Ask Barbara: What motivates Us to Take Action?

From Eric:

You have been on an amazing journey. Love that you’ve put it into a book. The fact that it weaves through (or ‘ends’) in Italy is fantastic. My Mom is Italian, and my sister lives in Milan, married with children.

You had some Powerful events that led you to a strong sense of – “Make the most of your time and life.” But…for most people, Barbara, what do you think is the impetus to really roll up our sleeves and challenge ourselves in all ways, on all levels?

What is it that gets us to go for the most authentic, powerful, joyful, abundant expression of ourselves that we can?

Would love to hear your thoughts if you feel so inclined to answer…


Hi Eric,

Thanks for writing such a great letter.

I think we all start our lives with a certain expectation of how it is going to be and when that wears off, we evaluate things differently. Life experiences can either stop us dead in our tracks or it can motivate us to move forward. Near death experiences tend to “instantly” change a person. Dr. Phil says there are “pivotal” moments in everyone’s life that push us into different directions. Of course, you can just wake up one day and say “No more!”


Once you decide to want a certain thing, close off all other distractions or time wasters and focus daily on your goal. Take action every day to move toward it. The more actions in one day the faster you get there. All actions are either going toward or away from you goal. There is no neutral. If today, I decided not to take action, I am actually moving away from my goal because the earth/world is constantly moving and by doing nothing, you are naturally moving away.


We are each born with a natural talent. A skill that we love doing and makes us feel alive and happy to start each day. We feel like contributing productive members of society. To find out what it is, ask yourself this simple question. “If money were no object, how would I choose to spend my day?” At first you may say I want today on the beach and basks in the sun all day on a tropical island, which would be fun for a few weeks, but then gets a little boring. Think more along the lines of create, teach, build, sew, write, draw, help, paint, live, etc. We all want to feel that we are needed, appreciated, and contributing.


I am a natural motivator, salesman, and teacher. I wanted to travel and live in Tuscany. Never did I dream that I would meet Giuseppe and be able to help him promote his family winery and get to travel while using my natural talents.


When you are “basking in your glory”, whatever that is, people, places and events are naturally attracted to you. When you give your best with passion, others automatically want to be a part of what you are doing. Do what you love and radiate joy, then everything else falls into place. Energy attracts energy.


~Barbara Elaine Singer

Life Coach

Jump Start Your Life by Moving to a New City or Country

If your life has stalled or you are tired of chancing the “slave, save, die” mentality- just stop! Then—restart! I did that, and it has worked out beyond my wildest dreams. At age 45, I found myself single, empty nested and in a job that no longer served me. I liquidated my possessions, rented out my house, cut my expenses to almost nothing, traveled to Italy and rented a room from a local woman I found on the internet, even though I didn’t know anyone or speak the language.


New surroundings will change the way you see the world. My new mantra became “collect experiences, not stuff.” Disconnecting from constant news of fear and doomsday, consumerism and junk TV allowed me to enjoy the little things in life again, especially the wonderfully slow pace of European living and the luxury of time. Now I have time to read and go for evening walks in the piazza. I have just two filled suitcases and a computer as my sole possessions, and live with a family in their home. I love not maintaining a house, car or having to managing multiple possessions. I choose to have a passport filled with stamps rather than chasing the illusion of security and waiting for retirement in order to truly “live.”


Once you make the decision, your view of the world changes. From then on your mindset becomes ‘one of movement, mobility and raveling light. For me, n I no longer need anything, and everything is negotiable. I make my choices freely. I choose to spend my time differently. I choose to spend money differently. I choose to live my life differently.’ Choose what is best for you, not what others think is best for you.

Would you rather have a plane ticket or a mortgage?
Would you rather have freedom or a paycheck?
Would you rather have a backpack or a walk-in closet?
Would you rather have a passport filled with stamps or a bank account filled with money?
Would you rather live your dream or watch someone else live it on Reality TV?


Hit the road. Don’t overplan, just go! If you wait until everything is in place you will never go. Decide to meet new people who are living incredible lifestyles now. It will open your eyes and blow your mind.


When I first moved to Italy, it was only supposed to be for four months, a mini retirement. However, once I arrived, I discovered all kinds of opportunities. Don’t think traditional methods such as getting a work visa, getting a contract job, renting an apartment and buying furniture. Keep it light and loose, an “I ‘m just passing through” mentality. Do look for opportunities to provide a service that calls for your natural talents.


You can’t see these opportunities in another part of the world until you are living there. Proximity is power! If the first place you land is not a good fit, move again. My dream was to live in Florence, but once I lived there for a month, I discovered that I loved the green rolling hills of Chianti more, and rented a different room there. That’s where my dream truly materialized.

Achieving a Life Changing Goal

My dream was always to live in Florence, Italy.  At 44- years old, I went from corporate executive, wife, and mother living in the suburbs in Orlandowaiting to-retire mode to single, empty nester, living on a winery in Tuscany with a handsome winemaker.  My motivation came from tragedy.  I was married, met someone new, got divorced to be with this new man and one month after my only child went off to college out-of-state, he died of a sudden heart attack leaving me alone and devastated. I saw first hand how quickly a life can be over and it lit a fire under my chair to get out there and live everyday like it was my last.  It gave me the courage to quit my job which no longer excited me, liquidate and rent my home. With very little money and no real plan, I took off…


After spending a soul-searching year traveling to Alaska in a camper for six weeks with my 70-year-old dad, waiting tables at a marina bar in South Florida where I met Captain Pete and island hopped the Caribbean on his 42 foot Hunter sailboat for 100 days as paid crew, I rented a room in the home of a woman I found on the internet in Tuscany. Even though I didn’t speak the language or know anyone, I followed my intuition. I just knew there was something waiting for me there.


Ten days after I arrived inItaly, I went to a winery as a tourist and met Giuseppe, a handsome third generation wine maker. It was love at first site.  Fortunately, he was single, spoke English with an intoxicating heavy accent and had just starting to promote his wines to theUS. I used my American Marketing and Sales skills to help develop and open up whole new areas of sales.  The following year, I moved into his family home in the hills of Chianti with his parents who don’t speak English, at the winery and helped with the English speaking tourists. Now, 5 years later, we spend our time between theUSandTuscanypromoting his wines, my book and our story.


Each morning when I open the shutters and look out over the vineyards and the valley below, I pinch myself.  I still can’t believe how lucky I am. Florenceis just 40 minutes away by train. The key was letting go and following my heart and not “the traditional rule book” society has taught us. Now, I am passionate about helping others take the leap of faith and start living the life of their dreams.


Lessons learned:

* Don’t over plan. Wing it!  

*Let go of control. Leave remove for serendipity and luck. Don’t over plan.  Wing it!

*Follow, don’t lead. Stay open and eager to see what comes next. It may not come in the package you thought.

*Start where you are. No matter what a mess you have made, your life can totally turn around with one big YES.

*Think outside the box. In order for me to live abroad, I cut all my expenses to nearly nothing which meant liquidating my home and renting just a room from another person.  I am happily “homeless”, have just two suitcases and three monthly bills (health insurance, cell phone and small storage unit) but freedom to go where I choose.

*Don’t let other’s opinions distort yours. They have their own agenda.

*Proximity is power.  Surround yourself with people, places and events that lead to your goal.

*You don’t need to plan out the rest of your life, just take it in three to six month periods and seize opportunities as they come to you.

The Four Stages of Change

Awareness – Knowing that you need to make a change is the first step. Decide that a certain activity or behavior no longer serves you. Change comes by choice or force. You can quit a job or get fired. Look into the future and see what your life will look like if you don’t change and what it will look like with your new behaviors. Gain leverage over yourself and your thoughts. Everything you need is within you. You have the power.


Eliminating– Stop doing the negative behavior. Don’t “try” to change, make a conscientious decision to change, be definite and be certain. Stop buying unhealthy food and no more drive-thru or eliminate toxic people. Continually remind yourself that you deserve a better life. You are a good person and demand more from life. One door must close before another opens. You can’t continue to add to your day without something else being eliminated. Delegate or eliminate mundane tasks that take up your time. Streamline and group tasks together so you only need to think about them weekly or monthly. Be extremely aware of how you spend your precious time.


Creating New – Replace old activities or behaviors with new fun positive ones. It takes 21 days to create a habit. If your daily routine was to come home, pour a drink and plop down in front of the TV after work to de-stress, stop and replace it with driving directly to a park or water and enjoying nature for 15 minutes or hit the gym, go for a bike ride, take a class or come home, turn on your favorite music, light candles, open the blinds and work on mini projects you have been meaning to get to. In the beginning, it will feel strange and you won’t “want to” do it, but do it anyway. Push yourself.


Flying – Once you start feeling the benefits, you will want more good feelings. Use your new energy and excitement to look at other areas of your life that need a boost. Positive attracts positive. Keep the momentum going. If you have a partner that isn’t supporting you, make the changes anyway. You are doing it for you! When you change, the other must react. Be aware when the other is being negative and know that it is not about you, it is about their own insecurities. When you become a better, happier, more joyful you, the other will certainly take notice and hopefully, will then want to participate.

Quality vs. Quantity

Do you feel like your life is spinning out of control and you are being buried under stuff with an unmanageable schedule that has you running from dawn until midnight? STOP, and re-evaluate. This is no way to live. Yes, we are fortunate to live in a society where we can have anything all the time, but too many choices create a different problem. Too much, too many and too often becomes what we don’t want.

Less is more. Less means doing less meaningless tasks and focusing more on things of greater personal importance. Focus on being productive, not busy. Busyness is a trick of the ego that makes you feel important but holds no real value. Judge a successful day by results, not time spent.

When I first year I lived in Italy, I was so impressed that people seemed to have all the time in the world to chat with a customer or say hello to a friend they met in the street. No one was rushing around, tapping their foot in aggravation or shouting into a blue tooth while walking down the street. I quickly learned the “one thing a day rule.” Getting one thing accomplished a day was enough. So choose what will improve the quality of your life and enjoy the process of doing it. Let all the other things fall away as unimportant.

For example, the evening meal IS the event. It is not something we quickly get through to go on to do something else. There is nothing else to do. Without TV or going out to an evening meeting or errand, we enjoy a leisure meal, letting the food digest before we decide if we should have another serving. We put something on our plate and enjoy it, really tasting the flavors. We eat lunch and dinner together, sitting at the table with a table cloth and wine. At first, I was scolded for jumping up to quickly and clearing the plates. Where was I going in such a rush?

In Italy, we enjoy amazing food because we follow the rhythm of the seasons. In summer, we have beautiful fresh vegetables from the garden, eagerly waiting for the first zucchini and beans and eat them all summer long until we don’t want to see another tomato or eggplant. By fall, we are ready for the next season’s food, such a polenta or squash. In winter, we start each meal with hot steaming broth with tiny bits of pasta and finish with different types of cheese. But come spring, we are out preparing the garden again. We don’t eat foreign grown foods or have much ethnic cuisine. We shop everyday and have small mini refrigerators. Quality and freshness are more important than quantity and exoticness.

Same goes with clothing. Europeans don’t have huge wardrobes, just a few pieces of expensive, high quality clothing that are stylish and in fashion and they wear them all the time, then when the new season comes, they add just a few pieces. We wear linen in the summers to stay cool and classic cashmere or wool in winters. A typical closet is a wooden armoire- a piece of furniture, not a walk in closet. Less quantity, high quality.