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 programs for the Naples Florida Regional Library, on Thursday, Febraury2, 2017 at 3 p.m. and at the Fort Myers Beach Library on February 10 at 10:30 a.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.

Macedonia Map

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. In May of 2016 my new husband and I visited Macedonia for a month for our honeymoon. He loved it!

The learning and the fun never has to end!

Delayed gratification, a pleasurable approach?

I’ve updated this post, which I originally wrote  five years ago. It still rings true and was a great reminder for me when I read it this week. Hope it is for you, too.

One of the worst and the best things about being in Peace Corps, is you get to experience delayed gratification at a entirely new level. So many things you once took for granted are out of your reach, but not out of your mind. It’s easy to find yourself day dreaming about your favorite foods, TV shows, movies, stores, restaurants and hundreds of other things that were always there for you.

The good news is: pleasure is in the mind of the beholder. Doing without can be a great way to go within. And, oddly enough the wait for a specific treat, item or service can end-up being even more rewarding than the item or service being craved!

We’ve touched on delayed gratification before, remember the famous marshmallow test with kids? Well, just for fun, I’m suggesting you create mini-marshmallow tests of your own in January with a twist – you don’t get to pick the circumstances, you just get to respond to them. I call these sweet treats “Forced Delayed Gratification”.

The next time, you are dying for something or impatiently waiting – instead of focusing on your desire or discomfort, simply say to yourself:

“Oh, this is a Forced Delayed Gratification situation. Hmm, what are my options here?”

By asking a question, you pull yourself into the moment (within) and away from the situation. Your brain immediately jumps to your aide and begins releasing different hormones and chemicals, which may start connecting to new neurons: Broaden and Build vs Flight or Fight. One little question can flip a switch in your brain and start you on an entirely new neural pathway.

So, what happens after you question your options?

You realize you have lots more options! You can try a distraction technique and begin looking around to notice your surroundings. This will start you down another new mental path as you begin noticing the who, what when, where of the moment.

Or, you can spend a few minutes thinking about something special that happened to you in the past, or something special you are anticipating in the future. This option may sound  silly, but it is much more relaxing and mentally rewarding than feeling stressed, impatient or deprived, and it can actually begin building new positive neural pathways in your brain, which , overtime, can lead to all sorts of positive benefits.

The choice is yours, and here’s the clincher, the choice is always yours. You can flip the switch in your brain anytime. Just like a toddler, your brain can be redirected with a little creativity and gentle nudging.

Try some Forced Delayed Gratifications in the days ahead. With a bit of practice, you’ll be astounded how little you really need to be happy and content and how quickly you can move from one state of mind to another. And, remember the goal is not necessarily to do without, but to spend a few minutes going within. We’re delaying gratification not denying it!

( From 2006-20013, I served three times in the United States Peace Corps and practiced forced delayed gratification almost daily, which gave me plenty of time for positive reverie and new adventures! It was a true blessing in disguise and one I quickly learned to embrace. To read more a bit about my adventures, click here, here, and here!)

You can do it!

Be still

img_20160926_160143-2I enjoyed a fabulous workshop with well-know author and life coach Martha Beck yesterday at Kripalu in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. She was warm,  entertaining and well-versed in all things life-awakening. What a wonderful way to spend a Autumn Monday.

I have been wanting to go to Kripalu for more than a decade and hearing Beck in person was a dream come true – Wishful Thinking Works!

We talked a lot about be-wilder-ment.  Her recommendation – be wilder! I’m in!!! How about you?

Oddly enough, she advises stillness as the path to be-wilder-ment.  Start by being still and let your real self lead you from there. Anything can happen. I know first hand – listening to my true self led me halfway around the world and back again and again!

Get started today with 15 minutes to yourself, meditating or simply relaxing into being you and being more aware of your breathing, your body and the space you occupy. Sitting alone with yourself can feel odd at first, but persevere and the rewards are great.

The physical changes to your brain are real and well-researched. The more often you meditate the greater the benefits; long range mediators’ brains actually grow in the areas that control happiness. In addition, over time you will feel yourself responding more positively and calmly to situations that once caused you anxiety or stress. The warm and cozy feeling it gives me and the lightness of spirit it creates, are enough to keep me coming back for more.

Don’t make excuses, be still, and get started on the life you really want!

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

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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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For free resources to help you create the life you really want, click here.

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

 

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!

Checking expectations

I am giving a presentation today to a wonderful group of Red Hat Ladies on my experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the country of Macedonia where I served from 2006-09. As I was updating my presentation, I came across a post about living abroad I had written in 2013 when I was returning from another short assignment with the Peace Corps in Macedonia.

In the post I shared what I learned about checking my expectations with my luggage; today I am sharing excerpts from that post, along with some tips on letting go.

luggage-646311_960_720While living abroad I quickly learned that some of my richest and most rewarding moments were dependent on how well I adapted when things turned out differently than I expected, which led to an even more valuable lesson – to be truly happy abroad – it’s best to check your expectations with your luggage!

And, guess what? The amazing part of that lesson is it works just as well at home as it does abroad! Letting go of your expectations, is one of the keys to being truly happy – anywhere, anytime. When we let go of what we expect to happen and how we expect others to act and react, the happier and more fulfilling our lives become.

Expectations take-up a great deal of room in our hearts and in our heads and require loads of effort to maintain, which leaves very little space and energy for understanding, communication,  growth, and happiness.

Think about it.

How many times a day do you get frustrated with the actions or non-actions of yourself or others, because you expected yourself or others to act differently?

How many times in your life have you look backward or forward through a very narrow lens, shaped almost entirely by your expectations or the expectations of others? Did not meeting those expectations cause you pain or frustration?

travel-164574_960_720Wouldn’t it be nice to leave all that behind? To give yourself and those around you a break? To unpack your baggage?

Why not give yourself a free and totally unexpected gift by decreasing the expectations you have for yourself and others (past, present and future), which just might  be the gift that gives you more happiness!

A great way to get started is to simply become more aware of the expectations we place on ourselves and others.

  • Next time you feel frustrated or angry – check to see if you have any expectations that weren’t met.
  • Try to identify what your expectations were. Write them down, if you can.
  • Don’t bother at this point trying to determine whether or not you should have expected something, or if you deserve some type of behavior or pay-off. What is key, is becoming more aware of the role expectations play in your life and feelings.
  • Later when you are not in the throes of the situation, you can look at your expectations more objectively and determine if they have value to you and if you need to keep them around or not.
    • If you decide to let them go, next time they pop-up, smile at your brilliance and foresight for being prepared to deal with their arrival, and then breathe deeply and slowly before your react. Repeat as necessary, until your frustration fades and only your congratulatory smile remains.
    • If you decide that a particular expectation is valuable and worth keeping, then spend some time figuring out how to change your situation (on a small or large scale) to ensure your need is met. This process takes time, so be patient and be prepared to do some work, but please don’t beat up on yourself along the way. Just keep moving forward.

I know it isn’t easy to change ourselves or our expectations, but I also know you can do it. In fact, I expect you to!

Just kidding, the choice is yours.

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

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Impossible dreams

IMG_1239I think I might have mentioned that my life caught-up with my dreams in the Peace Corps.

For me that means the “pinch-me” moments came back-to-back.

Such as, pinch me: I can’t believe I celebrated Easter in 2009 with folks I barely knew, eating lamb roasted on a spit, while sipping wine along the water on the Greek Isle of Corfu in the Ionian Sea, which is just south of the Adriatic Sea and an arm of the Mediterranean and I loved every minute of it!

I had an absolutely fantastic time for 5 days at a total cost of $250.  You see, there was a time when I truly believed I would never be on a Greek Island, and certainly not for only $250. (Travel booked in Europe is cheaper than you can ever imagine.)

Oh, I wanted to be on a Greek island; I just couldn’t figure out how it would happen.  Too expensive, too far, too many other places to go first, no time, etc., etc., etc.

IMG_1176

When a door closes . . .

I thought I had to have it all figured out for “it” to happen.

I was wrong.

And, you may be to, about your life and what is ahead.

You don’t have to have it all figured out. You just have to begin imagining what you do want.

That’s what wishful thinking is all about.

Maybe, just maybe, during this beautiful season of rebirth and renewal, you might want to take some time to dream some impossible dreams.

Don’t worry about the details.

We can work on those later.

Postscript: Never sell yourself or your dreams short!

I returned to Corfu for a week in 2016, as part of an amazing extended honeymoon in nearby Macedonia – two dreams coming true – marrying my husband Dan and another trip to Corfu. Now we both share amazing memories of two places I love, Macedonia and Corfu! We returned to Corfu in 2017 as part of a two week Mediterranean trip from Barcelona to Athens. Three times, and once all of it was just a dream . . .

 

wishyright

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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

Wishful Thinking Works Life Coaching

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Changing lives through education

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

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

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

About

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

History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week, and keep dreaming those dreams.

Are we there yet?

Patrice Koerper  Life Coach Wishful Thinking Works Are we there yetI love airports! My heart goes pitter-patter when I know a trip to an airport is part of my travel plans.

I know I’m in the minority on this, but I can’t wait to join the hustle and bustle and become part of the broad mix of people milling about at an airport – the intense, brief-cased business travelers clutching their laptops and cellphones or running to catch a flight, the laid back 20-somethings draped over the seats waiting for whatever’s next, and the elderly couples reading quietly with coordinated carry-ons at their feet.

Patrice Koerper  Life Coach Wishful Thinking Works Are we there yet1I don’t mind waiting in security lines – considering the alternative possibility; I even enjoy the odd sense of camaraderie sliding off my shoes in the company of strangers brings (most folks are super nice at that point). I love watching families and friends reconnecting, and love savoring the nostalgic feelings evoked watching little ones drag blankets, tattered toys, and their parents from concourse to concourse.

To me, flight delays are a door to adventure, especially in international airports. Seven-hour delay in Zürich – no problem – there’s chocolate everywhere; nine hours in Istanbul is like diving into a sea of humanity and well worth the plunge; hanging out in Milan makes me feel trendy and cosmopolitan; Skopje, Macedonia leaves me wanting more, and Amsterdam is loaded with tulips and cheese! Stateside, Lexington, Kentucky is sweet and soft like the bluegrass surrounding it, Philadelphia is the perfect place for an ice cold beer, Cleveland is the gateway to family and friends, and the Tampa trams in my hometown make my coming and goings a breeze.

I’m a pretty good flier. I’ve learned to carry my favorite snacks, gum, and Chapstick, a book that I’ve previewed so I’m guaranteed a good read, and a notebook for jotting down my thoughts or planning a project – but I still over pack and I’m a sucker for those SkyMall catalogs. Who thinks of that stuff, and why is it easier to convince me at thirty thousand feet than on the ground that having a “Big Bang Theory Singing Plush” toy singing Sheldon’s favorite “Soft Kitty” song will enhance my life or that of one of my friends?

A Family AfarOn the upside of free, in-flight reading, I usually learn something new from airline magazines, and sometimes even find an article worth dragging the entire magazine along with me to my final destination. In fact, I just reread my favorite in-flight magazine article ever, “A Family Afar” in the May issue of Hemispheres, United’s in-flight magazine. I found myself LOL at the humorous trials and tribulations of family vacations shared by readers, which quickly brought to mind the wonderfully chaotic family car trips of my youth with at least 4 of my 8 siblings in tow: The fun of yelling “shotgun” as we stepped out of the front door onto the porch (everyone knows you have to be outside to make it stick), getting to sit in the “way back”, and arguing over backseat window placement – car sickness had its privileges.

Reading the article revived even sweeter memories of my now grown sons using their beloved Fisher Price tape recorder in the backseat of our car on a trip to the Eastern Shore to record very detailed potty talk. Somehow we missed hearing their lively opinions on the subject until years later when we discovered the tape and the joy of their sweet little voices, hysterical laughter, and preoccupation with personal hygiene was more touching than troublesome. And, yes I still have it somewhere! MB900174022

The article also included the fun family travel stats listed below; I thought they might bring a smile to your face, send you on a trip down memory lane, or at least prepare you for what might lie ahead this summer . . .

FAMILY TRAVEL BY THE NUMBERS

“Each year at least 5 million U.S. family vacations include representatives from three generations.

Parents traveling with children make up approximately 30 percent of U.S. adult leisure travelers.

Grandparents traveling with grandchildren represent 7 percent of U.S. adult leisure travelers.

Family travelers take an average of 4.5 trips each year (with grand­parents often footing the bill).

65 percent of Americans who have been on family trips describe the experience as relaxing.

24 percent of Americans say they usually need a vacation after they return from a family trip.”

And, my favorite, “Children ages 6 and younger ask “Are we there yet?” an average of 13 times during a one-week vacation.”

Get your summer off to a memorable start, by calling your parents (they might pay); packing the car or buying some tickets. Then schedule a second vacation to recover from the first, and don’t forget to set the electronic device of your choice to “record” for your kids. You never know, it just might reduce the numbers of “Are we there yet?”, and is sure to give you something to smile about in the future. And, after all isn’t that what family vacations are all about?

What are your favorite family vacation stories and memories?  We’d love to hear them. What was your best trip? Reliving the fun is a great way to start the week.

Wishful Thinking Works post #319 and counting . . .

167255_10150089374767695_7386712_nPatrice Koerper is a life coach, consultant and blogger @ Wishful Thinking Works,

who believes everyday should feel a little bit like summer vacation! 

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