Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

A Tricky Treat October 31, 2011

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Those of us living in the Northeast were treated to an unseasonable trick this weekend as a heavy, wet snowstorm blanketed several states with snow that covered our pumpkins and felled autumn leaf baring limbs. It wasn’t a lot of fun – particularly for the countless households that lost power, heat and water along with all the damage to property and homes. Boo!

Personally, I am grateful that my household suffered no power loss, though I am afraid my 150+ year old apple tree did not fare so well. Sometime during the night, the largest of the three “trunks” of the tree gave way under the weight of the heavy snow and snapped, though fortunately it landed in the middle of the yard, away from the house and power lines. Nonetheless, it makes me very sad. I don’t know yet if the whole tree will have to come down, since the two remaining trunks are the less healthy of the three to begin with, so time and an arborist will tell what can be salvaged. We shall see…

Reflecting on this event – lots of things have come to mind and I just want to share a few with you.

NATURAL BEAUTY – First, readers of my blog will know, that one of my favorite spots “in” my home, is sitting on my porch, where I go almost everyday, all year-long to sip my coffee and watch the birds. The part of the tree that was destroyed was the most active spot in my yard for my little feathered friends, and I can’t help but wonder where they will alight now.

CHILDHOOD INNOCENCE – Years ago, when the tree was healthier and my boys were younger they spent many a joyful hour running along the embankment of the yard and swinging from the tall branch of that apple. The simple pleasure that it gave them was filled with a sense of the purity of childhood.

GENEROSITY – My neighbor came over yesterday, chain saw in hand to help cut off some of lower hanging limbs of the broken branch. Mine was the sixth house in the neighborhood where he had stopped – to lend a helping hand. He is a generous man, the sort of person you want to have as a neighbor and I feel lucky to have him and his family across the street.

GRATITUDE & PERSPECTIVE – Lots of folks are without heat, water and power today because of this storm. School is cancelled and even the Halloween trick-or-treating has been postponed to later in the week. And though I am not looking forward to the expense and effort necessary to remove my dear old friend, the apple tree, I am grateful that we were spared any real hardship. That said – way beyond the storm damage – I am aware of how fortunate we are in general – compared to some of the circumstances other folks have to face every day.

An ill-timed snowstorm has set life a little off kilter here. And it just makes me think, is all. About all we have, all that is beautiful, all that is innocent, all that we share and all that can be improved upon. Life is funny that way – always setting little reminders in front of us to shake us from complacency and rattle our brains for greater awareness. I will take it, you?

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Making Fire from Smoke October 21, 2011

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Ever have one of those days when you are all jazzed-up and ready to go? You feel energized, excited and have great aspirations for getting a lot accomplished. “It’s gonna be a good day, I just feel it.” And sometimes it works out – just like that – and when the end of the day comes  – you can enjoy a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. But sometimes – all that hopped up energy – has the net result of a “whole lotta smoke – but virtually no fire”. High energy – becomes – nervous energy – and at the end of the day you are left with a sense of bewilderment – “I know I did something today – but I have no idea what it is.” Energy and enthusiasm – keys to forward movement can without direction, keep you busy but not prove to be very fruitful.

Whether you are planning a business or starting your day with great hopes for productivity and success  – it pays to take a moment to slow down and reflect a bit on where you are and what you want to accomplish. Sometimes you may need to use a coach to help you decide what your specific goals are along the way and what are the components necessary to get to them accomplished.

Ever watch a bunch of little kids playing soccer? The field is full of tiny people full of excitement, a frenetic mob of flailing feet and arms chasing a ball “en masse” around a field with little likelihood of actually getting said ball into the net at the end of the field. That’s fine for five-year olds, at that level of the game – the participation, the running around is the game – but if the players on the Manchester United team played the game the same way – they wouldn’t be who they are. Yep – in order to play the game – there is more expected of you then simply stepping out onto the field with a smile on your face – you have to do more.

In order to move forward productively you have to know where you want to go and have a plan for how to get there. If you are starting a new business – it makes sense to begin with a vision and a mission statement, (a passionate enthusiasm for what you are looking to create) but without a business plan for how you are going to do it – chances are you will end up spinning your wheels without really getting anywhere. And so, my thought for the day, take a moment to pause and reflect on what you are trying to get accomplished, make a plan and then execute it. If you need help – then get some. If you can channel your energy and your passion – who knows where you can go – exciting to ponder isn’t it?

 

Why wait? October 14, 2011

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What are you waiting for: Someone to notice you? The right introduction? A winning lottery ticket? Your boss to give you a raise?  What? Who’s in charge here, anyway? I say – You!

If you give all the power to someone or something else to make the changes you need in your life – you may find yourself waiting for a very long time. If you want to move ahead you have to see it, want it and do it – yourself. You have to do what it takes to get yourself noticed, to ask for that introduction and then follow-up on it, you have to start the conversation, take the action and start the ball rolling. A little self-agency goes a long way. Sure, you may luck out – someone else may bestow great things to you – but chances are if you want to get something done – you have to do it yourself. Doing it yourself doesn’t mean doing it alone – there are resources out there to help you along the way – but you have to ask for it, you have to see where you want to go and make a plan to get yourself there and then do it.

The world is waiting to see what it is you have to offer, your time for waiting is over.

 

Here We Go Again… October 12, 2011

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A flock of geese in chevron flight, honk their way across the sky on the way to their winter condo – somewhere warmer then it will be here for the next several months. Yesterday, a Monarch butterfly took a break on its long journey south of the border, to rest on one of the final flowers in my shrinking hanging basket. And though somewhere inside me I resonate with their instinct to fly south where the temperatures will be warmer, the skies bluer and the chance of snow is remote, I know my place is here; watching the leaves turn, prepping the snow blower and readying house and heart for the upcoming New England winter. You know the days will be shorter, the sky darker, the temperatures colder, and the challenges greater but it is your place. And… you know you’ll not only get through it – but you may enjoy yourself a bit a long the way.

There is a crisp, freshness in the air that awakens you in the morning, the beauty of the changing leaves, the sound of their rustle as you paddle down the road, pumpkins, stews and fires in the fireplace. As fall turns to winter and the leaves give way to snowflakes, the yard clean-up switches over to snow removal and a light sweater is replaced by gloves and a wool coat you quietly resolve yourself to the winds of winter, and you hunker down for the ride. Even with the relative unpredictability that global warming has brought to the forecasts, you still know that the seasons will come and go with their earmarks, challenges and beauties, the turning of the seasons, marches forward no matter what.

There are days when dormancy feels about as good as it gets. When snuggling in to your cave feels like the best way to deal with the elements, but you know that it is all temporary and soon you will be witnessing the signs of spring and the re-birth of nature. I never wanted to live where the skies are always blue and the temperatures balmy throughout the year. I would miss the beauty, adventure and challenge of each new season. Spring would not feel as welcome, and the winter holidays would feel strange if winter coats and sweaters did not factor in somehow. I will take the good with the bad, the beauty of a snowflake with the bite of the cold, cause in these here parts, there is a sense of accomplishment when you clear the driveway of two feet of snow, and you don’t just get by, you don’t just survive, you thrive.

Adversity comes at us from all directions, all the time,  though often not with the same predictability with which we can anticipate the change of seasons. There is something to be said for weathering life’s storms, rising to the challenge, gaining new skills and not just making it through – but feeling strengthened by the experience. You can fly away, if that’s what your instincts tell you to do, after all, flight is a viable option for dealing with threats. Your options for dealing with them are limited by your own resources and desires. But sometimes the only way out is through – and as I don another sweater, reheat my coffee and hunker back down into my seat on the porch, I am ready for this most predictable element of life’s cycle. Bring it on…

 

All In and Done? October 7, 2011

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Years ago, before children and when life felt looser and more frivilous than it does now, I had an addiction to attending antique auctions. Each week I would check the newspapers to find the upcoming auctions in the area, snip out the ads, hang them on the refrigerator and plan my schedule to take in as many as I could. There were the more “polished” events with higher end merchandise and a more “professional” atmosphere and the “bargain basement” auctions, where I once purchased an antique, mahogany dresser with attached mirror for a whopping $10. I loved these ones especially – but it was all good. In those days, the auctions were attended primarily by dealers with some other collectors occasionally showing up in the crowd. I never liked when they were there – as they generally drove up the prices on things and changed the feeling of the experience. In fact, in order to justify my addiction, I became a dealer myself, so that I had an excuse to keep going and maybe re-coop some of the money I was spending. But that’s a whole other story and not where I am trying to go today. The one thing they all had in common, was the thrill of the hunt, the excitement of the deal, and thrill of a bid-won. Over the years, there were more and more final-end-users at these events which dampened the experience. In addition, I became a mom, and though I tried to bring my son, nestled in his baby-carrier on my back – it just wasn’t the same and I just couldn’t participate the way I had before, so my days as an antique auction attendee and dealer faded away.

But when I was there, each “auction house” had its standard staff at most events and the callers were the guys who really created the atmosphere that I so enjoyed. It was a game of waiting, waiting for the item you were interested in to come up to the block, waiting for the caller to set the opening bid and then waiting for the buyers to start bidding. The sound of the auctioneer’s rapid-fire speech, the skill of the bidder’s ability to reduce the increment of financial acceleration and the adrenaline that a coveted item could generate was all a part of the thrill. Until you heard the caller’s final utterance “All in and done… sold to number 17 for $75 dollars” (or whatever the closing bid was) it was a rush. It was the “last call” – quite literally. “All in and done” – sometimes I loved the sound of that phrase, particularly if I was the person who had won the bid and if it was a good price. But there were times, when it felt like torture. You had your chance, do you really want stop there? Can you afford to go just a little but higher ? Are you sticking to your plan, or are you going over what you budgeted for that item? ‘Cause once it’s all in and done, you don’t get another shot…

This phrase has popped into my head on and off throughout the years. “All in and Done” – is that as far as I am willing to go, willing to pay, willing to push? Sometimes the answer is “yes”, I am done, I have worked as hard as I can, spent enough of my resources on an activity and feel ready and satisfied that I have completed a job to my satisfaction. Sometimes however, the answer is “no”, I could go farther, work longer, do more and then I have a choice to make to see if I would like to stay in the game a little longer or gracefully “bow out”. It’s important to know your limits as you move forward. It helps to have a plan and stick to it. You don’t want to push yourself to the point of exhaustion and deplete your resources, but simultaneously, it does provide a certain sense of satisfaction to know you have given your all to a project, a task, a life. ‘Cause at the end of the day, when you hear that last call, how are you gonna feel about the effort you have put forth?

So I ask you today – are you all in and done?

 

Legacy October 6, 2011

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“Are you blogging today?” My friend asked as we instant messaged on Facebook this morning. “I am thinking about it”, I said, “still trying to decide what to write about.” Feeling a bit off schedule with my morning plans, contemplating the options, and working my way into the day. And so far, all I can really think about is the passing of Steve Jobs. I suppose a lot of people are thinking about him his morning, what he created and how he impacted their lives. It’s quite impressive, really. One person, following their intuition, creating their own path and pushing forward through life’s adversities, creates a legacy that influences so many others.

I am not a Mac user, nor do I own any of the “iproducts” that he created, but I felt his impact all the same, after all it seems that most of the other competing technology followed Apple’s lead anyway. But that’s not how he touched my life. It was his vision, his “message” that appealed to my values. The ideas of being true to yourself, following your vision, and persevering through life’s pitfalls, resonates with my very core. I have quoted Jobs on many occasions, co-opting his words which simply and eloquently spoke to this theme. “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”  (Steve Jobs) Good stuff and inspiring…

But as Seth Godin (another thought leader) put so well in his late night blog: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/10/a-eulogy-of-action.html the best tribute that any of us can give, is to take action on our own dreams and visions. Someday, people will be looking back on our contributions, wouldn’t it be nice to know you inspired someone to be their best?

 

Sea Tales October 5, 2011

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The days sure are full, aren’t they? Countless numbers of tasks, calls, errands and responsibilities to attend to  at any given moment await your attention. Which items get to rise to the top of the list, and which will sink down into the silt at the bottom of the pool, waiting for their chance to rise again to the surface. Swimming through the quagmire of responsibilities can often leave you feeling a bit lost at sea – with the shoreline always up ahead on the horizon. You’re tired, would like to flip over on your back and just float a bit – but knowing if you do so you will be washed further away from the shore. So, what choice do you really have? Keep moving forward or get washed out to sea.

Every day we are faced with choices – that pull us in all directions – and the decision is ours about how we want to address them or not. It isn’t easy – some days the best decision is to rest a bit – to indulge yourself a little, take a walk, a nap and a break. There is only so much energy there to draw from and when your body, mind and spirit are telling you that you need some time to replensih – it is important to listen to that pull. But once you have rested a bit – you have to dive back in. Because if you don’t do it – noone else is going to magically step in and do it for you. It’s your life – you are steering this vessel, where do you want to land? Focus in on that final landing place – what are you after – where are you trying to go – what is important to you and who are you doing this for? Holding on to the vision of your own personal goals and aspirations is key. Because the only way to get to where you are going is to know where you are headed.

Once you have your end goals in mind, decide how you want to get there, what needs to get done to reach the markers along the way and let yourself be fueled by your own vision. It’s okay to ask for help along the way. Having someone like a coach to help you articulate your plans, hold on to your vision, and weather the storms along the voyage can be a great tool. Because at the end of the day – the accomplishment is yours, and ultimately getting to the goal is never a task done totally in a vaccum. But the real key – is to keep moving forward even if ironically sometimes that means staying still, look around you and use the resources at your disposal, hold the hope and the vision for where you are headed as a treasure and find in it the fuel you will need to keep you going, cause when you get there, ahhhhh Paradise.