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

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Staying True with Jenny Sanford

I just picked up a copy of Jenny Sanford's book, Staying True. I finished it in two days. That's how easy a read it was. It wasn't particularly enlightening, either. But it did give me a positive impression of the woman who wrote it.

Jenny Sanford, as you probably know, was married to South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. He was the guy who claimed he'd been "hiking the Appalachian Trail" last summer, when he was really "visiting" his Argentinian girlfriend. His trip became national news because the guy had disappeared for a while, and his state department people didn't even know where he was.

From what Jenny says in her book, it wasn't the first time he'd disappeared. He'd done it before. Apparently, he'd slipped away after a business trip, flying into New York to see this same woman.

Sanford's book isn't a tell-all, so don't buy it if you're looking for hot, juicy details about what happened to the crazed governor. Instead, her book takes you through the life she made with this man, including some of the clues she missed that could have warned her of what might occur in the future. She acknowledges it's just speculation, and you can never predict the way a person will behave.

What kept her married to him all those 20 years of sometimes really bizarre behavior on his part--he left an old clunker of a vehicle for her in the airport parking garage with directions to a party on her first visit to meet his family in South Carolina; he opted to leave town when she once had surgery; he kept asking for her advice about how much detail she should tell the press after they'd discovered his affair--was her faith. She believed in love. She believed in him and their family. And most importantly, she believed in her God to show her the way.

She portrays very eloquently how she winds up losing the life she expected to be her future, how her ideal was changed by her husband's adulterous ways. She doesn't do it in a way that makes you cringe. She's very matter-of-fact and accepts her own responsibility for this marriage gone wrong. Not that she made her husband cheat on her. Women cannot do that. We just don't have that much power, unless it's criminal. But she accepts that she might have created room to allow it to happen, mostly because she didn't believe it ever would--or could--and she had become far too independent of him. Perhaps she didn't need him, as she'd learned how to live without him because he traveled so much. The contradictory truth here seems perfectly normal to me, another former wife who lived that way with her former husband.

I did not find the book particularly moving, in that it didn't delve deep into the emotion. Even during the moment when she shares how she had to reveal what dad had done to her boys does she take the story where it could have gone. Simply put: I think she did more telling than showing. But it is told nicely, and in such a way that you understand exactly how her story unfolded. And you do feel sympathy for her, and even sympathy--some--for her now ex-husband.

I must confess that I hate seeing these stories in the news. I read them, however, because it seems to me to be part of my research for the work that I do here. I also hate knowing that men can cheat so easily. I know there are women like this as well, but I am just not friends with them, and you rarely read about them, anyway. I especially hate hearing the line, "once a cheater, always a cheater." I'd like to think this is just the media promoting this view, giving these guys a bad name. But I know better. These type of men do that to themselves.

The ones who will continue to do this to themselves--and others--are those who continue denying their own responsibility. Once they start playing the blame game, I think, they are in trouble, and they've already lost.

If you've been wondering whether or not you should read Jenny Sanford's book, let me tell you I think it is her attempt to explore her marriage and the husband she had in it and why he did what he did. She couldn't. So the book ends with her accepting that his values just don't match her own. She had to let him go so he could figure out his stuff, and so she could figure out hers.

You know she will. You close the book wondering if he can do the same.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Life is a "team" sport

A friend in my neighborhood and I walk together in the mornings. We are also in a Mastermind Group together, for which we meet once a month to discuss strategic planning and business goals. Additionally, we belong to a breakfast networking group that meets once a week. I consider her part of my "team." I increase my Inner strength because of my relationship with her. It strengthens me to know I have her in my life.

I find our walks together helpful because we can talk about our personal stuff, but during the Mastermind meetings we discuss business. We hold each other accountable. The breakfast meeting involves anywhere from 20 to 40 women, so we don't necessarily interact directly there. But I like that we have so many connections. I've known this friend since our kids were in elementary school together. So we've watched our lives change considerably in what is probably a two-decade time span, and I suspect we'll continue to support each other.

She's a great confidante, and I'm lucky to have her on my "team." That's how I view the people I surround myself with, both personally and professionally. I do this for several reasons:

_A team works for the benefit of all.
_Team members look out for each other.
_Different members bring different skills to the "game."
_They all seek success.

It's a positive way for me to look at the people in my life who, I consider, part of my support group, my "team." As with most teams, my roster has changed over the years, usually out of necessity. And I'm always looking to see who I might need to add next.

It is for this reason that I think of life as being a "team" sport. As long as you're all looking out for each other, your team is going to advance to the next level and continue to compete, or provide value. The minute one of your team members dodges his or her responsibility, then the team is in trouble and needs to be adjusted. Or, sometimes, people just outgrow the old team.

If you take inventory of who is your team right now, you might list the following types of people on your roster, the obvious ones:

_spouse or significant other

I'd also be sure to include a spiritual component: God.

The team also includes those you go to for professional advice or assistance, such as:

_financial advisor
_dry cleaner
_cleaning service
_pet sitter

And the list could go on. Your team can be as big as it needs to be, and its size fluctuates. If you considered your life as a team sport, who would you want to be sure is on your roster?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A message worth writing on a Post-it Note

Because I deal with personal details, my story is not always easy to think about, talk about or write about. But it is my story, and I have chosen to reveal it in such a way that I think is helpful to my audience--mostly, women in transition--and I do know it matters.

It makes a difference to the women out there who have experienced something similar (the loss of a loved one, the death of a spouse, the betrayal of a husband, divorce, other losses, and other traumatic events). For those of you who have felt alone in your pain, I know it matters to know you are not alone. I think it's worth noting: just because we discuss the pain doesn't mean we relive it. It means we are working to understand it and to discern what it means in our lives today. I do find value in looking at the past for answers in the present.

My story is not limited to my own experience. Every time I have ever shared it to women's groups and professional organizations, for spousal programs at conferences, or at the homeless shelter where I sometimes get to teach my BIKE Lessons, women come up to me afterward with their own version. I've heard from mothers, sisters, wives. Even men who've heard my story have told me I need to find a way to share my story with other men, that they need to hear it as well.

It is not an accident that a life-changing moment in my life helped to create the self-empowering messages I share here at BIKE WITH JACKIE. I'm a big believer in the idea that there are no accidents, that things happen for a reason. I also believe the journey to self-growth is ever evolving and on-going. The last thing you want to do in recovery is wake up one day and say, "Okay, I'm done." You're not. We're not. There are too many life lessons to be reminded of and continue to learn.

The woman who led the group I traveled with to Kenya several years ago (to visit a refugee camp and the slums in Nairobi on a mission to explore women's issues in a third-world country) posted this quote on Facebook this morning, reminding me of a lesson I need to hear. It was no accident; it was my reminder:
If you judge people, you don't have time to love them.
~Mother Teresa

This simple message from a woman we think of as a saint, is a hard lesson to remember, too easily forgotten. But that's why it's worth repeating. There are times when I need to hear this over and over and over again...Like this week. It isn't always easy to think you can love the person who hurt you, for example. But you can. Maybe not today. But tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow.

If you've experienced resistance or a relapse in your personal growth before, what did you do about it? Did you look for positive reminders like the quote above? I found the message within Mother Teresa's words to be important enough for me to write on a Post-it Note. How about you?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Five things I'm happy about today

1) My son sent me pictures of his babies. They are cuties.

2) My daughter leaves for vacation this weekend; she deserves one.

3) I just completed an essay today and found a reader who understands the topic.

4) I'm working on three magazine assignments--all travel related.

5) The book I'm working on with two other travel authors is moving ahead on time.

What are your five things?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A reader phone

Regarding the post I took down yesterday, a reader called to let me know the following (and I asked her if I could include this as my next post):

"Jackie, I was sorry to see you take down that post," she told me, "You said everything a woman who's been through a divorce that involved another woman has felt but hasn't been able to say out loud. I connected with everything you wrote. I wanted to go back and read it again, but you'd taken it down."

She even credited me for the follow-up post, calling me brave. Since the first time I told my story in 2004, I've heard that word many times.

What this caller did for me was validate the continued need for my blog. It's difficult going through a divorce, or any kind of challenge, that really tests who you are. She called me brave for being able to write out what I'm feeling and how I'm dealing with it.

It does take courage to speak up for yourself. It does take courage to acknowledge pain. It does take courage to accept responsibility. And that's what this BIKE is all about. I was told yesterday that I should live up to what my blog represents, and I think that I do. In fact, that's exactly what I do.

Being your Best self isn't about being perfect. Using that Inner strength allows me to grow, both mentally and physically. It's an on-going process. Listening to my Killer instinct takes practice. Trusting my Expressive voice helps me find the way. And that does, indeed, take courage. My special brand of BIKE gives me that.

So thank you for that call. When I'm reminded that by telling my story I can reach even just one person, then that makes the message worth telling.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When to delete a blog post...

When you upset someone needlessly...

That's a good time to delete a blog post. I just did that. It wasn't my intention to upset anyone. I was letting off steam. This blog is about self-growth. Self-growth involves lessons. Lessons sometimes require mistakes.

Not to dismiss opinion. Opinion is important. Delving lessons from life experiences is important. Understanding that perspective can be different from one person to the next is also important, as is perception. Posting as a form to let off steam. Maybe not so much.

Clearly, the BIKE ride involves life-long learning, and that's a good thing.

Judgement: a lesson for today

Here's some of that Killer instinct nagging at me, reminding me, telling me what I need to know.

When we don’t judge our moments, our creations, ourselves--or others--as good or bad, we can begin to find serenity.

~Diane Detwiler-Zapp, MA, LCP

Think I needed this today. How about you?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Blogger now does Pages

You may notice I have a new line at the top of my blog, underneath my picture. It starts with "Home."

I just learned Blogger now offers the "Pages" option, which means, I can add separate pages to my blog. Rather than scrolling down infinitely to the end of my Home page, looking for other information, you'll now be able to access certain information, including a more lengthy "About Me" profile, from the top of the page. This new option will make things easier for you and unclog my Home page.

So please bare with me as I work on my new Pages and figure out what I want to add to them to help make your visit to BIKE WITH JACKIE as pleasant as possible.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Treasure the gifts you receive

Last night, my friend Bonnie Mattick took me out to dinner to celebrate my birthday. She had a wrapped present, which she is known for, and a card to give to me.

When we reached our destination, St. Francis, before we even ordered the wine I opened the box to find this lovely necklace inside (see photo above). She had it made especially for me by an artist named Florie Amster. You'll note the bike image. It represents the work I do here at BIKE WITH JACKIE. She didn't leave out the travel part of my work. The miner and the copper chains between all those funky beads represent the state I write about--Arizona. Its history and folklore rests upon the work of the copper miners.

Bonnie told me the necklace is called a Treasure Necklace. The lady who makes them only makes one-of-a-kinds, such as this one. If you look at it literally, it's a silly mix of items. But when you look at it symbolically, it's a meaningful mix of love blessings. It's a gift that obviously comes with a lot of thought.

It's something I'll always treasure.

Is there something that was given to you--for a birthday or other special event--that you'll always treasure? What is it, and who gave it to you? Is there a story to tell about it? If so, please share it here with us, and remember to count your blessings. It's part of being your Best self.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Question of the day: It's about love expression

What do you love today?

It doesn't have to be a person, place or thing. It can be anything. Just tell me: what do you love? What's making you feel the love today?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Have you taken your leap of faith?

"Lord, I don't know that I can understand this, I can't explain it all, but I'm choosing to believe in you."

This is a statement made by Sheila Schuller Coleman, daughter of Robert Schuller, founder of California's Crystal Cathedral, to explain what happened when she decided in college to stop questioning her faith.

When she made the decision to believe, she said, that's when "everything fell into place."

Can you recall a time when you've questioned something, perhaps your own faith? What happened? Tell us your story.

Here's mine:

It happened right after my then-husband told me he'd been living this secret life, had been cheating our marriage, had abused our wedding vows. He hadn't been acting in a cherishable way. He told me many things that I did not understand or want to believe.

I felt dumbfounded.

Not this man. Not my man. He was the happy-go-lucky guy. Nothing ever bothered him. He never got upset. How on earth could this be a guy who would abuse the relationship he had with his wife? This was not a man I thought would do something to hurt his family. He would not lie. He would not cheat. he would not steal.

This was not a man who would behave in such a distasteful way. He just wasn't.

Yet, he'd said he was. He said he'd done terrible things, the least of which was cheating on me with women. He'd even been with men.

I didn't want to believe it.

So for the next several months I worked hard at believing the reason he'd told me all of this terrible news was that he wanted it to stop.

I decided to trust in him.

But he wasn't being honest. He was, instead, being deceitful. I soon found myself not questioning him, but questioning myself. I kept telling myself that he had told me his story so that we could work things out. He wanted to free himself of the pain he was suffering. I kept telling myself that he was in such a vulnerable place that he did need time away. That's why he moved out, I rationalized for him. I kept telling myself that he was going to come back. I kept telling myself that I wanted him back.

But I didn't.

I knew better. I knew deep down that the we I thought we were was over.

But what I wanted, what I needed, was for him to be honest with me, so that I could stop pretending that all was going to be well. But he wouldn't come clean any further. It was as though he'd said more than he'd meant to, and now he wanted to pretend that he hadn't.

Finally, the day came that I took a leap of faith to trust--in me again. It took a lot of praying, but I finally reached that day.

I invited him to breakfast to call him on something he'd said. And things happened just as I expected. While he ordered his bacon and eggs, I simply ordered coffee. When the waitress left our table, I asked him the question I needed to ask. When he hemmed and hawed, couldn't be honest even then, when he couldn't--or wouldn't--tell me what I suspected he really wanted, I decided to speak up for myself. But I didn't need words.

I dropped a few dollars on the table, excused myself, got up, and walked out the door.

When I made that decision, I let go of whatever fear I felt beforehand. Fear disappeared, and I was able to walk away with my head held high.

I could let him live his lie, but I knew--I realized--I didn't have to live it, too.

I walked away, and I never looked back.

That's the story of my leap of faith.

What's yours?