I 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…
Sleepy Bear January 29, 2014
Resolve to Achieve Goals January 6, 2014
It’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
Thought 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
(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.
The Power of Us, Indeed! December 6, 2013
Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a blog about my experience attending my first MA Conference for Women https://firebirdlifecoach.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/the-power-of-8000-women/. Now a year later, I am writing this post, about my experience at the same conference that I attended yesterday. And while the words whirl around inside of my mind looking to form themselves into clear and coherent sentences, I shall borrow a comment from last year’s post that more simply encapsulates the experience of the day – Wow!
Working on the sheer magnitude of the event itself; the gigantic space, the caliber of the speakers, and the number of attendees – it was at the least, impressive and more accurately, awe-inspiring. This year’s attendance total topped the previous year’s record-breaking numbers, with a sold-out crowd of 10,000! Making it the largest women’s conference in the country. Holy cow! Do you have any idea how large a space has to be to accommodate a sit-down luncheon for that many people? Well I didn’t before I saw it with my own eyes. In all honesty, it took my mind a moment to comprehend what my eyes were taking in. http://www.maconferenceforwomen.org/
Like last year, the experience was highlighted by some fabulous keynote speakers. Susan Cain, author of Quiet, a powerful book that is bringing introverts out of the shadows and into their gifts. Linda Cliatt-Wayman, principal of Strawberry Mansion High School in Philadelphia, who saw a need, and made a choice to uplift, empower and love some children who desperately needed the intervention of her caring and dynamic presence. Doris Kearns-Goodwin, world-renowned historian who has documented and illuminated some of history’s most significant leaders. Blake Mycoskie, founder of Tom’s Shoes, who found a way to create a business model that “gave back” every step along the way. Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate, peace activist and women’s advocate, who used her power and compassion to create real change in the lives of women and girls whom life had forgotten. These were only some of the movers, shakers and luminaries – from keynotes to break-out session leaders – whose stories alone were worth the price of admission.
But this year, the thing that stood out for me the most was the privilege I had to represent the International Coaching Federation – New England Chapter as one of fifty certified coaches that provided coaching services to attendees. http://www.icfne.org/
What a wonderful experience that was! In the space of two hours, I had the honor of meeting and coaching, six beautiful women, each on their own journeys, each with their own challenges, gifts and goals – and to share my gifts and talents with them to aid them on their paths forward. It is hard to put into words, the sense of gratitude and honor I feel to have been able to contribute and connect, even for such a brief time with these individuals. To these women, and in fact to all of us who were present yesterday, may we be fueled by the inspiration that the day provided to step into our own power and to step out into the world and make a change for the better. I am proud and honored to have been there with you! – Lisa
One More Item for the List December 2, 2013
(I don’t generally “cross my writing over”, but for the sake of economy – today’s blog is the text from my monthly newsletter. Freeing to birds with one click, if you will… For those who receive both – sorry for the overlap.)
Well, its December already, how the heck did that happen? Many of us find that this time of year brings a lot of “extras”, extra shopping, extra cooking, extra socializing, etc. And while most of you are likely not going to welcome the fact that I am about to suggest that you add one more thing to your already growing lists – I promise this is one you may want to do. 😉
As our calendar year draws to a close, this is a great time to do a little internal reflection on the year that is about to draw to close. As we get ready to bid farewell to 2013 and begin a new in 2014, why not spend a little time reflecting on what the past year has been like for you? Consider where you were as 2013 rolled in and what changes and developments have taken place for you.
- What were you most proud of?
- What have you learned?
- What were your struggles?
- What were your achievements?
- How have you grown?
- What memories do you want to savor?
- In what ways did you take care of yourself, the people and things that are important to you?
It won’t be long before we are beginning a new year, when often we begin again in earnest to commit ourselves to those things that are important to us both personally and professionally, so taking stock before moving forward makes sense now more than ever.
You don’t have to make a big deal out of it. If you choose to ponder the year and write down what comes to you then great. If you choose to just let yourself consider these questions as wait in line at the mall, then that’s fine too. Planning forward is great but missing the lessons you have learned along the way because you didn’t make time to acknowledge them is a gift lost.
Reviewing where you are and where you have been allows you space to envision where you want to be. It’s a part of the process and an important one, so go ahead add it onto the list, it doesn’t cost anything, there’s no clean-up, and no wrapping paper – but it is still a gift you can give yourself during this busy holiday season.
Happy Giant November 30, 2013
Well it’s the last day of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) and this is my final blog for this year’s participation. It looks like, I have managed to post eighteen out of a possible thirty, and I am feeling pretty good about that. When I first learned about NaBloPoMo on the afternoon of November 1st, I couldn’t help but thinking that this little “incentive” couldn’t have come at a worse time for me. The first couple of weeks of this month, (along with the last several months) of my life had been dominated by my participation in an Expo, the size of which surpassed anything that I had previously been a part of. And while one might wonder what exactly could have been so labor intensive about it, I can tell you that it piled A LOT of extra projects on my plate.
As part of my participation I had set a number of goals for myself, including but not limited to creating a number of new print materials, writing three eBooks, planning and marketing four new coaching groups andwriting a one hour presentation among a number of less intensive tasks. So taking on NaBloPoMo in the last couple of weeks of this push, seemed like a crazy idea that was destined for failure. But at the same time, I think I was in hyper-drive mode and I have thought a lot over the last several months about how I had lost my blog amongst my other writing projects in the last year and that simply was not sitting well. So while, the temptation was to say, “I can’t do it, the timing is just wrong”, I also knew that there are always “valid” reasons why “now isn’t a good time” for so many things that are more; wants than needs, and so, I began.
Participating in this “event” was really important for me.
• For one, I have re-learned what I already know, that if we wait for the path to be clear before we move forward on doing something we want, we can wait forever. I knew this already, and while I resist it in some corners of my life, I had let it take hold where my blog was concerned.
• I also realized that my “blog voice” is different from my other “writing voices”, and after a period of relative disuse it had grown hoarse. It took me longer than usual to find the place of flow from which I was used to writing my blogs in the past. My early efforts this past month felt more like “journal entries” than posts, but the more I kept at it the more it came back into focus.
• I knew already how much I loved to write, but lately my writing had taken a different direction. As a regular contributing expert on divorce for a few online publications, I forgot what it was like to have a more “free-choice” writing opportunity. While my other writing is still gratifying for me, and I look forward to being published in the spring in a compilation book about divorce, I do love just sitting down and writing about whatever it is I want to address as well.
• And lastly, I learned that I can get water from a stone. That there exists inside me, and likely within each of us, that ability to be true to those things that we value and that this connection will not disappoint when we want to tap into it again.
So thank-you to whoever came up with this idea in the first place. I am glad you awakened my sleeping giant. I hope to roam this fertile countryside for a while now, so I expect that you will hear again from me soon as November rolls into December. Thank-you to those of you who have been kind enough to read what I have written, to have liked, commented or followed me during the last month and who have helped to make me feel encouraged along the way. I needed that, and I am grateful for it. Maybe I will bump into you over the next rise as you too, traverse the possibilities.
This Moment in Time November 29, 2013
It’s Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. The refrigerator is full, the dining room table has returned to its usual size, the serving pieces are put away. Like many folks, I am lucky to be enjoying a day off, not to participate in the “Black Friday” shopping rush (which I believe is a day of unnecessary chaos and “trumped-up bargains”) but just to take a breather. Yes, yesterday was a holiday, but it was a busy one, filled with cleaning, cooking and general doing, and I really just need a day of rest. Like many solo-preneurs most weekends are still filled with work activities, though I do get the benefit of being able to manage my time in a way that works for me.
Ever since we turned the clocks back, I have been waking earlier than usual, and today was no exception, despite my best efforts to go back to sleep. But that’s okay with me – I do love being up as the day begins in a quiet house where no one is asking me for anything, well, no one except for the cats that is. My older son is up and off to work already at his retail job and the younger is enjoying a little extra time in bed, since he doesn’t work until the afternoon, and my boyfriend is slumbering happily upstairs. It’s all good. Right now I am waiting for my banana bread to finish baking while I enjoy a fresh cup of coffee. And then? Then, I have no idea what I am doing, and for right now I am okay with that.
In general, I am an organizer and a planner, so often, when faced with a bit of free time; I have to actually “work” at just being present and relaxing. My mind typically is a buzz with lists of things that I want and need to get done. But there just seems something antithetical about “planning downtime”, don’t you think so? I know what I don’t care to do today; no shopping, no movies, no cleaning, no organizing, no working. I have a couple of ideas things that I might like to do today; writing my blog, taking a walk, doing some artwork, and enjoying the presence of my loved ones. That’s it – I would just like to let the day lazily unfold before me, and if an opportunity arises for a little spontaneous enjoyment – then I am in.
Right now, it’s about right now. Literally, being in the moment, for me it’s as luxurious as it gets and a personal goal. I am grateful to be a planner but it has its downsides. Sometimes, I miss out on what’s right in front of me in the moment, which is not to say that I am not able to notice the beauty and excellence that are all around us each day and to enjoy and be grateful for it. But I know there is room for improvement. So that’s my plan, what am I doing today? I am being present. That’s it and whatever specifically that means has yet to unfold, and right now, that is more than enough. Hoping your moments meet your needs today.
Harvesting the Holiday Heart November 27, 2013
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and all across the country families and friends will gather together to enjoy a traditional meal accented with turkey and pie and various other special foods. And at some point likely they will “give thanks”, because in many ways that is what this holiday is all really about. While doing so – likely people will also reflect on those who are not with them this year, and those who are alone on this holiday or are for one reason or another less fortunate to be able to celebrate in the same way. On the news; you hear stories about celebrity athletes bringing pies to local food pantries, church and community collections to gather a variety of items to distribute to those who otherwise would not have a turkey this year. This time of year, when the temperatures drop, and while men and women are deployed overseas in the services, and the general populace is thinking not only about shopping and cooking and decorating – one can predict an up-tick in the expressions of gratitude and generosity. It’s a good thing.
And while I don’t want to throw a damper on what is truly a great expression of our humanity – I can’t help but find myself thinking about where this spirit goes during the rest of the year. After all, those who are in need and alone and the many gifts for which we are grateful on the holidays don’t magically appear on Thanksgiving and disappear on the first day of the New Year.
Back in 2001, after the tragedies of September 11th, for a while, it seemed that people were kinder to one another. There was a sense of a community drawn together in mourning and grief that in the horror of the moment were able to look at one another through a different lens than they had before – a lens of interconnectedness. There was a sense of shared humanity, of gratitude for life itself and of deep caring not just for those in our immediate lives but for the broader community. Is life such that we are only drawn together in this way in moments of great tragedy and of shared tradition?
My wish this holiday season is that we connect with this part of ourselves in a more enduring and constant way, that we appreciate all of the little blessings that we have in our lives and that we look upon one another through our hearts and not just our minds. So do your holiday thing; give thanks, donate, volunteer, remember and cherish – be fully grateful for the breath you draw today. And then tomorrow, when you are back on the highway during rush hour, when you are standing in line at the department store and impatiently rushing to finish your errands – use those eyes to see the elderly person who is driving slowly in front of you, the economically stretched parent who is paying for his child’s clothes with a pile of coupons and the co-worker who stands by your desk to chat too long each morning. If you can do it for a day, or a season, you can do it every day. Peace, happiness and gratitude to you and yours this Thanksgiving.
In Every Season November 24, 2013
We woke this morning to a light dusting of snow. Which was perfect, since the only part I can remember from my very active dreaming last night was that, I awoke in my dream, to the first dusting of snow. I was glad that I hadn’t had a dream about the first blizzard of the season as I was not ready for that just yet! Beyond the snow the temperatures here never rose above twenty-four degrees Fahrenheit on my outdoor thermometer and the wind was ferocious. And… there was something thrilling about all of it.
When I was little, winter was my favorite season. I enjoyed the crispness in the air, and the snow, the lovely, quiet, magical snow. I wasn’t a skier, though when I grew older I did find I enjoyed cross-country skiing. Nor, have I ever liked the layers of extra clothing or the early disappearance of the sun from the afternoon sky – and yet winter was my favorite time of year. Now as I am older, with a sometimes questionable back and the responsibility of; if not doing all of the snow removal, at least the coordination of said removal, along with the cost of the winter heating bills and that has taken a bit of the bloom off of the winter rose.
At this point in my life, I guess all of the seasons are my favorites. They each have their upsides and their downsides – but I guess the thing that stands out to me most – is how beautiful each season can be. Trees are lovely for instance; in early bud, in full bloom, in autumn glory and in their slender delicacy without leaves. There is something equally lovely about the first warm breezes of spring, the hot sun in summer, the crisp coolness of fall and the brisk bracing blast of winter cold.
Summer – Passionate Life,
Autumn – Harvest and Home,
Winter – Reflection.
It’s all good. I may be singing a different tune a few weeks from now, but today, I am grateful for the first day of “real” cold and wintry flakes. I guess reflecting on the seasons is a lot like reflecting on life itself, there are ups and downs, good bits and bad – but viewed from a certain perspective all parts have their place and the frozen days of our lives make the warm breezes all the more welcome.