Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

The Physics of Life April 28, 2010

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Momentum is an undeniable force not just with regard to physics but with the less tangible motion of life. We all know what it looks and feels like to “get things rolling” and how once that forward motion is initiated things take on a movement and energy all of their own. Conversely, we know what inertia feels like – that sense of feeling stuck, still, motionless, unable to get traction and get something started. The same principles that govern the physical world around us seem to have corollaries in our internal experience. Sometimes we are stuck, sometimes we are”on a roll” and sometimes we just need that first little push to “start the ball rolling”.

A lot of us feel stuck, particularly now during these unsettled and unsure times. Many people are pulling in, rather than pushing out, counting their blessings, hunkering down and contenting themselves with staying put, quiet and safe. While others are straining against the bit – wanting and needing to get something started to propel them forward in their lives. In fact, I think many folks are looking for a little bit of both; a sense of change and of security all at once. It’s a tender balancing act requiring a lot of patience and fluidity in hopes of affecting the best possible outcome.

I think when we are anxious to move forward – often times we inadvertently dismiss the little victories along the way when our focus is solely fixed on the “end goal”. And paradoxically, the more we recognize and feed the little wins the more the likely we are to keep progressing forward in the process. We all know the old adage “Rome wasn’t built in a day” nonetheless when it comes to our own lives, I think many of us expect to go from an empty field to the Coliseum overnight. Ignoring all the daily effort and small successes along the path to our dreams is at the very least unfortunate. After all, life is an accumulated experience, no one gets to where they want to be instantaneously, and just think of all the little joys and celebrations you could be having everyday as you work along.

Savor the little wins, nudge the momentum that has already begun and you will not only find yourself moving faster along the path but enjoying the ride a heck of a lot more.


A Test of Strength/s April 27, 2010

A while back I wrote a couple of blogs about the VIA Survey of Character Strengths and one of those strengths in particular, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence. (See blog posts 1/19/10, “The Strength of Strengths” and 1/20/10, “Beauty and Excellence – Ignition”) I have been thinking a lot recently about another of my top five Signature Strengths (See: which is “Creativity, Ingenuity and Originality”. For purposes of this entry, this strength is defined by the folks at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center as-“Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.”

It is true; I do value originality and creativity (both in myself and in others) and constantly strive to envision new possibilities and perspectives.  I think part of it is that I am inspired by the challenge of new ideas. I like it when something challenges me to think in a new way and I appreciate people’s ability to put things together in new and innovative ways. Convention has its usefulness, I am at times comforted by familiarity and the quiet ease it affords but for the most part I prefer the disquiet that a new idea affords. In actuality I guess I prefer a balanced mix – tradition is non-threatening, safe, easy and familiar while ingenuity is energizing and inspiring for me.

There most certainly is a value and a merit to each side of the coin and how one determines how much of each they need in their lives really depends on their own personal style, preference and needs. The main idea here being that the choice is individual and the most important piece here is about doing what is “true” for you. I have come to appreciate how valuable it is to work from our strengths whatever they may be. For me, this strength, “Creativity, Originality and Ingenuity – informs many things about my character and lifestyle, from the choices I make for recreation, to the people I seek out as friends, to how I dress, how I think and what inspires me. It is mine, I own it and I live it. But for you the these pieces may not factor significantly into your days. Your strengths may lie in your compassion for others, your zest for life or your courage. Each one of us has a different compliment and they are not truly fixed in time, but rather fluid with some rising to the top at some times in your life more than others.

When I work with clients, I always ask them to take the “VIA Survey of Character Strengths” located on the website listed above. It doesn’t take very long maybe 30 minutes, to answer all the questions and the results may (or may not) surprise you. All the same, knowing your strengths can be a valuable tool in creating the life you want – because the more aware you are of what they are, the more easily you can draw upon them in enhancing your life. So, if I may, I’d like to suggest that you go to the website and give it a whirl, if nothing else, it may be an affirming experience.


You Can Quote Me On This April 26, 2010

I recently became a member of my local BNI (Business Networking International) organization. I joined to meet other professionals in my area and to find a place to network and expand my coaching business. The meetings follow a prescribed format that is consistent from one week to the next and consists of a variety of elements which the organization (at large) has found to be effective in helping members help each other to grow their businesses. I like it and am enjoying flexing my networking muscles a bit – and stretching beyond my usual comfort zone. The meetings close each week with one member who has been assigned the task of sharing an inspirational quote with the group. At the end of the last meeting, he turned to me and asked if I would be interested in taking over this task as it seemed more fitting with my profession as a coach than with his. I gladly said “yes” and have been on a mission this week to collect and organize some quotes for this purpose.

I have to say, this indeed is the job for me! I am one of those folks who collects quotes. I have a folder of gems collected over time for various presentations I have given and am enjoying the excuse to go out and search for more. If it isn’t already obvious about me – I am a great fan of language – particularly when it is used properly and cleverly to communicate interesting and inspiring concepts. How we speak what we say and the impact it has on others is one of our most fundamentally powerful tools, often overlooked because it is so inextricably integrated into our daily experience and yet undoubtedly not just necessary but integral in shaping our life experience.

For me I think my admiration for the skilled use of language resonates with my “Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence” Signature Strength (see: VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire at ). Reading a well crafted phrase or two from a skilled and extraordinary thinker without a doubt inspires and excites me and though I am not one with an ability to easily retain both author and words I do retain their impact. And so, I am very excited for this new task before me, it is a treat to have an excuse to pour through websites and books in search of pearls to share with my fellow group members. And to me any opportunity to get to surround yourself with more of what you love is a good thing. And to that end – here is just one of the quotes that has inspired me in my search.

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are — if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.


New Take on Brush with Greatness April 22, 2010

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A friend of mine recently catered an event where a number of internationally known ecumenical leaders were present, including the Dalai Lama. His tale about the experience included recollections about the strict security, the atypical menu and the Dalai Lama’s exuberance for the food. It was indeed an excellent “brush with greatness” (or in this case with “holiness”) story, and it got me to thinking; what are the impressions we leave on the people whose lives we brush against? Or taken slightly differently, what mark do we make in our own lives?

Though the people we meet and interact with on a daily basis may know us on so many levels that their picture of us is well-rounded and filled not just with our “high points” but our foibles as well, that doesn’t mean our impact and impression on them is not great. Each of us has a remarkable impact not just on our own selves but on those around us in both lifelong and transient ways. So what is does that impact look like? Yesterday, I had a bit of a “tiff” with my fifteen your old son – not about anything of great substance but about some “little stuff” in our shared experience and upon reflection I really was not happy with how I handled it. I can blame on being over tired and distracted by a number of issues I was trying to juggle at the time, but the truth of the matter is I just wasn’t really thinking clearly about what I wanted to accomplish in that conversation and how to get it done in a way that was clear, considerate and respectful. At his end, he too was over tired and distracted by thoughts of what he would prefer to have been doing in the moment and the result was – less than ideal.

I recognize that many of our interactions with others are going to be less than perfect. That’s just the way life is – and hopefully in the big picture our overall assessments of one another will be marked more by our love, admiration and respect for each other than by frustrations with each other’s impatience and disappointments. Still and all, I am striving to be mindful of how I impact the lives of the people in my world, from the clerk at the check-out to my beloved sons, and I hope that my overall footprint is a good one. There is an exercise I have come across in my studies of having people write their own eulogies. It’s a powerful one when you think about it – isn’t it? How would you summarize the life you have led and how you lived it? Does the story you write resonant with the life you are leading today and if it doesn’t what do you want to do to get it in-sync with the words you would like to be able to write? Each day we have the opportunity to add new details to that story – and you never know, likely you will be the brush with greatness (at least in a “less-than-famous” sort of way) in the lives of other people around you. The impact we each have is great – why not strive to make it the one we would like it to be?


A Matter of Simple Perspective April 20, 2010

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Taking an extra “day off” today while my kids are on school vacation and some friends are helping me with some much-needed home repairs. It is a beautiful spring day, a little cool but still damn nice, and I am cozily comfortable in a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and my Merrill’s and though I am not exactly relaxing it is still a lovely day. It has made me think again about how important the lens through which you choose to view your life circumstances can be in determining what your experience is.

Despite the fact that it was not a “work-day” for me, I had a 6:50 am meeting this morning which required me to set my alarm and get up a lot earlier than my body would have liked. And as I have mentioned before, though I am in general a steady, quiet producer in the wee hours of the day that does not really include interacting well with others. Nonetheless, miraculously after a wakeful night’s non-sleep, I really enjoyed the meeting. I felt engaged, social, and surprisingly energized. In my head I was thinking, well this may not be my best time of day but I like this group of folks and I do believe my participation is a good compliment to my coaching business. And so… it was better than “not bad” it was downright good and I enjoyed myself.

 Since it was never in the plan to “spend the day at the beach” I had written a pretty exhaustive list of tasks, chores and errands for myself to accomplish today. So, I wasn’t particularly thrilled when I had to take a couple of hours out of the middle of my day to go to a previously scheduled doctor’s appointment. (Well that’s at least what I thought I was going to do…) As it turned out I made the 40 minute drive to the doctor’s office only to realize I was supposed to see him at a different location today (something I had known at the time I made the appointment and I would have been reminded of if I had put on my glasses when I checked the calendar) but much to my chagrin not only did I waste a good chunk out of the middle of my day – but I had to reschedule my appointment since there was no chance I would have gotten to the other office on time. And though I was feeling frustrated as I drove back home I realized I would be able to make my friends who were helping me, lunch at a reasonable hour and would get more time with “the list” after all.

Is this revolutionary or extraordinary thinking in any way? No, not by a long shot… But nonetheless it is just this kind of stuff, the little stuff that can so easily derail a day. Or if looked at from another perspective, a positive perspective, can be the little building blocks than can make even the most mundane of tasks enjoyable. Just thought I’d pass that along…


Allowing for Flexibility April 19, 2010

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Good Morning Out There… I feel like it has been a while since my last entry (and my last confession), and in actuality it has been longer than usual. These last couple of weeks have been particularly challenging for me with regard to getting these blogs out every day (every, weekday that is.) I believe it is a combination of things all conspiring to make this more difficult than usual; a grueling schedule, a touch of writer’s block and just overall exhaustion. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have felt something missing. A few months ago when I started to write these blogs, I began with a seven-day-a-week regimen, which bumped down to five-days-a-week within the first month or so. And with a couple of exceptions I have indeed kept to posting a blog each weekday ever since. That is until these last couple of weeks when I have struggled to post three blogs.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t sat in front of this computer each day and attempted to write something. My “work-in-progress” folder is full of half-written pieces and jotted down ideas, but getting to the finish line has been more complicated than usual lately. So the result is that I am thinking a lot about this “exercise”; what it means to me, why I am doing it and whether or not it even matters to anyone else that my production level has dropped off a bit. (Total aside: Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, “Johnny Appleseed” is playing on in the background, I haven’t heard this song in a long time, and I do love it.) What I have decided is that despite the fact that I have no real idea about how this is impacting anyone else out there, it is important to me and at least at this point I am not willing to let it evaporate.

It has given me a great amount of satisfaction to just have a forum for writing regularly again; I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I began this blog. It has also made me more conscious of my thought processes through the day. Not that I was not aware of all the ideas I have, but noticing things, thinking about how I would write about them, what points I would want to make, and overall just fleshing them out a bit more than I probably would have has been very gratifying.  I also believe that there is more than a little bit of “pride” involved in sticking with this process for me. And while all this is true – my plate is full right now schedule-wise and I have decided that if I need a little more latitude here I need to take it. I don’t believe it serves anyone to stick to an arbitrary, self-imposed regimen if it is going to have a negative impact on other areas of my life. So what I guess I am trying to say here is this is my plan… I shall endeavor to do the “best that I can” because really what more do I have to offer. I will aim to keep to my schedule of writing a blog for each weekday and if sometimes I miss one (or even two) I am doing it for a reason that makes sense for me in the overall scheme of things. I just felt like I wanted you – whoever you are – to know that.

Having a goal is a worthy thing, and doing your best to get there is all that you can do, but along the way it is important to recognize your limitations and to allow yourself the flexibility to adjust the plan on your way.


Your Mission – If You Choose to Accept It April 14, 2010

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When you think about your life, your future and what you want it to look like; what do you see? Do you have a picture of where you want to be? How you want to be living? How you spend your days? With whom? Where? Doing what? Many people do how a vision, complete with great detail and precision, a picture so clear that they can hear, feel, smell and taste their future. Others really don’t. Their lives are lived day-to-day, focusing on the short-term goals with an idea that someday they’ll retire, things will be different but no clear picture of what it will look like. While others still are somewhere in between, they know what they want but haven’t been able to or allowed themselves to flesh out the details. What about you?

Having a clear picture to pull you forward – “keeping your eyes on the prize” – can be a useful way to stoke your life with fire to propel you forward. Most companies when they are first forming will create vision and mission statements to outline what they want to do, how they want to do it and where they want to be – it is a combined framework stating their purpose, strategies and goals and it underlies how they function as a business. On an individual level few people formalize these pieces into a mission/vision statement but they may have a sense of it anyway. The choices they make on a day-to-day basis are informed by their beliefs, values, dreams and visions; consciously or not. It’s easy to spot the individuals with a strong drive or ambition, they seem clear in their focus energized and passionate about where they want to be, while others may quiet, simple steps forward.

There is no right one right way. In fact, I believe that sometimes we can become so distracted by our future visions that we miss out on the simple joys of the present. Or we can define our dreams so rigidly and specifically, that we miss all the imperfect but beautiful and rewarding events and people along the way. As with many things, finding that tender balance is a crucial component in creating a life that is fulfilling. Nonetheless, I think we all owe it to ourselves to create a picture of where we want to be both now and going forward. You write a list for groceries – why not give your life the same concerted focus? Take the time to allow yourself to dream forward, make it big, full of detail, alive and inspired. Write it down, in bullet points or paragraphs, draw the images of what you want to see and then save it. Refer back to  it and ask yourself what can you do today to bring that vision into your reality. Go ahead you deserve your dreams…


Parenthood’s Secret Societies April 13, 2010

I am now officially the mother of two teenage sons! Yesterday my youngest turned 13, and there is no denying it now, not that I would necessarily try. I now have the slightest glimmer into the secret society for parents of teens. I remember feeling similarly when my children were little. I had taken my son to the mall to do a little shopping, and we had his stroller with us. I had previously been able to move freely through the mall traveling among the various floors by escalator and stairs but now I was in need of an elevator. When a salesperson directed me to the back corner of one of the department stores to the elevator there I came face-to-face with a legion of parents with strollers waiting for their ride. I remember thinking I had unofficially been inducted into the “secret society of stroller moms” that previously I had not known existed. There is a similar sense – being a parent of teens – though this time instead of a hidden elevator or a secret handshake – there is a nod, eye-rolling and sigh – as we recognize each other as part of the club. As if to say, “Yeah, me too, good luck with that!”

This is a challenging age, there is no denying that. As they get older, and begin to individuate our once pleasant children can become oppositional in their independence as they strive to make their own decisions and begin the transition into adulthood. It is amazing to observe and it is not without quite a bit of pride and wonder that I am able to watch my sons become the young men that they are, but the process can be difficult as I now have to confront my own issues with letting them go and easing up on their constraints. After all, I am not looking to raise to dependent individuals who are unable to make decisions on their own or who aim to live eternity under the roof of their mother. This is what it’s all about – isn’t it? Letting them go, watching them grow and develop and become happy, self-confident, fully functioning contributors to society – is the basic framework for what our goal is as parents(though I really could flesh that out quite a bit more, I believe you get the idea). That doesn’t make it easy however and yet I do not think any of us are best served by focusing on the difficulties.

So though I may be a member of the secret society, I choose to endeavor to do my best to focus on the positive aspects of this phase of their lives. Sure there will be plenty of sighing and eye-rolling – but there will also be many smiles and beams of pride. People love to unite around their shared misery – I choose to enjoy the wonder of seeing these two young men emerge into the world.  In Appreciative Inquiry they call this “Fanning” (see: Jacqueline Bascobert Kelm, Appreciative Living; The Principles of Appreciative Inquiry in Personal Life, 2005) it is a simple method of positive reinforcement, focusing on and encouraging the behaviors you want rather than on trying to eradicate those you do not. I think we all might do better with that approach. So the next time someone ask me how old my kids are, the answer is “I have two teenage sons – and it’s great!”


Stolen Moments for Me April 12, 2010

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Good Morning… There is something very beautiful about the solitude and quiet of the early morning hours. It’s Saturday and I have the luxury of a little more time in my morning then I do during the week. I awoke without my alarm, took a nice long shower, made a pot of coffee, and went out to the porch to feel the morning breeze and to listen to the birds. It’s quite a bit chillier than it was earlier in the week when we hit temperatures in the mid 80’s, but yesterday’s rain is gone and it does feel like spring. Back indoors, talking to my cats, who seem to be a little wound-up this morning, contemplating if I would prefer to spend some time writing or reading as I listen to music in the background. It all feels pretty darned good.

It is moments like these when I particularly enjoy being alone. The pace is solely my own, I do not need to focus on anyone else’s needs but mine nor do I have to engage in conversation. I can certainly imagine circumstances where I would be happy to have the company of other people during these hours but I still enjoy the solitude. It is in these quiet hours that I most often write my blog. I think in this sleepy, relaxed state my mind is less likely to be distracted by a million other thoughts and that allows me a focus without distraction that other times of the day would not provide. This may not be meditating in the simplest form of the term, but there is something about it that carries with it an almost meditative calm and natural flow on most days.

I am forever trying to squeeze more hours out of my day. Trying to find time to work in walks, trips to the gym, meditation, or spare moments to complete chores, like bill-paying and laundry. I often think that these morning hours are the place to do it – and many of the tasks do have a renewing quality to them, but I am reluctant to make any ongoing commitments that might take away from the easy pacing and quiet I feel on most days. It may take me a half-hour of battling it out with my snooze alarm to get up in the first place and there are days when I am feeling particularly tired and less inspired or productive, but I still seem to not only love, but need this “me-time”. I think the best way to proceed is with an open mind to the idea that I may introduce something new or additional into the program, because you never know how your things may change, but for now I am just going to move quietly through the starts of my days, flying under the radar of the rest of my life to enjoy a little quiet reflection – just for me.


I am here… April 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:30 am
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This has been a tough week for me with regard to writing my blogs, and I am not thrilled about it. Earlier in the week, unexpected changes in my schedule made it too difficult to find the time to sit down and when I did make the time my mind was unable to find a topic that I could stick with long enough to get my ideas down on “paper”. Today seems to be another one of those days. I have been sitting in front of this computer (on and off) for two hours already, starting blogs, adding to ones I have already begun and just not feeling satisfied with any one particular direction. All the same having missed two days this week already, I did not want to miss another one entirely.

It’s not for a lack of topics that I have found writing so difficult this week. There are a lot of things on my mind that I would like to explore a bit but I am having a difficult time fleshing out those ideas in a way that fits with my blog. So, it looks like today will not produce anything substantial. And as I sit here absorbing that reality, ever-aware that I have to get my day going in other directions, one thing stands out for me – “sometimes the best that you can do is to show-up.” Not every day in our lives is going to be exciting, not every thought in our heads is worth sharing, and sometimes just being present is enough. Today I acknowledge that the best I can do, at least at the moment, is to be here. I do not know what the next moment will bring – but for now there is just the simple acknowledgment of my desire to move forward with this “blog project” and temporary pause in a more substantive input. Here’s wishing you the best of whatever your day turns out to be…