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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

How to respond to grief

Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. And no one said a word, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words. [Job 2:13]

Friday, December 14, 2012

Newtown, Conn. -- the best reason for gun control

I have a vivid memory of when my son, as a five-year-old, and I went for a walk. His small hand wasn't big enough to hold mine, so he wrapped all the fingers on his right hand around my left pinky. That's how small a kindergartner is. They are tiny and defenseless. One man shot and killed up to 20 of them this morning in Newtown, Conn. No matter what is uncovered in the police investigation, it won't change anything. Beautiful, innocent little lives were ripped away from us, and our big hands couldn't do anything to stop it.
What do you think about gun control now? 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Best #baiku ever!

Riding for hours
on this seat without padding
makes my big bum numb. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More #baiku

I can't help myself. For now, I'm inspired to write in verse on the blog. So that's what I'll do until I get my motivation back. Here's another #baiku, hopefully, for your reading pleasure:
Rides can serve you well
When life offers challenges
You will learn to see
During the times when you feel the least motivated, what do you do to get your mojo back?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Benefits of riding a bike -- in verse

For whatever reason, my thoughts have been hijacked by short snippets of verse in haiku form. Bicycle enthusiasts call this style of poetry #baiku. I wrote three of them last week, and here are three more that I posted on Twitter. This time, I post them with titles. I think of them as healing words:

Bike trail begins
thin line embedded in dirt
can't wait for downhill.

Uphill I go...slow
sometimes I have to walk up
but I never quit. 

When bike takes you there
to paradise and then back
your life will be changed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Inspired by poetry, 3 baiku poems

I think of my bike / its two thick sturdy tires / pushing me through mud.

I live for the bike / her images around me / also the real thing.

Inspired by Trek / she pushed me past obstacles / and showed me my strength.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

How to get back into the dating scene

I'm working out a few kinks in my schedule and will be back with regular posts soon. But you can find me today over at, where I'm beginning a new blogging venture as a dating columnist. Who knew?

So far, so good. And it's been fun exploring another aspect to my writing skills. I'm working on my fourth piece this week. But today you can check out the first one, in which I offer tips on the grandparents dating scene, including advice about sex. Oh, geez. Yeah, I'm going there. LOL. The advice can work boomers of all ages, I think.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Guest blogging at today

Hi there!

Today, I'm guest blogging at the American Society of Journalists and Authors -- a professional writers membership organization I've belonged to for more than 10 years now. Headquartered in New York City, they host an annual conference in April that's been a major part of my networking life since I started freelancing full time.

They've started a new public blog called The Word. This week, I share the benefits of in-person networking. Please stop by (click on the link above) and share your tips in the comment section. I'd love to hear what you have to say about your networking experiences -- what's worked, what hasn't, what would you like to do more of...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A moment with zen

June was a crazy month. It turned upside down when my son needed my help, and I had to spend the next four weeks in Lake Tahoe doing just that. There was no question I would go, so I went. Without going into his personal business, suffice it to say, he's doing well now. Very well. And I'm glad I went. I'm also glad to be back home, getting back to work, trying to reconnect with my zen.

My zen? What is that? It's not just something I learn about twice a week when I go to yoga class. It's not just the moments of peace I might find on a trail walk or a bike ride. I know it's not just one thing. So it doesn't surprise me that I found this article today. I wasn't searching for it. I was looking for something else entirely, but this is what I found.

And this is what stood out when I read the article that also answered my question for me. What is zen?

This is what a zen practitioner in Las Vegas, of all places, had to say about that: 
Imagine you're at the mall, he tells the Zen-curious. It's busy, customers bustle about. You're standing in a long line, waiting to make your purchase. In front of you is a baby in a baby carriage. The baby looks right at you and smiles.

"You have one job," he says.
Can you guess what it is? I did.

Smile back.

So simple, right? But how often do we get that wrong? How often do we ignore the smiling child, or the friendly cashier, or the man who holds the door open for you at the chain restaurant. How often do we just walk by, lost in our own mental congestion.

We're not focused on the moment. We're too busy worrying about tomorrow or what happened last week. And we're missing out. We're missing out on the baby smiles, on the friendly hellos, on acknowledging the people who seem less hurried than we do.

As I return to my office and get back into the regular routine of the work day, as I reconnect with what's missing in my food pantry or try to remember which bills I've paid and which I haven't, I'm going to take this next week to remember to stay focused on what's going on in my life right at this very second.

And this is how I'm going to practice my zen:

*Take 10 minutes in the morning to meditate. Not on anything in particular, just breathing. I'm going to get quiet for 10 minutes every morning and put my focus on the now. Just for 10 minutes. It's not asking too much.

*Not let my mind tell me I don't want to go to yoga, even though I know I will, and it always makes me feel good. Instead, when the afternoon arrives -- the time when I start trying to convince myself why I shouldn't go (I'm tired. I'm sore. I'm lazy.) -- I'm going to put a smile on my face and remind myself that I get to go to yoga in just a few hours. I am going to take that moment and change my mindset to a healthier outlook.

*Smile. When I pass that smiling baby, when I exchange money with the cashier at the grocery market, when I see my boyfriend next, I'm going to stop, focus and smile.

Those are three simple things I can do to have a moment with zen. How about you?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hello, it's me

Do you know the words from the Todd Rundgren song, "Hello, it's me?" In it, he sings,
Hello, it's me.
I've thought about us for a long, long time.
Maybe I think too much,
but something's wrong.
 In case you hadn't noticed, I've been MIA for more than a month.

Something was wrong. I had a pretty serious family issue crop up and had to focus all of my time and energy on that. "It's important to me," the song continues.
"You know I'd be with you if I could."
Well, things have settled down now, and I can come back to work on the blog. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to cover in the months ahead. I've been reading several books that I'll discuss. I've taken a few trips I'd like to review. And I'll soon unveil a new business logo. My hairdresser thinks I need to explore more of my humorous side on the blog, so I'll be giving that a try as well.

Meanwhile, tell me what you've been up to so far this summer, and enjoy the link above to the song.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Stop perpetuating the 20 cent a word myth

I participated in a #journchat Twitter party yesterday afternoon, when the discussion evolved into a question about expected salaries for new journalists just out of college (Sidebar: My first salary equaled somewhere around $21K to edit a magazine, and this was back in the late 1980s).

But it was the first question that led to the tweet above -- upsetting to say the least.  I'll tell you why.

The moderator started us off with: "If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?"

I said, "Wouldn't it be great to see an increase in pay? Especially from newspapers for freelance work."

To which one Britt Hysen (above), who writes for the asked me what the average freelance pay is these days. I told her, "Newspapers may pay $100 for a 500-700 word story, more/less." But with magazines, I wrote, "it's getting difficult to get $1/word anymore."

That's not a good thing. Yet, from her response above, you can see she think it's a lot, which makes these numbers even worse.

Any long-time freelancer knows it's difficult to make a living as an independent journalist. You cannot do it writing for newspapers and magazines alone. Many of us find ways to diversify our experience. Maybe we write corporate newsletters, design websites, sell our photos, teach classes, offer social media to other business clients, and certainly we write books that will give us an "expert" status and hopefully higher pay, because -- and here's the clincher...

Just because you might get $1/word doesn't mean you're going to be assigned a lot of words to go with that rate. Writing a lot of words and making a lot of those dollars? That's not happening.

Where magazines used to run several long-form, narratives, they are now running shorter and shorter pieces. The "front of the book," as we call it, where all the shorts used to run, has expanded. There's now the middle of the book and the back of the book, and just a few lengthier features scattered in between. They're doing this why? You know, because readers no longer have attention spans. Technology has ruined us, we've been told. It's turning us all into victims of attention deficit disorder, or so the publishing industry would have us believe.

While I don't believe that's true -- I believe people crave full-length stories -- what I do believe is that the industry is just too cheap to pay for it, anymore. I have friends who have been writing for consumer magazines for many years, and they remember times when they were getting $4 or even $5 per every word they wrote. Now, Britt Hysen, that's a lot! That is where you could get very comfortable writing for magazines. You could actually even make a living as a magazine writer.

But these days, that's just not the case. The $1/word market used to be the minimum freelancers would strive to get. Today, we're very hopeful if we can get that. In fact, I generally don't even like to pitch magazines that pay less, because you just simply cannot pay your mortgage on .20/word. Think about it: How many words would you have to write to pay a $1,200 monthly mortgage? 6,000 words. You'd have to write 6,000 words every month just to make your mortgage. And you still haven't written enough to pay your utilities and have enough left over to eat something here and there.

That also means .20/word is not good. It's barely okay. But it is not good. It's not much better than those who would claim it's good to work for exposure. Again, that's a big N-O. Just keep in mind that "exposure" is the new "volunteer."

Also keep in mind that it is rare, rare, rare to get a 6,000-word assignment, anyway. So even the buck a word jobs wouldn't pay your mortgage -- unless you were assigned several -- because most editors are assigning jobs closer to the 500-word and less numbers. Or, they're simply paying a flat fee. I get a lot of those. $500 here. $300 there. When I recently took on a 2,400-word assignment, some of my writer friends were in awe. And so was I. I about died. And then I freaked because I was out of practice writing long-form journalism. As I said, it's assigned so rare these days. If it is, those plumb assignments go to the very regular writers that editors know well. Those of us who are not contributing writers for a specific market rarely see gems like that. So this was my happy dance moment.

But what's the takeaway? You might wonder: Why continue working in an industry that pays so poorly? What's the benefit?

We still get to choose the projects we take on. We still get to set our own hours. We get to work in piece, without office gossip. We get to enjoy a lot of freedoms working on our own. What we do not get is job security. We don't get that regular paycheck. Many of us don't have health insurance. We don't get sick days off. We work around the clock in many cases. And, really, our job is more selling than writing. But we get to choose whether we'll reel in the measly .20/word job or keep fishing for the higher-paying markets.

I choose to keep fishing, because even when I first started freelancing I knew .20/word was minimal, that it was not good. And I'll keep telling other writers that. Not because I don't think you should take the cheapo jobs. You should if you think it's worthwhile. But you should also stop fooling yourself into believing that low pay is good pay. It wasn't before the market fell apart, and it's still not now. If you can find a way to make it work for you, by all means, do it. But just don't continue to perpetuate a myth.

When all freelancers begin to stand up for higher pay -- because we work just as hard for the low-rent jobs as we do the higher-end jobs, and we work just as long, and we use the same skill sets and resources -- that's when we'll start to see rates increase to a more liveable rate.

Because don't forget: No one's in business to work for free, nor almost free. We're in business to make a living. And to make a living, you have to earn it. To earn it, you have to find clients that pay you what you're worth.

And I think you're worth more than .20/word. Don't you?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Twitter, improv and an artist date

It started with a simple tweet, which I retweeted:

Then a conversation between the two of us followed:

He mentioned "bike." And I was hooked. I took the free class on Saturday afternoon. It lasted three hours and was such a blast. I returned to Twitter that evening and chatted with The Torch Theatre some more, promising to return for a class in the fall. My summer schedule is too up in the air to sign up now. But I will be back. Here's a bit of what happened in the free class. Wish I had photos...

We did the warm-up exercises where you learn how important eye contact is to improvisational acting, and also how to work together as a team. This is where you practice saying, "Yes, and..." In improv, you learn how to accept another person's idea and roll with it, in order to keep a scene alive. If you disagree or don't want to do what the suggestion calls for, the scene ends. There's no where else to go. And what is the fun of that? In general, this is a great life lesson.

For fun, try these improv games at home with your family and friends:

Zip, Zap, Zop (and other variations)
Stand in a circle. One player begins by pointing with his hands to the player on his right, makes eye contact, and says, "Zip." Now that player turns to his player on the right, points, makes eye contact, and says, "Zap." The next player then points to the player in the circle on his right, makes eye contact, and says, "Zap." You keep doing this till you're comfortable, and then you can start pointing to anyone in the circle. It no longer has to be the person on your right. It can be the person on your left or the person across from you, anyone at all. You just keep shouting out, "Zip, Zap, Zop," trying to keep up with the words and the rhythm, all the while making that eye contact so people are clear who's being called upon. It becomes a loud mess of yelling, laughing, getting confused, but eventually you get it. The game helps you practice making eye contact, maintaining a sense of focus, and accepting your role in the game.

Yes, let's!
For this exercise, be prepared to get silly. The game starts by someone yelling out some call to action. It has to start with "Let's." So it could be something like, "Let's eat pizza!" And the group yells back in union, "Yes, let's." And everyone immediately starts miming the act of eating pizza until another person calls out a different action. It could be anything. In our game, people called out things like, "Let's swim with the sharks!" and "Let's eat cotton candy!" and "Let's walk the dog!" After each request, we all yelled back, "Yes, let's!" and then proceeded to do that action. Since the stage at this theater is very small, the ten of us -- all strangers to each other -- were crowed in tightly together. It was sheer madness and a ton of fun. Lots of laughing out loud. Lot's movement. Lot's of up and down. You never knew what the next person was going to call out. But whatever it was, we said, "Yes, let's!" and did it.

What are you doing?
Here's a game that will teach you how to think fast and be in the moment. You all stand in a line against the wall. One player at the head of the line goes to the center of the stage and begins miming an action. The next person in line walks over and asks, "What are you doing?" Instead of saying what it looks like he's doing, that person makes something up that is entirely different. So maybe he's miming folding laundry. But instead of saying he's folding laundry, he'd say he's changing a light bulb. Then he leaves and that new person starts to mime changing a light bulb. The next person in line comes up to him and asks, "What are you doing?" The person miming changing the light bulb says he's doing something else. Maybe he'll say, "I'm painting a masterpiece." It doesn't matter what you say, you're just learning how to think fast on your feet and convincing the next person to commit. So that next person proceeds to "mime painting a masterpiece," when the next person in line comes up to him and asks, "What are you doing?" The game goes on and on till everyone has a chance to play at least once.

Emotion Scenes
We also engaged in some scene work with partners. In one scene game, we were assigned space on the stage for four emotions: anger, happiness, sadness, fear. Depending on whichever emotion we were going to express in the scene, we would stand in that area. The instructor called out a scene prompt (telling us who we were or where we were), and we had to take that prompt and apply the emotions to the scene. The point here was to learn how to express various emotions. You didn't have to go big, necessarily, but you did want to focus on what it might sound like, look like, and feel like to express anger, happiness, sadness and/or fear with another person on the stage. The objective was to see if you could make a connection with the scene partner. If you could make a connection with your scene partner, you could make a connection with your audience as well.  

Body Parts
In one of the final scene games, we paired up with another person on stage to practice walking in peculiar ways. But first we were told to walk around the stage as we would normally. Then, the instructor told us to focus on a particular body part. So you might try walking around your home using your forehead first, or your elbows first, or your knees first. Once we did that, we were asked questions about what that felt like and which body part we might like to explore as a character. While the walking looked hilarious on stage, the resulting answers were interesting and insightful. One young man, who was told to walk around on stage using his forehead, thought it made him feel like a nerd or a scientist. When I walked around stage using my elbows, I felt at first like cowboy, and that morphed into feeling a bit bird-like. Since the elbows are more flexible and can move in more ways than other body parts, it seems like it could be interesting to explore just where such movement would take creativity.

Which brings me to my point of why I wanted to take the class in the first place...I was looking for an artist date with myself. I felt the need to explore creative pursuits in a more physical manner, something that would go beyond writing. Improvisational acting is certainly one way to achieve that.

What are some ways you've been exploring your creative spirit lately? 

My #1 lesson from the blogathon

It was the Buddha who said:
"Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it."
I have seen the quote interpreted also with the word "world" replaced with "work." In this day and age, with 24/7 cable news and constant access available through the internet, our cell phones and e-readers, they seem to be one and the same word.

Whatever the case may be, whatever the exact word, this quote describes what I discovered during the May Blogathon...only, it was actually a rediscovery. I came to know, once again, where my passion exists and what I must do about it. We talked last month about signs. I encountered many of them. The photo above, in fact, is one that came to me several years ago by way of an artist I met in Jerome, Ariz. I bought this painting after I saw it propped up off the floor of an empty art gallery and couldn't take my eyes off of it.

The girl is on her bike, rolling downhill, her hair blowing in the wind, not a care in the world. She is happy and free. She is me. Not literally, of course. But, in my mind, this girl on the bike symbolizes me. Sometimes, in ways I cannot explain, but the connection is present. She is part of my world, part of my passion, part of what I must share.

So if I took away anything last month that hasn't already been dissected during the 31-day blogging frenzy, it was a reconnection with my self.

Thanks to the Blogathon and my desire to focus on the BIKE, I don't think I could have accomplished anything more important than that.

What is the one thing in life you know you must do? It's that thing that sings to you in your quiet moments alone, that thing speaking to your mind when you veer off-course, that feeling tugging at your heart, pulling you back in the right direction -- even when you seem to be refusing to listen. It won't let you ignore it. What is your thing? If you don't yet know, use this month to start paying attention.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I'm at today

During the WordCount Blogathon, I made it a point to connect with other bike bloggers. You can find them easily on Twitter, and I've visited Loving the Bike many times in the past few years. But when I visited a first time in May, I responded to a question Darryl, the site owner, poses for a monthly column. He accepted my response for a future column, and that day has arrived.

I'm featured in "Look Who's Loving the Bike" for June. Stop by and visit. See if you can relate to what the cycling lifestyle can do for you.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Day off!

After 31 straight days of blogging, I decided I deserved a day off. I'll be back tomorrow Sunday with a few lessons learned from the WordCount Blogathon.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Celebrate good times, c'mon!

Love high energy music like Kool & The Gang's Celebration song. It's perfect for a day like today -- our final day with the 2012 WordCount Blogathon. I know I did it, but how many more of the 250+ bloggers managed to blog every day for 31 days in May? Did you do it? Do you know anyone who dropped out? I'm sure we'll find out on June 1, when Michelle Rafter hosts the Twitter Party.

For now, let's celebrate good times and pop open the wine I won during this challenge. Lucky me, I turned out to be the 55th person who retweeted a tweet from the California Wine Club, and they shipped me this bottle of wine -- a select reserve Red Zinfadel from Kiara in California's Central Coast -- which arrived yesterday, in time for the end of the blogathon. Probably wouldn't have been on Twitter so much and won the wine if it hadn't been for the Blogathon. I love it.


Aside from posting your "I DID IT!" badge, how do you intend to celebrate your blogging success?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cab or pedicab: which would you take?

Did I ever tell you about my dream to become a pedicab driver?

That's right. It's been something I've thought of off and on for the past few years. It's a cycling thing, you know. I'm thoroughly fascinated with bikes of many kinds. Anyway, I took the above photo in New York three years ago, when I was there for a conference to remind me that some day I'm going to be that driver.

In my dream world, here's what it would look like:

First of all, I'll paint my pedicab a shiny blue. It's my favorite color. My handlebars will have a horn and fringe, just because that would be fun. And I'll wear a helmet when I ride -- for safety reasons, and so I don't have to do my hair. Awesome!

And here's how I imagine the getting passengers scene would play out: 

ME: Hey, there! You guys need a ride to your destination?
THEM: Maybe. How much does it cost?
ME: It won't be cheaper than the Yellow Cab, but I'll be your guide, too. I'm pretty knowledgeable about the area. You need to know restaurants? I got you covered? You're looking for a boutique? I'll take you there. Just heading over to the game? I'll get you there on time.
THEM: Cool! How much?
ME: $10 per ride.
THEM: Let's go!

In the real world, however, I posted my information on a pedicab site and never heard back. I did it twice, and no word. Seriously. I was disappointed. In the real world, I probably wouldn't be strong enough to pull another adult sitting in the back seat, anyway. I could carry your kids. But who's going to let a stranger carry her kids without riding along? Yeah, I'd definitely need to train for this job.

Yes, there are a few obstacles getting in my way. Since I haven't decided how much I really want to drive a pedicab, I haven't done much to change this situation, such as picking up the phone and making a call to follow up on my pedicab driver inquiry. No, I haven't done that.

Maybe this is just a silly fantasy to live out on paper and nothing else. I'm not sure. But after I took the Certified Travel Ambassador class last year and became a CTA -- basically, someone trained to answer pertinent travel information about specific areas (in my case, Phoenix) -- I thought I'd have a leg up on the competition. I even had the pin to wear on my lapel! I thought I'd make a great choice for such a job. And then, the city stopped partnering with the CTA program officials and my leg up went down. Perhaps that's a sign -- a sign that I'm not supposed to head in that direction. And you know how I like signs...

Have you ever dreamed of doing something that seemed really outrageous? Did you ever do it? What happened afterward?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

BLOG STATS: A Quick Review

It's nearing the end of #Blog2012 (just two more days to go after today), and that means it's time to take a look at the stats. What's been a popular read here? How does that compare over time?

If I look at where I am this month in terms of overall numbers, traffic has picked up considerably. My number on this home page shows a 10,000 page view increase over the course of the month. Amazing! But when I look at Google Analytics, there's a 3,000 page view discrepancy to that number. So I don't know what to make of that. Regardless, I'm happy to see the increase. Whether it's 10,000 pages views or just 7,000, that's still at least 2,000 more than what this blog was seeing in April. It's a decent jump in traffic, and to me means: If you blog, they will come.

You just have to post relevant content regularly. Here's why I say that. My stats this month when you break it down by the top five posts:

The post I wrote to be in the running for the story turned out to be my all-time favorite when it comes to the numbers it attracted in the shortest amount of time. It's not the post with the most sites visits over all, however, but it brought it the most readers this month, and still made the top 5 overall, which you can see from this graph below:

When I look more closely at the posts themselves, these stats tell me a few things about blogging:

_Stick to a central focus or theme.
_Tell your real-life stories and relate them back to your readers.
_Offer thoughtful insights for the reader take-away.
_Link back to other posts from your blog if they can add necessary detail to your current post.
_Keep linking back; readers do click on those links.
_Ask questions at the end of your posts to encourage dialogue.
_Visit other people's blogs so you get to know your fellow bloggers, and they you.

A few things I need to do more of to continue growing the blog and its readership:

_Find and follow other bloggers who write about self development.
_Find and follow other bike blogs that may be interested in self development using a bike.
_Find and follow other bloggers who write about working through transitions.
_Encourage more readers to sign up for the RSS feed and become regular readers.
_Continue blogging regularly and find a schedule that I can stick to for the long term.

One thing I expect to add this year: vlogs (blog posts on video).

Now that you've been blogging for almost 31 days straight, what have you learned about your blog? 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Wordles and Tweets on Memorial Day

Another theme day for the Blogathon: Wordle Day!

Participants, who chose to do so, created a Wordle from their past posts. For whatever reason (I chose not to investigate it), the Wordle software didn't work for me this year. So I made a Tweet Cloud from the hashtags I've posted on Twitter recently. It looks different than before. But as you can see, even on Twitter the blogathon has played a major part in my tweets these past 28 days:

Since we did this so we can enjoy the day off, and it may be considered a little silly, please remember we are not taking this day lightly. It's Memorial Day. Please be sure to take some time to today to think of the veterans in your life who have served this country or are serving now. Let's honor our service men and women -- and their families -- with our thoughts and prayers. God bless the U.S.A.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Feed the creative mind with chair sculpture

Today, I did the equivalent of flipping the coin to decide on what I'd post. I just closed my eyes and scrolled down in my files to pick a photo, landing on the one above. It's of something I saw in Quebec City three summers ago -- the poetry chair exhibit, called an Ode to the New World, by Michel Goulet. On exhibit in front of the Via Rail Station, each one of the 40 chairs includes a poem written by a renowned poet from Quebec engraved in the seat. The exhibit was a gift to the city from Montreal for its 400th birthday in 2008.

This photo inspired me to hunt down several other chair sculptures so I could post the links for you here. What does this have to do with the BIKE? Not much. Not much at all, except that a bike has a seat, and you can sit down on it. Ha! I hope you're sitting down, so we can all enjoy a little more chair sculpture and feed the creative mind:

Echoes by Michel Goulet Another chair sculpture by Michel Goulet. This one's in Vancouver.
10 Amazing Contemporary Sculptures The first sculpture is a ball of chairs. Then more cool stuff.
Public Art in Tampa The red chairs here are part of a public art project called "Face the Jury."
Improvisation on Four Legs and a Seat A group of artists in Austin reinvent the chair as we know it.
Leda-Chair Sculpture I had no idea Salvador Dali created chairs. Look at the feet on this one!
The Art of Creation And a rocking chair made out of Doritos bags--a 17-year-old's creation.

Did you ever think furniture could be so fascinating? 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

This is how Augusten Burroughs describes it

It's probably no secret that I'm a huge fan of self-help books. I've been reading them since college in the early '80s. As a young single parent then, I looked to them for the advice I desperately needed. I devoured them to help me get through some difficult moments in life, including the subsequent death of my second spouse, step-parenting, and the dissolution of a third marriage.

Self-help books have not been my only retreat, and I'm well aware that they do not supply all of life's answers. What they do for me is help me widen my perspective on life and find my way out of its many challenges. They are merely a little extra help to find my way. And who doesn't need a little extra help? So I'm always curious to see what's new or soon to publish in this genre. That being the case, I'm looking forward to reading Augusten Burroughs new self-help book, This is How.

Here's why.

I watched the author (known for his best selling memoir Running With Scissors and who is on now on his new book tour) do an interview on CNBC's "Morning Joe" show today. I agreed with many of his thoughts that are presented in his new book. It appears This is How deconstructs what many of us think self-help is about.

It's not about healing, he told the show's cast, "There are some things in life that you're not going to heal from," the death of a child, for instance. He says when you know that you don't have to heal from something like that, it takes the pressure off.

And I liked what he said about diets, when he told the story of a friend of his who has been joking about her diet for more than a decade: "If, after 15 years, you're still on a diet, you gotta ask yourself, 'Do you really want to reach that goal weight or do you really just enjoy cheese a little more?' And that's fine, but you gotta know the difference."

The difference he's referring to is between what you want and what you want to want.

"You have to be honest with yourself," he says.

It sounds like a book that cuts to the chase and doesn't let you off the hook. If you're the type of person who can go inside yourself and look at your inner truths openly, this might be a book you'd find worthwhile. I'm pretty certain I'll get something out of it. After I read it, I'll post a review here.

What about you? If you're a fan of self-help books, what's your favorite? Or, are there any new ones out you'd like to read? Feel free to post your suggestions here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Letting Go Retreat

On Twitter this morning, I read someone's tweet, "Thanks for the letting go retweet," as "Thanks for the letting go retreat." My mind replaced RETWEET with RETREAT. And I thought, "Hey, I'd like to go to that." And then that became, "Hey, I'd like to create that."

In light of my dyslexic moment, or Freudian slip, or whatever it was, I started thinking what this Letting Go Retreat would look like for women who've felt bruised by another person or event. I came up with a few ideas that would help people let go and restore a sense of balance to life. Of course, my retreat would be a mix of several activities. It would involve a lot of doing, a lot of listening, and a lot of releasing of negative energy. It would be something I'd sign up for in a second. It would look something like this:

Holding on to your past mistakes or regrets means you're carrying around some anger, so I'd like the retreat to include some Mixed Martial Arts. Wouldn't that be fun? We'd kick-box and punch that anger right out of our systems. Let's let that crap go.

I'm a writer, there would have to be writing. We'd take out journals or notebooks, colored pens and markers, and free write. The colors would help put a less stressful spin on our "letting go" subjects. The writing would be the coping tool we'd use to get that stuff out of our heads. I'd include writing prompts, such as, "If I could tell X what I'm really angry about, and not worry how X would respond, this is what I'd tell X." Then I'd set a timer for 10 minutes, and we'd write whatever comes to mind, about whoever we thought of first, non-stop for those 10 minutes. We'd break up the day or weekend, whatever the length of the retreat, with journal writing like this -- and different prompts to get the thoughts flowing.  

You knew there would have to be bikes involved, didn't you? I'd create a mix tape of all the sappy love songs I could find, and we'd do a spinning class to that. The songs and the movement would help push those pent up feelings right out with the tears. Because, you know what? It's good to cry. We spend far too much time stuffing feelings. Let's just use this retreat to get them out. Because I like to make up songs from songs we all know, we could close this portion of the retreat with a version of that old Western song, "Goodbye Old Paint," changing the words to: "Goodbye, old flame, I'm leaving you now." Why? So it's us saying goodbye and not them, because when we feel like we can take back charge of our own lives, that's when we can begin to let go. The old flame could be an old lover, an old boss, an old anybody that you want to get out of your head.

We'd have a stage, and a mic, and everyone would get 10 minutes to tell their stories, without interruption. You'd just get to tell your story however you wanted to, with or without the drama, to help get it out of your head.

For anyone who didn't get their 10 minutes before, you'd have another option. You could write out your story in verse. Rhyme, no rhyme, simple prose. But no more than 20 lines. Then you could recite it out loud on the stage. We'd have a contest to see which poem fueled the most emotion. That means, you'd have to be honest. This would be your opportunity to dig deep into those feelings, so you could get them out in the open. Being able to face your hurt feelings is one of the best ways to begin to release them.

To wrap up the retreat, we could devise as many ridiculous ways in which we'd seek revenge, if it were allowed, as possible. Absolutely not to be acted upon, this portion of the retreat would involve the release of humor. To laugh about pain is a coping mechanism that can be very helpful. When you're able to look at the ridiculously absurd side of a life challenge, that's when you're able to see beyond it, and that's what letting go is all about.

No one would leave the retreat without painting or drawing the more serene side of what your life looks like now, or what you want your life to look like soon enough. This part of the retreat would be about goal-setting and aiming for a more positive look at your future. 

If there were enough funds, the retreat would take place at a resort spa, and we'd end the event with an afternoon of massages, body wraps, manicures/pedicures, saunas, and a little wine & cheese. Since the whole point is about letting go, this would be an ideal way to release whatever stress might be left, so we could all head home relaxed and ready for renewal, that sense of unease replaced with a good, strong dose of balance.

What do you think? Would you attend a Letting Go Retreat like this? How would you make yours different?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"If I started blogging today, I would..."

Let me tell ya somethin' 'bout bloggin'
For today's Theme Day during this year's WordCount Blogathon, we're taking a look back at what might be different if we were to start blogging today. What have we learned that might cause us to do it differently? Would we use a different program or software? Would we alter the topic in some way? In other words, what have we learned since we started blogging that would affect our blogging efforts if we were just getting started today?

Ummmmm...a few thoughts from my experience...

I've learned so much since I started BIKE WITH JACKIE with a welcome post on May 11, 2007, in which I ended my very first post with this line: "Together, we'll learn how to ride the mental BIKE." I have not switched my focus. I started to stray a bit when I felt a little uncertainty in my life, but I came back full circle. I'm actually proud of that. I knew then what I wanted to tell you about, and I still believe in it. That feels good. If I started blogging today, I'd still be writing about my special brand of BIKE. What would you still be writing about?

And how funny is it that I began this blog in the month of May?! I didn't know then that May would be synonymous with fresh starts and that a blogathon would be the catalyst for that. But since 2008, a full year into my own blogging experience (with no more than a few dozen posts) I have participated in this highly motivating challenge. 2008 marks the first year Michelle Rafter organized the Blogathon. As best I recall, she did it because so many of us writers at were just beginning to blog. I remember I started after a Q/A session on with Penelope Trunk, when she said we should all be blogging. So I started blogging. But I didn't know what I was doing. A year later, we had the blogathon because Michelle recognized a need and found a way to meet it. Even though I didn't announce the start of it (I did announce the end) back then, May still always represents a new beginning or a fresh start to me, and I celebrate it wholeheartedly. I wouldn't change that, either, not if I didn't have to. If I were just starting a blog today, I'd understand the benefits of the group effort, and I would follow more blogs sooner, that's for sure. I still have work to do in this area.

What I've noticed is that I didn't post many links back then, not to anyone else's site and not back to my own. I've since learned the importance of the back link. If I were starting to blog today, I'm glad I would know to embed the links that help create traffic.

I'd also do a much better job of writing headlines using key words so people could find me more easily during their Google searches. Back then, I was all over the clever titles. But we've learned they don't work online. The catchy or catch phrase headlines work in print, but not online. Key words is key here. So I'm more mindful of that. If I were to start blogging today, I'd know that, and I now wouldn't have to go back and re-do my older headlines for this reason.

When I first started blogging, my blog was all content and no cool photographs. For one thing, I didn't have a cell phone to carry around with me to be able to snap all kinds of photographs on the spot. I didn't really know how to download photos from my camera. And I didn't do video. If I just started blogging today, I'd probably take a class and learn how to do those kinds of things. I'd certainly need to learn video, because I still don't really use video here. Every now and then, I'll add a link, but I'd rather do the audio and visual myself. So that's something I still need to incorporate. I'd recommend taking classes where applicable, and reading ProBlogger. He's been a help to many of the bloggers I know.

I love the idea of bringing more voices to my blog, so if were just getting started blogging today, I'd include that in my blogging plan. I don't do it enough here, and I plan to incorporate more of this in the years ahead. That means making a conscious effort and not just thinking about it. If I were advising anyone about blogging today, I'd suggest taking the experience seriously and developing a plan of action that allows you to incorporate interactive approaches such as interviews and guest blogging into the blogging experience.

Finally, I'd be okay with where I'm at. When I started blogging, I was okay with the "learn as you go" process. I'm still okay with that. Because I know technology changes so much, and I can't possibly keep up with it alone, I'd be crazy to think I have to know it all at once. I'd never get started if that were the case. So if I started blogging today, or if I were advising anyone about starting a blog today, I'd tell them that it's okay to experiment as you go. Whether on Blogger as I am or WordPress as so many others I know are, I don't find that to be a hugely important factor for me. I'm happy to be blogging regularly. I've used WordPress before, too, though, and I like either platform. Some day, I may switch for some specific reason, but that wouldn't keep me from blogging one way or the other. I think the bottom line is you have the opportunity to experiment with what works for you and go from there.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cycling research round-up

I'm in search of research that helps prove the mind-body connection through cycling. If you know of any research or research outlets that might be helpful, I hope you'll post a comment below.

Meanwhile, I've curated a short list of articles related to cycling in some form or another. I hope you'll find them interesting or helpful in some way. I explain how I did:

Yoga for Cyclists: 3 Poses You Should Practice
I took up yoga last year and have found it to be extremely helpful with regards to balance on single track trails. It's also helpful when I need to stand up a bit off the saddle to ride through some of the tougher terrain. I can hold myself up and steady for a longer period of time. The only pose in this article I've ever done, though, is the bridge pose. I'll be sure to try the other two and watch for the benefit.

Cycling in the Zone
While older (1999), this insight paper written by a sports therapist addresses the mental benefits of cycling and how performance can improve if you reach that mental state called flow or arrive "in the zone." Can the cyclist continue, against all odds (specifically pain where elite sports is concerned), and overcome that pain and fatigue to finish the race? Not everyone can overcome such intense pain, which is why I see this as a great analogy for life, in general. Not everyone can overcome life obstacles. Those who do stay focused on the goal, find their zone, and keep going till they reach the space where "self-consciousness, distractions and irrelevant thoughts are absent." Oh, don't we wish we could have that all the time? Something else I got out of reading this paper...It includes a quote from Buddha, which reminds me of a conversation I just had with a friend this week about getting comfortable in your pain:
As long as you are in time, there is suffering.
Exercise Bike Articles/Research offers articles and research for cycling enthusiasts who enjoy a spinning class to get their cycling experience. In some ways, the mind-body connection is more attainable on a stationary bike because you have no traffic to avoid. You can place your full concentration on the experience itself. I found two articles here of interest to me: "Spinning Program Science," and "The Power of Mind/Body Training." Scroll through the index and you may find something of interest to you.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Haiku minus H plus B equals Baiku

Today marks Haiku Day, another Theme Day for the participants of the WordCount Blogathon. Just as I did last year, I'm posting haiku with a twist, giving you what's known in the cycling world as Baiku. Yes, that's right. We're talking HAIKU centered not around nature, necessarily, but definitely around the bike ride. The short poems are still written in three lines, with the general haiku syllable count: first line, 5 syllables; second line, 7 syllables; and third line, 5 syllables.

So for your reading pleasure: 3 BAIKU 

by Jackie Dishner

The ride lifts me up
Higher than I'd like to go
Otherwise, I'm down

by Jackie Dishner

Those long, bumpy rides
will teach you about your life
if you are in tune

by Jackie Dishner

Empty streets in town
Nobody walking around
Just me and the bike

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Siesta! Are you making time for down time?

Whether you call it...

a) a day of rest
b) nap time
c) taking a siesta

...we all need it more often than we get it. 

What are some ways you make sure you are fitting down time into your schedule?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Faith Hill and a lesson in breathing

When Faith Hill sings the words to the song, "Breathe," she made famous in 1999, I'm sure she wasn't referring to yoga breaths.

"Just breathe," she sings, referring to the love of her life.

"The whole world just fades away," she says, only hearing the beating of his heart, not her own. Such a beautiful love song, and also stereotypical about how we get caught up in other people's lives -- sometimes at the detriment to our own.

"Just breathe" has a different meaning for me since I started taking yoga a year ago. Now beginning to see the effects as it automatically, yet gently, brings me back to a safe place during times of stress, I see this time to stop and breathe as another form of the bike ride.

Taking time to "just breathe" is my time. It's time for me to stop and be present where I'm at in that moment. It's not about anyone else -- not a lover, not a spouse, not the children. It's not about an argument, a mistake, a worry.

Just breathe. Just me. The two phrases can be interchanged.

Don't worry, it's not an ego thing. It's a self-care thing. For the remainder of this week, when you run into some challenge, something that upsets you, even if only slightly, see if you can remember to stop and take time to breathe deep breaths. In and out. Just for you.

When you hear the words to a favorite song of yours, what phrase most sticks out in your mind. What thoughts does it conjure up?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why your tweets, links and mentions matter

Today, I'm playing "Thankful Thursday" and posting about something for which I'm grateful: you!

Yesterday, the WordCount Blogathon hosted a day to post "second act" stories -- the stories that tell, if you've switched careers in mid-life, how you arrived there. I shared a portion of the origins of my BIKE story providing detail I may not have shared here before. I then posted a link to that post on Twitter. The post attracted a lot of readers, a lot of comments, a lot of nods -- and some sharing.

At least two of our fellow blogathoners RTd, or retweeted, that link.

Today, one of Jenny's Twitter followers picked up the link and ran it on her daily online newspaper. Then that follower posted an update on Twitter, letting Jenny know her tweet got mentioned. Jenny then posted an RT, including my Twitter handle, to let me know the link got picked up, that my story got more notice.

Right after I saw Jenny's tweet, I checked my stats. Comparing it to last night's, this particular Twitter love tripled the page views for that single post. Impressive work, I'd say. And this is why it pays to tweet, add links, and mention your friends and followers. You will gain greater visibility, everyone who participates. The graphics above will give you an example of what Twitter love looks like.

Next time you read something that you really like -- it speaks to you in some way -- chances are it will speak to others as well. By all means, share the love on your social media outlets. Most blogs now provide easy access to the icons for sharing at the end of a post that allow you to do this easily. If you like what you read, use those icons. Help your buddies out, and post thank-yous to those who help you. That's the way social media is meant to work. And you can see from the illustrations above, and from my growing numbers, it really does work.

Michelle Rafter's blogathon and others like hers offer the opportunity to learn how to make blogging work best for you. Sharing the Twitter (or Facebook / Google+ / LinkedIn) love is one way.

Signing up for a blogger's RSS feeds or following is another way. So if you like what you're reading here, consider signing up for my feed or following me. Scroll down the right-hand side of this page for three different ways you can do that. If you know someone who could benefit by reading my blog, feel free to pass my URL along to them as well.

I always appreciate your feedback and thank you for reading.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A bike ride to my second act

It's not easy being older than 40. It's not easy being in transition. It's not easy when life alters the course of what you thought your life would look like, or where you thought you'd be.

But all that change? It can be exciting.

Forget the failed marriage. Forget the lost job. Forget the mortgage you can no longer afford. Those worries cost your life too much time already. Put a laser-like focus, instead, on: what's next?

The proverbial question was slapped in my lap a few years before I hit 40, about the time I learned my then-husband had been living a secret life.

What the...?! Secret life?!

Yeah, um, his story is a bit dramatic,and would have left me in fighting mode if I hadn't gotten sick to my stomach first -- for about a month. I lost a lot of weight trying to process that his "secret" involved activities no wife would ever condone. And, oh, yeah, toss in the secretary. 

Painful as my reality was at the time, I had to laugh at the absurdity -- An escort service on your speed dial! Really? -- or I would have fallen apart. But I didn't want to fall apart. So I focused on how I could get out of this mess. There was a bike involved.

Though I hadn't ridden it in years, I was drawn to the bicycle in my garage immediately. It would become my safety net, my refuge, my release. And it would take me to the land of pretense and carefree living, where nothing else mattered but the ride. Ironically, those child-like bike rides led me back into adulthood and to my second act: inspirational public speaking.

Still in the process of advancing this part of my career (I'm also a freelance writer and author), I started sharing my BIKE STORY at Toastmaster's. It got good enough reviews by my peers -- men and woman, alike -- that I braved joining a professional speakers group to share it with them. I got a standing ovation! 

And I got chills, realizing the power behind a story. To be honest, it freaked me out. But it also fed an inner truth. If professional speakers can hear my story, laugh with me, cry with me, and wildly applaud the efforts of a new speaker who dares tell the story of how she overcame what had been an unbearable life obstacle from the seat of her faithful Trek, then I had something. I had no choice now but to trust in that.

The bike gave me a philosophy that I now teach to women in transition. But I don't believe it would have happened without other past obstacles (abusive family of origin, teenage marriage with two babies, three wrecked marriages, and on and on) before this one. I had overcome other traumas, too. My bike story is just what turned the light bulb on.

So this is why I've gone through all of that!

My bike gave me the space to reflect, relearn and revise. It was my safe space where no judges or critics existed. Just me and a renewed sense of self. Women do not wind up with men who abuse them, cheat on them, or lie to them without getting permission to do it from us. And we don't give them that permission unless we learned to do that as children. Boy, did I have some relearning to do! Thankfully, spiritual guidance helped me connect instinctively to other tools that would lift me back up from despair and the years and years of unacknowledged sadness. That bike got the wheels turning.

I remember learning about my then-husband's "infidelities" on a Friday. On Saturday, he wanted to do yard work all day and plant flowers in concrete pots on the back patio. I let him drag me to a nursery where we picked out the plants that I later purposely let wilt. I think he wanted to keep me busy so I wouldn't ask too many questions. On Sunday, he left to attend a conference.

Numb, and now alone, I wandered about my two-story house like a zombie, not eating anything, barely drinking water. Other than my bike rides, I pretty much spent that first week on the couch in a daze, wondering, "What the hell just happened?" Then, "Who do I tell this to? How do I get this out of my head?"

On Friday, I got in my car and wandered the streets of my neighborhood. At one point, I remember hearing Bonnie Raitt on the radio, "Cuz I can't make you love me, if you don't. You can't make your heart feel something it won't..." and then sobbing so uncontrollably that I pulled into the first parking lot on my left. A church. It didn't matter that I'd never even attended that church, it seemed logical for me to get out of the car and go inside. At the administration desk, I barely got out the words, "I need to speak to a pastor," when I was rushed inside an office, my sobs echoing in the lobby behind me. The door closed, and I sat down on a padded chair in front of a desk, shaking but trying to compose myself. I knew exactly why I was here. The pastor came in, looked me square in the face, and said, "You're safe. How can I help?" It shouldn't surprise you that I started attending his church the following Sunday.

Just as I was drawn to get up and ride my bike every morning (it relieved my anxiety), I was drawn to this church (it relieved my wounded heart), I was drawn to write in my journals (it relieved my anxious thoughts), and I was drawn to seek professional help from a therapist, lawyer and financial advisor (it relieved my fear of the unknown).

That lightbulb kept blinking, telling me I had a story to tell and that it would be helpful to others. I'd found my purpose! It was unfolding minute by minute.

But by now, you may be thinking: exciting isn't exactly what I'd call this. But even if no one else knew, I knew this was going to be the ride of my life. And it's exciting to be in the middle of something you know is going to change you forever and to know deep inside that you're going to get through this. It's exciting to know the experience is going to take you places you never dreamed you'd be able to go. Or maybe, like me, you did dream it but didn't know what it meant till it bopped you upside the head. While I was processing how to rebuild myself on those bike rides, the change was already underway.

Then, when I gave what I considered my first paid speech and collected my first real check -- $500 to speak at a women's regional conference -- I was beyond excited. I was proud of myself. I had made it. And you can, too. If you're wondering, though, in the midst of the anxiety change often brings, how you can connect with the excitement -- and let go of the fear -- of your second act, here are a few tips:
  • Accept the change. Denial only makes transitions more difficult to navigate. Tell yourself: Okay, this is where I am now. So be it. I will adapt. When you can be honest with yourself, you are more apt to notice you are not alone. When you know you're not alone, you are more apt to be open to what's next.
  • Seek assistance. When you accept that you're going to have to adapt your life a bit, and that you're not alone, only then can you begin to reach out. No need to hide away. No need to shy away. Start sharing your story with friends and neighbors. Find out who knows someone who can help you adjust. Being brave enough to reach out strengthens your resilience. This is where self-trust begins. 
  • Focus on your natural-born talents. If you know what they are, start doing them. If you don't know, take some classes or take time to investigate. If you are getting internal messaging that suggests you should be doing something specific with your life (Mental images would always pop in my head of me standing in front of a large audience), pay attention to that. Your purpose is speaking to you. Listen. Draw positive energy from that.
  • Read and read some more. When you feel knowledgeable, you gain confidence. So read up on what you believe to be your next life. If you intend to open a small boutique, start a home-based business, or write the next "great American novel," it's smart to learn how others have done it before you. Consult with similar professionals to find out what mistakes they made and how you can avoid them, and find out what's worked best. Copy other people's success, and then adapt it to fit your needs.
  • Join like-minded groups. Your peer groups are your support groups. Find out who they are, and join up. Whether it's online or in-person, organizations, associations or others affiliated with the type of work you want to do (or are trying to do now), the members will provide the inspiration you'll need to get through the challenges everyone faces in business. You will never be without a challenge as long as you are alive. So see them as something to overcome, and not as something that might stop you in your tracks.
  • Explore your personal interests and hobbies. Your second act should NOT be all about work. Make your second act about life, in general. This is your time to take up the painting class you always wanted to sign up for but never did. This is your time to plan that trip to Italy and learn how to make lace on the island of Burano, if that's your desire. This is your time to experience what makes you feel alive. Whatever it is, it's within you, not in somebody else. If it's your grandchildren that you want to spend more time with, go visit them. If it's your blog, commit to writing in it. If it's community service, find out where you can volunteer your time.
  • Take responsibility. There's no one else better equipped to know what's right for you than you. Listen to your heart. Pay attention to the signs that might be calling out to you. Trust that you have what it takes, and then take the action that's required to move yourself forward. These are just some of the lessons that I share in my classes, workshops and keynotes. It's not rocket science. But for some of us, during the more difficult moments in life, it seems daunting. It's not, unless you make it seem so. 
The way I see the second half of our lives is that this is our shot at being who we really are. The first half? It's probably just practice.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

When life hands you lemons, or something...

So I'm looking in the refrigerator yesterday for something to eat for lunch. I see maybe five take-home boxes in there. Apparently, I've been eating out a lot lately. I pick one, not knowing for sure what's inside -- all white boxes, of course. Only the Chinese take-out is identifiable.

Turns out I picked the chipped beef and cheese sandwich with mashed potatoes, the meal I brought home from a chain restaurant on Saturday evening. Not at all healthy, but it was tasty. And since I only ate half for dinner, I get the rest for leftovers.

To warm it up, I simply stick both items from the box into a little sauce pan on the stove, cover it, and go back to my office.

It's not long before I smell something.

"Oh, no! The potatoes!"

I run back to the kitchen, quickly turn the burner down and flip the sandwich and potatoes over. Wouldn't you know it? The potatoes no longer look like a nice, round mound of tastiness. After the flip, they fall flat. My mind doesn't see burned potatoes, though. My mind sees...latkes! Potato pancakes.

It's like that old lemon/lemonade saying, only different: when life hands you burned potatoes, make latkes.

Yeah. Why not?

Latkes or lemons -- it's about the spin. Alter your perspective, and you can turn any sour situation into something more palatable. 

So how about this? The next time you make a mistake (Burn the pototoes, maybe?) notice what happens to your mind. Where do your thoughts go? Do they want to focus on the negative aspects of the mistake (a ruined meal), or can you refocus them into a solution (Well, whaddya know? Burned and flattened mashed potatoes look like latkes!) that will work for you, despite the mistake? Think about it: little mishaps like this one offer opportunity to practice mental mind games so that when the big challenges get in your way, you're better armed to face them head-on. That's part of being your Best self.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

GUEST POST: Positive Visualization for Sport and for Healing

As part of the May challenge, the WordCount Blogathon hosts theme days. Last week, as a group, we blogged about movies that have inspired our writing or blogging. Today, it's Guest Post Day.

Stepping in for me is Peggy J. Noonan, a health writer whose interest in alternative medicine mirrors my interest in the mind-body connection. I wouldn't have been able to develop the BIKE metaphor without it. When Peggy's not writing for magazines, newspapers, books and online publications, she's sharing news and tips about how to use alternative medicine at her blog, AltMedForYou. That's where you'll find me today, reviewing Spontaneous Happiness, a book written by Dr. Andrew Weil, a Tucson celebrity and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. You can find more information about Dr. Weil at Peggy's blog. Today at BIKE WITH JACKIE, Peggy's advancing our knowledge about positive visualization...

Jackie’s May 4 post describing how positive visualization worked for her was inspiring. It reminded me of Laura Wilkinson, the platform diver who won the Olympic gold medal in 2000 by using positive visualization when a foot injury prevented her from practicing for a couple of months before the competition.

Laura’s success in that event was so dramatic and so impressive that afterward other divers adopted it and improved their performance too.

Imagine standing up on a diving platform, with all the world watching, as you walk confidently to the platform and go into your dive, not even considering for a second that your achievement would be anything less than perfect.

I remember hoping she could succeed, but not really expecting she would. After all, everybody knows the key to physical performance success is physical practice, right? And, although those of us in the TV viewing audience might be fervently hoping for a Cinderella success, I doubt any of us thought it could really happen. Win a medal after missing months of practice? Nah, not likely. 

But she did it. Her performance won the gold in one of those goosebump-thrilling moments that never seem believable in movies but knock your socks off when they happen in real life.

Later, I remember her telling reporters the two secrets that made positive visualization work for her were making the visualized practice intensely vivid and real in her mind and believing it would succeed.

That same technique is being applied to healing by practitioners of alternative medicine. Does it work? Conventional medicine is skeptical but to alternative medicine doctors, the answer is a resounding yes. A no brainer, especially in cancer treatment that employs meditation, guided imagery, and visualization with Qi Gong (sometimes called Chi Gong), Tai Chi, Tibetan Yoga, and other and mind-body practices.  

It has been said that the body can’t tell the difference between something that really happened and something you imagined vividly. As in sports, making it work is simple: 

1) Pick a clear and specific target.  
Jackie visualized how she would sit, how she would push off the chair, how she would use her poles, how she would make a successful exit onto the snow.

2) Relax 
Visualization works better when your mind is calm and clear. Set other concerns aside and focus. A few deep belly breaths can help you shift into a receptive state of relaxed awareness. 

3) BE in that moment.   
Make it as vivid and immediate as you can. Like the Olympic divers, feel the successful dive down to the tiniest detail of how the air moves against your skin as you step onto the platform and what the texture of the board feels like against the soles of your feet. 

4) Believe.  
Make it true in your mind and it can become true in reality. 

What do you think about positive visualization? Is there something you could try it out on this month? 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Memories

Me and my first grandchild -- mom becomes grandmom
My proud son, his baby, and an ecstatic aunt (my daughter)
Do you have a mom you're thinking of today? Maybe it's your own, a sister or daughter who just had her first baby, the mothers of your grandchildren? To celebrate the day, I've curated list of Mother's Day memories and inspiration from my fellow blogathoners. Enjoy!

Women who bond  Nothing says Happy Mother's Day better than those fond memories of the mothers, aunts and cousins in your life. For those who were blessed to experience the true spirit of sisterhood, this post is for you. Thanks for this post, Anne Wainscott.

A guy who obviously loves his mom  What a great son to comply with his mom's request to send weekly updates. I love that it made him more deliberate in his actions. Thanks, Patrick McGraw, for sharing the sentiment. Very sweet and loving. 

I'm a sucker for family photos  Even if they aren't mine.

Mothering your mom  What's that like? There might be pills, as you'll see if you read what my favorite blogger in Poland writes.

Real moms of bloggerland  Here's a post that tells you like it really is. And, no, it's not all fun and games. But so what!? We're mothers. You can dish it out, and, trust me, we can take it!

Gratuitous bike post  Just because it came up in my search and made me smile. So, this is a Happy Mother's Day message to me! Hey, a girl's gotta take care of her own addictions needs. LOL.

What favorite Mother's Day post have you read today? What memory did it spark of your own?  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A blog post showdown

Whenever I participate in the WordCount Blogathon, I'm always tracking my stats. It's the only time I really focus on how well the blog is or is not doing. I don't know why, other than it's a sure betting time that I'll get a lot of traffic. I'm sure, if you're participating, you're seeing this, too.

It makes the whole blogging experience that much more exciting and interesting.

Of course, I want to know which posts my readers seem to like best as well. Yesterday, this (see above graphic) is what my stats looked like at around 10 a.m. When it comes to who's reading what at BIKE WITH JACKIE, it appears that motivational posts seem to do best here. That's a good thing, since that's the objective I'm expecting to achieve.

Are you tracking your page views? Which posts seem to do well? Can you tell if you're meeting your readers' needs? If not, maybe you can use the remainder of the month to focus on what works best. If you like, post a comment here and leave a link to your most popular post to date. And tune in tomorrow for a curated lists of participants' posts I read this week that motivated me.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Just me and my shadow -- and another bike message

More signs today.

After my bike ride this morning, I stopped to take a picture of the water bottle on my bike when I realized I hadn't drank any water whatsoever. A big no-no. What was I thinking?

And somehow during that "photo shoot," I accidentally got another shot (see above) -- my shadow.

Things are starting to get downright obvious around here, aren't they? The message is clear. I will be writing the BIKE book. I will be speaking about the BIKE. And I will continue to ride.

Even if the photo was just pure coincidence, an accidental touch of the finger on the button while I was trying to take that water bottle shot, it reminds me of how many times I've done something like that. Usually they're pocket shots. You know the ones. You just stuck your camera back in your pocket (or purse), forgetting to reset buttons back to a neutral setting, and you wind up with a shot of the inside of your pocket.


But sometimes you wind up with a gem like this one -- a reminder to cherish.

What would you say have been some of your best pocket shots? If you want to send me a copy or a link, I'll post them here.  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Signs, signs, everywhere are signs

"I am delighted to invite you to a special evening for Pearls of Wisdom. Please join me and a group of like-minded women to explore your life and the connection of mind, body and spirit," the invite read. I'd never heard of the event before, or the woman who was running it. But last night I attended this women's workshop with a friend (the one who bought me the bike ring). It was a last minute invitation she forwarded to me that I wouldn't have otherwise known about if it weren't for her. I said yes.

To top it off, I didn't know they gave out prizes at the end, either. But they did. And I won!

Talk about being in the right place at the right time. I won the opportunity to get my message on video, so I can better market my services. FREE! Why, is this another sign that I'm heading in the right direction? Why, yes, I think it is. The universe is lining up the signs as if it were a freeway exit into a big city. Metaphorical rest stops keep appearing exactly when I don't think I can hold it any longer. It makes me feel very lucky. And relieved.

I am ready to receive.

What signs have been speaking louder than usual to you lately. Maybe it's time to listen.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

3 ways to elicit or solicit the support of your friends

When women go through transitions stemming from the start of a new business, the breakup of a relationship, or starting a new exercise regimen, we turn to our friends for support.

There's good reason for that. They want to see you succeed. And just maybe they want to succeed right along with you. We're like lemmings, we want to go where we think the winners are going. And the more, the merrier, right?

If you're in the midst of one of these transitions -- or something else entirely -- I ask you: Where are you getting your help? Are you're friends stepping up in ways you hoped they would? If not, maybe they don't know what you need. Or maybe you're not opening up to them. If you're unsure how to solicit support from your friends (Maybe you learned that's weak. It's not. It's actually showing you know how to access your Inner strength and use your Expressive voice.), here are a few ways to let them know how they might aid you in your transition:

It's one of the oldest tricks in the Holy Bible. Seriously. Not to get all church-y on you or anything, but Matthew 7:7 in the King James version says right there in printed word: "Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Just like I've always told my children: If you don't ask, you won't get. It's that simple. Just ask your friends for what you need. They might not be able to provide it, but they might be able to tell you who can.

I wasn't always great at this, and sometimes I'm still not, but I have a friend who includes in his email signature the following line: "Referrals are always welcome." You know what, every time I see that, I think, "Smart guy." I haven't yet copied the line in my signature (Have you seen my signature? There's enough there already. One more line? Probably too much.), but I do consciously work at remembering to ask for referrals where I think it's appropriate or might lead somewhere. And almost any referral can lead somewhere. You never know how your carpet cleaning guy might be able to help. Mine cleans a lot of carpets, so he might know someone who knows somebody. You know? Refer back to 1) and ask for it, especially when you run into someone who cannot provide what you need at the moment. As long as you're aim is accurate, they are in the position to refer. For instance, a writer who pitches an editor an idea she liked and would have bought if it wasn't already publishing soon is likely to refer you to someone they know might be looking for a similar idea, so ask for it. 

Your friends are the people who will listen to your ideas about starting that new business. They are the ones who care enough to hear for the 100th time about the scumbag boss or the lowlife boyfriend, as long as you're taking proactive steps to move on. Your friends are the people who process what you tell them. They remember what you're doing, and they relate to the struggles you might be having. They care enough that when they're out in the world, just going about their business, they buy you something thoughtful -- something they know will help push you if they think you could use the support. Last night, a girlfriend of mine handed me the ring pictured above. We were celebrating her birthday, and yet she bought me a gift. She'd been reading about my renewed enthusiasm with the BIKE on Facebook and wanted to help. By buying the ring and giving it to me, she was showing her support. It's the way humans connect. So share your story. Tell your friends what you're doing. They may not directly help you. But they will pat you on the back. They'll give you the high-fives. Or they'll present you with a gift -- a token that will remind you that your friends do care about your success.

Friends are the people who want to support you, who want to help lift you up, even when you don't ask for it directly. But if you tell them what's going on in your life, if you share, they will hear you. And some of them (Not all of them. So don't be too hard on those who don't. It might not be something they're particularly good at. One can't be faulted for that.) will intuitively know how to respond. You will both be the better for it.

Can you think of a time when you didn't ask for help, when you kept your worries or concerns to yourself? That's a form of isolation. How do you think it affected you? What could you have done differently?