The Wisdom of Asking for Help

I said yes this week to help redoing my resume so that it will become the tight, neat, convincing, pithy package that is now the way it apparently needs to be. I had thought I'd already accomplished this with my very recently revamped two page version, but alas no. So I said yes, yes please to the super smart young woman who is just about half my age and knows of what she speaks. She excels at the opportunity economy.

I was granted the gift not only of "how to" (with examples! whew!) but also the even more valuable gift of seeing my accomplishments through the eyes of someone who has collaborated with me now for more than two years.  I have to admit it was a humbling yet inspiring pleasure. This sleek new resume will also be a chance to share more of my authentic self. Which is the goal. I'm not seeking a new position, I'm seeking new collaborative partners for talent, technology and sponsorship. I'm seeking to have a resume that makes people want to pick up the phone and call me to find out more about this crazy concept of peddling love.

You see as we begin to write the Pedal Love media guide we're also seeking ways to make this website more personally engaging and more about the very dynamic conversation we're having amongst ourselves on what mindfulness and peddling love means to us personally, and what it can mean to creating safer, friendlier and more vibrant city streets for so many more of us, and what type of outreach materials will best get that word out engagingly to the broadest audience.

Imagine if the idea of Pedal Love could inspire people to be kinder and safer and more responsible while out on our city streets the way the Vagina Monologues blossomed in to V Day which blossomed into 1 Billion Rising  and raises awareness of and is stopping violence against women? Or on a purely pop culture sense, the way that Pharrell Williams' Happy video has inspired so many of us to stop for a few moments and just be happy. That video has now be seen over 591,949,657 times.

I truly believe we can create a successful movement, but we're going to need help from an array of thought leaders and funders to help spark the conversation on the level we'll need to make it happen. So I've asked for help by writing a "Letter of Intent" for a local Long Beach based Knight Foundation Grant - for which I also asked help from my collaborative team for feedback and editing thoughts - and next week there are two more grant requests I want to put into play.

I'm also very inspired by the fact that this past week and weekend have been given the title of Wisdom Week by the popular Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco. The conference is creating bridges between technology and mindfulness, next year let's put our good thoughts on their adding mobility to the equation.

Today is also the last day of meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg's 28 Day Meditation Challenge: Week 4 Bringing our Practice to Work. I began meditating and my own mindfulness practice about fourteen years ago, but to be honest meditating has always been a challenge for me. I was very relieved to learn that the revered Buddhist teacher Robert Thurman (aka Uma's Dad) also finds meditating a challenge. Sharon Salzberg is considered one of the preeminent meditating teachers in the country (the two are currently promoting their latest collaborate book "Loving Your Enemies" but we'll save that for another post) and after beginning to read her blog and watch a few of her videos I can see why. She speaks so simply, so clearly and so kindly peppering her commentary just enough with samples of the real world every day suffering we create believing it is just the way the world is, but really it's all from our own heads.

Over the past year I have expanded my mindfulness practice into the idea of how I can more fully not just be about Pedal Love, but peddle love both to myself and others. In Buddhism this is called Metta, or Loving Kindness and you can learn about the meditation one can do from from Salzberg here

I have needed all the loving kindness I can muster for myself as the past year I have been more challenged with my health than for many years now, and the past few months have been the toughest. The one-two punch seems to be 1) the sub therapeutic dose of the anti-depressant I was taking to help raise my tolerance to pain appeared to have stopped working after nine years of being a great help mate and 2) menopause set in with a vengeance. My doctor recommended first I try going up in dosage on anti-depressant to see if that might help, but that was not to be the case. Like many people dealing with chronic migraines, fatigue and fibromyalgia type symptoms I both react more strongly to changes in medication, for far longer, and with strange side effects. I have been completely off the anti-depressant for almost two months and almost every day of that time I've felt for at least part of the day like I'm coming down with the flu.

Being able to turn to the great Buddhist wisdom of knowing that I'm not alone in whatever I'm challenged with, that there are millions of other people here on this planet who are also struggling with chronic health challenges is a great blessing. Imagine if, when we stepped outside everyday, we recognized we were part of a whole? That whatever was giving us concern today as we went out our daily tasks (being late for work, pending bills, our child's performance at school etc.) was something that millions of other people were dealing with as well? What if we got that we're not unique?

When I first moved to Long Beach ten years ago very sick, tired and poor, with a new male roommate who didn't speak to me ever again except through written notes (because I felt going into Afghanistan would prove to be a quagmire) I decided to either smile or give a friendly greeting to everyone I passed walking by. What I've found is that by and large people respond with their own smile and greeting 99% of the time. Try it and see.

Melissa Balmer is the Media Director for the California Bicycle Coalition and Director if the Women on Bikes California/PedalLove.org initiative. She is a writer, media relations specialist and active living advocate. Her mission is to share the power of artistry and personally engaging storytelling to inspire. Her passion is to recruit fresh voices from diverse multi-generational perspectives to share their stories in traditional and new media platforms to engage new audiences in active living. She has developed a multi-faceted strategy to exponentially grow positive stories of biking in California’s media and beyond – with an emphasis on women. Image by Lisa Beth Anderson. Write to Melissa at Melissa (at) pedallove.org.