Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Lessons from Flowers March 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 11:26 am
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Hanging Flowers (I promise that someday soon – I will once again post a blog, that is just that… a blog. But since lately I have been pre-occupied with various other projects – I thought I would once again share an article that I wrote a while ago for the The Divorce Support Center about resilience, personal agency and self-care which has just been published and featured on their home page. It is relevant for all of us, I think – no matter what our marital status is!)

About an hour ago, I stepped out onto my porch to see two very sad looking hanging baskets. Vines drooping, flower heads sadly bent toward the ground and leaves folding in on themselves – all combined in one plaintive and unmistakable plea, “Water, please!” So, I obliged, as I always do, except for on the days that I forget, like yesterday, apparently… An hour or so later, when I went back outside to add an empty bottle to the recycling bin, I looked up to see my floral friends: refreshed and rejuvenated. This got me to thinking… Wouldn’t it be nice if people could “perk up” as quickly and easily as a freshly watered flower?

Life is hard. Stress abounds. And that is especially true when you are going through a divorce. There simply is so much to deal with on top of the needs and responsibilities of just regular old everyday life – that it is no wonder that some days we just end up feeling wilted and defeated. While it would be nice to wish for days of endless sunshine, plentiful water and the proper nutrients needed for continual and blissful growth, the reality is that sometimes the sun doesn’t shine, the rain doesn’t fall and the nutrients become depleted. So what’s a plant or a person to do?

Luckily, unlike plants whose personal agency is severely limited by nature and the sometimes faulty memories of our caretakers – as people we have much greater control. So the question is what can you put in your own metaphorical watering can on those days when you are feeling a little wilted? Each of us will answer that question differently, wouldn’t we? For some it could be an extra hour in bed, while others might choose to awaken early to have enough time for the gym or a brisk walk before work. Some might pick-up the phone and call a friend while others might take out their journal, pour a cup of tea and snuggle up in a comfy chair to work through their thoughts and feelings on paper. Maybe you want to do a little meditation to clear your mind or head out to hear some live music and dance so much that your negative feelings are left somewhere underfoot on the dance floor. The options are as infinite as each of us is unique. But the common denominator, is taking the time to reflect on what we need a bit and to give ourselves the nurturing that’s required.

The solutions may not be as simple as sunshine, water and nutrients – but that’s really more of a blessing than a curse. So fill that watering can and keep it close because, “You in full bloom – is a beautiful thing!”

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Make a Wish… March 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 12:26 pm
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birthday cakeHere’s an article of mine which was just featured on the Divorce Support Center website. http://divorcesupportcenter.com/

My sons aren’t “little” anymore, though they were when their father and I got divorced. And that was scary! I think the single biggest issue for their father and I

when we decided that our marriage was simply not going to work, was how to end it in such a way that the impact did not negatively affect our children. It wasn’t easy.

Because truly, with the exception of possibly ending an abusive, volatile relationship – how could a divorce negatively affect the kids? The very nature of the beast requires significant changes at the very core of our lives for all of the parties involved, and the importance of stability at home is probably felt most acutely by those who have the least control and resources with which to understand it – the children.

In fact, it is probably true that many couples, stay together “for the children,” despite their own personal needs and desires to separate. Not too long ago, that was probably “the norm,” but not so much anymore. And I am not going to digress here into the “rightness” or “wrongness” of a couple’s decision to remain married or not, there are enough eager voices out there who are willing to judge the life choices of others, mine is not one of them. But I will say this, if you are a parent whether you choose to divorce or stay together – you absolutely have a responsibility to do your best to give your children what they need to grow up into confident, healthy and well-adjusted members of society.

So what does that mean exactly? Well, in the case of divorce, it means keeping your children out of the emotional fray, letting them know how much they are loved, providing as stable and consistent a home life as possible, fostering healthy relationships with both of their parents, being there to support their emotions, and finding other outlets to deal with your own: for starters.

And you may not want to hear this but if you thought that parenting was challenging before, you better brace yourself for the challenges of single-parenthood, which is not to say that it won’t at some point become easier and more normative. But if the situation allows it, the reality is, they still have another parent and is your best option. It isn’t always easy; after all your emotions are running high, too.

But you are the grown-up, and your children need you now more than ever to act like one. Agreeing with your spouse to put the needs of your kids first – is the first step. And you may need to remind yourselves, over and over, and in countless ways, what this actually means on a day-to-day basis – but you will be rewarded in the long run.

Last week was my son’s nineteenth birthday. It was his tenth birthday since his father and I separated. And I was a bit surprised when about a week earlier he had asked me if his dad could join us for dinner. I said, “Yes.” And though clearly it wasn’t the “nuclear family” of yester-year, it was a pleasant evening. I made his favorite dinner and his dad made his favorite cake. I don’t think any of us, for even a moment were fooled by the guest list into thinking that we were the same family that we had been years before, and yet we were still a family inextricably and forever bound to one another.

It was awkward and fine. But most importantly, my sons were both happy, and that’s what it’s all about.

 

Forward Footsteps February 28, 2014

FeetHere’s an article of mine which was just featured on the Divorce Support Center website. http://divorcesupportcenter.com/

“Baby Steps” – we all know what that means, right? The small forward movements we make in our life to get us closer to where we want to be. They are as important to acknowledge as they are to take. After all, if you are making forward movement in your life but are discounting or failing to recognize those steps, how will they impact you?
You don’t need me to tell you how difficult going through the divorce process can be, if you are reading this likely you are experiencing it, firsthand. So many areas of your life are in flux – that it can be harder to recognize: “what stayed the same?” than “what has changed?” And along the way, as these changes unfold you are right in there, making adjustments, alterations and compromises as your new life is unfolding in front of you. And how do you get there? One little step at a time. Today, you unpack the clothes from your closet, tomorrow you open a new checking account, the next day you speak to your child’s teacher, and on and on and on.
Sometimes it feels like the process will never end. You’re six months, one year, two years or even more into the process, but the divorce still isn’t finalized. The reality is that even when it is – you still aren’t done, because the adjustments to your newly “single again” life are going to keep coming one after the other, too. You spend your first night alone in your home for the first time in years, your toilet needs to be fixed, you don’t know how to do it and your former spouse isn’t there to help you, your kids are adjusting to their new routine in a two household family, and you find yourself with a free night to do whatever you want to do – but have no idea what that even means anymore! But day after day you will face these changes, make decisions about what to do and not do, cry into your pillow and smile at your progress even if at times it feels like a pretty meager victory.
It takes a lot of strength and a lot of courage to get a divorce. It’s heart-wrenching and liberating, painful and affirming – and you will make it through, one step at a time. Because that’s what we do – we adapt, we evolve, we move forward – there is no other choice in the constantly changing landscape of our lives. So while you are at it – take a moment, lift your head and look around at how far you have come. Give credit where credit is due, as they say… Sometimes the best we can do on any given day is to just “show-up” for ourselves. And that can be enough, the “new normal” is just down the road a piece, and when we get there, that will change too! Life is change, and we move forward into our futures one moment and one step at a time. Envision your future, acknowledge your past and step forward into this new life – it is waiting for you.

 

Sleepy Bear January 29, 2014

HibernationI think I have been hibernating. That’s what I am going to go with anyway. It’s wintertime, and this year with the “polar vortex” turning the cold season into the frigid season, it feels even more appropriate than usual to pull inward until the world begins to thaw.
In my head, hibernation has always meant dormancy; a long, slow, quiet, sleep – but my current experience calls for a little redefinition of that concept. Yes, there is a palpable, quiet, sleepiness to life at the moment – but there is also much going on. It’s just that the activity is more inward than outward. For me, these last few weeks have really been about pulling inward: reflecting, planning, reviewing and taking stock. My mind is alive and awake with a quiet intensity that fills all my waking moments, and some of my sleeping ones, too.
And, I like it. It feels powerful, it feels necessary and it feels right. In all honesty, no matter what the season, my mind rarely sleeps, there is always a lot of activity in there – but something about this particular season’s meanderings feels different. There is a sense of reflection and quiet, retooling and making ready that covers my consciousness like the quiet stillness of a fresh snow.
I will welcome the spring warmth when it arrives, but I am in no hurry. Clearly, nature has its time for all things, and being right here, right now, is where I need to be. When I awake, stomach grumbling and ready to move out in search of nourishment, I will welcome the re-birth of the season. “All things in their own time”, comes to mind. Mindfully, taking pleasure in the gifts of the moment, knowing soon the seasons will change and new moments will bring their own lessons, their own gifts and their own challenges. Sweet dreams…

 

Resolve to Achieve Goals January 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 11:58 am
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Happy New YearIt’s the beginning of a New Year and for many folks that means it’s time for “New Year’s Resolutions”. You know what resolutions are, they are those promises you make to undertake some sort of self-improvement or other benevolent or positive task of one sort or another. What you may not know is that I am “not a fan” of the whole New Year’s Resolution phenomenon. This may seem counter-intuitive since I am a coach and all, and my work is deeply rooted in supporting my clients in their personal and professional goals. But to me, resolutions are a bit of a recipe for failure. There is shallowness to them in my mind, a thought without a plan, and a wish without a vision. In fact, according to Wikipedia – “A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning.” Not the greatest of odds really.

That said, I am a big fan of setting goals and I do think that the beginning of a new year is a great time to start. While in all honesty, I believe one can be successful with starting work on their goals at any time of the year there is a “psychological” boost that a new year offers that primes us for a “fresh start”. So, what’s the big difference? Is this just a matter of semantics here? I don’t think so.

While a resolution may carry within it the necessary spark to get the fire burning, a goal provides the shelter for the flame, the kindling, the firewood and the purpose. Goals if they are to be successful require more thought and planning in order to be properly executed. They require; a roadmap along the way, a vision, sub-goals, supports and encouragements, a strategy for obstacles and distractions, awareness, a system to check, recheck and reevaluate along the way and accountability. Goals have meat on their bones that can make them strong enough to withstand the elements; where in my mind resolutions only provide the skeletal framework. As a life coach, this belief is very much a part of what I do when I am working with my clients.

Yep, sometimes like with resolutions, we do not meet our goals. Sometimes we abandon “Plan A” and move on to “Plan B”. Life is like that and though at times it can be unpleasant, we can often survive and even move forward more successfully with fresh lessons learned making our experience more successful. So if you have made a New Year’s Resolution this year, don’t let me rain on your parade as I do truly offer you my best wishes for success. Use the fresh start of the New Year – it’s a little gift from the universe to get you thinking in a positive direction AND consider going deeper, fleshing out the details of your dreams, creating a goal that you will be meaningful for you and taking all the steps necessary to ensure your success.

And… If you would like to speak to a coach to help you along the way? I may know someone who would be honored to join you on your journey.

 

Perspective, Peace and the New Year January 2, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 8:46 am
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PeaceThought I would break my “radio silence” of the last few weeks and do a little posting today. Between the extra activities of the holidays and the need to spend some time doing a little quiet internal reflection, I haven’t really felt like I have had either the time or the inclination to do any writing. That said it also feels strange to let the passing of one year and the beginning of a new one go by without “logging-in” on some level – so here I am.

For me, as for many of us, the end of the year accompanied by the winter weather is a time for drawing inward; both in the physical sense as the cold often prohibits as much time spent outdoors and in a mental sense as I don’t think I could stop myself (even if I cared to try, which I don’t) from reviewing the events of the last year and thinking about where I want the next year to take me. I am “a thinker” so this sort of activity suits me well and has a comfortable familiarity to it. At the same time, this pull to self-reflect often means that any writing that I may be inclined to do is for “personal use only” – so sitting down to write a blog takes a bit more effort than usual right now. And while I am still in the throes of this state of being, deciding upon what I do want to share in this forum is difficult.

So I shall make it simple on myself and share what on New Year’s Eve, I decided is the thing from 2013 that I am most grateful for…

I am grateful to have both of my sons (and often my boyfriend) home here with me and for the peaceful, easy atmosphere that seems to be the general zeitgeist of our household this year. There is just something lovely about having the three people I most adore here with me, each living their own lives while simultaneously connecting with one another. As my boys grow into young men, their respective personalities coming more fully into focus – I find that I couldn’t be more proud of the people that they are becoming. They are totally different from one another, and while their lives, (and everyone else’s), are not without their challenges, they doing as well as they can with what they have before them. Everyone is doing their own thing – working on their own agendas and yet together in a harmonious way. I know that the current circumstances of “where” they are in their lives will be changing soon enough, but for right now, I am just enjoying what it is.

I guess when I think about it, I can’t really ask for anything more. Sure there are specifics that could be running more smoothly, challenges that cause stress present themselves each day but in my mind, the year overall has been a good one.

There are other dimensions, there is more to consider, there always is, but on a fundamental level I am grateful and at peace. As I dance through my mind; viewing, reviewing, assessing, pondering, planning, interpreting and working through all the bits from every perspective – I cannot underestimate the importance of this most fundamental aspect of the overall picture. Until, I am ready for the next installment, I wanted to wish you a Happy New Year and to say that I sincerely hope that the upcoming year brings you much growth, inspiration, passion, joy and peace. –Lisa

 

Through the Eyes of a Child December 13, 2013

eyes
(As some of you may know, I am a regular, contributing expert on divorce for several online publications. The below post, is actually a copy of my most recent submission, so the “voice” of the article may sound a little different than what you are used to here. That said, I think it’s an important topic, particularly at this time of year, so I thought I would share it here, too.)

“Sorry I couldn’t give you that game console you asked for, if your dad paid his child support on time, maybe I would have been able to afford it.”
“It looks like it’s just you and me for the holidays this year, your mom is so wrapped up in her new family, she doesn’t have time for us.”
“Is your father going to do anything at all for the holidays, or does he just expect that I will do everything, just like I always did when we were married?”

When you read words like that, you may think, “I would never say such a thing in front of my children, even if I was thinking it” and if that’s the case and it never happens – then great! You are doing well, with something that is often very difficult to “master” in the wake of a divorce, particularly, if it was a contentious one. But for many it is hard to not let your feelings and frustrations bubble over, particularly at this time of year, when added responsibilities and financial pressures can make you feel squeezed beyond your normal tolerance level. It’s hard, it’s really hard and sometimes even with the best of intentions, we may vent in front of our kids often in an effort to explain away what we are a experiencing as some sort of inability to create the holiday memories for our children that we had wanted to. But clearly, allowing ourselves to let these sort of comments, slip out can be a lot worse for our kids than whatever it was we were trying to justify or explain away in the first place.

Have you ever really thought about what your child hears and feels when you say something like this? Chances are, it is not what you intended.

It doesn’t give them a better understanding of why there are less presents under the tree. It doesn’t prove to them that you are the parent who has their best interest in mind. And it doesn’t benefit anyone to have them “choose a side”. All it really does is – hurt.

This is their mother or their father that you are talking about. Children need to know that their parents love and care about them and undermining that, doesn’t really just undermine your ex, it undermines the very foundation of a child’s self-worth and self-confidence. It is true in some circumstances, the other parent may be disengaged, non-supportive or even abusive – but driving that home isn’t really the best message you could be giving your child; not at the holidays and frankly, not anytime.

If you need to vent, write in your journal, give out a scream when you are driving alone in your car, talk to your family, friends, therapist, coach or support group – but leave your kids out of it. The best gift you can give your kids this holiday is: yourself. Let them know, you are there, that you love them, are proud of them and a grateful to have them in your life. We can all go without “stuff”. One more video game left on the store shelf due to lack of funds, pales in comparison to the warmth and confidence of a child who knows they are valued and cared for. Do not let your disappointments become theirs. It’s not about the stuff, it never has been. Look through the eyes of your child, take a moment to see the world as they see it – and then give them what they really need. It doesn’t and will never come in a box.