Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Harvesting the Holiday Heart November 27, 2013

TurkeyTomorrow 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.

 

Happy Interdependence Day July 3, 2013

FireworksI just got back from doing a few, quick morning errands – and I’m feeling good. Not good – because I got them out of the way before it gets really hot outside. Not good – because now have the time to do the writing and coaching related projects I need to accomplish. Not good – because there were fewer cars on the road due to tomorrow’s holiday. But good because people seemed unusually polite and generous this morning.

Hopefully, without sounding like an old woman, reminiscing about the “good old days”, I can say that I can’t help but feeling like this sort of kindness used to be the norm years ago. People just treated each other more civilly, or so it seemed. These days everyone seems so wrapped up in their own lives and priorities that they seem to see other people as mere obstacles in their path, to be passed out, knocked over, maneuvered around and defeated in an invisible competition for first place in a daily race to nowhere. I think it speaks a lot to the stress everyone is feeling – it’s as if we have created personalized, myopic vision in which others just don’t matter.

There are isolated times when the veil is lifted – and people are able to see each other again. I noticed this phenomenon first after 9/11. Connected by a collective grief and shock – there was a kindness to casual interactions that only days before did not exist. It happened again after the Marathon bombing. It’s as if people quietly were each reminded of the humanity in each other. Tragedy slams us into the realization that these obstacles in our paths are in fact, regular people, just like us. Sometimes, the holidays can bring this on, too. I remember always feeling like strangers treated each other more civilly on Christmas, for instance. But as time passes from tragedy or holiday – many of us slip back into our singular self-absorbed worlds.

So that’s why I was surprised today when fellow shoppers held doors for one another, or allowed cars to pull in front of them – I just wasn’t expecting it. Tomorrow is a holiday, the 4th of July, so maybe it’s just bleed over, but whatever it is – we need more of it. I don’t suppose the guy who let me take a left-hand turn into the bank parking lot in front of him this morning, had any idea that three hours later I would still be thinking of that little moment of generosity, nor the person who held the door at the convenience store, or the friendly smiling face of the cashier. But there was something in the air this morning – and it effected me.

It’s a good reminder – for me and for all of us to recognize that each person with whom we come into contact has their own challenges, stresses and gifts. That each person, should be treated with dignity, respect and kindness. That we are all just trying to do our best here. that it’s easier to be kind then we might think it is. And – that we are not alone. Each life is separate, each struggle a personal challenge, but each inextricably dependent on one another for peaceful coexistence. A month or so ago – there was a single winner of a large lottery jackpot – and as the story unfolded we learned that one woman had let the elderly woman who purchased the winning ticket step ahead of her in line. And while she could have been racked with regret by giving away her chance to win the big jackpot, she was okay. There was no regret. A sense that it turned out the way it was meant to – comforted her decision. I don’t know how many of us would have felt that way.

So as you go off into your day today (and everyday) may I suggest that you – “lift the veil”. Those people out there, the ones that cut in front of you in line and drive too slowly – are PEOPLE! Real-life, flesh and blood humans, just like you – with their own joys, sorrows and struggles. Try seeing them with your heart, rather than your head – try treating them the way you want to be treated. It’s up to us people – a little kindness goes a long way – make someone’s day! Happy Independence Day – don’t forget that we are all Interdependent! 🙂

 

Finding your Kingdom February 24, 2010

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So I found myself in an interesting discussion about Gratitude and Passion yesterday. A friend who had read my blog post had made the comment that I was not “The Princess of Gratitude” I was the in fact, “The Princess of Passion”. And it’s true, passion is my thing, and working with others to discover and realize their passions in also my thing. But I have to at the very least show my appreciation for gratitude. I can say that for years though I was not what you might call “an ingrate” I did not have the presence of gratitude in my life in the way that it is now. However, I have always been a passionate person. It is an element of who I am that I can trace back over time and find at many a stage. The tie-in for me is that both of these “world views” emerged (or re-emerged) at the same time in my life due to the same set of circumstances and one life-changing catalyst, namely the events of September 11th, 2001 and the realization of the precious, temporal fragility of human life. For me there is very definitely a life before, and a life after that tragic day in world history and though I have a lot I could say about this, for now I want to focus on the passion piece.

My sons can willingly attest that their mother is “a passionate, Italian woman” (something I have invoked on more than one occasion when my fervor for a particular topic is more evident than one might expect.) Nonetheless, there was a long period of my life when I was not in-touch with this aspect of myself either. Choices I had made created a circumstance in which my passions took a backseat to other demands in my life. And the result was a pretty “dulled down” experience of life. (This is not to say that I did not experience happiness and fulfillment – but rather that the connection with my essential life energy was encumbered by faulty wiring and lack of adequate voltage.)

“If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you.” T. Alan Armstrong

The reality is that though for some of us “being passionate” may refer to an aspect of our personalities, for all of us it is possible to connect with the passion inside of ourselves as it is a key to living a full life. Knowing what energizes you, what ideas, activities or experiences give you that sense of excitement, and interest and fulfillment is essential. But simply knowing is not enough. To really move forward in a positive way you need to engage with your passions and truly integrate them into your existence, otherwise you are selling yourself short in a life that is already short enough. You owe it to yourself and to those around you to be the best you can be, to live the life you love and to make the most of your time here. So my question to you is – what are you the prince/princess of?