Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Into Each Life a Little Rain Must Fall March 31, 2010

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Every year people in colder climates look forward to the advent of spring with great anticipation. The promise of longer, warmer days, sunshine, flowers and a myriad of outdoor activities puts an extra spring in our step (pun only marginally intended) and boosts us through the final days of winter. And every spring, I think we all suffer a temporary amnesia that causes us to forget that “with spring comes rain”. Sure there are the old sayings “March – In like a lion and out like a lamb” and “April showers bring May flowers” but the idea in most folks head is that the rain is just a light watering needed to make the spring flowers bloom, not a veritable monsoon season! This year, those of us in the Northeast as well as other rain-soaked regions are finding that those spring showers are carrying a particular tenaciousness and ferocity to them that just weren’t what we had in mind.

As water tables rise, rivers crest and the Earth becomes sodden with the seemingly endless supply of rain in the forecast, we are forced to table our plans for enjoying the warm weather that spring promises in order to mop our basements, replace our windshield wipers and buy new umbrellas to replace the one that was turned inside out by a rogue gust of wind. Like many of our other plans, hopes and dreams for our future – the rain provides the perfect metaphor for the monkey-wrench that is often a part of the process. There are few things in life that are a straight shot from desire to attainment – the path winds and the obstacles are unpredictable and plentiful – yet the spring always really does arrive. We may have the opportunity to get outside here and there – though it feels like forty days and forty nights, there are breaks in between and when there are, they are often glorious.

Though it would be nice to be able to believe that everything you work for and want in your life is just there around the corner – a short burst of elbow-grease away but the reality is that the path to getting there is often fraught with challenges. The key to succeeding is about being able to weather the storm, and work through the stalls and sidetracks along the way, focusing on the vision you wish for and dealing with the challenges as they arise in the best and clearest way that you can. There will always be another rainy day but there will also always be another sunny one. Reminding yourself that you have what it takes to get through the obstacles in your path as you strive toward your goals will help you along your journey – because if it was all flowers and sunshine the sense of accomplishment though sweet would feel a lot less satisfying. Besides you never know what you can learn from a little rain.


My Life Just Bopped Me On the Head March 30, 2010

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Ever go through one of those periods of time when you feel the like the Universe is trying to send you a message and it is pulling out all the stops to make sure you are getting it? Well, it’s been one of those weeks for me. From all frontiers I keep being reminded of the same thing over and over again. Oh the message? It’s a simple one really and I have talked about it in this forum before, but here it is: “Focus on the positive and that is what you will draw to you.” It just keeps coming up over and over again, and I can’t ignore it – so here we go…

Though at times I believe we feel stagnated in our lives – we are always growing and changing and evolving. Sometimes, the changes are more evident than others – the growth spurts of our intellectual and emotional selves. Like the child who needs new clothes every couple of months because their bodies are growing at breakneck speeds – I think sometimes we grow in bursts internally as well. This message for me and the resulting effects it is having on my thought processes and my self-concept feels like a momentous shift in my core, I am growing out of my last personal wardrobe and growing into a new one. The funny thing is, this is not a new concept for me, not something I have just recently come to believe or feel or understand but somehow this time it has a swirl of momentum about it that is impossible to ignore.

In actuality, I have had a tough week, and though I won’t list all the mishaps I have had now – I can say my luck in the last week has been on the poor side. And I don’t want to sound like I am spurting Polyanna-esque platitudes over here – but somehow I am managing to look on the bright side amidst the calamity. Oh I have had my moments over here, of feeling pretty discouraged, overwhelmed and frustrated, but my focus has been more on dealing with the obstacles before me and enjoying the abundance that is also a part of every day. Could it be that at the ripe old age of forty-eight,  I have become a “if life gives you lemons than make lemonade” kinda gal?

Awww, enough about me, what about you? As you move forward what sort of life do you want to create for yourself? How do you want to spend your energy, focused on all you don’t have or on all you want to create? Every day, every moment offers us the option of deciding how we want to approach it. We may not always have the energy and resources to be on top of our game but that does not mean we have to be on the bottom. There is a full spectrum of possibility open to us – where we land along that line is largely based on how fully we feel ourselves in control of our own destinies and how committed we are to living the lives and being the people who we want to be. There is no harm in trying, rose-colored glasses are not blinders and correcting your prescription is as easy as putting them on for a try. Go ahead, you can borrow mine.


Thoughts from a Dancin’ Fool March 29, 2010

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I am a fan of an occasional show of reckless abandon. For me it usually takes the form of dance, but I suppose there are other forums for such displays. This weekend I went to hear a great funk band from New York with a few friends and I (as expected), danced to my heart’s content. Their music just has that “great beat” that you need to get your feet a tappin’ and your body a movin’ and once the music begins I just can’t resist the urge to get up and start shaking. Whether my friends were beside me on the dance floor or not – I was happy to be up there just “doin’ my thing”.

For me, when I am dancing it is all about the beat and the movement. It is truly a “primal experience”, by which I mean there isn’t a lot of thinking going on. I am 100% in the moment, just listening and moving and smiling. And afterward, exhausted and sweaty I feel renewed and revitalized by the experience. It is a forum in which I am completely comfortable and at ease, though a lot of folks seem to experience self-consciousness while dancing, I have to say that I luckily do not. And it is just that, the experience of tapping into something without thought that I find so refreshing.

The experience of dancing allows me to do something which in other forums I have to approach in a more intentional fashion. It is the experience of being 100% in the moment, and 100% focused of the experience at hand, without thought or analysis and without effort. There are other things that allow me to be in the present for instance, it is a big part of how I prepare myself when I am getting ready for a coaching session with a client. It is part of the process that allows me to open to my intuition and to ease up on my intellect, though in these cases like many others it is a conscious shift. Dancing is a given for me, there is no prep needed. Finding the places and experiences in your life to let go and just be are little gifts with big impacts. My recommendation for the day, find the thing that allows you to just sink into the moment, and treat yourself to a little quiet time with the simplest of yourself.


Read Any Good Books Lately? March 26, 2010

“Never judge a book by its cover.” It’s a sage old piece of advice that we all have heard and most of us have had the experience of witnessing the validity of, but how often do you find yourself guilty of doing just that in order to make a quick assessment of any given situation? I think a lot of us rely on our short-hand observations in an effort to be efficient in the investment of our resources. There are a lot of opportunities within the course of a day to go deeper but we resist because we don’t have the time or the desire to exert the energy it would require. It’s easier to make a snap judgment, get in and get out and not risk the entanglement that might ensue if we were to take the time to go below the surface. But what price do we pay for the “the fly over” approach to living?

When I was in graduate school, I held several jobs to pay the bills while I put myself through school; one of those positions was as a chef for a catering company. The caterer I worked for had a solid reputation in the greater Boston area, and we did a lot of work for some very high-end events and clientele. For the most part I was in the kitchen, and did not have to interact with the guests very often, but when I did I often felt the same sense of being dismissed and disregarded as the hired help. It’s a service industry – and I was one of the hired help – pure and simple. People who in a different setting would sit beside me and eagerly engage in communication with me took a look at my chef’s coat and black pants and made the assumption that they knew all that they needed to know about the person in front of them. Conversely, I dismissed them as elitists who cared more about appearances than substance. No need to give anybody the benefit of the doubt in either direction, right? Now granted I was there to do a job  not to “make friends” but it was clear that there would be no blurring of the lines between guest and employee if the opportunity presented itself.

But I wonder what would have happened if either side extended itself beyond the existing boundaries. Who could I have met that would have had a positive impact on my life? Whose story would have moved me – who would have considered themselves lucky to have had the opportunity to meet me? I’ll never know, but I have plenty of opportunities everyday to explore beyond those same boundaries in other situations I find myself in. Maybe I would be “un-moved” but maybe I would make a new friend. Every day we are presented with opportunities to “go deeper” the question is how often are you willing to take the risk? We get out of life what we put into it. Sure we have to manage our limited resources and make investments based on instant assessments of risks and benefits everyday – but how often are we missing out on the best story we have ever heard because the book jacket is not to our liking? You never know until you crack the cover and dive in…


Words of Wonder March 24, 2010

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Ever get a little thrill when someone says something, so cleverly that you can’t help but smile and shake your head at their amazing cleverness? You don’t have to agree with what they’ve said, though it’s more fun if you do. I have always had great admiration for those who demonstrate a mastery of language and possess a sizable and varied vocabulary. I would attribute this to my mother, who was well-spoken herself and always encouraged us to look up words in the dictionary when we were young, a battered old version of Webster’s always conveniently at-hand in the living room.  Language is powerful – how we communicate to one another is both a skill and a gift that I place a great value on.

Some of us have a facility for breaking down complicated ideas into manageable bits and serving them up in such a way that they can be understood by a previously uninformed group. There are those who have a “silver-tongue” that could charm the most hardened of listeners. Others have an ability to tell a story in a way that paints a vivid picture in our mind’s eye, full of detail, nuance and color. And still others may have a gift for articulating intangible feelings and emotions in a way that allows you to resonate and empathize with the experience. Conversely, some people struggle to communicate even the simplest of ideas or they “speak without thinking” which can often be a source of difficulty.

How you communicate tells the world a lot about who you are. It gives clues as to where you are from, what your background was like, what level of education you have attained. But one has to be careful about what assumptions we make in this regard, as many people adjust what they say to the audience to whom they are speaking, assessing the listener and responding in a fashion which will best get their points across. In many ways it is of course not just what you say but how you say it – that will leave its impression on others. How much of yourself do you want to reveal, what effect do you want to have on the person you are speaking to, and what do you want or need to communicate?

There’s a lot to consider, and most of it happens without our conscious awareness in the most fleeting of seconds. We can do a lot with our words, we can inspire or dominate, amuse or sadden, educate or placate, and there are endless possibilities for results. And there always remains the possibility that no matter how artfully we choose our words, we may still end up being misunderstood as our words filtered through the equally complex listening abilities of others. How do you want to use this most powerful of tools we possess? What do you want people to know about you? How do you want to affect others? And how much do you even want to think about it? Having a simple awareness of the impact of your words maybe enough for you or maybe you want to change your approach, whatever you decide is up to you.


Icepacks, Laptops and Choices March 23, 2010

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So today I had the misfortune of knocking a large board with two, big 16×16 tiles glued to it – onto the top of my foot. And may I simply say, “Ouch!” Currently, I am waiting to hear back from the doctor’s office as to whether or not I fractured anything.  Keeping my fingers crossed that it is just a bruise, but we shall see… It isn’t the only mishap or inconvenience of my day so far and there is a long way to go before I rest.

I am contemplating my mood options as I sit here reclining on my couch, bag of ice on my foot, computer on my lap. There’s the obvious “grumpy option”, after all I have been up since 5:00 am, had to be at a meeting at 7:00, I am over-tired, somewhat overwhelmed by the list of tasks I have to attend to, and frustrated by my painful and COLD foot. Venting and gnashing my teeth a bit may be a good release for me – but the idea feels too self-indulged and downright selfish. There’s the “woe is me” option, but I don’t even feel like spelling that one out – it’s definitely not the “head-space” I am in at the moment. I seem to be in the “so, you’re having a tough day – you’ll get through it” mind frame.

Things are tough sometimes. Sometimes you need a little extra nurturing to get yourself back on track. Sometimes you need a reality-check to put things into the proper perspective. And sometimes you just have to keep forging ahead, with your eyes on the future and your focus in the present. Life is full, of sidetracks, obstacles and diversions. Deciding when you will allow yourself to break stride, change course, and go with the flow are all options that are open to us almost every waking minute. How you will react is up to you – some days an afternoon at the movies is the best response, other days a nap may be perfect while still others may include laptop and a icepack before your next appointment. Whatever works – the key is to listen to the voice inside of you that has the wisdom to make the right choice. And if that choice doesn’t feel right, there will always be another opportunity to try it again.


Witnessing the March of Time March 22, 2010

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In some ways time seems to pass so slowly that it is as if it has stopped all together, and in other ways you feel like it is fast-forwarding in front of your eyes. This weekend I travelled down to Connecticut to celebrate my mother’s 85th birthday. While there, my family got together to take her to a birthday brunch in her honor. And as we sat around the table sipping Bellini’s and enjoying nicely prepared food at a lovely little restaurant I couldn’t stop my mind from considering the passage of time. Other than my mother, the gathering included my siblings, their spouses and one of my nephews (the other eight grandchildren, spread across the Eastern United States were not able to be present for one reason or another.)

It was like so many other gatherings of family in recent years, family dynamics scripting the interplay between characters in an ongoing and predictable story. In other ways I was very aware of all the changes in the players who are the people I have known all my life. Though we all interact with one another in varying though constant ways, we do not get together every day and the space of time fast-forwards the action in chunks rather than giving you the slow progression of the story line. Talks of possible wedding engagements, college graduations and career developments for the younger generation of the family – caused me to once again have to do the reality check that I was part of the middle generation of adults not the young woman visiting from college herself. And the milestone of turning 85 firmly planted my mother in the older generation that I had for a long time resisted seeing her a part of.

What was most notable to me were not the physical changes that we are all going through, but the other less obvious changes in the characters at the table. We are all the same people we have always been and yet we are all different from the people I would have described ten, twenty or thirty years ago. And these changes were not simply about life stages as much as they seemed to be actual personality shifts. As if traits that had been present in a quieter way had shifted position internally and birthed a new participant. It is possible that it is more about the lens through which I now view this group of people – but it is not all about that. We have changed, we have all changed. Some relationships have strengthened and others have grown more distant. The ingredients of our days and focus of our energies have transformed, it is the old familiar group and a new cast all at the same time.

It was another reminder that all is always in a state of flux. You can speculate about the future but you cannot predict it with certitude. Relationships and people will morph and change and you will change along with them. Make the best of all the moments of your life because you never know what the next will bring; it can be a bit unsettling at first, but it is not dull and the possibilities can be very exciting. Happy Birthday Mom…


Am I Talking to Me? March 19, 2010

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Throughout your life there will be many people who influence and inspire you. There will also, of course be those people who’s words cause you pain, self-doubt, and difficulty. There is no underestimating how powerful the words and influence of others can be on our lives, think for a moment about all the people who have had a powerful impact on you over time. Now ask yourself – if there is anyone missing from that list? Did you remember to include yourself? Because really who has your ear more than your own inner voice? The impact of others is an obvious given, but the person with the greatest impact on your life is you, who else could have 24/7, lifelong access?

When you think about that voice – how does it feel to you? We can most certainly be our own greatest champions and our own biggest nemesis, and largely our influence over our own selves goes greatly unnoticed even sometimes for the most self-aware of people. Ours is the voice that we hear most often, and when we need a break from our own words, it is not like we can hang-up the phone or walk into another room and leave the voice behind. So the question is do you tell yourself the things that help you along your way or are we harsh critics of our own lives? Likely, there is some sort of combination of the two, mixed in with a decent dose of benign musings, fanciful daydreams, inspired moments and rote assumptions. We get the smorgasbord of messages, the Pu Pu platter of ideas and the full gamut of impact.

So what I was thinking, was this, given that our voice is the most constant one in our lives, wouldn’t it serve us the best if the words it shared were of the supportive, encouraging, understanding and positive variety? Words can be powerful even before they break free of your mind. It is important and I would even say imperative that we treat not only others as we wish to be treated, but ourselves as well. Self-care, self-worth, self-confidence and overall sense of self depend on our ability to be gentle and loving to our own selves. That doesn’t mean you can’t challenge yourself, you certainly should and we will not always be proud of everything we do. Nonetheless self-care is imperative, be gentle with that one soul who is most fully under your control; no one else has a bigger impact or more control of how you experience your life.


It’s that time again! March 18, 2010

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Can this be spring? The clouds have finally cleared, the birds are singing and the first flowers have started to bloom. Yup, I officially have both Snowdrops and Crocuses blooming in my yard, despite the last dying vestiges of snow remaining from the winter’s plowing. When I went out to do errands today, I didn’t need a coat and with the clocks officially “sprung-forward” the daylight lasts until most folks are home from work and through dinner. You can almost hear the collective sigh of relief from people as they walk down the street. “We made it through another winter – spring warmth and sunshine is finally here.” (Knock on wood!) You never know in New England, we have had surprise snow storms into April before, and many of us will leave our snow shovels on our porches “just in case” for several more weeks. After all, if we were to put them away prematurely, then we’re just begging for another Nor’easter. But today the temperatures call for a near-record high of 70 degrees!

Down through the centuries, spring is welcomed and celebrated in many cultures and religions. Celebrations most likely based on our undeniable dependence on Mother Earth and the promise of the renewal of nature abound. Easter, May Day and the Cherry Blossom Festival are just a few of the many celebrations we humans hold to commemorate this transition to warmth and renewal. Whether you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or not – there is almost a compulsion to get outside and enjoy the weather. There is no question about it – almost everyone welcomes the advent of spring.

So during this time of year when rebirth and renewal are the focus – what are you going to do to give yourself new life? You’ve had the winter to contemplate and reflect now is as good a time as any to celebrate your own life and to begin anew. You don’t have to start from a clean slate, or make major changes in how you live your life – but why not use this season of rebirth to expand your horizons and try something new? As the Earth awakens from her slumber, and opens her eyes on a new season – allow yourself to begin again with new focus and new energy. It is a process that is ongoing and always available to you – but why not take advantage of the renewal that we all share? The Equinox is just two days away – get out there and celebrate!


Considering “The List” March 17, 2010

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Day off… What to do with it? I have several things I would like to be doing with my time, several things in multiple categories that I “have to do” (paperwork, errands, chores, projects, business) and of course there are those things that take your time that just happen (meals, shower, etc.) You know – “The List”. For me, it is actually helpful to write things down on a physical list, something I believe I got from my highly organized mother who wrote lists and notes for everything. Without it I inevitably end up getting to the end of the day and realizing all the little things I had intended to do – but forgot. It’s not very sexy, not spontaneous or even particularly creative but it works for me – mostly.

People who know me would generally agree that I am a “very organized person”. It’s just the way I function and the alternative is definitely a less than attractive option. Disorganization simply makes me feel uncomfortable and out-of-sorts, so staying organized is just the easiest way to stave off that discomfort. Additionally, I find that my life is so busy, that without a list, my time fritters away with little show for it at the end of the day. And quite simply, there is something to be said for the little sense of victory you get when you get to cross something off of it.

But really the key to the whole thing is – prioritizing. Writing out the list of what you want to accomplish in any given time period requires that you spend a couple of reflective moments thinking about your time, what you want and what you need. You could say that the list itself is a set of action steps based on your own personal needs assessment. Taking the time to gather your thoughts and make decisions about what needs your attention  and what you need to do to accomplish and reach your goals, be they big or small,  is actually pretty important.

Now I am not saying that one can’t simply abandon the list at times. Things come up – priorities shift – our days and lives are not fixed and stagnant. Allowing yourself to be spontaneous and react in the moment to changes in circumstance is just as important. But having a roadmap – be it mental or physical allows you to think ahead and really consider what you want to do with your life. As they say – “Plan for the future and live in the moment”. Anyway, that’s all for today, on to the next item, and now I can cross “write blog” off my list and attend to the next item on my agenda.