Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

In Every Season November 24, 2013

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PerspectiveWe 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.
Spring –Renewal,
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.

 

Go ahead, let it snow. January 21, 2012

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It’s late January here in New England and apparently the universe has woken to the fact that in the wintertime around here there usually is this white stuff that falls out of the sky, it’s called snow. Not that it is a momentous storm or anything mind you but it is coming down, and by the time it stops we should have 4-6 inches of fluffiness on the ground. In fact, this is the fourth snow fall of the week and even though the other three were only an inch or two, each one required me to clear our heavily shaded driveway and sidewalk or else risk the ice rink that is sure to form. But that’s okay, like any good New Englander – I have the tools necessary for the job: the big, heavy “pushing” shovel, the curved, lifting shovel, the push and regular brooms for the porch and of course my new personal favorite – the snowblower. (Purchased last year before the deluge, and paid for over six months before the store credit card started accruing interest, this bad boy has become my new best friend.  And though I am tempted here to go on and on about how my snowblower paid for itself multiple times with last year’s record-setting snow totals, or how sometimes it is reluctant start yet so far always manages to come around to seeing things my way – I will restrain myself.)

Because what I really just wanted to mention briefly today is that there is a part of me that still loves the snow! Sure as the years go on, and my back gets weaker there have been many a time when I have cursed the winter and all the snow that comes along with it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like it altogether. There is no denying that a fresh blanket of the white stuff can be extraordinarily beautiful on the leaf bare trees, house roofs and brown grass. The sparkle of fresh snow in the moonlight is magical. And when the storm first passes and the sky re-emerges – it seems bluer and more clear than on any other day when the ground is not covered by a fresh coating of snow. But one of the things I like the most is the silence. That absolute stillness in the air when the snow is coming down is perfection!

So though I may be singing a different tune as the next few weeks go by and the slush and ice and piles of dirt encrusted snow likely will accumulate, I just wanted to acknowledge this little moment in time when I am still enamoured of waking to a snowy, snowing morning. It makes me think of my sister, and how we used to like to take a walk down to the park when we were young as the snow fell and the quiet surrounded us. There was a time when winter was my favorite season – and though more recently I have come to truly hate being cold – apparently I have not lost my love and appreciation for the magical healing serenity of a new blanket of snow. Happy shoveling!

 

Sweet and Simple – Slumber and Sparkle January 8, 2012

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So far, it is a quiet Sunday morning here in my world. It was one of those days when I apparently, could have slept forever. There were several times when; I woke up, decided I was going to go downstairs, make some coffee and start my day – but found myself falling back to sleep, again and again. Finally, about an hour ago – realizing I had fallen into a wake-sleep cycle that could easily go on for hours, I forced myself to toss off the covers throw my legs over the side of the bed and actually get up. Now, let me just be clear here, I am not adverse to “sleeping-in” now and then especially on a Sunday morning when the agenda is loose and the pressure is low – but this was one of those situations where I felt like the longer I slept, the more tired I became. Sleeping was only serving to make me sleepier and I do love the idea of paddling around in my slippers in a quiet house, coffee in hand while I do a little reading and ease into my day. It is a luxurious and simply lovely way to start the day – and I didn’t want to sleep through my opportunity. So here I am…

Later in the day – “the big plan” is to dismantle the Christmas decorations and get the house back to its pre-holiday state of being. The boys both slept at friends’ houses last night and should be home around noon and my boyfriend is quietly snoring – enjoying an unusually late start to his day. So, it’s just me and the cats, who themselves seem to be having a quiet, Sunday morning. One staring out the living room window, watching for birds and leaves and other exciting bits of life in the great outdoors, while the other two are curled up and sleeping on my son’s bed.

I look froward to getting the house “back to normal”, wrapping up our nutcracker friends and putting them away for another year, but I always hate taking down the tree. From mid-December to early-January every year, enjoying the silent, sparkly, beauty of the tree is something we all take-in in our own way. Soma, one of the cats, seems to wait for me to turn on the lights each evening when the dark descends on us, and curls up on the rug, in front of the tree for most of the night. For me, I like to spend a little time each evening, sitting in the livingroom with just the lights on from the tree, listening to a little music while taking in the smell of the pine and the twinkle of the lights. It is incredibly relaxing. And my oldest son, has taken his pillow and comforter down to the couch many times over the last few weeks to fall asleep by the tree. It’s sweet really. There is something, innocent, and nostalgic about it as he slumbers there in the tree’s shadow. But in a few short hours,  the time of the tree will be gone again for another year.

And it will be just fine. It will be nice not to have to search as hard for the everyday items which I have stored away, and the whole place will get a thorough and much-needed dusting – which should cut down on my sneezing!

And what is “coming through” for me right now about all of what I have said so far in this blog is how important it is to simply be in the moment, whatever it is. Whether it is lying in bed, contemplating your day, shuffling about with hot coffee or gazing at the twinkle of Christmas lights, each moment offers an opportunity of simple beauty and inspiration. If you allow yourself to be open to it – the pleasure and piece of a mundane task or the heart-tug of tradition and “specialness-ness” can offer a sense of calm happiness. Fulfillment and joy need not come in a grand demonstration of attainment – but are always there quietly waiting to be acknowledged. You just have to be open to noticing it. May you have a sweet and lovely day – taking pleasure in all the little things that make life what it is – one moment to the next.

 

Balancing the Scale July 15, 2010

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Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of watching a single hummingbird flit around my yard for what felt like an inordinate amount of time. I have a garden full of bright, pink phlox which apparently it found particularly attractive, and it buzzed from one flower to the next doing it’s thing. After a moment or so – it flew over to my apple tree where it lighted for a bit before trying the flowers again. And then, as if it heard my wishes for a closer view, came to one of the hanging baskets on my porch, just a few feet away from where I sat before disappearing into the neighbor’s yard. What a treat! I cannot ever remember having the opportunity to observe one for what felt like such an extended period of time. It really started my day off on the right foot.

I wish I could say that the rest of the day was as wondrous as that little moment had been, but it was not. Though it was particularly productive, which I needed immensely, the afternoon took a major dip as my teen son and I locked horns in what I guess would be considered a “battle of wills”. Nobody won. And though as the evening wore on – the overall mood relaxed tremendously – I think we were both hobbling a bit from the experience.

A simple sweet high to start the day, an emotional, tense low to punctuate the afternoon and a quiet resolve by the evening – it was quite a ride. This morning – no hummingbirds are treating me to a sighting and I am feeling a bit worn-out still from yesterday’s tussle. Navigating the highs and lows is a constant daily challenge we all face. There are moments of grace and episodes of stress and our job is to reset the system as best we can to face the events that confront us on a new day. As I slowly work my way over to my own reset button I find that I am filled with a sense of gratitude and wonder.

The universe has blessed me both with its simple sweetness in the form of a beautiful observance of nature and a willful and amazing son. Feeling the love I do for both and the privilege to be in such close contact with the things and people I adore is the gift that will refuel my battery cell this morning and give me the energy to face whatever this new day holds in store for me. My recommendation for the day – find that thing (or things) that give you your inspiration and hold them in your focus – it is the wonder of these simple beauties which can magically transform our experiences.

 

Good Morning March 3, 2010

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I awoke very early this morning, which is my new routine as I try to squeeze everything I can into my days lately. But today, I actually have to leave the house early for an appointment. It was still dark outside when I stumbled down the stairs and began the morning routine of shower and tea. I was thrilled to see that once again the weather forecasters got it wrong – and the snow that they had predicted for the overnight has still not arrived. As I often do, I took my mug out to the porch with me and spent a little time in the quiet dawn of the day.

It is a beautiful morning. The sky was just beginning to brighten the crimson ribbons illuminating the low thin clouds and grey-blue-black sky. In the distance a cardinal and a robin sang the sweetest of bird calls to offer the only sounds that were noticeable. The temperature is definitely cool, but it isn’t too cold outside today, it’s pleasant actually, hinting toward warmer days and the advent of spring.

I just sat there quietly taking it all in – the beautiful sky at sunrise, the bird song and the stillness of the pre-dawn moments. I was thinking about how nourished it makes me feel to just notice these quiet moments, the simple gifts of nature and the quietness of my pre-active breathing. My time is limited though, I really do have to go but just wanted to share my gratitude for this quiet start to my day and hope that I can carry that stillness with me through the activities that lie ahead. Wishing you a peaceful start to your day and calm silence and beauty that you can find wherever you are today.

 

Snowplows, Chickadees and Roses January 21, 2010

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So it’s my day off and I have a list a mile long of things I want and need to do. I know that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done and some of the items will surely carry-over to my next list. I am sorry to say I am going to have to add shoveling the driveway to that list – because I know it will be time-consuming and given the current state of circumstances it will be impossible to do a really good job with it. Over the last couple of days we have had a steady covering of heavy, wet sloppy slush, and though “my plow guy” saw fit to plow 2” of light powder a couple of weeks ago that I could have literally blown off my driveway with one deep breath, apparently he didn’t think a few inches of heavy slush was plow worthy.

So today I awoke to what is now a frozen, lumpy mess, packed down by the wheels of my car and the footsteps of my family – it will be difficult to scrape away with a shovel. Likely, I will have to give it several goes, hoping to do both an early and later pass when the temperature rises this afternoon. I went out on the porch to survey the situation and muster the energy needed to give it a go, feeling more than just a bit overwhelmed and cranky about the need to take on this added, highly undesirable task I sat down for a moment just to take it all in. As I was sitting there I couldn’t help but to hear and to see the myriad of birds that were flitting around the yard. Starlings, Sparrows, Chickadees, Juncos, a Tufted Titmouse and a pair of Cardinals were all busily hopping around from tree to bush doing whatever it is that birds are doing when they mount their seemingly disorganized search for food among the snowy branches. And I have to tell you – I began to feel a noticeable shift in my mood. Sure, I still was aware of the shoveling that lay before me – but I was also enlivened by the simple beauty of those crazy birds.

Every day in our rush to get things done I think we often overlook the little, simple gifts that surround us. I think we forget to notice all we do have when we are focused on what we don’t. “Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses” they come in endless varieties.

 

Beauty and Excellence – Ignition January 20, 2010

“Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence”, according to the VIA Survey of Characteristics which I took again yesterday after writing about it in my blog, is currently my top Signature Strength. I say “currently” because the strengths do move around a little bit. The last time I took “the VIA” about a year ago – I got similar results, in that my top five strengths were the same as they were this time, but they did shift around a bit in their ranking.

Per the survey, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence is defined as; “You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.” And in fact, it is true, I most certainly do. But I want to add that what I experience goes beyond appreciation and attention – I notice these things because I find them inspiring. I have thought a lot about inspiration (and plan to write a blog about it when I can gather my thoughts on what exactly I would like to say) – nonetheless this little reminder of my “Top” character strength brings it to the fore.

I had thought about the idea that I believe inspiration is the fuel that ignites our passion. And I do get very energized when I see something that is beautiful, or hear an idea that is exceptional – no matter what the context. There is something about the simple awareness itself, of something exquisite, unique and extraordinary that fills me with a sense of wonder and excitement. So though at first I was a little surprised to find this at the top of my list of strengths the more I think about it the more I become sure that at least for now, that seems to be the right place for it. Beautiful how these things work out sometimes, isn’t it?