Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Daily Dreaming February 13, 2010

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Argh! So yesterday, I didn’t get around to posting a blog and I am sorry about that… I had started one, but hadn’t finished it when my day kicked in and I had to move on to other things. I had thought I would finish it last night – but that didn’t happen when I ended up being out later than I had originally anticipated. So, this morning I decided I would just write one before I have to leave. Here I am, feeling a little more than simply sleepy and tossing ideas around in my brain hoping one will stick. (The one I started yesterday will take a greater degree of concentration to pull together than I feel capable of at the moment.)

So, the result is this, a bit of processing on the experience and a little observation. People set goals for themselves all the time and sometimes meeting those goals is challenging. “I’m going to start exercising every day.” “I am going to start looking for a new job this weekend.” “I’m going to be more patient with my children, etc.” We are big planners and sometimes we achieve our goals on our own and sometimes we do not. This is a big piece of coaching – helping people identify what they want and need in their lives, making a plan to integrate said goal, dealing with obstacles as they arise and getting to a place where you are living the life you want to lead. Often the goals are a little less concrete – and the work involves breaking the abstract down into manageable, real-world bits that can be addressed in real-time. It is a dance, a process, and it is not always easy.

Writing this blog for me is actually a small piece of a more long-term vision for myself (as well as having become a pretty significant part of my daily life). So if I miss a day, the world will not end and my vision does not go dark. I can allow myself a little break here and there if I need one and yet at the same time – I just simply miss it if I don’t do it. I am committed to the process and the place that this fits into my bigger picture. Some days will be more inspired than others but all are part of a whole – a whole I am inextricably committed to. So here’s the pearl: the degree to which we are able to achieve our goals is directly related to our sense of commitment to our long-term values, visions and dreams. Find the root, evaluate its weight and decide from there – what are you gonna do to further your dreams today?

 

Second Time Around February 11, 2010

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Sometimes it feels like you have lost people forever. Not because they have passed away in the ultimate permanent way – but because you have grown away from each other. For whatever reasons your lives move apart and time and distance fade them into a memory. The times you shared together become nostalgic remembrances of days gone by – and they no longer are part of your daily life. And sometimes the universe decides to bring them back around again for a second round. When it goes well, it is like discovering a hidden treasure. A beautiful reminder of the past and a real part of the present. Life is forever surprising and often the surprises hold a familiar knowing that heals the soul.

 

The Change Game February 10, 2010

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A few months ago, my mother sold the house that she has lived in for 56 years and moved into a senior living community in a new town, closer to my siblings (and me). It was a big move and a big deal, but despite a couple of bumps along the way it has gone rather smoothly. Now in her mid-80’s my mother is creating a new life for herself; new town, new living arrangements, new routines, new friends, new everything. The furniture is the same (though scaled back) but everything else is new. It’s about as a big a life transition as you can make, and it is going amazingly well.

Thanks to the efforts and support she receives from my siblings who live near my mom is adjusting beautifully. Oh it’s not all flowers and sunshine, there are hiccups here and there but really, for the most part it has been seamless. Not necessarily something that any of us were sure of but certainly what all of us had hoped for. My mother is a devout woman and thusly she credits her success to “a miracle” that she has been able to make the move in such a stress free way. I don’t see things quite the same way, nonetheless the result is the same.

Sometimes in life we are faced with challenges and changes so big – that it is hard to imagine how we will react to them or if in fact, we can handle them at all. Sometimes the path to our new life is fraught with parallels and obstacles, and sometimes it is more open and clear. Not all transitions go smoothly for all people. But more often than not I think we underestimate our resilience. Maybe it is some genetic throw-back to the unpredictable life circumstances of our ancestors or maybe it is simple adaptation. But inside of each of us is a wealth of resources and strengths to draw from, some long dormant but still present, all the same.

Getting through life with all the challenges we face in today’s unpredictable climate is no cake walk but most of us will get through it relatively unscathed. The one thing we can count on happening tomorrow is that we cannot be certain of how it will go. Finding that faith inside you whether it is in a higher power as in the instance of my mother, in the help, support and goodwill of others in our lives or in the skills and abilities we own ourselves is the key. Remembering that we will manage and hopefully thrive as we move forward is the message to hold on to.

 

These Boots are Made for Walkin’ February 9, 2010

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The weather report says that it’s 23 degrees outside and that it feels like 10 degrees with the wind chill. I say, “They’re right!” Brrrrrr….. I just got in from a little ½ hour walk – and I can tell you they are not over-estimating. Home to a nice hot cup of tea and a croissant, face still numb, ears burning as the circulation comes back. And feeling damn glad I did it!

Resuming daily walks, this is something that has been on the list for a long time and I am finally getting around to it. Now, I likely won’t be walking if it is raining or snowing outside – I am not a zealot – but short of that – if I can manage to find the time – out the door I go. As I have mentioned before – I don’t have a lot of free time – my schedule has become pretty darned full – but I am determined to make sure that it reflects some sort of balance between work and play – things that I have to do and things that I want to do. Walking falls somewhere between – having some sort of regular exercise in my life really feels like something I have to do – since trips to the gym have not been consistent of late. But I also really love to take walks.

I am not one of those people who views walking as a social event – I have at times – tried to coordinate my walks with friends who suggested that we do it together – but honestly that really doesn’t work for me. Though yes, I can walk and talk simultaneously (and even chew gum if need be) I would prefer to do it in silence. Walking for me is like a little meditation with shoes on.

My route varies though it generally takes me around the residential, downtown neighborhood of the little town in which I live. I am able to stay on sidewalks for most of the jaunt – but occasionally need to hop off here and there if I am on one of the smaller side streets. And though I have to be aware of the cars, since there are several street crossings involved and I occasionally break my silence to say “hello” to a fellow pedestrian it is a mostly quiet, internal experience. There is just something lovely and relaxing about feeling the wind on my face, taking in the sights of all the trees, birds and at least for now, natural ice sculptures that abound on my journey.

I am aware of the movement in my body. How my back feels, if my legs are getting tight, am I breathing with my mouth open or closed? And I am aware of a million thoughts, some about the things I am seeing or feeling or experiencing some more abstract, and yet none fully enveloping. It’s like passing through your life and living it all at the same time. Yeah this one’s a keeper. And a good reminder to take a little time for yourself in whatever form makes sense for you and your lifestyle. What do you like to do to give yourself that sense of self-satisfaction and renewal?

 

May I Have this Dance? February 8, 2010

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I don’t have any shades on my living room windows. When I had it repainted last year, I took down the old shades and curtains since they didn’t go with the new paint colors. My intention has been to replace them with something else, I have a picture in my mind of what the new shades should look like, but I haven’t gotten around to buying them yet. It just isn’t a priority, not for my budget or my time – so the windows remain bare. It’s an old house, about a hundred and fifty years, and it has a full-sized window in the front and then a bay window which includes a French door to the side porch, plus the front door window and side-lights. The result: a lot of window, a lot of light and a lot of visibility – both out and in.

Being in my living room is kind of like being in a fishbowl. It’s not a very active street, and the angles are such that if you are standing in the middle of the room you don’t really have a direct view to any of the neighbors’ windows – nonetheless there is a sense of exposure. There are many folks who like to walk (either themselves or their dogs) down the street and the house is situated relatively close to the sidewalk. It’s also a street that some folks like to use as a cut through, it is situated in the classic historic district of a downtown New England town.

So what all this means is – when you are in there you can’t help but to be aware that other people could see in – if they were looking. This morning as I was sipping my tea and listening to my music – a song came on that made me want to dance. (This happens rather often actually but I don’t always give in to the impulse.) But today I did, and really the living room does have the best floor space on the first floor. So I danced, by myself, in my open living room, to music that inspired me, and though I hadn’t witnessed anyone seeing me – I was aware that they could. And it made me laugh to think of what people might think if they saw “the crazy woman flailing around in her living room” as they passed by. But I continued anyway.

I like being that person; the dancing lady in the living room fishbowl. I think it is important to be yourself – give in to momentary flashes of inspiration – to risk being exposed – and to take chances both big and small. My dancing may not have changed the world, but it sure was enjoyable, and if you can’t be yourself (even in the relative privacy of your own home) then when can you be? Okay, enough said, gotta go, a good song just came on and my feet are tappin’.

 

Thoughts on the Ticking Clock February 5, 2010

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I have always had friends who were older than me. When I was in high school and college and beyond, I had several close friends who were many years older than I was. They were parents of friends of mine, co-workers, older siblings of people I knew or teachers and though I was conscious of the age differences I was also aware of the similarities between us. Their worlds included aspects of life that I had not yet gotten to in my own – but we related to one another all the same.

I think on some level it made me feel cool that we would hang-out together. And I thought of them as relatively cooler versions of their contemporaries. After all, my parents were just old and relatively out-of-touch in my eyes so these people had to be different. What I didn’t realize quite yet was that as you get older you are the collection of all your experiences. Though my life in many ways is entirely different from what it was when I was in my teens, or twenties or thirties – I am still that same person and more.

Except for the days when my back hurts or when I have to reach for my glasses to read a menu in a restaurant, I still feel “young”. I am sure my teenage sons would beg to differ, though how we relate to each other is vastly different from how I related to my parents. They value their youth – as most do in this society so focused on being, looking and even acting young. Entire industries flourish as they sell “youth” to our culture. And though I would surely trade in some of the physical aspects of growing older, I worked hard for every laugh line and grey hair and I’m keeping them.

But the biggest difference is the perspective. I wouldn’t trade that in for anything. I love my forties, and know that assuming my health stays with me – I can look forward to my fifties, sixties and beyond. Life lessons learned, relationships forged, experiences had all embellish the soul. And as I stretch now toward both older and younger friends I appreciate my place in the continuum and value theirs. Moving forward, with grace and an open-mind, excited to see what comes next and cherishing what came before – it’s a good ride.

 

Pardon me, squeezing through… February 4, 2010

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There was a time in my life when I used to meditate every day. It was a regular ritual, which I practiced without thought or effort. I just did it. Every morning I would find the time between shower and lunch preparation to sit quietly, clear my head and just be. As time went on, and my life evolved, that morning ritual somehow disappeared from my routine. How does that happen? How does something we want and enjoy – which appears fully integrated into our lives, just drift off of the map and fade into a memory?

Life changes, eh? All the time and what was once our reality becomes a remembrance.  This is true for both things we want in our lives, like meditation is for me, and things we are happy to leave behind. My days are full, very full. It is filled with things I enjoy and others I do not, and recently there have been a significant number of new additions as well, learning to play the guitar and this blog, for instance. And despite how much I incorporate,  there is always an additional list of things I am trying to work into the calendar. But where to fit them? That is the question. Trying to find an actual free block in my calendar isn’t really a realistic option.

I think we just have to “make time” for the new additions. It’s not just sitting there open and waiting to be filled, you have to create it. As the new thing pushes in, the original activities just need to morph and shift, take new shapes to accommodate the addition and then settle back in. So starting today that’s the plan – I have talked about resuming my daily meditation for a long time – my life will create the space for it again. There may be a few growing pains and objections from the other occupants on my calendar but they’ll get used to it eventually and so will I. Om shanti…

 

The Little Red Light February 3, 2010

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The little red light on my home telephone was flashing at me when I got home last night, beckoning me to listen to the message/s it was storing for me. I ignored it. Not that I didn’t consider that it may have been an important bit of information which I would have wanted to hear – but because often it is a sales call, an appointment reminder or some other electronic message I figured it could wait. So, I settled in first, talked with my boys, ate a little supper, went through my mail and so on.  At about 8:00, I decided to give it a listen…

It was my dearest and oldest friend calling from her home which unfortunately, is about 2700 miles away. She was calling, because she had been thinking of me and was wondering if I would be interested in some wooden jewelry that she had recently discovered. The second voicemail message was from the same friend – left about fifteen minutes after the first – wishing me a happy birthday,  if it was my birthday, which she wasn’t 100% sure about though she had narrowed it down to three possible dates – (one of which was actually correct).

The messages themselves really aren’t the point of this story though, what was important was hearing her voice and how it made me feel. My dear old friend has an effervescence and positive energy that is infectious. As she rambled on about the jewelry and the birthday she laughed and joked and I could most definitely hear her smiling. I saved both messages. I played them again for my son and talked about them again later. And here I am writing a blog about them.

Such a silly little thing and yet I was/am so moved by it. Listening to those messages; I felt joy, I felt love, and I felt acceptance and history and presence. So much there in a few seconds of recording, the power of words, and relationships and energy over miles and years. I called her back of course – but she was not home, so I left her a message instead – I hope that it gives her as much pleasure as her messages had for me.

 

Friend or Foe? February 2, 2010

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Think for a minute about the people you surround yourself with and what their effect is on your life. Who are these people and what sort of impact do they have on you? Cuz it’s really important. Most of us lead a very busy life, that’s just the way we roll in the new millennium. Endless streams of commitments and responsibilities fill our days and our free time is precious and hard-won. So don’t we owe it to ourselves to fill it with people who make us feel good about ourselves? What purpose does it serve to fill your life with people who are draining, demeaning or difficult?

No one person is perfect. We all have our rough patches and we are not all easy to get along with, it’s just the simple reality. It is necessary to accept that imperfection is just part of the human experience and learning to work in an imperfect system is part of the game. But we all deserve to be treated respectfully. We hope that our friends see in us the qualities we want to see in them. The suggestion here is not that we must constantly be surrounded by people who stroke our egos and flatter us with false platitudes. The idea is to have people who encourage you, who care about who you really are and who support you even when they don’t agree with you. And don’t expect them to be mind-readers, tell them what you need and don’t expect to always get what you want.

Our friends are the people with whom we can make lasting memories, not just a collection of names of Facebook. Think about how they impact you, do they shore you up and drive you forward or do they hold you back and tie you down? You have the choice to work within the given relationship, attempt to fix the parts that aren’t working for you, reject the things that are not, make the situation better or move along. As with everything there are no right answers.

 

Inspiration Part One – The Personal Approach February 1, 2010

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For weeks now, I have wanted to write a blog about inspiration, and yet I haven’t done it. I think because for me this is one of my “golden topics” by which I mean it is one of the most important ingredients in living a purposeful and passionate life and the weight of it is significant. So the result has been that as I ponder the best way to approach this topic in “blog-form” I have avoided writing about it at all, and really that’s a shame. So today I have decided to let myself just break off a chunk of it with the awareness that I will get to the other bits at some later time. Manageable bits…

Inspiration Part One – The Personal Approach

I find inspiration in the thoughts and ideas of people who are passionate and engaged. People, who transcend difficulties, rise to challenges. People, who march to the beat of their own drummer, speak out for others and are true to themselves.

I relate inspiration to passion. When I am feeling inspired I am energized, passionate, productive and alive. I am inspired by historical happenings, present events and the possibilities for the future. For me inspiration is timeless and fluid.

I am inspired by beauty, simplicity, tenderness, strength of character and brilliance. Creativity and individuality are inspiring, courage is inspiring.

I am constantly on the look-out for thoughts, experiences, and events that inspire me and yet it is a natural and effortless endeavor. It is how I am wired these days; it is as if it is a skill that I have honed, an orientation that has developed over time.

Inspiration sparks passion that is manifested in a myriad of ways. It may be the spark that results in a great meal, a new drawing, an interpersonal connection or a new idea. It leads me everywhere and nowhere specific. It is unbounded and limitless.

Inspiration can feel like a connection to something transcendent or like a very personal firing of an internal furnace. It comes in the face of an old man, a thought-provoking statement, a demonstration of generosity, or an extraordinary color.

It is everywhere, and letting it in, allowing myself to see all the ways that it is accessible, is a gift I hold onto with both hands (and everything else, too!)