Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Essential Ingredient – #1 January 15, 2010

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I was thinking this morning about music, my constant companion. I didn’t grow up in a “musical family”, by which I mean that except for my sister’s occasional piano playing and a brief period when she actually took accordion lessons, the only other person that played anything was me with my previously mentioned 4th grade violin lessons. Oh yeah, in junior high school the same sister gave me a really nice harmonica so I fooled around with that for awhile. But that’s it – there weren’t any REAL musicians among us. Nonetheless, I do remember a lot of music when I was growing up.

My dad would often play one of his big band records on Sundays while he cooked our dinner. Louis Prima, Glenn Miller, and the Dorsey brothers were staples in the rotation. Sometimes he would dance with my mom, one of my sisters or me and the sense of joy he felt in hearing this music was contagious. Often he would sing too – I remembered thinking as a child that he could have been an opera singer if he’d wanted to. My mother always sang us an assortment of goofy songs (In My Merry Oldsmobile, Down in the Valley in the Itty Bitty Pool) that she often embellished with humming since she would forget a lot of the words. My parents had an old stereo console in the dining room which housed an odd collection of albums on either side; Romance Italian Style, Mutiny on the Bounty, Jumbo and Frank Sinatra among them.

Us kids had an old vinyl record-player on which we listened to the Beatles, the Monkees and Bobby Darin – 45’s. I carried around my brother’s old transistor radio when I went to my friend’s house to play. As we got older I recall that my older siblings were always listening to something – I remember my brother’s Herb Alpert, Three Dog Night, and Dave Mason Albums. My oldest sister’s, Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin (I recorded Stairway to Heaven on my hand held cassette tape player three times) and my other sister’s extensive album collection which was conveniently located right across the hall from me.

I can easily recall my first album (Aqualung by Jethro Tull), my first stereo –  a mish-mash of hand me down components with a new turntable and the songs, albums and artists that marked each year of my life from about 7th grade on. I guess what I am trying to say here is – I love music. But it goes beyond love – it feels essential. To this day, I would say that I rarely choose silence over the sounds of music. I may favor some genres but appreciate a broad variety of sounds and styles. It lifts me up, calms me, keeps me company, brings me to tears, makes me dance, inspires me and just provides a sense of completion – it is my constant companion and dear friend.  Just thought I’d share…

 

Five Minutes Ago I was a Cromagnon January 13, 2010

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Evolution – the personal kind – not the apes to humans thing (though – maybe it’s true for that kind as well) is a constant. Each day we wake, we do, we feel, we interact, we start again. And even if it seems that the day is fundamentally the same as yesterday, it is not, it is new, each moment is new. We are alive and here – working our way toward the end and its indeterminate date of arrival with a constant movement forward at least as far as time and aging goes. But what we make of each of our days here is unwritten. Despite our best laid plans and expectations for what we will do today or tomorrow or next year there is absolutely no guarantee that anything is going to turn out that way.

How we interact with that march of time, the constant gamble, the choice of how we want to live each day is totally up to us despite all that is not in our control. We all know of one of those amazing stories of courage and resilience about a person who experiences some horrific life changing catastrophe and goes on to live a life full of fulfillment in a new direction than they ever imagined before. Or of a life crushing trauma that sent another person into a tail-spin of despair from which they never recover completely. There are a lot of factors that weigh in on the conclusion; mental health, financial resources, support systems, etc. but there is also the personal factor – the person involved.

What’s the expression? One person’s loss is another’s gain? What I am suggesting here is that that little quote is as much a personal orientation as an outward product. And to some degree – it is a choice that we get to make every moment of our lives. Right now, without having to think about it too hard I can think of five people I know (or maybe that would be 10) who are going through a divorce. And it is not an overstatement of fact to say that this is a devastating experience, no matter how amicably and equitably it transpires, particularly if there are children involved. And yet it is also such a huge fundamental shift in the day-to-day existence of the people involved that it is also probably one of the biggest “do-overs” we will ever be presented with in our lives. But even if we are not going through a change as dramatic as a divorce in many ways each day, each moment provides another opportunity to be different then we were before.

My day started out kind of weird today. I was having a hard time getting going and wrapping my brain around all that I had to do, and then I had a conversation with a friend. Something in that conversation reminded me of “the why” of what was on my list – the things I value, the things I am responsible for and how they interact with my dreams – and my energy shifted. I cannot predict what my day will be like exactly, but I don’t have to, in this moment I have a focus – I am moving forward, making the best of a little free time. No guarantees, and for right now, I am okay with that.

 

A Message from the Pasture January 11, 2010

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It’s not all “ups, ups and more ups” she says, stealing a line from a friend. We all know this, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. Life is tough. It is a steady stream of challenges and obstacles and our choice is often to confront them or be bowled over by them. And sometimes, sometimes you’re going to have a day when you just don’t have it in you to push back. Sometimes you just need a break from it all, a little respite, a moment to just be.

It is as important to know when to give it a rest as it is to know that you have to forge onward. So what do you do when you reach this point? Do you allow yourself the much needed down-time or do you stir about all that you “should” be doing? And what feels right for you? Each of us have our own little rituals and what may be relaxing for one person may not be for someone else – but recognizing what works for you is what’s important. And being gentle with yourself is what it’s really about.

The old adage “If you fall off a horse, then pick yourself up, dust yourself off and climb back in the saddle” may be a sage bit of advice on not giving up – just don’t forget the “dusting off” part. What’s the use in finishing the race if you  are too exhausted to enjoy the victory party?

 

Shhh, don’t think, just listen…

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 7:38 am
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Intuition;  is like any of the other senses. Often referred to as the “sixth sense”it  is just one of the many ways available to us to observe and interact with the world around us. Just as you know you are looking at a horse when one stands in front of you, intuition provides a sense of knowing and understanding that appears to be accessing information that is not readily available to our other senses.
For many of us, our intuition is easily accessed, providing a ready stream of information that feels as real and reliable as the information we get through our other senses of sight, hearing, etc. But for others it is almost completely inactive and unnoticed, unrecognized when it is at work and underutilized as the resource it is. Despite this, I do believe that it is present all the same, it just requires some concerted effort to access. For the folks that are less attuned to their own intuition, I believe that they just need a little extra help in tapping into it – like glasses or a hearing aid for this less tangible sense of intuition.
There is a lot of useful information out there about accessing your intuition, and I will talk more about this topic at a later date (because I believe it to be extremely important in creating a life that resonates with your true self) – but for now, I just want to start with what I believe is the first and most simple step: awareness. In order to hear what your intuition is telling you – you have to make a conscious effort to listen to it. It requires you to quiet your mind for a moment and to go a bit deeper into yourself so that you can “listen” to what it is telling you. You know when people ask you – “What does your gut, tell you?” or “What do you think in your heart-of-hearts?” That’s it. That’s all it is – it is that sense inside yourself of what your REALLY know.
The great thing is – the more you listen to it – the more you realize it has to tell you. So, I’ll be quiet for now – you take a moment to listen to what you are saying to yourself instead…

 

Life and the Locker Room January 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 10:36 am
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Hey – so what are you doing with yourself today? Same-old, same-old – or something else?

Everyone has a list of things that they want to do or are about to do. It being a week or so into the New Year a lot of folks have made resolutions to begin to make those changes in their lives. But many folks are still waiting for the circumstance to be “just right”. As a consequence, hours become days, days become weeks, and so on until we find that we are no closer to enacting those changes then we were a year ago.

I say, why wait? Some movement, is better than no movement at all. Perfection is over-rated anyway. This is it – this is your life – what are you waiting for? There will always be reasons why today isn’t a good day to begin – but there will never be another today.

In the words of the beloved Maude played by Ruth Gordon, from the movie Harold and Maude  – “A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. They’re just backing away from life. *Reach* out. Take a *chance*. Get *hurt* even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE! Otherwise, you got nothing to talk about in the locker room.”

 

P-P-P-Passion!!! January 8, 2010

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About 8 years ago, during a time in my life when I was experiencing a lot of transition and change, an old friend asked me a prophetic question. We hadn’t spoken for a long time, maybe 20 years, and we were catching up on all the comings and goings in each other’s respective lives. He asked, “So tell me, what are your passions?” At the time a number of things popped into my head, and though I declared my initial responses, I found that I also truly believed that I didn’t really know how to articulate what my true answer was… And what I found was that the question really got under my skin, and my thoughts went back to it over and over again in the days and weeks ahead.

What I realized was that even before the question was asked, my daily existence was fueled by the question itself. I was on a mission and I hadn’t even fully realized it yet. My passion was: discovering what my passions were! I was in the process of reconnecting with parts of myself that had been dormant for years and the activation of this sense of myself hinged on the discovery of those things that enlivened and inspired, fueled and ignited me. There were specific passions: my children, my art, art in general, music, intellectual stimulation, new hobbies like kayaking and hang-gliding and on and on and on. But the real passion was indeed passion itself!

 I discovered that not only was I on a mission to discover my own passions but I was extremely passionate about helping other people to connect with theirs. The process of working with people to help them identify and incorporate their passions and dreams into their lives is what lead me to transition from my background in psychotherapy to coaching. It’s a pretty darned great privilege to do the work I do and to help people along on their own journeys. Wow – I couldn’t have asked for a better fit!

And the lovely thing is, it is ever changing and always evolving. It is a story with no conclusion, a lifelong, unfolding, flexible process. Who knew?

So, tell me, what are your passions?

 

Baby Steps, Benchmarks and Blogs January 7, 2010

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Today marks the conclusion of my first week’s worth of blog posting – and it has been a really interesting experience for me. I thought I’d take a moment to reflect a bit on what this experience has been like for me and share some of what has come up for me in the process.

  • I have always loved to write, but over the years I seem to have gotten to a point where I was doing less and less of it. Writing this blog has become an excellent outlet for this long-ignored passion of mine and I am very happy to have it back.
  • As I mentioned in my post a couple of days ago, “Never Underestimate The Kindness Of Friends… Or Strangers For That Matter”, the outpouring of encouragement, support, congratulations and kudos from many of the folks in my life has been incredibly gratifying and heartwarming.
  • I am finding myself constantly noticing things throughout my day and considering them as possible blog topics. Initially I was concerned that writing a daily blog would exhaust ideas for topics relatively quickly. But quite to the contrary, the more I write the more topics come to mind. It has me thinking in a new way and I love that!
  • I am looking forward to mastering all the bells and whistles of the site itself, so that I can enhance the site and tweak it as I see fit over time.
  • Knowing that I have a blog entry to write has been an exciting element to look forward to in my day. Though the parameters around this experience are totally self-imposed  – I have made a commitment to myself that this is going to be a daily event, and though I feared it may feel like one more item I “have to do” in an already crowded schedule, it is truly a bright spot and a pleasure.

I am looking forward to the evolution and future of this blog and find myself considering all the myriad of possibilities for directions it could take. I hope you stop by often, comment if you are inspired, pass it along to friends who you think may enjoy my musings and even subscribe to the site for regular updates. One week down, many more to go… Yay!!!!!

 

Keeping the Peace, Choosing your Battles (aka – Prioritizing – Part 1)

You know, I think one of the most useful bits of parenting wisdom I ever received is “choose your battles”. When you have kids you realize pretty darn quickly that this is an ever-evolving, ever-revolving series of considerations and compromises. It starts pretty early and apparently it never ends. According to Erik Erikson the “Father of Developmental Psychology”, human development can be broken down into eight developmental stages – each stage provides its own set of challenges which need to be successfully negotiated before moving on to the next stage. In the toddler years – the challenge is “Will: Autonomy –versus- Shame and Self-Doubt”. So as parents – our challenge is to support them in developing their autonomy while still setting what we deem to be the proper limits and guidelines based on our beliefs and sense of safety for their welfare. But “it ain’t as easy as it sounds”.
At the early stages it may be about a decision to let them take a few more slides at the playground to avoid a tantrum. As they get older it could be about what snacks they eat and when, how much time they get on the computer or game system, how late they can stay out or how long they can grow their hair. Each decision requires us to consider how serious we are about the various outcomes. Various factors weigh in – maybe you are too tired to say “no” and deal with the consequences, maybe you aren’t that invested in the particular issue at hand, maybe you want to let them make the decision on their own and trust that they will choose wisely and deal with the outcomes of their choice.
At all stages of their lives you need to assess the situation – “is this one I am willing to put up a fight for, deal with the fall-out from or simply let go”? How you answer the daily challenges is effected by so many factors, and in a lot of ways it breaks down to the simple endless need to prioritize, analyze and weigh the possible outcomes. Being a parent is a constant balancing act between holding on and letting go – how we think about it, the importance of our actions/decisions requires constant consideration, a lot of energy, a sense of our own values and continued presence. But if we engaged in a battle when we should have given in, or vice versa, the good news is, if we are lucky, we will likely get another million opportunities to rethink our previous strategy. Woohoo!

 

Go with “The Flow”… January 5, 2010

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Do you know what it’s like to be “in the flow”? It’s that feeling you get when something is just clicking along and you don’t have to think about it or work for it – it’s just happenin’. Those in the arts; musicians, artists, writers, dancers, chefs, etc. experience this feeling (if they are fortunate) when they are creating their work. There are times when I am working on a piece of artwork and the moment just feels right. My mind is alert and awake yet quiet, and my hands are moving over the paper as if compelled by an energy that is moving through me. I am aware of the texture and sensation of the pastels as they glide onto the paper. My voice tells me, “Put some blue here, move the green over there” and I just go with it – without really consciously thinking about what comes next. When I am done, I feel both calm and energized – it is a wonderful experience. Often I find that these are some of my most favorite pieces. Though I can’t always count on having that experience when I do my artwork – I am still grateful when I do.

I think that there are moments in all things when you have the sense that you are doing your best work and it is effortless and smooth and synchronous. I believe people can experience it in other ways as well. I think that a gardener who is slowly and methodically weeding a garden can feel that calm, the experience of being fully present in the moment, engaged and attuned with the simple task at hand. It is acute focus without controlling thought. And though it may have some qualitative differences, I believe it is still a type of “flow”.

In coaching it is called “Dancing in the Moment” – those times when you are working with a client and it feels effortless and inspiring. The “creative juices are flowing” and you are being propelled forward together doing good work, having meaningful insights and connecting on a powerful level. It doesn’t happen every time, but when it does, you know it. The focus is on the client’s agenda in coaching and the purpose is not to advise clients on what you think they should do but rather to assist them in planning their own strategies for moving forward and achieving their goals. The more you are able to be in the moment and to connect with the client, on as many levels as possible, the more likely you are to hit that sense of flow, where both client and coach can do their best work. When I lead with my intuition rather than my intellect I am more likely to move “into flow”.

Let it flow…

 

Never underestimate the kindness of friends… or strangers for that matter. January 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 11:42 am
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So, since I decided to undertake this whole “Blogging Thing”, I also decided that I might as well let some folks know about it. Because really, though I am enjoying writing these little blurbs these last few days just for the mere pleasure of writing, it would be nice to know that someone else out there was reading them besides me. To this end I decided I would let friends, family and other various and in sundry contacts of mine know about it by “getting the word out” in a couple of ways.

Since I am not fully confident that I know how to negotiate around the wordpress.com website myself, nor do I fully comprehend all the bells and whistles for my blog site (yet, give me time) I thought I would go with what I DO know first. I put a simple link on my Facebook page and sent an “announcement” email to some folks in my address book. What resulted really shouldn’t surprise me, but it did somehow anyway…

Several people sent me reply emails, offering their best wishes, support, positive feedback and encouragement. And can I tell you – it made me feel great! Old and new  – friends and acquaintances shared their warm greetings and I was reminded of how such a simple gesture really can go a long way. Not surprisingly, a little bit of sincere encouragement helps folks feel valued and cared for. I think sometimes we all forget how powerful a few kind words can be, even if we don’t need it, it doesn’t mean that it’s not appreciated.

Note to self: Spread the love, baby. Spread the love…