Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Passages June 22, 2012

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It has been a strange week. (“Strange” – being an inadequate word to describe how this has actually felt – but we’re going to run with it all the same, rather than get bogged down in nuance.)

It began, on Sunday evening when I received a message from an old friend, telling me that another very dear old friend had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. (See previous post – Ode to Ed, 6/18/12) The next couple of days were passed in a kind of blur of sadness, fond remembrances and the sharing of feelings of grief by his friends and family, flung far and wide over the social network, Facebook. I took care of my work and family obligations but honestly, my mind and heart were adrift as I worked to process the concept that this adored man, no longer existed in the world as we know it.

On Wednesday morning, I learned that I had made a big mistake in my family’s calendar. (And let me just state for the record – it is completely un-characteristic of me to make a mistake like this – which is part of why it was so unsettling in the first place.) My fifteen year-old son was to begin work on Saturday (I thought), up in New Hampshire for the summer as an assistant counselor at a boy’s camp. What I discovered was that I was wrong about which day he had to be there – counselors were to arrive on Thursday, not Saturday (that was for the actual campers.) I had been counting on those couple of days to help us finish acquiring all that he needed and to calmly get him packed up and ready to go, oops! You see this is the first time he is going away for more than a single week, in fact his older brother who just finished at the high school, hasn’t been away from home for more than a week before either – so this was a big adjustment – not just for him but for his mama, too. Needless to say, all previously scheduled plans were cancelled and we set about in the next 24 hours to shop, launder and pack for all remaining necessities – followed by a day of driving to and fro. It was a bit of a whirlwind – but we made it.

And let me just add here, I am pretty darned proud of my boy. He’s ready for this, clearly more ready than I am and his calm, confident demeanor was really something to behold. At six-foot, two inches he had no problem, grabbing all his gear on his own and setting it on the porch of the assembly lodge where he settled in to wait for the senior staff to end their meeting and get him acclimated. And so after, briefly meeting a couple of the staff members and watching him introduce himself to another assistant counselor – we were kindly dismissed to take our leave. I fought the urge to hug him for fifteen minutes, tell him I loved him over and over again and remind him for the  50th time to apply plenty of bug spray and stay hydrated, but rather left on cue allowing us both to retain our dignity.

The camp is classic! Lodges and buildings, straight out of everyone’s imagination about summer camp, nestled on a wooded hill, which descends into a gorgeous, huge lake. It’s going to be a great experience for him – and though I will likely never hear half of them, I am confident that he will amass stories and experiences that he will remember for a lifetime. So, the timeframe was a little squished – he’s there – he’s psyched and I am excited for him. Once again, I am reminded that my little baby is growing up and I love the young man he is becoming.

So today, I am cleaning up the aftermath of not really business as usual. I have an important meeting on Monday and a presentation on Tuesday for which I need to do quite a bit of work, but I wanted to write this blog first. Because it just felt like it would be a reset of sorts to acknowledge these passages – one  life ended and another is moving forward; meeting milestones, growing and expanding. We are always in a constant state of flux – no moment ever identical to another. And the people who we will love and who will change and transform us will come into and out of our lives over and over again and in the grand scheme of things we cannot really control the changes headed our way. But we can choose how we will act and react and more importantly “pro-act” – so that we are doing the best that we can do as often as possible. And I am reminded always that we are charged with making the best of each and every possible moment for the next is never guaranteed. What’s the expression – “Plan for the future – but live in the present”?

Practicing mindfulness and gratitude for all that I have – right now and working to share the love as much as I can. What about you?

 

“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.

 

Why wait? October 14, 2011

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What are you waiting for: Someone to notice you? The right introduction? A winning lottery ticket? Your boss to give you a raise?  What? Who’s in charge here, anyway? I say – You!

If you give all the power to someone or something else to make the changes you need in your life – you may find yourself waiting for a very long time. If you want to move ahead you have to see it, want it and do it – yourself. You have to do what it takes to get yourself noticed, to ask for that introduction and then follow-up on it, you have to start the conversation, take the action and start the ball rolling. A little self-agency goes a long way. Sure, you may luck out – someone else may bestow great things to you – but chances are if you want to get something done – you have to do it yourself. Doing it yourself doesn’t mean doing it alone – there are resources out there to help you along the way – but you have to ask for it, you have to see where you want to go and make a plan to get yourself there and then do it.

The world is waiting to see what it is you have to offer, your time for waiting is over.

 

Icepacks, Laptops and Choices March 23, 2010

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So today I had the misfortune of knocking a large board with two, big 16×16 tiles glued to it – onto the top of my foot. And may I simply say, “Ouch!” Currently, I am waiting to hear back from the doctor’s office as to whether or not I fractured anything.  Keeping my fingers crossed that it is just a bruise, but we shall see… It isn’t the only mishap or inconvenience of my day so far and there is a long way to go before I rest.

I am contemplating my mood options as I sit here reclining on my couch, bag of ice on my foot, computer on my lap. There’s the obvious “grumpy option”, after all I have been up since 5:00 am, had to be at a meeting at 7:00, I am over-tired, somewhat overwhelmed by the list of tasks I have to attend to, and frustrated by my painful and COLD foot. Venting and gnashing my teeth a bit may be a good release for me – but the idea feels too self-indulged and downright selfish. There’s the “woe is me” option, but I don’t even feel like spelling that one out – it’s definitely not the “head-space” I am in at the moment. I seem to be in the “so, you’re having a tough day – you’ll get through it” mind frame.

Things are tough sometimes. Sometimes you need a little extra nurturing to get yourself back on track. Sometimes you need a reality-check to put things into the proper perspective. And sometimes you just have to keep forging ahead, with your eyes on the future and your focus in the present. Life is full, of sidetracks, obstacles and diversions. Deciding when you will allow yourself to break stride, change course, and go with the flow are all options that are open to us almost every waking minute. How you will react is up to you – some days an afternoon at the movies is the best response, other days a nap may be perfect while still others may include laptop and a icepack before your next appointment. Whatever works – the key is to listen to the voice inside of you that has the wisdom to make the right choice. And if that choice doesn’t feel right, there will always be another opportunity to try it again.

 

Where’s that Reset Button? January 27, 2010

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Today has been a real challenge so far and without going into detail, let me just say that it has been a rough start. What I really needed was to feel energized and not drained as I faced the list of tasks that I had hoped to carry out. Fortunately, I have been able to reset myself and though I am sure that the day will wind up being less productive than I had originally intended due to some unexpected curveballs – I am back on track with at least making the best of the time and energy I do have at the moment. This got me to thinking about what strategies we use to get ourselves back on track when life and all its myriad of possible distractions knocks us off.

I know that for me, at least this morning what got me refocused was a chat with a friend, that allowed me to vent a little bit and to re-engage my mind in a more productive way. In this case I think the reset was simply – human connection. I say simply because clearly this isn’t a profound ground-breaking concept here, and yet sometimes I think we forget the power of it. Being able to connect with another person, share in that empathy and understanding – combined with a mutual concern for one another’s well-being was the magic bullet. Additionally, I think that HOW you approach the solution is just as crucial.  I was open to the being reset and was not invested in staying in the negative space I was in. I may not have been able to control all the events that made my morning feel so stressful – but I was able to control how I let it affect me. (This leads me to another topic which I have thought about a lot – locus of control – but I will get to that in another blog.)

In any case sometimes having a friend to talk to isn’t an option and even if it is, coming up with ways to clear our own heads and refocus ourselves is an almost indispensible need. So, what are your strategies for resetting yourself? When you are feeling the weight of life’s stressors how do get yourself back to calm? The temptation here is to list off a myriad of possible suggestions, and maybe that would be useful to some extent, but I believe it is a primarily an individual process, and what would work for you might not be found on my list of options. Nonetheless, just as there is a value in knowing what your resources are in other arenas of your life, taking time to access those internal resources is just as valuable. So, make a list, go ahead, and think about what buttons you need to push when clearly the situation calls for a reset.