Women On Bikes SoCal

Growing, Asking and Allowing

Happy Spring!

We are gearing up to grow here at Women on Bikes SoCal with our second big fundraising push. We not only want to be able to host our "Street Savvy" adult bicycle safety education classes for free to underserved areas of Long Beach and beyond this spring, summer, and fall, but we're also gearing up to host an innovative new advocacy + media training this summer, and a very cool "Arts & Crafts Architectural Tour by Bike" this July with the very talented Maureen Neeley of Houstories.net.

By nature or nurture asking for things for ourselves doesn't come easily for many women. I have found it much easier to ask for things when I could ask on behalf of someone else - say a friend or an organization. How about you? In my twenties and early thirties I was a successful sales executive this way (complete with a wardrobe of suits with padded shoulders), and have found it fun and exciting to place clients in the media this way as well. Now, however, it's time for me to learn to ask for something that includes my own needs as the Editor and Executive Director of this organization, as well as my creative team so that we can put all of our great ideas into play. I have to admit it's not a task I've been preparing for with ease, but I'm now at a point where I'm beginning to relish the opportunity.

For inspriation and courage I've been listening faithfully to Martha Beck's Joy Diet, and today I've just finished up reading about Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg and catching up on the food movement's talented word-smith champion Michael Pollan (like Jim Brown Executive Director the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates I too feel the food movement has much to teach bicycle advocacy) in April's Oprah Magazine.

Do I feel 100% confident? No. But I'm ready to do it. I believe in this program and this wonderful synergy we're creating and most of all I believe in the diverse and talented group of people (both women and men) who have gathered together to make it happen.

We are now in the wild west of the "opportunity" economy and while I'm on this roller-coaster for my role at Women on Bikes SoCal I've decided I absolutely want two things as my constant companions: 1) A creative brain trust I adore collaborating with and 2) The ability to create new opportunities for women of all ages, races and backgrounds to become professional advocates, new media professionals, and spokeswomen (get it? SPOKESwomen?) as advocates for bicycling and active living advocacy.

Whatever other types of industries and economies develop in this new fast paced age it is absolutely imperative for the health of our nation and world that we have talented, dynamic, diverse female voices advocating for the fun and well being of a fit life by bike.

So my assignment to myself as I gear up for all of this has been to focus on what women so excel at - relationships. Over the past month I've made a commitment to get out of my little studio, out from behind my computer, and connect live and in person both with old friends and people I've been wanting to meet for some time now. And guess, what? Fascinating things are unfolding from this effort, one of the most exciting is that I was finally able to spend time with the delightfully effervescent energy that is Shelby Sanchez. And because of this in person connection, this new relationship, we now have a brand new columnist! I hope you'll take some time to read about this fascinating young mother here.

So what about you? How are you on asking for things that you want and need? And if it's been a challenge for you to do so how are you addressing that challenge and finding ways to move forward with asking anyway? I'd love to hear about your adventures.

Here's to Your Heart Part II - The Power of Joy

One of our big goals here at Women on Bike SoCal is to present the wonderful opportunities the bike brings to experience a healthy, smart, cost effective urban/suburban life from a diverse array of voices. To that aim I am so delighted to welcome Maria Sipin and Machiko Yasuda as new columnists for us.

Both young women are received our League Cycling Instructor scholarship last year, and both have not only jumped into bicycle advocacy wholeheartedly attending and supporting all kinds of bike-minded events, but have also used their talent as writers, and their social media acumen, to spread the word to a broad twenty-something audience. I am very proud of them and excited about the energy and ideas they bring with them.

Last week I went for a check up and found out that my blood pressure had improved, I'd definitely lost some of that stubborn middle aged belly fat I'd wanted to, and my resting heart rate has dropped close to what it was in high school. I felt triumphant and have almost daily bicycling and/or walking to thank for it. For much of my life I've been able to maintain the weight I wanted, but I'm not kidding myself, I was pretty darn out of shape. At 21 I started a job that had me sitting an hour+ on the freeway each way for my commute and things went downhill from there. I didn't begin to really get regular exercise again on a daily basis until my health crashed in 2000.

But a better heart rate and blood pressure aren't the biggest reasons I bike and walk - I do both for the joy of it. Nothing allows me to feel a sense of place and connectivity to my world like biking and walking do. Nothing allows me to listen to the birds, and enjoy the fragrance and colorful vibrancy of flowers in my neighbor's yards the way biking and walking does. Nothing makes me feel more alive than moving under my own volition in a comfortable way.

If we want to successfully combat the terrible pandemic of sedentary diseases that now face us we need to harness joy as one of our key allies. Selling bicycling as a sport has made it very popular to a select crowd who want to put in the grueling hours to train to be avid road cyclists. Our challenge as advocates, however, if we want to do the job right is to do our best to engage and empower the masses.

We all know that sexy sells, but add joy to that mix and well, interest goes through the roof. If you're old enough to remember, just think of Farah Fawcett's famous bikini poster and her gigantic (and authentic feeling) smile. Think of Tom Cruise (before you decided he might be a little crazy). Think of young, refreshingly frank Jennifer Lawrence and her extraordinary Oscar winning performance in "Silver Linings Playbook" where it's her joy of dance that helps focus her and keep her sane.

To this list I'd like to add the talented high hurdler Michelle Jenneke and her pre-race warm up dance that has set the internet on fire (oh yes, and she goes on to win the race too). Her video below has had 22+ million views. It's led to her being hired by Sports Illustrated to model bikinis. Is she beautiful? Yes. Is she sexy? Of course. But she's also a seriously talented Olympic caliber athlete. Watch what happens when she starts to dance - the joy radiates off the screen. If we could bottle that joy I think we'd have a powerful antidote to our sedentary disease pandemic. What do you think?