Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wrap Up: My week in a bento box (YUM!)

photo courtesy of Lorenia

Wrap Up will be a regular feature here on Bike Bliss to give me (and you, if you like) a chance to look at the week and see what worked. I have a hunch that one of the reasons the we don't get what we want outta life is that we're always chasing the future. Another reason is that we don't remember what worked -- only what didn't. And then we club ourselves for the mistakes. Here's a massive permission slip to quit replaying the failures and smile about the good stuff.

Sweet: Movin' my boo-tay
Oh, I wish you could all take the yoga fitness course I found at my local yoga studio! The instructor is fabulous, the other folks attending are caring and hilarious, and we all have a wonderful time. I usually avoid fitness classes and gyms like the plague because I walk in the place and immediately compare myself to other folks in the room. Am I thin enough? Strong enough? Polished enough? It's like someone handed my internal critics a double-shot.

This class leaves me sweating, filled up with laughter and eager for the next one. Ahhhh . . .

Savory: Morning walks soothe my soul
I've had more than the recommended daily allowance of screen time this week, and after seeing that news story about the dangers of sitting on your duff all day, I decided to start my day with outside time. I adore the morning light, the chance to see changes in nature each day and a break from my frantic mind.

Sour: Clearly, this is not my stuff
There was an ugly little blowup on my Facebook page over a cartoon I had posted, complete with total strangers jumping in to tell me I needed to prove my opinion. It's never fun to get bullied in my own space, but I had a whole lotta clarity on this one. The incident put a spotlight on my tendency to waste energy by thrashing around in the mud pit of negativity.

I was able to stand my ground politely but firmly. I got another chance to see a pattern that doesn't serve me, and now I need to look at why I get hooked by these situations. Notice, breathe, imagine. Repeat.

Incredibly, I felt grateful for previous tough situations where other people in pain were trying to pin their stuff on me. No, really. I was shocked, too. I usually rage, whine and spew all manner of curses like, "It's not fair! They're so mean!"

My past pain allowed me to see in a split second what was my stuff so I didn't spend hours fretting over what I woulda-coulda-shoulda done.

Salty: Work! For me!
I sent the most powerful cover letter I have ever written earlier this week, and two days later, I got a call for a quick assignment. I did it, I nailed it, and it felt really good. I have no idea what the outcome will be, but it felt great to be helpful and completely in command of the situation.

Warm wishes for a wonderful weekend for all of you! I'd love to hear about the best of your week . . .

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Resolution Amnesty: Permission for a radical do-over

How's 2012 workin' for you?

Have you thought much about those bright, shiny resolutions you made three short weeks ago? Are they a source of fun and exploration, or have they fallen to the wayside, mocking you? Again.

I have a sneaking suspicion that if your resolutions aren't working for you, that the problem isn't you, it's those damn resolutions. 

Never fear. I'm not here to guilt you into picking up your cross so you can suffer through the rest of the year. This is your chance to rethink everything.

I hereby declare that you have the right to drop whatever sucky goals you may have set, praying that this time they were the ticket to a happier, stronger, thinner, nicer version of you that's more worthy of love.

I hereby declare that willpower and discipline are hooey, and there is another way. (Many, many other ways, as a matter of fact.)

I hereby give you permission to completely start over and set your compass to the things in life that make your heart sing, and build on those.

So let's wipe the slate clean and look at ourselves with wiser, kinder eyes.

Starting next week on the first of February -- the month of love -- we will begin again. In a way, Bike Bliss will be starting over, too. The purpose of this space will be dedicated to helping you get past the resistance that stands between you and what matters most. Gently.

There will still be bike love, outdoor adventures and bike bling, but I'm going back to the beginning. When I started this blog about two years ago, I wanted to share the revelation that exercise can be pleasure. (Who'da thunk?) This year, I'm doubling down on that idea and adding the bonus that exercise needs to be one place in our stressed-out lives where we don't need to perform, achieve or improve.

We can just come home to ourselves.

I know, where's the sport in that? Who am I to redefine exercise so it doesn't include self-loathing, shame and fear? What on earth would that look like? What about the RESULTS?!

Well, it's happening, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, here are a few helpful places to turn if you need inspiration for this new path.
Mmmwah! I'm here for your journey--

Monday, January 23, 2012

Setting the compass: time management with a twist

Some weeks are incredible, some are nutty, and others are incredibly nutty.

Last week was a combo platter, but mostly I was able to stand in a place of amazement as I watched connections with people -- connections I reeeally wanted these last few months -- just appear. People offered help. There were amazing chance meetings. I got to pay it forward. I have no idea what the outcome will be, but that's okay. Possibility is all around, and baby, I can feel it.

Thank you, universe.

With all this wonder buzzing in my head, it's very important for me to check in with the Stars I Steer By to set my Compass for the week. It's incredibly helpful for me to put on my Chief Navigator hat and remind myself what's really important. My chipmunk brain can get pulled off course by nearly any shiny thing, just like you can mess up a real compass with a magnet so it points anywhere but True North.

Just a few minutes checking in with what I know to be true, what makes me happy, and what my future self will adore brings me home.

This is not about shoulds or musts. Or fixing. Or trying harder.

It's about remembering what I know.

Getting clarity about fear.

Dissolving failure with laughter.

Replacing resistance with ease.

Disarming cynicism with trust.

Choosing rest instead of panic.

The power in this exercise still baffles me.  I go from fretting about how I'm going to fit in every little item on my to-do list to watching how things fall into place because I've offered them an opening. My achievement oriented brain still doesn't believe it, but week after week, when I set my Compass, things happen, and in ways I never could have managed or expected.

Nothing resets my Compass like some time outside with the dudes. On Sunday, we scoped out the Bigfork Community Nordic Center, a treasure hidden near the Jewel Basin, about 30 minutes from our front door. "Hidden" means the place is not well marked, and we only found the entrance by sheer luck. ("Hey, you with the skis! Are we in the right place?")

A little shuffling on snow, some great conversation on the trails, and a few rays of sunshine on my face, and I was restored.

 My Compass
  • Moving forward in any way on my feels-like-a-big-thing project. (Psst . . . Bike Bliss is heading in a fantastic direction.)
  • Seeing a clean kitchen counter as a sacred space. That's code for "I really hate doing dishes AND I hate seeing dirty dishes."
  • Getting outside every day, even for a few minutes. Hmm . . . take the dog for a walk with Hot Husband?
  • Giving myself permission to fuel up with nourishing food and noticing -- just noticing -- when the sugar cravings hit.
  • Remembering that juggling practice and brain yoga gets my mind sparking.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy this one.

Hoping that snowball isn't destined for my face.

So many trails, so little time . . .

One reluctant skier.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Winter biking gear review: the Buff (R)

Biking in the Buff (R)

Note: I only do reviews of items I find to be magnificent or horrible, just as a way to help folks buy useful, quality gear or stay away from stuff you'll regret buying. Reviews are entirely my own opinion. While I'd love to think some company would attempt to woo me with promises of gorgeous needful things or payoffs for a favorable write-up, I'm just not a player. My obscurity is your gain.

If there's one thing we've got in Big Sky Country, it's cold. Even my early morning rides in the summer require thin gloves to prevent numb fingers, so you bet I'm covered when it comes to winter gear.

It's pretty easy to keep legs and torso toasty, especially when you get moving, but the face is another matter entirely.

The traditional answer to face protection has been the balaclava, usually made of black fleece. While I'm all for summoning my inner ninja, I really don't need to look like one. I've pretty much given up on fleece entirely due to its tendency to hold onto odors like a terrier. Call me a pansy, but I really don't think that the price for a warm face has to be rebreathing and smelling what I've just exhaled.

ThanksCranks 2010 with a fleece Balaclava

Check out the short balaclava! Brrr!
I'm also not a fan of the short neck length that tends to leave a coverage gap near my collarbone or the nape of my neck. Even if I have carefully tucked in everything before I hit the road, it always seems that one turn of my head or click of the helmet strap leaves bare skin exposed. I hate cold drafts and I hate having to make adjustments on the fly.

The chic solution is a wool scarf. Nice and toasty, no odor issues, and good looking. It's probably perfect for some bike commuters, but I find most scarves too bulky and too difficult to keep in place. Scarves don't really help with cold ears, either. Even though I wear a ski helmet with ear flaps for winter cycling, I still need some extra coverage.

What's a biker chick to do? Ask for a merino wool Buff (R) for Christmas!

A Buff (R) is a seamless tube of fabric that's designed to be a bandana substitute. Depending on the length of the tube, you can use it as a headband, a scarf, a hat or a balaclava, without having to tie a lot of fancy, lumpy knots. I'd been eyeing these on Sahalie's website for years because of the versatility and their fun prints, but I'd passed because I refuse to buy synthetic sportswear anymore. (More on that in an upcoming post.)

Then they came out with a wool version. Some pretty heavy hint-dropping worked in my favor, and I found one under the tree a few weeks back. I'm very, very pleased with the product test results thus far.

The wool is a fine, lightweight knit that fits easily under a helmet and the generous length tucks neatly into a tight collar without bulk. Thanks to the great videos on Sahalie's site, I was able to turn my Buff (R) into a balaclava in just a few seconds without checking my work in the mirror. The fabric was doubled over across my face, which was perfect on the 25-degree F day. Just enough fresh air cut through to be refreshing, and I was able to adjust it without messing up the arrangement.

At the coffee shop, I was able to take off the balaclava and turn it into a hat with a quick adjustment. No mirror, no pins, no fancy tricks.

At this point, the Buff (R) gets an A+ from me. I'm interested to see how it wears, how it washes up, and how it performs for cross-country and downhill skiing, but I'm one warm and happy girl thus far.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Happy hump day! Bike it.

I almost forgot to show you what Santa left under my tree! I'll show you my biking adventures in 2012 if you show me yours.

Looking forward to sharing the bike love--

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spontaneous bike date!

All layered up for a 25-degree F ride

I wasn't expecting to get a little one-on-one time with Hot Husband this weekend, but sometimes the stars align, the heavens part and the angels sing.

I'm a morning person, so I woke up early on Saturday, my mind buzzing with all of the things I wanted to accomplish, like reading a little, writing a little, and practicing how to juggle. (It's my "try something for 30 days" adventure for January.) 

A little brain yoga and a little Steven Pressfield lit a fire in my belly. After weeks of making excuses about why I couldn't get on my bike, I Tigger-bounded up up to sweet, sleeping Hot Husband, and announced, "I'm going for a bike ride in 10 minutes. With or without you!"

Subtlety has never been my strong suit.

In 15 minutes, we were loaded up and ready to go. The dudes are in that magical sweet spot of being old enough to be left home alone for an hour without the worry that they'll call friends and take the car. For them, and hour without supervision just means some time to watch a video.

We took off. After a whole 17 seconds, Hot Husband asks the obvious. "Where do you want to go?" As I was considering our usual routes from the front door, he says, "How about the Boiler Room?" It's our favorite coffee shop so far in Kalispell. Hard sell.

Thirty minutes later, we were sipping Mexican mochas and enjoying a leisurely conversation. No interruptions. Ahhhh . . .

An hour on the bike, quiet time with my husband . . . couldn't have a more perfect start to the weekend.

Many thanks to the amazing Simone for turning me onto Steven Pressfield, who gave me the push I needed to move forward on essential things this weekend.

Outside the Boiler Room, where our bikes got a little alone time, too.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bike love . . . without the committment

Here's some bike love you can slap on your skin when the mood suits, without regret years later. Fantastic temporary bike love tattoo for $5 from Tattly.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Another great New Year's for the books!

Outdoors. That's where I want to be on New Year's.

After partying late with the final Harry Potter movie and some chocolate fondue, my crew bundled up, loaded up, and headed for a day of cross-country skiing at the Izaak Walton Inn, about an hour from our place in Kalispell.

We got through the circus of matching growing kids with gear unearthed from storage to make our first ski trip of the year. The snow has been late in coming, leaving us to wonder if we need to do the naked bonfire snow dance soon. We really want to get out more, a bit closer to home.

We huffed up hills and zipped down, mostly staying upright. Then we were off for the comfort of hot chocolate and the inn. A most welcome surprise was running into acquaintances and feeling like we were meeting old friends.

Welcome, 2012. So happy to greet you in wonder.

My New Year's post is here, if you missed it.