Tomorrow you’ll be hearing from the very talented and inspirational Jackie Dishner as part of the WordCount Blogathon’s Guest Blogger Day. Jackie is a Phoenix-based speaker, freelance writer, author of Back Roads and Byways of Arizona, and founder of the BIKE WITH JACKIE blog, where her aim is to help readers turn obstacles into opportunity with her special brand of motivation. In addition to being something she likes to ride, BIKE is an acronym for finding your:
It’s a message Jackie has taken to numerous audiences, including homeless women who are in transition. That’s one reason I thought she’d be a perfect fit here at Out and Employed. To introduce herself, Jackie agreed to answer a few questions before she shares her thoughts tomorrow:
Can you tell my readers a bit about your background and how you came up with the principals of BIKE that you now speak and write about so eloquently? I understand initially there was a real bike involved.
Yes, it was a turning point in my life. At the end of 2002, my husband came home to tell me he’d been living a secret life. It involved other women. He literally told me he thought he was a sex addict. Scared the living daylights out of me. I didn’t know what that meant. It wasn’t talked about back then. He told me a little bit about what he’d done, but before we had opportunity to work this out, he moved out. I think of it as running scared, because I think he left so he didn’t have to deal with the consequences of his actions. So I had to. I sought therapy, eventually got a lawyer. But most importantly, the thing that helped me deal with the anxiety and fear of the unknown was my bike.
It had been sitting in my garage for eight years, collecting dust. But at the precise moment when I needed it most, it was there. It’s like it called out to me. I called it my life saver, because every day for three years, while we went through what became a very difficult divorce process, emotionally, I rode. I just automatically got up every morning, rain or shine and rode my bike. I worked out a lot of my challenges on the seat of that bike. I wore the thing down and had to buy a new one mid-way. But it did its job, and led me to a speaking career. I do motivational speaking now and teach classes I call my BIKE LESSONS that help audience members see how they can take a traumatic event and turn it into a triumph.
When we spoke, you told me how you do a regular BIKE seminar with women in transition in a local shelter. Can you tell us a little bit about what brought you to that work? What are some of the issues these women are facing? How have you seen them apply the principals of finding their best self, inner strength, killer instinct and expressive voice?
I was referring to my BIKE LESSONS. I generally teach them one letter at a time, so it’s a four-week program (or a half-day, if that’s all the time available). I’ve partnered with a homeless shelter in Phoenix. I teach it once a year, though I’d like to do it more often. They don’t want me to get burned out. It can be a tough crowd, not because the women are tough (though some are, for self-protection), but because they have really dark and sad stories to tell, probably like many of the women you’ve worked with.
It was a coincidence that brought me to them. I’m involved in a weekly women’s breakfast network group in Phoenix, and one of the members I first met was on the board of this homeless shelter at the time. After volunteering with her on a program that took us to Kenya to learn about women’s issues there, I suggested to her that I’d like to work with women here in the U.S., that I thought I had something that could be helpful to women in transition. So she introduced me to the director of the shelter. I got the grand tour, liked what I saw, and we discussed my idea for the empowerment class. They made it really easy to work with them, and the next thing I knew, the first class was scheduled.
So there I was, in the shelter’s library with 10 women, strangers, who wanted my help, and I related all too well to their stories. Abusive homes. Abusive husbands. Addiction. Drugs. Poverty. I’d known this in my own past. They were telling me stories that came from my own past, not always mine directly. But it was very close to home. So I was able to adapt my lessons to fit their needs. And we had fun while we shared. I didn’t want it to be heavy hitting or a big downer. I wanted them to take what they had known–the painful past–and be able to see beyond that. That’s what my BIKE LESSONS are all about. To find the way back your Best self, to reconnect with your Inner strength, to become aware of that Killer instinct, and to use your Expressive voice to seek help as needed. By coming to me for those four weeks, they were doing that.
Later, I learned one of the women took her past and now uses it to help girls get off the streets. She was a prostitute, and now she’s helping turn other girls lives around. I can’t say for sure, but I’d like to think that she used my lessons to find the strength to do that. She mentioned at the end of our time together that she wanted to do what I was doing, and now she is. She’s become a role model for the women who come in after her. The next class I taught told me she told them they’d have fun taking my class. So I think I leave a positive impression, and that’s my intent, to leave them with hope that there’s more out there for them if they reach for it.
How about you? How do the BIKE principles work in your life? How long did it take before you really felt you were putting them into action? Is it a series of steps to complete or an ongoing process?
My BIKE principles are part of my everyday life. It’s an on-going process that grows with me, provided I work on it. It’s not something you just learn once and then that’s it. It’s about constant awareness and living life consciously. But that’s the reason it works so well. It’s a tool that acts as a reminder. It’s about determining who you really are inside. Once you have those four letters, your BIKE–it’s a mental thing, not a metal thing–in place, you have your foundation. I sometimes call it a 12-step program reduced to 4, because a lot of the work is about taking personal inventory of who you are, where you’re at, and what do you need to work on (spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, sexually) to be whole again.
This “mental” BIKE is another way to think of that process. It’s a more active approach, I think, because a good reason why it worked so well for me, especially in the beginning, is because I gave myself the time to assess the things that really mattered to me that had gotten cast aside for a while. I’d been in a relationship I didn’t know wasn’t good for me. But once my ex confessed to his truth, that opened the door for my truth to appear. I could take responsibility for myself again, because I was informed. I knew what I was dealing with. I’m grateful for that. I might still be stuck if he hadn’t done that for me.
So once you have your BIKE in place, once you know who you really are deep inside, your core self, that knowledge is always going to be there to help you, to remind you, to hold you accountable. You eliminate blame and guilt from your life. You just have to deal with you. So that, during times of doubt, you’ll remember what you’ve achieved in the past to carry you beyond the next challenge. You’ll use your successes to create more successes.
You’ll know how deep you can dig to find the strength to ride up those symbolic hills, and you’ll know your limits, too. You’ll not only know that your gut is speaking to you when you feel hesitant about doing or saying something, you’ll begin to pay attention and take action based on that hesitancy.
That’s why I refer to instincts as Killer. We all have instincts. The problem is we don’t all pay attention to them. We sometimes ignore them or push them aside. We don’t trust our own judgement. With your Killer instincts intact, you do. You’re honed in on what’s really important.
And the voice? It’s only Expressive when you use it–to seek help, to get advice, to speak up for yourself.
This all boils down to self-esteem. If you really don’t know who you are inside, what you’re really made of, what really matters to you, you’re going to move about in life without direction, without goals–and you’re not going to get anywhere. The purpose of my special brand of BIKE is to keep you moving forward, despite the setbacks. Whatever setbacks you experience, they won’t hold you back for long. You won’t let them. You’ll know yourself better than that.
Can you tell my readers a bit about your blog and what you hope your readers take away from it?
My blog was set up to be an extension of my lessons. I use the things that occur in my everyday life, the challenges that we all face on a normal basis, to show readers how the BIKE works in real life. It’s a reminder. So when I’m experiencing a challenge, I tell a story of how I overcame that challenge, or maybe how I screwed up and what I did about it then. It’s a continuation of the lessons I learned from the seat of my metal bike that became the mental BIKE. And it’s the raw beginnings of the book I’m now writing called LESSONS FROM THE SEAT OF MY BIKE. I’ve been at this since 2004. That’s the year I first discovered what the bicycle had done for me and gave my first presentation about it. It has since evolved into the BIKE concept or philosophy, and the blog is all about how its practicalities–how to make it work for you. It’s not always a direct lesson. You sometimes have to read into the inspirational moments. But that’s what it is. I hope it’s inspiring and interesting and entertaining.
Can you give us a little sneak preview about what you’ll have to say to my readers?
In my guest post for your readers, I’ll be sharing specific tips on how to live strong in recovery. In other words, I’ll share tips on how you can live that conscious life I mentioned earlier. That’s what you need to stay focused on positive forward movement. So I’ll share practical ways you can make sure that happens.
Thanks, Jackie. I look forward to sharing your thoughts tomorrow and I’ve no doubt my readers will gain a great deal from your insights.
See you then.