Join Me for #90daysofjoyfulthinking!

I'm doing a different kind of blog today. A cross between a Facebook #throwbackthursday and posts that I've so appreciated from friends in my extended network like fellow entrepreneurs Crystal Lynn Bell Naja Hayward . As part of my commitment to an idea I came up with last week - #90daysofjoyfulthinking for June, July and August - I've decided to share more of my personal journey to become a better artist and storyteller, AND my journey to make peace between my mind, body and spirit.

The foundation of this whole project is to stop myself whenever I become aware of running my mind and my mouth with negative, lack focused, fearful, critical thoughts of myself and others and doing my best to replace those thoughts as quickly as possible with happy, joyful, abundant thoughts. I'm really curious to see what this will allow to unfold for my own health and well-being, the creation of the Pedal Love Coloring Book Vol. 1, and the work we're doing with the Pedal Love Council.

Would you like to join me?

No, you don't have to be interested in biking, walking or public transit. I shared this blog earlier today on Facebook and I am so thrilled with the conversations it's sparking with my friends and network.

Above is my first selfie for this project. Most of my selfies really make me cringe. "Yep, I'm definitely in my 50's I think, no getting around that." And often too "I hate that vertical line in my forehead, I wish botox wasn't so expensive!" Which of course is one of the reasons I wear my bangs so long.

Here's what I know: The key to creating truly compelling storytelling is sharing your struggle and overcoming.

But...

I'm one of those people (maybe you are too) who has struggled to share my struggle in writing. Sure I've dipped my toe in the water here and there but not consistently. It felt too raw and frankly too bold. Oh yes, I've certainly shared my struggles in conversations with my close friends (often ad nauseam), and in my journal) but frankly, I've been ashamed of my shame. I didn't want too much of a record of it. I didn't want it too public. I didn't want to come across as weak and needy and whiny.

How about you?

This black and white image of me is from either late 2000, or early 2001, by Kevin Break. It was when I was first getting into blogging and throwing my hat in the ring as a dating and relationship blogger. I wish I could say this woman at 37 enjoyed being young and strong and sexy but she didn't. Not much. Not as often as you'd think.

She could own she was sexy but not in much more than being physically alluring. She knew she was smart, but not with or about men. She certainly didn't think she was beautiful or pretty. That was a horse of a different color, a different type of blonde.

I was a hot mess. Know that feeling?

Newly divorced, feeling so much guilt for asking for the divorce, and so frightened of being on my own again, still un-diagnosed migraines putting me in bed for days of head pounding and gut wrenching pain, I very often couldn't see the forest for the trees. I yearned to allow myself to step out and be seen as I hadn't in marriage (thus the sexy photo) but I was as terrified of the attention as I reveled in it - in very small bite-sized chews. Very very small.

I've recently read Glennon Doyle Melton's LoveWarrior. I don't think I've ever ready such an honest, articulate, raw, illuminating, groundbreaking book about body shame and the strange tightrope women feel compelled to walk on in our society.

Like Melton, I've lived in my head rather than my body except when I was on the dance floor (and now when walking or riding my bike). Now 16 years older, 20 pounds heavier, and still struggling with pain and fatigue I can look back at this frightened woman with compassion and gratitude.

She tried so hard. She allowed herself to stick to writing and created a completely new career for herself in the early days of the internet. She was often so poor she couldn't pay her bills on time, barely had enough to eat. She went bankrupt. Without the great generosity of family and friends, she would have been on the street. She discovered mindfulness and a new community of friends both online and in her birth city of Long Beach - and she discovered the joys of walking and biking and taking public transit. What gifts!

16 or so years later I'm taking another big risk and enjoying the process of picking up pencil and pen and allowing myself to be an artist in the way I haven't been since I was in High School.

I'm serious in my invitation to you to join me in #90daysofjoyfulthinking. Curious? Send me a note. I'll share what's inspiring me to take the next step and the next. I've gathered some really interesting, helpful tools that I'd like to share with you.

Love, Melissa

 

 

My Bold Brave Branding Dare

To the women who inspire us every day. To the women YOU inspire. To all the bad-ass women out there...we see you. And we're taking over the world together. Share on social. Tag #ThisBody. Find out more about these incredible women + shop the looks that inspire #ThisBody at http://lanebryant.us/39lBLW.

Even those of us who consider ourselves "change agents" can get stuck in a particular groove that feels comfortable. The problem is we like to hang out there longer than it's valuable.  I know I've been certainly been guilty of this.

But that won't get us to where we say we want to go. If we truly want everyone to be able to participate in active, mindful, sustainable mobility - safely and with confidence - we need brave bold branding. We need to be alluring and compelling to a much broader audience.

So I've got an idea for you, why not challenge yourself to do something that moves you out of your comfort zone once a week and more clearly and authentically signals to the world exactly who you are?

What could happen in your life if once a week you committed to doing something that frankly scares you? Too much to try? Why not once a month. Too little? Why not daily?

For myself personally I've started to dance again in tiny bite sized chews. Throughout my day, as I feel moved to do so - and inspired by the brilliant bold Lane Bryant #ThisBody campaign (video and image on top are from that) - I'm getting up from the computer, putting in my earbuds, tuning my iphone pandora to my "Earth, Wind & Fire" station and dancing for 3 to 6 minutes at a time. That's about all I can do. I'm still really struggling with my energy and stamina but even for that short little bit if feels great.

For Pedal Love, I'm committed to creating brave bold new branding this summer like our new hand-drawn logo. I'm committed to reaching out to one new person each week who could help spread the word of mindful mobility exponentially and...

About a month and a half ago I invited the young singer/rapper Laura Kaye to create a rap for Bike Month. She rose to the occasion creating a wry, tongue in cheek spoof on the pretty girl in the bike video. I'm so proud of her.

From Laura Kaye on creating the video:

"I wanted to make the video more entertaining than just a musical PSA, but I also wanted to sneak some education into the lyrics. When I was looking for inspiration, I was honestly disappointed in the hypersexualization of women in a lot of the popular depictions of bicycling (and in music videos in general). I decided to use the weight of that cultural enemy to fight back, so to speak. Creating the song as a parody made it easier to write, film, and edit, since the vision was clear... and just plain fun!"

I love it. I knew it would push buttons. And sure enough, the first note I received after posting it was one of angry scolding disappointment from a woman who thought that with a name like Pedal Love our website might finally be her tribe - but alas no.

The truth is Pedal Love would have disappointed her pretty quickly anyway. We're too feminist in our approach.

And that's great. Bring on your difference of opinion, but before you do that I respectfully ask two things (and if you're being bold and brave and want to borrow these two requests be my guest!):

1) Before you criticize me - and those who I choose to feature on PedalLove.org and our social media outreach - please share how you're creating true culture shift for active, sustainable, mindful mobility beyond yourself and your own choir who believes exactly as you do.

2) Recognize that we can agree to disagree with respect. We can illuminate and educate without needing to exactly agree on the road to take.

If we really want to move beyond our bike friendly/walk friendly/transit friendly choirs and engage the public at large..  That's why I'm so excited and inspired by how the clothing line Lane Bryant decided to get bold with their branding by demonstrating the beauty of women of all sizes and all colors with their ongoing promotional campaign for #ThisBody.

This year the brand took it a a few steps further and decided to proclaim you can also dance and sing and shake your groove thing by creating a video with the singer/song writer Lizzo, poet & spoken word artist Ashlee Haze and the dance group Pretty Big Movement.

The video has over 1.8 million views on Youtube. I can imagine a time when biking, walking and transit videos are this fun and get these kind of views - can you?

To me, dance is mindful mobility at its best.  We're grappling and struggling with growing both the bike industry, and active transportation advocacy, in big part because many have had a very narrow view of who this tribe should be.

Even when we're open about sex, race and income levels, even when we're advocating for those who most often have no voice in these matters, we can lead with long bike rides as our community building, rides that are beyond the interest, skill set and stamina of so many of the people we say we most want to serve.

Our tribe should be anyone who's interested, anyone who's intrigued to learn more and give active, sustainable, mindful mobility a try - whether they can ride 20 miles, 2 blocks, or haven't gotten off the couch yet.

How are you willing to be bold and daring this summer? Email me. I'd love to know.