Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

“Showing Up” for Yourself January 19, 2012

What do you do when other people “don’t show up”? Whether it’s that you find yourself sitting alone at a coffee shop waiting for a friend who was supposed to meet you, awaiting an email response on a time-sensitive issue, or dealing with the repercussions of a task that someone else said they would take care of but didn’t – the fact is that people are going to disappoint you and let you down. Lately it seems that I have found myself in several conversations with people regarding the impact of “other people’s inability to be dependable”.  We’ve all experienced it – some more than others and quite frankly – it stinks. If you are a person who regards yourself as someone who is dependable and responsible it can be almost unconscionable to comprehend. Afterall, how hard is it to pick up the phone, send a quick email or simply say, “I’m sorry – I won’t be able to do it, to make it, etc.”? Well, apparently, it’s very hard for some people. I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they are not intentionally causing stress – but honestly for the purposes of this blog – trying to decipher the myriad of possible reasons why some folks are unable to be reliable is a detour down a path that won’t get me to where I want to go.

The issue I would like to address is the impact this experience has on the person who was left waiting. It really is a “sensitive subject”, though at first glance it might not seem that way. But what I find is that being the one who does “show up” can be pretty complicated. The emotional responses can be pretty widely varied. You may feel angry, because you have re-arranged your schedule and shuffled around other important agenda items only to find yourself frustrated with a block of “free-time” that you would just as soon preferred not to have at that particular moment. You may be relieved because you were tired and not really  “up for it” yourself. You may question yourself – “why did I count on that person when history tells me they are unreliable in this regard?” Or you may feel simply hurt and frustrated. The possibilities are many and I am sure there are others I haven’t mentioned here – but suffice it to say that most of the time – you aren’t left feeling “happy”.

No matter what the exact circumstances or emotional response is to any given event of this nature – I think you need to make a conscious and concerted effort to do a little healing before you can move on. Whether you take a little breather for yourself to calm and refocus – call someone and vent a bit – or simply acknowledge your disappointment and re-strategize about your day, there has to be some sort of “re-set” in the moment. But beyond the re-set which is re-active in nature, there is a pro-active piece as well. The reality is – there are always going to be people who, for whatever reason, are simply not going to “show-up” for you. And it generally doesn’t feel good when they don’t. But if you know this, you can choose to prepare yourself for its eventuality. Maybe not every time, and maybe being miffed for a little while isn’t too much to bear, but you can choose to not let it de-rail you.

The big problem lies in letting it “ruin your morning, day or evening”. ‘Cause the fact is that you “showed-up” or were ready and willing to take care of the task at hand at that’s a good thing (not that I want to quote Martha Stewart or anything). The reality is you can’t control what other people are going to do or not do – so focus on what you can control. You are in charge of how you both “react” and how you “approach” the situation  in the first place. “Show-up” for yourself and allow yourself to take the actions necessary to keep moving forward.  Don’t worry – you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try this out – so next time you find you “threw a party and nobody came” – remember to celebrate with the guest of honor – you!


How are you really doing? December 8, 2011

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“How are you doing today?’

It’s a simple question, right? And it’s probably the single question that we will be asked the most, over and over again throughout our lifetimes. Something we all share in common, at least in this culture. Often times for most of us the answers are pretty automatic – “”I’m fine.” “I’m good.” I’m doing well.” “I’m okay, a bit tired.” “Great, and you?” It’s as much a greeting as it is an inquiry and for the most part our answers are not in-depth, thorough or even in some cases, particularly honest. Actually, our responses often are linked pretty directly to who is doing the asking. If it is a casual acquaintance, the person behind the counter at our local coffee shop, or a co-worker we don’t know particularly well – our answer spills out with little to no thought at all,  a simple – “Good, thanks.” and you keep moving along. If it is a dear old friend, a spouse, a coach or confidant – we may flesh it out a bit – fill in some details about what is good or not so good about our day. This isn’t a particular surprise to most of us – and speaks to the many governing factors that influence our response; such as social mores and boundaries.

Of course if we were to stop and really think about that question every time we heard it – we would become aware of a lot more about how we were doing then we might want to have to think about at any given moment. But if you pause for a moment and really think about it – how would you answer that question for yourself – right now and what determines what your answer would be? When you think about it the number of contributing factors can be endless; How much sleep did you get last night?, What’s on your schedule for today?, How’s that pain in your lower back doing today?, How do you feel about what you’ve accomplished so far today?, Where are you headed? What’s this time of year like for you – any anniversaries in your awareness?, Is it raining outside? and Who are you going to see? there’s a lot going on all the time that impacts how we are doing.

And while all of this “input” into our systems certainly has a big impact on how we are feeling at any given moment – the other big factor is what are we putting out. By this I mean, what are you bringing to each moment? How do you chose to let the outside impact your inside experience. How are you taking in and processing all that is impacting your life and what are you doing with it. Sure, some days you just wake-up with a little spring in your step, and a “can-do” attitude that seems to have come out of nowhere – but your perspective is a key factor.  It’s the old – glass half-empty, glass half-full story and it plays itself out over and over again all day long, each and every day of our lives. I am not suggesting that you look at every bit of bad news in your life with blind optimism – but rather that you recognize your ability to impact that which impacts you. Find the control in what feels beyond your control and chose your point of action.

And while you’re at it – instead of waiting for someone else to ask you how you are doing – take a moment here and there throughout the day to ask yourself that question. If you like your answer, then good and if you don’t take a moment toreflect on what inner adjustments you can make to effect a different outcome.


Here We Go Again… October 12, 2011

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A flock of geese in chevron flight, honk their way across the sky on the way to their winter condo – somewhere warmer then it will be here for the next several months. Yesterday, a Monarch butterfly took a break on its long journey south of the border, to rest on one of the final flowers in my shrinking hanging basket. And though somewhere inside me I resonate with their instinct to fly south where the temperatures will be warmer, the skies bluer and the chance of snow is remote, I know my place is here; watching the leaves turn, prepping the snow blower and readying house and heart for the upcoming New England winter. You know the days will be shorter, the sky darker, the temperatures colder, and the challenges greater but it is your place. And… you know you’ll not only get through it – but you may enjoy yourself a bit a long the way.

There is a crisp, freshness in the air that awakens you in the morning, the beauty of the changing leaves, the sound of their rustle as you paddle down the road, pumpkins, stews and fires in the fireplace. As fall turns to winter and the leaves give way to snowflakes, the yard clean-up switches over to snow removal and a light sweater is replaced by gloves and a wool coat you quietly resolve yourself to the winds of winter, and you hunker down for the ride. Even with the relative unpredictability that global warming has brought to the forecasts, you still know that the seasons will come and go with their earmarks, challenges and beauties, the turning of the seasons, marches forward no matter what.

There are days when dormancy feels about as good as it gets. When snuggling in to your cave feels like the best way to deal with the elements, but you know that it is all temporary and soon you will be witnessing the signs of spring and the re-birth of nature. I never wanted to live where the skies are always blue and the temperatures balmy throughout the year. I would miss the beauty, adventure and challenge of each new season. Spring would not feel as welcome, and the winter holidays would feel strange if winter coats and sweaters did not factor in somehow. I will take the good with the bad, the beauty of a snowflake with the bite of the cold, cause in these here parts, there is a sense of accomplishment when you clear the driveway of two feet of snow, and you don’t just get by, you don’t just survive, you thrive.

Adversity comes at us from all directions, all the time,  though often not with the same predictability with which we can anticipate the change of seasons. There is something to be said for weathering life’s storms, rising to the challenge, gaining new skills and not just making it through – but feeling strengthened by the experience. You can fly away, if that’s what your instincts tell you to do, after all, flight is a viable option for dealing with threats. Your options for dealing with them are limited by your own resources and desires. But sometimes the only way out is through – and as I don another sweater, reheat my coffee and hunker back down into my seat on the porch, I am ready for this most predictable element of life’s cycle. Bring it on…


Legacy October 6, 2011

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“Are you blogging today?” My friend asked as we instant messaged on Facebook this morning. “I am thinking about it”, I said, “still trying to decide what to write about.” Feeling a bit off schedule with my morning plans, contemplating the options, and working my way into the day. And so far, all I can really think about is the passing of Steve Jobs. I suppose a lot of people are thinking about him his morning, what he created and how he impacted their lives. It’s quite impressive, really. One person, following their intuition, creating their own path and pushing forward through life’s adversities, creates a legacy that influences so many others.

I am not a Mac user, nor do I own any of the “iproducts” that he created, but I felt his impact all the same, after all it seems that most of the other competing technology followed Apple’s lead anyway. But that’s not how he touched my life. It was his vision, his “message” that appealed to my values. The ideas of being true to yourself, following your vision, and persevering through life’s pitfalls, resonates with my very core. I have quoted Jobs on many occasions, co-opting his words which simply and eloquently spoke to this theme. “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”  (Steve Jobs) Good stuff and inspiring…

But as Seth Godin (another thought leader) put so well in his late night blog: the best tribute that any of us can give, is to take action on our own dreams and visions. Someday, people will be looking back on our contributions, wouldn’t it be nice to know you inspired someone to be their best?


The Choice is Yours August 16, 2010

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Looking through quotes this morning to find one to read at the closing of my business networking meeting, I came across this one from an anonymous source:

“Life can either be accepted or changed. If it is not accepted it must be changed. If it is not changed then it must be accepted.”

I liked this one. It was simple and clear and had a definite ring of truth if the goal was to live a life of choice and minimize frustration and dis-contentment. Concurrently, part of me was straining against what I assume to be an over simplification of a complex concept. But I decided to accept the wisdom of it with the knowledge that I could in fact change it a bit to fit my own personal philosophy. This seemed the best of both worlds and clearly in keeping with the sentiment at hand.

For each of us there are elements in our lives that are not completely in line with our goals and desires for ourselves. Not all of these items are within our locus of control, and what action we can take to change them is limited. Our choice then becomes not whether or not we can change those things themselves (a stern and disagreeable boss for instance) but how we will allow those things to affect us and whether or not we want to continue to operate under those circumstances. Some choices, like deciding to leave our job and find a new placement are pretty darned big – and their effects can be felt in almost all areas of our lives. Whether we stay or go – our choice becomes one of accepting or changing not just the circumstance itself but our orientation, outlook and integration of that choice.

For instance, you may think of yourself as a writer, but unable to support yourself with your writing efforts; need to take a job in a totally unrelated field like restaurant work. You might not like this work, the hours are long, you’re on your feet all day, you have to deal with some unpleasant customers and an inflexible manager. But if you see this as an avenue to allow you to have your nights free to write, if you see your experiences and interactions with our co-workers and customers as fodder for character development and your paycheck as a means of buying you time to pursue your dream writing job then it can all be good. Or you may decide that you need to be in a more “literary” setting and work to get yourself a job in the editing department of a local newspaper or publishing company or as a teacher in an adult education program. The choices are endless. The change can be as subtle as a re-orientation of how you view your choice or an acceptance that this is what needs to be done to allow you to do your “real work”. Of course not all our efforts are rewarded either, and that’s a whole other topic.

Accept or Change… each day we have that choice to make and each day our decision may be different. The real trick is to know yourself and your goals – and to understand and appreciate how you have the impact to change your own course with each little decision you make by understanding how they align with what you know inside you and what feeds your true self. What will it be today? Accept? Change? Or a little bit of both?


The Imperfect Dance May 6, 2010

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I am a person who likes to know the facts. Tell me exactly what’s going on, what my options are and let me make an informed decision all on my own. It works for me. Likewise when I am dealing with others I operate under the same set of rules. Here’s the information – here are your options – what would you like to do? But sometimes, (actually a lot of the time) the “facts” themselves are not always clear. Life is not conveniently “black and white” there are a lot of grey areas. And in that case, I guess I function best under another general rule – “do the best you can with the information and skills you have.” What other choice is there, really?

In actuality I think, that concept applies to a lot of situations. Doing the best you can do – is really the best we can ever do in almost every given situation. Maybe it comes from the strong “work ethic” instilled in me by my father, maybe something else, likely a combination of factors. What I do know is that more than our best is not really possible. There are most definitely times when you can get away with doing “less than your best”. Some situations just don’t require our full force and effort. Reading the cues, assessing what’s needed and reserving your energy may be your best option. Having an understanding of what is required to get the job done may lead you to decide that “your best” may be overkill; there is a place for “good enough”.

Each day, at every moment we have the opportunity to decide who we are going to be in the world and how we are going to comport ourselves. Our choices are not always clear, the data we are given to make our decisions can be incomplete, but the choice is still ours. Spending a couple of moments thinking about what we value, what impact we want to have and how we want to live our lives is the least we can do to help give us direction when the situation does not provide all of the information we need. It’s an art really, a delicate balance, a constantly changing environment, in which we are dancing and moving, sometimes choosing our steps with great intention and certainty and other times, simply going with the flow. Doing what we can do, doing our best and knowing when we need to sit down and take a breather is all part of the process.


Floods, Snakes and Silver Linings April 2, 2010

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Last night I discovered that the Rain Gods had not spared me. After finding yesterday morning that I had no hot water, I came home to find the reason for the failure – a flooded basement! Much to my chagrin, I stood at the bottom of my creaky basement stairs after returning from work and surveyed the 6-8 inches of water that the rain had left behind. After 12 years in this one hundred and fifty year old house, this last deluge was more than it could bear and it finally had succumbed. My plumber was already on the way to take a look at the hot water heater so I called him up and asked him to bring a pump along to clear it out. While he was down there taking a look at the job before him, he found a dead Garter snake who apparently had not chosen wisely when he picked my basement as a refuge from the rain. Ugh! Yet somehow, inconvenient as this all is, I feel mighty fortunate.

My basement is a scary place; dirt floors, spider webs and mold are the order of the day and I avoid going down there as much as I can. My suspicion that it housed other critters, like snakes in addition to the empire of spiders was justified last night and I never intend to use it for much more than a home for the heat sources of the house. But now, with the flood I will be forced to address the clean-up issue that I have been ignoring thus far. Last night I spoke with a friend who is more than capable of doing both the clean-up and the “repair” that the basement so sorely needs – and if we can work out the details it looks like I may soon have the relief of knowing that that dank and creepy space will be cleaner and in better shape than it probably ever has been. My plumber, who will return today to replace the hot water heater, said that he will remove the snake, which eases my mind to know that at least that one will no longer be residing in my home.

Additionally, this morning I went to the gym (fortunate that I am already a member and it is very close by) not to work-out, but to take advantage of the hot showers they provide. It made me realize that I could indeed squeeze time into my morning to get in a brief work-out before starting my day. (I have been pondering the feasibility of this idea for quite a while now since my schedule has become so full of late that I didn’t think it would work.) So indeed, lemonade it is! I may have to spend some money that I would just as soon have used for something else, but I believe I have found a time to work out that will actually work for me and the specter of that old, dirt basement will soon be replaced by some peace of mind in knowing that I no longer live over a dungeon. In a different mindset this could easily be an overwhelming event – but I choose instead to see the silver-lining and am actually excited that this challenge was placed before me. It’s all in where you choose to focus, try it you may be pleasantly surprised…


How’s the Air in There? April 1, 2010

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As I sit here pondering the topic for today’s blog, I find myself reviewing all of the things that are present and active for me in my life at the moment since I find that that is often the best grist for the mill. That made me think about a concept that I am finding rather interesting, which is; at any given point in time each of us is surrounded by not only our physical place in time but our “mental atmosphere” as well. The mental atmosphere takes in all that is current and active in our life at each point. It is comprised not just of our thoughts and feelings but of our internalization of the current events in our lives and our processes and recollections of all the things that are triggered in us by circumstances of our days. There are a lot of constants – things that we think about on an ongoing basis and then there are the more temporal pieces that come and go in our consciousness because of events that take place outside of us.

As an example here are a few of the things in my mental atmosphere at present; my beloved nephew’s impending wedding and my wonderings about how I will be able to make the long trip to Georgia to be present for it, the unpleasant awareness that at 5:00 in this morning I discovered my hot water heater is broken and my thoughts about how/when I will arrange to have it fixed, a course on Appreciative Inquiry that I am taking which stirs my curiosity and resonates quite strongly with how my thinking has been moving as late, my sons and how things are going for each of them in their own lives right now, just to name a few of the elements. Some of these things (my thoughts about my boys) are ongoing fixtures in mind while others have a more temporary quality. Some are rather mundane though not necessarily unimportant (the water heater) while others are more significant (my nephew’s wedding) and others have a strong “intellectual” component and the possibility of impacting the “language of my world view” (the course). A week ago, my mental atmosphere was different, though it did still contain some of the same elements.

How we interact with these things in our atmosphere, what feelings we associate with each “event”, how much mental energy we expend on each item, how our thoughts about what control and impact we have in each area, what actions we decide to take, what thoughts and ideas are spawned, how each area interacts with the others are the pieces that make up our experience every day. At any given point in time our atmosphere is in a state of flux and how we decide to move with it is what makes up our experience of our everyday lives. If you could break down your atmosphere into a list of the elements that are occupying your life right now what would it look like? Would you make a choice to shift your awareness from one element to another, are there items you want to add or subtract? Just as your physical atmosphere effects your day in very real and tangible ways, your mental atmosphere has at least as much impact. What are the elements of your world today?


My Life Just Bopped Me On the Head March 30, 2010

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Ever go through one of those periods of time when you feel the like the Universe is trying to send you a message and it is pulling out all the stops to make sure you are getting it? Well, it’s been one of those weeks for me. From all frontiers I keep being reminded of the same thing over and over again. Oh the message? It’s a simple one really and I have talked about it in this forum before, but here it is: “Focus on the positive and that is what you will draw to you.” It just keeps coming up over and over again, and I can’t ignore it – so here we go…

Though at times I believe we feel stagnated in our lives – we are always growing and changing and evolving. Sometimes, the changes are more evident than others – the growth spurts of our intellectual and emotional selves. Like the child who needs new clothes every couple of months because their bodies are growing at breakneck speeds – I think sometimes we grow in bursts internally as well. This message for me and the resulting effects it is having on my thought processes and my self-concept feels like a momentous shift in my core, I am growing out of my last personal wardrobe and growing into a new one. The funny thing is, this is not a new concept for me, not something I have just recently come to believe or feel or understand but somehow this time it has a swirl of momentum about it that is impossible to ignore.

In actuality, I have had a tough week, and though I won’t list all the mishaps I have had now – I can say my luck in the last week has been on the poor side. And I don’t want to sound like I am spurting Polyanna-esque platitudes over here – but somehow I am managing to look on the bright side amidst the calamity. Oh I have had my moments over here, of feeling pretty discouraged, overwhelmed and frustrated, but my focus has been more on dealing with the obstacles before me and enjoying the abundance that is also a part of every day. Could it be that at the ripe old age of forty-eight,  I have become a “if life gives you lemons than make lemonade” kinda gal?

Awww, enough about me, what about you? As you move forward what sort of life do you want to create for yourself? How do you want to spend your energy, focused on all you don’t have or on all you want to create? Every day, every moment offers us the option of deciding how we want to approach it. We may not always have the energy and resources to be on top of our game but that does not mean we have to be on the bottom. There is a full spectrum of possibility open to us – where we land along that line is largely based on how fully we feel ourselves in control of our own destinies and how committed we are to living the lives and being the people who we want to be. There is no harm in trying, rose-colored glasses are not blinders and correcting your prescription is as easy as putting them on for a try. Go ahead, you can borrow mine.