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Cool Beans! May 25, 2010

Posted by franciecooper in life coaching, life lessons, Uncategorized.
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This past weekend we had house guests from Denver, Colorado who brought a great hostess gift – beans!

“So,” you might be wondering, “why in the world is Francie telling me about beans?” Because these aren’t just plain, ordinary beans – these are special beans. They come from a wonderful non-profit in Denver called the Women’s Bean Project. Here’s a little history:

Jossy Eyre, a social worker, founded the Women’s Bean Project in 1989 as a result of her volunteer work at a day shelter for homeless women. Eyre saw that while the shelter kept women safe, it couldn’t help them make lasting changes in their lives. Around that same time, Eyre noticed that her friends were changing their eating habits and eating more beans than meat, so she had a brilliant idea! She took $500 of her own money, bought a mountain of beans, and put homeless women to work, packaging bean soup. It was the first step in building the $1.7 million social enterprise it is today.

Their product offerings have expanded to include salsa mixes, spice rubs, coffee beans and jelly beans in addition to soups and chili, along with gift baskets, baking mixes and much more. You can see the inner workings of the Women’s Bean Project in this clip from The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

This story is, to me, a shining example of the difference one person can make. I hope it inspires you as much as it has inspired me.

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One Reader’s Commitment May 19, 2010

Posted by franciecooper in life coaching, life lessons, Uncategorized.
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In yesterday’s post, I challenged readers to commit to doing something to serve others.  I loved the following  response from one generous, thoughtful soul:

“I’ve been thinking about this one. And I like to do things for those close to me. So I’m going to offer my handyman services to my friends. And also my computer skills.

Also just thinking of others and reaching out to them. Giving them a call. Writing a letter. Sending a card. Whatever.”

This commitment is so heartfelt and can be a real lesson for me and, hopefully, for others as well.  

Sometimes in an attempt to reach as many people as possible, we forget to take care of those closest to us.  If we do that, won’t the ever-increasing circle of good widen and expand naturally?

Being of Service to Others=Greater Happiness May 18, 2010

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Have you decided yet how you want to serve the greater good? In my research this past week, I’ve discovered a few websites that might help you decide and actually get started.

First, we all know that President Obama has called on all Americans to participate in our national recovery by serving in our own communities. Did you know there is a website to facilitate that? It’s www.serve.gov. You can enter your zip code and find myriad opportunities listed, from grant writer to gift shop volunteer at the local hospital. Serve.gov is managed by the Corporation for National and Community Service, another great site to visit.

You could also try www.idealist.org. On this site you can not only search for volunteer gigs, you can also find paying jobs in non-profits, plus resources for international voluntarism.

Finally, take a look at www.volunteermatch.org. When I entered my zip code on this site I found opportunities ranging from event chair for a 5K Run in the Dark, to mowing lawns for the mentally ill, to golf tournament help, to dog park volunteer, to theater jobs, to cosmetology. This site also had a cool volunteer posting with Petals for Patients. They need someone to make arrangements with donated flowers for individuals who are hospitalized. Did you know this opportunity even existed? I didn’t!

There is just so much need out there, friends. Do you have a few hours a month to help someone else? Remember, you will also gain from the experience yourself. You may acquire job new skills. You might make professional contacts or new friends. I know for sure you will achieve greater life satisfaction.

Please email me this week and let me know what you’ve decided to do. I’ll post your commitments on my blog which I’m sure will serve to inspire others to do more too. Thank you for you generosity and kindness.

What’s the Diff? May 11, 2010

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May is “Make a Difference” month on my personal list of topics to ponder, discuss and manifest this year. By making a difference, I refer to doing something for the greater good, looking outside myself to help someone else.

My favorite positive psychology expert, Dr. Martin Seligman, says the most effective path to happiness comes from leading a meaningful life – in other words, using our personal strengths to serve some larger end.

In an experiment called “Philanthropy versus Fun,” Seligman divided his psychology students into two groups – one that pursued pleasurable activities, like going to the movies or eating delicious chocolate, and another group which engaged in philanthropic activities like volunteering at a soup kitchen or reading to the blind.

Guess what? The happiness feel-good factor of the fun was nothing compared to the lasting happiness of doing altruistic acts.

I believe that doing good things for others will not only make you feel happier, according to Seligman, it will be lead to happiness at your highest level!

This week I invite you to join me in asking yourself a few important questions:

Viva Mexico! May 4, 2010

Posted by franciecooper in life coaching, life lessons, Uncategorized.
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Last week I enjoyed a fabulous getaway with three girlfriends to Cozumel, Mexico, where we snorkeled, snoozed, sipped, shopped, sunned – and swatted a lot of mosquitoes!

First, housekeeping stuff: I want you to let you know we were completely safe. The resort in which we stayed was gated, but even when we ventured off-site for a self-guided jeep trip around the island, no one in our party felt ill-at-ease or threatened. Before our trip we read of the violence in Mexico, but it wasn’t apparent to us in Cozumel.

Secondly, the transportation was flawless – both air and land. We experienced no delays, lines, excessive security, nor airport timeshare assaults. Again, you can’t believe all the negative press you hear and read.

A final housekeeping matter, we ate and drank to our hearts’ content, and still avoided the dreaded gastrointestinal issues.

As for the fun stuff, our resort was immaculate and populated by a flock of hot-pink flamingos and several prehistoric-looking iguanas, all of whom devoured juicy red watermelon provided daily by their caretakers. There were also peacocks and peahens strutting around the property, the males regularly fanning and vibrating their plumes, vying for the females’ affections. Nature put on amazing shows for us!

The sand, sun, and surf were equally alluring. The water was clear, cool, and incredible shades of blue, ranging from turquoise to midnight. While snorkeling Palancar and Columbia reefs, we swam through schools of parrot fish and marveled up-close-and-personal at lobster, stingray, and sea turtles.

What the best part of the trip? Besides relaxing, having no schedule, and laughing uncontrollably with dear friends, I loved meeting the kind, helpful, and hardworking Mexican people. Their 24/7 commitment to cooking, cleaning, entertaining and problem-solving was impressive. I returned tanned, refreshed, energetic, and ready to get back to Coaching  clients to create their most excellent lives.