Penning happiness



Would you like to make someone you care about happy and increase your happiness in the process? If so, write a gratitude letter to someone special in your life. The effect can leave you and the recipient feeling happier for weeks, even months. 


Last year I wrote and shared a gratitude letter with my Dad, who is now 91 and in and out of the hospital weekly. Am I glad I did it, YES!  Was it the easiest thing I ever did? NO! Was it one of the most rewarding, YES!

I’ve been writing retrospective thank you notes for years. I’ve written lots of cards to my aunts and to family friends of my parents for their special acts of kindness to me as a child. One of my younger brother’s god-mothers always brought a few of us close to his age (there are 9 kids in our family) treats on the holidays when she brought him a gift. One of my aunts hosted weekly gatherings at her and my uncle’s rural “resort” each Sunday in the summer; my siblings and I were able to swim, dive, jump, ride, row, fish and enjoy all sorts of other summer fun because my aunt and uncle were willing to put-up with an ongoing stream of guests. Those Sundays were magic to me as a kid, and I wanted her to know. More sweet memories – my godmother and her grown daughter took me shopping and to lunch during the holiday season and let me, within a specific price range, select my gift. I loved those trips.

Those letters and the memories they evoked were wonderful, but a gratitude letter is even a better way to say thank you. Here’s why:

  • It’s longer – shoot for 300 words.
  • It’s read in-person to its intended, making it more of a gratitude visit with the letter as a hostess gift of sorts. The true magic of the visit comes from sharing your letter out loud and face-to-face with its recipient.

Tips for making it work:

  • Write to someone, who did something nice or kind for you, but is someone you’ve never thanked.
  • Be detailed. Write specifically what you are thankful for. Include the whats, the whens, the hows and the whys.
  • Let your recipient know you are up to something good! Dr. Martin P. Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology and one of the first and strongest proponents of gratitude visits notes the ritual is powerful,  ”Everyone cries when you do a gratitude visit,” he says. ”It’s very moving for both people.” A funny thing happened when I read my letter to my Dad. When I finished, he made a timid joke about how I must have the wrong “Dad”, and then he told me he thought I was going to share something about what he’d done wrong – not right. I was nervous about sharing my letter, and he interpreted that as seriousness or sadness. Then when I began reading from a sheet of paper he was sure there was bad news ahead. We laughed about that, but to prevent any confusion, letting your host or hostess know the visit is well-intentioned is probably a good idea.
  • Leave a copy of your letter with your recipient. Don’t worry about making it too fancy, but using special paper or laminating can’t hurt. A frame might seem a bit much – go with your guts. Just don’t make the visit too much about what happens next with the letter; leave that up to your receiver.

Happiness is contagious.

Another interesting facet of this simple and effective gesture is that it tends to grow and reproduce on its own.  Recipients often end-up writing and sharing letters with folks they want to thank, and writers tend to write more letters to share with others. Sometime soon, I will share with you one of the most touching responses I received from a friend with whom I shared a gratitude visit. Just thinking about it makes me happy, and it happened almost a year ago!

Increased happiness for you and someone you care about is just a few pen strokes. Don’t let this free,  foolproof opportunity for joy pass you by – get started on a gratitude letter today!

WTW Dandelion

Peace Corps, Up Close and Personal V


Peace Corps turned 50 on March 1, 2011. During the past 50 years more than 200,000 Volunteers committed to spend 27 months abroad in a place very far from home that they accepted but didn’t choose.  

 Sound scary? It is. Sound adventurous? It is. Sound wonderful? It was!  

To celebrate Peace Corps’ 50th Anniversary and the personal commitment and courage of five of those Volunteers, each Wednesday in March I have been sharing one of their stories.
 Today is the final installment for March, and is the story of a currently serving Volunteer.


Now, when given a situation and a set of materials, I make it work as best I can. My service has made me more resourceful. I also think my service has made me bolder, more willing to throw myself into new situations.”


Katie at the summit, September 5, 2010


High praise when you consider that by the time Katie Kalinowski decided to join Peace Corps she had a B.S. in Natural Resources from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a Master of Economics from North Carolina State University, traveled to 32 countries, run four marathons and celebrated her 29th birthday, and yet, she credits Peace Corps with making her understand and embrace Project Runway fashion consultant Tim Gunn’s quote to “Make it work.” 

After years of thinking about Peace Corps as a way to work abroad and immerse herself in a foreign culture, Katie joined when she could not longer resist the lure of all the amazing photos of people doing good work in exotic places.  

When she applied Katie was working as a Program Associate at a nonprofit called Renewable Northwest Project in Portland, Oregon, which advocates for renewable energy in four Northwest states. Prior to that, she worked for 3.5 years in Washington, DC at a nonprofit called RESOLVE as a Facilitator. Her primary project was as Senior Outreach Coordinator for the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative, a neutral forum for stakeholders to get together and discuss the challenges and opportunities of wind power development.
Katie is currently serving in the Peace Corps in Macedonia. Her service will end in November of this year. After she finishes, she plans to travel for a month with two other volunteers through Eastern Europe. Then she has plans to continue on to India, Thailand, and Laos for another two months before she finds her way back to her home state of Colorado. 
When the traveling ends – at least for this phase of her life, Katie would like to find a job in Washington, DC working on international, environmental, and energy issues (or some combination thereof) for a nonprofit or government agency.   
1. What’s your favorite memory of living in Macedonia, thus far?  
One of my favorite memories is of hiking the tallest mountain in Macedonia with the hiking club from my community.  Another Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV), went with me and we wore matching “I *heart* MK” T-shirts which made us a head-turner on the trail.  The weather could not have been better and we were escorted by two friendly and seasoned Macedonian  hikers. There were so many beautiful vistas and everyone had fun at the peak, eating snacks and taking photos. In true Macedonian fashion, on the van ride home, there were more snacks, lots of “refreshments,” and laughter.  

Hiking team, September 5, 2010

2. What’s your funniest memory?
A site mate and I were teaching the local kids how to play kickball. Since they had never played baseball either, we were thoroughly going over the basics from “this is a base” to how to tag out players. We thought we had covered everything until, as we were playing, one runner passed the player ahead of him between second and third base.  “There’s no passing your teammate on base in front of you!” we yelled.  It’s the smallest things that trip you up.  

Kickball with the American Sports Club-Bitola, October 9, 2010


3. Best thing about being a Peace Corps Volunteer?  

The great people that we get to work with, and I mean the other Peace Corps Volunteers and Macedonians. Both groups are comprised of people, who want to make a difference in the world; it feels good to be a part of their efforts.  
4. Worst thing about being a Peace Corps Volunteer?
Not being able to fix all the problems that you encounter.  Many problems are seemingly too big to take on, especially as a temporary visitor. Other times, you want people to think about something in a new way to help solve a problem but they don’t seem to be able to do so.  It’s those “unsolvable” problems that make it hard to be a PCV.  
5. Best thing about your host country?

The warmness of the Macedonian people, folks will invite in strangers and they genuinely care about the wellbeing of the people around them. And, if I can have a second best thing, then ajvar—a tasty red pepper spread that is like spreadable heaven.  

My host-nephew and host-grandma making ajvar, September 24, 2009


6. What do you miss most about the States? 

As much as I want to say family and friends, the real answer is food.  Macedonia has delicious and fresh food but it’s a uniform cuisine. I miss having the world at my doorstep—Japanese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Lebanese, Indian, etc. Not to mention individual foods themselves—sweet potatoes, black beans, roast beef, turkey, sprouts, cheddar cheese, and . . .  I also miss taking a run and having it be a non-event – in Macedonia my running attracts stares from almost everyone I pass.  I also miss seeing other runners, particularly other female runners
7. Has your Peace Corps service changed you?
Now, when given a situation and a set of materials, I make it work as best I can. My service has made me more resourceful. I also think my service has made me bolder, more willing to throw myself into new situations.
On the other hand, I also feel like Peace Corps opened my eyes to how big the challenges are in the world to improve education, the environment, and so on.  

World Water Monitoring Day in Bitola, December 30, 2010

8. Has there been a defining moment that made you realize you were making a difference by being in the Peace Corps?

Recently I’ve noticed that my coworker is now regularly referring to a work plan that he started using after we finished writing the organization’s first strategic plan. He’s utilizing a checklist and updating it on a weekly basis, which feels like a big accomplishment in a work culture where the usual approach is simply “ima vreme” (there’s time).   

9. Did you make friendships that will go beyond Peace Corps? 

The friendships that I have with some of the other Volunteers definitely feel like they will go beyond Peace Corps, because we have bonded over all our successes and challenges. I also feel like some of my closest collaborators here will remain friends, because I care about what happens to them and vice versa.  

Baptism of my host-niece, Kijara, as her big brother Mario looks on, August 8, 2010


10. If you had to describe your Peace Corps service in one word, what would it be?

“Marathon” (Katie ran her fifth marathon in Macedonia, but I don’t think that is what she meant!)  

Check out this Peace Corps press release about Katie!


Final note: Katie and I served in the same city in Macedonia, but not at the same time. We met first via email and then in-person when I returned to Macedonia for a two month visit in the fall of 2010. 


Post delayed due to technical difficulties!

I have my last installment for March of “Peace Corps, Up Close and Personal V” ready to go, but I’m having trouble posting it. (Not sure why, but multiple commands – photo inserts, italics, font colors, bold, etc. seem to be throwing WordPress off this a.m.)

Normally I would just work my way through it, but I will be on the road all day from Tallahassee to Cape Coral so I won’t be able to try publishing it again until tonight or tomorrow.

Sorry, Katie! But it will be up soon.

PS Tallahassee is beautiful this time of year, azaleas are in full bloom everywhere, and the old state capitol is always an impressive site as you drive into town.

PSS Didn’t the “Post delayed due to technical difficulties!” sound so official and all?

Libraries, libraries, libraries




I was on the road last week for a presentation on Peace Corps and Macedonia at the Seminole Heights Library in Tampa and to see family and friends there and near Orlando. I enjoyed every minute of it! My journey continues today as I head to Tallahassee to advocate for libraries on Tuesday, which is State Library Day.

In the past, I attended Library Day almost every year, but I haven’t been there since 2006 when I left for Peace Corps. I am very excited to be returning to Florida’s state capitol to talk with legislators about maintaining state funding for libraries.

I’ll also be seeing old and respected friends and library supporters from all over Florida. I can’t wait. We will be traipsing together through the Senate and House halls visiting elected officials, who hold the purse strings on our State’s budget, asking them to earmark some of the funds for libraries.

My love affair with libraries began decades ago. As a child my first encounter was when the public library book mobile parked on the patched asphalt of our parochial school parking lot and jerked open its pneumatic doors. I can still remember the sound of the doors folding back and my anticipation as I waited to ascend the worn, rubber-matted steps of the bus. The excitement of being able to take anything I wanted off the shelves made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I couldn’t believe such riches could be mine for the asking, and that having them – even for a short period – wouldn’t cost me or my family anything. It seemed too good to be true.   

My love of libraries intensified in college when I spent hours searching orderly card files for psychological abstracts – again thrilled and filled with awe that so much information was mine for the asking. (Nerdy, I know.) My relationship with libraries deepened even more when I spent 11 years of my career publicizing and promoting libraries and their resources. Being head of Public Relations & Partnerships for the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System was a dream come true for me.

So today I decided to share some interesting, and I believe, important facts and figures about libraries – especially since National Library Week, April 10-16, 2011, is just a few weeks away. Please pass the information along to anyone you think might enjoy it. A library mentor of mine, Lawrence Webster has often said, if people would use the word “library” in three conversations a day, we would never have to worry about funding again. 

Give it a try. Post, Facebook, Tweet, speak or write something about libraries today, and share one of your favorite library stories or memories with us here.



Here’s information from the American Library Association (ALA) to get you started. (My notes are in black.)


􀂐 59% of adults in the U.S. have public library cards (It’s true!)

􀂐 Americans go to school, public and academic libraries nearly three times more often than they go to the movies. (Another nice surprise.)

􀂐 Reference librarians in the nation’s public and academic libraries answer nearly 5.7 million questions weekly. Standing single file, the line of questioners would span from Long Island, New York, to Juneau, Alaska. (Even in this on-line age, people still rely on libraries for fast, accurate and reliable information and answers.)

􀂐 A 2009 poll conducted for the American Library Association found that 96% respondents agreed that public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed because it provides free access to materials and resources. (Interesting, when you consider how often and how deeply we can disagree on other topics.)


􀂐 There are more public libraries than McDonald’s in the U.S.—a total of 16,604 including branches. (Who knew!)

􀂐 Americans spend more than twice as much on candy as they do on public libraries. 

 􀂐 Americans check out an average of more than seven books a year. They spend $33.56 a year for the public library—about the average cost of one hardcover book.

􀂐 Public libraries are the number one point of online access for people without internet connections at home, school or work. (It’s easy to forget that not every American family can afford a computer and Internet access.)

􀂐 98.7% of public libraries provide public access to the Internet.

􀂐 More than 65% of public libraries provide services for job seekers.

Sources: ALA Office for Research & Statistics; ALA Public Information Office. All facts compiled in 2009.  Click here for more of ALA’s “Quotable Facts About America’s Libraries 2010”.

For hundreds of inexpensive but great looking reading-related posters and bookmarks check out, Upstart/Highsmith. The bookmarks make fun handouts for your kids’ or grandkids’ classrooms and the posters work well in classrooms or bedrooms.


WTW Dandelion

The 30 second difference

Feeling this good is easier than you think, and can take only 30 seconds.

I truly belive there is no better way to improve your outlook and your life than to learn to capture the feelings of the varied moments of your life. I believe this applies to both the “good” and the “bad” moments.

We spend so much time doing, many of us forget or immediately push past our feelings, afraid that if we – even for a moment – stop and reflect, acknowledge or savor them we will miss something else, become complacent or conceited, delve into despair, embarrass ourselves, spiral out of control or break some unwritten societal behavioral rule. Most of us have devised all sorts of mental gymnastics to avoid being in the moment.

The truth is, it is healthy to acknowledge and label how we are feeling. It is okay to face and embrace the fact that we are happy, glad, sad or mad, and doing so is more beneficial than pushing the feelings aside or rushing to minimize them.

If you are sad, be sad. Note to yourself: “I’m sad.” If you are angry, it is more effective to say to yourself, “I’m angry,” and then to ask yourself a series of follow-up questions such as the ones listed below, than to hide or disguise your feelings under tons of angry or whiny words, reactive or retaliatory actions (including smoking, drinking, or eating everything in sight), or to shut down and slip into situational depression.

  • “Why am I sad/angry/nervous/tense?”
  • “Have I felt this way before?”
  • “If so, when?”
  • “Am I afraid of something?”
  • If so, “What?”
  • “Is it likely the thing I am afraid of will really happen?”
  • If so, “What could I do about it?”
  • Keep coming up with simple, yet, open-ended questions until you get to an “aha” moment or run out of steam, which usually happens sooner than we think it will.
  • And, remember to label each new feeling that arises along the way.

Asking yourself questions can help you get a grip on what is really happening, and then you can let yourself feel and face those feelings, which is much more productive and relaxing than ignoring them.

If you are happy, feel it in every bone of your body – SAVOR it. Allow the experience to seep into your physical being. Hold any pleasant thoughts and pleasurable images, allowing them time to imprint in your brain and release a little dopamine (more on the “powers” of this interesting little neurotransmitter in future posts) and to set the stage for easy recall in the future.

Saying to yourself, “Oooh, this moment feels so good or is so special to me, I want to remember it,” only takes a second or two. Taking the time to close your eyes, breathe deeply and relive the moment in detail, uses-up another 30 seconds that I am sure you can spare! (When you get really good at savoring, you won’t have to close your eyes, instead you can use them to quickly scan all the details of the situation, sort-of like those cool camera shots in movies when a super hero zeroes in on and records every single detail of what is happening around him or her.)

The key is to capture the moment in your mind, storing it for future reference. Think of yourself as the librarian or archivist of all the pleasant moments of your life. We tend to do this automatically when we are on vacation or enjoying other big moments of our lives, but we overlook saving the day-to-day or little stuff that makes us happy or our makes our hearts sing.

Gather all the good stuff. Get in the habit of noticing and recording the perfect cup of coffee – the way it looks, smells and tastes or the sunbeam slipping through the curtains, or the amazing scent of fresh-cut grass. It’s all there for the taking. Storing it can enhance your life. Pulling it back off the bookshelf of your mind to relive, will improve your mood and maybe even your outlook on life.

To learn more about the wonderful art of savoring, check out these past Wishful Thinking Works posts.

Take time to notice when you are happy, glad, sad or mad. Begin feeling, savoring and storing the moments of your life. It’s easy to fill-up the bookshelves of your brain with “best-selling” moments.

Peace Corps, Up Close and Personal – IV

Peace Corps turned 50 on March 1, 2011. During the past 50 years more than 200,000 Peace Corps Volunteers committed to spend 27 months abroad in a place very far from home that
they accepted, but didn’t choose.
To celebrate Peace Corps’ 50th Anniversary each Wednesday in March I’m sharing a PCV’s story. This week’s installment is a bit different; I didn’t write the interview, but wanted to share it because their PC story briefly touched mine.
“Ron and Nancy Tschetter served in India as community health volunteers from 1966 to 1968. After their Peace Corps service, Nancy worked as a social worker and Ron had a career in the financial securities industry. On September 13, 2006, Ron Tschetter was confirmed by the United States Senate as the 17th Director of the Peace Corps.”  (Source)

Photo of Ron and Nancy Tschetter in India from


I met Ron and Nancy in February of 2008 when they visited Bitola, Macedonia where I was assigned as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) from 2006-2009. Ron was the world-wide Director of the Peace Corps (PC) then, and he and Nancy were on an official visit to Macedonia. Since they were scheduled to visit my city, a fellow PCV on the planning committee asked me if I would help with the arrangements for a luncheon PC wanted to have in Bitola. I said “Sure”, which made me the local arrangements liaison. We hosted the luncheon at one of my favorite restaurants in Bitola in the Hotel Millenium.


I will be the first to admit, my Peace Corps service was sometimes quite cushy!


PCVs from the surrounding cities and villages were invited to attend the luncheon along with local dignitaries and the PC Macedonia Director and some PC Macedonia staff. (Each country in which PCVs serve has an American PC Director along with a program director and administrator officer. Additional staff are hired locally and make up about 90% of the total in-country staff.)

These wonderful, kind and professional folks were the full-time staff, who helped us while we were serving in Peace Corps Macedonia. There were also many great temporary staff, who returned each year to teach and work with Volunteers during training.


I really enjoyed meeting and talking with Ron and Nancy. They embodied the vision I had of Peace Corps growing-up – young Americans stepping out into the world to offer their skills, and then finding ways to continue to give back to their country and culture after their return to the States.

I sat next to Ron at the luncheon and we talked a bit about service to one’s country and the different forms it can take. We discussed how great it was that our government offered us the opportunity to join Peace Corps in very different decades, at very different ages – they joined in their 20’s; I joined in my 50’s – and in very different places – they served in India; I was serving in southeastern Europe – and how Peace Corps had still turned out to be perfect for each of us.

We also talked about how you truly never know what life holds for you. Their lives had come full circle from serving as Peace Corps Volunteers to Ron being appointed as Director of Peace Corps more than four decades later. Sitting there talking to him, I realized my life had circled back allowing me to live out my childhood dream of serving in the Peace Corps. In different ways Peace Corps had allowed both of us to create the lives we wanted. 

The interesting thing about creating the life you want is that it can lead you to exciting, exotic places and to amazing meeting and moments, but the most important part of all is whether or not the life you are creating leads you full circle back to yourself – the real you, the person you truly enjoy being. That’s when you know you are on the right journey.

Here’s a bit of Ron and Nancy Tschetter’s journey from the Peace Corps’ Paul D. Cordell World Wise Schools Stories web page, where you will find more interesting tales from those who served in the Peace Corps. Next Wednesday, I will share the last of my “Peace Corps, Up Close and Personal” interviews for March. I am hoping to feature at least one interview a month through 2011 as part of my ongoing celebration of Peace Corps 50th Anniversary.

Peace Corps India, 1966-1968 by Ron and Nancy Tschetter

As Director of the Peace Corps, it has been my honor to have met Peace Corps Volunteers all over the world and to have seen firsthand the remarkable dedication, passion, and skill they bring to serving others.

My wife, Nancy, and I were Peace Corps Volunteers in India from 1966 to 1968. We were in our 20s, recent college graduates and newlyweds, when we decided to serve in the Peace Corps. We spent two years living and working with the people of India and learned to speak the local language. We came away from our experience with a great appreciation for the culture and values in India.

The Peace Corps was a bit different back in the Sixties—nowadays Volunteers do their training in-country to become familiar with the culture and language, but back then our training was held in the United States, and we were sent overseas when it was time to begin our assignment. We completed our training on December 15, and, after an evening out and one last dinner in New York City, we left the Big Apple on a plane bound for London and the great beyond.

The following evening we boarded an Air India charter, a Boeing 707 full of anxious Peace Corps Volunteers just like ourselves. We flew all night to Delhi, India. I will never forget when we arrived, stepping off the plane: the smoky haze that rose from hundreds of small brown huts; the exotic smell of dinner prepared over wood fires; the pungent tropical air. We were truly on the other side of the world in a culture very different from our own.

It was midnight Christmas Eve when we finally arrived at our new community. Undeterred by the late hour, Bara, our proud host, gave us a short tour of the village, including the centerpiece of local entertainment—an outdoor movie theater that was in full swing, loud music blaring.

Decades later, I can still recall our exhaustion when we finally arrived at our house. It was situated among a block of shops, all resembling one another. Here, traders would sell their wares from the ground floor and live upstairs on the second floor.

Bara found us some plain metal bed frames, on loan from the clinic until we got our own, and we threw our sleeping bags on the frames and fell right to sleep. We didn’t even realize we had a bedroom on the second floor until the next day! Things were very basic. We had a tank that we would fill with water, and a”basket latrine” inside the house. A little balcony upstairs added a touch of luxury.

We gradually became acquainted with our environment. India at that time still revolved around a caste system, and we lived among the people we were to serve; they were called “untouchables.” These were people from the lowest caste in Indian society, and they were very, very poor. Together with our Indian counterparts, we worked in a community health center at the other end of the village about a quarter of a mile away. We came to know our neighbors by walking to and from the clinic. From assisting in the clinic and living in our local community, we quickly learned about the development problems related to rural health. Certain illnesses such as dysentery, cholera, and malaria took their toll, and children were subject to catching every sort of childhood disease. Epidemics such as small pox and cholera could wreak havoc on a population already struggling.

It was natural to wonder then how much of an impact we were making in the face of such widespread poverty. We knew our Peace Corps experience clearly expanded our horizons and taught us a great deal about how life is for people who are struggling in other parts of the world. We learned to appreciate what we have as Americans, and how as global citizens we have a responsibility to others who are less fortunate. But was it really possible for two young people to make a difference? It may be simply that we influenced one person, or one family, or one village in a faraway place. However, the effect was no less significant, for those individuals were the people we had come to know and care about during our years of Peace Corps service.

Two young boys from a lower caste family that lived close by were in the habit of hanging out on our front porch. We gradually got to know them and their family quite well, and we became close friends. We have been fortunate to go back to India five times and have kept in contact with the family we knew so well. We do know that we impacted at least two people—the young boys who used to hang out on our doorstep. Both of them finished school and grew up to be successful businessmen, and each has three lovely children.

Since becoming Peace Corps Director, I have had the privilege of visiting Volunteers in 43 countries, from Albania to Zambia . I’ve seen that the challenges now are as great as they were back when Nancy and I served, or maybe even greater. I continue to be deeply impressed by the commitment of our Peace Corps Volunteers.

Though it was many years ago, our Peace Corps experience still reverberates in our lives and the lives of those with whom we were honored to work. You see, once you do something so bold, so enriching, and so all-encompassing, you realize that volunteering and giving to others is actually a gift to yourself. Our lives, and certainly our perspectives, were changed forever.


If you or someone you know has a Peace Corps story they would like to share, contact me, Patrice Koerper at

Pop quiz


I know Monday morning is a terrible time to be giving a pop quiz, but it’s on my mind and I don’t want to forget it. Good news is there is only one question . . .

How badly do you want to feel good?


It’s a fair question. And, if you let it, it will keep you motivated and focused.

I’ve asked myself this question a lot lately, because I’m taking on new challenges, which are part of creating the life I want. Creating the life I want has always made me feel good, but some days the question gets in my face a bit like my junior high gym teacher Miss Barnes. Other times it guides me gently like my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Petchler. Either way, it keeps me going. The question has gotten me out the door, to plug-in my laptop, make the call, pick-up my pen, to speak up or to keep quiet, and to put down the remote – among other things. Each of which has made me feel great about myself and my choices.

The interesting thing about this question is even a negative answer can keep you moving in your intended direction. Sometimes I reply to myself with a big ol’ negative, “Not much” or “Not enough to do ______”, which makes me laugh or leads me to an adolescent, but oddly effective “Whatever” in my mind.

My “Whatever” reinforces what I already know, which is that I do want to do “it”, I’m just not ready to fully admit it myself. And, knowing that I still have a surly rebellious teenager lurking inside of me makes me laugh – and, then I get on with the task at hand.

The only time the question hasn’t been effective for me is when I didn’t bother or forgot to ask it. It took me a while to realize not asking was sort-of like picking myself last for my own kickball team, or not inviting myself to my own party, and, well, that’s just silly. So instead, I keep asking myself:

“How badly do I want to feel good?”

Try it. Customize it. Then, after you answer your version or mine, go for it. Whatever your “it” is.

And, if you are not sure what your “it” is, no problem, we can work on that, too.

WTW Dandelion

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