler to have a chance to win.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Self-improvement: the journey begins with you

About this time of year, we begin to examine what we've accomplished in the past. Whether it's this past year, the past five years, or in our lives up to now. Some of us will come up with New Year's Resolutions. Some of us will just create a list of more things to do. And some of us will continue moving through life without a plan.

I'm a planner myself. I like to have an idea of where I'm going before I set off on the trail to find whatever it is I'm looking for. I do kind of like to know what's up ahead. But sometimes, that's not possible. Up ahead may be obstacles I'm not aware of or don't know might step out in front of me, trying to block the way.

If this happens to you, do you know how you will respond? Will you accept the obstacle for what it is and work toward figuring out a way around it, over it, or under it? Will you stumble and not know which way to turn? Will you stand still, paralyzed from fear or shame or guilt? Perhaps you just might sit down right there on the path and wait for someone to come and show you the way out.

If you intend to continue moving forward in 2009, it might be a good idea to get to know your personal philosophy when it comes to dealing with obstacles. There is no wrong or right answer; it just has to do what will work best for you in your situation. And it's a good idea to have options to consider, so you have processes to can test to find your answer.

With the world economy the way it is, we can all relate to a bit of uncertainty that may not have been there this time last year. The benefit of this is that it means we are not alone. I think that's a good message to take with you into the new year. Know that you are not alone.

As you continue to improve your life, creating the success you know you deserve, help me help you and others out there to create a plan that will work for each of us. In order to move beyond the obstacles that we have experienced in the past, are dealing with now, or might face in the future, post a comment today. Tell me about the strategies you've found most helpful to overcome any of the following:

_a divorce
_the loss of a job
_death of a close relative
_guilt from past mistakes
_unresolved relationship issues
_difficult work environment
_financial concerns
_overscheduled calendar
_transportation problems
_household budget challenges

At some point or another in my life, I've experienced all of the above, and I can tell you from this experience that you will never be without a challenge of some kind. Life comes with lots of layers. That's what makes it most interesting. You'll confront good things, sometimes really awful times, and frequently surprising outcomes. Although we may not always know how to prepare for something that might be upsetting, might seem difficult to handle, or might result in joy we didn't even know to expect, the unknowns won't matter so much if you're prepared to respond, no matter what.

Together, we can offer suggestions, thoughts and ideas that might help. You see, it's called self-improvement for good reason. That's where the journey begins.

Thanks, in advance, for your comments.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A photo to soothe your soul

It's such a small image from the entire scene that summer day in Prescott, but it speaks to me without words. And sometimes, we need that.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Will a bad economy unleash the bullies?

As you know, I focus my BIKE work around challenges we face in our lives. One them may involve bullying.

It's been in the news a lot recently. Most of those stories, however, have centered around bullying children. An article I read online last week suggests bullying might even become more of a problem in the workplace now, because people are under stress from the economic downturn. This is happening worldwide. To get to the bottom of this issue and what we can do about it, I asked someone I know to see what she had to say.

The person I turned to, Jean McFarland, specializes in dealing with culture-based conflict among employees. She's recently published a book about the topic, called BULLIES AMONG US: What To Do When Work's No Fun, in which she addresses the topic, its challenges, and the possible solutions to combating what could be, if this news report is accurate, an escalating problem for employers in the coming months.

If you happen to be one of those employers, if you're an employee dealing with bullying, if you've ever been affected by bullying behavior, you might be interested in what Jean has to say:

Based on the article that suggests bullying in the workplace could become more of a problem now, what's your view?
I wouldn’t say bullying is caused by the current economic situation, but I would say the added stress of the economic situation aggravates already existing situations and intensifies bullying. We will see more and worse cases of bullying, but perhaps less action, both from a legislative standpoint and within organizations, as people focus on what they see as bigger problems [economic].

If, as your book states, two out of five employees experience bullying in the workplace, and if 64 percent of those targeted by bullies are driven to quit their jobs, why isn't this more of a concern to employers?
I think your underlying question is Why do employers keep bullies despite the fact that almost 40% of employees have experienced bullying and 64% of targets are driven out of their jobs? There are multiple reasons. Here are a few:

-The vast majority of workplace bullies are “bosses” of their targets. Therefore they have power and are more likely to be believed.
-The boss’ superior doesn’t want to admit he/she made a mistake in hiring the bully
-A blind eye is turned by all toward bullying behaviors as simply “differences in personality” or “that’s just the way he/she is.”
-Many organizations have no policy in place for dealing with bullies.
-Employers don’t know the real cost of workplace bullying.

As a target of bullying yourself, how did you respond?
When I was bullied in various workplaces, I didn’t know about workplace bullies. That seems strange to me now. How could I not know? But I find that people still don’t recognize the behavior they have tolerated as being bullying. People at my presentations make comments such as “I didn’t know I was bullied. I thought I just had a really mean boss.” Upper-management people who have read my book express their ah-ha’s when they realize that some really difficult people they have had to work with or for were actually bullies toward them.
My response was always to try harder to get along with the individual and to try to improve my productivity. Of course, that is exactly the wrong response toward bullies. In turn, they step up their bullying activities. As with the majority of targets, eventually I separated from the bully—either I left or, in one case, the bully left.

Do you see a correlation between those who are bullied at home and those who are bullied at work?
This is a difficult question. Workplace bullies generally target people or teams whom they find threatening and/or superior to them in some way. I believe domestic bullies are likely to be workplace bullies.

In one of your personal stories cited in the book, you mentioned that you'd lost respect for the boss. Does that make the situation worse for the target?
Does loss of respect for the boss make the situation worse? In the case you reference, I don’t know if my boss understood I had lost respect for him or if it made any difference to him. I believe he had been a bully before he met me and would be a bully to someone wherever he was. Many bullies are serial bullies. In fact, research shows that after targets leave, some bullies adopt a new target within 30 minutes.

For the 39 percent of those who are bullied, those who you say file complaints, what is the usual result of this? How encouraging is this for the target?
To date, results are discouraging. The situation is often made worse for the target. This is why I wrote BULLIES AMONG US. I want targets and managers to know they can take actions themselves against bullying, because they probably won’t receive much help.

What is the number one thing the target can do when first approached by a bully?
Of course, this varies with the situation. One of the 8 actions to take that I name in my book is to Make a Decision whether or not, given the situation, the target wants to confront the bully. If so, I suggest having witnesses. Definitely, I would suggest writing down all the details of the incident. In my book, I present a form that targets can use to keep a record of all encounters. For example, date and place, of course, but also witnesses, words spoken, behaviors, etc.

What is the number one thing an employer should do when made aware of bullying behavior in the workplace?
Take action. Believe that an incident occurred until proven otherwise. Get all the details. Talk with the involved parties together to try to understand what’s going on. Keep a record of the complaint, the meeting, and results. Definitely do not blow it off as a personality conflict.

If there’s no policy against workplace bullying, one should be instituted as quickly as possible. All employees should be informed the policy exists, how bullying is defined, bullying won’t be tolerated, what to do if bullying behaviors are witnessed or experienced. This information should be posted where employees of all levels will see it.

To read more, you can find Jean's book, BULLIES AMONG US: What To Do When Work's No Fun, online at and also at Barnes & Noble. If you have any questions of your own for Jean, post them here, and I'll ask her to respond. Otherwise, you can read more about Jean's thoughts on bullying at her blog.

If you like what you read here, let me know. I'll be including more author interviews or book reviews in the future. As Jean and I agree, awareness can help you combat the challenges in life. If it's not bullying, it might besomething else.
Thanks for visiting.

Friday, December 12, 2008

And then there's the Caylee Anthony story

If you're not bummed about the economy, how about this story?

The detectives now have a skull, maybe other bones, and possibly more evidence to connnect Casey Anthony to her daughter's disappearance (or death?) last summer in Orlando, Fla.

If you haven't been following this story, it's one of the saddest I can recall since the Scott Peterson (A man who killed his own wife pregnant with his unborn child!) conviction.

Today, though, I doubt the poor enonomy can trump this current story that may involve the death of a toddler by the hands of her own mother. It's just too hard to believe. Greed, I get. Taking the life of your own baby, I do not.

I've know a lot of people are criticizing the grandparents for trying to protect their daughter, but I can't help but think about what they've been going through these past six months or so. It's just too much. This is an obstacle I'm pretty sure even my BIKE, won't help. This requires help far beyond anything any one person or thing here on earth can offer.

So I ask you to say a prayer for this family, for this community, and for anyone and everyone who has ever been affected by the horrific death of a loved one, especially a child.

Let today be a day of prayer and concern for those who face challenges beyond that which we can imagine and which seem impossible to overcome.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bummed about the economy?

I heard on the news this morning that nearly 600,000 people nationwide applied for Unemployment last week. That's just last week! It's higher than the number of people who applied during the whole month in November.

It really does sound like the economic situation is getting worse, just as economists have predicted. With these numbers, it's hard to imagine how bad it could actually get. It's even somewhat scary...even though there's no chance of me being laid off; I'm self-employed.

Still, we're all dealing with this on some level. My workload has suffered. My editors aren't calling me with assignments (no money, no budget), or if they are, they pushing back the dates because of low ad sales. I'm pretty sure you're probably feeling the effects of the economic situation as much or more than I am. So my question to you today is this: What kinds of things are you doing to work through the fear?

Here's a list of things I know help me overcome agitation, nervousness, and even fear. Given the specific situation you're dealing with, what would you add to this list?

-Pray (as often as you need or feel comfort in the process).
-Go to the gym and work out with weights, ride the elliptical, or take a fitness class.
-Eat healthy (and in smaller proportions).
-Spend time with family and friends (Schedule it in if necessary during this busy holiday season.).
-Focus on what's going right in your life.
-Write in a journal.
-Practice meditation.
-Have a glass of wine (just one).
-Soak in a bubble bath.
-Bathe the dog or wash the car; it takes your mind off of other things.
-Ride your bike.

During stressful times, it's important to take care of your personal needs. I know I skimp on these sometimes, but having a list in front of me reminds me to take care of me first. Then I can focus on the work I need to do.

Today, I choose to make the day less stressful. How about you?

All my best,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The moral inventory

Yesterday, I wrote about belief system. But how many of us actually take a moral inventory of what we value, so we actually know what we believe?!

In times of stress or if you're dealing with a personal trauma, it's not always easy to distinguish between what is moral or immoral behavior. Although we may set a standard for ourselves, we often overlook behavior in others, both at home and at work. The problem with doing that, however, is that it may give someone permission to treat you in a way you wouldn't accept in "normal" circumstances, and vice versa.

This is what happened to me during my marriage, except, I wasn't aware that I was doing this--at least, not on a conscious level. I wasn't even aware that I was doing this long before my marriage. That was an important observation for me. It kept me from trying to assign blame.

As I write about often here, awareness is key.

It is for this reason that reviewing what we value, what we care about, how we want to be treated and how we want to treat others is important. It's a good reason why spiritual fellowship with others who share your beliefs is important; it helps hold you accountable.

When I first took a moral inventory of myself, I was told to ask myself these two basic questions:

What are my strengths?
What are my weaknesses?

That was easy enough. But then it got harder. I was told to dig deeper, and look at my strengths and weaknesses in relationship to or with the following:

_Spiritual Life
_Financial Life
_Significant Parter
_Work Life
_Those Less Fortunate
_Authority Figures
_Friends, Co-workers, Employees

When it got to the point where I had to look at all my losses from various stages in life (childhood, adolescence, teenage years, adulthood), I wasn't quite sure I could finish. I had experienced the death of a father, an abusive childhood home, uncertainty about where I'd be living, childhood abandonment, two teenage pregnancies and a marriage, single motherhood, the death of a second spouse, and on and on. It was too much when I looked at it all at once like that. I was glad to be working with a mental health expert and a spiritual guide who helped me work through these losses and what they meant to me.

I benefitted greatly when I found a 12-Step program. It helped teach me to see the losses for what they gave me and not for what they took away.

And I realized that the work never ends. Even though I took the moral inventory that first time, I knew I'd have to keep doing it for as long as it took, for as many times as I needed to be reminded of what I valued, what I cherished and what I might need to change.

If you've ever looked inside yourself that deeply, what was the greatest lesson you took away?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The power of your belief system

I like to disagree. It tests my belief system. It makes me think harder about a topic. It forces me to look at the other side. It reinforces my own opinion but also leaves room for me to change it, if appropriate.

I've been tested many times for many things, some things completely out of my control, such as the death of my spouse in 1989. I was young back then, and married again, of course, only to be tested again--big time--when that marriage ended in divorce in 2004, after 10 years of what I thought was holy matrimony. It was my only church wedding, and I'd put more stock in that one.

Alas, the dissolution began at the end of 2002, during the holidays. As you can imagine, the holidays are an awful time for families to split up or to begin the ending of a long-term marriage. It seems to happen frequenting during this time of year, however, and I've never quite understood that unfortunate truth. No matter. It's still a test whatever time of year it might occur.

During the beginning of mine, I did find myself debating my former spouse on almost everything. He told me he'd cheated on me. I told him he had to stop. He said we'd work it out. I asked him why he had to move out then. He said we could stay together if I could be friends with her. I told him he was crazy. It went on and on like that for several months. There was a part of me that asked the same question in the woman's magazine column, "Can this marriage be saved?"

Eventually, I hired a lawyer, and it was she, amazingly enough, who helped reign me in when my emotions wanted to veer off in a direction that could have only led to dread. She kept me on the right footing. I had a goal, and she helped me reach it. My goal was simple: I didn't want to come out of the loss a bitter woman. I just couldn't do that to myself, I told her. I told the same thing to my therapist, who said, "That's a good goal," and starting giving me regular hugs at the end of our sessions.

My goal meant I had a lot of soul searching to do. It meant I had to learn to let go of what he did and concentrate on what I was going to do. It meant I had to get in touch with a part of me that had been lost in the marriage--my spiritual side.

There were times when I thought to let go meant I was letting him off the hook, that I was saying he was right to behave the way he did. And then I became angry at myself for picking a guy who would behave so disrespectfully. It took a long time for me to realize his behavior had little to do with me, that my behavior was the one I needed to focus on, that letting go meant to free myself of blame and shame and judgment--that this wasn't productive for me in any way. I could let my higher power look out for me now.

There are times still today that I forget that. I need to be reminded. I wish this weren't so. I wish I were naturally a person who could just let things go. But some things, I hold onto. When I recognize that the disagreement I need to have is not with others but with myself, that's when I realize that I've been neglecting the growth of my spiritual side. That maybe I've gotten out of touch with what I really value. Maybe I haven't even considered it.

It's hard work to look inside yourself and admit you have flaws, to see that you can contradict yourself, that you don't have all the answers--and that some of the answers you did have led you to where you are now. If that "now" is not a good place to be, it's hard to face that you put yourself there. It's easy to resist taking personal responsibility.

That's why I applaud people who stand up for what they believe in. They may be right; they may be wrong. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that they do what they believe is right, and that, when tested, they still know where they stand.

I attended group counseling sessions during my divorce where I was told, "If you wind up getting divorced, the important thing is that you know that's what you want." Even my lawyer told me during our initial consultation, "Take these papers home with you. Think about it for as long as you need. When you decide it's time, then that's when you file. Don't do it because you feel you have to."

And I wasn't ready right then. She knew it. Initially, I wanted to keep my marriage intact. I hoped that I could. But that soul searching of mine led me to conclude not that I didn't have a choice in the matter, but that my choice was that I deserved a better life. My eyes had been opened, and I was now seeing clearly. The debate was over, and I'd taken my stand. I don't regret it. I'm not bitter. I met my goal.

That's the power of trusting your belief system.

Can you recall an event in your life where you felt forced to act in a way that went against your belief system? How did you handle it? What was the outcome? Go ahead and post your comments here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Merrill Lynch CEO: bogus about his bonus

I heard this on CNN this morning also:

The Merrill Lynch Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Thain thinks he should get a 2008 bonus of $10 million!

Are you kidding me? The company lost $11 billion in 2008! I can't even believe the company's board of directors would even consider the guy's request. It's absurd. But news reports say the committee is only thinking about denying bonuses this year for Thain and other senior executives. So, that means they're also considering not denying them.

I just don't get it.

We are officially in a recession. Have been for more than a year now. People are losing their homes to foreclosure left and right. We had more than 500,000 people laid off work in America just last month, Merrill Lynch employees possibly included. Yet, some big wig corporate exec of a financial company that lost so much has the nerve to think he deserves a bonus. Quick. Tell me where to sign up for this scam?!

Seriously, how can a CEO--the man who oversees the entire company and its operations--not see this kind of attitude is part of the problem here?! What one person needs $10 million, anyway. If there's that kind of money floating around his company now, couldn't it best be used to hire people back?

I can tell you how to turn this obstacle into an opportunity--fire the guy! The fact that he can even make such a request tells me he's out of touch with what's going on in his own company. How is that call for a bonus? Why would it even be considered?

This kind of news just makes me mad. It makes me question everything I ever thought I knew about how our country operates, especially now, as I hear about real people with real families hurting, as I read about real companies that actually contribute real dollars to their communities shutting down.

This kind of news just makes me mad.

How about you?

Laid off workers in Chicago speak up

I woke up this morning, turned on the news, and heard this story about laid-off workers in Chicago. It seems a group of 200 former employees at a window and door plant have staged a sit-in to protest being laid off without severence pay and other reasons they say violate their union agreement.

They are on day four and expect to stay "for as long as it takes." CBS News called the group "a national symbol for thousands of employees who have lost their jobs as the economy continues to sour."

I applaud the group. They are standing up for what they believe in and speaking out so they can be heard. It's part of what I call owning your Expressive voice. They're using their voice to meet a basic need. If they just left the company without protest, they would have regretted it. I'm sure of that. Everyone deserves to be heard. Some of these employees have been with this company for more than 30 years. They don't want to just walk away with nothing. They deserve much more than that. For too long, we've seen too many companies get away with this kind of practice.

It's time we pay attention to how poorly corporate America treats its employees. They may not get what they're asking for--the Bank of America, as the company's creditor and now holder of the company's assets, to pay what's due them--but at the very least they would have spoken up and fought for their rights. They can walk away knowing that, no matter the result.

For me, it's easy to see why these laid off workers are making this statement. When someone else tries to screw you over, it hurts, and you don't want to take it lying down. You don't want to take it at all. If you can find the strength within, you fight back. If you trust in what you believe in, you find a way to protect your interests. You can turn an obstacle into an opportunity. That's what these folks are doing. Besides, the government did just give this bank $25 billion dollars in the bailout plan. Surely, executives can use some of that money to help make things right on their end. It should work both ways, shouldn't it?

What do you think?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

More on nurturing the artist within--the "top ten" list

A few posts back, I wrote about nurturing your artist self. It's not a difficult thing to do, but it does take time out of your day or week to do it. If you're not sure what to do, how about writing out a list of things you'd like to do but haven't?

Here are a few tips on creating a list you're more likely to follow:

_Keep it simple by assigning a number. If you only have to think of, say, 10 things to do, the mere thought of even creating the list won't overwhelm you.

_Time yourself. Give yourself 20 minutes or less to write out the things that first come to mind. This leaves you no time to judge the list.

_Don't judge the list. If you start judging, then you might let things like practicalities or finances get in the way. And we don't care about practicalities or finances when we're nurturing the artistic spirit. We get to pick freely, think freely, and write freely.

_Stay in the moment. Find a nice shady spot outdoors under a tree (See example in photo above; it's Arizona's state tree, the palo verde.), with a bench or bring your own chair. Bring your pad of paper and write. Write from the heart.

_Think of things you've always wanted to do but never have (probably because of time) art class, a visit to that obscure museum you heard about last year, a trip to a nearby arts community, tickets to a comedy show, yard sale shopping, etc. Think of things you know you'd like to do but thought you couldn't afford. Write them down, anyway (This doesn't mean you'll do them now, but you'll be more likely to fit them in later.). There's power in writing things down; that's why lists work.

_Not sure about what you'd like to do? Never thought much about this before? Go back to your childhood. What kinds of things brought you joy back then? Was it building things? Maybe you can add to your list that you'd like to visit your city's downtown and observe and take photographs of old buildings. Did you enjoy crafts? Perhaps you can add to your list something having to do with that, such as making a special greeting card for someone you love. Did you like, as I did, riding your bike? Maybe you can just jot down something about taking a bike ride to a nearby lake or body of water and people watch. You can make up stories about what they're doing there.

_Have fun with the list. Buy a special notebook or journal for your list-making. Use colorful pens or crayons or markers. Add stickers for fun, things like colorful stars or balloons in which you can write silly sayings (You'll find these at office and teacher supply stores as well as craft stores.).

_Be sure to post the list on a wall that you see daily.

_Cross off the things that you've done, and add to the list regularly.

This should give you more ideas about how you can nurture your artist within. Just remember, it's your list. No need to let others see it, as artist's dates are for you only. No one gets to object or agree with your list. It's all about you. And better yet, if you decide you don't like the list you came up with, you can re-do the whole thing. The important thing about this exercise is that you're learning a little more about yourself, what you like, what you don't, what you thought you might have but didn't after all.

Nurturing the artist within is a great way to develop your mental BIKE. With this exercise, you not only begin to hone in on your personal interests, but you begin to listen to yourself more clearly. You begin to recognize that while it's nice to gain input from others, their input isn't necessarily what's best for you. I bet you didn't realize the creative spirit could be that important.

If you wish to add your own thoughts about today's post, I'd love to hear from you.

All my best,

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Do you tweat?

Hey, I'm just learning. So bear with me. But I did add the Twitter widget here at BIKE WITH JACKIE. You'll see my updated "tweats" on the right-hand side of the page. I keep forgetting I changed the format and nearly posted "left-hand" (All the widgets used to be on the left-hand side just a week ago.).

Anyway, if you want to follow me on Twitter, you can connect with me directly from this site.

How crazy is this social networking thing?!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Nurturing the artist within

I love art.

I look for it everywhere I go, and it's pretty easy to find. When I used to teach elementary school children art appreciation workshops, I told my students, "Art is everywhere you look--in the fabric and design of your clothes, on the furniture at home, in the architecture of buildings, in the design of the cars your parents drive, in the food that you eat." And, of course, art was also in the prints I took with me into their classrooms. We'd talk about the artists, the works of art, and then we'd do an art project together.

Once, when I taught them about Jackson Pollock, I filled several dozen water guns with water-based paint, and we went outside to squirt multiple colors onto large stretches of butcher paper to create our own interpretations of a Jackson Pollock painting. (For fun, try it online.) This uninhibited break from their normal routine helped them grasp their own ability to be creative. The students looked forward to my visits--to see what me might do next--and I looked forward to crafting new ideas to make my visits enlightening and fun for them.

Part of my interest in working with the children stemmed from my natural love of art. I've always been attracted to color, texture, fibers, buildings and design. I took art classes in college. I write about art and design for various magazines. And I do look for art everywhere I go. I've even tried my hand at practicing different art forms...drawing, painting, working with water colors and markers. I play around with photography. I'll do anything to nurture the artist within and help others do the same. But lately, I haven't designated enough time for this.

That occured to me at the end of October, when I attended a writers' conference in Tampa, Fla. On our last night together, a small group of writers, including Barb Freda and I, went out to dinner at a restaurant called Fly, known for its tapas and live jazz. On the walls were these amazing paintings (part of one pictured above) of jazz musicians. And I just had to walk around and look at them. I took my digital camera with me and snapped a few photos of the vibrantly painted murals. I wanted to bring the color home with me. At the time, I didn't know who the artist was, but I've since discovered he's Sean Spoto, a Tampa-based artist popular for his surfboard art. I really love the energy of this painting above; it looks as though you can hear it.

To notice the way art speaks to you is to nurture your artist within, that is, to tap into your own creativity. The more you practice it, the more tuned in you become. I learned to appreciate this when studying Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, a book which teaches a "spiritual path to higher creativity." In 1999, when I needed to grow my freelance business, a writer I met online at the Poets & Writers Speakeasy introducted me to it. Since then, I must have read her book and done the work in it three or four times. Each time I did, I became more empowered as an "artist." And I've noticed it's time for another dose of Cameron, as I'm in need of nurturing my artist within.

I actually give Cameron credit for fueling the work I've done here. I give her credit for inspiring me, for showing me that to produce art or anything else creative is an act of faith. And faith takes practice, too.

To nurture the artist within, Cameron suggests keeping a daily journal, but you must write in it first thing in the morning. She calls them the Morning Pages. Her book includes weekly exercises and questions to answer. She also suggests weekly artist dates that you must take alone. You can do anything creative, anything at all, including visit a museum, color in a coloring book, make a homemade necklace out of dried macaroni, attend a concert or theatrical production, whatever you might be interested in. Her point is that you must schedule the dates and the work on your calendar because nurturing the artist within takes time, practice and dedication.

If you're like me right now and feel as though your work isn't quite what you think it could be, if you're in need of inspiration or motivation, if you just need a kick in the pants on a particular project that seems stalled, nurturing your artist within might help.

You'll find yourself on a spiritual path of empowerment that will grow something very important to your success--faith.

I like the sound of that. Don't you?

Brighter and bolder

Just so you know, especially if you haven't been around in a while, you're in the right place.

Yes, I did change the background on my blog. It's very different from the simple yellowed paper background from before. But just as we change the furniture around in our living rooms when things get tired looking, I decided to move things around and liven things up at BIKE WITH JACKIE.

If you'll recall, I mentioned change in a recent post. And, boy, did I make big change (though it only took seconds). I hope it's not too startling. I also hope you like it.

Post a comment and let me know.

A view to remember

I took this photo in October on my trip to Maine. On the coast about 20 minutes south of Camden, I was taking one last look at the sunset. But it had disappeared, and when I looked at it through my camera lens, this was what was left after sunset. I liked the peaceful calm that I witnessed in my viewfinder, so I snapped the picture.
It's worth remembering what peace and calm looks like, especially during hectic times that the holidays bring.
I use photographs like this one to remind me to stop and think, to relax. I have another that I took several years ago when on a trip to the Florida gulf shores. I was on an island called St. George. The shot includes the sea in the background, the sandy beach, and two empty beach chairs up close and in the forground. I like the symbol of that. I think of that photo when I want to remind myself of places where I've been, and places where I can still go. I could be sitting in one of those beach chairs, watching the surf, listening for seagulls, drinking an ice cold Mai Tai--because right behind those two chairs is a seafood restaurant that serves them. I could be there.
In fact, my six-year goal is to own my own beach house. I think I'll buy on the coast of Maine, but I can use this photo from Florida to help keep my dream alive. I think imagery is a good thing to use as reminders of what we would like to have in our lives. It's so easy to get distracted with what's happening now, that we can all too quickly forget what might be, or what will be.
What kinds of things do you use to remind you of your dreams, to help you relax, to keep you focused on what moves you forward. A physical bike can take you there, but it doesn't know where to go without your assistance. You need reminders, such as a mental BIKE, to help you do the navigating. Otherwise, how do you know if you're heading in the right direction, or even getting close?
This next week, pay attention to what you do to stay on track of your goals. Write them down. Notice what works and what isn't working. Start a conversation with friends about this so you can get more ideas. Begin collecting photographs or magazine pictures or other momentos that will act as reminders of what you want out of life. Think about what that looks like. If it helps you to post these items on a bulletin board (or something similar), do that. Hang this where you can see it daily. Then see what happens.
If you have ideas or thoughts to share about what kinds of reminders move you forward, post a comment.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bikes keep this town alive

Why would residents voice anger towards the people that help keep its town alive? For Jim Thorpe, Penn., that's the question a recent article asks. Apparently, this town of less than 5,000 people, thrives on its bike tourists, but there are some residents who detest this fact.

The article asks: Would they rather it stay the depressed coal mining town it once was? Why not make use of those old mining and timber roads no longer used? Since they're already cut into the woodlands, there's no added cost to create the tourism. It's a natural progression.

But some people just like to keep things the way they've always been. They don't want strangers filling up their restaurants and clogging their streets. But would they really rather see their town die? I doubt it. Maybe they just need to be reminded of the benefits.

Which is why this article caught my eye. Obviously, I was attracted to the article because of its focus on biking. But it also points out a few interesting details:

_Studies, such as one done in 1997 by the Travel Industry Association of America and another by the Outdoor Industry Foundation, supports the idea that biking can boost an economy.
_Mountain biking is one of the most popular adventure activities in the United States, and 60 million adult Americans bicycle each year.
_Bicycling tourism helps create jobs and revenue for communities like Jim Thorpe, contributing as much as $133 billion to the U.S. Economy.

Who knew my little Trek 4300, which cost about $600 when I bought it four years ago, added to such a big impact? I never really thought about this before. I just thought about the physical and mental health benefits, not the financial ones.

But if you take a look at research the OIF did alone, and you realize, I'm just one of the more than a million residents participating in cycling activities in just one state (It says 27 percent of Arizonans ride.), and that's just one relatively inexpensive bike I'm talking about, the economics of the numbers stagger the mind.

I must say, the reasons to ride just keep getting better and better.

Blog Page Update: If you click on my profile page, you'll see I've added a Reading List of blogs I follow. If you click on the links, you might find something of interest to you as well. Enjoy!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bloggers Unite

Bloggers Unite

Thanks to Debbie Petras over at Heart Choices, I learned about World AIDS Day and posted about several awareness events going on in Phoenix today at my travel blog. To learn more, visit the World Health Organization, Bloggers Unite, or Debbie's blog.

Help spread the word and save lives.

All my best,

Adapting to change or the unknown

Do not go

where the path

may lead,

go instead where

there is no path

and leave a trail.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson's quote above makes me think about change, risk-taking, and moving into the unknown or unfamiliar.

If you think about it, we do that every day. Nothing stays static. Once you get used to something, a situation, a schedule, or a relationship, it becomes boring. We need change to make life interesting.

This is true in all of life, I think. In work. In play. In our personal lives.

I've made a few changes around here, if you haven't noticed. I added a few "plug-ins" on the left-hand side of the page and at the bottom. You can now scroll down to the bottom of the page and read the daily news. I've added a link to my travel blog on the left-hand side of the home page, below my photo; it includes the title (or partial title) of updated posts. Click on that if something interests you.

I've changed my photo, but it's a subtle change. And I've included a more convenient link below it so you can sign up for my RSS feed. That's so you can get updates of my posts sent directly to your e-mail address, if you like.

And be sure to participate in my poll. I'm curious to know what you do for stress relief. December is a pretty timely month to discuss this. After all, we're out there tackling traffic, trying to fit as much into our schedules as possible to create happy holidays ahead.

I hope yours will lead to something new and exciting.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ted Turner wisdom

I wouldn't say I'm a fan of Ted Turner, but I dated a guy in college who admired him greatly. That admiration had a lot to do with the fact that they both had ties to Atlanta. I wound up marrying this college sweetheart of mine (He later died.), and I've always noticed anything said or written about Ted Turner since. It's not anything I purposefully look for, but when he appears on TV or on a magazine cover, I can't help but notice. Perhaps it's simply because the guy reminds me of my late husband; they share the same hairline and color , color of eyes, and that dimple on the chin...

This morning, Ted Turner appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press"--I WAS a big fan of Tim Russert's!--and I watched. Discussing with Tom Brokaw a former rift with Rupert Murdock, Turner said about their reconciliation: "It hurts you when you don't like someone; it doesn't really hurt them."

It hurts you when you don't like someone; it doesn't really hurt them.

That's a line worth repeating. It made me stop and think. There are people in my life who I haven't really liked, and I've experienced my fair share of rifts. Turner's insightful words made me immediately think, Who cares? Who really cares? They don't.

So what's the point? He's basically saying, "Let it go."

Let it go.

Three more words worth repeating, again and again.

Can you think of a rift in your life that needs to be discarded? If you're being your Best self, you'll find a way to admit there probably is such a rift, and you'll figure out how you can let it go. Not for them, but for you. It means you recognize where you can make improvements in your life, and that you will take the steps to do that. It may take time--and the letting go part doesn't have to involve that other person directly--but you know you have the power of choice. You'll rely on your Inner strength to remove the shame or doubt that surfaces. You'll trust your Killer instincts to take the necessary action. And you'll use your Expressive voice to say what might need to be said or to simply reach out in whatever way will move you forward.

Here at BIKE WITH JACKIE, it's always about forward movement. That's our goal with this mental bike ride. Whatever's holding you back, whether or not it's a rift, together we look for ways to get beyond the struggles, which can come at us so unexpectedly. We know we're not in this alone. Thankfully, if we're open to improvement, we'll gain the insights or epiphanies needed--even if they come from a TV personality.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Shopping frenzy or farce

It's hard to believe what happened yesterday on "Black Friday." But I'm sure you heard about it: a Wal-Mart temp was trampled at the door while thousands of shoppers rushed inside for the sales!

It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase.

If a man hadn't died, the scene might be called comical. But it's been billed by some people who were there an "accident." This was no accident. I'm not sure what you'd call it, but accident is not the word.

Can you imagine being a part of this frenzy, this over-sized crowd of shoppers, trying to get inside a Wal-Mart of all places? For what? Can anything you might ever wish to buy at a discount store--or anywhere else, for that matter--be worth the cost of a man's life?

How could anyone who participated in this chaos justify their behavior? I can't imagine how I'd feel if I'd gotten caught up in that. No apology could right this wrong.

I would say this is why I avoid shopping on Black Friday, as they call the busiest shopping day of the holiday season. But that wouldn't be true. For one thing, I've never heard anything like this happen before. And for another, I've gone shopping many times on the day after Thanksgiving. Just never seriously. I'm not the biggest fan of shopping. I can enjoy it. I can engage in it for many hours at a time. But I've never felt the need to buy a gift for anyone--no, not even my kids--that would require standing in lines overnight or anything that would even come close to putting me in a crowd such as the one that must have been standing outside the door of that Wal-Mart in Long Island yesterday.

Maybe those who were there will now think twice about the importance of owning a material item. It's just not that important. A man's life was taken. That's all that matters in this story. A man was knocked down and trampled on till he could no longer breathe life. And now he's gone. He and his family and friends were robbed of his life. That's all that matters.

An innocent man was killed.

And what about the people who killed him? The gifts they brought home...what meaning do they have left? How do you explain to your young son or your husband or your mother, "Oh, I waited in line all night to get this for you. I even knocked down a man to get this for you. He died so I could get this for you. I hope you appreciate it."

Merry Christmas?

I can't imagine.

Friday, November 28, 2008

After dinner transition

The turkey's put away. The dishes cleaned. The dining room back in order. Family's gone home or back to the hotel. Now what? That after dinner transition can be an unsettling time for some. Your mind has taken you to this high-energy place and kind of wants to stay there, where it's fun and exciting, but the next day--after that big dinner and all the company that comes with it for the Thanksgiving meal--can feel pretty, well, blah.

For some people, this can move into a slight depression, the post-holiday blues, I've heard it called.

To avoid this, what kinds of things do you do to keep the holiday moving forward and the momentum going through to the end of the year? With our economy in a flux, that may seem difficult to think about. Worries about bank accounts and jobs and relationships may be trying to move in on your inner peace. But you can take charge of how you perceive the holiday season. You can decide it will be stressful, or you can decide it won't. You can let the rush seem maddening, or you can simply slow things down. Even when life seems out of control, as it may today, you still have choices about how you interpret what's happening to you.

After my holiday meal yesterday, I overheard friends talking about getting together the next evening--today--for card games in the evening. They were making plans to extend the fun, so that it all didn't just end so abruptly. I kind of liked that idea. It was simple, inviting, and would involve an all-age crowd--no one had to be left out.

I'll be going to a football game myself.

Another friend and his family will attend Glendale Glitters--one city's special event that involves a tree lighting display.

So it seems, as with most things, planning things to do can be a real life saver. It can help you move your thoughts to more positive places.

To keep the momentum going--especially when, as in my case, I couldn't have all of my family together this year--I've decided to spend the rest of the weekend decorating, even though I won't likely see guests in my house this Christmas, either. It'll help remind me that the season is here, that celebrating is a choice. And maybe I'll create a few spontaneous get-togethers, which is always a fun thing to do.

So what are you doing to keep the momentum going, to keep the spirit of the holidays alive? Are you going to church or other religious service? Are you listening to holiday music? Are you planning to map out the homes with holiday lights and visit them?

Are you PLANNING to enjoy the holidays?

Think about that, and if you if you have a few holiday ideas to share, I hope you'll post them here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

An addition to my Blogroll

I've never thought about doing this till today, but it makes sense to me for some reason (I can see clearly now?)...But I thought I'd announce from here on out when I add a new blog to my Blogroll, you know, to introduce you.

Today, I've added the Crystle Ball to the list. Owned by Chrystle Fiedler, author of the soon-to-be-released, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Natural Remedies, this blog will focus on mainstream and alternative health, as well as self-help topics. And since Chrystle writes about the mind-body connection, which we talk about a lot here, I thought she'd be a good fit. Plus, she's a colleague of mine from, which I refer to frequently as well, and you can't go wrong with these folks.

If you want to take a look at the other blogs on the list, they're on the left-hand side of the page, under the title, "Blogs that make you go ummmm."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The bike route to freedom

Remember the Underground Railroad--that secret path that was once used by slaves to escape to freedom? This part of American history has been preserved by way of a bike path--a 2,028-mile bike path that takes the rider along the same route American slaves took before and during the Civil War.

The path follows secret routes and safe houses used by the "freedom seekers" who dared to risk their lives to escape slavery. The Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, as it's called today, takes the rider past points of interest and historic sites between Alabama and Ontario, where the free slaves created a settlement in 1857.

If this isn't one of the better reasons to ride a bike--to learn and live this history, and see for yourself what it means to overcome--I don't know what is. Not only can the power behind the pedal lead to good physical and mental health, but it can teach you first-hand what it means to become free of your bondage--however that may be defined.

To me, this path is so symbolic of what our trials and tribulations in life can do to us. Yes, they can chain us down, but faith proves there's always a way out. With faith, you find a way. And this bike path testifies to the power behind that faith. It may take physical power, such as pedaling a bike for as long as it takes to reach your destination, but if you believe in yourself, faith says you'll get there.

I'd love to do this tour some day.

Recently, the groups that created this adventurous ride, Adventure Cycling and the Center for Minority Health, received an award at the National Trails Symposium. To that, I say congratulations!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A recent Associated Press report

This week from the AP wire:

"BIKE ON: More urban pedal-pushers are trading their cars for a more low-tech way to get around because of gas prices as well as health and environmental concerns. Bicycles were a $5.4 billion industry in the U.S. in 2007, including the retail value of bikes, related parts and accessories, according to research funded by the National Sporting Goods Association."

I like this. People are turning to bikes both for HEALTH and ENVIRONMENTAL reasons. It's all good.

How about you? Are you thinking about riding yet?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No time to wait

I ran across this quote today:

“How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." —Anne Frank

If you think about it for a second--for a single moment--Anne Frank's words make sense. Despite the fact that she and her family were hiding in a secret annex from the Nazi soldiers during WWII...despite the fact they had left their German homeland to escape the Jewish persecution...despite the fact they were then arrested and taken to the concentration camps, where Anne, her mother and sister were later killed...before her death, Anne Frank still sensed some control over her life. It's why she continued to write in her journal, the diary of her life, as short as it was. It's why her father, who survived the death camps, published her thoughts for the world to read.

The book, Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, was made into a stage play and then a movie.

Her words have, indeed, helped to improve the world. As she sat in the annex, she did not wait at all. She wrote and wrote and wrote. Perhaps she didn't know then the exact impact her words would have after her death, but I think she'd be pleased they continue to inspire.

What are you doing right now to help improve the world? What are you waiting for?

Monday, November 17, 2008

News and gloom

An economic downturn, layoffs, business closings...and now the California fires that have left 100's of families without homes.

This is not good news. Even the thought of a new president with charisma, charm and inspirational ideas about giving our country an economic facelift doesn't change that fact.

So what are you doing to overcome the challenges you're personally facing at home and at work?

A bike ride, alone, won't cut it.

I know that. I don't try to pretend here that it will. But it can help make a difference in how you perceive your personal challenges. If your bank account is running low, if your job is on the line, if you're having difficulty finding work, if your business is in need of customers, if you're worried about your financial future, my special brand of BIKE--This one's mental, not metal--is a tool you use to combat the fear, the anxiety, the stress. I use it daily. I also ride daily. And in those really tough times, where emotion takes over, and I forget, it's okay, because I know, just as my physical bike is parked in my garage, my mental bike is parked in my head; it'll be there the minute I choose to "ride."

Because, you see, I, too, still get stressed and worry and sometimes slip into negative-thinking mode. Sometimes, I do not operate at my optimum. And, like you, I am concerned about the economy. I am concerned when I read about yet another publishing company that's laying off employees or dumping a magazine altogether. These are sources of my income. It does send my thoughts to wonder where the next job will come from if the magazine I write for is shutting down. These are pretty normal concerns for me. And whatever your concerns are, I bet they're normal for you.

I can't imagine one person who is not affected by what's going on with Wall Street and beyond on some level. It's not good news out there, and there's not much to convince us it's going to get better any time soon. Even when I try to ignore it, I get a statement in the mail that I don't want to read. I know the numbers it lists are down. I'm not sure if want to really see how low or imagine how low they could still go. I don't know that it would be productive to look right now. But I do, and then I file the statement away. I do not control those numbers, so I just take charge of how I respond to them.

And I know we are never without hope. Things will turn around. That's a given. It's just a matter of time, and we don't have the ability to predict how long this cycle will last.

But you can stop spinning your wheels with my special brand of BIKE. At least, it's a start. It'll help you become more aware of who you are and what you're really made of inside. It's a good idea to know that during tumultuous times. The more you know about yourself, the better chance you have of overcoming the challenges that life drops in your lap when you least expect them. You won't act hastily. You'll take the time to think through the challenge--no matter what it is--consider your options, and respond in the best way that works for you. We just bring more trouble into our lives when we react to chaos, instead of respond to it. And that's how my BIKE can help. But you have to learn how to make it yours.

If you're new to my blog, here are a few past posts that tell you more:

And since I am teaching my BIKE Lessons via the telephone now, post a message if you'd like to know more.

All my best,

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A bike study to watch

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is sponsoring and conducting a new exercise study at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, about cancer survivors that involves the use of a stationary bike.

Previous studies already show that cancer survivors after treatment may experience health risks, including psychological distress, decreased aerobic fitness, increase in body fat content, and other ailments affecting the physical body itself, according to a fact sheet on the study.

This exercise study will compare the benefits of Tai Chi versus stationary bike cycling (aerobic exercise) on cancer survivors who will participate in the 12-week study, aided by fitness experts and instructors.

Tai Chi Chuan (the formal name for this martial art form that derives from ancient Chinese medicine dating back to the Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644) combines breathing exercises to create what the study refers to as "moving meditation." If you've heard of it, then you've probably read that it can improve a body's flexibility, muscle strength, balance, systolic blood pressure, cardio-respiratory fitness, and reduce psychological stress and symptoms of arthritis. Likewise, aerobic exercise, such as stationary cycling is known to improve cardiovascular fitness, decrease coronary risk, and lower cholesterol levels. Both exercises may benefit cancer survivors, but studies have never been conducted to compare the two.

It will be interesting to me and my own BIKE work to see the results of this study--not so much for the cancer survivor benefit but to see if the scientists see a mind-body connection in both exercises as I do. Since that's not what they're looking for, it could lead to yet another study.

If you have any thoughts about the mind-body connection or would like to share your own experience with this, please post a comment.

If you'd like to sign up for updates, you can do that at the bottom of this page.

Thanks for joining me today.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Slow day


I just completed the first chapter in my first book--a travel guide called Backroads & Byways of Arizona. It'll be published by Countryman Press in 2009. I'm waiting on edits so I can complete the remaining 11 chapters. It's going to be quite the feat to finish by February 1 (How's that for alliteration?), as it's not just the chapters I have to write, but I also have to compile all of the photos, find a map and highlight the routes, write the acknowledgements, the table of contents (after I organize the chapter), and a bunch of other details that the publishing company has written down in style guides. They e-mailed me three different ones. It'll be a lot of detail work when I get to that point. And I still have two or three more trips to take, and maybe a few short reminder weekend travel days to schedule in. I'm not sure yet.

But now that I met the deadline on this first chapter, I'm feeling a bit underwhelmed. I now have no immediate deadlines, no immediate assignments to work on, and no need to feel rushed. That's a weird feeling for me. Not to feel under the gun about a deadline? It's crazy. Yet nice.

I have a list of things to do, of course. There's always plenty to do, but no rush.

Ummmm. So this is what a slow day feels like? Nothing. Very strange. I'm even going to have time this weekend to go shopping with my daughter for a few presents for my son's new baby--due also in February.

Since she'll arrive about the same time as my book deadline, I'm thinking that's not good timing on her parents' part. At least it doesn't take into account my deadline. I won't be leaving this house in late January, I hope they know, until the book is turned in. So good thing this is my son. My daughter would kill me if I weren't there for the birth. She's already pretty much told me that. But I'm hoping I'll be there for my son, anyway. Still, the timing thing could be tricky. There are no delay allowances for a book project. Not this one, anyway.

And now that my days have slowed down a bit, these are the kinds of things I'm thinking about. I've now got time to think. I've also been doing a bit more marketing than I had been. I've been able to fit in about 10 pitches to several magazines in the past week. That's a good thing, to try to stay ahead.

When you have a slow day, or a down day, or whatever you call it, how do you stay busy?

If you care to weight in, post a comment. I'm curious to know how you are able to manage the down time when no one's on your back. Are you using your BIKE? If so, which parts?