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, June 30, 2011

Mental Makeover: thoughts on redesigning your life

I'm of the mind that we all live an unfinished life.

I don't always like it.

Admitting that I'm unfinished sounds like I'm saying, "I'm not good enough." That is, until I look at it like this:

In this life, we're just practicing. Every day is another dress rehearsal, another first time around the lap, another do-over. We don't have to get it perfect, we just want to make the attempt. If it takes more than one, what's wrong with that? We're going to be here for a while.

It's a good philosophy to live by, in general. It provides permission to make mistakes or work around disasters, and saves room for self-forgiveness. You do your best and then let it go. See what happens. If you bomb, look for input from others. Start fresh. That's what I'm doing with the redesign of my life. It's what a client of mine is doing with a project of hers that didn't quite work the first time around. Redesigns come in all sizes and can encompass all or just parts of our lives, or something somewhere in the middle.

Mine was an adventure I initially approached tentatively, because I knew I would have to give up something. I'd heard this before but wasn't open to the suggestion at that time. And this time, I still wasn't quite sure I was ready to make that change, yet knew it was necessary. As I moved forward, things began to make sense. As if traveling on a long road, looking for restaurants, and all of a sudden they're everywhere, you just have to pick one, just like that, I started to get one idea after the other. I didn't have to pick right then. But I wrote them all down. Everything I heard. Everything someone said to me. Any input at all. I wrote it down without judgment. The redesign was underway.

The process has been complicated at times, and certainly time-consuming. But as I approach the result that feels the most authentic, I realize it boils down to this: Uncover and accept your strengths, quirks, passions and limits. Then trust in what you're steered toward naturally to guide you to emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and financial fulfillment.

What happens in between those two sentences is up for grabs, because life as we know it (energy as some call it) is never static. Something could get in the way. You could get halfway there, change your mind, and want to go back. You could take a different turn altogether, something totally unexpected. You could decide any number of things. It's your life.

Don't you like the sound of that?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Change will do you good

In case you haven't noticed, I've been absent for a few days. My rebranding efforts have taken me away from you. They are coming along nicely. The biggest change you might recognize is this: I've decided to drop the B.I.K.E. acronym. After living with it for more than three years, I've decided it's confusing. Someone I trust suggested it might even be distracting.


Not my intention. Not even close. So I felt good about my decision to drop it. And with that, I removed the periods between the letters and wrote a new description for the blog. I'm keeping it simple, deciding to use this space here at BIKE WITH JACKIE to teach you how to access the joy in life.

We either don't don't do that enough, don't know how to do it, or need permission. You'll get that here.
If you like the changes you see happening here over the next few months, tell your friends. Help me start the movement

And remember what Sheryl Crow says, "Change will do you good."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thought for the day--on Robert McKee's STORY

In 1997, Robert McKee published a landmark book aimed at screenwriters on screenwriting. It's since been adopted by writers of all genres and also entertaining public speakers as a teaching tool. Why? Because in this book, STORY, he shares with the reader how to create quality.

An impressive book, almost 500 pages long, it covers the challenges a screenwriter will experience, what must be included in the story/screenplay he wants to sell, how to design it, and what it looks like to write the product from start to finish. It was McKee who taught me about the use of index cards as a means to organize thoughts. But I never fully took advantage of his lesson, and that's why I've returned to his book -- to reacquaint myself with the process and reinvigorate my own work.

He also writes something that I overlooked before. This time it caused me to stop and reflect. I thought you might get something from the few lines as well. In them, McKee's referencing the question of why we go to the movies, but I think there's more to his comment than that.
We do not wish to escape life but to find life, to use our minds in fresh and experimental ways, to flex our emotions, to enjoy, to learn, to add depth to our days.
What do you think?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to measure your stress level

Many, many years ago, in a land far away...

Just kidding.

But it sure seems like it, now that I'm thinking of this story I want to tell you. It involves me, the mom, and my daughter. She was in her teens at the time, and we clashed constantly. It seems now as if that was a whole other lifetime ago, as she's no longer the bratty 16-year-old who wanted what she wanted when she wanted it. Today, she's a mature small business entrepreneur--and a mom herself. Big relief.

But many, many years was a different story. And I was reminded of that story this weekend while looking through a book about taking risks. Inside the front cover I found the SRESSDOTS. Yes, THE Stressdots. You see, daughter and I were in counseling together at one point, trying to work out some differences. Yes, they were that dramatic that we needed to pull in a third party. Anyway, this therapist had decided she'd offer me biofeedback. So she hooked me up to the monitors and told me to sit back and relax. Moments later, she mentioned my daughter's name. Wouldn't you know it?! Just the mere mention of my daughter's name sent the needle upwards and off the charts. I kid you not.

So said therapist sent me home with a package of Stressdots and the accompanying form that explained how they work. She wanted to help me focus on relaxing when I had to deal with my daughter. This was about the same time that I had started using Post-it Notes to stick messages up all over the house, encouraging me not to engage the girl. I literally wrote "DO NOT ENGAGE (Her name)" on the tiny yellow sticky notes--in all caps--and stuck them all over the house...on my bathroom mirror, on the stairway banister, on my computer screen, on the cabinet face near the home phone.

Boy, did she get ticked off about that. But I stuck them up anyway, and stuck them everywhere I could think of to remind myself not to get into it with my daughter. You couldn't win. Everything turned into an escalating argument. Like I said, she wanted what she wanted when she wanted it. Even though she didn't get it, she would not stop trying. She'd land herself a good grounding...from the phone, her car, whatever...and she still would not stop trying to get me to say yes to whatever it was she wanted that I was saying she couldn't have or do. Like the never ending time she bugged me to let her go to Rave parties.

"No," I told her. "They are nothing more than places where kids can get drugs. So, no, you're not going. Besides, they don't even start till after your curfew. End of discussion."

Before she'd stomp upstairs she'd scream, "Do you have to research EVERYTHING?"

What parent wouldn't?! I stood firm on the things that I know deserved a firm footing. And the Post-it Notes came in handy after the repeated message kicked in.

I'm not so sure about the Stressdots. Inside this book cover were the two nearly complete packets full of them, and I can't recall how often I even used them.

But at least when I look at them now, thank goodness, I can laugh. But not back then. Back then--and I'm talking more than 15 years ago, more and less--I was a basketcase trying to deal with that girl. She argued or debated everything. She would NOT give up. Now, this was not a child who was deprived. She had her own room in the house. She owned guitars. She acted in community theater. She had her own car, fully insured. She got decent grades. She was very active in extracurricular programs in and outside of school. She had a job so had money on hand. She should have been a happy-go-lucky kid, you would think. But she was a hormonal mess, and I got to be an intimate part of that. Yay me.
Finding these Stressdots reminds me of all that. So I pulled one off and stuck it on the back of my hand, between my thumb and index finger, as you're supposed to do, to see where my stress level is now. Blue. Dark blue. That means I'm good. I'm more relaxed than I was back then. Way more relaxed.

Like a mood ring, these little sticky dots change colors. The bluer the color, the more relaxed you are. As the color changes from blue to turquiose to various shades of green to brown, it means you're less relaxed. When the dot turns black, you're at your worst in terms of relaxation. That means you're really stressed. Back then, I can imagine the dot must have been black a lot.

Today, my color's violet blue, and I'm not feeling stressed at all. Thank goodness for that.

But now I'm interested in experimenting. So I'm going to wear the stress dot all day today and see what happens with the color of the dot.

The way it works is this: When you experience stress, the skin temperature on your hands generally drops. As you relax, it rises. The Stressdots somehow reflect those changes and respond by changing color. The point being: when you realize your body is feeling stress, you can take steps to manage it. The explanatory card they come with suggests using deep breathing as the first line of defense.

So it's funny that at the same time I find the Stressdots, my boyfriend is going through a few of his own challenges with his boys, out of their teens, but still young enough to cause some stress. Funnier still is that his niece and her husband teach yoga and breathing classes. Not knowing anything at all about his challenges, they invited us both to take part in the breathing class coming up on Sunday. We're going to go and check it out. Since I know his challenges are even worse than mine were, I know he can use some stress reducing tools to get through it all.

When we go, I'm going to bring the Stressdots to wear so we can both continue this experiment. If they really work, I'll let you know.

What's your first line of defense when stress strikes? 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

SHORT STORY: Does your man have a sense of humor?

The boyfriend (BF) and I were scheduled to celebrate a friend's wife's birthday tubing down the Salt River today. Then BF's family came up with the great idea to host the quarterly birthday party for family members, also today, at BF's brother's house. I had already RSVP'd several weeks ago to the friend that we'd attend his wife's party. I didn't even realize the event was going to be on Father's Day.

But once I did, that meant we clearly had to attend BF's family function, instead--especially since the boyfriend's son is back in town from college. So last Wednesday, I sent this reminder to him, and the following conversation ensued...

Me: I'll let you be the bearer of bad news. Did you tell Tim yet that we can't come to Julie's birthday river trip? 

BF: Yes, he was very understanding. He said a number of people have had to decline because of Father's Day. He was a little mad at you though since you're not a father. 

Me: No, I'm not a father. And it looks like the daughter's out of town so I won't be a mother, either. Leaves me childless. What do I do? 

BF: Come with me and I'll act like a child.

Funny. It's why I love him. Happy Father's Day to you and yours!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

More on pissing people off--the audio interview with David Newman

Last Monday, I wrote a popular post that discussed a keynote presentation by marketing expert David Newman. I told you I was intrigued by the question he asked: Who are you pissing off?

Because I wanted to know more, David (DO IT! MARKETING) agreed to answer a few questions about this concept for me. In that follow-up phone interview, he explains further what he meant by that striking statement. Afterward, David sent me the link to the interview, and I was going to post it here on Friday. But because of some technical difficulties on my part, friend Suzanne Holman came to my rescue by posting it on her Audio Acrobat site and sent me that link which I was able to use instead.

In the audio, David explains that the idea behind "pissing people off" isn't a license to behave badly. Rather, it's about eliminating arrogance and complacency in the business world. He references two of his own marketing heroes, Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin, as two fine examples of people who've written about or subscribe to this theory.

He suggests taking the following self-test to determine whether or not you're differentiating yourself to the point of pissing people off. He says to ask yourself these three questions about the product or service you're selling:
  • It is just not done in your industry?
  • Are you afraid of doing it?
  • Would your competitors be afraid to copy it?
 If you answer "Yes" to each, then you could have a big enough idea and could create your own movement--a movement that will scare some people to death, and they won't want to follow you. But others will. Others, the people who "get" you, will want to pay you for the privilege of taking them there--because they couldn't get there on their own. They wouldn't know how. So after you listen to this audio, here's my next question:

Have you started your movement yet? If not, what's holding you back? Let's discuss.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How to pat yourself on the back

A pile of magazines where my cover stories appear

Everyone needs a pat on the back. No matter who you are, what you do, or wherever you are in your career, all of us need to feel good about what we do.

I'm reminded of this because I just heard a horror story from a friend who is famous for her humor writing. She was talking to one of her long-time editors on the phone, and he's yelling at her, when, all of a sudden, he spits out words that sound something to the effect of, "Nobody likes your column." 

First of all, I want to know why on earth the guy was yelling at his writer. Secondly, I want to know why she didn't just hang up on him (I know. She's too respectful to do that). But third, I can't help but think how rude of him to say something so mean and that obviously isn't true. If it were, why would he hang on to her for the more than 10 years that they'd worked together. None of this makes sense.

But it sure hurt my friend's feelings. Who wouldn't be hurt by such an encounter? I'd probably be shaking in my clothes and so angry. She, of course, told the editor that she would no longer be working with him. Smart move. And then she did something else that was smart. She came to her friends to vent. She knew she had a safe place to go to share this dramatic story, and she high-tailed it over for some chin-up talk and pats on the back.

Now that's she done with that, I hope she'll do one more smart thing. I hope she remembers to pat herself on the back. Ultimately, it cannot matter what other people say about you. What has to matter more is what you're saying about you -- both out loud and in your head. If my friend now goes off to sit in her office by herself and fret over what this guy just did, she's toast. It doesn't even matter what we said to her -- that's she's great, that she's smart, that she's going to sell her work elsewhere. Who cares that we said any of that? She can't. She needs to believe all of that -- and more -- for herself. She needs to be able to find a way to pat herself on the back and move forward. We all do. Ultimately, that's what matters most.

Do you know how to do that for yourself?

One way is to write a love post to yourself to use as your personal reminder. No need to make it lengthy. Just consider the biggest thing you do in life. What is the one thing you accomplish on a regular basis in your work? Write about that.

I challenge you!

This is mine, and with it, I'm going to remember my friend's story. I'm going to remember how it made me feel so sad for her to read it. I'm going to remember that I've experienced similar circumstances. And I'm going to use this post to remind me that it doesn't matter what other people say. I know what I've accomplished. I'm a cover story writer, for goodness sakes. Editors have hired me to write cover stories. These are the stories that they use to sell their magazines. That's a pretty big damn deal. And I'm going to have this post to remind me that I am that good. It doesn't matter what other people might say to me. It doesn't matter what other people might think of me. I know my truth. 

Do you know yours? Do you know your truth?

I challenge you to write a quick post that reminds you of who you are when you're behaving as your very Best self (There that B in B.I.K.E. again). Then, if you are ever in the position that my friend found herself in this morning, click on that post and read it. Sip your water. Take a deep breath. Pat yourself on the back. And get back to work. That's how you can pat yourself on the back.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Five Easy Tips To Improve Your Health Today

Ted Rogers, a former collegiate basketball player and coach, now a public speaker who shares healthy lifestyle tips via his books, keynotes and workshops, recently addressed a group of people at a meeting I attended. His tips were so simple that I knew I'd have to share them with you.

Those of us who work from home, or sit at a computer for most of our work day, can benefit. 

Tip #1
Drink more water. It should be obvious, but he says most people just don't drink enough water to flush out what the body needs to flush out. Toxins. Waste. It's all inside of you unnecessarily. He suggests drinking an entire gallon (yes, think milk jug) per day but says you can attack it one sip at a time throughout the day. It's do-able. And he insists it's the single most important thing you can do for your health.

Tip #2
Breathe deeply--and more often! If you allow yourself to focus on taking deep breaths throughout the day, he says this will even help you lose weight. What! Is this a miracle fix? No, it's just the way the body's supposed to work. Naturally. One trick to try: Before you answer the phone, take a deep breath. Do this each and every time BEFORE you answer the call. It will act as your reminder. 

Tip #3
Colorize your foods. Don't supersize, he says, colorize! That just means add more vegetables and more variety of vegetable to your meals, and eat smaller portions throughout the day. In this case, color is the spice of life.

Tip #4
Activate the life you already live. This one's easy. Get up. Get active. You don't have to start an exercise program if that's not your thing. But you can introduce more movement into the things you already do. When you brush your teeth, for example, why not do squats or knee bends at the sink? Or when you answer the phone, instead of sitting down, stand up and walk around. You can also do what I do when I'm blow drying my hair. I touch my toes and stretch my legs at the same time. I also keep a set of hand weights by my desk. When I feel tension, I grab them and do a few curls or arm stretches of some sort. It feels good. Of course, you can always take the stairs instead of the elevator inside buildings, or park further away from entrances in parking lots. 

Tip #5
Pursue personal peace. This tip is about living life with laughter. Ted suggests keeping a laughter journal in your purse or pocket so you can record the funny moments that occur throughout the day. What you're essentially doing is training yourself to pay attention to the things that make you laugh and allowing yourself to take away the focus on what irritates you. Who needs that, anyway? 

If you're experiencing negative stress right now, Ted says to take a moment to consider where it's coming from before you respond to it. It's probably not really caused by the guy who honked at you on the freeway or because you forgot to deposit that check. That negative stress goes deeper than that. When you become aware of and know the root causes of your negative stress, Ted says you'll be that much closer to managing it and possibly eliminating it altogether.

Your Action Step
Because these are simple solutions that anyone can adopt, take a second and write down here which of the five tips you will commit to doing this week. Blog about it on your blog. Then come back next week and pick another tip to adopt. Do that for the next five weeks and see if you notice any change in how you feel.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Are you pissing off the right people?

C'mon, look at this face. Who do you think I'm pissing off?

"Who are you pissing off?" That's the question that's sticking in my mind since hearing the keynote presentation a marketing consultant gave this weekend at a meeting I attended on Saturday.

Let me be frank. It's hard for me to consider this question. It really is. I don't like to piss people off, though I've certainly been on the recipient end, as I'm sure most of us have. And I know I've pissed people off before, but not necessarily on purpose. Still, when this guy asked that question of a group of us Arizona speakers, it certainly got our attention.

Seeing as I'm in a transitory state of mind, rethinking my business model and what I have to offer the world, I'm thinking I now have to consider the uncomfortable question. I have no choice. Not only am I curious about who I should be pissing off, if I'm not already, but I'm wondering exactly how I might do that effectively. Go figure! I'm also wondering if this might be something you want to consider for your business. It could be a little liberating.

You see, according to David Newman, the question has everything to do with how well you know your business, right down to knowing not only what service you're offering and why but also who will be your very best market to receive that service and how will you reach them. He said when you take a stand on what topic you're going to pitch or sell to others, you should be pissing somebody off.

You can't be "middle of the road," he said, "that's roadkill." Your business won't go anywhere if you remain in a neutral position. In other words, you want to own your expertise. The niche that follows will not only be yours and yours alone, but it will also be more valuable.

And that's going to piss someone off. 

He asked us to pair up and discuss the idea with a partner. Once we did that, he asked us to share what we learned. A writing consultant said she pissed off authors who think they know it all. They really don't want to be edited. Yet, it's clear their copy needs improvement. Oh, the arrogance! Another marketing consultant in the room said he pisses off general marketers by having a niche market that nets him more work and more money than they earn. Well, why wouldn't they be upset?! As for me, I had a hard time deciding who I pissed off purposefully and what it might mean for my business if I did come up with a list. After all, the writers I hang out with make a point of trying not to burn bridges. We don't want to piss people off. Newman's idea veers off from that philosophy, doesn't it?

Then again, I don't want to be middle of the road but am not sure which way to turn right now. It's equally as uncomfortable. But I know I won't get too far without solid footing. Taking a stand, of course, sounds like a very good idea. While pissing people off seems a little, well, off. I'm not so sure about that.  

One thing I am sure of...I'll be thinking about it this week as I continue assessing the next steps in my career. Who am I pissing off? The more I think about it, the more I think this is actually going to be a fun experiment. It'll be like getting in touch with my "inner child," the little girl who marked up the basement walls in crayon when I was five years old. After I was forced to clean that mess up, the wall looked better than ever. Now, that's an interesting prospect.

What about you? Who are you pissing off these days?  

Stay tuned for more detail about pissing people off and why it might be good for your career. David Newman has agreed to chat with me further about this later in the week. I'll either post the transcripts or the audio. This should be interesting...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Photo Essay: remembering Arizona's White Mountains before the Wallow fire

West Baldy Trail near Greer, Arizona
Pine trees in back of Red Setter Inn, Greer

Alpine, Arizona in May 2010
Deer in the meadow across from Molly Butler Lodge, Greer
A quirky character at the old Greer Lodge

Friday, June 3, 2011

A break from the blogathon? Yeah, right!

I thought I might take a break after the blogathon to catch up on paperwork, but I couldn't help myself. I had to post. And now I'm wondering, how do you handle a backlog of paperwork:

a) stack it up?
b) ignore it till later?
c) take care of all paperwork as it crosses your desk?
d) did I say, ignore it?
e) none of the above?
f) a mix of the above?
g) other?
g) if a mix or other, how do you respond this way and why?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Where to host the random book giveaway

Today, we officially celebrated the end of the 2011 WordCount Blogathon with a Twitter party. Participating bloggers met on at 10 a.m., PST, to discuss what we loved and hated about the blogathon. We discussed what we learned and what we could learn more about. But I'll leave the serious wrap-up of what happened and who said what to Michelle Rafter; she'll blog about it tomorrow.  I just wanted to announce the cool thing that happened to me at the party.

I seized the opportunity to offer a book giveaway. I've done this before, at real parties. But without the inspiration of Jennifer Willis I might not have done it this time. I hadn't even thought of it, till I saw that she was giving away of copy of her new book, Valhalla. So I figured I could add to the fun, diving in at the last minute with a book giveaway of my own and a surefire winner on board. Michelle always offers prizes at the end of the party, anyway, so it makes sense to celebrate with our own creations and expertise. Seems to make the whole affair more personal and appreciated.

And it took the sting off my last giveaway that flopped. If you'll recall, I had a giveaway in early May here. When the winner didn't step up to claim her prize, that contest fizzled out, and I didn't have a back-up plan. Lesson learned: always have a back-up plan. That being said, today's Twitter party became my back-up plan without me even realizing it. Plus, I managed to find another guest poster in Willis. We'll work that out in the future, I'm sure.

Until then, let me congratulate the winner of my book, Backroads & Byways of Arizona. I'll be mailing a signed copy to Kim C. who is known as @mymommynme on Twitter. In the blogging world, look for her fitness tips. Congratulations, Kim. I hope you enjoy the book.

And thank you to all who joined me here during the 31 days in May. We did it! And now we can take a well-deserved break.