Words to Live By

“Life is a marathon, not a sprint.” 


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“Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact.”  William James, The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy


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“Remember happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely on what you think.”

“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.”

“Take a chance! All life is a chance. The man who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.”

“Most of us have far more courage than we ever dreamed we possessed.”

Dale Carnegie

 Dale Carnegie, (1888-1955) was one of the most famous speakers in the world. His extremely popular book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” has sold over 15 million copies, and is still available on-line and in bookstores. Click here for a free download of one of his oldest books, “The Art of Public Speaking.”  

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“. . . I want to make it clear that having been born on the wrong side of the tracks does not mean that that birthplace has to remain a permanent address.”  


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“There are two ways to live your life : One is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though every thing is a miracle.”                                                                    

Albert Einstein

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“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”

Anatole France (Nobel Prize Winner, 1844-1924)

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“Everyone grows up with the story of their life in their head, that works fine if you have written the story and not someone else.”                                                 The movie, My Friend Flicka

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 . . . life is not the supreme value.  It is courage.”

Grace Hasell

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“Happiness is my constant traveling companion, if I only remember to open my suitcase.”

 P. Koerper, 2008

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“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”                                                     

 Christopher Robin to Pooh, A.A. Milne

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“We cannot do great things, only small things with great love.” 

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

“May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.” 

Mother Teresa, 1910-1997

This first quote kept me company during my Peace Corps assignment in Macedonia, and continues to guide me. Mother Teresa was Albanian, and was born in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. I visited the site of her birthplace and a lovely new museum honoring her life on the site of the church in Skopje she attended as a girl. The chapel there is lovely and peaceful.

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“Go confidently in the directions of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

“I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Henry David Thoreau, (American philosopher, poet, writer and environmental scientist, 1817-1862)

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Wishful Thinking Works Words to Live By . . .

 When you let go of worry in your life, you gain time for your heart’s desires.

 When you tell people what you love about them, they’ll become more lovable.

 When you recognize what you love about yourself, you’ll become more lovable.

 When you let go of being right, you’ll find there is much less wrong with the world.

 When you accept your limitations, you’ll make room for your dreams to grow.

 When you lead with your strengths, you’ll move quickly toward your dreams.

 When you talk about the good in people, they’ll prove you right.

 When you talk about the bad in people, they’ll prove you right.

 When you talk about life’s misfortunes, they’ll never leave you.

 When you focus on life’s pleasures, they’ll never leave you.

 When you learn to let go, your heart will grow.

                                                                                         Patrice Koerper, 2007


“The flip side of wanting something is doing something. Deciding what you want is part of the doing.”      Patrice Koerper, Wishful Thinking Works, 2011

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Changing lives through education

DSCN4569I think this is a first for the Wishful Thinking Works blog, but my friend and former Peace Corps Volunteer, Katrina, and her friends are doing such good things in a country I consider my second home, I had to share their work with you. It’s a perfect Wishful Thinking Works kind-of story: They are making a difference, and it all began with a wish of a very special former teacher in Macedonia

Katrina and I have a lot in common, we both served in the United States Peace Corps in Macedonia; we each spent three months in the same amazing host village of Chaska, and we both have been involved in projects in Macedonia since our service ended. 

Here is the story of the Ethnic Turkish Educational and Cultural Foundation, which Katrina and others created to make positive difference in the lives of others. The words and photos are all theirs; more information can be found at their web site.


ETECFoundation grants provide impoverished ethnic Turkish and Roma children with the opportunity to go to school with books, school supplies, backpacks, shoes and support services.   ETECFoundation partners with K.U.D Kardeşlik, a Macedonian NGO, to provide scholarships to primary school children.”


“As a Peace Corps volunteer in Macedonia (2005-2007), I had the good fortune to meet a man with a vision for the children in his community, located in Strumica, DSCN4585Macedonia  Though my Macedonian was poor and his primary language was Turkish, this former teacher was able to communicate his desire to work toward his vision that every ethnic Turkish and Roma child that wanted to go to school, would be able to do so.  We shared a belief that Education is the cornerstone of peace.

In May 2007 K.U.D. Kardeşlik, a Macedonian NGO, under the Direction of Emin Eminov, created the Children to School project to target children most at risk for being unable to obtain an education: children who not only faced insurmountable economic barriers but also had only one parent or were without parents. In addition to the scholarship criteria, attendance and achievement standards were set for scholarship recipients.

For the balance of my service in Macedonia in 2007, I worked with K.U.D. Kardeşlik to obtain funding for “Children to School” through Peace Corps Partnership Program advise on organizational management to Director Eminov and the Board.  In the process we engaged the interest and support of other Peace Corps Volunteers also serving in Macedonia.  Most notably, a former school teacher working across the country in Debar, Gail Graor.  Gail visited Strumica and got hooked on the “Children to School” program and the commitment of Director Eminov.  Together we pledged to continue our service to at risk children and families in this community, through raising funds in the USA for our partner NGO, K.U.D. Kardeşlik.

In August, 2009 we obtained 501(c)(3) designation for ETECFoundation so that all contributions  are tax-deductible charitable donations.  We deeply appreciate your support of our mission to promote the advancement and education of the ethnically Turkish and Roma minorities in Macedonia.”

If you would like to get more involved, visit their web site . . .

“$788 will send a child to school for one year

$245 will buy lunch for one child for the school year

$35 will buy school supplies and a backpack for one child

$21 will buy a sturdy pair of shoes for one child”

Never, ever think that one person cannot make a difference.  And, remember when like-minded people work together mountains can be moved, lives can be changed, and the effects can last for generations!

Have a great week, and keep dreaming those dreams.

Annual words of wisdom



I love listening to commencement speeches, but quickly forget about them and how much I enjoy hearing them – a year between speeches is just too long!

Thankfully, my friend Dao reminded me. She sent me Conan’s recent speech at Dartmouth last week, which led me to Stephen Colbert’s at Northwestern and then to Amy Poehler’s at Harvard. ( I listened to Amy’s again and again as I was writing this post.)

Here are my favorite quotes from each:

Conan . . . (I agree with Dao’s favorite quotes)

“It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It’s not easy but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound reinvention…no specific job or career goal defines me and it should not define you…in 2000 I told graduates to not be afraid to fail and I still believe that, but today I tell you that whether you fear or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.”

In 2000, I told graduates to not be afraid to fail, and I still believe that.  But today I tell you that whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come.  The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.”

 Colbert . . .

“you are not the most important person in the scene [improv], everybody else is, and if everybody else is more important than you are, you will naturally pay attention to them and serve them. But the good news is, you’re in the scene too, so hopefully to them you’re the most important person and they will serve you. No one is leading, you are all following the follower, serving the servant. You cannot win  improv.  And, life is an improvisation.” 

” . . . service is love made visible.” If you love your friends, you will serve your friends. If you love community, you will serve community. If you love money, you will serve your money, and if you love only yourself, you will serve only yourself, and you will have only yourself . . . Try to love others and serve others, and hopefully find those who will love and serve yu in return.”

Amy . . . 

“You can’t do it alone. As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you. Spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” 

And, about improv, “If you’re scared, look into your partner’s eyes, you’ll feel better.” (I don’t think we look into each other’s eyes enough.)

Want more? Here are David Schepp’s Top 12 “of  All Time” commencement speeches. Schepp is a long time business journalist with a funny bone as evidence by some of his choices. I really enjoyed Bono’s, JK Rowlings and Churchill’s. If these aren’t for you, keep searching – there are tons of choices on the web.

A year ago, I wrote about another commencement speech and shared what I would tell a graduating class, “What would you tell them? 

Have a great weekend and live your life as though you’re writing the commencement speech you would like to share with the “next generation”.

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.

Time and Words – It’s a wrap.

My book of choice each holiday season.

I try to round out my reading by adding a few new stories each year, and have used Project Gutenberg, a wonderful free online source of books and stories, to find some of them. (I listed a classic tale from the Project for you below. It is one you may have heard of, but never read.)

Another great place to find, and to listen to, holiday tales is NPR’s Tinsel Tales, which features humorous and touching stories including one of my favorites, “Santaland Diaries” by David Sedaris. David’s trauma-filled memories and moments never fail to make me laugh, and to make my upbringing and family sound perfectly normal. I like that.

Santaland Diaries

For a completely retro holiday season, you can tune into old-time radio shows – 12,000 of them! I completely missed this era (my way of making sure you know I am not that old), but have had lots of fun listening to these “A Christmas Story”era shows. Even though they are 50+ years-old, their situations are as current as today’s sitcoms – check-out this 1948 holiday gift episode of Ozzie and Harriet. (The commercials are almost as fun and dramatic as the stories – and there are almost as many as today!)

Ozzie, Harriet, David & Ricky Nelson

I hope you can find a few minutes to slip away this holiday season and read or listen to a tale or two, and then return to the world a happier, more relaxed you. Or, perhaps, you and the ones you love can spend time with the lights low, the TV off, your laptops closed and your phones on mute, reading or listening together.

I truly believe the best gift we can give this holiday season is time, time with the people we love, and if you wrap it with words letting them know how much they mean to you –  life, not just the holiday season, will be merry and bright.

Happy Holidays.


PS.  Here’s the story I mentioned, and I would love to hear about your favorite holiday titles and traditions. I won’t be back until after Christmas – may you and yours have a peaceful Christmas Eve and a very Merry Christmas.


The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.”

The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, the letters of “Dillingham” looked blurred, as though they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. To-morrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling—something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the Queen of Sheba[13-1] lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her, rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still where a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: “Mme. Sofronie, Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.”

“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.

“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.”

Down rippled the brown cascade.

“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practiced hand.

“Give it to me quick,” said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain, simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation—as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value—the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the eighty-seven cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends—a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror, long, carefully, and critically.

“If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do—Oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?”

At seven o’clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit of saying little silent prayers about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please, God, make him think I am still pretty.”

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two—and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

“Jim, darling,” she cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold it because I couldn’t live through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again—you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say ‘Merry Christmas,’ Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice—what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.”

“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet, even after the hardest mental labor.

“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Don’t you like me just as well, anyhow? I’m me without my hair, ain’t I?”

Jim looked about the room curiously.

“You say your hair is gone?” he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

“You needn’t look for it,” said Della. “It’s sold, I tell you—sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with a sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?”

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year—what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

“Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there is anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.”

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs—the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped for long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims—just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!”

And then Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, “Oh, Oh!”

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

“Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hand under the back of his head and smiled.

“Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.”

The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men—who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are the wisest. They are the magi.

Being different . . .

Patrice Koerper  Life Coach Wishful Thinking Different can be good Being different can be beautiful.


Don’t be afraid to stand-out in a crowd, among your friends, or in your family.


Trust yourself, and see what happens.


Other Wishful Thinking Works posts you might enjoy . . .

Who you are today . . .

Words to Live by

Instead of either/or

For Wishful Thinking Works services that can change your life, click here.

Go without knowing or expecting, and see what unfolds


I recently spent a month at a monastery in central Florida. The weather and surroundings were absolutely perfect; I enjoyed the chilly mornings and soft northern-like summer evenings. Between my volunteer chores I had time for reflection as I strolled over gently rolling, lush, spring-green lawns, leading down to a dusty blue lake and as I sat in the sun or shade, depending on the time of day and the weather. While I was daydreaming one afternoon in a lovely little garden under a huge, old oak tree, a particular thought came to me and has kept me company ever since.

I believe that thoughts which survive a return to the “real” world are worth sharing. I think this one is particularly special because it connects me to others in a more compassionate way. I didn’t visit the monastery to find compassion or to figure anything out, or even to relax or renew, it was just something I had wanted to do for years. (Wishful thinking at work!) I had no expectations, which was all part of the adventure – go, without knowing or expecting, and see what unfolds. Follow your interests and see what happens. This is one of the thoughts that unfolded for me . . .

“Everyone is trying.”

Each of us in our own haphazard and sometimes confusing way is trying to be better personally or at something, or to work something out, or to make something better for someone else. We don’t always succeed, but for the most part everyone is trying.

On a good day, this thought is exciting and exhilarating – everyone is trying! It peaks my curiosity and expands my empathy. On a not-so-good day, it softens the edges of humanity and brings clarity or at least a bit of understanding or acceptance to the actions of others. Everyone is trying.

While my new-found realization might not seem particularly profound or dramatic, it delights me, and I’ve decided to keep it, to take it wherever I go, and to see what unfolds. I’m trusting that you will give me the benefit of any doubts you may have about its value, because, after all, I’m trying.

Enjoy your weekend, I hope you have a moment or two to let go, and see what unfolds.

Other Wishful Thinking Works posts you might enjoy . . .

The Art of Unfolding

What I learned from trees

Stories and Strengths

Words to Live By

For Wishful Thinking Works services that can change your life, click here.


I like Tony Dungy’s take on leadership. Dungy was the well-loved coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-2001, and is now a well-respected television sports analyst:

. . . as a leader your job is to help others around you be better . . .

. . . the person who makes the group rise to the top and be the best that they can be.”

I like that. We lead by helping others; words to live by.

(Dungy’s words are from an AOL’s “You’ve got . . .” January 2010 video.)

Communication worth savoring

Me on trainI have been writing about savoring for years and have made it part of my daily life, because it is an amazing feeling and brings such insight and joy. But I never thought about savoring communication until I read this article, and checked out the research of University of Arizona researcher Maggie Pitts.

Pitts analyzed online responses after asking respondents whether or not they savored communication and if so, for a detailed example of an experience they had savored.

“Savoring is the process of (1) identifying a pleasant experience, (2) noticing that you are feeling pleasure about that experience, and then (3) feeling good about feeling pleasure” Maggie Pitts

From their responses Pitts identified seven different types of communication that people tend to savor:

1) Aesthetic communication. Survey respondents savored this type of communication because of some aspect of how it was presented—timing, delivery, choice of words or perhaps a surprise twist. An inspiring speech, good play on words or suspenseful announcement might fall in this category.

2) Communication presence. This category includes conversations in which participants reported being so deeply engaged and completely in the moment with another person that it felt as if no one else mattered. These types of exchanges often were described as “real” or “entirely honest.”

3) Nonverbal communication. From to physical contact to facial expressions, these exchanges emphasize nonverbal cues. A meaningful hug or smile might fall in this category.

4) Recognition and acknowledgement. This category encompasses communication in which participants were publicly acknowledged or offered appreciation, like an awards ceremony or a speech honoring an individual.

5) Relational communication. This category includes communication that establishes, confirms or gives insight into a relationship, such as a couple’s discussion about the future together or an intimate disclosure that brings two people closer.

6) Extraordinary communication. Many participants savored communication around special moments, such as a wedding, illness, birth of a child or other “landmark memories.”

7) Implicitly shared communication. This category includes unspoken communication experiences that may be more difficult to articulate, such as feeling the excitement of a crowd around you, or looking at someone and instinctively knowing that you are sharing the same feeling.

I love that learning something new about savoring has brought even more joy to my life, and I quickly realized that I do savor many of the conversations I have had with people throughout my life and each of those still brings me joy. Here are some of the most memorable as this moment:
  • a conversation we had in my 10th grade social science class about how people approach living and their choices;
  • a talk with a friend who was dying of leukemia;
  • listening to my sons when they were little and discovering the world around them and much later when they were in college and just after, as they explored a much larger world;
  • a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer on the train to Skopje – the capital of Macedonia;
  • talks with friends of shared books and movies;
  • a presentation on music, art and math by Richard G. Brown, the father of Da Vinci Code author, Dan Brown and a much honored math professor
  • the hundreds and hundreds of rich and wonderful conversations with my dearest friends at the happiest, most exciting, or the most trying times of my life,
  • and the deep, touching and heartfelt conversations I have with my husband almost daily.
I am now looking forward to reading the books Pitts edited on positive communication, which hopefully will create more conversations for me to savor. I already like the way she thinks, “Maggie takes a “bright side” approach to the study of human communication — asking questions like, “what is going right” here, and “how can we make good things even better?”
I hope you find lots of wonderful moments and communications to savor, today and all the days ahead for you.
As I was writing this post in the early morning hours, I took a moment to savor the water color view through the screen on my balcony on a softly unfolding morning in tropical Florida.

What we can learn from Nature’s balancing act

It is that time of year again when day and night are of equal length, which happens when the Earth’s pole tilts neither away from, nor towards the Sun and the Earth is perfectly balanced.  

maple-leaf-3680684_960_720Today is the first day of fall in the northern hemisphere; the event is known as an equinox – a celestial event that happens twice a year in March and September.  I believe it is nature’s signal for us to take a moment and assess if our lives are in balance, which may send each of us spinning in a new and celestially inspired direction.

Begin by asking yourself two simple questions:

  1. Is your life rotating around what really matters to you?
  2. Is your life tilting toward or away from your dreams?

If your life is in balance and is circling your priorities and orbiting your values – celebrate it!

In the next few days or weeks, take time to do something special for yourself or others in your life to savor and share just how good happiness and being balanced feels.

Reinforcing happiness and sharing the good times can deepen and expand our sense of well being, which helps us create new pathways in our brains that can strengthen our resolve and help us mentally and emotionally maneuver life’s twists and turns and to discover and enjoy new roads to happiness, purpose and well being.

If your life isn’t tilted toward your dreams, you can realign it!

Take a moment to congratulate yourself for being honest about your situation – that’s a huge first step.

Next, become aware of any self talk that doesn’t seem celestially inspired! Becoming aware of your negative self talk is like pulling back the curtains on the Wizard of Oz – stop fooling yourself and stop believing the negative stories you have created. Start tipping the scales in your favor by sharing encouraging words with yourself that reinforce hope and the fact that change is possible – “Just because I am having this thought, doesn’t make it true!” “Wow, I never realized just how negative I can be, perhaps there is a better way.” “Maybe the story I am telling myself isn’t helping me or my relationships, I know I can do better.”  “I can do this!”  “I’ve made changes before, and I can do it again.”

wood-bench-986347__340Keep reminding and reassuring yourself that change, just like the seasons, takes time but is perfectly natural.

Then set some time aside to reflect on how you really want your life to look and feel, and begin tilting your actions and thoughts in that direction. Don’t be afraid or talk yourself out of asking for help, trying something new or taking risks – if the leaves didn’t fall new ones would never grow.

You can do it! I know you can. Start planning your changes today, so six months from now when the Earth’s axis is tilting toward the sun, your life is tilted in the direction of your dreams. I did it, and I know you can, too.

Are you ready to create the life your really want? Start today with

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