Thinking ahead, again . . .

I planned to write a brand new post for today, but then I started checking out my posts from last year at this time. I probably shouldn’t say this, but I really do love one of last year’s Memorial Day posts. I know, I know, who am I to say I really like one of my own posts, but I do. It was about the life of a woman I never met, Vera Jane Clapper-Richter, but whose obituary inspired me. 

A lot has happened since I wrote about Vera Jane. Most important and touching of all, was being asked to and then writing my Dad’s obituary. Who knew that was ahead?

But that’s the thing about life, we truly never know what’s ahead for us. There are so many experiences out there for us. I think the words I wrote just over a year ago ring even truer 367 days later. Here’s an excerpt from that post.

“The reason I am bringing this up now, is summer is on our doorstep. I know it doesn’t officially begin for almost a month, but when I was growing-up Memorial Day signaled the beginning of summer, and I think summer is a great time to begin fully living the life I want.

This summer I will watch the moon rise and set from a mountain or a rooftop without interruption, or at least from my backyard with a really good friend. I will also watch the sun rise and set at least two days in a row, and I will run through a sprinkler.

I will sleep on a front porch or a patio, in a tent or on a beach, and with the windows open more often. (Yes, I know, it will be hot and sticky, and maybe I will sweat and the bugs may bite – but who cares, I will have more stories to tell and the teeny-tiny scars to prove them.)

I will spread more blankets out in the grass, and spend more time looking up at the trees, day dreaming and listening to the thoughts and wisdom of people under the age of 10.

I will ponder theories large and small – relativity, the chicken or the egg – without worrying about the answers.

I will be kinder and gentler; listen more and speak less; give more hugs, and send more hand-written notes. I will give people what they want, not what I think they need.

I will read more books, light more candles, and sing out-loud more often.

If you are in the mood to join me, please do. Summer is a great time to be a bit more courageous about being us.

This weekend, find your sleeping bag, or your bike, or your racquet or your glove, or your paint brushes and easel, or the book you have been meaning to read or paper and pencil to begin the one you have been meaning to write. 

Open an ice-cold beer or bottle of Coke, pour yourself a tall glass of Sangria or lemonade, sip it slowly or with gusto, and then get started on the rest of your life.

Do what you think Jane might do. Or better yet, what you would do, if no one was watching, or if they were and you didn’t mind – not one little bit, which come to think of it, might be exactly how Vera Jane Clapper-Richter lived.”

And, in honor of the true meaning of Memorial Day, special thoughts today for all who have served in the armed forces or have loved ones currently serving, and sincere condolences to those who have lost a loved one while he or she was serving our country. Your contributions and losses are in our hearts and minds this Memorial Day.

Oprah’s words worth remembering

 

I loved Oprah’s show. I didn’t watch it every day or even every week, but when I did I always enjoyed it and almost always learned something new about myself or the world. Here’s what Oprah has meant to me over the years, along with her words from her last show, which I think are well-worth repeating.

O – Opportunity

 “. . . Each one of you has your own platform. Do not let the trappings here fool you. Mine is a stage in a studio, yours is wherever you are with your own reach, however small or however large that reach is. Maybe it’s 20 people, maybe it’s 30 people, 40 people, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your classmates, your classroom, your co-workers. Wherever you are, that is your platform, your stage, your circle of influence. That is your talk show, and that is where your power lies. In every way, in every day, you are showing people exactly who you are. You’re letting your life speak for you. And when you do that, you will receive in direct proportion to how you give in whatever platform you have. My great wish for all of you who have allowed me to honor my calling through this show is that you carry whatever you’re supposed to be doing, carry that forward and don’t waste any more time. Start embracing the life that is calling you and use your life to serve the world.”

P – Passion

“What I knew for sure from this experience with you is that we are all called. Everybody has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the business of doing it . . . Because that is what a calling is. It lights you up and it lets you know that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. And that is what I want for all of you and hope that you will take from this show. To live from the heart of yourself. You have to make a living; I understand that. But you also have to know what sparks the light in you so that you, in your own way, can illuminate the world.”

R – Renewal

“After deliberating for some time, we decided to do what we do best, and that is a show about and with everyday people. This show always allows people, hopefully, to understand the power they have to change their own lives.”

A – Accountability

“One of the best examples of this was Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor who was on the show talking about the book My Stroke of Insight. She was a 37-year-old, Harvard-educated brain scientist who suffered a massive stroke in the left part of her brain. She couldn’t speak or remember her own mother, but when doctors and nurses walked into her room, she knew from the right brain who was on her side. She could feel their energy. 

Dr. Taylor sent me a sign that I have hanging in my makeup room. It says, ‘Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space.’ And I ask the same thing in my home and at my companies. Thank you, Dr. Taylor, for that simple but powerful lesson. All life is energy and we are transmitting it at every moment. We are all little beaming little signals like radio frequencies, and the world is responding in kind.”

H – Happiness

“The show has taught me there is a common thread that runs through all of our pain and all of our suffering, and that is unworthiness. Not feeling worthy enough to own the life you were created for. Even people who believe they deserve to be happy and have nice things often don’t feel worthy once they have them. 

There is a difference, you know, between thinking you deserve to be happy and knowing you are worthy of happiness. That never became clearer to me than this year in a moment I shared with Iyanla Vanzant, an expert who had been a regular on our show 12 years ago, and we were trying to develop a show for her, for her own show, and she left to do a show with somebody else and we hadn’t spoken since. 

What I got was we often block our own blessings because we don’t feel inherently good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or worthy enough . . . you’re worthy because you are born and because you are here. Your being here, your being alive makes worthiness your birthright. You alone are enough.”

Throughout the past 25 years, Oprah helped me see that I needed to create opportunities to discover and live my passions, to renew myself and my life on an ongoing basis, and to hold myself accountable for the good (thank you) and the tough stuff (ouch, and ouch again) in my life, and to find a way to be happy and to share happiness along the way. 

Thank you Oprah, you will be missed.

Wednesdays and more

 

I went AWOL today, sorry I didn’t say something about it sooner. This morning I woke-up thinking I needed a day of reflection, ate a very thoughtful breakfast, and about an hour later I was fast asleep. Two hours later I woke-up feeling great, and worked on all sorts of exciting things, but not my blog. Sorry about that. (And, yes working from home does have its advantages.)

Truth is with summer coming, I was already planning to cut Wednesday’s post in June, July and August, I guess today I got a head start on my plans. I will be posting interviews throughout the summer months, and those will appear on Wednesdays, but not on any set schedule.

I think I mentioned that I’m planning to return to Macedonia for two months in September and October, I’ve been working on the details most of the day. Here are some links, if you want to check out info about our plans and itinerary.

Of course, you are invited!  I’m hosting a small group – less than 10. I’m looking for guests, who want an adventure,  and are friendly, flexible and generally fun to be around. I’m sure that describes all of you, so if you are interested let me know at patricekoerper@gmail.com or 813-719-0769.

You can also check out the new Experience Macedonia Meetup.com I created today.  It’s a work in progress, but it may get you in the mood to Experience Macedonia, and to Enjoy Europe as it used to be. I had such a great time reliving my three Peace Corps years there and last year’s two month visit, as I was putting the site together today. Hope you enjoy it, too. There are lots of great photos. Please share it and the links above with your friends.

Sunny times

 

I met with seven amazing women this weekend for a Wishful Thinking Works gathering in a new French/Italian Bistro within walking distance of my home.

Meeting with these interesting women was a fantastic way to spend my birthday morning. They inspired me with their interests, their lives and their quest for more.

We were enjoying our coffee and conversation indoors, but in so many ways our gathering reminded me of the 2003 movie based on Frances Mayes‘ book Under the Tuscan Sun. We were discussing our lives, planning ahead and we were surrounded by delicious and delicate food made with attention to detail and a true love of cooking. It felt good, and a bit like a special sun was shining on us. 

On Sunday I watched Under the Tuscan Sun and thought the last few lines truly fit our time together Saturday morning. 

“They say they built the train tracks over the Alps before there was a train that could make the trip. They built it anyway. They knew one day the train would come.”

That is what creating the life you want is like, you just keep laying new tracks no matter how high the mountains. You find ways to maintain your belief that the train will come. You gather, you talk, you explore, you listen and you learn. 

Perhaps, like Diane Lane in the movie, at times you rail against the world for the injustices you’ve faced or the sadness you’ve endured, but you still keep moving forward and predicting better. You keep laying the tracks for the rest of your life, the one you really want. The life that will carry you over the mountains, because as Mayes notes,      

“Unthinkably good things can happen, even late in the game.”

And, as I know, unthinkably good things can happen, anytime!

Hope your week is off to an amazing start.

Happy Birthday!

 

Mine is tomorrow. I love birthdays. To celebrate I’m combining two of my favorite things. I’ll be exploring Wishful Thinking ways with a group of interesting women and enjoying fantastic cappuccino at a new French/Italian Bistro. Life is good.

Here are my birthday wishes for you:

Passion and fulfillment in your life.

Friends and family that encourage and support you.

Hours that simply flow by when you are doing what you love. 

Physical movement that brings a smile to your face. (You know, like skipping, hopping, jumping . . .)

And, at the end of the day a sense of gratitude and accomplishment for a life worth living.

Who could ask for anything more? Well, maybe just one more small cupcake, please . . . 

Have a great weekend.

Flourish PERMAnently

Give me a P.  “P”   Give me an E.  “E” 

  Give me a R, M, A!   “R, M, A!”

What does it spell? PERMA! Louder. PERMA???

 

Now that I have your attention, I would like to tell you about Dr. Martin Seligman’s acronym for what we need to flourish in our lives – PERMA. My explanation comes from the pages of his newest book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, which I have mentioned several times in recent posts.

The book is 300+ pages of:

  • what’s working in positive psychology (lots)
  • stories about how positive psychology got to where it is today (It’s growing by leaps and bounds and finding its way into schools, businesses, and the United State Army – more on that later.)
  • a how-to manual for those interested in improving their lives (that’s us)
  • and a guide for where Seligman thinks positive psychology, we, and the world should direct our attention next.

Ambitious? Yes.  Interesting? Quite!  Insightful? Undeniably.  Helpful? Unbelievably.  Readable? Well, yes, but my guess is not everyone will find it the page-turner that I did. (I say this only because I have learned from the kind and well-meaning feedback of friends and family throughout the years that one woman’s non-fiction dream, can be another person’s sleeping potion.) So just incase you don’t pick-up the book, I will keep sharing what’s inside it.

Which brings me back to PERMA, and how to create the life your really want from Seligman’s five pillars of well-being.

P – POSITIVE EMOTION (happiness, fun, gratitude – a solid base)

E – ENGAGEMENT (flow – losing ourselves or becoming so absorbed in our work, our hobbies, the moment)

R – RELATIONSHIPS (those that touch our hearts, our souls and our minds)

M – MEANING or a sense of purpose and fulfillment in our lives

A – ACCOMPLISHMENT (learning and moving forward with our endeavors big and small; knowing and using your strengths)

Put them all together and what do you have? PERMA and folks, who are flourishing by living happy, interesting, fulfilling lives that they created, embrace, value and appreciate.

I’ll be posting more info about Seligman’s 5 factor approach for flourishing. PERMA is much more than a to-do-list. It’s about creating the life you really want, and can help you focus your attention and efforts on what’s ahead for you, not the past. There’s a big difference and that difference can help you flourish – PERMAnently!

PERMA is definitely one of those Wishful Thinking kind-of things that work!

WTW Dandelion

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The Cliff Young Shuffle

I found 13,800 listings for Cliff Young online, yet before last week I’d never heard of him. I love that there is so much stuff out there just waiting for us to find what we need.  

Two things I really like about Young’s story are that he never thought it was too late to follow his passion, and by doing so he changed the way everyone else looked at his field.

I copied this story in its entirety from a January 13, 2009 blog post on Ploomy by “Anthony”.  Ploomy is “a blog for guys about the web, personal motivation, business, style, and more”, and is a play on the French word ‘nom de plume’, which means pen name. So, I am not really sure who the author is, but I like his style.

Learn How 61 Year Old Farmer Cliff Young Won the World’s Toughest Race

For many people, completing a single marathon already feels like a huge accomplishment, but an ultra marathon takes it to a completely different level.

Each year, Australia hosts arguably one of the world’s toughest endurance races called the Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultra Marathon.

The race is run between two of Australia’s largest shopping malls, one in Sydney and the other in Melbourne, takes a staggering 5 days to complete and traverses an astonishing 875 kilometers (544 miles).

In 1983, an unknown 61-year-old potato-farmer named Cliff Young showed up on race day. He was everything the other runners were not.  He was older, wore overalls and ran in boots. Much to the surprise of everyone in attendance, Cliff hadn’t come there to watch that day, he came to race.

Because of the advanced training required with a race like this, a majority of the competitors were younger and had experience competing at an elite level. Many of them were professional athletes with good equipment and even sponsored by well known shoe companies.

When the race began, and as some probably anticipated, it didn’t take too long for the elite runners to leave Cliff behind. Many of the spectators and media following the race watched with interest because he had such an unusual and unique running style. Many thought Cliff really wasn’t serious and thought it could all be just a publicity stunt. Because of his advanced age, many even feared for his health and questioned whether or not he could even finish the race.

“See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or four wheel drives, and the whole time I was growing up– until about four years ago when we finally made some money and got a four wheeler– whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 head, and we have 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d catch them. I believe I can run this race; it’s only two more days. Five days. I’ve run sheep for three.”

All of the runners taking part in the race knew that it took roughly 5 days to complete the race.  The established formula to win the race at the time was run for 18 hours and sleep for 6 hours.  Everyone knew this strategy, except for Cliff.  He had no idea!

On the morning of the second day, everyone was surprised to learn that Cliff was still in the race.  Not only was he still in race, but he had continued to run throughout the entire night without stopping.

When asked what his strategy was for the remainder of the race, he let everyone know his plan was to keep running straight to the finish line without sleeping.

As the race went on, Cliff kept running slowly with his now familiar shuffle. Each night he inched closer and closer to the front runners as they rested their 6 hours. During the final night of the race, Cliff had finally caught up to and eventually passed the pack of professional athletes while they were sleeping.  When he crossed the finish line first that day, he had set the new course record and beat his competitors by a large margin.

As the winner of the race, Cliff was awarded a prize of $10,000. He didn’t even know about the prize and insisted that it was not why he chose to race in the first place.  In a selfless act, Cliff donated all of his winnings to some of his fellow runners and in so doing won the hearts and minds of many.

Cliff’s unusual running style was dubbed the “Young shuffle” and has been adopted by some ultra-marathon runners because of the fact that it uses less energy. At least three winners of the Westfield Sydney to Melbourne ultra marathon race have been known to use the shuffle during their wins.

Today, it is commonplace for competitors in ultra marathoners to run without sleeping. They might not all know it, but they can probably thank Cliff Young for that.

I hope your day is great, and that you spend a bit of it pursuing your dreams.

 

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