Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Back-to-School August 30, 2010

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The final countdown is upon us; two more days until the first day of school and the kids aren’t the only ones who are mourning the end of summer. On the one hand I have to say that I look forward to having them back to school – and the structure and stimulation it will add to their days. On the other, it means an end to a more relaxed time for all of us. As their schedules get more filled, so does mine. Events, meetings and added responsibilities for them often mean the same for me. In addition, though I like my quiet time alone, I definitely miss having them around when they go back. It’s a mixed blessing as they say – not fully all good or all bad in either direction. But for me, and I think for many of us, the return to school that we now face with our kids brings up all of the similar sensations and thought patterns that we experienced when it was us returning to school.

There’s a certain hopefulness mixed with a thin wash of anxiety and anticipation. Hopes and wishes that it will be a good year, that you’ll like your teachers, do well in your classes and make new friends are the order of the day. There are resolutions to work hard, to get things done on time and to try our best and a tangible sense of the passage of time. The advent of a new school year brings with it more significant and notable changes than our birthdays or New Year’s Day do when you think about the changes we are about to embark on and the awareness that you are getting older. It’s the equivalent of starting a new job every year for us adults, only with different developmental markers.

So, as we sit here just a couple of days away from this new beginning, planning our last “hurrah” for summer doing things like; hanging out with friends and staying up late those last few nights  – we are also prepping for the new start which is right there on the horizon. And while we countdown the moments, we plan ahead, gathering our school supplies, getting haircuts, buying favorite foods for lunch boxes and new clothes, we are busily taking care of all the last-minute preparations to put us in good stead for the year ahead. It is a fresh start, effected by – but not continuous with – our last year, each academic year offers an opportunity for new achievements and experiences and we queue up to march through those doors and begin again.

Here’s hoping that it will be a good year for all the kids out there who are starting again and for their parents who love them. May it be filled with growth and learning, great experiences and meaningful friendships, may it form the moments of new discoveries and lasting memories as only a new school year can provide.

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Music for Your Soul August 26, 2010

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Yesterday, I bought my 16-year-old son, his first drum kit. With the generous help of my friend, who hunted down the right set for us on Craigslist, the bartering lessons from another friend, and a financial contribution from my sister, we bought the right set at a decent price. We set it up in his room last night after just a minor amount of fumbling with the hardware and off he went. And though my neighbor’s may think otherwise, I am happy to hear the sound of the drum beats reverberating down the stairs. Of course, it is day one – but I don’t anticipate much of a change. I had the same reaction to the electric guitar that I gave him last Christmas.  I love the sound of music, drum beats and guitar riffs are all good for me, but what I hear is a lot more than that.

As my son, expands and explores his new-found passions for making music, I hear the sound of him becoming his own person and finding and investing in an interest that hopefully will be with him for his lifetime. Finding that thing, or things that make you happy is a beautiful thing no matter what it is. I have never been one to force my kids into participating in sports or activities if they themselves did not have an interest in doing them. My approach was to offer, over and over again, the opportunities to try new things and the encouragement to try them, but when the resistance was significant, I didn’t push. My hope was that if I offered them enough chances, they would find something that spoke to them and invest in it because they were interested not because they had to. And at this moment in time, it seems to be working.

For each of us, of course, our passions and interests take different forms. For me, it was art. A propensity to draw pictures of flowers and swirling designs as a child, led to a life-long love of art. Both the making of and the viewing of, and as I grew I took classes in everything from photography to silk-screening, metal-smithing to life drawing and so on. I may never have a one-woman show, though it would be nice to someday, but I know that making art in whatever form it takes will always be a part of my life. I hope that my son will find the same home for himself in music.

In my world, having a passion or passions is an ultimate enhancement of who you are as a person. It is a place to find inspiration and comfort and a way to individuate yourself and truly be the best that you can be. You owe it to yourself to find your passion. Without are passions we move through our days in a life,  half-lived. When was the last time you fed your dreams, or those of someone around you? If you can’t remember, then it must have been too long ago. Go ahead, do it, it feels good…

 

Essential Elements August 23, 2010

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First couple of rainy mornings, we’ve had around these parts for quite a while. And while as a whole, I can say I don’t miss them (except for the fact that we really need the rain) there certainly is something sweet about listening to the patter outside the windows. Rain and sleep are a perfect combination. But sometimes the rain is falling and you have no choice but to don your raincoat and go out into it. Life rarely waits for a good weather forecast. Though like the lyrics from Camelot, I would prefer if the rain would only fall after sundown. Nonetheless, a little change-up is always welcome all the same.

In some ways, I do believe that if every day was sunshine and roses, we might eventually come to take them for granted. Finding the balance between the storm and the calm is the dance that requires not only our skill but our concentrated effort as well. It is the thing that creates well-roundedness in our character and allows us to use all of our muscles instead of just those that are easiest. There is always something to be learned from our experiences whether they are to our liking or not.

So while, I would prefer to spend this rainy day, cozied up in bed, intermittently napping and waking – I know that I am best served by opening my eyes, splashing some water on my face and getting out there to see what the day ahead holds in store.  Sure we can try to sleep through the rainy parts, and spend our days only in the sunshine, but in order for life to thrive we of course need both the rain and the sun to sustain us. One without the other just wouldn’t work. You don’t have to find the silver lining – in order to appreciate the life that springs forth from the rain cloud.

 

Sharing the Bounty August 20, 2010

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It’s summertime, and for many folks that means vegetable gardens and an overabundance of cucumbers, zucchini and other fresh veggies and the challenge of what to do with the bounty of their harvest.  Me, I’m not a gardener. Oh I sure enjoy some garden-ripe tomatoes, hot peppers and fresh basil, but my time for attempting to grow these things on my own has passed. But luckily I have a plentiful farm stand in close proximity and the benefit of knowing folks who plant their own, because every year around this time, those folks over-run with canning and pickling begin to donate the excess to non-gardeners like myself. They know I can cook and I appreciate the fresh produce, so in a ritual not unlike that of finding a good home for a litter of kittens they begin sharing the bounty with others.

What brings this to mind actually, is this morning, I regretfully and furtively donated a giant zucchini which I had received last week from my neighbor to the trash can. It was starting to turn and the fruit flies it was creating was starting to get a bit overwhelming, but I do hate to throw away food. It is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, and something I do not do lightly, but that is a different matter altogether. This blog is about sharing. I was thinking that the summer garden ritual is metaphorically not dissimilar to another phenomenon. Here’s what I mean…

What’s the point of letting the fruits of our existence rot on the vine, when there is someone out there that could benefit from that which we ourselves have an over-abundance of? There are so many opportunities out there for “spreading the love” a little, for giving of our own unique talents and abilities to benefit and help others, but some people keep their “light” under a bushel” and do not let it out to shine both for their own personal benefit and for others. It’s a shame, really. In some ways it’s as if, by keeping our talents to ourselves, we are not just missing the opportunity to live life to our fullest potential, but are depriving others of the benefits of what we have to offer as well. You don’t need me to spell it out for you too specifically, I think you can get there on your own, and truthfully who knows better than you what you have to offer?

Just consider it for a moment – each of us has a gift we can share. It may be a little talent, a service, a donation, a skill or a kind word, but it is there somewhere. And if the alternative to giving it away is to keep it quietly hidden; that is as useful as garden full of ripened fruit, rotting in an unattended garden. And when you share what you have, not only do you brighten the life of the beneficiary but of yourself as well. Feed your soul and reap the harvest of life’s possibilities.

 

Birthday Wishes August 19, 2010

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Yesterday was my oldest son’s 16th birthday. Eek! And Yay! And Wow! All at the same time…

Hard to believe we are here already. This feels like a big one. From the maternal perspective, I really feel the awareness of his growing into a young man, up and away. I couldn’t help myself from spending quite a bit of time reflecting and reminiscing on his life (and subsequently, mine) these last sixteen years and thinking about the future ahead of him. There’s definitely a bittersweet aspect to it all, as I am filled with a myriad of emotional reactions to his growing up and moving forward.

No one fully warns you when you start thinking about having kids what a roller-coaster of emotion you are about to embark on. It is a truly profound experience. The “wanting” I have felt as a mother for their happiness, for their safety, for their lives and experiences to be filled with all the good and beautiful things in the world and none of the pain and suffering is stronger than almost anything else I have ever experienced. And when you couple that with the awareness of how little control you actually have over the whole business, that experience can be quite staggering. There are many times along the way when as an honest person I have thought to myself, “My God, what was I thinking!” And yet there has never been anything so amazing and beautiful, either.

So as he (and I) pass through this touchstone, and he is learning how he wants to position himself in this life, I too am learning (slowly but surely) how to adjust my role to allow for his growth, to be there to guide and limit, support and encourage, to keep loving and loosen my grasp all at the same time. It’s not easy, in fact I have never done anything this difficult in my life, but it is worth it. The scrapes that I tend to, may be more metaphorical than physical these days, the healing and growth more internal than external, but as I try to ease back and let him make his way, I know that he is an incredible person and I look forward to seeing not only all that he is, but all that he will become. Happy Birthday Sweet Boy, mommy loves you!

 

Squeaky Doors and Life Goals August 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 5:32 am
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Every time I sit down and start to write something on my computer, I need to change the font and the size before I begin. The default setting for my writing program has small, tight little lettering that I cannot read easily. Even when I put on my glasses and the letters pull into focus, I find the font annoyingly petty and hard, and within a couple of words I am compelled to change it to the open larger font that fits my style and visual abilities better. I have tried several times to change the default setting but so far I have been unable to locate it’s carefully hidden home one my computer. Maybe someday it will reveal itself to me and for now I am fine with the routine.

This got me to thinking about the daily accommodations we make in our lives for all of the things that aren’t quite to our liking. There are loads of them. The cabinet door handle which needs to be lifted when closed lest it bang in to the adjacent door, the hook for my towel which has a fondness for dropping my towel to the floor on a regular basis, the friend who always wants to eat dinner earlier than I do when we get together; each of these things require a small bit of extra effort on my part in order to make them work for me. And for now, I am okay with that, a little annoyed or inconvenienced but basically fine.

The question is when do you get to the point when you decide enough is enough and it is time for a real change? The threshold is different for everything. We have the ability to adapt to “unpleasant” circumstances and we do, every day in little ways and in bigger ones. Creating change often requires effort on our part and some things just don’t seem worth the time. If you were to fix every squeaky door in your life – would you be happier or would you start to notice the squeak of the floor boards instead?

We all have a certain amount of resources to work with – and how we meter them out for the things requiring our attention and energy is an individual decision. But I wonder if we were to begin somewhere, anywhere with correcting those things that are not aligned with our preferences would it actually free up more time and energy to pursue what we really want in our lives? If you were to clear one item off of your list of necessary adaptations would you free up the space to pursue a more desirable goal? It’s worth a try isn’t it? After all, wouldn’t you prefer your time and energy was directed more completely toward the goals you really want to pursue? Some accommodations serve a function and our ability to accept them may require little effort – but some? Some things need to be re-aligned, what are the things that you are ready, willing and able to devote your energies to? Figuring that out may be more effort than you are willing or able to expend at this moment – but being on the other side of “the fix” can be a beautiful thing. Think of all the mental energy that you can free up, ahhhhh…

 

The Choice is Yours August 16, 2010

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Looking through quotes this morning to find one to read at the closing of my business networking meeting, I came across this one from an anonymous source:

“Life can either be accepted or changed. If it is not accepted it must be changed. If it is not changed then it must be accepted.”

I liked this one. It was simple and clear and had a definite ring of truth if the goal was to live a life of choice and minimize frustration and dis-contentment. Concurrently, part of me was straining against what I assume to be an over simplification of a complex concept. But I decided to accept the wisdom of it with the knowledge that I could in fact change it a bit to fit my own personal philosophy. This seemed the best of both worlds and clearly in keeping with the sentiment at hand.

For each of us there are elements in our lives that are not completely in line with our goals and desires for ourselves. Not all of these items are within our locus of control, and what action we can take to change them is limited. Our choice then becomes not whether or not we can change those things themselves (a stern and disagreeable boss for instance) but how we will allow those things to affect us and whether or not we want to continue to operate under those circumstances. Some choices, like deciding to leave our job and find a new placement are pretty darned big – and their effects can be felt in almost all areas of our lives. Whether we stay or go – our choice becomes one of accepting or changing not just the circumstance itself but our orientation, outlook and integration of that choice.

For instance, you may think of yourself as a writer, but unable to support yourself with your writing efforts; need to take a job in a totally unrelated field like restaurant work. You might not like this work, the hours are long, you’re on your feet all day, you have to deal with some unpleasant customers and an inflexible manager. But if you see this as an avenue to allow you to have your nights free to write, if you see your experiences and interactions with our co-workers and customers as fodder for character development and your paycheck as a means of buying you time to pursue your dream writing job then it can all be good. Or you may decide that you need to be in a more “literary” setting and work to get yourself a job in the editing department of a local newspaper or publishing company or as a teacher in an adult education program. The choices are endless. The change can be as subtle as a re-orientation of how you view your choice or an acceptance that this is what needs to be done to allow you to do your “real work”. Of course not all our efforts are rewarded either, and that’s a whole other topic.

Accept or Change… each day we have that choice to make and each day our decision may be different. The real trick is to know yourself and your goals – and to understand and appreciate how you have the impact to change your own course with each little decision you make by understanding how they align with what you know inside you and what feeds your true self. What will it be today? Accept? Change? Or a little bit of both?