Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

I’ll get to it in a minute… November 5, 2013

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wristwatchSo, what do you think procrastination is all about?

People (and I’m not naming any names here) who do it, know that they do it, often see it as a problem and do it anyway. They aren’t proud of it. It often makes them feel uncomfortable and yet they repeat the same patterns over and over again, forcing themselves into situations where they are left trying to complete projects at the last minute, often under a great deal of stress and occasionally at a sub-par level due to time constraints.

Just thinking about it makes my anxiety rise. It’s like when you think about having a dentist, drill your teeth for fillings. It just isn’t pleasant.

We’ve all procrastinated at one point or another, it’s probably more common a phenomenon than not – though I suppose that there are some people who do it much less than others.

Maybe it’s all in the anticipation. After all, people don’t really have a big issue procrastinating about things that they want to do. Procrastination is more typically reserved for unpleasant or arduous tasks, sometimes big things and sometimes very small.

Maybe some people really do, do their best work when they feel the urgency of a looming deadline.

Maybe it’s a way of taking control of circumstances in your life that are less favorable. Or maybe it’s a way of abdicating your role in the control that you do have in a given situation.

Maybe if your past experience tells you that you can wait until the last minute to do something and still receive the outcome you desire, there is some positive reinforcement for putting things off.

It’s a funny thing, procrastination. It’s pretty pervasive, often counterproductive, and surprisingly seductive all at the same time. I don’t have any big “answers” here tonight – I am just thinking “out-loud” a bit. The subject of procrastination keeps coming up in conversations that I have had with a number of folks over the last few weeks. It’s not an uncommon topic. And I do believe it can be “overcome” if that in fact, is your goal. But it’s still tricky.

In ways, I think procrastination is the evil cousin, of savoring. Maybe people who are procrastinators are better at living in the moment? That can’t be all bad. Is it?

It’s complicated. And for tonight I am not going to try to tie this up into a neat little package. I’m just going to put it out there, let you think about it a little bit if you want. Do you think of yourself as a procrastinator? Are there some things that you are more likely to procrastinate about than others? When you finally take action after procrastinating for a while about something, what gets you to move into action?

Maybe it’s one of those things that is worth thinking about sometimes, not to make yourself feel badly about it, but to decide how it effects you, what you get from it, and how you best deal with it? Maybe not, you decide.

 

Whither the Snow Flower March 13, 2013

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snowdrops

(I wrote this last week, before the snowstorm that dropped 20+ inches in our area arrived – but forgot to post it! Better late, than never…) March is a cruel month.  After several months of gray skies, cold temperatures and wintry precipitation – the changing of the calendar brings hope to those folks living in the Northern Temperate zones. “It’s March – yeah, we made it!” – The optimistic voices of the winter-weary exclaim as the meteorological spring begins. But alas, the reality of early spring weather – is not long, warm, sunny days with daffodils and tulips. And as the East coast and particularly the North East prepares for another snow/rain storm those happy smiles turn to frowns. The once beautiful snow – looks strangely out of place and is definitely unwelcome.

No one likes a spring snowstorm. Power outages are common, as heavy snow downs power lines and breaks branches. Clearing the heavy, wet snow is unwieldy and back-breaking by shovel and impossible by snow blower. It’s slushy and dirty and gray and even the kids who welcome snow days like surprise holidays, made just for them, start to realize that another snow day will mean the school year is just going to grow longer into the summer. But alas – this is the way it goes, spring storms are a regular occurrence and as far as I know there is still no means of controlling the weather.

But there are upsides… As the days get warmer, the piles of snow will indeed melt faster. The tired grass once exposed will get greener. And always – there are those wonderful surprises waiting under that snow. Every year, much to my wonder and amazement, though I have seen it over and over again all my life, when the snow finally recedes it unveils the early buds of real spring. Crocus, tulips, hyacinth somehow oblivious to the snow cover awaiting them above the soil have managed to break ground. Somehow, in their biological make-up – they always know that their time is near and they begin to grow, no matter how many inches of snow cover the frozen Earth. It’s wondrous!

Yes, I will be out there tomorrow, cursing the heavens as I once again clear what has become my longer and longer driveway with the passing of each year. But I will know we are nearing the end of this winter weather. I will know that under those piles of snow; lay the truly thrilling beginnings of spring. It’s only a matter of time. The days are already longer and this may be the last storm, well at least for this year anyway. Bring it on – each snowflake brings us closer to daffodils.

 

Anticipation… October 29, 2012

It’s 9:00 am, Monday morning, October 29, 2012 – and like thousands of other folks in the Northeast – I am “Waiting on Sandy”. They are predicting a monster of a storm this time around, due not only to the initial size of the primary storm but the fact that it will collide with two other significant systems to create a truly unique meteorological event. “Frankenstorm” as it has been nicknamed, is predicted to terrorize the East Coast – defying previous models and confounding the experts.  My natural lack of patience, (not one of my strongest virtues) leaves me (and I am sure many others) struggling with a wait that feels particularly long. With modern-day weather forecasting as it is these days, meteorologists are able to track and predict storms like this one – way earlier then they used to be, and overall I guess that’s good news. Obviously, it gives you plenty of time to make necessary preparations and all, but it also creates this surreal anticipation that feels like it goes on forever. Almost makes you want the storm to hit sooner – just to get it over with already!

The predictions for this storm started coming in relatively early last week, or at least that’s when they first caught my attention. By Friday, they were pretty clear, and relatively confident that this storm which was enormous in size was going to move up the coast and then turn west, into land at some point. Like most people, New Englanders view weather-forecasters with a healthy dose of skepticism. We have been duped, too many times. Predictions of massive snow storms produce a paltry few inches of the white stuff, etc. So like lots of folks, we kind of half believe it;  buy some bread, maybe some water and batteries, but many wait til the last-minute to actually batten down the hatches all the while keeping an eye of the forecasts, just in case we need to escalate the preparations. It definitely, reminds you of “the boy who cried wolf”, and you know in terms of basic survival it’s better to react to the threat that’s not there – then to fail to react to a threat that is. Fortunately, for us we are wired this way – it’s called the Negativity Bias – and it makes sense. Here’s an article by Rick Hanson, exploring just that – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rick-hanson-phd/be-mindful-not-intimidate_b_753646.html.

But back to the storm… So at first it feels like, “Is this all really going to happen?” For instance, Saturday was a lovely, quiet, mild Fall day. Sunday, was gray and drizzly – it seemed like any other slightly wet day for this time of year. And today, well, there is some rain, though still pretty light, the wind is blowing, but not that hard, and best of all we still have power! So yes, things are changing, but it is just hard to really grasp how far things may possibly deteriorate in the next 48 hours or so. Typically, I am someone who is pretty good at visualizing, but this still has this odd feeling of detachment to it. It is the quintessential moment of waiting for the other shoe to drop. The calm before the storm. And I just can’t help but think about another big event that will take place next week which has had days, weeks, and months of predictions and anticipation building around it.

A week from tomorrow is election day, and as always it has been a long time in coming. Something big is going to happen and depending on where you stand the outcome could be a catastrophe or a blessing. (I can’t even wrap my brain around the concept that some people are still undecided – given the disparity between the candidates – and the fact that for me there is only one possible choice, period.) I think a lot of folks feel that way on both sides – they are tired of the ads, the polls and the forecasts, they have done their preparations and at this point just want to get it over with already. And lets hope that after that “storm” is passed – we will be warmed by neighbors pulling together as they often do after natural disasters – for the greater good of all, with the recognition that each of us want what is best for ourselves, for our loved ones and for our communities. It’s about pulling together and not pulling apart. Here’s hoping that the results will give us a head’s start in that direction.

Peace – Be safe out there.

 

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.