Today is my birthday . . .

I love birthdays! The fun never fades, mainly because I have been lucky enough to share my birthdays with my fabulous family and friends. This year is no exception. My birthday week got off to a great start; I spent Sunday with some of my favorite Macedonian friends in sunny Florida. Being with them reminded me of one of my best birthdays ever . . .

Four years ago, while I was in the Peace Corps, I hosted a wonderful party at my friends brand new B&B in the rural village of Dihovo, Macedonia. (In Macedonia, the birthday guy or gal hosts the festivities or treats his/her friends!) The party was Villa Dihovo’s grand opening; we ate and danced ourselves silly. Special thanks to Pece and Renata and their family for putting up with our American antics and to my awesome fellow PCVs – Dao, Kate and Mary for their culinary creations that day. Thanks also go to my friends, Barb and Sharyn, who were visiting from the States and joined the fun cleaning and cutting veggies! Super great memories at the foothills of the Baba Mountains. Since then, I have spent many amazing days and nights in Dihovo.

You can check out the Villa Dihovo web site, here, and read more about it and Macedonia in the Lonely Planet Guide to the Western Balkans. The section on Macedonia was written by a great guy and good friend of mine, Chris Deliso, who is a prolific travel and political writer. To read more about Macedonia, click here and here, and you can find more posts and photos if you select “Visit Macedonia” from the drop-down list in the “Select Categories” box on the Wishful Thinking Works home page.

My posts and the Lonely Planet Guide also have information about Villa Patrice/Patricia, which was the second B & B to open in Dihovo, and is owned by my kind and caring friends, Saso and Nevenka. Their villa is named after me, but they did all the work, spending years creating the perfect place for you to visit, relax and renew. A few hours on their tranquil balcony with its village and mountain views will refresh your spirit. And, no matter where you stay when you visit, a walk around the village of Dihovo will transform your soul.

Thanks for joining me as I walked down my birthday memory lane. To all my friends and family in the States and abroad, please know that I will be thinking of you throughout the day and the many, many ways you have touched my life and made it richer, deeper, gentler, and more fun. Thank you!

And to all my readers, my birthday wish for each of you is that wherever you are and whatever you are doing when you read this, I hope you take a few minutes to let a friend or family member know how much they mean to you. Please don’t wait for a special occasion to let someone you care about know the difference they’ve made in your life.

And, if you are in the mood, I’d love to hear about your birthday memories and traditions. What’s your favorite way to celebrate or your all-time best celebration? What’s your cake of choice – cheesecake, chocolate or anything as long as there’s frosting?

 

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One year ago today . . .

This week I finally got back to Dream Café, and had a perfect cup of cappuccino and a delicious Choco Loco! If you live in Bitola visit Dream Café in New Bitola by the pazzar for a one of their delicious hot or cold coffee drinks – they are dreamy! I will be there this Saturday.

One year ago today . . .

As bad as our economic crisis is, the economics of life in Macedonia are much worse.  Double digit unemployment is a way of life – 30%+ is normal, and yet the entrepreneurial spirit prevails.

I am continually humbled by the number of people here, who are creating the lives they want as they tip-toe through and leap over the obstacles in their paths. 

Here are the results of believing your dreams can come true . . .

Dream Cafe, Bitola, Macedonia

My friends Pece and Marie are a unique couple in many ways.  They have successfully blended their cultures, and use their many talents to combine their dreams.  I was thrilled to be here for the opening of their new café.  I spent many, many Saturday mornings with friends at their previous café in the old Turkish market in Bitola.  “Dream Café” is in a great location, next to the new green market in Bitola.

Pece and Marie

Their cappuccino is the best in Macedonia. (My close up shot of a perfect cup was not so perfect – next visit!)  Pece is a coffee connoisseur, blending each batch of beans with just the right amount of options for his customers.

Every special event means great chocolates will be on-hand for guests.

 

Lots of delicious choices, even better then Starbucks - alcohol allowed. :-)

 

Friends old and new, Nikola, Jovan and Dan, enjoying coffee.

Pece and Marie make and serve each cup with pride and precision!

Pece capturing a moment. Seating inside and out.

Congratulations again, to my two wonderful friends Pece and Marie and their sweet little daughter and son. I can’t wait for my next cup of cappuccino.

 

Macedonian Dream Weavers II

What happens when a man in a tiny rural Macedonian village wants to preserve his country’s past? 

Well, in the beginning everyone tells him he is crazy, asks what he wants with that “old junk”, or tells him no one will ever come to see it.

Lucky for us, Boris Tanevski ignored the naysayers and his passion and persistence prevailed.  Today Muzej Filip (Museum Phillip) is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.

According to his third oldest daughter, Katrina, a college freshman, Boris began collecting bits and pieces of Macedonia’s history about twenty years ago. Somewhere along the line he added larger items like cars and motorcycles. (Finding cars as old as his in Macedonia that run and are in such great condition is unbelievable.)

Over time, Boris turned even his skeptical wife, three daughters and son into believers. (Boris doesn’t speak English, and my Macedonian is not good enough for all the questions I was asking so, Katrina kindly acted as our interpreter.) When his collection outgrew his home and garage, he expanded his plans and built a museum on his property to artfully display his unique collection! 

Because Boris did not give up on himself or his dreams, foreigners can slip into a world unknown to many of them for only 100MKD (about $2.20) and Macedonians can learn more about their past for 50MKD. 

After spending time in the museum, guests can relax in the Tanevski’s beautifully landscaped and traditionally decorated yard surrounded by more rural treasures while enjoying complimentary home-grown seasonal fruit with a glass of homemade rakjia or wine or a cup of  Turkish coffee.

Boris and his family offer the perfect combination of history and hospitality. When we called to check times, Boris decided that since he was going to be in Bitola, he would simply pick us up and drive us to their village of Krklino. How’s that for service? (They also called a cab for us when we reluctantly had to head back to town, at a cost of less than $3.50 for three of us.)

The total experience – priceless. 

A testament to Boris Tanevski!

 

The rest of it.

Antique Turkish Indoor Fire Pit. He had a number of these copper cookers.

Love this. Check out the keys.

 

So beautiful.

Boris and his family have carefully combined the artifacts into various settings, including a Turkish, a Jewish and ancient village rooms.

 

The Village Room

 

Tin and brass vessels in all shapes and sizes.

 

Katrina, and her Grandmother's traditional clothes.

 Check out the Muzej Filip web site, the intro is in English and offers more photos.

 And, don’t forget to dream big!

 

Patrice Koerper is a certified life coach and motivational speaker. She has created the life she really wants by combining coaching and speaking with travel and projects in Macedonia. From 2006-2009, Patrice lived in Macedonia as one of only 425 volunteers over the age of 50 serving worldwide in the United States Peace Corps.

In 2010 she returned to Macedonia with American guests for a special cultural tourism program she developed, “Experience Macedonian: Enjoy Europe as it used to be”. The “Experience Macedonian” posts reflect their travels.

Patrice is returning to Macedonia in 2011 for six weeks – September through October. She is offering her unique 2 to 4 weeks cultural tours to a small group of friendly, flexible, adventurous travelers. In 2012 Patrice is planning life coaching retreats in Macedonia and Greece. For more information on these exciting travel and life-changing opportunities, please email her at wishfulthinkingworks@gmail.com

“Happiness is . . .”

 
“Happiness is my constant traveling companion, if I only remember to open my suitcase.” 
One of my favorite quotes, and it is mine! Pretty tacky quoting myself, I know, but when you are enjoying yourself as much as I am, why not? 
  
If a picture is worth a thousand words, can you tell what this one is saying?
 

Me, happy in the Village of Dihovo with my Macedonian and American friends around the table enjoying dinner together - great food and friends - one of those magical cross-cultural moments.

   

A few more quick pics from Dihovo before we head to new sites.    

    

Church in Village of Dihovo just outside of Bitola

 

Church in rural village of Dihovo

 

This storybook house is across from Villa Patrice in Dihovo. Each time I see it I think of Hansel and Gretel, bez (without) the witch. The Babas (Grandmas) here and the magic of the nearby mountains, are all good.

 

  

The Babas abound and are always willing to share a smile.

 

Seeing old friends and making new ones – has been a special part of the fun. Sharing it all with Americans, who have never been here before and seeing their excitement and enjoyment – priceless.      

A walk down the Shirok Sokak in Bitola led us south to the park and a nearby village-like community where we then followed the road (less than 1 km) to Heraclea, a town founded by Philip II of Macedonia in the middle of the 4th century BC.       

As a Peace Corps volunteer, I spent many a sunny afternoon reading at the top of the Roman theater where gladiators and lions and Christians engaged in violent combat centuries later.  The expansive view and historic experience is mesmerizing.    Let me know what you think.   

    

Heraclea Lyncestis, ancient town first built by Phillip II of Macedonia

 

The dark grey seats are original.

 

 

Heraclea Lyncestis was first developed in 4th century B.C

 

Heraclea Lyncestis was a stop on the ancient Roman Road, Via Egnatia

 

"Box seats" at Heraclea - the Roman Period

 

 

Beautiful mosaics, did I mention they are ancient?

 

Religious messages and amazing colors.

 

    

The themes vary, the artistic quality remains intact.

 

   

Love this one, wonder what it means????

 

   

And this one . ..

 

   

It's ancient art!

 

   

Ancient artifacts at Heraclea are everywhere, and out in the open.

 

   

And, because no day – sightseeing or not – in Macedonia is complete without a salad . . .  

   

140 MKD about $3.00 of roasted perfection. Stuffed grape leaves included.

 

           

Eggplant, even alone, is still perfect and available just about everywhere for even less!
 
That’s all for now folks.  Thanks again to my fellow travelers in Macedonia for sharing their photos.  See you soon.
 

Patrice Koerper is a certified life coach and motivational speaker. She has created the life she really wants by combining coaching and speaking with travel and projects in Macedonia. From 2006-2009, Patrice lived in Macedonia as one of only 425 volunteers over the age of 50 serving worldwide in the United States Peace Corps.

In 2010 she returned to Macedonia with American guests for a special cultural tourism program she developed, “Experience Macedonian: Enjoy Europe as it used to be”. The “Experience Macedonian” posts reflect their travels.

Patrice is returning to Macedonia in 2011 for six weeks – September through October. She is offering her unique 2 to 4 weeks cultural tours to a small group of friendly, flexible, adventurous travelers. In 2012 Patrice is planning life coaching retreats in Macedonia and Greece. For more information on these exciting travel and life-changing opportunities, please email her at wishfulthinkingworks@gmail.com

Catching-up.

I’m baaa-ack! 

I know, I know, I have missed a number of posts. I really am sorry.  (Thanks to those who complained – nice to know you care.)   :-)    

My excuse?  Traveling, working and preparing for travel. Not much of an excuse, but true and oh, so wonderful.    

You see, I am leaving tomorrow on a dream trip – two months in Macedonia.     

Remember that whole “creating the life you want” thing?  Well, this trip is a result of Wishful Thinking working  I am returning to the people and places I love in the country where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer for three years.   

LOOKING BACK    

I returned to the States from my Peace Corps assignment on July 26, 2009.  I arrived happy – I had just lived three of my best years; excited – I was going to see family and friends, who I loved and had missed so much; and frightened – I was starting over, I had given up my job and left behind my house when I decided to join the Peace Corps, and was wondering then “What’s next?”    

To make sure that I kept going no matter how scared I got, I followed “My Courage Diet”  (lots); focused on my goals (always, see below); talked to my friends (lots, thank you and see below); and constantly reminded myself to enjoy what unfolded along the way (lots and always).     

Guess what, it worked!    

My three “re-entry” goals were:    

  1. Personal: Spend lots and lots of time with family and friends.   Done and continuing:  Three 2-6 week trips “up north” and many overnight stays in multiple Florida cities made possible by my sweet, funny, interesting, and warm family and friends, who opened their homes and hearts, which allowed me to reconnect with the people I love.  I was there for the birth of my second grandson, one year ago today; to talk with my 90 year old Dad, who is still going strong (I will be posting soon  about how he is creating the life he wants while dragging around oxygen tanks!); to reunite with some of my best Peace Corps buddies in Philly where we first met as Peace Corps prepared us to head overseas; to hang out with my siblings, one-on-one and en masse – there are 8; to laugh and cry with friends about this, that and some other things; and to spend so much time with my sons and their families that they don’t mind one little bit that I am heading out again
  2. Professional: Get my life coach certification and begin helping others create the life they want.  Done and ongoing!  Became certified in the fall of 2009; began blogging immediately, conducting workshops in Florida and Ohio soon after and coaching clients this summer.  Each step has been absolutely fantastic! Thanks to all who helped make it happen – including you the reader.
  3. Personal and Professional: Return to Macedonia in a year to see friends and to bring Americans back with me for month-long stays. Done and ongoing! In 24 hours, I will be heading to Macedonia. While I am there, five adventurous Americans (my goal was four) will be joining me for three to four weeks. I will be sharing my favorite places in Macedonia with them and introducing them to my favorite people. How cool is that!  This is the inaugural trip of a new venture, which next year will be expanded to include Wishful Thinking Works life coaching retreats – but more about that in a future post.

This past year, well 13.5 months to be exact, has been phenomenal and exceeded all of my expectations.     

Thank you to each person, who helped make this year one of my best, including, but not limited to: Nate, Tim and Luann, Jonas and Dylan, Jeanne Marie, Judy and Larry, Kathy and Jan, Geri and Dave, Debbie and Tony, Jimmy and Sherrie, Bunny and Greg, Dad, Nellie (Special thanks!), Marci and Jeff, Dao, Malinda and Mark, Elizabeth, Charlene, Michel, Darlene, Pat,  Jan, Sandy, Mattie, Sue P., Sharyn, Barb, Susan, Anne R., Eric and Paula, Glenda, Anne, Sally, Gretchen and Greg, Dawn, Crystal, Cindy, Sarah, Jesus, Mary, Sue R., Sue E., David, Angela, Virginia, Jim, Joe, the Rotary guys, and my workshop and coaching clients. I truly appreciate everything you did.  You are wonderful, and have made my life a rich, fun and fulfilling place to be! Thank you.    

LOOKING FORWARD     

 

Macedonia

I will be posting from Macedonia twice a week.  I am planning on Mondays and Fridays, but since Internet access will vary depending on where I am staying, posting days may differ – but I promise to post twice a week from the road.  I may phone post sometimes – for those of you who have not heard an audio post you can listen to my first here.    

What to expect?    

  • Interviews with my fellow travelers and interesting folks from Macedonia.
  • Funny stories – there are bound to be a few. 
  • Touching tales – those moments when the world grows smaller and you can feel your heart expanding.
  • Life lessons learned along the way. 
  • And, photos, finally, photos!  (The whole photo thing scares me, but I am stepping-up – wish me luck!)

Please join us for the journey.     

If you have questions about Macedonia or our journey this year or next, feel free to comment here or email me at wishfulthinkingworks@gmail.com.  And, please share the blog with your friends so they can travel along with us: www.wishfulthinkingworks.com     

To get you in the mood, here are great links about Macedonia.    

CNN Video/Macedonia           CNN Video/Ohrid              

CNN/Popova Kula                  CNN/Skopje     

CNN/Snapshots                      Canadian Video/MK    

Culture in Macedonia             Village Dihovo Images    

Exploring Macedonia              Heraclea Lyncestis     

Macedonian Language            Ohrid      

Ohrid Pearls                           Tikves Winery     

 

Until we meet again (next week) “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”                                                     Christopher Robin to Pooh, A.A. Milne    

If I were you, I would go for it.  I know you can!    

PS:  I did some Link and Page updates even though I wasn’t posting. Check out the Life Coaching Link to learn all about the new programs I am offering.  I will be coaching while I am on the road. If you are ready, so am I.     

Today is the perfect time to begin creating the life you want.   

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