Smiles for the summer of 2026

Make the summer of 2018 one of the most memorable of your life.  

Get started by reading the following post, which I wrote and shared eight years ago.  I’ve made a habit of rereading it every year to keep me on track and smiling inside and out. I thought you might enjoy it, as well.

sunset-681749__180Writing and reading it helped me conquer a number of personal fears; experience adventures near and far and to enjoy colorful sunsets, majestic sunrises and quiet afternoons watching leaves dance in the wind. But, best of all, it reminds me to relive and to savor the most touching and heartfelt moments of my life.

I hope it inspires you to explore your dreams and become aware of all the things that make your heart sing. After you give it a read, let me know your thoughts and any plans you have for this summer. (Sharing them in a public way increases the odds that you will actually do them!) My goal is to give you something special to smile about in 2026 when you realize the summer of 2018 was filled with inspiration and joy.  

“Thinking ahead . . .” published on Wishful Thinking Works, May 28, 2010

I never read the obituaries, well practically never, but I have a sister who does, and one morning after I had a wonderful visit with her, I flipped though The Fort Myers News Press and discovered the life of Vera Jane Clapper-Richter.

I don’t know Jane, nor do I know anyone who does, but I liked her immediately.  She is the kind of person I would want as a friend, and the kind Katherine Hepburn would play in a movie.

Jane died at 85 after a struggle with Alzheimer’s, but what struck me is not her death, but how she lived, which I quote, except for the links I added:

She was born July 6, 1924 to Maurice and Elizabeth Stover Teasdale in Brownsville, PA. Jane will be remembered for her feistiness tempered by cheery good humor. She was always up for adventure.

In 1960s, Jane, her mother and her daughter could be found at 2 a.m. hanging off the “wooden bridge” angling for snook with cane poles. Few snook were caught, but much beer was drunk.

Janie married “the boy next door,” Bob Clapper, in 1941 in Arlington, VA. They made it through the war years and, like everyone else, started a family. By 1951, they were ready for sunshine and fishing. After a brief stay in the Koreshan trailer park in Esterothey settled in Fort Myers.

Bob worked as a surveyor and civil engineer for Carl Johnson in Fort Myers and Cap Prewitt in Clewiston and Jane dived into community activities. She taught local Red Cross first aid classes, was Lee County Chairman of the Gray Ladies and worked with Veronica Shoemaker in the first Head Start program in Dunbar. Her pride and joy was her Girl Scout Troop 29, which she led from Brownies in 1954 until the girls graduated from Fort Myers Senior High School in 1965. She taught them outdoors skills and wilderness survival. Protective of her girls, she once used a flashlight to fight off a wild hog that tried to take over their Fisheating Creek campsite. The hog fled squealing back into the woods.

After Bob’s death, she pursued her dream of investing in real estate, buying and managing several rental properties, then married Clarence Richter, a retired federal air traffic controller, in 1983. She and “Ric” were active in the local chapter of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees and Save Estero. Ric died in 2005.

She was a friend of Bill W. for more than 30 years and will be remembered by the old timers at YANA. She’ll also be remembered by her pals on Memory Lane at Park Club assisted living, her home for the last few months, for her sweet helpfulness, lovely singing voice and fashion flair. On her, even at 85, a paper sack looked like Prada . . . Jane was predeceased by her two sisters.  She is survived by her daughter, grandson and granddaughter, both of whom helped care for her in her later years.

I hope this is not too morbid for you, but I think Jane’s obituary reflects a well-lived life, and whoever wrote it obviously loved and admired her.  Reading it got me thinking – ahead.

I decided that I am going to live my life for my obituary.  I wish I had thought of starting at the end and working backwards sooner, I would have been nicer, more courageous and much more interesting, and would not now be faced with having to cram so much stuff into so little time.  :-)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rest is all up to you, go for it.

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

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Circle of strengths

Would you like to start your Monday morning with a surge of excitement and a bit of bliss? Would you like to feel energized and motivated, while improving your concentration and deepening your ability to relax?

No problem, begin the day by exercising your strengths.

Are you curious, creative, wise, kind? Do you love learning, have a deep appreciation for beauty, a rich capacity to love and be loved, to express gratitude and to forgive and offer mercy? Are you brave, honest, genuine and authentic? Do you persevere or have a deep sense of spirituality? Are you a leader, loyal, and fair? Do you proceed with caution and show great self-control? Are you playful and full of optimism and hope? Are you modest or do you have strong social intelligence?

all+strengthsThe combination of positive psychology’s 24 character strengths are varied and personal. Each of us has our own set of strengths, and exercising them is one of the fastest ways to feel good about ourselves and the world. All of the strengths are equally valuable, and every combination offers something special, which makes each of us special, too.

Immersing ourselves in activities that use our strengths can create a sense of flow, which allows us to focus our abilities and can relax us by transporting us beyond ourselves and the world around us. Flow can lead to fulfillment, which will leave us feeling good about ourselves and the world around us. It’s the sweet little circle of strengths.

Exercising your top strengths is a great way to start your day, a super way to create the life you want, and it’s free and doesn’t require breaking a sweat.

If you aren’t sure what your strengths are, an easy way to discover them is to take the Value In Action (VIA) Survey of Character Strengths, which you can find at www.viacharacter.org    The survey is backed by years of positive psychology research that you can read about here. It is a valid and inspiring way to move forward with creating the life you really want. I have used it with lots of folks in personal and professional settings.

If you would like to receive a copy of the Wishful Thinking Works one page Circle of Strengths, which will help you identify ways to apply your top six signature strengths, just complete the form below.

Knowing and using our signature strengths doesn’t guarantee a perfect or challenge-free life, but it can create a life filled with fun, flow and fulfillment, which may lead to accomplishments and can help us deepen our relationships with others. Oh, and did I mention it’s free, and it feels good?

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Positive thinking, a day to remember

positive-thinking-photoToday is Positive Thinking Day, which makes me very happy, because I’m a big believer in visualizing positive outcomes. Visualizing positive outcomes sounds fancy and maybe even a bit sciency, but all it means is that I try to spend more time predicting fabulous endings for activities and events in my life than I do worrying about them turning into major disasters. That’s my way of practicing positive thinking.

Each time I do a presentation or work with a client, I spend a few minutes before getting started, picturing how good I will feel after the session or looking back on my presentation. Sometimes I even picture folks coming up to say thanks and that they enjoyed it – and someone always does!

I developed this habit years before I read the positive psychology research that shows, there is a definite benefit to this happy habit. Studies show predicting positive outcomes produces a more positive short term outlook, which may lead to more positive outcomes. Short term – means the effect doesn’t last forever, but if used daily, positive thinking can definitely enhance your life.  I think the best part of the process is that since I spend much less time worrying about what could go wrong, my life (not just my outlook), has improved dramatically. I have learned to flick the switch to positive, which truly has lit up my life!

cake-1588967_960_720Since today is Positive Thinking Day, why not spend a moment or two predicting a wonderful outcome on some task or responsibility coming your way. You can start with something super simple, such as predicting a new recipe you are trying will come out well. Picture the finished product looking, tasting and smelling delicious. (Like this rich and powder-sugary, crispy-top, plum cake I plan to bake.) The more detailed your day dream, the better. Or, if you have a new project ahead at work, picture it in its final form, looking good and finished on-time. Envision yourself handing it in and how great it will feel having it completed.

These small steps flood your brain with a totally different set of hormones and chemicals than stress and worry do and they open new pathways and possibilities for you. Thinking positive isn’t just a pleasant pastime or or scientific mumbo-jumbo, it truly makes a difference in your brain.

Wishful thinking works, give it a try today, Positive Thinking Day. You have nothing but worry to lose!

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Mind travel

I was somewhere else

 

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wishyright

 

Wishful Thinking Ways for 2016

Are you ready to step into 2016? The year ahead holds lots of wonderful, exciting discoveries and adventures for you. I guarantee – if you allow yourself to be open to them – there are moments of unbelievable depth, splendor and joy waiting for you. calendar-999172_960_720

Each week in 2016, I will be posting about letting go, listening patiently and living gently. I will share positive psychology tips on perspective, perseverance and passion. We will explore ways to expand your belief in yourself and how to create the life you really want.

Oh, and I’m going to start the year by suggesting that you wait until April 1, to set your New Year’s resolutions – no fooling! Cut yourself some slack this year, and try a different approach. You need time to explore what you really want before you commit yourself to a course of action!

I’ve listed two quick steps for you to follow today, but before you read them, as silly as it may sound, I would like you to get up – right now, at this very second – and step back, then step forward, step back and step forward. I know it sounds ridiculous, but taking the steps sends your brain the message you are ready for action and you’re committed to the process. I call it the “success two-step”.

We will wait for you; go ahead, get up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

footprints-511553_960_720Step back and step forward, step back and step forward.

Great, you have taken your first steps toward success in 2016!

Are you smiling, shrugging your shoulders, or shaking your head and thinking “That was stupid”? No matter – you did it! You took action and tried something new, and that is what change is all about.

Okay, now you are ready for your first Wishful Thinking Ways for 2016.

Step Back

Now, take a few minutes to list all the good things that happened to you in 2015. Include everything you can think of and keep the list around so you can add to it throughout the next 3 months. (Please feel free to download the free Wishful Thinking Works “Ta Da” list to get you started.)

List the happy moments; your accomplishments – big and small; sweet surprises, and exciting news. Dig deep, if you have to, but get all the good stuff down on paper. List only the good.  please forget about the rest for now, okay? Good, I know you can do it.

Step Forward

Next, write “2016 will be a wonderful year.” Now, please read the sentence out loud. “2016 will be a wonderful year.” (Louder!) That’s good.

Write the same sentence two more times, and read it aloud each time you write it. Great job! (Please don’t cheat yourself by skipping this step, it is an important primer for you and your brain!)

That’s it for now. You have completed the success two-step. You are on your way. Hope I put a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

Have a great day!

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Wishful Thinking Ways #14

Wishful Thinking Ways

Today is the last post in our Wishful Thinking Ways series. For 14 weeks we’ve been meeting on Fridays to find new ways to create the lives we really want and to zero in on one very specific change in 2012. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series!

Today, I will be explaining a formula, which will help you achieve the change you want in your life. Before we begin, if you haven’t already, please complete the free Wishful Thinking Ways “Change Circle” sheet. Then jump on the Wishful Thinking Works Real Deal Change Wheel, which is a great way to get off the Ferris Wheel of Denial we sometimes ride when we go round and round instead of forward in our lives by telling ourselves why a particular change is not possible. Completing the Wishful Thinking Works Real Deal Change Wheel can get you started in the right direction. If you are new to the Wishful Thinking Ways series, click here.

“20/5/90 Formula”

I’m a believer in life coach and author David Essel’s “20/5/90 Formula”, because it works! It’s an easy to use method to create change in your life. All you have to do is create weekly, time-specific, realistic action steps, which you then work on at least 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 90 days!

Each Sunday night, or other consistent day of your choosing, layout the time-specific, realistic action steps that you will do for the next 5 days, 20 minutes a day. As an example, let’s say your goal is to exercise more. On your chosen day, write how you will move toward that goal over the next 5 days. Lead with the reason you have chosen that goal, and write the sentence as though you’ve already achieved it.

“I’m excited that I’m living a healthier lifestyle and as part of my goal I will exercise 20 minutes a day for the next 5 days. I will wake-up early each day and so I have time to exercise from 6 to 6:20 a.m. I will keep my exercise clothes and shoes next to the bed to make it easier for me to get up and going.”

    1. On Monday I will walk outside (or on treadmill) from 6 – 6:20 a.m.
    2. On Tuesday I will work out at home with my __ pound weights for 20 minutes. I will do ___ sets of _____________ for my arms and ____ sets of __________ to strengthen my back. I will also do _____ sets of ____________ for my legs, etc.
    3. On Wednesday I will walk outside from 6 – 6:20 a.m.
    4. On Tuesday I will work out at home with my __ pound weights for 20 minutes. I will do ___ sets of _____________ for my arms and ____ sets of __________ for my legs, etc.
    5. On Friday I will walk outside from 6 – 6:20 a.m.

The goal, of course, is to create weekly time-specific, realistic action steps that are right for your change. Gear the time-specific, realistic action steps to your change goal – getting a new job, starting back to school, opening a business, etc. The “20/5/90 Formula” works for everything.

The key is taking time to write a plan each week. Once you begin holding yourself accountable, change becomes easier. As you achieve each day’s step, remember to savor your success, which can make you feel more confident and motivate you to keep moving forward. And, even if you are following the same steps each week, write them down as if they are new each week. Writing is part of the commitment process.

You can do this. You can absolutely create the changes you want in your life.

20 minutes a day, 5 days a week for the next 90 days, is not a huge amount of time and the results can be amazing.

Before too long, you might find yourself committing more time each day to your goals, that’s great, little successes build to big successes by increasing our confidence, congruence and stamina.

Special Tip

I believe it is better to allocate more time per day, than more days per week to your goal and here’s why. If you start doing your time-specific action steps 7 days a week, the odds increase that you might miss a day. Once you miss a day, it’s too easy to fall into a pattern of beating-up on yourself.

 “Man I missed a day, I said I wouldn’t and I did, I never finish anything, I’m lousy at this, why do I even try?”

Any version of a negative thought pattern can easily lead you to throw in the towel on your change process – in fact, it is a very common way to sabotage yourself.

“I didn’t ________________so I must be ___________________.” (Insert any negative term or phrase.) “This is too hard. I will never change. I don’t deserve to do better.”(Your version may sound different, but I think you get the idea.)

While using the “20/5/90 Formula”, do not under any circumstances allow yourself to use a missed day or a shortened time frame from a day to build a case for failure. Okay? You’ve been warned, missing a day is bound to happen, so I suggest creating a support statement to tell yourself, if or when you skip or shorten a day’s assigned activity. I call this your “Getting back on the horse” statement. Make your statement supportive, kind, and energizing.

“I didn’t do ____________, but that doesn’t mean I have to throw in the towel. I really do want change and I’m good at it. I’ve changed and achieved lots of other things in my life. So, even though I missed a day, I’m going to keep going and keep moving forward. I feel great when I do what I say I’m going to do and I really do want to change, so I am going to keep going.”

My example is long, but I wanted to make sure you get a feel for how to write your “Getting back on the horse” statement. As always, use your words, fill in any blanks and go for it. You can do it.

Study after study shows that if our goal is important enough to us; if we are committed to achieving it; if we are specific in our plans, and if we create an environment that provides feedback – change will take place. (“The getting back on the horse” statement is a form of support as is working with a partner on your goal.)

Let’s Do It

If you start on Sunday, April 1 by Friday, June 29, 2012 your change will be a part of your life. No fooling! June 29 might sound far away at the moment, but here’s the thing – June 29 will be here no matter if you change or not, but a new you is guaranteed to be there to greet it, if you follow the “20/5/90 Formula”.  Do you want to find the same old you on June 29 or do you want to meet the new and improved, confident and congruent you?

The choice is yours. I can’t wait to hear about your success!

Wishful Thinking Ways #13

Congruency Champions
Congruency means that things are in agreement; they are in accord. Opposites of congruency are conflict, disagreement and discord.
Why am I bringing this up on such a beautiful spring day? Well, we are at Wishful Thinking Ways week #13. We have spent the past 12 weeks preparing ourselves for creating change in our lives. I want each of us to be super successful with the changes we are undertaking, and I believe becoming our own congruency champion is a great way to do it. (If you are catching-up, see weeks 11 & 12; if you are just getting started with Wishful Thinking Ways, you can go to week 1 or read on and catch-up later.)
Creating change takes action, and action in the direction of our dreams is a form of congruency. It’s walking the walk, not just talking the talk. It’s doing what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it. Taking action is a way to live in accordance with our values, which is another form of congruency.
Congruency, if you let it, can be a powerful motivator and an amazing life enhancer. Here’s how:
After you move in the directions of the dreams/take action/walk the walk, give yourself credit for doing it. Each and every time you accomplish your daily goal (which we will set next week), stop and tell yourself something kind, supportive and energizing. EX: “Wow, I did it. I walked for 30 minutes. I did just what I said I would do. I’m really happy that I did what I said I would. I’m good at doing what I say I will do.”
5 tips to becoming an absolutely great congruency champion:
    1. Be specific – include the action you took when you give yourself credit.
    2. Be you – put your supportive statements in your words; they have to sound right to you.
    3. Be positive – always end with the sentence “I’m good at doing what I say I will do.” It took courage, energy and commitment to do what you did, so you are not exaggerating or lying – you are good at it!
    4. Be consistent – champion yourself each and every time you do what you say you are going to do. Repetition is important when forming a new habit, and becoming your own congruency champion is new for most folks. So no matter how corny or awkward it feels, do it and keep doing it!
    5. Be aware – take 30 seconds to savor the moment, and let yourself feel good about being congruent. (This is an important part of the change process, because taking the walk (writing the page, sending the resume, not-smoking, eating, drinking, or spending the money, etc.) may be difficult, not feel uplifting or rewarding on any given day or in any particular moment, but feeling good about doing what you said you were going to do is an empowering elixir, and if you let it, it can change your life. (You can savor the feeling right after you accomplish the task, at night before you go to sleep, or first thing each morning – pick the time that works for you.)

Change takes change; we’ve talked about that before. And, for many of us, living according to our wishes and giving ourselves credit for doing what we said we were going to do, is new. It is a change. Achieving change takes support. Becoming your own congruency champion is a great way to give yourself the support you need.

I know you can do it!

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