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.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Last Day of the January Blogathon

Today is the last day of the January Blogathon I organized with about a dozen Arizona Speakers. It's been a fun exercise to undertake. We'll next be celebrating with a Happy Hour gathering. After we do, I'll post some photos so you can learn a little more about who we are.

Also, watch for some guest posts to come. A few of my fellow Blogathoners have expressed interest in taking part in some guest blog exchanges. I'll let you know ahead of time when those will occur.

Tomorrow, we'll begin regular programming; however, if you haven't had a chance to read this month's posts on the topic of Recovery, spend a few minutes here to see if you find anything useful.

Meanwhile, here are a few of my favorite January posts--a mix from the Blogathon group:

Quotes to Live By

(I love inspiring quotes)

15 Things I Love About My Work

Fire Escape Gardner

(This was just so interesting)

Six Key Ways to Motivate Adults

(I'm curious who agrees)

American Idol Rant: Parenting
(My parent friends might like to comment on this one)

Collaborating With Yourself

(A surprising story in this one)

Are you patient?

(It's just a good question to ask yourself from time to time)

I thank you for continuing to support my efforts at helping you turn your obstacles into opportunities--even if that means remembering to blog more than once a month. I look forward to seeing more of you in 2010.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Recovery: Recurring creativity

Here's a good sign that you're in Recovery mode: creativity occurs.

If, all of a sudden, you're getting hundreds of ideas for things you want to do in your life, that's a sign your mind is clearing up to make room for success. Creativity equals success. No doubt about it.

The next step is action.

Agree or disagree? I'd love to discuss this with you. More importantly, I'd love to find out what creative endeavors you're thinking of right at this moment. What are your plans of action to make them happen?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Recovery: Seriously Part II

The month is dying down, and apparently, so am I. All I can think of is going out to eat tonight, dining on a big juicy burger from a gourmet burger restaurant--and sipping a glass of cabernet. When it comes to Recovery, I've learned to listen to my body. When it tells me to rest, I listen. So, I'm still resting.

But I have not forgotten. There are still two more days left of the Blogathon with my speaker friends, and I'm still going strong. If you have a few moments, check in with the others here, to see how they're doing.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Recovery: Seriously

It's been a busy day. I took it off as far as blogging goes. I'll return tomorrow with a fresh take. Tonight. Not so much.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Recovery: Accessing your Inner strength

I've only met one person in my life who thought he'd never had a bad day. Nothing ever hurt him. He wasn't bothered by anything. Neither did he express a whole lot of emotion. That was my ex, and I thought it impossible to live like that.

Even after he fired someone at work, even when the day came that he found out his own job was expendable, he still never talked about it and certainly didn't give off the impression that he was hurting inside. He kept it all to himself, no matter how much I encouraged him to share. He just didn't.

I'd tell him things like, "Some day, you're going to explode," because I don't believe a person can hold stuff in like that. I don't believe it's healthy. And I was right. Turns out, he was releasing his anxiety in other ways. The things that did hurt him or bother him was all hidden in behavior he didn't want anyone to know about--till it suited him.

And on the day that it suited him was the day my life changed forever.

I'd had my Inner strength tested before. After all, I'd married as a teenager. I'd become a single parent in college. I'd become a widow afterward. I knew I could survive terrible times. I'd done it before. I had "experience."

But the day my then-husband announced his famous line to me at our kitchen table--"Jackie, I've been lying to you. I've been living a secret life. I think I'm a sex addict"--was my real test. His were the words I did not understand. His choices in life were the choices that left me reeling in a pain I could not stop. That was the only time in my life when I was no longer sure how much I could handle.

So my short lesson for you today is this: Know that you can handle a lot!

You'll have to dig deep to find all that Inner strength within. You'll have to trust it's there. And some days you won't. You'll have to keep digging. You'll have to believe you can go deeper when you need it. You'll have to rely on your natural instincts. You'll have to have faith that you can move those mountains. You'll have to know that it's possible if you expect to overcome the really bad stuff.

Oh, trust me. It's natural to feel otherwise, to think you're broken beyond repair. But as long as there's even the tiniest part of you that knows otherwise, that is where you'll begin. You'll take it one second at a time if that's all you can muster. Because to fall prey to victimhood will not be the right answer in this multiple choice game of life. That response will only allow you to fail at life. But you can rise above the fall.

You may not come out on the other side the same person that you were--Hopefully, you'll arrive on the other side a better person--but you will come out of your challenging times. You will if you let yourself, and if you find the guide you need to get you there.

As you know now, my guide was my bike. It was divine intervention. It was very symbolic. And it worked.

Your guide might be something else entirely, but it is still the same process. You must still believe, have faith, and see beyond the pain. No one else can do that for you.

So just know that you always have the ability to access your Inner strength. It is there and will be there at precisely the moment when it's needed. To gain some of that believe or faith, practice accessing your Inner strength today while making that phone call you don't want to make, or having that conversation with a friend you've been avoiding, or somehow feeling stuck in a situation that feels uncomfortable. Make the call. Talk to your friend. Get past the situation that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Do whatever is is that you may have thought impossible, and you'll see that the other side isn't so bad. And you will feel better because of it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Recovery: Say cheese!

I've often heard--and I'm sure you have also--that when you're getting your picture taken, you should say, "Cheese!" It's supposed to give you the most relaxed smile. It's supposed to make it look like you're not posing. Here's another suggestion:

Live in the present moment.

When good things happen in your life, smile about it.

When you do things well, smile about it.

When you make someone feel good, smile about it.

When you complete something you're proud of, smile about it.

When you finish a job that you've worked hard on for months, smile about it.

In other words, celebrate your successes--and if you must say it, say, "Cheese!"

Just a little something to make you smile. Have a great week!

(Photo taken after a speaking engagement at the Sedona Rouge, Sedona, 2010, provided by Christine K. Bailey)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Recovery: Question of the Day

Now that we're in the last week of this month of Recovery discussion, I have a question for you to think about during this next week:

How are you feeling?


Take ten minutes each morning this week to assess how you are feeling about yourself in the following categories:







Consider these six areas in your life. Determine what feels right, what feels off, and where you can make some changes.

Write down one action statement for each category on your Post-it Note. That is, write down one thing you can do to create the necessary change you might need in each of the categories. Make the statements positive, and stick them where you're sure to see them each day this week.

Journal on Sunday to see if you've made any kind of attitude shift.

Maybe you'll discover there's an an area in your life that needs more work. If so, you'll want to focus on that in the coming months. For example, maybe you need to actually sign up for that class you've been meaning to take. Or maybe you'll finally outsource that job you know you're never going to do.

Is there an area in your life you've neglected, and you didn't even realize this. Maybe it's because you hadn't even thought about it before? Your sex life, for example? How often do we NOT even think about that! Is it satisfying? Why not? Are we talking to our partners about this in a gentle manner? Or do we just accept things the way they are? Can't we do better? That's the point of this exercise. At week's end, you should see some kind of enlightenment if you do this exercise completely.

The following week, you may even see yourself acting on your statements, if you're not already.

Any questions? Post them as a comment below.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Recovery Reminder #6: Find your pathway

The best way to be reminded that you're in Recovery--and that this means forward movement--is by finding your pathway, your North Star, your internal guide.

I found mine on a bicycle. When I needed it, it was there, called out to me--and I rode.

For three years, I rode that bike daily. I thought it was to relieve the anxiety I felt. But it was more than that, I would soon learn. It was like I was on autopilot. Granted, my life was in chaos, my thoughts were scattered, and I wasn't quite sure where I'd wind up. But I knew one thing: I knew that the bike was going to take me places. Not on tours or a vacation, or anything like that--not then. But I knew my bike was my salvation of sorts, and it was going to lead me where my mind needed to go.

Don't ask me why I knew that. I can only tell you it was divine intervention, and some people may not get that. But I did. I trusted and believed, because that's all I had at the time--hope. My bike became a symbol of hope for me, and I knew it was an important part of my Recovery, so I trusted in it.

Briefly, here's what happened on the road: I watched my growth occur in real time.

I went from being able to ride--barely--one mile, huffing and puffing all the way, to being able to ride 20, easily. I can ride much more now, but back then, that was a big deal to me. I also saw how, not only my body, but also my mind could take the hills up ahead. In the beginning, I'd see a hill up ahead and turn around. But when transformation occurred, that changed. Where once I would tell myself, "No, you can't do that. Turn around," I soon began to realize I didn't even notice the hills until after I'd approached them and was flying back down them. I didn't turn away from them anymore. They were no longer an obstacle. They were an opportunity to get to the other side--easier. The downhill ride is always the easiest.

I had accessed my Inner strength in ways I never thought possible. And it spilled over into other areas of my life. Where once I could not run a mile, I could now run 3 or 4, without stopping. Not fast. But no stopping. And, where once, I couldn't finish so much as a chapter in a book, I wrote the entire tome. You can see that in the upper right-hand corner of this page--below the blog title. That's my book. It's an accomplishment I once thought unlikely.

Removing the fear of success in that area of my life--my writing career--occurred all because of my bike, that metal contraption that became a mental one. You hear people say, "It's all in your head," and it is. But you want the right things to be there, not the negative stuff, not the negative self-talk that holds you back, or the worries and the fears that keep you from living the best life possible, the funnest life possible, the one you want to share with other people. You want to replace the negative with the positive. And that occurred for me because of an old mountain bike that once sat collecting dust in my garage.

I found my pathway to success, and it was on the seat of a bike. Yours might be on a jogging path, or a hiking trail, or on the blank canvas, or perhaps in your embroidery needles. It might even be behind the ropes on a horse or the wheel of a car or boat, or perhaps behind the trigger of a gun--if you're into target practice. You find your pathway when you give yourself the time and space necessary to connect with who you really are inside, who you are at your very core, what makes you you and why you respond to things in a certain way, and whether or not you need to learn something from that, to alter something in order to do it better or to feel better or to be better.

My mountain bike became a different kind of BIKE, a symbol for all that I am and all that I am capable of. It no longer stood for Trek. Instead, it stood for my: Best self, Inner strength, Killer instinct, Expressive voice.

I write about what that really means here and how you can have it, too.

Stay tuned or read through the archives to learn more. It's a life story filled with lessons from the seat of my bike. And it's kinda fun.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Recovery Reminder #5: Use repetition

That's right. Use repetition. If you find something that works, keep doing it. Something must be right.

That's my short and sweet message for this Saturday. Come back tomorrow when I share the story of my best Reminder of them all. Can you guess what it is?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Recovery Reminder #4: Share what you know

Here's a reminder for you:

When someone passes along information you find helpful, pay it forward. Pass that information on to someone else who might benefit. And I'll do the same.

That being said, if you're enjoying or getting something out of what you read here at BIKE WITH JACKIE, would you pass my link along to others who might benefit also? At the bottom of each post, there are icons that will allow you to do that easily. Just click them on to see what I mean. You can share my content (legally, of course--it's a link; don't copy/paste), by clicking on the icon, for example, to Twitter or Facebook. And there are others. Help spread the word. My mission is to help transform lives with my special brand of BIKE. But my reach is only so big. You can help me expand that reach. I'd really appreciate if you would.

And sign up for the RSS feed, if you haven't done so already. There's a link at the bottom of this page, and another on the right-hand side. Scroll down, and you'll find it. What that does is bring the content to you via your e-mail address. If you find that helpful, please sign up. Or, you can always choose to "follow" my blog. The place to do that is also on the right-hand side of the page. What happens when you "follow" a blog is this: you'll get updates sent directly to your blog. So you can just click on whichever post sounds interesting for you to read at the time. These kind of options might just make your life a little bit easier.

If you're the curious type, you can find links to my writing clips that are on the Web--also on the right-hand side of the page. And one final reminder: You can do a search for a particular topic I've previously written about here on the blog, such as the BIKE acronym itself. That's on, you guessed it, the right-hand side of the page.

Hope this helps make your life easier. That's what reminders are supposed to do.

By the way, if you have a blog link that you want to share, please post it as a comment below so we can click over to your site, too! After all, the blogging experience is all about sharing content. Let's work together to make that happen.

And in case you missed the list when I first posted it on January 1, click here to see the group of speakers who are participating with me in the NSA-Arizona Blogathon. Click on the links to visit their blogs and learn more about them and what they're doing to help you live your best life possible at home and at work.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Recovery Reminder #3: Quotes to live by

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell posted this today on her Facebook page, and I loved it:
"Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it." - Margaret Thatcher

Why do I love that? Let me count the ways.

1) I love it because it REMINDS me that hard work is satisfying.

2) I love it because it REMINDS me that Margaret Thatcher was a powerful woman--and still has impact.

3) I love it because it REMINDS me that I can learn from other people.

4) I love it because it REMINDS me that less is more.

5) I love it because it REMINDS me that I've felt this very same way.

6) I love it because it REMINDS me that I can have many days like this, if I so choose.

7) I love it because it REMINDS me that all things are possible.

8) I love it because it REMINDS me that obstacles only get in the way when you let them.

9) I love it because it REMINDS me that I've overcome so much, and you can do that, too!

10) I love it because it REMINDS me that life is what we make it.

Make yours the best that it can be today. And if you have a quote that you live by, please share it here as a comment.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Recovery Reminder #2: Post-it Notes

Yes, they should hire me to be their spokesperson. I refer people to those tiny sticky notes all the time. Why? Because they work great as reminders. They go up easily, come down easily, and are fun to write on.

Flexible. Replaceable. Inexpensive. What could be better?!

Post-it Notes have been one of the best tools I've ever used to remind me about things that matter, things that will make a difference, or simply things that I love to think about.

"Do not engage her," I wrote on Post-it Notes when I was having a difficult time with my then teenage daughter. I stuck them all over the house to remind me that not every issue had to turn into an argument--and she was so good at doing that. I had to have something to stop me from letting it happen. The Post-it Notes worked wonders.

"Say, 'I'll think about it first,'" I wrote on Post-it Notes when I was in the middle of my divorce. My ex would call, trying to get me to agree with what he wanted, and I needed to remind myself not to agree with him; he could use it against me. So I needed a form of protection. Post-it Notes gave me the armor I needed when he called.

"I can do all things through Christ who comforts me," I wrote on my little yellow pad when I needed to be reminded I was not alone. I stuck it up on the cupboard by the phone so I'd see it every day.

And most recently, I found this quote in a pile of papers: "Experience is a brutal teacher...but you learn. My God, you learn." C.S. Lewis said that. I just wrote it down on a Post-it Note. I'm going to use it as a reminder that the past is truly there for a reason--to teach you things. And I'm still learning. I love that. Don't you?

(BTW, did you know you can follow Post-it Notes on Twitter?)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Recovery Reminder #1: Other people's stories

As I mentioned yesterday, this week we focus on Reminders. What do you use to remind yourself a) you're in recovery, b) you're HEALING from whatever put you there, NOT staying in it, and c) you have the ability to overcome it OR move past it.

I often use other people's stories to remind me where I'm at and how far I've come. OR I use them to remind me of what I'm doing to deal with it. Here's one I found today. It came to me via a prospecting e-list called HARO (Help A Reporter Out):

"I'm writing a profile of an executive who's a disciplined mixed martial arts practitioner," the journalist wrote. "He's been at it for almost 20 years and is particularly focused on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu." Okay, not so interesting to me, personally, but I read on..."The primary angle here is that the practice bleeds into this man's business life, helping him stay in the moment." OKAY! Now, I'm interested!

The reporter went on to say that his source is able to stay "focused on clients' needs. He doesn't tend to get knocked off his game." He was looking for executives with similar experiences with this sort of disciplined physical practice to discuss how it helps create a balanced, competitive edge on the job.

I totally get that. That's what riding a bicycle did for me. It helped me stay focused on my mission--to move past my divorce without holding onto the bitterness that often clouds a divorcing person's heart, mind and soul. When your thoughts are clouded from bitterness, you don't think clearly, you don't act smartly, and you don't move past the pain. You stay stuck.

So a story like this reminds me why I did what I did and why I continue to do it. Because it worked. Riding that mountain bike helped me accomplish a very important goal and turn what might have been a huge obstacle into an opportunity. It gave me a new career.

It wasn't just the mere fact that I rode; it's what happened while I rode. I gave myself time. I had time to think, to process, to make room for creative solutions, and I solved the challenge I was confronting at the time with my dignity and self-respect intact. It made me AWARE of exactly how much I could accomplish when I stayed in the moment.

It was a discipline I practiced regularly for three years. That was the lifespan of my marital divorce. And let me tell you, without that bike, I wouldn't have handled it so well. My bike served as the scaffolding that helped keep me steady when my world threatened to collapse around me. Don't get me wrong. Parts of it inevitably did collapse. But those parts were reparable. Breakage is reparable.

Stories like the guy's mentioned above remind me of that.

Have you ever used other people's stories in this way? If so, share with us here how that worked for you.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Recovery: Using reminders

You may notice that I repeat myself here at BIKE WITH JACKIE. There's good reason for that. I don't mean to bore you. What I'm doing is giving you reminders.

Without reminders, we all too easily forget that which we want to do, think we should do, or really, really need to do in order to create change.

During Recovery periods, the expectation is that change will occur. The old will be made new. Think of what's happening in Haiti right now. The earthquake destroyed Port Au Prince and other parts of the countryside. Buildings have toppled. Lives have been lost. Lives have been altered. In order for the people who live there to find peace again, Recovery from the resulting wounds will be necessary. It will take time.

This is the same process for anyone who hopes to overcome a loss or tragedy, or for anyone having to give up something for whatever reason. You must adapt. You must relearn. You must accept your new role or new reality. Sometimes, the only way to do that is to be reminded of how this can be done. The people of Haiti are not there yet. But when they arrive at the moment when they can begin true Recovery, they, too, will need reminders of how this is possible.

So this week, we'll focus on reminders you can use to create the change you need in your life right now.

Do you have any idea what they might be?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Recovery: Dealing with change

Because Sunday is the day of rest, it's a good day to spend time meditating on the changes going on in your life. If you haven't ridden a bike in a while, it might be a good day to hop on. The ride will give you the time alone your mind needs to process information. If no bike is available, a walk or a jog or yoga poses will do. While "there," think about the changes you are making, how you're adapting to them, and consider any resistance you may be feeling. This week, we'll discuss a few tools you can use to manifest the change you are seeking and how you can be sure you're headed in the right direction. Is that resistance trying to tell you something?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Recovery: Assessing your progress

In life, in work, with our families, we all need to take stock of where we are, where we want to go, and what we're doing to get there--especially if you notice lack of movement in a particular area. It's good to keep track so you can stay on task. Otherwise, it's too easy to get distracted.

Thus, here at BIKE WITH JACKIE, it's time to take stock of what we've discussed so far this month. For me, personally, I want to know where to take you next. So here's my Recovery recap:

Day 1: We began by starting a Blogathon with a group of speaker friends from the Arizona chapter of the National Speakers Association. This shows you we don't have to work alone. We can bring people in with us to help advance progress.

Day 2: Next, we discussed the importance of "letting go" the things that hold us back.

Day 3:
We next were reminded that, even though we'll have them, we CAN move past the setbacks during Recovery.

Day 4: To be able to move forward, we had to learn a few coping skills or learn to embrace the ones we already have.

Day 5: We discussed the great things about us as a reminder to affirm ourselves.

Day 6: I'm a big fan of writing down your thoughts, so I added journaling as something very important to do during Recovery.

Day 7:
Then we got to relish in the breakthroughs, thank goodness.

Day 8: After all that hard work in Week One, it was time to nurture ourselves.

Day 9: Of course, we don't want to forget to celebrate our goodness.

Day 10:
And we must always remember to take down time, to give our body, mind and spirit the rest that it deserves.

Day 11:
We learned on this day to avoid those absolutes, to stop awfulizing and begin seeing things as they really are.

Day 12: Some of us have to work on some of these things more frequently than others. I have to work on the one we discussed on this day: simplifying life.

Day 13: And isn't it grand when we realize we can simply start over?

Day 14: Another way to work your Recovery is to think about others. This way you're not just focusing on your problems. You realize others have problems, too. What can you do to help them?

Day 15: At the halfway point, we were reminded to have fun and think about 15 Things you love or plan to do, or anything at all. It was a free-writing exercise.

Today, we're reminded to take stock, to look back and review our progress. Every day gives us another chance to move forward in life. If we focus on what we're doing to make that happen, we can't go wrong.

In this next week, think about what forward movement looks like to you. What we discuss at BIKE WITH JACKIE is meant only to give you ideas. There's no right or wrong. Your Recovery, in other words, your Success, can only be prescribed by you. If you need to draw a picture of what it looks like, do that. If you need to write out a list, that's a good idea. Give yourself ten minutes every morning this week to consider this. If something sparks an idea, write it down. It might be helpful to keep a Success Journal where you can keep track of your progress in whatever way that works for you.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Recovery: 15 things to move you forward

I just started a second series of classes at a homeless shelter here in Phoenix called Homeward Bound. I taught the first class almost two years ago. They asked me to come back this year to teach what I call my BIKE LESSONS.

Basically, I visit with a group of women the shelter sends to me, and we discuss my BIKE philosophy, one letter at a time. Wednesday night, I met with this group of women for the first time. So we spent the evening introducing ourselves, telling our stories, finding our connection. The women are all ages, with various backgrounds, most of them coming from an abusive or addictive home life. They've generally been in and out of treatment. When they get to Homeward Bound, they've hit rock bottom and have finally reached the point where they are willing to ask for help. They WANT the help, and these are the women I work with at the shelter. They are ready and willing to learn how to move forward. They want to take the next step. If I can give them a tool they can use to do that, I'm honored to be a part of their growth.

The work I'll be doing with them this next four weeks makes me think of all that I want to tell them. So here are 15 things I'll share. You might find the list useful as well:

It won't just move you forward, it'll give you time to process what's happening in your life.

2) TALK TO A FRIEND. Not just any friend, call the one you know will understand what you're going through, but not the friend who will let you wallow.

Just get out there and walk off any anxiety you might be feeling. It doesn't cost anything, so get up and go.

4) FIND A THERAPIST. If you're not speaking to a professional, you should be. They'll provide the safe environment for you that your friends and family cannot.

What are you going through? Have you read about it? If not, a book that focuses on your specific challenge can provide insights you can use.

6) WRITE IT DOWN. In your worst moments, you need to get those thoughts out of your head. Writing them down in a journal will provide relief from the burden.

Do you find yourself stifling the tears? Don't. Let them out. Release that energy so you can breathe again.

And then a few more. Breathing deeply, in and out, helps reduce inner stress and calms your nerves.

9) LAUGH OUT LOUD. You don't have to know a good joke to produce a big belly laugh. Just force it out. HA. HA. HA. HA. HA.

A healthy mind requires a good meal. Snack foods do not nourish your body the way fresh foods can. So practice good eating habits.

11) SING AN UPLIFTING SONG. Music has proven healing effects. Even if you don't know all the words, singing a favorite song can shift a mood into high gear. The faster the pace, the better.

12) DANCE TO YOUR FAVORITE BEAT. Turn on the radio or listen to your favorite dance tune, get up off the couch, and move your body to the rhythm of the beat. You'll feel better afterward.

13) CLEAN YOUR HOUSE. If you lean toward depressive states of mind, the way you keep house may reveal that. Spend time cleaning house this weekend. It'll lift your spirits back up where they belong.

14) PLAY A GAME. Even if you're alone, you can still pick up a deck of cards and play Solitaire. It'll give your mind something else to do than feel sorry for itself.

After you've taken this much action, it's time to show yourself some appreciation with your very own tea party. If you have loose leaf, that's the best. But any old tea bag will do. Just pour, sip and relish the moment.

How about writing your own list of "15 Things" on your blog? If you do, come back and post the link below so we can all read what you have to say.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Recovery: Thinking of others, Haitians, for example

Today, let's focus our attention on what's happening in Haiti.

How you can help the earthquake victims:

American Red Cross


National Nurses United

Doctors Without Borders

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Recovery: Starting over

I begin teaching a series of BIKE LESSON classes tonight at a homeless shelter here in Phoenix called Homeward Bound. I'll spend the next five weeks introducing 10 women to my BIKE philosophy. They live temporarily in the shelter while they get their lives together. Some of them will be recovering from addictions. Some of them will have escaped an abusive partner. Most of them have young children. None of them can make it on their own just yet. They are all starting over.

Because I've "been there done that," I approached the organization, thinking I might have something to offer these women. The executive director agreed. So I volunteered to teach there last year. They sent 8 women to me, and five stuck it out. I really enjoyed working with them and felt I had a connection with them. I'm not sure what happened when I left. The shelter has scheduled a reunion day with the women from my first class in six weeks, after this new session ends. I'm looking forward to that. One of the women in that first year told me she wanted to do what I'm doing--that is, teach other women how to live a better life. And I saw that she actually was. I can't wait to see her and get a chance to catch up.

What I want to instill in their minds more than anything else boils down to one word: hope.

When you're starting over, starting fresh, if you don't have hope that things will get better, you're already behind.

In your worst moments, let's discuss today how you connected with that word. Where do you think "hope" comes from, and how can you manifest it in your own life? Do you agree with what I believe, that it's a spiritual thing?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Recovery: Simplifying your life

How many of you would love to clear the clutter out of your house, mind and life. If I could see a show of hands, my guess is I'd see all of your hands shoot up high into the air, like a rocket just launched from NASA. Can you see mine? It's my right, and it's up there, right next to yours.

When you're in Recovery, you naturally have more room in your head. You've already been clearing out those old thoughts. You know, the ones that didn't get you anywhere--the negative self-talk, the "Oh, if onlys," and the "awfulizing." That was a complete waste of your time. You don't need to think that way, anymore, so out that goes!

Now you have room to clean out the physical clutter. You might start with the old clothes you used to wear when you didn't feel so great about yourself. Pitch them. Off to Goodwill they go! And maybe your personal space can use a clearing out, too.

In and of itself, Recovery is a natural motivator and leads to simplifying your life, or at the very least, wanting to simplify. It forces you to relieve yourself of what kept you stuck in the past so that you can move forward into the future. It makes room and gives you the energy for action.

So what is it that you need to do to simplify your life? Is there just one thing you can do today to make that happen? Just one thing? Write it down here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Recovery: Awfulizing. Are you still doing it?

If it's not a word, it should be. It's one I'm pretty sure I learned in the comfy chair of my therapist's office.

"I'm always doing this wrong."

"He's never going to stop!"

"Why does it always have to be this way?"

Those are generic statements, but they work fine as examples of what awfulizing is. Have you ever done it? My guess is you have. It's what happens when we turn every negative into an absolute. Everything is always at it's worst. That's awfulizing.

When you're in Recovery mode, you're paying attention to those absolutes. You're using them less often. And you're realizing everything's just not that bad.

Your assignment for the week: each time you hear yourself "awfulizing," write it down. Write down the exact phrasing you used. By Sunday evening, if this is a regular habit of yours, you'll see it right there on paper. You won't be able to deny it, and you'll be better equipped to curb it.

Are you willing to do that?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Recovery: Taking down time

Today, my message is simple. Take a break! Get your down time. It's part of any self-care practices you want to incorporate into your life. Most weeks, I do work nearly every day. But even bloggers get to take time off the clock--even during a Blogathon!

See you back on Monday.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Recovery: Celebrating you

I truly believe we are all in Recovery. Every one of us.

Think about it. We've all suffered setbacks. We've all had to deal with trying times. We're all faced with challenges--almost all the time. Most of us would be out of work if this weren't true. Innovation comes from a challenge. New therapies stem from personal dilemmas. Researchers everyday spend time in labs to find the answer to a pressing need. We're all in Recovery. Or maybe that's the way we should be operating, because it implies that you're taking responsibility.

I tell my life stories here at BIKE WITH JACKIE, and they're not always pretty. I do it to let you know that it's okay to be real and raw. I've learned from my own relationships with people who hid who they really were that you can't be intimate with them. You can't trust them. You can't rely on them. And you can't be real with them in return. That's a much larger loss than the eventual breakdown of the relationship itself.

So my mission in life is to help other people get real with their life challenges, to admit them, and then to deal with them, simply because they stop us from moving forward. To accomplish my mission, I teach, sometimes indirectly, how my spiritual navigation tool (the mental BIKE) can be applied to your life. This is briefly explained at the top of this page.

But, basically, I spend time here sharing the lessons I learned from the seat of my bike, lessons that are never-ending. I continue learning new ones, as we all do if we're paying attention, because Recovery IS on-going. It's what we do while we're living life. It's only when we stop living that Recovery ends.

You see, for me, my special brand of BIKE represents rebirth, growth and most especially moving forward.

To do that, I've learned one most important lesson: You must celebrate your successes. Your successes, no matter what they mean to anyone else, are your big deals. They deserve the attention they've earned. And that what's today's post is about: celebrating you, celebrating your successes.

With that, I'd like to announce my most current one:

I just found out my book (pictured above with a goofy grinning me beside it at Barnes & Noble, Kierland Commons, taken by my friend Rebecca A. Allen) is doing so well that I've earned half of my advance already--in just three months!

That's a pretty good track record, folks--one that had my publisher sending me a Royalty Statement a year before I was expecting one. When I opened that letter yesterday, I was pretty darn happy. I know I've been working hard to sell the book, to pitch the book, to get the word out, but I had no idea I was doing that well--not until my publisher told me. So I celebrated. I shared the information with a neighbor, and she popped open a bottle of wine, and we toasted. Then my boyfriend took me out to dinner. And now I'm celebrating here, by sharing the message with you.

Here's why it's so important: Ten years ago, I certainly didn't think I could ever write a book. It would have been too overwhelming a task for me. I know. I tried. I was assigned to do a chapter of a travel guide for a publishing company, and I had to turn the project back in. I had to give up on the job. For personal reasons that were going on in my life that I didn't even know existed, I just couldn't do it.

Clearly, that wasn't the greatest moment in my life. But when I was able to put that behind me and forgive myself that part of my life, the world and all its possibilities opened up again. I began looking for them, seeing them and embracing them. So the travel guide pictured above became yet another symbol. It, too, relates to my BIKE message, which empowers you think differently about yourself. For one thing, you'll be able to recognize when your "tough hill" is ahead, and you'll know you can climb it anyway, because:

You can make mistakes and overcome them.

You can be a better person than you thought you were.

You can do much more than you ever thought you could.

You can choose to associate with people who will help make your dreams come true.

You can change your mind and create new dreams.

You can grow yourself physically, no matter how out of shape you think you are.

You can grow yourself mentally, no matter how doomed you feel.

You can celebrate your successes, because you've earned them.

And your success deserves your respect. It's great when other people celebrate with you, but that's not the important thing. The important thing is that you celebrate you.

So, let me ask you? When was the last time you gave yourself this gift? Write it down here so we can watch you shine.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Recovery: Nurturing yourself

During Recovery, it's important to remember to take care of yourself. Your physical health is equally as important as your mental health. The two go hand in hand.

Today, I was able to spend the morning at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass spa. Called Aji, I took time out of my day to enjoy one of their new treatments there. The treatment's not even on the menu yet, but my contact there offered me the opportunity to be one of the first guests to sample it ahead of time.

Called the Four Directions Treatment, the two-part service was created by Dawn Enos, one of the culture caregivers at the resort, which is on land owned by the Pima Indians. Inspired by a Native American creation story, Dawn modeled the treatment after the four directions on earth. Using four indigenous ingredients you can find on the reservation, she says the colors each symbolize a direction: pomegranite, which is red for west; salt or white for east; honey, which is tan for south; and blue cornmeal for the north.

Enos combines the mixture in front of you, explaining the creation story as she pours. For this treatment, you lay on a table tub under a Vichy shower--a hinged overhead shower with several heads that a massage therapist uses to rinse off treatment product. After she scrubs you on one side, she rinses you off with a cascade of warm water from above. Then you turn over for the back portion, which I thought was the most relaxing. It's not a treatment for shy types, though, as you're not fully covered at any time during this treatment.

The second portion of the treatment involves moisturization with a citrus lotion. For that, you go to another treatment room, where you'll lay on the typical massage table. Moving from the soft scent of honey to a very strong blood orange and lemon scent really awakens the senses. In fact, I can still smell the lotion on me. And Dawn gave me what was left to take home.

After a relaxing lunch out by the pool, I was ready to go home and go to bed.

But work called me.

Nevertheless, if you're not taking time out for special treatments like this once in a while--even if it's a more affordable bubble bath at home--you might need to schedule some nurturing time.

What are some ways you have nurtured yourself in the past?

(Above photo provided by Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Recovery: Breakthroughs happen

The dictionary refers to a breakthrough as "an act or instance of breaking through an obstacle." That's what Recovery is all about--breaking through those obstacles that threaten to upset your life.

Obstacles, by their very own definition, place objects, people or thoughts in the way. When they are there, we sometimes think we cannot get past them. They are, after all, in the way, right?

But you don't have to be a Super Hero to move them. You just have to want them moved. I'm not talking about "thinking" your way around, over, under, or beside them. I'm talking about DOING something to get those obstacles out of the way.

When you're facing difficult times in life, whether that involves work, family, or your own inner demons, we can be challenged to our very core. Depending on what that challenge is, it can seem like a test we are sure to fail. But when you're working your recovery--when you're reading about something you need to learn, when you're learning a new skill to help you get that promotion, when you're going to regular counseling sessions to work on your relationships with others or yourself, when you're exercising and eating right because your health depends upon it--breakthroughs happen. They happen because you're fighting for them. And they happen because you're ready to replace the obstacles with solutions.

As I've mentioned before, Recovery is about action. You have to do something about a negative situation in order to turn it into a positive. A breakthrough is part of the solution. It's the answer, but it isn't yet solved. You're half-way there. You just need to put it in place.

Take what happened to me today: I have a strategic plan for my business. I wrote it with the help of a business coach. But it's not moving me where I want to go. I've needed to tweak it a bit. But I wasn't sure how. This is a challenge that's been bugging me for quite some time. The economic situation has affected my earnings and my savings, and I've been concerned about the dwindling numbers. I thought having a strategic plan in place would help. But that wasn't enough. It wasn't focused on the numbers I need to earn. It was focused on things I still need to do, but not on the money I need to earn and how to get the jobs that will pay it.

So I get a call from my financial advisor yesterday, who says something I needed to hear, was expecting to hear. I even thought I would have heard it sooner. And there it was. I had to face it. We'll be meeting next week to discuss my finances and what I'm doing to replenish that which I've been taking out. He didn't have harsh words for me. Just honest ones. And I found myself moping around this morning with worry. He's right. My income level is not where it needs to be. I am taking out funds from my accounts because of that. And I haven't had a plan in place to correct the delinquency. So, instead of being able to focus today on the edits I needed to do (the work that earns the dollars and cents), I kept finding other things to do. I told you; I was worried.

Finally, I gave in to the worry and left the house. I grabbed a book, a newsletter, and a few dollars and went to Starbucks for some coffee and down time. Within an hour, while reading an association newsletter, I came up with the financial plan I need. It was a breakthrough moment for me. I now know what I need to do in order to meet my financial goals by year-end--and please my financial advisor in the process. You see, he's part of my team. I need him, and he needs me. We work together, or we can't work at all. I wasn't doing my part. But now, I can show him otherwise.

Now, when I meet him next week, I have a plan in place, I know what to do, and he'll help me carry it out. The worry, which was my obstacle in this case, is gone. And I can focus on my work again.

How about you? Have you had any good breakthroughs lately?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Recovery: The importance of journaling

For anyone who really knows me, you know I keep journals. I have dozens of those Mead Composition books filled to the rim with rambling passages about life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

Generally, I write when I'm trying to solve a problem. I pull out an ink pen, sit down with a new or old Mead, and write. I can write like this for hours. Everything falls out onto the page in messy cursive letters that I'm always amazed I can still decipher years later. No one else can. But I can. It's made me realize my handwriting is my own secret code. That's probably a good thing, as what gets written down would probably scare people who don't journal or get inside their head too often.

Inside my journals, you'll find emotional twists and turns, dramatic moments, and sometimes cuss words. I tell on people. I tell on myself. I tell stories. I cry. I yell. I scream. I can be angry on the page, and it won't hurt anyone. I do not show my journals to other people. I write what I write because it makes me feel better.

If you did happen to see inside of my Composition books, you'd find odd doodles as well. When I am anxious about something that's going on in life, I will write my name over and over again. Or I'll draw the same design over and over. It might be flowers. It might be cubed boxes. It might be circles of various sizes and configurations. For whatever reason, this calms me. It probably lets my mind take the rest it needs. By the way, that's what bike riding does for me as well, but I'll get to that in another post later.

I have used writing as a healing tool for as long as I can remember. I also remember when I lost my early childhood ones. I didn't lose them, exactly; I was forced to toss them out by my first husband. He was domineering and didn't know any better. When he learned about my journals (I called them diaries back then), where I'd written about my first love (I was 12; it wasn't a big deal), he made me throw them out. He literally stood over me as I gathered my beloved books together and dropped them in the trash outside. I was 16, newly married and mortified. I felt like I was throwing out a part of me. Four years later, even though he was the biological father of my children, I divorced him. Not because of the journals, necessarily, but because we weren't a good match. I didn't have the guidance a girl needs to realize it beforehand. I figured that out on my own in the journals I started to keep later and kept hidden from him. For whatever reason, I knew I couldn't give that part of me up and found a way to continue. I wrote a lot of poetry in those journals. I still have them, but none of the poetry's any good. So don't worry, I won't publish it here.

My point is that if writing will help you deal with life's trials, especially if you're drawn to it naturally, I recommend using it. If you've never tried it, it's never too late to begin a good habit.

You don't need a fancy writing tool. You don't need an expensive notebook. I buy the Mead books up when I can find them for a dollar a piece. But anything will do. All you need is your basic pen or pencil and paper. If you like, you can use your computer, though I truly believe in the connection of brain to pen to paper. I think something different occurs during the act of writing with a pen that doesn't when typing on a keyboard. But whatever works for you is what works for you.

I have used journals for specific purposes. For instance, when I wanted to focus my mind on a specific challenge, I wrote only about that challenge. During moments of frustration, for example, when I'm having a difficult time seeing the good things in life, I have Grateful Journals. Those are where I write nothing inside the pages but words that describe what I'm grateful for on that day. Nothing else goes in there. And I'll do that for a month, until my mind accepts the better perspective.

I've journaled in the early days of grief, after my second husband died in a car accident. Those journals are filled with cries and tears and fears--and pictures of the man I loved who died too young.

And then I have my Divorce Journals--the ones that stem from what happened with my third husband. I have dozens of those--and they will some day be a book, as the words inside those pages all relate to what I write about here. He's why I discovered my special brand of BIKE, and for that I'm grateful. It says so in one of my journals. :-)

You see, writing has always been a source of comfort for me. It could be one for you as well.

If you have never tried journaling, a good source of inspiration, and one way to learn about its powerful effects is by reading Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. I speak a lot about her here. So do other creatives, such as Quinn McDonald. Cameron considers journal writing a means to connect with your creativity, or unblock it. She espouses its healing effects. She suggests you use journaling, what she calls The Morning Pages, to help get the crap out of your head so you can find the source of whatever holds you back--and solve the problem.

So there you have it. Journaling. Blogging is a form of journaling, in case you hadn't thought of that. Except, with blogging you're writing to help others and not just yourself. Regardless, if you are having a difficult time right now and don't know what to do about it, journaling might be the way to go. If nothing else, it will release the crap out of your head. On a higher note, the connection you make on the page by dragging out with your pen all the thoughts jumbled inside of your brain will lead you where you need to go in your pursuit of happiness. It just will. So give it a try.

For those of you who have a journaling case study and would like to share it with us so the rest of you can see I'm not as crazy as I seem, please do.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Recovery: Affirming yourself

Yesterday, we discussed coping skills. One I left out on purpose, because it deserves its own page, is the act of affirming yourself.

Repeating affirmations to yourself can be a positive aspect of living a life in Recovery. You use them to remind yourself that you're just like Al Franken's "Saturday Night Live" character Stuart Smalley. You're good enough, you're smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like you. Only, in this case, you like you.

If you need to know why, affirmations will tell you. They can be written or spoken, but they must be words with a positive perspective, since they are the words you keep telling yourself. You are affirming beliefs about yourself when you utilize them, and they won't do you any good if they're negative. In fact, affirmations can negate the negative...that is, remove self-doubt.

I have used them all of my life, but I have not always been successful with them. I have still heard myself slip in those, "I'm such a dummy" or "I'm terrible at math" or "I'm never going to learn how to do this" comments. On the surface, these phrases may sound funny, and you may not think you're taking them seriously, but they do leave an impression. And the impression sticks. It's not a good one. In time, your mind starts to believe those negative comments. Your mind starts to believe the lies you are telling yourself.

LIGHTBULB! When you realize your mind can believe the negative comments you say, then you can see how it can also believe the POSITIVE. So, we use affirmations to remove the negative comments (that sneaky self-doubt) and replace them with life enhancing, reassuring affirmations--phrases that lift us up rather than push us down.

Just for practice, find a mirror, stand in front of it it, and say the following:

I am a good person.
I care about myself.
I work to the best of my ability.

These are three basic affirmations that will work for a man or a woman (both genders can benefit). They are simple statements of fact, or they are statements that you want to be fact and are working toward.

Now, create your own. Make a list. Think of 3-5 phrases you've heard yourself say recently or know that you've said often enough that create negative energy inside of you. Turn those statements around into positives. I'm talking about anything related to work, parenting, life at home, anything at all. It could involve a simple mistake that many of us have made at some time or another, for instance, after that time you ran out of gas and called for help, saying something like, "I'm so stupid and didn't fill my tank in time."

That's a lie you tell yourself. Think about it. So what if you run out of gas? So what? Yes, maybe you could have paid better attention. Maybe you could have glanced at the gas gauge before you drove off down the street. Maybe you could have done a number of things to prevent yourself from running out of gas. But it happens. It's not stupid. You're not stupid for doing it. It's just an event that occurred that's inconvenient. The tank can be filled back up. You can call the AAA company or other mobile service/auto club you belong to for help. A stranger behind you might pull over and help. The truth is, it's a mistake that can be corrected easily.

You're not stupid for making mistakes. But if you ever hear yourself say that you are, stop yourself immediately and say out loud something like this: "Thank goodness, I'm smart and joined that auto club. Now I can get the help I need."

Affirmations are empowering statements. They allow us to do good things for ourselves. Whereas, negative statements do not. They keep us where insanity wants us to stay--insane, angry, upset, stressed, maybe even immobile. Affirmations help move us forward.

Once you have your list of affirmations ready, write them down on Post-it notes and stick them in places where you'll see them regularly--on your computer screen, on your bathroom mirror, on the dashboard of your car, on the refrigerator. Stick them in places where you regularly look. And say them out loud when you see them. You want to retrain your brain to think positive thoughts, to see yourself the way you want to be or know you really are. You want to stop lying to yourself.

When you can see the truth of who you really are, your Recovery is working in your favor.

If you skipped the above exercise but know there is an affirmation you need to be saying to yourself out loud right now, what is it? Write it down right here. We'll say it out loud with you. At BIKE WITH JACKIE, as long as we are willing and able, we help each other. We are all in Recovery together.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Recovery: coping skills

Now that you understand the importance of letting go and can accept that there will be setbacks, what's next? What I've learned throughout my own Recovery is that I am going to need coping skills.

Coping skills are the tools we have within and without ourselves that help hold us up when we feel weak. Like a building has an iron frame and our body has a skeleton of bones, our mind also needs something to shore it up. We begin learning coping skills as children. When we get into trouble, we might tell a little white lie to avoid the consequence, or say something funny to divert attention from the circumstance. We learn where the best hiding places are, or where to go when we need time alone. We engage in escapism--inside the pages of a book, perhaps. Or we create an imaginary friend. We look for ways to provide the security Maslow (hierarchy of needs) says we naturally seek as human beings.

As we get older, we continue to use some of these early behaviors. We also adopt new ones. Maybe we begin journaling. Maybe we take up running. Maybe we gossip with our friends. Maybe we yell, kick or scream. Maybe we continue to crack jokes. Maybe we shut down. Coping skills have a lot to do with our individual personalities.

Do you know what your coping skills are? What are some of the tools you've adopted over the years that help you deal with change or the difficult times in life? Could you use a few more to place in your toolbox? Here's a list for you to review. Read through it and see what you currently use, or what you could begin making use of now. Maybe you aren't even aware you had coping skills or tools that would benefit you in times of need.

If there's something missing from this list that you have found useful in your own life, please add it as a comment below:

_Engage in a morning ritual that includes breathing exercises and meditation.
_Make a plan of action if you feel stuck. A simple written outline can do the trick.
_Watch a sunrise or sunset.
_Hike a mountain trail and spend time at the top taking in the view.
_Go for a bike ride, either alone or with a friend.
_Plan a week's worth of healthy meals.
_Schedule time in your daily routine for exercise, just 20 minutes for starters.
_Drink more water to flush out toxins.
_Jog in place to release stress, or jump rope.
_Begin a grateful journal.
_Journal what you eat on a daily basis, if you think food is an issue with you.
_Take an art class.
_Subscribe to a fun-for-you magazine and read it the minute it arrives in your mailbox.
_Read a chick lit or sci-fi novel, just for fun, from cover to cover.
_Take yourself on a date--no kids, no spouse, no partner, no dog, just you.
_Scream as loud as you can.
_Go wash the car.
_Play a musical instrument, if you have that talent.
_Sing a song in the shower, as loud as you can.
_Take an improvisation or acting class.
_Organize the shelves in your kitchen or the closet.
_Alphabetize your books.
_Order in and watch your favorite movie.
_Color in a coloring book.
_Doodle on a page.
_Go for a brisk walk, without the dog.
_Mow the lawn or trim the bushes.
_Clean the windows.
_Take a long, hot bath.
_Sit in the jacuzzi or go for a swim.
_Find a partner and play catch with a ball, Frisbee or other similar object.
_Go dancing.
_Light a fire in the fireplace and drink hot chocolate.
_Make a pot of loose leaf tea and drink it in your best china cup and saucer.
_Visit the nearest coffee house and people watch.
_Splurge on yourself at your favorite restaurant or clothing boutique.
_Visit your Farmer's Market and buy fresh and local.
_Call a friend or therapist.
_Take time to talk to your spouse or partner.
_Plan a vacation or a long weekend getaway.

If you'll notice, some of the suggestions on this list sound like work, while others sound like fun. The point is that they can help you get your mind off your troubles if that that's all you need at the moment. Or they can help you relax. Or they can help you solve the problem. Taking time for yourself, to be alone with your thoughts, to think through the challenges of the day, can be all you need to find the solution, to feel better, to move foward. Coping skills are not meant to be time wasters. They are meant to give you time--the time you need to adjust to new feelings, new surroundings, new people, new experiences, new whatevers.

Coping skills are learned behaviors, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. So we can all stand to learn new ones.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Recovery: Moving past the setbacks

In Recovery, if you think you're always going to move forward, you're wrong. You take "one step forward, two steps back." Just like the song says.


I know. That really sucks. But it's true. So, let's just deal with the reality right here, right up front, and that is this: If you can count on anything in Recovery, you can count on experiencing setbacks.

I do mean the plural form, for more than one. I don't know how many, I just know those nasty little setbacks will return when you least expect them, and sometimes you'll know they're coming. Other times, they'll be so big and burdensom and heavy, yet manage to still sneak up on you. It'll be months before you recognize, "Oh, so that's why I've been doing that!"

I've been in the middle of one myself this past year. Yep, you heard me right. I said, "year." Despite so many successes in 2009, I've also experienced a setback--a long-term one that just wouldn't let go of it's choke-hold on me. I knew it. I knew I couldn't stop it. And I knew I'd get through it. I was just riding it out, so to speak, on my symbolic BIKE.

So I let myself feel bad. I let myself be angry. I stayed away from people when I knew I wasn't going to be good company. I took charge of my feelings and just went with it, because I knew they would pass. I think that's the best way to get through these kinds of obstacles.

For me, I could tell when I was acting out my setback. It mostly had to do with words; I said things that I should have kept to myself--to and about a particular person. And I knew it. But I just let those words escape my mouth, anyway. I'd say I felt better afterward, but I didn't. Not really. In one instance, I wanted to make a person feel something that he wasn't going to, no matter what I did or didn't do. In another instance, I wasn't trusting my gut instincts. I was falling back into my codependent ways.

So I read. I pulled out Melody Beattie's book on the topic and read the parts that would alert me to my bad behavior and make me confront myself. And then I realized that sometimes, I'm not going to do the right thing. Sometimes, I'm just going to feel what I'm feeling. And maybe I better write it all down, rather than put it out there where it really won't do any good. So that's what I did. I journaled.

In Recovery, you must believe you'll get through it, whatever "it" is. You must believe that you can go ahead and feel the bad feelings, that they won't hurt you any more than what caused them, that they are probably the right and true effect. Remember, in yesterday's post, I mentioned that feelings are fleeting. That means they'll pass.

If you're experiencing a setback right now, if you're in a moment where you recognize you are stuck--again--realize that's normal. It doesn't mean you won't overcome it. It doesn't mean you're failing. It just means you've probably found a trigger, something that pulled you back into the grief. From here on out, focus on what that trigger might be. Is it a person who reminds you of someone that hurt you? Is it that person? Maybe you had to come in contact with him or her for some reason? Did an event spark a memory? When you figure out what the trigger is, and maybe there's more than one, then you'll have an awareness that you didn't have before, and you'll be better able to cope with the challenge. You'll read a book that you know will help. You'll journal. You'll make a phone call to your favorite therapist. You'll take action.

Think of your setback as just another life challenge to face and then set aside when done with it. It's not your friend. It's not your enemy. It's just another challenge. And challenges are like puzzles. Once you figure them out, you don't have to do that particular one again.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Recovery: Letting go

My New York-based friend Irene Levine writes a blog about friendship to go along with her book and work on the same topic. Yesterday she referred her friends to the goodbye column written by Ellen Goodman over at The Washington Post. In her final column for the newspaper (Goodman's retiring) that ran yesterday, the journalist writes something that caught my eye. She writes about the "Graceful Exit." She writes about letting go.

So we begin the lessons on Recovery this month with "Letting go," because it can be an empowering way to begin the process. And don't fret over this, but let me share with you a secret: Recovery is a lifelong process. That is in no way meant to be a negative. That's definitely a positive. It means you continually get the chance to make a fresh start. We'll never stop making mistakes, missing the mark on something, doing something we wish we wouldn't. We're human. We don't do it all 100 percent. We won't give it all 100 percent. We won't be perfect. Ever. So, it seems to me you're empowered when you realize you always have the opportunity for a fresh start. When you let go, you've gained an immediate sense of liberty. It's liberating to know you get those do-overs--however many you need.

But first you must let go of something.

So let's start with the past. You're hearing a lot of people say something like, "Thank goodness 2009's over. It was a horrible year. I'm ready to let that one go." It's a wonderful exclamation of the freedom I'm talking about today. It means these folks are focusing on moving forward. Letting go. Moving forward. It doesn't mean you forget. To me, it means not holding on to that which holds you back. It's not about pretending nothing ever happened. It's about letting go the grudges, being able to forgive someone of something, accepting what you can't control, being okay with what IS. It's about letting go the FEELINGS that can tie you down.

The great thing about "feelings" that we don't always recognize is that they are fleeting. Holding onto them essentially means you're holding onto an energy that might not even be there tomorrow. Ask yourself this question: Have I ever been worried, for instance, about something I said to someone and they didn't even remember what I said? Have I ever fought with someone, when, not one month later, neither of us could remember what we fought about? That's the kind of stuff you might be ready to let go of in 2010.

Goodman's column quoted something about the "Graceful Exit" from somewhere that I really latched onto when I read it:

"There's a trick to the Graceful Exit. It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, a relationship is over--and to let go. It means leaving what's over without denying its validity or its past importance in our lives.

"It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving on rather than out."

I particularly related to the line about "leaving what's over without denying its validity or its past importance in our lives." That's why I say letting go isn't about forgetting. Our experiences teach us lessons. If we forget events, we may forget the lessons as well, which means we may have to learn them all over again. That might lead to uncomfortable or miserable experiences that we've already had. Keep the lessons, but let go of the hurts, if that's what led to them.

Today, let's agree to resolve to let go of what has been holding us back. If it's a friendship that's gone sour (Visit Irene's blog above to learn more about this topic), if it's a job that isn't working, if it's a bad habit, today resolve to let it go. Take it one day at a time or one step at a time, if that's what it takes, and begin to move forward rather than stay behind.

If there is something in your life that you need to let go of, beginning today, tell us what it is right here and also how it's been holding you back. Sometimes, just the act of writing this stuff down can bring about a clarity you didn't even know you needed.

Let it out and let it go.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Speakers' Blogathon

It's that time again. A new year. Time to step boldly into a new path, a new direction, or embrace the old one even more.

To kick off this new year, I've gathered about a dozen or so speakers from the Arizona chapter of the National Speakers Association to blog with me. We're participating in a Blogathon together, and for the next 30 days (31, if you count today), we'll be posting insights, inspiration and information to share with our readers.

So don't be surprised if you see a few new names around here. And don't worry. I'll get some new pics up soon. I've just had other things going on to keep my blogging on the minimum. But things are going to pick up around here, starting today.

For this first 2010 Blogathon (I'll likely be coming back for more of the same in May, when the annual writers' Blogathon takes place), I've picked a theme. I'm going to focus on Recovery. I've picked a pack of 30 key words to focus on, and I'll write about those. We'll discuss what Recovery means to you, how it affects you, and how you move successfully through it. For starters, let me explain that the Recovery I'm referring to has to do with anything that you've experienced in life, are experiencing in life right at this moment, and anything that you will in the days, months, years ahead.

Consider the posts a guide to how you can recover from any of your falls, mistakes, blunders, and, yes, stupid decisions with grace, dignity and triumph. Because that's what we do here at BIKE WITH JACKIE. We triumph! At least that's our aim. And it's a good one.

I hope you'll join me and my fellow Blogathoners--all from Arizona, all anxious to get started, and all worth reading and learning from. Here they are:


Jackie Dishner


Susan Ratliff
, Exhibit Expert
Bling My Booth

Stephanie Angelo

Human Resource Essential Blog

Greg Peterson

Down On The Urban Farm

Bonnie Mattick

Your Business Detective

Andrea Beaulieu

True Potential
Conspiracy of Love

Beth Terry

Cactus Wrangler

Debra Exner

Collaboration Pays Off

Deborah M Dubree

Eileen Proctor
The Top Dog's Blog

Mimi Meredith

Bloomin' Blog

Suzanne Holman
Boomer Health...Wealth...Family...Adventure

Dr. Eileen R. Borris

Finding Forgiveness

From the list above, you can see we have quite a degree of experiences, voices and specialties. That's what helps make the experience fun. We get a chance to learn about new people and what they do to help you move your life forward. Together, we can do a helluva lot more than we can do alone.

Happy New Year, my friends. I hope you enjoy this ride!

All my best,