Getting stronger than the tough stuff!

Lately, I have been talking with folks who are facing tremendous challenges and sadness such as illness, job loss, relationship troubles or the loss of a loved one. sad girl -517555_960_720

Their situations and their bravery made me think about the fact that when we are knee-deep in a crisis or dealing with sad times we don’t always have the time or the wherewithal to figure out we can do to get through the difficulties and sad times. Yet, if you are human, you have been through some type of hard times and did do something to get through them.

Even if you are thinking “Well, just barely,” you are still here, and now is a good time to review what worked for you then as a way of helping you now and in the future, and to give yourself credit for making it through!

Start by asking yourself, “What has worked for me in the past?” “What did I do to regain my footing, strengthen my resolve or help myself create a new perspective?”

  1. Did you reach out to friends?  This is a great way to start sorting through what is happening to you. Via phone, social media, face time.
  2. Did you reduce your outside commitments? Increase them?
  3. Did you make more time or less time for yourself? Were you able to key in on what you really needed or what really mattered to you?
  4. Did you try to refocus or better understand your worries or negative train of thoughts? (Rumination – rehashing negative thoughts primes your brain to release  stress hormones, getting too much of them is not a good thing.)
  5. Did you use music, movies, TV, reading or another method to relax? Which worked best for you? Least?  (I note in “My Courage Diet” how often I have used movies and music to make me feel better and ready for anything.)
  6. Did you try something new – even if only because the situation forced you to? (This is referred to as becoming a “reluctant hero”, like Hans Solo or Finn in Star Wars – they didn’t start out wanting to do good, but ended-up on the right path for them and others.) As an example, if a loved one was in the hospital or lost a job, did you take on new tasks or responsibilities to get through the hard times? Did those choices take you out of your comfort zone? What did you learn by doing that? Did you gain any new insights or skills? Have those choice away made your life better or you stronger?
  7. Did you simply grin and bear it or did you focus on comforting thoughts such as, “This too shall pass?”
  8. Did you under/over eat, drink or medicate? Did that help or hinder your situation? Would you want to repeat those patterns, if not, how would you change them?
  9. Did you exercise intentionally or by accident due to circumstances – change in schedule or environment, lack of transport, or increased activity?
  10. Did you meditate, breathe deeply, count to 10, take relaxing baths, light candles, connect to nature? (Any and all can be effective what matters is what worked for you.)
“I am stronger than the tough stuff!”

I have created a free Wishful Thinking Works “I am stronger than the tough stuff!” sample to review and sheet for you to print and customize for yourself, so when a difficult situation arises you can pull it out to help you deal! Download as many copies as you need to list everything that you have done that works for you. Keep the list(s) around and add to them as you think of new activities, thoughts or quotes that helped you. Using the lists is a  form of resiliency, which  is a very good thing.

The key is to objectively review and write down how you got through the tough times using the benefit of hindsight and perspective.

As you start the process, it is human nature to think of all the things you did that didn’t work . . . Don’t beat up on yourself for anything you did, but also don’t make excuses. Simply review what you did and whether it helped or hindered your situation

Developing Resiliency

Resiliency “is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”

Psychological resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity. Stress and adversity can come in the shape of family or relationship problems, health problems, or workplace and financial worries, among others.[1] Resilience is not a rare ability; in reality, it is found in the average individual and it can be learned and developed by virtually anyone. Resilience should be considered a process, rather than a trait to be had.[2]

A common misapprehension is that resilient people are free from negative emotions or thoughts, remaining optimistic in most or all situations. To the contrary, resilient individuals have, through time, developed coping techniques that allow them to effectively and relatively easily navigate around or through crises.[3][4][5][6] In other words, people who demonstrate resilience are people with optimistic attitude and positive emotionality and are, by practice, able to effectively balance negative emotions with positive ones.[1]

Your life may never be exactly as it was before a traumatic or sad event or before other circumstances beyond your control entered it, but it can be good again, even great.  Developing resiliency will help you find your way until your path is clear again.  (Please note: I am not saying  losses are without pain, loss can be very painful. I am saying if you are still standing, sitting, kneeling or even crawling you got through them and somehow, someway you can do it again.)

Get your free Wishful Thinking Works “I am stronger than the tough stuff.” plan.

Creating a plan for coping in advance can reduce the shock and may help the pain pass more quickly.  The Wishful Thinking Works “I am stronger than the tough stuff.” sample and sheet are an easy way to started. Click here for sample to review. Click here for blank for you to record what works for you.

Let me know how they work for you and please share any thoughts on what works for you when you are sad or facing difficulties. We can all learn from one another.

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Hope

hope-1804595__340Many of us in the States and around the world are participating and enjoying the Oprah and Deepak Chopra 21-day free meditation series on hope. Each day they share a message and a quote, along with a meditation. I love this quote from Day 3 of the series from Bernard Williams, an English philosopher.

“There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.” – Bernard Williams

I truly believe there is always a solution. When my sons were growing-up, I often shared that thought with them: “I know this is a big deal, but I also know there is always a solution. Let’s sit down and try to figure this out.” Hope also kept me centered and moving forward through a divorce two decades ago, a Masters degree a few years later and three life-changing assignments with the United States Peace Corps 10 or so years ago.  Hope makes tough things manageable and good things great!

You may not have an answer to a dilemma you are facing or a dream your are delaying, but with a calm and centered approach and a sense of hope, finding a positive solution or creating a positive outcome can be a reality. (I believe this to be true on a personal and a global level.)

Here are some hopeful guidelines to help you:

Don't give up

  • Don’t give up too soon, or try too hard. Sleep on it if you can. Give the situation a bit of space – we often create deadlines for ourselves that aren’t necessary or realistic.
  • If you start to feel overwhelmed or hopeless, take at least three deep breaths. (Inhale, slowly – 8 seconds in through the nose, and exhale 8 seconds through the nose).
  • Give yourself a time out! Take time for a bit of peace and quiet. (In nature, cyclones and hurricanes have a calm in their center, known as the eye of the storm. Follow nature’s lead, and give your internal eyes a bit of time so they can relax and refocus to allow them to “see” the situation from a new, calmer perspective.)
  • Ask yourself a series of five questions when dealing with problems.
    1. Does this problem or situation really have to be solved right now?
    2. Is it both urgent and important? (Make sure all deadlines are real – yours and others – and that they truly matter to you.)
    3. Have I faced other problems and solved them successfully?
    4. If your answer to #3 was “Yes”, and the answer to #3 is almost always “Yes”, if we are being truly honest with ourselves ask yourself: What helped me then? (If your answer is honestly a “No” go directly to step question #5.)
    5. What resources – including my own skills and talents and the help of others – do I have to help me solve this problem? (Or,  grow this dream.) Begin figuring out how to use these resources. (I have a free great sheet to help you with this, check it out here.)
  • Don’t let yourself be caught up in anger or the blame game. I know this is much easier said than done, but if you are at least able to say to yourself, “I really do not want to get caught-up in blame games or anger,” you send a calming message to your brain, which will avoid the release of fight or flight chemicals and hormones into your blood stream that anger and blaming always stir-up.
  • Say out loud, as often as you can “I know I/we can figure this out. I know I/we can.” This calming, confidant message releases a swell of positive chemicals and hormones into your body, which will help you relax and think more creatively – increasing the possibility you will resolve the situation positively. (This works for your dreams, as well. “I/we know I can do this. I/we know we can.)

HopeI truly believe you can reduce your stress and sense of despair and turn-up your dream meter by developing a more hopeful outlook and by taking hope-based actions.  Positive responses dramatically increase the likelihood of a positive outcome and help build your personal hope reserves, which make hope more accessible when strife and stress appear or when you begin to doubt yourself or  your abilities.

Another great way to build your reservoirs of hope is to take time to meditate or sit quietly at least five days a week for 15 minutes.  This peaceful, relaxing habit has many positive benefits for your mind and your body and can provide a cushion of calm to protect you from the emotional bumps and bruise of life.

It’s not too late to join the free 21-day meditation series, click here to begin or grow your meditation practice and to gain new perspectives on hope.

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When “I’m sorry” is the gift you need to give

happy-valentines-day-2045463_960_720

Apologies are something most of us don’t do well or do often enough.

We may think about apologizing. We may even brood about it, but doing it is often left undone. A truly heartfelt “I’m sorry”is a wonderful gift to give and will be well worth the effort, and it is free! Apologies can make the receiver and the giver feel better, and may mend a broken relationship or a heart.

“The decision to apologize is a tug-of-war between stubborn pride and guilt. . . . Making a sincere apology is an act of courage, not a sign of weakness.”

If you would like to get better at giving apologies, or if you are currently in a personal battle between your pride and a growing sense of guilt, the following 3 R’s might help you sort it out.

3 R’s of a sincere apology:

1. Responsibility

  • Accept responsibility for what was said or done.
  • This is the hardest part, I know. It is tough to admit to yourself, yet alone someone else – especially the person you have hurt – that you have done something wrong – intentionally or not. But it really is an act of courage, and one that can repair and enrich relationships.

2. Remorse

  • Allow yourself to feel the sadness or embarrassment associated with what you have done. Pushing it away will only make you feel worse, and will never make the one you hurt feel any better.
  • Accept and explain how you feel when you apologize. Then pause and listen. It might take time for them to let their guard down, and their first response may be hurtful to you. DO not get defensive. Listen.
  • Assure the person you have hurt that you are serious about not wanting to do the same thing in the future. Explain what action you will take to not let it happen again.
    • “I realize what I said really hurt you, it was thoughtless/unkind/wrong and I was wrong. If I get angry.frustrated/etc again, I will walk a way and cool down.  I am sorry. I was wrong/jealous/immature.You don;t deserve that.

3. Reparations

  • “How can I make this up to you?” “Is there anything I can do to make this better?
  • Then listen and do not react defensively! Their request might seem over the top to you or too simple to be effective. But since this is not about you, simply listen. Do not offer any suggestions at this point. Let them share their feelings and thoughts without interruption. Remember you have thinking about your apology for awhile, but they are just hearing it for the first time and may need a minute or longer to fully process and accept it.
  • If you can, do exactly what they ask you to, and if that is not possible, talk about solutions until one is found and agreed upon without getting upset or changing the sincerity of your apology.

Timing

Now! The sooner you apologize the better, but do not let the passage of time persuade you that an apology is no longer needed, won’t matter, or will simply stir up old hurts.

One of the most touching and beautiful apologies I ever received occurred years after the incident, long after the sting of the situation had faded for me. Yet, when I received the apology it opened my heart in ways I did not even know were possible. I was completely impressed by the courage and kindness of the giver and it inspired me to be more open about apologizing to others in the future. I have never forgotten the apology, the bravery and kindness of the giver and the warmth it immediately invoked in me. It truly was a moment to remember.  P. Robson

Don’t miss the chance to make someone’s day, open someone’s heart or help put it back together again. Old wounds can be healed, and new bonds created.

Whether you are apologizing for being short to a store clerk, stepping on the toes of a colleague or for deeply hurting someone you love, the three R’s can help you right your wrong. You may gain as much peace of mind as you give, and your apology may even be powerful enough to change the past and redirect the future.

Please note:  There is always a chance the recipient might not be ready to accept your apology – now or ever. If they refuse, accept it, and try to forgive yourself in that moment. Depending on the situation, you may want to try again in the future. If not, be open to whatever happens and know you did your best. Don’t judge their reaction or brood about it. Accept the fact that your words and actions have the ability to harm and be more aware and caring in the future.

As my Valentine’s Day gift to my readers and a way of spreading love throughout 2017, if you have an apology you want to give any time in 2017, but haven’t yet mustered the courage, I will give a free 30-minute apology insight and practice session to anyone interested in making amends. Email me @ wishfulthinkingworks@gmail.com. Include your name and a brief description of the situation. I will get back to you to arrange a time. If you have been thinking about it, it is time to do it! 

You can do it!

An even fuller, full circle

About 15 years ago, I began gently and patiently exploring how to create the life I really wanted. I slowed down, stepped back a bit from the life I was leading, began asking myself lots of questions and then, really listened to my answers. The process helped me decide how I wanted my life to look and feel, and I’ve been living my life that way ever since.

bitola-hills-looking-toward-pelister-1-1-079a.jpgMy journey has taken me many places. First stop was an honest look inside myself – the toughest journey of all. I hired a life coach to help me with that. I then used the support and insights I gained to help me create the life I really wanted, which led me to three exciting years as a volunteer with the United States Peace Corps in Macedonia.

It was there that my journey came full circle, when I realized that when we change ourselves, we change the world. And, not necessarily by making major life changes, but by believing change is possible. When you accept that change is possible, others will too, and then all sorts of doors will open – for everyone. That’s how Wishful Thinking Works.

This blog, Wishful Thinking Works: Create the life you really want, is part of my journey. I share what I’ve learned, what I enjoy, what I’m discovering and what lies ahead. I’m glad you have joined me. I also share great photos and information about my time in Macedonia (Search Macedonia for more.), the Republic of Georgia (Search Georgia for more.) and other volunteers’ experiences in the Peace Corps (Search Peace Corps for more.).

Since my first Peace Corps experience, I became a certified life coach, served two additional assignments as a United States Peace Corps Response Volunteer, spent a month volunteering at a Benedictine monastery, was the Director of Corporate Training and Continuing Education at a state college in Florida and married the man of my dreams in 2015 after enjoying the single life for 18 years! We now split our time living on two islands that vary greatly in size – Fort Myers Beach, Florida and Long Island.

And, today are I am thrilled to be back in Bitola, Macedonia as part of our month long honeymoon! Dan has enlarged the circle, making it even fuller – how fun to share the country I love with him. We will spend time in Macedonia visiting wonderful friends and enjoying its laid back and ancient beauty, then we are off to explore Venice, Italy, relax on a beach in Albania and go sightseeing in Greece, but we will return to Macedonia and dear friends after each side trip!

I hope to post lots of new photos, along the way!

среќен пат,

Happy journey!

Patrice Robson (Koerper)

WTW Dandelion

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A surefire diet for 2016 – “The Joy Diet”

Today has to be one of the toughest return-to-work days of the year! So many of my friends were dreading going back to work after all the holiday fun and festivities. Others were looking forward to getting back in the groove, but were still wishing for “just one more day” to shorten the first week back.

No matter where you fall on the back-to-work spectrum, I have a plan that can make this week and every other week in 2016 happier and more joyful for you. This diet isn’t mine, but I love sharing it. If you’ve ever thought you might need a little more joy in your life Martha Beck’s book “The Joy Diet” may work for you. It helped me change my life, big time.

I opened Beck’s book in 2003 and penned this post five years ago in 2011. As 2016 unfolds before us, I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts again and encourage you to visit its pages.

Beck’s approach is simple and methodical. I like that.

She shares clear-cut steps and tells you how to combine them for the biggest impact, and then she sort-of kicks you out of the nest, trusting you will figure it all out, and, you will. (This is what led me to creating the life I really wanted.)

The first step was the toughest, and Beck won’t let you move on until you get it right. I will be eternally thankful to her for that. Her words led me to step back and slow down at a time when I truly needed it. Her light and breezy way of writing kept me interested, and as silly as this may sound, the short length and size of her book, immediately put me at ease – I knew I wouldn’t have to wade through hundreds of pages to get to the good stuff. (I truly am lazy at heart. ♥)

“The Joy Diet” is all good. Below is an Amazon’s overview of Beck’s 10 steps. [My insightful comments are italicized in parentheses. :-) ] Don’t let the number of, or the descriptions of the steps intimidate you, Beck walks you through them and into a joy filled life.

Martha Beck’s Joy Diet:

  1. Nothing: Do nothing for fifteen minutes a day. Stop mindlessly chasing goals and figure out which goals are worth going after. (Yup, absolutely nothing, you can do it. It’s not meditation-but it could be, it’s more like simply sitting still.)
  2. Truth: Create a moment of truth to help you unmask what you’re hiding—from others and from yourself. (Scary, but she holds your hand and you come out much happier on the other side.)
  3. Desire: Identify, articulate, and explore at least one of your heart’s desires—and learn how to let yourself want what you want. (Wishful Thinking at work.)
  4. Creativity: Learn six new ways to develop at least one new idea to help you obtain your heart’s desire. (Good way to brainstorm yourself into your new life.)
  5. Risk: Take one baby step toward reaching your goal. The only rule is it has to scare the pants off you. (It will, but it also gets you where you want to go, and afterward you will feel quite proud of yourself.)
  6. Treats: Give yourself a treat for every risk you take and two treats just because you’re you. No exceptions. No excuses. (Can you imagine, a diet that encourages treats?)
  7. Play: Take a moment to remember your real life’s work and differentiate it from the games you play to achieve it. Then play wholeheartedly. (Adults at play – pick me, pick me!)
  8. Laughter: Laugh at least thirty times a day. Props encouraged. (Yes, yes, you get to be silly or simply enjoy life a bit more.)
  9. Connection: Use your Joy Diet skills to interact with someone who matters to you. (Solid social connections are key to happiness and overall well-being.)
  10. Feasting: Enjoy at least three square feasts a day, with or without food. (Feasts? It sounds so primitive, and adventurous, and well, wonderful. And honestly one of the most difficult for many of us. You can feast with your eyes, your heart, your mind and your soul.)

I suggest you treat yourself right this year and pick-up a copy of “The Joy Diet” today. By Valentine’s Day, your life and everything around you could look a bit sweeter.

 

Joy diet

No commissions, just love her book!

 

If you need help getting started, check out “My Courage Diet” and lots of other free Wishful Thinking Works resources that can help you create the life your really want.

Enjoy! Writing this post was a joyful thing for me to do!

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Celebrate you this New Year’s Eve

new-years-eve-1004535_960_720As the New Year rolls around it is way too easy to get bogged down in what we didn’t accomplish or do this year and to start making long lists of what we need to do in the New Year.

I think a much better and more rewarding way to start the New Year is to remember how wonderful you are by creating your personal “Ta Da” list I created this pdf years ago for a Wishful Thinking Works post and I use it twice a year to remind myself of all the good things – big or small – that have happened or that I have accomplished.

Why not use New Year ‘s Eve to celebrate you and what you have done instead of worrying about what you didn’t do?

Even if 2015 was your toughest year yet, you survived, and that is worth celebrating.

champagne-584072_960_720If you are alone on New Year’s Eve, embrace it! Buy some bubbly, treat yourself to food you love, pop in a movie, read a good book or soak in a luxurious bath and savor being you. (Some of my best New Year’s Eves were spent alone – outdoors, reflecting on all the good things in my life. I sipped something wonderful, tasted something delicious and savored the moments.)

As the New Year dawns, don’t worry about what’s next, just enjoy what is. You made it this far in life and have so much more to look forward to.

Happy New Year!

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Dialing down your fear meter – redux

Something to think about . . . from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now . . .

“The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger.”

Hmm. “The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger.”  How many times are we in real life or death or seriously scary situations and how many times do we create (exaggerate) them in our minds?

“It [fear] comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia, and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now.” The Power of Now

When you catch yourself raising your fear meter by imagining negative or disastrous outcomes . . .

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Note that the situation you are thinking of is scary to you – “Wow, I’m more worried about this than I realized.” (Be honest with yourself; keying in and admitting you are afraid can quickly reduce the stress you are feeling by interrupting your negative thought process.)
  3. Take another deep breath.
  4. Do something physical to switch gears. Move! Get up. Stretch. Rollover. Sit up. Walk away. Turn around or shimmy, shake, hop, skip or jump yourself away from your fear. :-) (Making yourself smile never hurts.)
  5. Repeat as necessary, and don’t be discouraged if you have to repeat these steps often, because that means you are serious about change!

MH900387812Later when you aren’t worrying about the topic, you can review the situation by brainstorming your options, assessing your strengthsrecalling pass successes dealing with tough situations – and why they worked, predicting a positive outcome (Try it; it can work wonders.), and then you can decide how, or if,  you need to deal with the situation.

But for now, learning to interrupt your thought cycle is all you need to do to dial down your fear meter and gain some peace of mind!

Let me know if this works for you! It always makes me feel better – if I remember to do it!

PS This post is updated from its original posting on Wishful Thinking Works in 2013.

My Wishful Thinking Works Journey

My personal Wishful Thinking Works journey began about 2003 when I decided my life needed . . . well, I didn’t really know what my life needed, but I knew I wasn’t as happy as I once was or could be. Instead of trying to figure it all out and come-up with an immediate solution, I decided to lay back and see what unfolded, which was a first for me. I’m was a doer and had a Type-A personality with a capital “A”. Get it done, move forward, onward – now!

There is nothing wrong with being a “doer”, if “doing” makes your heart sing – but my heart was barely holding a tune at that time. I knew a change was needed.

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breaths away.” (Anonymous)

I made the decision to stop “doing” so much – to stop filling my days with this and that and to take more time to relax and reflect. This was a huge change for me in fact, it terrified me, but my personal and professional lives were overflowing with self-inflicted challenges and real-time commitments that were leaving me out of breath, rather than breathless. I had created a life I really didn’t want and it was beginning to impact my heart, my head and my health.

Over the next several years, I stopped doing all the things I normally did to find out what I really wanted to do. I spent a lot of time alone, doing nothing – I puttered instead of planning. I read and walked without purpose and at a much slower pace. I turned down invitations – super tough for a social butterfly, and began to see solitude as a source of energy rather than a statement of popularity. I also delegated more at work.

Once I became comfortable doing less – it took months and months – I began trying new ways of spending my free time with fun and interesting results.

  • I went on what I thought was a yoga retreat and discovered yoga nidra, which is still a rewarding part of my life.
  • I spent a weekend at a Benedictine monastery. (In 2013 I was able to  return for a month!)
  • I didn’t answer my home or cell home unless I felt like it. (Remember home phones?)
  • I drove slower; turned the radio off in the car and on at home.
  • I stopped trying to do 100 things at once.
  • I explored what truly made me happy and what didn’t.
  • I learned to be still, and to sit in silence. (A huge effort for me!!)
  • I joined a laid back adventure club for women, which led me outdoors and to the fun of feeling 10 again with the added benefit of warm, wonderful and lasting friendships.
  • I researched and read everything I could find on positive psychology and how to live a creative fulfilling life. (I even reread books from my undergrad psychology degree and my Masters in Management.)
  • At night when I laid my head on my pillow, instead of worrying about what needed to be done tomorrow or next week, thanks to Oprah’s influence, I began noting the moments in my life I was grateful for.
  • I realized it was okay to dream big and to wish for whatever I really wanted.
  • I hired a life coach, who helped me through the final stages of my personal change process.

My experiments led me through lots of starts and stops, which I learned to accept as part of my personal scientific process. I once believed I had to finish everything I started – even books I wasn’t crazy about became albatrosses for me. Thankfully, I learned to trust my instincts more than ever before, and stopped regretting not completing things that held no real interest for me. The extra downtime allowed lots of wonderful feelings and thoughts to rise to the surface, and I learned to spend time savoring them.

I must admit that in the beginning the good thoughts were almost always followed by stressful ones: “Who was I to think that I could . . . or had the right to . . . What would happen if I . . . Who would take care of . . . if I didn’t.” But, my growing resolve and belief in myself helped me realize that I was not the center of everyone’s world, and believe it or not, most people and projects could get along without me. That didn’t mean I didn’t have or add value to the process or their lives, but moving myself from center stage to the sidelines and observing rather than feeling I had to direct was a refreshing, eye-opening change for me, and left lots more time for creating the life I really wanted, which in the end, made everyone happier!

“Life is a marathon not a sprint.” (Anonymous)

I learned to accept that change is an ongoing process. It’s inevitable, and that’s okay. I also realized that most of the things I thought needed to be done NOW, really didn’t. These realizations along with my Wishful Thinking allowed me to expand and deepen my life in ways far beyond the expectations I had in 2003. My relationships with family and friends are more meaningful and better than ever, and stretch around the world. I’ve traveled to places I once only dreamt about  – and some I never knew existed, and I followed the career path of my dreams including serving three times in the United States Peace Corps, which led me halfway around the world and back again time after time!

Since then I became a certified life coach, started this blog, traveled extensively including taking Americans back to one of my Peace Corps country, dove full time into the training world, and married the love of my life after being happily single for 18 years. This summer my new husband and I spent a month in one of my Peace Corps countries, along with time in Greece and Italy –  did I mention my journey has been overflowing with joy?

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” (Lao-tzu Chinese philosopher, 604 BC – 531 BC)

I know now that Wishful Thinking Works and I know believing that – for many  – is a huge leap of faith. I get that and thank you for being here, because accepting that Wishful Thinking   has a place in our lives is a big step. It can be downright terrifying to accept that we can change, yet alone create the lives we really want. So, today I want to say thanks for being so brave, and to applaud you for visiting.

Wherever you are along the path of change, please applaud yourself for being there. Even if you are only thinking about creating the life you really want, give yourself credit for those thoughts. I encourage you to keep moving forward. Take as many baby steps as necessary, but don’t stop! Let the process be your guide – keep what resonates and feels “right” and let go of what doesn’t.

Blend courage with curiosity, experimentation with examination, and find time for quiet reflection.

WTW Dandelion

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Out-foxing cabin fever

Patrice Koerper  Life Coach Wishful FoxMost of the country is snowed in or slowed down again this weekend by one of the coldest, whitest winters in years. Snow is piled high and deep or melting into a mushy mess, and taking everyone’s good mood with it. It’s natural to feel a bit down; Christmas is long gone, the sweet fun of Valentine’s may still be on our lips, but the fear it (and the 5 pounds we gained over the holidays) will stay forever on our hips may be making us feel even more sluggish and surly.

Sounds dreadful, but it truly doesn’t have to be. Don’t let cabin fever make you feel trapped. Here are 6 quick tips for out-foxing the effects of cabin fever, and for using cabin fever to light your fire and put you in a much better mood.

  1. Take cozy to a whole new level.
    • Create a home spa atmosphere for yourself. Light some candles, pour some bubbly and luxuriate in a softly scented, warm tub overflowing with foam.
    • Spend time scrubbing, rubbing, and moisturizing! Use your best body washes and creams to wash away and soften your stress.
    • Then put on your most delicate or coziest jammies and slip into bed beside the one you love or with your favorite book or movie.
    • If you have a guest room, why not use it? Be your own guest and treat yourself to chocolates, cloth napkins, special coffees or teas – anything or everything that makes you feel you are relaxing in a fancy hotel. It’s an inexpensive, surefire way to lift your spirits.
  2. Eat with the ones you love.
    • Plan a picnic on the living room floor with your spouse, significant other or family. Use a big old blanket, table cloth or even beach towels to create a soft spot for to enjoy sandwiches of all  sizes,  pizza or whatever goodies make you smile.
    • Use paper plates and plastic silverware to reduce the clean-up, but make sure to include some sort-of special presentation pieces you will all remember. Serve the pizza off stacks of books piled high in the center of your gathering, line the edges of the blanket with pillows – Kasbah style and/or make up games such as eating the food without touching it with your hands! (If you’re worried about messes and spills, place a plastic shower curtain under the blankets.)
    • Make everyone wear costumes or their bathing suits! Get silly, make it fun and enjoy each other’s company.
    • If you are alone, I hope you are still eating with someone you love! Plan an equally special evening, by eating off fine china with a glass of wine on the side. (A sweet friend did just that recently, and when she shared her precious moment on Facebook, we all got to enjoy the fun.)
  3. Tackle a project.
    • Clean the closet, scrub the floor, organize your drawers, books, photos, crafts. This is the perfect time to finish whatever you’ve been meaning to start!  The sense of accomplishment you’ll get will not only raise your happiness levels, it can spur you on to other tasks.
    • If it is tough getting started, buy yourself something special to help with your task: cute and colorful rubber gloves, organizing baskets or trays – anything that doesn’t bust your budget, but makes the task a bit more appealing.
  4. Embrace the cold.
    • I know of a couple, who were planning on a flight to Florida that was waylaid by cancellations here, there and everywhere. Instead of basking in the sun, they quickly shifted gears and headed for a nearby outdoor ice festival in the cold climes they call home. They plan to top it off with a little outlet shopping, and maybe a lunch of hot soup or  a cup of rich, hot chocolate at one of the small town shops or cafés at the festival.  They found a way to turn a detour into a right turn!
  5. Plan a vacation.
    • Did you know detailed planning at least a month in advance can increase the level of happiness your vacation brings you, and that size really doesn’t matter?
    • A recent study from the Netherlands was shared on the New York Times blog . . . “‘The study didn’t find any relationship between the length of the vacation and overall happiness. Since most of the happiness boost comes from planning and anticipating a vacation, the study suggests that people may get more out of several small trips a year than one big vacation, Mr. Nawijn said. ‘The practical lesson for an individual is that you derive most of your happiness from anticipating the holiday trip,’ he said.”
    • So pull out the maps, go online and create the vacation of your dreams – real or imagined. Either way you will raise your spirits and learn something new in the process.
  6. Invite someone in or out!
    • If you are feeling a bit down, chances are others are around you are feeling the same. Altruistic acts make everyone feel better.
    • Make a call, send an email or post on someone’s FB page to let them know you are thinking of them.
    • If you are not completely snowed in, ask them to coffee at your place or at the corner coffee shop. Lunch and dinner are good too, but even the smallest gesture can make a difference.
    • Bring along a sweet treat and they will remember your kindness for weeks, months and maybe even years to come.

Whatever you do in the weeks ahead, dive into it and be creative. Even if you decide to do nothing more than perfect your favorite couch potato position, give yourself permission to do it and go forth with gusto! By merely making it your plan, you increase the likelihood that you will enjoy it and reduce the chance of lingering regrets or recriminations.

PS Here’s a bonus tip for an instant change of attitude. Click here to get happy with  Pharrell Williams’ Happy (Official Music Video). The video was shared by a fun friend on FB, and it has me dancing inside and out!

 

It’s two days after Thanksgiving, and I know what you’re thinking . . .

MH900448550You just spent two days eating way too much and you’ve been beating-up on yourself for almost as long. And, you are now making promises to yourself you can’t possibly or won’t keep. “I’m not going to eat anything at all today.” “I’m going to fast and just drink liquids.” “I’m going to go to the gym right after I go shopping.”  “I don’t care how cold it is , I’m going for a walk.” Problem is you do care, and you probably won’t.

Or, you’ve already thrown in the towel and decided to spend the next few weeks eating anything and everything you want, since you’ve already blown your diet and your good intentions. Your new plan is to worrying about it in the New Year.

If I’m reading your mind, before you think another thought, take a deep breath.

That’s good, now take another one. Belly breathe, which means you not only inhale through your nose and fill your chest with air, you fill your belly as well.

Now, simply note “I probably ate more than I should have.” Followed by another deep, belly-filling breath. “Yup, I did.” “I kind-of wish I hadn’t done that, because now I feel bad about it.” And, breathe . . . take two more deep breaths.

The deep breathing gives your brain enough time to focus on what you are saying and feeling, and will relax you even if were feeling guilty or frustrated a few seconds before. Relaxing your brain also gives it time to readjust and switch gears, and that’s a good thing.

Now tell yourself something positive. “Hmm, I’ve been in a tough place before and I have gotten myself out of it. I bet I can do it again.”  And, breathe. Try to keep the deep breathing going, as it not only relaxes you, it breaks the negative spiral your brain is used to going into at this point. (Oh, why do I even try. I always overeat, I can’t lose weight, Why do I even bother, Besides, my family just metabolizes food different, other people eat more than me and they are skinny; it’s not fair. . . )

And, breathe.

You’re right, it’s not fair, and I’m sorry you can’t just keep eating everything you want. It’s hard to pass-up all that food, especially during the holidays, but you can do it.

Start by picturing yourself at your ideal weight. You know, when you can slip into your skinny jeans and zip them up with no trouble. Or you can wear that dress you love and not feel you have to add a jacket or shawl to cover your jiggling bits, wherever they are. Or, you can run around with the kids and not feel winded or tired.

The more detailed and real the picture is in your mind, the more likely you are to achieve it. (Accessorize it – I know exactly which jeans and which boots I’m wearing!) The key is to create the picture that works for you – you will know what works for you when it feels real and makes you feel good at the same time.

Now, mentally give that you a hug.  Do it, because that is the you that you truly want to embrace. The you, you know deep down inside you can be.

And, breathe.

Now figure out what you can do today, right now to take a step in that direction. Throw out the leftovers, find your walking/running/hopping jumping shoes, and put them on.  Or simply head up and down the stairs a few times. Do what ever you have to do to set yourself on the path you want to be on.

And, remember to breathe, deep and long and often as you go, and to bring the picture of you, the you you know you can be, wherever you go. Every time temptation strikes – and it will – picture that you. When you wake up or before you go to sleep – breathe long, and deep, and slow and picture that you. Make it a part of you, and it will be!

Now you have a plan and you are not alone. The breathing and the picture of you are the perfect holiday gift to give yourself. After all, ’tis the season for believing, why not start by believing in yourself?

You can do it!

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