Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

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.

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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! 🙂

 

Spread a Little Sunshine February 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 12:53 pm
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(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.)

 

Never underestimate the kindness of friends… or strangers for that matter. January 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 11:42 am
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So, since I decided to undertake this whole “Blogging Thing”, I also decided that I might as well let some folks know about it. Because really, though I am enjoying writing these little blurbs these last few days just for the mere pleasure of writing, it would be nice to know that someone else out there was reading them besides me. To this end I decided I would let friends, family and other various and in sundry contacts of mine know about it by “getting the word out” in a couple of ways.

Since I am not fully confident that I know how to negotiate around the wordpress.com website myself, nor do I fully comprehend all the bells and whistles for my blog site (yet, give me time) I thought I would go with what I DO know first. I put a simple link on my Facebook page and sent an “announcement” email to some folks in my address book. What resulted really shouldn’t surprise me, but it did somehow anyway…

Several people sent me reply emails, offering their best wishes, support, positive feedback and encouragement. And can I tell you – it made me feel great! Old and new  – friends and acquaintances shared their warm greetings and I was reminded of how such a simple gesture really can go a long way. Not surprisingly, a little bit of sincere encouragement helps folks feel valued and cared for. I think sometimes we all forget how powerful a few kind words can be, even if we don’t need it, it doesn’t mean that it’s not appreciated.

Note to self: Spread the love, baby. Spread the love…