Fun look at life coaching

Fun stuff by Kate Gavino on about her experience with a life coach . . . it makes a positive difference . . . we are normal looking and we help!  Love her drawings and cartoon strip approach.

This is an excerpt from Kate Gavino’s work . . .to read the full article, click here.

3 Things I Learned from My Life Coach

What’s it really like to try a life coach (instead of a therapist or the advice of friends)? We sent writer and artist Kate Gavino to find out…

Kate GavinoKate Gavino is the illustrator of this series and the author of Last Night’s Reading.


Feeling awareness

“Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.”  Eckhart Tolle

flowers-1184705_960_720Happy, sad, glad, mad.

Knowing how and what you are feeling allows you to both be in the moment and to step back and see a bigger picture.

In that moment you stop being your feelings and become something greater – aware of your feelings, and then and only then can you celebrate and savor the positive ones or explore and deal with the negative ones.


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

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How walking in circles can calm your mind


A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. It represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.

I walked my first labyrinth this weekend, so I am no expert – but I am now a believer.  I believe that taking 15-30 minutes out of your day to do something that can relax and center you is a good thing. I also believe that walking anywhere – even in circles – can be good for us.

And, I know first-hand that guided walking and mindfulness are a peaceful and positive combination.


Here’s what I learned about labyrinths before I walked one.

  • They are an ancient practice. The oldest are around 3000 years old.
  • They have been found all over the world.
  • There are different designs and sizes. Two of the most recognizable are the classic design shown above and the medieval style shown below.

My Walk

The labyrinth I walked was made of rust-colored bricks and was surrounded by moss-draped oak trees on the banks of a creek in southwest Florida. I was leading a group of 12 Wishful Thinking Women and we were being guided by a local labyrinth expert. The afternoon was rainy but luckily, the downpour slowed to a drizzle long enough for us to step outside into a new experience.

The retreat setting we visited was so beautiful it was easy to feel we were going to be experiencing something special. The deep blue of the sky was the perfect backdrop for the glistening greens and browns of the grass and trees around us, made all the more vibrant by the rain. Nature was at its best.

Each of us paused before we stepped into the mouth of the labyrinth. (That’s what you call the opening.) No one said we had to, it just seemed liked the thing to do, and doing so let us move forward with awareness and intention.

The first turn came up quickly, I realized almost as quickly that concentrating on the path was going to be necessary.  I remember thinking “This is easy, the path is laid out for me.” (A metaphor?)

I felt extremely happy to be walking the path surrounded by nature with a group of women whose company I truly enjoyed. At that point I relished having nothing more to worry about than where to place my next step.  I felt completely relaxed. The world around me faded and I felt I was walking in the woods, alone and happy.

Birds started chirping and cawing, I paused for a minute to look up, breaking my solitary spell, and immediately felt overwhelmed by the beauty of surroundings and the company around me.

I slowed my pace as passage on the path began to slow – others were walking the same path, but at very different paces. (Another metaphor for life?)

After a few more steps, I wondered how long this thing was going to last! When I entered, the labyrinth didn’t seem that big but now the paths seemed to go on forever, the twists and turns elongated the journey way more than I realized.  (I remember thinking that was a funny thought, since I am a life coach and I often coach folks on slowing down, but that’s the beauty of it. We all feel that way at times, it’s how we handle it that matters.)

At the next turn, I wondered if I was “doing it right”.  I almost laughed out loud, because even though I knew there was no way to “do it wrong” and the path was clearly marked, when I allowed my mind to wander from my task I immediately began to doubt my progress.  (I took that as a reminder for life – doubting the path, even when it is neatly laid out before you, is normal, not to worry, just keep going, so I did!)

The length of the labyrinth surprised me time and time gain, and each time I pondered  its length, I became aware of the other folks on the path and began to feel a need to visually follow the path prior to walking to it.

I wanted to figure out my path before I walked it. I felt a tad stressed and found it interesting that even though I knew where I was going, I felt the need to know exactly how I was going to get there. Pretty funny, since there was only one way in and one way out, and everyone was moving into the center and away from it with great ease. Once again, I laughed inwardly at myself and kept going.

The moment I returned my focus to the path directly in front of me, and away from the twists and turns ahead, I felt relieved. Within a few seconds I felt excited again that I was on the path and it was clearly laid out ahead of me.  My progress and feelings

My progress and feelings yo-yoed again and again.  Surprisingly, arriving at the center was anti-climatic, but in a positive, gentle way; I simply continued on the path. I have no idea how long my walk on the labyrinth actually lasted. I am guessing it was between 15-20 minutes. But I know the moment it ended, I wished it hadn’t.

I have no idea how long my walk on the labyrinth actually lasted. I am guessing it was between 15-20 minutes. But I know the moment it ended, I wished it hadn’t.

I’m happy I had the experience, and will find a way to “walk” one daily! If you click on the Classic Labyrinth above, you can print a copy of it and simply “walk” the labyrinth with your finger. You can also go online and with your cursor find plenty of labyrinths to follow. Physically walking a labyrinth is a great experience, but until that opportunity arises, don’t miss the opportunity to let your fingers do the walking.

My biggest take-away of the day? Twists and turns can pull me away from my path, but gentle awareness and not taking myself too seriously, always get me back on track.

I’d loved to hear about your labyrinth experiences. If you have walked one let us know what you thought of your experience. If not and you would like to, this Labyrinth Locator can help you find one close to you.

How to turn negative self-talk in a new direction

The thoughts in your head define who you are. They steer you left or right and forward or backward on the road of life.

Constant negative self-talk floods your brain with fight or flight type chemicals and hormones, which create a sense of urgency and heightened levels of attention and distress. Within seconds those chemicals and the feelings they elicit can take you off the path of positivity and get you running around a cul-de-sac of negativity and keep you circling it until you completely run out of gas.

Don’t do that to yourself, okay?

When you find yourself mentally beating-up on yourself, interrupt the cycle by noting:

“Ooh, that sounds pretty harsh. I must be worried.”

Then ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” Let your mind wind its way through:

 “I’m afraid I will be late . . . My boss will be furious . . . I will get fired.” (Or wherever your imaginary worry is taking you.) Give yourself a green light to ride it until you exhaust your thoughts and reach a dead-end.

Next, ask yourself if your ultimate feared outcome is really likely to happen. Most of the time the answer will be a resounding “NO!” (The majority of our worries are simply our imaginary thoughts gone wild!)

Now, think of at least one positive thought related to your particular situation:

“Yes, I’m late, but I really don’t think I will get fired over it.”

“Yes, I’m late, I hate this feeling, I guess it’s time to start getting up a few minutes earlier.”

“Yes, I’m late, but other than that I’m doing a great job at work. I need to figure out a way to get better at being on time.”

If you find yourself going back down a negative path, simply start over with “Ooh, that sounds pretty harsh. I must be worried”, and continue from there. DO NOT under any circumstances ask yourself WHY you are late (or whatever your current worry is), that’s a tricky little way we have of making a u-turn back onto our path of negativity. Don’t be fooled!

The key to turning negative self-talk in a new direction is to become more aware of what you are thinking. Most of us feed ourselves negative thoughts 17/7, without ever questioning them. We let our minds ramble down roads that take us away from our destination – happy town – and around curves and turns, that while familiar, truly are leading us nowhere.

Negative thoughts are a habit, and habits can be changed. Here’s a quick review of how to redirect your thoughts.

  1. Start with gentle awareness: “Ooh, that sounds pretty harsh. I must be worried.” (Create the perfect signature phrase for yourself, so when you are saying it, it sounds right to you.)
  2. Ask yourself if your ultimate feared outcome is really likely to happen.
  3. Then jump on the highway of positivity: “Yes, I’m late, but I’m good at lots of other stuff at work.” (Note: this isn’t an excuse, or just a cute way of ignoring the situation, it’s a way to create a new path for your mind to follow. )
  4. Be aware of the danger signs: don’t ask yourself “Why?” – we are not coming-up with solutions at this point, we are simply shifting gears.
  5. When you make a negative u-turn, start again with Step 1. (Please note: Do not misconstrue starting over as failure, you are really doing something quite brave and resourceful, you are practicing something you value and will have a positive impact on your life. You are creating change and that is courageous and impressive.)

Give it a try, the road of life will feel much less bumpy and you just might find yourself ready for a whole new journey.

If you are ready to shift gears and create a happier, less stressful life,

contact Patrice Koerper to start your Wishful Thinking Works life coaching today.

Here’s what Patrice’s clients have to say about their journeys.

More moments worth waiting for

A delicate and much more beautiful way of keeping flies outside.


Breakfast at Villa Dihovo. Yogurt, no sugar, light and refreshing. Delicious zelnik with  homemade phyllo dough.





Drying hot peppers and hazelnuts for the winter. Later, the peppers will be slow cooked to perfection with meats and beans.


Wine tasting ahead.


Cheese, meats and almonds with wines at Tikves winery in Macedonia.


Wishful Thinking Works: Create the life you really want.

Patrice Koerper is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, who served in Macedonia from 2006-2009. She is happy to have traveled back to Macedonia in the fall of 2010 for two months, where she hosted 5 Americans for 3-4 weeks while visiting friends and working on projects. This year, she is thrilled to return to Macedonia, hosting one American, working and playing in a country she loves. Next, she is heading to the Republic of Georgia for a three-month Response Corps assignment with the United States Peace Corps.

Patrice’s main passion and occupation is Wishful Thinking Works life coaching and workshops, which combined with her family and friends, and travels are all part of the life she is really wants. 


Travels, timelines and tales


“The flip side of wanting something involves doing something.”

P. Koerper, 8/29/2011

Yes, I am quoting myself, again, but I can’t help it. You see, one week from today, I will be starting a bit of an adventure . . .

First stop the ancient, beautiful, mountainous, country of Macedonia, where I lived and worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) from 2006-2009. I will be visiting my warm and wonderful Macedonian friends and presenting a two-day seminar related to a project I worked on as a PCV. I will also be doing some Wishful Thinking Works presentations, some coaching and hosting an American traveler, who heard me talk about Macedonia at a library presentation this year and decided she wanted to check out this great little country while I am there. (She’s very cutting-edge, Macedonia was one of CNBC – Top 10 Travel Picks for 2011. Plan to join me there next year.)


Second stop, the Republic of Georgia, where I’m scheduled to head to in September or October for a three-month assignment as a Peace Corps Response Corps Volunteer!  Needless to say,  I’m excited about both journeys!

I’m updating you on my plans because they relate to the Wishful Thinking Works blog in two ways:

1. I’ll be blogging on Mondays about Wishful Thinking Works topics, and hopefully once a week about Macedonia and later Georgia. I will have great internet connectivity in Macedonia and should have same in Georgia, but if miss a post or two, please know it is all part of the adventure. And, I do apologize for missing or posting late, lately, but between Peace Corps requests and requirements and my personal procrastination for gathering or submitting paperwork, I fell a bit behind. (Did you know that rabies shots haven’t been given in the belly for more than 20 years, and there are only a series of three, not the twenty or so rumored in my youth? I learned that first-hand/arm this month.)

2. The second way my travels relate to Wishful Thinking Works is they truly are part of my creating the life I really want. Reconnecting with friends, finding new ways to live and share what I’ve learned throughout my career and through creating Wishful Thinking Works, learning more new things, and being a part of Peace Corps is important to me, and help me flourish. I like that.

That said, it is always hard to leave friends and family behind, to picture the holidays with new faces instead of familiar ones, and to challenge myself in different ways, but the flip side of wanting something involves actually doing something. So I’m packing my bags, thankful that the Internet makes connecting in so many ways so easy and I’m heading back out the door knowing exciting experiences, friends, and tales to be told are waiting for me.

If you don’t hear from me until next week, I’ll be saying good-bye to folks I love and trying to stuff five months of cooler weather clothes into two suitcases.

Talk to you soon.


PS Here is a short video about a PCV in Georgia. Looks like I will be comparing Georgian wine to Macedonian wine soon, I like that, too. (Always remember – part of flourishing is having fun!)


Positive Psychology Rocks!

Almost everyday for the past two years I’ve spent time reading about positive psychology research and trends. And, I have to say it again – Positive Psychology Rocks!

For me, the best part of scientific research is finding ways to apply it to our everyday lives. I love when science leads to cures for previously incurable diseases, or how environmental research has deepened our understanding of our impact on the planet’s resources, or that studying happiness revealed just how much gratitude really matters

So you can imagine my excitement when I read this article (another geek alert, I know, I know.) in the online version of “The Capital”, an Annapolis, Maryland newspaper, especially when the article came on the heels of my post last week about how much I love being a life coach.

Here’s what psychologist, Tom Muha had to say about Positive Psychology. I reprinted his article in its entirety because I like what he had to say and reading that practicing psychologists are open to new directions makes my heart sing. Sure, Muha is just one psychologist, but positive inroads are being made throughout the profession, which will lead us all down happier paths in the future.

In the meantime, as a very happy life coach, I will keep reading, sharing the good news with you, and helping my clients create their own positive psychology based successes.

Without further ado, here’s Muha’s article . . .

Achieving Happiness: Being positive is more than just eliminating the negative

By TOM MUHA, For The Capital

Capital Gazette Communications

Published 05/01/11

Most people believe that the way to become more successful and satisfied is to focus on fixing their weaknesses and learning from their mistakes. The profession of psychology spent nearly 100 years studying what’s wrong with people and delving into the depths of their psyches in order to help patients become aware of the dysfunctional patterns that cause them great suffering.

The problem is this approach hasn’t helped people to have a higher level of well-being. The rate of depression is 10 times higher today than it was in 1960, according to the renowned psychology researcher Martin Seligman. The percent of workers who were happy with their jobs (45 percent) is at the lowest point in the past 22 years, according to a 2010 Conference Board survey, in spite of employees receiving repeated feedback regarding improving their performance.

As a psychologist for almost 40 years, it has become clear to me that while therapists can help alleviate someone’s depression, that doesn’t make the person happy. Anxiety symptoms can be reduced, but people don’t become optimistic. Job performance issues can be addressed to increase competency without actually getting the employee to fully engage in their job. If all psychologists try to do is diminish the negative aspects of life, the most they can do is to help people get to neutral.

Unfortunately neutral is not a stable state. As soon as the next stressor comes along, the individual who is languishing in neutral has a very high probability of lapsing back into unhappiness. Think about it like having money in the bank. If the account balance is at zero and you have to write a check, you’re quickly into the hole once again. But if you are able to learn how to make money and accumulate a significant balance in your account, then having to write a big check is far less likely to leave you overdrawn.

About a decade ago, a handful of psychologists began to realize that looking only at people who were suffering was akin to studying gravity and expecting to figure out how to fly. These thought leaders took a radically different approach and began to study the top percentage of people who were able to attain high levels of success and satisfaction in order to learn the principles by which they operate. What they discovered is that our brains are hardwired to help us perform at our best when they are filled with positives rather than negatives or even neutrality.

For example, physicians who are in a positive mood before diagnosing a patient demonstrate almost three times more intellect and creative thinking, and are 19 percent faster in arriving at an accurate diagnosis than their colleagues who were in a neutral state. Sales people who have an optimistic mind-set have been found to sell 56 percent more than their pessimistic counterparts. Positive psychology studies show that students who are happy before taking a math test achieve significantly higher scores than their neutral peers.

An interesting thing has happened to me as I have become a practitioner of positive psychology. I discovered that I became much happier as a result of my learning how to teach people the principles that they could use to become happier in their relationships, careers and within themselves. Reading, writing, researching and coaching the principles of positive psychology has transformed my life. Rather than being resigned to tolerating as best I could the ups and downs of life as I encountered them, I realized that it’s possible to proactively generate many more ups than downs.

Knowing how to create happiness for myself and others has been immensely satisfying. I discovered that happiness is the fuel for success, and that increasing positivity is immensely rewarding. It’s been amazing to see people who were simply surviving life to blossom into full-blown happiness. It’s fantastic to see people get past their fear of not being good enough and go on to creating love in their life, satisfaction in their career and happiness in their heart.

When people learn to capitalize on their feelings of happiness, the positive changes they make in their life ripples out into wider and wider circles. Because happiness is contagious, it infects a person’s entire social network. A positive attitude sparks an upward spiral of success and satisfaction that profoundly changes people’s relationships at home and at work. As people resonate with the positive emotions being transmitted back and forth, they experience increased collaboration, heartfelt connection and immense joy cascading into every corner of their life.

Dr. Tom Muha is a psychologist practicing in Annapolis. Previous articles can be found at To contact him call 443-454-7274 or email

 The end.

Have a great day!

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