Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Happy Interdependence Day July 3, 2013

FireworksI just got back from doing a few, quick morning errands – and I’m feeling good. Not good – because I got them out of the way before it gets really hot outside. Not good – because now have the time to do the writing and coaching related projects I need to accomplish. Not good – because there were fewer cars on the road due to tomorrow’s holiday. But good because people seemed unusually polite and generous this morning.

Hopefully, without sounding like an old woman, reminiscing about the “good old days”, I can say that I can’t help but feeling like this sort of kindness used to be the norm years ago. People just treated each other more civilly, or so it seemed. These days everyone seems so wrapped up in their own lives and priorities that they seem to see other people as mere obstacles in their path, to be passed out, knocked over, maneuvered around and defeated in an invisible competition for first place in a daily race to nowhere. I think it speaks a lot to the stress everyone is feeling – it’s as if we have created personalized, myopic vision in which others just don’t matter.

There are isolated times when the veil is lifted – and people are able to see each other again. I noticed this phenomenon first after 9/11. Connected by a collective grief and shock – there was a kindness to casual interactions that only days before did not exist. It happened again after the Marathon bombing. It’s as if people quietly were each reminded of the humanity in each other. Tragedy slams us into the realization that these obstacles in our paths are in fact, regular people, just like us. Sometimes, the holidays can bring this on, too. I remember always feeling like strangers treated each other more civilly on Christmas, for instance. But as time passes from tragedy or holiday – many of us slip back into our singular self-absorbed worlds.

So that’s why I was surprised today when fellow shoppers held doors for one another, or allowed cars to pull in front of them – I just wasn’t expecting it. Tomorrow is a holiday, the 4th of July, so maybe it’s just bleed over, but whatever it is – we need more of it. I don’t suppose the guy who let me take a left-hand turn into the bank parking lot in front of him this morning, had any idea that three hours later I would still be thinking of that little moment of generosity, nor the person who held the door at the convenience store, or the friendly smiling face of the cashier. But there was something in the air this morning – and it effected me.

It’s a good reminder – for me and for all of us to recognize that each person with whom we come into contact has their own challenges, stresses and gifts. That each person, should be treated with dignity, respect and kindness. That we are all just trying to do our best here. that it’s easier to be kind then we might think it is. And – that we are not alone. Each life is separate, each struggle a personal challenge, but each inextricably dependent on one another for peaceful coexistence. A month or so ago – there was a single winner of a large lottery jackpot – and as the story unfolded we learned that one woman had let the elderly woman who purchased the winning ticket step ahead of her in line. And while she could have been racked with regret by giving away her chance to win the big jackpot, she was okay. There was no regret. A sense that it turned out the way it was meant to – comforted her decision. I don’t know how many of us would have felt that way.

So as you go off into your day today (and everyday) may I suggest that you – “lift the veil”. Those people out there, the ones that cut in front of you in line and drive too slowly – are PEOPLE! Real-life, flesh and blood humans, just like you – with their own joys, sorrows and struggles. Try seeing them with your heart, rather than your head – try treating them the way you want to be treated. It’s up to us people – a little kindness goes a long way – make someone’s day! Happy Independence Day – don’t forget that we are all Interdependent! 🙂

 

Birthday Wishes August 19, 2010

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Yesterday was my oldest son’s 16th birthday. Eek! And Yay! And Wow! All at the same time…

Hard to believe we are here already. This feels like a big one. From the maternal perspective, I really feel the awareness of his growing into a young man, up and away. I couldn’t help myself from spending quite a bit of time reflecting and reminiscing on his life (and subsequently, mine) these last sixteen years and thinking about the future ahead of him. There’s definitely a bittersweet aspect to it all, as I am filled with a myriad of emotional reactions to his growing up and moving forward.

No one fully warns you when you start thinking about having kids what a roller-coaster of emotion you are about to embark on. It is a truly profound experience. The “wanting” I have felt as a mother for their happiness, for their safety, for their lives and experiences to be filled with all the good and beautiful things in the world and none of the pain and suffering is stronger than almost anything else I have ever experienced. And when you couple that with the awareness of how little control you actually have over the whole business, that experience can be quite staggering. There are many times along the way when as an honest person I have thought to myself, “My God, what was I thinking!” And yet there has never been anything so amazing and beautiful, either.

So as he (and I) pass through this touchstone, and he is learning how he wants to position himself in this life, I too am learning (slowly but surely) how to adjust my role to allow for his growth, to be there to guide and limit, support and encourage, to keep loving and loosen my grasp all at the same time. It’s not easy, in fact I have never done anything this difficult in my life, but it is worth it. The scrapes that I tend to, may be more metaphorical than physical these days, the healing and growth more internal than external, but as I try to ease back and let him make his way, I know that he is an incredible person and I look forward to seeing not only all that he is, but all that he will become. Happy Birthday Sweet Boy, mommy loves you!

 

And I did it all by myself, well sort of… May 27, 2010

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I like being independent. There is a sense of accomplishment and pride that I get when I complete a task on my own without the need for assistance by others. As a homeowner and single mom, there certainly are plenty of opportunities to flex these muscles. But there are also countless tasks that feel just a little bit over my head, or beyond my physical ability to complete without asking for help. Each season, there is some task that requires the assistance of outside help. Often at a cost, there are reminders throughout the year that I just can’t do it all; autumn means giant piles of leaves that need to be carted away to the dump, winter means having my driveway plowed or risk injuring my back, spring means clean-up, mulch and gutter cleaning, and summer is the time when I have to find someone to install the window air conditioning units. This one is particularly tricky since it not exactly something that I can “hire” someone for – unlike the other tasks which are usually resolved with a check to a landscaper.

Back a few weeks ago, when my basement flooded and I had a dumpster in my driveway for the clean-up effort I took advantage of the opportunity and had two of the oldest and heaviest ac units disposed of, which of course left me needing to buy two more. Yesterday, my son and I, motivated by the 90 degree temperatures, bought two units to replace them, and for the first time ever, we installed them on our own. It was great! I may still have two older models to go in – but I have decided both of my sons and I can attempt to tackle them together this year. It’s very exciting stuff, at least for me it is, and yes, I do realize that accomplishing this task with the assistance of my son/s does not mean total independence, but it’ close enough in my book.  So this season, we can actually get the units in and out of the windows when we need them without having to wait for weeks to have a friend do it for us. Woo hoo, I say!

And as good as it feels to take care of things on my own, I am also aware that in many ways sometimes the best way you can take care of yourself, is to ask for the assistance of others. Sure I suppose we can create a world of complete independence (figuratively speaking of course, given that total self-reliance in modern society would also require total hermetic isolation) but why would you want to? The sense of accomplishment you get when you do something on your own is a wonderful thing, but we are for the most part inter-dependent creatures that grow and evolve in connection with those around us. That connection does not have to mean dependence, but occasionally asking for help is necessary and even is beneficial. It is my belief that it takes a great amount of strength to ask for help and to realize that we each have our skills and abilities. Bringing others into our lives whose strengths complement our own is a beautiful and intelligent thing.

I think that to live a life at our fullest potential involves both our independence and our reliance on others, knowing when you need help and when you don’t is the key. Flexing those independence muscles is a good thing, and allowing yourself to depend on others is as well. It’s standing at the poles that cause the system to wobble, but finding the balance that works for you, is the key to a smooth ride.