Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

The Power of Us, Indeed! December 6, 2013

MA ConfAlmost exactly a year ago, I wrote a blog about my experience attending my first MA Conference for Women https://firebirdlifecoach.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/the-power-of-8000-women/. Now a year later, I am writing this post, about my experience at the same conference that I attended yesterday. And while the words whirl around inside of my mind looking to form themselves into clear and coherent sentences, I shall borrow a comment from last year’s post that more simply encapsulates the experience of the day – Wow!

Working on the sheer magnitude of the event itself; the gigantic space, the caliber of the speakers, and the number of attendees – it was at the least, impressive and more accurately, awe-inspiring. This year’s attendance total topped the previous year’s record-breaking numbers, with a sold-out crowd of 10,000! Making it the largest women’s conference in the country. Holy cow! Do you have any idea how large a space has to be to accommodate a sit-down luncheon for that many people? Well I didn’t before I saw it with my own eyes. In all honesty, it took my mind a moment to comprehend what my eyes were taking in. http://www.maconferenceforwomen.org/

Like last year, the experience was highlighted by some fabulous keynote speakers. Susan Cain, author of Quiet, a powerful book that is bringing introverts out of the shadows and into their gifts. Linda Cliatt-Wayman, principal of Strawberry Mansion High School in Philadelphia, who saw a need, and made a choice to uplift, empower and love some children who desperately needed the intervention of her caring and dynamic presence. Doris Kearns-Goodwin, world-renowned historian who has documented and illuminated some of history’s most significant leaders. Blake Mycoskie, founder of Tom’s Shoes, who found a way to create a business model that “gave back” every step along the way. Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate, peace activist and women’s advocate, who used her power and compassion to create real change in the lives of women and girls whom life had forgotten. These were only some of the movers, shakers and luminaries – from keynotes to break-out session leaders – whose stories alone were worth the price of admission.

But this year, the thing that stood out for me the most was the privilege I had to represent the International Coaching Federation – New England Chapter as one of fifty certified coaches that provided coaching services to attendees. http://www.icfne.org/
What a wonderful experience that was! In the space of two hours, I had the honor of meeting and coaching, six beautiful women, each on their own journeys, each with their own challenges, gifts and goals – and to share my gifts and talents with them to aid them on their paths forward. It is hard to put into words, the sense of gratitude and honor I feel to have been able to contribute and connect, even for such a brief time with these individuals. To these women, and in fact to all of us who were present yesterday, may we be fueled by the inspiration that the day provided to step into our own power and to step out into the world and make a change for the better. I am proud and honored to have been there with you! – Lisa

 

Legacy October 6, 2011

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“Are you blogging today?” My friend asked as we instant messaged on Facebook this morning. “I am thinking about it”, I said, “still trying to decide what to write about.” Feeling a bit off schedule with my morning plans, contemplating the options, and working my way into the day. And so far, all I can really think about is the passing of Steve Jobs. I suppose a lot of people are thinking about him his morning, what he created and how he impacted their lives. It’s quite impressive, really. One person, following their intuition, creating their own path and pushing forward through life’s adversities, creates a legacy that influences so many others.

I am not a Mac user, nor do I own any of the “iproducts” that he created, but I felt his impact all the same, after all it seems that most of the other competing technology followed Apple’s lead anyway. But that’s not how he touched my life. It was his vision, his “message” that appealed to my values. The ideas of being true to yourself, following your vision, and persevering through life’s pitfalls, resonates with my very core. I have quoted Jobs on many occasions, co-opting his words which simply and eloquently spoke to this theme. “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”  (Steve Jobs) Good stuff and inspiring…

But as Seth Godin (another thought leader) put so well in his late night blog: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/10/a-eulogy-of-action.html the best tribute that any of us can give, is to take action on our own dreams and visions. Someday, people will be looking back on our contributions, wouldn’t it be nice to know you inspired someone to be their best?

 

In Memorium May 28, 2010

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Okay, so it’s 6:00 in the morning. I am here in my usual spot, on the porch, feet up, cup of warm tea steadily cooling by my side, my laptop quietly streaming music from www.radioparadise.com, the morning birds singing, my sons still sleeping and it’s time to write my blog. The Memorial Day weekend is spread-out before me and my mind is moving slowly from one idea to the next, but it keeps settling back in one place. Only it feels funny to write about something so personal. Nonetheless, little else is rising to the surface and it’s where I am.

Tomorrow I am going to a memorial service/party for an old friend who died last week from complications due to leukemia. He was someone who lived his life fully and loudly and he will be remembered and missed by an extensive network of family and friends. He has not been a regular part of my life for many, many years, but at one point in time he was a significant and notable presence. He was the best friend of an old boyfriend and a very real and significant person in a large and intensely close circle of friends that surrounded this core group of people. In more recent years, I would run into him occasionally at the annual Christmas party given by my old boyfriend’s brothers and oddly enough at the dentist (the brother of another old friend and member of this same group of folks.) It feels almost impossible to describe the intensity of connection within this group of people and the impact and personality of this one pivotal person as there is a larger than life quality to both.

So tomorrow, rather than driving down to see my boyfriend and family as originally planned, I will be going back to a place from my past and seeing people who once were fixtures in my daily existence and now are more loosely connected to my present life. It will be a remembrance and a party – cause that’s just the way it should be to honor and remember this man who touched the lives of so many people. Some of these people I have had intense personal relationships with, some I have only heard about through my continued friendship with some folks and all will be grieving and celebrating the life of this one unique soul. It is very sad to come together for this reason and it is a beautiful testament to a life. I have never known of any other group of people whose bond has lasted this long and who have remained so closely interconnected. It is a powerful and amazing phenomenon and I am proud to be a part of it, if only through a handful of people at this juncture in my life.

He was a devoted father, an artist and a person of uncompromising individuality and despite the fact that he has not been a regular and direct part of my life for many years, I can’t help but feeling like the world is forever changed now that he is no longer out there doing his thing. What I also know is that it is indeed true that he will live on forever in the hearts and minds of the people who knew and loved him. Rest in peace, Paul.

 

New Take on Brush with Greatness April 22, 2010

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A friend of mine recently catered an event where a number of internationally known ecumenical leaders were present, including the Dalai Lama. His tale about the experience included recollections about the strict security, the atypical menu and the Dalai Lama’s exuberance for the food. It was indeed an excellent “brush with greatness” (or in this case with “holiness”) story, and it got me to thinking; what are the impressions we leave on the people whose lives we brush against? Or taken slightly differently, what mark do we make in our own lives?

Though the people we meet and interact with on a daily basis may know us on so many levels that their picture of us is well-rounded and filled not just with our “high points” but our foibles as well, that doesn’t mean our impact and impression on them is not great. Each of us has a remarkable impact not just on our own selves but on those around us in both lifelong and transient ways. So what is does that impact look like? Yesterday, I had a bit of a “tiff” with my fifteen your old son – not about anything of great substance but about some “little stuff” in our shared experience and upon reflection I really was not happy with how I handled it. I can blame on being over tired and distracted by a number of issues I was trying to juggle at the time, but the truth of the matter is I just wasn’t really thinking clearly about what I wanted to accomplish in that conversation and how to get it done in a way that was clear, considerate and respectful. At his end, he too was over tired and distracted by thoughts of what he would prefer to have been doing in the moment and the result was – less than ideal.

I recognize that many of our interactions with others are going to be less than perfect. That’s just the way life is – and hopefully in the big picture our overall assessments of one another will be marked more by our love, admiration and respect for each other than by frustrations with each other’s impatience and disappointments. Still and all, I am striving to be mindful of how I impact the lives of the people in my world, from the clerk at the check-out to my beloved sons, and I hope that my overall footprint is a good one. There is an exercise I have come across in my studies of having people write their own eulogies. It’s a powerful one when you think about it – isn’t it? How would you summarize the life you have led and how you lived it? Does the story you write resonant with the life you are leading today and if it doesn’t what do you want to do to get it in-sync with the words you would like to be able to write? Each day we have the opportunity to add new details to that story – and you never know, likely you will be the brush with greatness (at least in a “less-than-famous” sort of way) in the lives of other people around you. The impact we each have is great – why not strive to make it the one we would like it to be?

 

Words of Wonder March 24, 2010

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Ever get a little thrill when someone says something, so cleverly that you can’t help but smile and shake your head at their amazing cleverness? You don’t have to agree with what they’ve said, though it’s more fun if you do. I have always had great admiration for those who demonstrate a mastery of language and possess a sizable and varied vocabulary. I would attribute this to my mother, who was well-spoken herself and always encouraged us to look up words in the dictionary when we were young, a battered old version of Webster’s always conveniently at-hand in the living room.  Language is powerful – how we communicate to one another is both a skill and a gift that I place a great value on.

Some of us have a facility for breaking down complicated ideas into manageable bits and serving them up in such a way that they can be understood by a previously uninformed group. There are those who have a “silver-tongue” that could charm the most hardened of listeners. Others have an ability to tell a story in a way that paints a vivid picture in our mind’s eye, full of detail, nuance and color. And still others may have a gift for articulating intangible feelings and emotions in a way that allows you to resonate and empathize with the experience. Conversely, some people struggle to communicate even the simplest of ideas or they “speak without thinking” which can often be a source of difficulty.

How you communicate tells the world a lot about who you are. It gives clues as to where you are from, what your background was like, what level of education you have attained. But one has to be careful about what assumptions we make in this regard, as many people adjust what they say to the audience to whom they are speaking, assessing the listener and responding in a fashion which will best get their points across. In many ways it is of course not just what you say but how you say it – that will leave its impression on others. How much of yourself do you want to reveal, what effect do you want to have on the person you are speaking to, and what do you want or need to communicate?

There’s a lot to consider, and most of it happens without our conscious awareness in the most fleeting of seconds. We can do a lot with our words, we can inspire or dominate, amuse or sadden, educate or placate, and there are endless possibilities for results. And there always remains the possibility that no matter how artfully we choose our words, we may still end up being misunderstood as our words filtered through the equally complex listening abilities of others. How do you want to use this most powerful of tools we possess? What do you want people to know about you? How do you want to affect others? And how much do you even want to think about it? Having a simple awareness of the impact of your words maybe enough for you or maybe you want to change your approach, whatever you decide is up to you.

 

A Simple Question of Complexity January 3, 2010

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“Tell me, what it is you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”
Mary Oliver

When we were children, the answer probably came pretty quickly – “I want to be a teacher, a doctor, an astronaut, a mother, an artist.” As we grow from children to young adults, some of us can still answer that question relatively quickly; a facility for math in school may lead someone toward science or business, a volunteer job at an animal shelter may lead you toward a career in veterinary medicine, or the family construction company may be calling your name. Others have inclinations but are not ready to commit – so they try out different jobs or go to school and pursue liberal arts studies until something clicks in. But determining a career path is just a small fraction of the equation.

If you really take that question in – the subtleties begin to emerge.  It really is asking so much more…

What is important to you?

What impact are you going to have on the world?

What do you value?

How do you want to live?

The beautiful thing is, the more you think about the question the more it asks of you. And of course, there are no right answers and you have the ability to change them at any time.

Liberating, isn’t it?