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.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

A picture speaks a thousand words. Need I say more?

(Photo of my first grandbaby taken by Robert Charlesworth, for her first Christmas. Copyright 2009)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

How to overcome the holiday blues

It happens. Not everyone is thrilled with the holiday season. For some people, the holidays dredge up bad memories, act as a reminder of broken homes that never healed, and just aren't very merry at all.

If you've ever had reason to feel that way, you know what I'm taking about. There's no need to feel guilty about it. It really does happen more often than you might think.

If you're feeling it right now, here's a list of things I've done in the past to get through my own holiday seasons that played out to be less than cheerful. You don't have to do it all. Pick something and try it out. See what works. And if you can come up with your own list, share them with your friends. We're all in this together.

Here are my ten tips to tackle the holiday blues:

_Send out those greeting cards.
Even if you don't feel like it, the act of writing personal notes to your loved ones sends the message that you are loved in return. We all need to feel loved, especially when we're hurting inside.

_Decorate your personal space. It doesn't have to be elaborate, but pull out some of those decorations you have stored away and create a space where you can experience just a little bit of joy in your heart. You deserve that.

_Invite a friend to go out for hot apple cider. No need to stress about doing it yourself at home, when you might not feel like straightening up, so pick a place where you can meet. Pick the friend who makes you laugh the most, and avoid alcohol--it can only add to your down mood.

_Go for a walk, a bike ride, a short run.
Get out of the house and exercise. Even if it's cold out, the brisk air will do your heart and mind some good. Get those endorphins working for you and not against you.

_Watch a funny movie. Even if you have to do it by yourself, a funny movie is going to make you laugh, or at least smile. Your heart won't feel as heavy when it ends. Avoid movies that make you cry, unless you might need the release.

_Soak in the tub. When you're in a foul mood, sometimes a nice, hot bath can do wonders for stress relief. If you've been stuffing your feelings, the tub can also be a safe place to let loose the tears.

_Write in a journal.
Pouring out your feelings on paper is one of the best ways to unload the crap that might be vegging inside your head. If you think you've been focused on the negative for too long of a time already, then focus solely on writing about the good things you have going for you. Everyone has good things going on in their lives. Sometimes, you just might not be thinking about them. Writing positive thoughts down on paper will remind you of them.

_Call a friend. When you're feeling down, there's no need to be alone. Friends are there to help you in times like these. They may not be able to fix your troubles, but they certainly can listen. All you have to do is ask. And if you don't want them telling you what to do, just say so. Just ask them to listen.

Skip the sugary foods. When you're burdened by depression this time of year (even for good reason), those cookies you were supposed to be leaving for Santa should stay on the plate. You can find something better to munch on to heal your wounds. Unless you're good at limiting yourself, celery sticks with peanut butter, an apple, or popcorn without all that butter would be a better choice. It's not because those cookies are full of fat. It's because of the sugar. It can have a depressive effect in the long run. And since we sometimes eat when we're feeling blue, it might be an even better idea to drink a glass of water with lemon, instead.

_Make a pot of tea. The act of making tea is a ceremonial gesture in and of itself. You get to pick the tea, pick a pretty cup to pour it in. It involves the senses. And then, when you sit down to sip it, it's very relaxing. Because it's so hot at first, it takes time. You're going to enjoy these few moments no matter what. Sipping a hot cup of tea is a great way to start your day or end the evening. And it can work wonders on changing a sorry mood.

If none of these ideas work for you, what might? Write it down here and then try it out for yourself. Let us know how you feel. Sharing hurt feelings is one of the best ways to overcome them.

And the holidays really are best experienced with a light heart and a cheerful spirit.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gift giving on the cheap

This year, my family decided to have a gift exchange again in order to save us all from buying for so many people while funds are tight.

We've also begun (last year) a new tradition--exchanging ornaments. I even like that idea better. To me, it's more meaningful--and more fun, because no one gets to send a list of what they want. It's all a big surprise.

When we did it last year, we had no theme. This year and from here on out, we're picking a theme. It's "Arizona" this time, and I'm feeling kind of lucky because I have some ornaments I already purchased while on my Arizona backroad travels (For my book. See it up there on your right?). So I have my ornament all picked out. It just needs wrapping. It's a cute ornament--more for the male gender, but fun, too. I'd describe it but am afraid a family member might read this blog. So I'll refrain.

But I really do like the idea because the rules are simple: bring a wrapped ornament that follows the theme with you to the house for Christmas dinner. And there's a dollar limit. But that's it. Easy. Fun. Not difficult to find. And everyone loves ornaments, don't they? Well, most everyone I know loves them and can use them.

I especially like what's happening with our family holiday traditions because it means that someone spoke out. Someone used their Expressive voice. They couldn't afford to buy too many presents and was wise enough to say something about it. Not only that, but this person found an easy solution that adapted well to our family needs. I like that.

I notice I'm not the only one to see such holiday changes because of the economy. Other families I know are getting into the gift exchange idea. So I'd like to know what kinds of new traditions, if any, has the economy encouraged you to adopt in order to make your holidays bright?

Are you cutting back anywhere? Inviting less guests to dinner? Avoiding too many parties? Not sending out cards? Buying less presents for the kids? Not buying new decorations like you might have in the past (always something I did)? What, if anything, are you doing to afford the holiday that fits both your budget and the spirit of the season? Are you finding any resistance from other family members? If so, are you speaking out right back? Share your stories here so we can all benefit from your thoughts and ideas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Request of the week

Looking for inspiration for my next writing project, I posted a poll on LinkedIn today. I'm interested in finding out what draws you to a place. Would you answer the poll for me? Just click here to respond.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Book signing today!

If you happen to be in Phoenix today, I'm selling/signing books today, noon - 4 p.m., as part of Kiss Me Kate's Trunk Show. Kiss Me Kate is located at Camelback Village Center, 5039 N. 44th Street, Phoenix (next door to Taylor's). Stop in and say hello, browse the woman's boutique for unique finds. Pick up a copy of my new travel guide, and I'll sign it for you.

It'll make a great holiday gift for you, your family, or those out-of-town friends who are coming to visit this holiday season, or for those you want to come visit next year.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How to stay sane this holiday season

If you're like me, each year around the holidays you scream out loud--to no one in particular--"It's too early for Christmas! I'm not ready!"

But it doesn't matter if you're ready or not, the stores are ready, and out come their holiday decorations. They begin with the trick-or-treat items, extend that to pumpkins and fall leaves, and then out they bring the REAL holiday decorations: colorful glass bulbs, long silver streamers, tall fake firs or pines, live poinsettias, and dozens and dozens of bows. Once again, it's time for Christmas, and I'm not ready.

This never changes.

I'm rarely ready for the holidays. By the time they come and go, I'm always wondering when I'll have time to prepare. I get through it, but I always wonder how.

Commercialism always gets the best of me. I wind up spending more than I wanted. I wind up pulling out more decorations than I need. And I wind up hurried and scurried and stressed.

Last year, I thought I'd get a handle on the holidays and decided not to put out my tree. The year before, I'd left it out longer than necessary and didn't end up putting the tree away till August. The only reason I even bothered putting it away then was the teasing I kept getting from family and friends. I caved.

So last year, I thought I'd seen more Christmas in one year than any person deserved and left the tree and all the trimmings in storage. I didn't even miss it. I lived vicariously through my daughter's tree. After hers went up, I was glad to spend more time at her house, enjoying her decorations for a change. I liked that. A lot.

So what will I do this year? For one thing, I've decided to go light on the holiday decor again, just not that light. I'll use tabletop trees instead of the floor model. And I'm contemplating a crafty kind of project for the ornaments. Instead of dragging out my old ones, I'm thinking of making some--mostly because I think it'll be fun, but also because the artsy side of me is speaking. It needs an outlet, and I think I'll let it express itself in the form of paper crafts, glitter, and glue. Not sure what I'll be making, but I'm sure it'll be a great stress reliever.

Which brings me to the point of my post. I polled a few friends on Facebook last week about what they do to alleviate stress this time of year. Oddly? Not a single one of them mentioned crafts. But I bet you'll relate to at least one of their ideas, or have a few of your own to add:

"First, I remember that it's not about the $$ but about family and friends. I plan low-key events like an afternoon with a few friends. I'll serve pie and coffee and that's it! I don't go overboard with presents, either," says Luanne Mattson, who works in public relations and travels to southern Arizona frequently to visit with clients.

Eileen Proctor, a Top Dog in marketing and animal advocacy, says it's best to avoid the malls and big box stores between Thanksgiving and New Years! Instead, she says, "Patronize small Mom & Pops that show and tell you how much they appreciate you!"

Gwyn Nichols
, who helps authors complete their books, offers advice you can use year-round when she says, "Be prepared to call a friend. When going into a situation that could be stressful, sandwich it between two calls to your sanest friend for prayers, planning, and debriefing."

And then there's Gwen Henson, who clearly sees the holidays as a time to celebrate. "Attending holiday concerts is a high priority during the holiday season," says the woman who helps writers and speakers find their professional niche, "and the beautiful seasonal music really helps keep me sane. It is both a tradition that I honor with my mother and an experience that I now enjoy with my son. The emotion of the music carries me through the season with peace and joy in my heart."

Andrea Beaulieu cautions you to plan your time well, as she does. "I'm discerning about what I choose to do," she says, "and where I choose to go."

Of course, if none of these work for you, you can do what Catherine MacRae Hockmuth of San Diego suggests: "Avoid family?"

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Infidelity: 3 indicators that it could happen to you

News of pro golfer Tiger Woods' "transgressions" has spread like wildfire, which, as anyone with an internet connection knows, is the case with all celebrity downfalls.

Obviously, the guy's embarrassed that his alleged infidelities have been made public. Of course, it helps if you: a) don't cheat in the first place; or b) don't get caught by your wife who is wielding your favorite golf club at you as you make your escape in the Escalade. If you do the latter, especially, it's kinda your own fault that your private matter turned public. And whining about it doesn't really help; it only adds to the problem.

What might help is if you realize ahead of time infidelity really CAN be avoided. Some psychologists say it's so. Even though I've been cheated on myself, I think that's true. But when it happens, it's a real confidence BUSTER--completely opposite of what we've been discussing this week. Surely when the cheater gets caught, which is inevitable, that can't help his (or her) confidence much, either.

So to turn this "news" that just won't go away into something that is actually useable (Gossip generally isn't), I thought I'd share some of what I learned because of my own experience with infidelity. Let me be clear: I don't take ownership of what my ex did, not at all. He has to own that. I do, however, take ownership of what I didn't do to help prevent it--and most of that has to do with my choice of a mate in the first place.

Here are the three indicators I learned to watch out for--and caution you about, especially if you haven't yet married your sweetheart:

1) Before you even get married, before you even start dating, be clear about who you are and what you want from a life partner. I wasn't clear on any of that (didn't even know I should be) and wound up marrying someone who I suspected early on was not right for me. I even wrote about this in my diary. But I couldn't "see" any clear signs that anything was wrong, and I wanted to believe in the "fairytale." So I married him, anyway. It wasn't till after I decided to divorce him that I realized I hadn't been trusting my gut feelings. They are there to protect you, and I had been ignoring them. Decide what you need from a mate, and make sure the mate you find can provide that for you, within reason, of course.

2) When the man you're dating tells you he cheated on his wife, pay attention to what he's really telling you. In fact, realize that he's giving you an out right from the start. Without even realizing it, he's telling you about who he really is. This is the type of guy you don't want to call again. This is the type of guy I married. He gave me excuses about why he behaved this way, and I fell for his excuses. I didn't hear what he was really saying. Instead, I believed he was wronged by his first wife. I heard his victimhood, his pain, and I wanted to fix it, since she didn't. WARNING: Whenever you feel the need to fix someone else, that means the person who really needs fixing is you. Take care of your broken parts. Leave someone else's broken parts alone. They are not yours to heal.

3) Choose the life partner who is emotionally attached. If your future mate gives you any indication that he or she cannot relate on an emotional level, end the relationship now. This person has issues. And you might have a few of your own, otherwise, why else are you attracted to someone who cannot--or will not--be there for you? If you hear yourself saying, "But his family is the same way. They just don't do feelings," watch out! You'll wind up doing enough feelings for all of you put together! That, my friends, is called co-dependency, and it's the last thing you want to be in a relationship. It's a surefire way to infidelity--and a lot of excuses to get you there.

Agree, disagree, or do you have anything to add?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

5 confidence boosters and where to find them

To finish off your week, here's a list of five confidence boosters. Can you relate?

_When a stranger writes to you, relating back to you kind or flattering words about something they read of yours or heard you say, that's a surefire way to validate what you know.

_When a friend asks you for advice, that's a pretty good measure of their trust in you.

_When someone buys what you're selling, that's a good sign you've got something they like or want--even if it's simply your charm.

_When your business buddies invite you to their weekend retreat, that's their way of saying they want to get to know you better.

_When your adult child says, "I'm proud of you, mom," that's the best confidence booster I know.

Embrace these moments every time they come. They are the unexpected gifts that deserve to be stored somewhere safely, recalled again and again, as often as needed.

Do you have any confidence boosters of your own to share?