Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Amazing Gracie June 30, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 7:37 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

20140626_094408-1 I wasn’t allowed to have cats when I was child. My mother didn’t like or trust them, having grown-up around cats when she was young whose primary function was to serve as “mousers” – and not as pets, she was always a little scared of them. I once brought home a kitten, from a fair, hoping that she would be moved by its soft, grey, “kitteny” cuteness – but found myself having to return it to the family I got it from a couple of days later. But once I moved out on my own, I have always had at least two or three feline family members of my household. I don’t know about the whole “dog-people” -vs. – “cat-people” thing, but I guess though I grew up with dogs my preference is for cats. I appreciate their independence, their affection (when they choose to share it) and their overall orientation to life. Cats are cool and I simply like having them around.

For the last ten years we have had three feline members of our family: Taku and Soma, two littermate brothers that we adopted as kittens from a local animal shelter and Gracie a neighborhood “stray” who we took in about four months after getting “the boys”. From the start, these three were not like any of the other cats who have been part of our family over the years. I think this stems from the fact that they had “feral” rather than “domestic” origins. The biggest difference that was very apparent was that they were all pretty darned skittish. While our previous cats seemed to like our human company, these three all displayed what can only be described as “terror” and mistrust when it came to casually interacting with the human family members. Though, they each had their idiosyncratic preferences for when, where and how they would interact with us, the general rule was, that it always had to be on their terms – certain rooms, certain times, certain people, certain interactions were tolerated – but there was little to no – “casual” opportunities for affection and interaction. For the first couple of years we had them, I was primarily aware of their presence because someone was eating the cat food and using the litter box – but not because I ever had the chance to actually “enjoy” them.

That doesn’t mean that they didn’t hang around us at all – all three cats would sleep with my sons every night – often switching between rooms throughout the night, I assume to make sure that everyone had a chance to snuggle. Gracie would join you on the family room couch if you were watching a movie and gladly stand in front of your face so you could not see the screen. Taku would race in front of you if you were walking up the front steps, hop on my son’s bed and purr wildly while you pet him and Soma, would sit next to me in the kitchen while I paid bills at the table, allowing me to pet his head or more importantly to crunch up small wads of paper for him to chase around on the floor. There were a number ways you could interact – but they were all very specific, and were interspersed with plenty of frantic fleeing from the room if you happened to walk through, as if your very presence was inherently threatening. They were three goof-balls and not at all like our previous pets – who were constantly present, endlessly affectionate and relatively mellow.

Anyway, the dynamics all changed a couple of years ago, thanks to a couple of coincident factors; one – my boyfriend, the self-described, “God of Cats” became a more regular presence in our home, and two – Gracie lost her hearing (which eliminated all of those startling sounds that had previously frightened her). The result – was that slowly, but surely the God of Cats and Gracie became the best of friends. Taku and Soma, observing Gracie’s interaction without catastrophic incident, eventually followed suit and came round themselves to regular interaction with the humans of the household and over time – we became one big happy family. It only took about eight years to get to something that resembled the ideal that was in mind when we brought these three felines into our home, but who’s counting?
But Gracie’s loss of hearing and apparent connection to a bottomless desire for affection was only a small part of the physical and personality changes that she was going through. Though calmer and definitely happier in her quiet little world, she was also aging rapidly and suffering from a number of health problems, which were slowly but steadily taking their toll. One by-product of her hearing loss – was that her “meow” went from normal range to something that sounded more like a super-sonic goat and she had a lot, and I do mean A LOT – to say. It could be tough first thing in the morning, and she could be pretty darned persistent, but it was also pretty darned funny. Honestly, I don’t know if I could have imagined the sounds that she made if I hadn’t been there to witness it firsthand. That girl had needs, and if she wasn’t fast asleep she would make sure that you knew about them – as she wanted either to be fed or purring in your lap almost all the time. Taku, not much for independent thinking, decided that if it was working for Gracie, then he should give it a try too – and though he neither fit on your lap as easily (since she was very underweight due to a number of health issues and he is quite overweight from stealing her food as often as he could) he took almost all of his cues from her. “Gracie is meowing, I should Meow. Gracie is hopping on the chair; I should hop on the chair. Gracie wants to sleep on this pillow; I should sleep on this pillow, etc.”

Gracie went from being one of the shyest cats I know – to one of the most affectionate. And by her example – Taku and Soma learned that they could get affection and attention at almost any time of day, in any room, from anybody. It was a great thing.

Last week, we made the difficult decision to have Gracie euthanized. Sweet and seemingly happy as she was, she was also very ill and in the last couple of years had lost a tremendous amount of weight and muscle mass. It’s hard to tell, because cats are pretty stoic creatures, but it sure looked like it was difficult and probably painful for her just to lie down and stand up toward the end. But she never stopped being sweet and affectionate. We will miss the old girl, her loud talking, her constant companionship and her sweet loving face. I am so glad that her last couple of years seemed to make her so happy, despite her health issues. I hope that Taku and Soma remember what she taught them and continue to be more interactive and affectionate than they had been before. Time will tell.

But whether they do or not, I guess taking this time to reflect on the last ten years with these three just feels important to me. Our pets whether they are cats, dogs, bunnies or whatever, really do become a big part of our lives, a part of our families. Their personalities shape our day-to-day experience and it is amazing how much love they can bring us. In this case, I learned too, that the capacity for change and transformation is present in all sorts of creatures – finding opportunity within obstacles. Thanks, Gracie.

Advertisements
 

Perspective, Peace and the New Year January 2, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 8:46 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

PeaceThought I would break my “radio silence” of the last few weeks and do a little posting today. Between the extra activities of the holidays and the need to spend some time doing a little quiet internal reflection, I haven’t really felt like I have had either the time or the inclination to do any writing. That said it also feels strange to let the passing of one year and the beginning of a new one go by without “logging-in” on some level – so here I am.

For me, as for many of us, the end of the year accompanied by the winter weather is a time for drawing inward; both in the physical sense as the cold often prohibits as much time spent outdoors and in a mental sense as I don’t think I could stop myself (even if I cared to try, which I don’t) from reviewing the events of the last year and thinking about where I want the next year to take me. I am “a thinker” so this sort of activity suits me well and has a comfortable familiarity to it. At the same time, this pull to self-reflect often means that any writing that I may be inclined to do is for “personal use only” – so sitting down to write a blog takes a bit more effort than usual right now. And while I am still in the throes of this state of being, deciding upon what I do want to share in this forum is difficult.

So I shall make it simple on myself and share what on New Year’s Eve, I decided is the thing from 2013 that I am most grateful for…

I am grateful to have both of my sons (and often my boyfriend) home here with me and for the peaceful, easy atmosphere that seems to be the general zeitgeist of our household this year. There is just something lovely about having the three people I most adore here with me, each living their own lives while simultaneously connecting with one another. As my boys grow into young men, their respective personalities coming more fully into focus – I find that I couldn’t be more proud of the people that they are becoming. They are totally different from one another, and while their lives, (and everyone else’s), are not without their challenges, they doing as well as they can with what they have before them. Everyone is doing their own thing – working on their own agendas and yet together in a harmonious way. I know that the current circumstances of “where” they are in their lives will be changing soon enough, but for right now, I am just enjoying what it is.

I guess when I think about it, I can’t really ask for anything more. Sure there are specifics that could be running more smoothly, challenges that cause stress present themselves each day but in my mind, the year overall has been a good one.

There are other dimensions, there is more to consider, there always is, but on a fundamental level I am grateful and at peace. As I dance through my mind; viewing, reviewing, assessing, pondering, planning, interpreting and working through all the bits from every perspective – I cannot underestimate the importance of this most fundamental aspect of the overall picture. Until, I am ready for the next installment, I wanted to wish you a Happy New Year and to say that I sincerely hope that the upcoming year brings you much growth, inspiration, passion, joy and peace. –Lisa

 

My Favorite PRESENT! December 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 3:06 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Xmas presntI love the week between Christmas and New Year, I always have. I have managed to keep them relatively free from work – and since I became a mother it has been a goal of mine to keep this time clear and relatively open for my sons, too. Low on: responsibilities and things that “have to” get done, and high on: all-day pajama wearing, playing with toys, eating good food, watching movies, reading, playing in the snow (if available), staying up and sleeping in late, and generally just relaxing. It’s good…

This year seemed particularly nice, with my oldest son home from college, my boyfriend in-town and my youngest son on school break. It has been really sweet to be surrounded by “my fellas”. Love them! And though I have worked some of the time, in general, I am giving myself a break from having to be overly productive. Oh there’s a list though – and it gets a bit longer each day – but I am resisting the anxious pull of productivity. Soon the holidays will pass – everyone’s schedule will pull them back “into their regular routines” and work will be attended to. But not simply “work-as-usual”, New Year work. And that’s always exciting!

As I have said in the past – I am not one for New Year’s resolutions – they just have never felt “right” or “authentic” enough for me. On the other hand – I am a big fan of goal setting. In fact in a week or so – I will be leading a group entitled: “New Year – New Beginnings” – which is meant to support participants in taking the time to reflect on where they are now and where they would like to be, reflecting on the present, envisioning the future, setting intentions and creating concrete action plans for the year ahead. That’s what makes sense to me, and I started on my own plan weeks ago. But now, right now, I just want to enjoy the moment.

There are many families out there this year who have been deprived of the ability to spend their holidays with their loved ones. And the thought of that is heart-breaking to me. I am fortunate to have my loved ones close, so I can hug them, and spend time with them and tell them that “I love them”. And I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time. You see one of my intentions which I plan to continue into the New Year, and which I started working on quite a while back – is to be more mindful and present in my everyday life. To be as conscious as I can be in each moment, to be grateful for all that I have and to LIVE my life as it happens – while still building on the past and planning for the future. It’s a delicate cognitive balance that requires my active intercession in the moment – but it’s getting easier. Mostly, things always do… Enjoy your moments; like this one, right now and this next one, and the one after that, and…

 

Spread a Little Sunshine February 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 12:53 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

(All has been pretty darned quiet on the Eastern Front these last few weeks with regard to me and my blog posting. I can’t even begin to count the number of ideas that have crossed my mind for posts, nor the number of times I have tried to schedule writing into my day – only to have it bumped off the list by something more pressing. But today – I seem to have both time and inclination working in my favor so here I am. You have no idea how happy that makes me, or maybe you do?)

Let me tell you a little story. Down in a nursing home about three hours from where I live, reside my two, dear aunts (I have mentioned them before in previous posts). They are sisters, who never married, have lived together their entire lives and who have always been central figures in my life. I love them dearly, but see them rarely. Now both in their mid-nineties each struggling with the effects of senile dementia – to varying degrees – they spend their days following simple routines and doing “not that much”. It is challenging to get down there to see them, and for the last couple of years they no longer have a telephone in their room, so I can’t even call them anymore (something I did fairly regularly, when they had one). And I miss them.

I have no idea, what they think about all day long. I know when I do get to see them that they remember me, though they sometimes forget who my children are – or who’s daughter I am (I am the youngest daughter, of their younger sister) – but I don’t know how they conceptualize time and if they are aware of the length of time between our visits. But I am aware of it. And always, in the back of my head, I wonder, despite their impressive ages and relatively good health, if I will get a chance to see them again before they pass. I hope they know I love them even if I am never there. Because the fact of the matter is that they cross my mind – all the time. Though age has in many ways made them into almost caricatures of their former selves (often highlighting some of their less favorable features) I still think of them in a more complete way.

These two women have always been some of my most ardent supporters. Unfettered by the constraints of parenthood they have always been in a position to love us (they have many nieces and nephews who they have been close with over the years) without restriction and they did, most admirably. Sure, it wasn’t all “rosie” – differences in viewpoint both personally and politically often strained interactions at times – but despite all of the “awkward” moments over the years our relationship has always been best characterized by the gift of unconditional love and positive regard. A couple of weeks ago – I decided I would send them a letter, since this is one method of communication which is still available and relatively simple to do. And again, I have no idea how they “received” it – or if by the third page they had to remind themselves again – who the heck it was from – but I hope that it brightened their day in some little way, I know it did for me.

Sometimes reaching out and letting someone know how much they mean to you is a simple way of sending a little ray of sunshine into someone else’s life – but it also raises the shades on your own. Because honestly giving love, gratitude and respect does not just enhance the receiver of such kindnesses but the giver as well. So my simple little thought for the day – is “spread the love, baby”. Life is so precious and unpredictable and acknowledging those who add value to your life is a win-win for all involved.

(As a footnote – I just wanted to share… I had NO IDEA that this was where I was headed when I sat down and started writing this blog. In fact I was quite sure this was going to be about time management and finding the time to do the things that feed your soul. And maybe in some ways, that is exactly where I ended up – but the process of writing these posts is very “stream of consciousness” for me – and part of the enjoyment is to just “go with the flow” and see where it will take me. I usually am pleased with the results – and the process is always enjoyable. Just thought you may want to know that.)

 

Study-hall-house, shhhhhhh January 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:05 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

The environment in the house tonight is “all work”. It distinctly has that feeling of being in a college dorm during finals week. Everybody hunkered down doing their work quietly, seriously and individually. And yet, there is, at least for me, this sense of shared experience and camaraderie. It’s a little strange – but I have to say – “I kind of like it.”

“The senior” is working on the final draft of an essay that is due tomorrow. Unfortunately, he is a bit of a procrastinator, so the pressure is on. He has quietly secluded himself in the computer room – doesn’t like any noise, doesn’t want any distractions. Okay with me, as long as he is getting the working done. I am happy to tip-toe around if that will help him do his best work.

“The freshman”, having misunderstood the due date on an important science lab – is finishing his math homework – while I finish up on the laptop, when he is ready to get to the lab – I shall relinquish “my” computer and begin dinner prep. I certainly have more that I would like to get done on this machine tonight – but I believe his deadline is more pressing. So once dinner prep is complete – I shall switch my efforts over to written projects, lists and writings.

“The boyfriend” is stationed at his usual spot on the dining room table – attending to the tasks he has on his “to-do” list. Willingly and supportively working with the family schedule and flowing right along. The only sound to be heard is the gurgling of an empty stomach, as he too adjusts with the pushed-back dinner schedule.

So dinner will be late, cause I am putting off relinquishing my machine until I absolutely have to. Hopefully, we will all join together for a little repast – regain our strength and get back to our individual tasks replenished and renewed. We shall see…

I know there have been times when the house felt this quiet before – but there is something in the air that feels different. For me, my moments with this blog are numbered as I know I have to give-up the machine momentarily. I just wanted to mark this funny little moment in time. And put the wish out to the universe that I hope we all get accomplished what we need to tonight – and are able to rest easy – with the satisfaction of knowing that we did our best. Shhhhhh…..

 

Happy Birthday to You May 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 5:26 am
Tags: , , , ,

It’s my sister’s birthday today. I am waiting for a decent hour to call her and wish her a “happy birthday” in case she’s decided to take advantage of the moment and sleep in late. She is my next oldest sibling and growing up, she is the one of my three siblings that I interacted with the most. There is a decent age spread between each of us so my oldest two siblings were out of the house and in college when I was still pretty young. Though we definitely played together when we were young we also fought a lot and really didn’t start to “like” each other until I was in high school and she left for college. Now as adults, we live in different states and though at this juncture we have pretty regular contact with each other that hasn’t always been the case, despite the fact that nothing significant has ever happened to pull us apart and then back together again. It just seems to be the pull of the tide of our relationship.

Siblings relationships are funny. I have a good friend who is incredibly close to his older brothers and they continue to both socialize and work together. They are all friends with each other’s friends and their bond is incredibly tight. I have other friends who have little or no contact at all with their brothers and sisters and still others who have primary contact around family holidays but light contact at other times. I find myself looking at my sons who were once the world to each other and who are now growing in their own separate directions. When they are together – they are pretty close, recognizing and accepting each other’s differences and still presenting a united force against their common nemesis – me.

I hope that when they grow into men that they are always close – loving and supporting each other through life’s diverse moments – but who knows – they could grow to be distant and uninvolved with each other’s lives. As a mom, I do what I can to foster their bond, and that’s about it – because really how their relationship grows over time, doesn’t have that much to do with me. I am not sure what causes two siblings to grow into adulthood as best friends and what causes them to become indifferent strangers, but I do what I can to support the former orientation.

As children, our families are our world – friendships are peripheral. As we grow we create our own families, by choice of partner and the family we create together and by choice of friends who we bond with in profound and meaningful ways in many instances. There are many senses of family, and how we experience and define it has a myriad of possible faces. It would be nice if that family of origin always remains tight, but sometimes it is the family we create, however we define them, that becomes the real connection in our lives. Whatever the source, however it is defined that deep connection with other people is the key. Knowing that there is someone out there who has your back, who wants the best for you and who loves you even when they know the aspects of you that are less than appealing is what is important. Loving and caring for others really allows us the opportunity to be experience what it is to be human – and opens some of the deepest parts of ourselves to the possibilities of life.

So on that note; happy birthday sister of mine, may the year ahead truly bring you great happiness and fulfillment.

 

Evolving Traditions April 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:06 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Holidays and traditions, I grew-up with a strong dose of them. In my family, each holiday brought with it a very definite set of rituals and traditions, largely focused around various ethnic foods and familial gatherings. It was good stuff, and I liked the predictability and specialness that each occasion brought with it (often because we would eat really good foods that we would never have at other times of the year – what can I say, I am Italian-American and that’s just the way we rolled.) As an adult and a parent, I have the opportunity to make, carry-on and/or create traditions with my sons that hopefully will have their own magic for them similar to what I experienced as a child, and though some things hearken back to the traditions of my childhood, many do not. One of the biggest differences is that their father and I are divorced and so holidays are now spent with one or the other parent and each carries with it its own meaning, meals and memories.

So one of the biggest differences each year is that holidays don’t always mean family anymore, at least not the way it used to. The way it works out for our family is that some holidays are always spent with one particular parent, the boys are with me for Christmas Eve and Christmas and with their dad for New Year’s Eve and New Years. Thanksgiving is a swap off holiday – the boys spending every other year with the other parent and holidays like Easter, are determined by the regular weekly rotation. It’s a bit of a smorgasbord for all four of us (there’s an Italian saying which would be perfectly interjected here, roughly translating to: “A little of this, a little of that, a little of the other thing”.) It works for us for the most part and the boys seem to feel comfortable with the mixture of familiarity and fluctuation that are our new “traditions” if you will.

For me, this year Easter was spent with my friends since my boys were with their dad. I had given them their “Easter baskets” in the middle of last week, since I wasn’t sure that would be a part of his plans for them and what kid doesn’t look forward to the chocolate and jelly beans? I had a lovely day, great weather, good food, stimulating conversation, a lovely walk, laughter, warmth and appreciation for the people in my life. Yes, I did miss my boys, but it did not distract me from enjoying my day. Growing-up I would have never guessed that my holiday would be spent with all friends and no family, with ham and macaroni and cheese instead of frittata and Easter bread, with a lovely walk instead of an Easter egg hunt, but my enjoyment of the day was there just the same.

I think sometimes we make assumptions, that life is a certain way, some things are a given and a constant and will always be the same, but the reality is that this is of course an impossibility. Even those members of my family who gathered for the traditional brunch found themselves sitting around a table with a family constellation that looked different from how it did the year before. And this to me is not a bad thing. There may be times when I “wax nostalgic” for the memories of years passed, but I still appreciate the new. The fact is things change, continuously, allowing yourself to move and change with it expands the possibilities. Hopefully my sons will bring forward into their adulthood a mixture of tradition with flexibility; an appreciation for the old and an embrace of the new, and a sense that the outer trappings are less important than the internal spirit that they bring to the special moments in their lives, the confidence to know that traditions carry a sense of history and familiarity but are not so rigid that they cannot be changed to incorporate new circumstances.