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Unemployed or Under-Employed? Try this Unconventional Solution! April 20, 2010

Posted by franciecooper in life coaching, life lessons.
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If you’ve lost your job, you’re certainly not alone. In February of this year, the Labor Department estimated that 7 million jobs have been lost since December, 2007. While you could look at this as a disaster, you could also see it as a clear message to figure out what you most want to do with your one short life. My unconventional suggestion is to travel!

But, who goes on vacation when you don’t have a job? Isn’t that counter-intuitive, self-indulgent, or worse, stupid?

Not necessarily. As a recent Travel and Leisure article pointed out: “Travel doesn’t need to be luxury spas and hotels. Travel, instead, can be viewed as broadening, an opportunity to expand horizons. So, go. Travel to transform your curiosities, passions, and unexplored talents into marketable new skills. Explore simpler and more satisfying ways of living. Or just regain your perspective, and energy.”

What do you really love to do? If it’s sailing, check out CrewFile for yachting jobs, no experience necessary. Do you love yoga? Train to be a yoga instructor on a tropical Thai island. Have you always wanted to write a novel? Visit a writers’ retreat in a medieval French village. Learn carpentry in a mountain village in Venezuela. Lend a hand on an organic farm in New Zealand.

If those ideas aren’t seductive enough, according to that same article: “Many of these vacations require little or no money. With a bit of initiative, you can volunteer or barter your way around the world. Some cost a bit more, but your savings or severance pay will go a lot further in some parts of the world than it will at home, and using your reserves to invest in a new life makes more sense than watching your bank balance dwindle while you gloomily thumb through your battered copy of What Color Is Your Parachute?

As a matter of fact, though I’m not seeking a new career, I am taking my own advice and traveling next week for a much-anticipated rest and relaxation vacation. I won’t be writing my blog from my beach-front location, but promise to fill you in on the results when I return.

In the meantime, take your own imagination on a vacation and view this slideshow with travel ideas for the newly unemployed.

Announcing the Travel Essay Winner! April 14, 2010

Posted by franciecooper in life coaching, life lessons, Uncategorized.
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Hooray! We have a champ! Congratulations to Judy in Denver for submitting the winning entry in last week’s Travel Essay Contest! She receives the beautiful travel book Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips by National Geographic, PLUS, my favorite one-hour workshop “Work-Life Balance – Yes You Can!” for ten participants.

Before I share Judy’s essay, I want to thank everyone who submitted your travel adventures. Because of the enthusiastic response, I plan to run more contests in the future and hope you will enter again!

So, without further ado (drum roll, please) – Judy’s entry:

Thirty Minutes by the Lake

One of the most profound moments of my life happened early one June morning in the lakes district of Switzerland.

I was traveling with a dozen fifteen-year-old girls and two other adults. Just moving that many people with backpacks through hostels and trains in villages and cities was hectic and sometimes exhausting. We were midway through our 20-day adventure to Germany, Switzerland and Austria. I was feeling the need for alone time, but couldn’t possible do that during the waking hours.

When we arrived at the hostel, I noticed that it was a block from a beautiful lake edged by tall trees. It looked so peaceful and serene that I thought it would be the perfect spot for a much-needed personal respite. So I made a plan: get up an hour before anyone else, grab my camera and head to the lake.

The air was crisp and the sun was just peeking through the trees to sparkle on the water. I was enthralled with the tranquil setting. I was soothed by the beautiful scenery and the sounds of birds chirping.

I noticed an elderly gentleman approaching with a Labrador dog. We smiled and greeted each other in foreign languages. I stood back and watched him throw a dog biscuit into the water for his dog to fetch. His dog was thrilled to swim out to the treat and eat it on his return to shore. Then the man threw out another, and another.

Soon it was time for the old man and his old dog to leave. He turned to me, smiled and waved “so long.” I smiled as they turned to walk down the sunlit path away from me. It was a magical encounter with a stranger and his loyal friend, captured forever on my film.

It’s been 22 years since that enchanting thirty minutes by the lake. Even today when I visualize that morning it brings me great peace and always a smile.


I chose this entry for many reasons. Primarily, I could feel the long-lasting impact this experience had on Judy’s life. I also salute her realization that she needed some alone-time to recharge her batteries and that she did something about it! So often we ignore those nudges, only to wonder why we fall apart later. Finally, I love the imagery. I felt myself on the edge of that lake and it gave me my own moment of respite. Thank you, Judy!

SPAIN! April 9, 2010

Posted by franciecooper in life coaching, life lessons, Uncategorized.
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I must have travel – and the love of a good party surrounded by family and friends –  in my blood.   My mother’s parents immigrated to America from the Andalusian province of Spain and I found this glimpse of that area on a Rick Steves YouTube posting.  It shows colorful  dresses, dancing (flamenco, which my mother did) and sipping adult beverages.  This is my heritage.  I know it in my soul.

Voluntourism April 7, 2010

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According to the Travel Channel, “…opportunities for doing good while traveling are growing.  New York-based Cross Cultural Solutions, with centers in 10 countries, expects to send at least 1,500 volunteers to destinations around the globe this year – nearly double the 854 who participated in its programs a year ago, says executive director Steve Rosenthal.

“Minnesota-based Global Volunteers plans to send nearly 1,700 travelers on volunteer vacations next year. They have recently added new trips to Australia and South America, to keep up with demand.

“Travelers can expect to pay a basic fee for food and lodging (usually about $200 to $1,000 a week), plus airfare to and from the country where they’ll be working.  Those seeking a tax benefit should look at nonprofit organizations alone, and check with each on the individual tax benefits of each volunteer vacation. 

“When researching your own voluntourism experience, be realistic about the amount of time and skill you have to offer.  Don’t sign up to rebuild homes if you don’t have the energy or time to commit yourself fully to the project; give a tax-deductible donation to the organization instead.”

Enter My Travel Essay Contest! April 6, 2010

Posted by franciecooper in life coaching, life lessons, Uncategorized.
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This month we’re shifting our focus from food to travel. To get the party started, I’m running a contest this week:

In 300 words or less, tell me your favorite travel adventure and what you learned from it. The top story wins a beautiful travel book, Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips by National Geographic, PLUS, my favorite one-hour workshop “Work-Life Balance – Yes You Can!” for ten participants.

To jog your interest a bit, let’s think for a moment about why we travel. Do we travel to see new places? To have new experiences? To meet new people? For me, it’s all of those, plus an opportunity for fun, adventure and discovery. When I visit other places, I love gaining a better understanding of the people who live there. I celebrate their cultures and enjoy discovering the similarities and differences between us.

Travel is also refreshing and revitalizing. It’s a psychological break. Vacations recharge my internal batteries and enable me to better handle my work and daily life. I find getaways help sustain my energy and help prevent burn-out.

I also believe that travel fundamentally teaches us that people around the world have the same needs and issues. We all want to keep our families safe and happy. We all want to have enough food and drinkable water. We have a common humanity.

So, enter the contest now! Get out your vacation pix for inspiration and write to me at coach@franciecooper.com about your favorite travel adventure! Can’t wait to read about it!