Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Through the Eyes of a Child December 13, 2013

eyes
(As some of you may know, I am a regular, contributing expert on divorce for several online publications. The below post, is actually a copy of my most recent submission, so the “voice” of the article may sound a little different than what you are used to here. That said, I think it’s an important topic, particularly at this time of year, so I thought I would share it here, too.)

“Sorry I couldn’t give you that game console you asked for, if your dad paid his child support on time, maybe I would have been able to afford it.”
“It looks like it’s just you and me for the holidays this year, your mom is so wrapped up in her new family, she doesn’t have time for us.”
“Is your father going to do anything at all for the holidays, or does he just expect that I will do everything, just like I always did when we were married?”

When you read words like that, you may think, “I would never say such a thing in front of my children, even if I was thinking it” and if that’s the case and it never happens – then great! You are doing well, with something that is often very difficult to “master” in the wake of a divorce, particularly, if it was a contentious one. But for many it is hard to not let your feelings and frustrations bubble over, particularly at this time of year, when added responsibilities and financial pressures can make you feel squeezed beyond your normal tolerance level. It’s hard, it’s really hard and sometimes even with the best of intentions, we may vent in front of our kids often in an effort to explain away what we are a experiencing as some sort of inability to create the holiday memories for our children that we had wanted to. But clearly, allowing ourselves to let these sort of comments, slip out can be a lot worse for our kids than whatever it was we were trying to justify or explain away in the first place.

Have you ever really thought about what your child hears and feels when you say something like this? Chances are, it is not what you intended.

It doesn’t give them a better understanding of why there are less presents under the tree. It doesn’t prove to them that you are the parent who has their best interest in mind. And it doesn’t benefit anyone to have them “choose a side”. All it really does is – hurt.

This is their mother or their father that you are talking about. Children need to know that their parents love and care about them and undermining that, doesn’t really just undermine your ex, it undermines the very foundation of a child’s self-worth and self-confidence. It is true in some circumstances, the other parent may be disengaged, non-supportive or even abusive – but driving that home isn’t really the best message you could be giving your child; not at the holidays and frankly, not anytime.

If you need to vent, write in your journal, give out a scream when you are driving alone in your car, talk to your family, friends, therapist, coach or support group – but leave your kids out of it. The best gift you can give your kids this holiday is: yourself. Let them know, you are there, that you love them, are proud of them and a grateful to have them in your life. We can all go without “stuff”. One more video game left on the store shelf due to lack of funds, pales in comparison to the warmth and confidence of a child who knows they are valued and cared for. Do not let your disappointments become theirs. It’s not about the stuff, it never has been. Look through the eyes of your child, take a moment to see the world as they see it – and then give them what they really need. It doesn’t and will never come in a box.

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One More Item for the List December 2, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:42 pm
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December Sunset(I don’t generally “cross my writing over”, but for the sake of economy – today’s blog is the text from my monthly newsletter. Freeing to birds with one click, if you will… For those who receive both – sorry for the overlap.)

Well, its December already, how the heck did that happen? Many of us find that this time of year brings a lot of “extras”, extra shopping, extra cooking, extra socializing, etc. And while most of you are likely not going to welcome the fact that I am about to suggest that you add one more thing to your already growing lists – I promise this is one you may want to do. 😉

As our calendar year draws to a close, this is a great time to do a little internal reflection on the year that is about to draw to close. As we get ready to bid farewell to 2013 and begin a new in 2014, why not spend a little time reflecting on what the past year has been like for you? Consider where you were as 2013 rolled in and what changes and developments have taken place for you.

  •  What were you most proud of?
  • What have you learned?
  • What were your struggles?
  • What were your achievements?
  • How have you grown?
  • What memories do you want to savor?
  • In what ways did you take care of yourself, the people and things that are important to you?

It won’t be long before we are beginning a new year, when often we begin again in earnest to commit ourselves to those things that are important to us both personally and professionally, so taking stock before moving forward makes sense now more than ever.
You don’t have to make a big deal out of it. If you choose to ponder the year and write down what comes to you then great. If you choose to just let yourself consider these questions as wait in line at the mall, then that’s fine too. Planning forward is great but missing the lessons you have learned along the way because you didn’t make time to acknowledge them is a gift lost.
Reviewing where you are and where you have been allows you space to envision where you want to be. It’s a part of the process and an important one, so go ahead add it onto the list, it doesn’t cost anything, there’s no clean-up, and no wrapping paper – but it is still a gift you can give yourself during this busy holiday season.

 

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.

 

Sweet and Simple – Slumber and Sparkle January 8, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 11:07 am
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So far, it is a quiet Sunday morning here in my world. It was one of those days when I apparently, could have slept forever. There were several times when; I woke up, decided I was going to go downstairs, make some coffee and start my day – but found myself falling back to sleep, again and again. Finally, about an hour ago – realizing I had fallen into a wake-sleep cycle that could easily go on for hours, I forced myself to toss off the covers throw my legs over the side of the bed and actually get up. Now, let me just be clear here, I am not adverse to “sleeping-in” now and then especially on a Sunday morning when the agenda is loose and the pressure is low – but this was one of those situations where I felt like the longer I slept, the more tired I became. Sleeping was only serving to make me sleepier and I do love the idea of paddling around in my slippers in a quiet house, coffee in hand while I do a little reading and ease into my day. It is a luxurious and simply lovely way to start the day – and I didn’t want to sleep through my opportunity. So here I am…

Later in the day – “the big plan” is to dismantle the Christmas decorations and get the house back to its pre-holiday state of being. The boys both slept at friends’ houses last night and should be home around noon and my boyfriend is quietly snoring – enjoying an unusually late start to his day. So, it’s just me and the cats, who themselves seem to be having a quiet, Sunday morning. One staring out the living room window, watching for birds and leaves and other exciting bits of life in the great outdoors, while the other two are curled up and sleeping on my son’s bed.

I look froward to getting the house “back to normal”, wrapping up our nutcracker friends and putting them away for another year, but I always hate taking down the tree. From mid-December to early-January every year, enjoying the silent, sparkly, beauty of the tree is something we all take-in in our own way. Soma, one of the cats, seems to wait for me to turn on the lights each evening when the dark descends on us, and curls up on the rug, in front of the tree for most of the night. For me, I like to spend a little time each evening, sitting in the livingroom with just the lights on from the tree, listening to a little music while taking in the smell of the pine and the twinkle of the lights. It is incredibly relaxing. And my oldest son, has taken his pillow and comforter down to the couch many times over the last few weeks to fall asleep by the tree. It’s sweet really. There is something, innocent, and nostalgic about it as he slumbers there in the tree’s shadow. But in a few short hours,  the time of the tree will be gone again for another year.

And it will be just fine. It will be nice not to have to search as hard for the everyday items which I have stored away, and the whole place will get a thorough and much-needed dusting – which should cut down on my sneezing!

And what is “coming through” for me right now about all of what I have said so far in this blog is how important it is to simply be in the moment, whatever it is. Whether it is lying in bed, contemplating your day, shuffling about with hot coffee or gazing at the twinkle of Christmas lights, each moment offers an opportunity of simple beauty and inspiration. If you allow yourself to be open to it – the pleasure and piece of a mundane task or the heart-tug of tradition and “specialness-ness” can offer a sense of calm happiness. Fulfillment and joy need not come in a grand demonstration of attainment – but are always there quietly waiting to be acknowledged. You just have to be open to noticing it. May you have a sweet and lovely day – taking pleasure in all the little things that make life what it is – one moment to the next.