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.

 

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.

 

The Weight of the Wait February 26, 2010

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I think living in New England (and other areas of the planet that experience “traditional winter weather”) requires a certain heartiness that folks in warmer climates don’t require. However it is always interesting (particularly with the climate changes of recent years). There’s an expression that pretty much sums it up – “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait five minutes.” And it’s true – today started off sunny and mild though there had been a dusting of snow overnight and a forecast for torrential rains all day. Throughout the day, it alternately was cold with snow squalls, rainy, windy and/or quiet. Every time you looked out the window there was something else going on – I was waiting for it to rain actual cats and dogs, ‘cause it would have seemed like just the right day for it. Our promise for the weekend – more unpredictable precipitation – rain, snow flurries and even some accumulations in some areas – what could be better than that? Well, actually a little sunshine and warming temperatures would be nice.

When the winter months reach their last legs, the weather is on everyone’s mind. I would bet that at least 90% of people who interacted with another human being in New England today talked about the weather at least once. “Talking about the weather” – the cliché icebreaker is more than just idle chatter in my belief. Around these parts I think that it is a way for people to bond together against something that is greater than they are. (That, and it provides an excellent opportunity for one-up’s-man ship – “You think you have it bad, we got 10 inches of heavy, wet snow last night in my town  – my back was breaking!”) After all, no one I know can change it and everyone is affected by it. At this time of the year and for the next month and a half or so as spring teases us with the promise of warmer days and sunny skies – there is a combined sense of impatience, resolve and hopefulness. We’re almost there… just a few more weeks… a few more snow storms and we will be rewarded.

When you think about the bonding we do over the trials of untamable Mother Nature – you know you are participating in a ritual that has been handed-down from one generation to the next in many parts of the world. It is the ultimate realization of the smallness of our presence in the eternal evolution of the planet and of our interconnected experience. You may feel all alone looking down the long snow-covered driveway, shovel in hand pondering the work ahead of you, but you are not, and later you will get the opportunity to swap stories with your co-workers and family. We are a hearty and hopeful lot – bound together by some frozen water crystals and the promise of daffodils.