August 2011

Demand 3-lane option for Madison bike lanes

I just wrote an email to Mayor Wharton, at my neighbor’s urging.

Les Edwards, who is working tirelessly toward achieving bike lanes for Madison Avenue, lives down the street from me.  He has been an exemplary leader on this matter.

Rather than fighting against those business owners who fear that the 3-lane option will harm their bottom line, Les has taken the high road.  He has been out there winning the hearts and minds of the business owners. And it is working!

In just three weeks, 1,301 people signed the petition in support of the 3-lane option for Madison Avenue.  This is because Les and his team have gone door-to-door to Madison Avenue businesses letting them know that we love them and that we also want this.  He has told them the many ways that the bike lanes can even IMPROVE their businesses, provide more parking spots and encourage patronage.

So, when Les asked me to email Mayor Wharton and our city council representatives, I did just that.

And I am sharing my letter with you.

Before I do, let me ask you to write one of your own SOON!  Time is of the essence.  The mayor will be making his decision within a few days.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Write an email to Mayor AC Wharton, with a copy to the four City Council Members representing this district (addresses listed below).
  • Demand the 3-lane option for the entire stretch of Madison that is being repaved.
  • Put “No compromise on bike lanes” in the subject line of your email.
  • If they receive 500 or 1,000 emails in the next couple of days, it will have an impact on the final decision.
  • Please do it now, because time is of the essence.

Mayor Wharton:

Please CC the following:,,,

And now here’s my email:

Mayor Wharton-
I am asking you to approve the 3-lane option for the entire stretch of Madison that is being repaved.

This is a golden opportunity for the citizens of Memphis — and a perfect opportunity for you to model your personal values to the greater community.  I known you work out daily to keep yourself healthy and strong.  I know you believe in the importance of healthy habits.

This is an opportunity for you to prove that Memphis is a city of choice for citizens who choose to take an active role in their neighborhoods, communities and city.

Bicyclists are patrons of Midtown businesses.  We should be looking for more ways to encourage Memphians to get out of their cars and exercise.  Maybe Memphis could become known as being a city of choice for folks who like the outdoors, value our parks and our greatest natural resources.

There will always be some people who oppose change.

Please please PLEASE set things in motion for Madison Avenue to become more bike and pedestrian friendly.

We need to create a sense of neighborhood and community where adults, families and kids are encouraged to ride their bikes and walk more.

I live one block off of Madison Avenue in the Tucker-Jefferson neighborhood at 1906 Court Avenue.  My husband, Jackie, and I ride our bikes to work and would love to bike and walk to more Midtown locations.  The traffic on the Midtown streets makes it unsafe for us to do a lot of biking.  I find myself biking on the sidewalk sometimes because I am afraid to bike on the street.

We just returned from a trip to the Pacific Northwest.  Of course the progressive cities of Portland and Seattle had dedicated bike lanes.  That was no surprise.

We were not expecting that even the small towns and rural areas of Oregon and Washington would have bike lanes — encouraging folks to conserve fuel and use good old-fashioned human energy to get from one place to another.

I have been following the Madison Avenue issue since the beginning.  There are basically only 2 business-owners who are vocal opponents to the changes on Madison.  That is Huey’s owner Wight Boggs and Mercury Valet’s Mike Cooper.  My husband and I have patronized both Huey’s and Mercury Valet for decades.  Their opposition to the bike lane plans are unfounded.

Although I have respect for both of these business owners, I believe they are wrong on this matter.  Both Huey’s & Mercury Valet can actually benefit in numerous ways from the 3-lane option.  It is a business opportunity for them to reach out to passionate neighborhood bicyclists and walkers.  They could encourage us active neighborhood folks by offering incentives to ride our bikes to Huey’s for a meal or ride or bikes to drop off dry cleaning.

Say YES to the 3-lane option for the entire stretch of Madison!
Leah Nichols

Accessing Your Innate Power vs. Improving Your Sorry Self

Self improvement infers there’s something wrong with you, so you’re already starting off with a disadvantage.

Of course there’s something to improve — always will be, life is an evolutionary equation. But liberation is about consciously choosing your perspectives, moment to moment, so let’s choose viewpoints that are advantageous and give us warm, encouraging feelings.

You may feel broken, screwed up, neurotic, defective, sub par — take a number. You may be afraid — so very natural. You maybe just be really really excited and you’re labeling it as anxious — easy mistake.

Rather than doing whatever it is that you do to ease, mitigate and transform those states of being as acts of “self improvement” and “getting fixed” or “making better”, what if you approached those rituals and remedies as ways of getting to your power?
No fixing and no anxiety, rather, a trip to the Limitless Well of Knowing and Reliable Awareness.

You show up at your therapist’s office to access your power.
You go to church to access your power.
You put on your heels, or your power suit, or your lucky charm to access your power.
You call your friend for advice to access your power.
You pray, dance, let go, breathe, unplug, run, bend, drink smoothies, clear the air, ask for help, get enough sleep, get up early, train, set goals, affirm, chant, rock out, climb, hike, sweat to…

access your power.

–Danielle LaPorte

The longing, the yearning to improve…

Several years ago I attended my first-ever advanced yoga workshop.

I had lingered in Level 1 classes for years — focusing on the basics.  My intention with the yoga was on alleviating chronic anxiety, dealing with stress-related physical problems, and learning to deal with my mental health.

At some point, I noticed the physical benefits of my yoga practice.  My back felt stronger.  My hips loosened up.  My energy lasted a bit longer each day.

Then I began to enjoy the challenge of the harder poses.  It made me feel strong when I pushed myself to do just a little bit more than I thought I was capable of.

I admired the women who could spring easily up into handstand.  I wanted to be like them.

In fact, I longed for it.  In my dreams I would perform sun salutations without soaking my mat with sweat. I yearned to look & be effortless in each pose.

The flyer for the advanced yoga workshop spoke to me.  I chose it as my personal goal.  I wanted to see if I could handle the challenge.  For months I practiced diligently, anticipating what would be required of me.

I arrived to the workshop early the first day. A few women sat outside the studio waiting for the door to be opened.  I tried to sit calmly and wait, but inside my nerves jittered with anticipation.  Would I be able to cut it in an advanced yoga workshop alongside these women who performed their lovely poses  with their nimble bodies.

I wanted to be like them — perfectly poised in plough pose and barely breaking a sweat in bakasana.

We sat outside the studio, facing our reflections in the window glass.  Someone complimented someone else on her new hairstyle, and conversation ensued among all of the women.

I felt more at ease. Not only were these women yoga goddesses in my eyes, but they were also nice.  They were flexible and they were friendly.

When the conversation took a turn toward the real, I knew that I would be ok in the weekend workshop.

One of the more graceful yoginis discussed her thighs. Oh, how she hated them, she said.  Another wished for liposuction.  Soon there was a chorus of women lamenting their “problem areas.”

The funny thing was I didn’t see any of their so-called ‘thunder thighs,’ ‘saddlebags,’ or ‘batwings.’

I looked up to each one of them as if I were a little sister admiring her more sophisticated, wiser sister.  They were elegant, evolved and strong.  That’s all I saw.

I may have started my own personal advanced yoga workshop before I even set foot in the studio that day.

If these beauties were unhappy with so many aspects of themselves, how was I EVER going to be happy with me?

Did my perception of myself as a short, thick-hipped woman whose skin resembles Casper the Friendly Ghost match the reality of who I am?

Was it possible to achieve the perfect strength in the perfect yoga pose, develop poise and beauty, find the “perfect” relationship and still be unhappy about a few things?

Clearly, the answer was ‘yes!’

The studio door opened.   I went inside.

I was there to do some poses.  But the most important thing posed that day were these questions:

How do I learn to work toward my full potential, and accept the things about myself that I can’t change?

How do I know when it’s time to set a goal and work hard toward it because I know it will make me  better?  Not just superficially better, like lipo.  But really better.

How do I know when it’s time to give up on something because it’s causing too much pain?  Like trying to be the perfect wife or teacher or working too hard at looking good or being liked?

These are tough questions I asked myself that day as well as today, and I will probably ask them again tomorrow.

And then I’ll do another downward-facing-dog pose.