Wishful Thinking Women

new-pageEvery Wishful Thinking Women Meetup is great, but this week’s truly was amazing. Thank you, ladies! What a fabulous start to 2017!

So much fun to spend time with such interesting, creative, brave, and wonderfully kind women! Welcome to our newbies, and thank you to those who join us month after month, year to year! Love talking with you all.

Here are a few of the comments from this week’s Meetup . . .

“Very uplifting meeting and great group of ladies! Thank you all for your input.”

“It was so good to be with such vibrant women. Thank you for sharing your dreams!!”

“Loved meeting this group of beautiful, forward thinking women.”

Find your “tribe” hold them close and visit with them often!

You can do it!

Be the reason

Journey of a lifetime

Patrice BitolaWishful Thinking Works

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to change your life dramatically? To try something terribly new and scary, but truly heartfelt – all on your own? To do more and learn more than you ever thought possible?

I did, and I am sharing the experiences of my amazing adventure in Macedonia as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer from 2006-2009 at a program for the Fort Myers Beach Library on March 30 at 1:30 p.m.

Only 450 people over the age of 50 serve in the Peace Corps each year, I was lucky enough to be one of them. I was 53 years old when I decided to take the biggest risk of my life, and ended-up on an remarkable journey serving in a tiny, ancient, mountainous, wine-soaked country just north of Greece. It truly is my personal “Eat, Pray, Love” story.

You are never too old – or too young – to decide who you want to be!

My journey really began in 2004 when I started looking at my life through a new lens. I spent less time “doing” and more time reflecting and thinking about how I wanted my life to look, feel and be. During that time I discovered three things:

  1. I wanted to “touch the face” of the people I was helping. I am a visual thinker and that was my way of saying I knew I wanted to work one-on-one with folks. I had risen as far as I could in management within my field, and although I loved my job and was impacting my community in a way I wanted to, I knew I had more to learn and give at a personal, one-on-one level.
  2. I knew there were more people I was supposed to know in this world – not just to meet, but to know. Luckily I was right, and made friends for life on my journey.
  3. And, I knew I wanted  to live in Europe. Didn’t know how or why, but knew I wanted to live within another country and culture.

During my two years of introspection and months of research, Peace Corps (PC) rose to the surface. Joining PC was never planned, but popped-up while searching Internet options that would allow me to live as I realized I wanted to. And, and as sad as this is to admit, I had no clue where Macedonia was until I started exploring serving in the Peace Corps in Eastern Europe.

You are never too old – or too young – to become who you want to be!

During my presentation you will find out what it is like to pack two suitcases and leave behind everything else you love – family, friends, your home and your job to volunteer in a country where you must learn a new language, work in a new job and make new friends, while trying to understand and meld into a culture that is foreign to you.

Through photos and stories I will share how this wonderful trek enriched my life and broaden my understanding of myself, others and the world around me.

Postscript:

I returned to Macedonia in 2010, 2011 to visit and for projects and in 2012 for a short Response Corps Peace Corps (RCPC) assignment. In 2011, I served in the Republic of Georgia on another short RCPC project. This summer, I will be visiting Macedonia for a month; it is time to introduce my new husband to my second home. 

 

The learning and the fun never has to end!

Lean into relationships for lifelong rewards

 

This 75 year long Harvard study shares life lessons on happiness . . . the video is well-worth 12 minutes of your time. Enjoy it this weekend. If you are pressed for time, the results of the study are revealed 6 minutes in. Find out what at age 50 predicts how happy we will be at 80!

 

Then check out these other posts for tips on creating and maintaining great relationships.

 

Are you ready? Life could be better  . . . Wishful Thinking Works Life Coaching

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Communicating with heart

heart-968777_640At one of my Wishful Thinking Women gatherings this weekend we talked about a wonderful way to improve communication with those you love, care about or work with. I first shared this post in 2011, and after talking about it on Saturday, I thought now would be a great time to re-post it. Enjoy!

Would you like to improve your relationships with your kids, your spouse, significant other, friends, extended family and co-workers?

If so, try the method Dr. Martin Seligman describes in his latest book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being. Seligman is the father of positive psychology and in Flourish he discusses PERMA, the 5 pillars of well-being:

P – Positive emotion (happiness, fun, gratitude);

E – Engagement (flow – loosing ourselves or becoming completely absorbed in our work, our hobbies, or the moment);

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

M – Meaning (a sense of purpose and fulfillment in our lives) and

A – Accomplishment (learning and moving forward with endeavors big and small and knowing and using your strengths).

Today, I’m focusing on only one aspect of PERMA – Relationships, and how to create better connections.

Dr. Shelly Gable, a researcher and professor of social psychology at UCSB, took a positive psychology approach to love and marriage research and discovered that how couples celebrate the good times, is a stronger indicator of the strength and resiliency of relationships than how they fight or deal with negative situations. This might not seem like a big deal, but for decades psychologists have been researching and trying to fix conflict or breaks in relationships rather than focusing on what make them stronger.

“Shelly Gable turns all this on its head. She is one of the few who work on what makes a marriage great, and her work holds a crucial lesson for all of us who want to transform a good relationship—marriage, parent, or friendship—into an excellent one.”

Gable developed the chart below to show and categorize how people communicate in response to good news. Read the chart and decide where the majority of your responses fall. (Be honest – awareness is the first step of change!)

Next, observe yourself in action this week to see if your reactions fall squarely where you think they do. If you discover that your actions are not speaking as constructively as you would like, follow these steps and in no time you will be seeing positive results.

  1. Pay attention. Let the person who is talking to you “see” that you are listening. Look them in the eye, turn your body toward them. Smile, laugh, touch them.
  2. Say something positive: “Oh, Susan, that is wonderful.” “I’m so excited for you.” or whatever words work for you. Let your choice of words and the way you say them show your excitement.
  3. Ask questions: “When did you get the good news?” “How did you find out?” And, then follow-up with a sincere “Tell me all the details.” or “You must have been so excited, tell me all about it.” Any words that show your honest interest are the perfect words. You don’t need to overdo it, just ask and then listen – actively. Stay involved in the conversation so the person you care about, can share and savor the good news with you. Let the conversation be all about them.
  4. Suggest a way to celebrate. “Let’s go out to dinner to celebrate.” “Let’s open a bottle of wine.” Let’s go to the movies.” “Let’s . . . ” simply fill in whatever you know the person or child would really enjoy.

If you’re involved in a conversation and you realize that you aren’t responding as you would like, no problem. Simply stop and ask for a do-over. Say something like “You know what, I don’t think I’m being as positive as I can be about your good news, can we start over?” And then, do it. Your listener may be surprised, but will appreciate it.

Active/Constructive communication works so well, you may notice immediate results. Seligman shares a wonderful story in his book about an Army sergeant, who began actively and constructively responding to his young son and reported “about halfway through the conversation, my son interrupted me and said, “Dad, is this really you?” The sergeant’s new approach made his son uneasy at first, but within a few minutes the happiness in the boy’s voice shared just how much his Dad’s attention and approval meant to him. (Seligman has designed and iimplemented a very successful resiliency program for all Army personal, which includes the concept of PERMA.)

Give active/constructive communication a try, and let us know how it works.

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Reach-Out Monday

Photo Courtesy of Luann Koerper

It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving and for those of us celebrating, we’ve either had a fabulous, fun-filled weekend; quiet cozy moments with family and friends; tough times littered with hurts and regrets or we’ve experienced the more common Thanksgiving weekend combo of all of these emotions and activities.

No matter how your weekend went I have the perfect back-to-work or return-to-normal strategy, which I call “Reach-out Monday”.  In fact, I have declared the Monday after Thanksgiving to be now and forever more – Reach-Out Monday. Spread the word!

Here’s how to be part of this very special day:

Be a bit more patient today.

Use your patience to reach out to someone you might not normally reach out to, or not often enough, or not as willingly, or with such kindness.

Sit with them or stay longer by their side.

Hold their hand, or look into their eyes.

Look into their eyes, or show more interest

Show more interest, or respond more calmly.

Respond more calmly, or share your stuff.

Share your stuff, or offer a helping hand.

Offer a helping hand, and you’ll both feel better.

After all, that’s what Reach-Out Monday is all about.

This post was inspired by another of my posts in 2011, which was inspired by the non-seasonal photo above 
of my sweet grandson reaching out to his little brother. Please post how you participated in Reach-Out Monday.

Once upon a time, Aesop style . . .

MH900403330On Fridays in July, I’m sharing short stories with a philosophical twist. I first read this story as a child when my oldest sister was sweet enough to buy me a hard cover copy of Aesop’s Fables; oh, how I loved that book. This Greek storyteller’s tales have been handed down for more than 2,500 years! They really are much more than children’s stories.  

You’ve probably heard this one many times, there are hundreds of versions, but I decided to share it anyway because it has always been a good reminder for me that might doesn’t necessarily make “right” and we all have something to contribute.  (I know we all like to believe that we don’t think we are better than others, but truth be told, we’ve all at sometime in our lives looked down our noses at someone . . .)  Here’s to not feeling too full of ourselves!

The Lion and the Mouse

A small mouse crept up to a sleeping lion.  The mouse admired the lion’s ears, his long whiskers and his great mane.  

“Since he’s sleeping,” thought the mouse, “he’ll never suspect I’m here!”

With that, the little mouse climbed up onto the lion’s tail, ran across its back, slid down its leg and jumped off of its paw.  The lion awoke and quickly caught the mouse between its claws.

“Please,” said the mouse, “let me go and I’ll come back and help you someday.”

The lion laughed, “You are so small!  How could ever help me?” The lion laughed so hard he had to hold his belly!  The mouse jumped to freedom and ran until she was far, far away.

The next day, two hunters came to the jungle.  They went to the lion’s lair.  They set a huge rope snare.  When the lion came home that night, he stepped into the trap. He roared!  He wept!  But he couldn’t pull himself free.

The mouse heard the lion’s pitiful roar and came back to help him. The mouse eyed the trap and noticed the one thick rope that held it together.  She began nibbling and nibbling until the rope broke.  The lion was able to shake off the other ropes that held him tight.  He stood up free again!

The lion turned to the mouse and said, “Dear friend, I was foolish to ridicule you for being small. You helped me by saving my life after all!”

Hope your weekend is filled with kindness and compassion and moments and ideas worth writing about or sharing with others 2500 years from now!

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