After spending ten days with my siblings in Lucca, Italy, I planned to take the train back to Venice, have a bonus afternoon in my favorite city, then fly home the next day. That plan began to unravel  when I went to buy my train ticket and discovered a 24-hour strike was scheduled for exactly the time I wanted to travel.

I made numerous telephone calls to find an alternative option, but was assured that some trains would still  be running. What I wasn’t told was that I’d be making a five hour sidetrip to Bologna. That little surprise didn’t […] Continue Reading…

Not long ago, I sent myself a card that caught my eye at Trader Joe’s. “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” it challenged.

While there are many ways to measure success, one of the best is adding up the number of Firsts in your life. When we’re children, everything is a first. As time goes on, many people simply cease doing anything that is not a repeat of a past performance.

It’s the path to early senility.

How can you experience a life filled with Firsts? How can you find yourself exclaiming, “I’ve never done that […] Continue Reading…

I make no secret of the fact that I’m in the midst of a love affair with Venice. It almost didn’t happen.

My first visit was decades ago when I participated in a whirlwind tour of Europe. We zipped through Venice, were escorted to a glass factory store specializing in selling over priced goods to tourists and whisked away.

I was not impressed.

It wasn’t until 1999, on a short stay with my daughter, that I began to uncover the charms of Venice. Suddenly I understood why artists, poets, writers and musicians kept returning for fresh inspiration.

In its’ heyday, it was a […] Continue Reading…

Almost anytime I mention my siblings to someone who’s never met them, they smile and say, “You have the most interesting family.”

Although I think that my siblings are all fascinating people, I sometimes forget what a uniquely adventurous group we are. Until three years ago, getting together was a rare event that insured we were all on our best behavior when we congregate, but I think it goes much deeper than that.

Our siblings are, after all, the longest relationships most of us have. That shared history, no matter how good or how bad, lays a foundation that can’t quite […] Continue Reading…

Several years ago, I confessed to the participants in my Making a Living Without a Job seminar that I was mysteriously drawn to learning to play poker. A man, who looked as if he might have sat at a few poker tables himself, shook his head and said, “You won’t be good at it.”

I laughed and said I knew exactly what he meant. After all, when I was in high school my mother had warned me by saying, “Your problem, Barbara, is that you wear your heart on your sleeve.”

It was not intended as a compliment, of course.

Although I […] Continue Reading…

What many people fail to realize is that dreams are extremely fragile—especially in their early days. Dreams need to be nurtured and surrounded by support.

Here are a handful of easy ways to get your dreams off to a great start.

° Passion must be present. While a dream may be born in passion, it’s up to you to keep it alive. If you’re halfhearted and lukewarm about them, your dreams will never come true.

One way to keep passion high is to spend a few minutes every day visualizing the successful completion of your dream. How does it look, smell, taste, sound, feel? […] Continue Reading…

                     They’re your dreams; it’s your life. No one else is going
              to make things right for you. Only your actions can provide the
              kind of life you want.
                                                           Harry Browne

Marnie loves the symphony, but with a business in its infancy season tickets are a bit out of reach. That didn’t stop her from enjoying the full spectrum of concerts last year, however.

She became an usher at Symphony Hall and heard every note. In addition, she was […] Continue Reading…

Early last year, I got a request from Marianne Cantwell to participate in a video project she was putting together.  It seemed simple enough  when she first proposed it.
Marianne asked me and several others to answer in a sentence or two the question, “What do you wish you had known when you were eighteen?”

I began thinking about my eighteen-year-old self and realized that like most people that age, I was busily trying to figure out what I thought.
What kind of life did I want to have for myself? Was it easier to settle for an uninspired life or listen […] Continue Reading…

Walter Swan was a 75-year-old retired plasterer and eighth grade flunk out who conceived a wild dream. For years Swan had entertained his wife and their eight children with stories about growing up in the deserts of Arizona. Although he could barely read or write, Swan had a dream of turning his memories into a book.

In 1951, he taught himself to type with two fingers and began writing down his stories. His wife corrected and retyped the book. Then Swan optimistically sent his manuscript to several publishers. They all turned him down.

Discouraged by the rejection, Swan packed the manuscript […] Continue Reading…

Several years ago, a television interviewer asked Sophia Loren the secret of her success. The actress didn’t hesitate for a moment. “I am successful,” she replied, “because I was willing to give up being anonymous.”

It appears that anyone who ultimately achieves their dreams has a clear idea what the trade-off was that was needed to accomplish it. It’s a characteristic often lacking in those who attribute their lack of success to bad breaks, circumstances over which they had no control or lack of money.

Money, in fact, becomes a popular scapegoat in stories about failure.

Most often, however, our dreams are […] Continue Reading…