Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Giving Thanks November 23, 2014

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I am lucky, and yes, grateful that one of my signature strengths is: gratitude. For those of you who may not know what signature strengths are the term comes from the work of psychologists, Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson who identified and then quantified twenty-four Character Strengths that we all possess, that are consistent over time and across cultures and which we all value. The “VIA” or Values in Action Survey of Character Strengths, is the test that you can easily take if you are interested as it is available online at no cost. The survey will rank order the 24 Character Strengths that Peterson and Seligman identified, and highlight your “Top Five” Signature Strengths. The test, which I use regularly in my coaching practice, is a powerful tool for self-discovery, focusing on the positive and providing a vehicle for numerous applications which we can use to increase our sense of life satisfaction.

For more information or to take the test, go to: https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/home.

So, gratitude is one of my top five. And while I would have to say that I am aware of the daily appearance of all of my strengths as I navigate my day to day life, gratitude is more like the lens through which I see everything. I notice the things I am grateful for all of the time; the deliciousness of a warm cup of coffee, the opportunity to work with all of my wonderful clients, having a comfortable home for myself and my boys, the color of the sky, the coziness of my bed, and on and on and on. It makes me humbled, it makes me feel blessed, it fosters respect, encourages me to keep working and when life’s challenges challenge me… it helps me to keep perspective and be more optimistic. I am in fact, grateful to be grateful, and it’s as simple as that.

So this year, as those of us here in “the States”, gather around dining room tables on Thursday to share a meal with friends and family we will all most likely take a moment to “give thanks”. We will reflect on our blessings and good fortune, and take some time to think about those who have been challenged by all manner of sacrifice and struggle. And collectively, our hearts will open a bit, the “good will meter” will register a little higher and a little more humanity will fill the space between us. And for that we should all be grateful.

My challenge to you this holiday season is to hold on to that perspective a bit: to look with kindness on one another, to treat each other with respect, to listen, to give and to allow yourself to receive and to be grateful for all of the big and small things that happen in our lives every day. There is so much to be grateful for, at the very least, we are still here, we are still breathing and that means we still have the chance to do great things, even of the smallest kind.

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Happy Thanksgiving with Deep Gratitude –

Lisa

 

Perspective, Peace and the New Year January 2, 2014

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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

 

Happy Giant November 30, 2013

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Meadow and MountainsWell it’s the last day of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) and this is my final blog for this year’s participation. It looks like, I have managed to post eighteen out of a possible thirty, and I am feeling pretty good about that. When I first learned about NaBloPoMo on the afternoon of November 1st, I couldn’t help but thinking that this little “incentive” couldn’t have come at a worse time for me. The first couple of weeks of this month, (along with the last several months) of my life had been dominated by my participation in an Expo, the size of which surpassed anything that I had previously been a part of. And while one might wonder what exactly could have been so labor intensive about it, I can tell you that it piled A LOT of extra projects on my plate.

As part of my participation I had set a number of goals for myself, including but not limited to creating a number of new print materials, writing three eBooks, planning and marketing four new coaching groups andwriting a one hour presentation among a number of less intensive tasks. So taking on NaBloPoMo in the last couple of weeks of this push, seemed like a crazy idea that was destined for failure. But at the same time, I think I was in hyper-drive mode and I have thought a lot over the last several months about how I had lost my blog amongst my other writing projects in the last year and that simply was not sitting well. So while, the temptation was to say, “I can’t do it, the timing is just wrong”, I also knew that there are always “valid” reasons why “now isn’t a good time” for so many things that are more; wants than needs, and so, I began.

Participating in this “event” was really important for me.
• For one, I have re-learned what I already know, that if we wait for the path to be clear before we move forward on doing something we want, we can wait forever. I knew this already, and while I resist it in some corners of my life, I had let it take hold where my blog was concerned.
• I also realized that my “blog voice” is different from my other “writing voices”, and after a period of relative disuse it had grown hoarse. It took me longer than usual to find the place of flow from which I was used to writing my blogs in the past. My early efforts this past month felt more like “journal entries” than posts, but the more I kept at it the more it came back into focus.
• I knew already how much I loved to write, but lately my writing had taken a different direction. As a regular contributing expert on divorce for a few online publications, I forgot what it was like to have a more “free-choice” writing opportunity. While my other writing is still gratifying for me, and I look forward to being published in the spring in a compilation book about divorce, I do love just sitting down and writing about whatever it is I want to address as well.
• And lastly, I learned that I can get water from a stone. That there exists inside me, and likely within each of us, that ability to be true to those things that we value and that this connection will not disappoint when we want to tap into it again.

So thank-you to whoever came up with this idea in the first place. I am glad you awakened my sleeping giant. I hope to roam this fertile countryside for a while now, so I expect that you will hear again from me soon as November rolls into December. Thank-you to those of you who have been kind enough to read what I have written, to have liked, commented or followed me during the last month and who have helped to make me feel encouraged along the way. I needed that, and I am grateful for it. Maybe I will bump into you over the next rise as you too, traverse the possibilities. 

 

This Moment in Time November 29, 2013

SittingIt’s Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. The refrigerator is full, the dining room table has returned to its usual size, the serving pieces are put away. Like many folks, I am lucky to be enjoying a day off, not to participate in the “Black Friday” shopping rush (which I believe is a day of unnecessary chaos and “trumped-up bargains”) but just to take a breather. Yes, yesterday was a holiday, but it was a busy one, filled with cleaning, cooking and general doing, and I really just need a day of rest. Like many solo-preneurs most weekends are still filled with work activities, though I do get the benefit of being able to manage my time in a way that works for me.
Ever since we turned the clocks back, I have been waking earlier than usual, and today was no exception, despite my best efforts to go back to sleep. But that’s okay with me – I do love being up as the day begins in a quiet house where no one is asking me for anything, well, no one except for the cats that is. My older son is up and off to work already at his retail job and the younger is enjoying a little extra time in bed, since he doesn’t work until the afternoon, and my boyfriend is slumbering happily upstairs. It’s all good. Right now I am waiting for my banana bread to finish baking while I enjoy a fresh cup of coffee. And then? Then, I have no idea what I am doing, and for right now I am okay with that.
In general, I am an organizer and a planner, so often, when faced with a bit of free time; I have to actually “work” at just being present and relaxing. My mind typically is a buzz with lists of things that I want and need to get done. But there just seems something antithetical about “planning downtime”, don’t you think so? I know what I don’t care to do today; no shopping, no movies, no cleaning, no organizing, no working. I have a couple of ideas things that I might like to do today; writing my blog, taking a walk, doing some artwork, and enjoying the presence of my loved ones. That’s it – I would just like to let the day lazily unfold before me, and if an opportunity arises for a little spontaneous enjoyment – then I am in.
Right now, it’s about right now. Literally, being in the moment, for me it’s as luxurious as it gets and a personal goal. I am grateful to be a planner but it has its downsides. Sometimes, I miss out on what’s right in front of me in the moment, which is not to say that I am not able to notice the beauty and excellence that are all around us each day and to enjoy and be grateful for it. But I know there is room for improvement. So that’s my plan, what am I doing today? I am being present. That’s it and whatever specifically that means has yet to unfold, and right now, that is more than enough. Hoping your moments meet your needs today.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Here – now… November 12, 2013

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MoonI sit here this evening, listening to old music on YouTube that I haven’t heard in a long, long time (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – CSN.) My mind is slowly rewinding the thoughts, conversations and events of my day searching for a subject for today’s blog entry and I can’t help but notice this quiet happiness that has come over me. It’s not like today was particularly notable in any way, I didn’t win the lottery, wasn’t offered a book deal, my son didn’t get inducted into the National Honor Society and I didn’t have a call from a long lost friend. And yet, I feel wistfully at peace.

In reality, the day started off a little shaky when I overslept – after having had a rough night’s sleep due to a being woken up a couple of times by incessant coughing from a new cold that I am trying to overcome. I missed my morning walk with my friend, because we both overslept and by the time I did get up – I only had about forty minutes to get ready for my first client. My day was sprinkled with a decent smattering of low-level tasks, as I tie-up the final loose ends for this week’s expo. But I also had a couple of inspiring coaching sessions with my wonderful clients. I had time to work on a few substantial projects too; practicing my presentation for this weekend, developing the outline for next week’s writer’s group, reading a couple of great articles. This was the fabric of my day complete with many cups of hot water with honey and lemon, the wailings of my old, deaf cat who wants food every time she sees me and several phone contacts with friends.

It was a full, full day and it left me feeling lucky. I had a chance to work at a career in which I feel a great sense of commitment and satisfaction. I ate well. My sons were both in good moods and affectionate and interactive (which as you may know is not “a given” for teenagers). I got a lot done and feel good about the progress I made on my various projects. And though it was way too cold for me outside today, I did enjoy watching the leaves as they rustled down my driveway.

While at first, I thought this entry was going to be a more in depth dive into some of the topics of the day; self-care, confidence, passion, and creativity – it actually seemed to want to pull in another direction. The sense of gratitude I was feeling just did not want to be set-aside – so I am giving it my respect. We shall see where tomorrow will go – for now – it is about a mindful acceptance of the present state. Thank-you for sharing it with me.

 

Walking Down Internet Memory Lane March 30, 2013

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One could certainly debate the pros and cons of social media and its all pervasive impact on life as we know it. There is no question that it can lead to: a seemingly bottomless pit of time wasting, a propensity toward the “over-sharing” of life’s minutia and what amounts to an internet version of unhealthy, addictive behavior.  But in my mind it also provides an opportunity for connection that simply did not exist just a few years ago.  As someone who is at just the right age to have enough technical know-how to take advantage of what the internet can provide and a clear memory of what life was like before we were all constantly “connected” I can say that social media has provided one benefit that far outweighs its detractions – finding lost friends.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of reconnecting online with the person that I really consider “my first love”. As I was working on my business network site on LinkedIn, his name popped up as someone I might want to connect with – (though how they know that, both puzzles and creeps me out a little bit). Nonetheless, more than thirty years since I would have last seen him, and almost forty years since we were “an item” we connected for a brief but pleasant email interaction. And honestly, it was great! No, I am not still mooning for a “lost love” or wanting any more than this superficial conversation presented, but had it not been for this social media site I would have spent my life never knowing what happened to him. Sure, life would have moved along smoothly without ever knowing, but now I have what can almost be described as a sense of closure.

Several years ago, I was re-united with another old friend from my college years who I had lost track of, when our lives became full with children and families and life activities and the letter writing which had finally been reduced to holiday updates eventually stopped altogether. And for about 2 – 3 years it was great to once again know and connect with this person from whom I always received a great amount of inspiration, laughter and genuine warmth. When he suddenly died of a heart-attack last year, I mourned his passing with the many friends and family who also cherished his life, and was grateful that we had had the opportunity to re-connect again before this most final disconnection. There is no denying the intensity and deep connections that you forge in your younger years and how significantly they can impact your life even if circumstance and priorities separate you over time. Old friends know you in a way that new friends never can – and social media allows you an opportunity to acknowledge their importance.

Sure, I am lucky; my reconnections to my past have mostly been positive ones. I have not stumbled into any frightening, unhealthy stalkers. Aside from some of the minor annoyances of irritating posts on Facebook from people whose, let’s just say “approach,” is at odds with my own, social media has treated me pretty well. I have a greater appreciation for some people than I had, had years ago – and most importantly I have been able to connect with some folks who were and are very important to me. I am not a “collector”, one of those people with a hundreds or thousands of “friends” who they may simply have attended the same high school with, it’s not about the numbers really. Though I check in regularly, I don’t really care for the trivial updates about every aspect of your existence, and I could absolutely live without the constantly forwarded quotes and cute animal photos in favor of more authentic and original material.  But a little here and there is just fine.

Most significantly, over five years ago I reconnected with someone who has indeed, changed my life. An old friend, I had known since grammar school, someone I always felt “connected to” despite our lives taking us in different directions. Built on an old stone foundation of mutual respect, fundamental understanding and positive regard we have forged a new and deeper relationship then either of us could have imagined in an age before social media discovery would have allowed. Not everyone is going to find “true love” on Classmates.com, and probably it’s a good idea not to try. It’s not about re-living your glory days, or going back in time. It’s about being able to connect in the here and now, to those people who have moved and shaped who you are today. There are definitely undeniable upsides to being able to connect with the people who really meant something to you over the years, to say “hello”, to share your friendship, to let them know that you are grateful to have had them in your life, and once in a great while to be able to say “I have waited for you all my life – and I didn’t even know it”.

 

 

My Favorite PRESENT! December 30, 2012

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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…

 

Each Fragile Moment November 29, 2012

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One of my neighbors stopped me this morning, to tell me that the son of another neighbor died this week. He was 26 years old. How very, very sad.

My heart goes out to his parents, family, friends and loved ones.  Death of someone so young always feels like a tragic loss. It always feels like such a waste, a departure from the “natural order of things” and yet it happens all the time.

Last week I learned of the sudden death of a former business associate – he was 53 and that too, seemed like a loss before its time. Not that death at any age – is not a loss – even when it comes as an end to suffering. Nothing is ever one-sided.

And beyond the sadness and sympathy I feel for those who knew and loved these two men, one young, one middle-aged; a secondary awareness of the fragility of our existence here on this planet floods in almost immediately thereafter.  We really do not know when our time will be up – when those we love and care for will slip from this world – our time is finite, but the final chapter is rarely known beforehand. It’s a bracing thought isn’t it?

And while one can swirl into a pool of sadness and worry about whether the end will some too soon – I cannot think of a more powerful reminder about how important it is to be present in our lives, every moment. Each moment is all that there is – so make the most of it. Regret is not the legacy most of us are striving for… I don’t want to go now, or soon – I am not finished here, I have things to do, places to go, people to meet and more importantly I have loved ones who need me here with them. So this is where I want to be – “I’m workin’ here!”.

Live large. Love large. Be IN your life. Make the most of it.  Make your mark. Enjoy as much as you can. Do good. Be grateful. And strive to be the best you can be at every moment.