Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Are you starving your creativity? June 24, 2014

Child's Drawing2

I can’t go without eating, none of us can. It is one of those fundamentals that all living organisms must satisfy in one way or another or perish without it. No surprises here. But what about our other urges, needs, drives and desires – and specifically, what about creativity? Do we need it? Will we perish without it? And beyond our own personal needs to express and utilize this aspect of our selves, do others need it from us? I say, yes. While we may not wither away in our physical form – without creativity our lives can become, bland, unfulfilling and stagnant. And the impact goes beyond our own well-being – without creativity how do we move forward as a species, where will our society be without new and innovative thoughts, ideas, objects of beauty and personal expression? No place that I want to go, I can tell you.

Why is creativity important?
Let’s pull it back a bit here – while the impact of a world without creative expression may evoke visions of bleak, grey automation – what I really want to talk about here is how it affects us in a personal way. There are those of us who identify ourselves as “Creatives” and our form of expression might manifest itself in ways that are easily recognized for their creativity: music, the arts, writing, etc. While for others the expression of their creative inclinations might take shape in how they dress, what they cook, how they approach confounding questions that arise during the work day, or the “hobbies” they engage in, be it knitting, model building or gardening. In different ways each of these activities, actions and approaches to life, involve that part of us that is “creative”. And to leave it out, to not have a place or a way to express it would not only make our lives less colorful, but on a basic fundamental level – it would be less satisfying, less enjoyable and more fulfilling.

Creativity: luxury or necessity?
That said, for many of us, unless we are fortunate enough to have occupations that require us to flex our creative muscles on a regular basis, we find ourselves left wanting. Wanting to find the time to pursue a creative activity; wanting to take that guitar lesson, to write that story, to paint that picture we have in our mind. It’s a luxury. Something we can’t afford the time or energy to commit to amidst the responsibilities of our daily living. Recently, in a writing group I was running, the members of the group discussed that though finding the time and commitment to create a space for writing is an on-going challenge – to not do it – to let it go, simply doesn’t work. And, why not? Because the “need” to do something creative, never goes away. It remains, like a nagging brain worm, turning and turning over in your mind, vying for your attention and simply not giving up. Expressing your creativity – is not a luxury, it is a necessity – and without it you can never quench the thirst that its absence creates.

So, what are you going to do?
Why deny yourself something that is so meaningful? Why keep putting off, that project for another day? As with all goals, if we refuse to commit to taking action, it will never happen and in this case that desire may get quieter if you continue to ignore it (though in many cases, it often actually just gets louder and louder) it’s simply not going to go away. So do it! Get out there, get started, create the space, make a mess, and allow for the “ugly”, but just do it anyway. It’s fundamental and without it – life just isn’t as satisfying, exciting, interesting or beautiful.

There’s strength in numbers!
If you are ready to start exploring and expressing your creative side, consider joining me and other creative folks who are ready to commit to making it happen in an interactive for this interactive virtual group! Where we will explore ways to: foster, hone, support and create opportunities to enhance our creative expression in whatever form that may take. Registration deadline is only a week away, so don’t put it off. For more information: http://conta.cc/1iBRmnH

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Gumballs, Grist and Gratitude? July 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 3:00 pm
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Do you know that feeling you had as a child, as you stood, clutching a quarter in your sweaty little palm, staring through the glass at the penny candy counter as the clerk behind the counter asks you; “what you would like?” Your eyes were wide, mouth already watering as you anticipated the taste of each little treat while you scanned the selections: the wonderful, colorful and tasty candies,  just waiting there to be dropped into your own little paper bag. It was all so exciting  – but in some strange way it was stressful too, because ultimately, you had to choose. You knew each candy was yummy in its own particular way, and you wanted them all, you may have even wanted multiples of some of your favorites, but you had to make a choice, had to decide not only which ones to select, but which one to eat first, and second and so on and finally, which to save for last. It’s “Childhood Heaven and Hell” (though not so much of the latter) all rolled in to one.

Well, at present, I am the experiencing the adult version of exactly that – over something as equally pleasant for me these days – which is, writing this blog. You see there has been a lot of “grist for the mill” lately – and I “ain’t complaining – really I’m not”, but my mind is currently a whirl with the possibilities.  Over the course of the last week or so, I have had the pleasure of reading about, listening to, or discussing so many “juicy” and thought-provoking topics that as I sit here trying to pick one to expound upon, I am thoroughly overwhelmed. “Problems of Plenty, as an old friend would often say, honestly it is hard to think of them as problems at all. So, though many people might choose to work through this last part quietly and to themselves before starting to write anything,  I will start with acknowledging, that sometimes I like to work them out, right here as a part of the blog itself. “Plip”, the first choice is in the bag.

Next, I am going to pause for a minute and hand-write a quick list of some of the other possible future topics, so that I can return to them at another time, if I would like. “Plip”

And then miraculously, without a need to think or fret any longer – I realize that throughout all of this – what is happening inside me is that I am filled with a sense of deep and profound Gratitude – and I know that this is the direction I want to go… “Plip” Because honestly, in some ways gratitude is the thread, the stream which flows through not only most of the topics themselves, but the experience left behind. “Plip” And though I could over-intellectualize the concept, what I want is to acknowledge are just some of the bits. “Plip”

  • I had a wonderful, picnic lunch yesterday with my beautiful son who will be leaving for college in September. I am grateful, for the time to spend with my boy and both of our intention and mindfulness to be in and enjoy the moment. “Plip”
  • I read a touching post today, by the daughter of my old friend who had passed away a couple of week’s ago. I am grateful to her for sharing her heart and memory and to the universe for creating this man who touched the lives of so many in his simple, too short and profoundly meaningful life. “Plip”
  • I attended an inspiring talk yesterday about “Violence and Identity”. I am grateful for the thought-provoking stimulation it created, for the opportunity to re-connect with a community of people with whom I have lost touch, and for the reminder that the world is filled with so many good souls. “Plip”
  • I had a wonderful meeting today with another old friend and former colleague with whom I am collaborating on teaching a class in Positive Psychology. I am grateful to have the chance to re-kindle an old friendship, for the excitement of learning new things, for the opportunity to share this information with others and to be engaged with my work on this dimension. “Plip”

And there is more, much more, that I could say. But this feels like enough – except for one last thing. I am grateful for my gratitude, itself. Through these eyes, life feels richer. I am fortified on all planes – buoyed up, strengthened and inspired. And though I am not suggesting that you put blinders on and always look for the bright side in life – I do think it is important to find those things that “feed” you and do more of them. Life is most certainly not easy, and that is true these days in ways that it has never been before, for so many of us, but I do find, that the more I acknowledge “the good stuff” not only do I have more energy to deal with everything else – but the more I see that I AM grateful for… “Plip”

And this is the one, that I am saving for last and savoring as long as I possibly can.

(Drawing by: Stevan Dohanos, “Penny Candy”, 1944)

 

All In and Done? October 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 8:14 am
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Years ago, before children and when life felt looser and more frivilous than it does now, I had an addiction to attending antique auctions. Each week I would check the newspapers to find the upcoming auctions in the area, snip out the ads, hang them on the refrigerator and plan my schedule to take in as many as I could. There were the more “polished” events with higher end merchandise and a more “professional” atmosphere and the “bargain basement” auctions, where I once purchased an antique, mahogany dresser with attached mirror for a whopping $10. I loved these ones especially – but it was all good. In those days, the auctions were attended primarily by dealers with some other collectors occasionally showing up in the crowd. I never liked when they were there – as they generally drove up the prices on things and changed the feeling of the experience. In fact, in order to justify my addiction, I became a dealer myself, so that I had an excuse to keep going and maybe re-coop some of the money I was spending. But that’s a whole other story and not where I am trying to go today. The one thing they all had in common, was the thrill of the hunt, the excitement of the deal, and thrill of a bid-won. Over the years, there were more and more final-end-users at these events which dampened the experience. In addition, I became a mom, and though I tried to bring my son, nestled in his baby-carrier on my back – it just wasn’t the same and I just couldn’t participate the way I had before, so my days as an antique auction attendee and dealer faded away.

But when I was there, each “auction house” had its standard staff at most events and the callers were the guys who really created the atmosphere that I so enjoyed. It was a game of waiting, waiting for the item you were interested in to come up to the block, waiting for the caller to set the opening bid and then waiting for the buyers to start bidding. The sound of the auctioneer’s rapid-fire speech, the skill of the bidder’s ability to reduce the increment of financial acceleration and the adrenaline that a coveted item could generate was all a part of the thrill. Until you heard the caller’s final utterance “All in and done… sold to number 17 for $75 dollars” (or whatever the closing bid was) it was a rush. It was the “last call” – quite literally. “All in and done” – sometimes I loved the sound of that phrase, particularly if I was the person who had won the bid and if it was a good price. But there were times, when it felt like torture. You had your chance, do you really want stop there? Can you afford to go just a little but higher ? Are you sticking to your plan, or are you going over what you budgeted for that item? ‘Cause once it’s all in and done, you don’t get another shot…

This phrase has popped into my head on and off throughout the years. “All in and Done” – is that as far as I am willing to go, willing to pay, willing to push? Sometimes the answer is “yes”, I am done, I have worked as hard as I can, spent enough of my resources on an activity and feel ready and satisfied that I have completed a job to my satisfaction. Sometimes however, the answer is “no”, I could go farther, work longer, do more and then I have a choice to make to see if I would like to stay in the game a little longer or gracefully “bow out”. It’s important to know your limits as you move forward. It helps to have a plan and stick to it. You don’t want to push yourself to the point of exhaustion and deplete your resources, but simultaneously, it does provide a certain sense of satisfaction to know you have given your all to a project, a task, a life. ‘Cause at the end of the day, when you hear that last call, how are you gonna feel about the effort you have put forth?

So I ask you today – are you all in and done?

 

Finding your Kingdom February 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 3:23 pm
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So I found myself in an interesting discussion about Gratitude and Passion yesterday. A friend who had read my blog post had made the comment that I was not “The Princess of Gratitude” I was the in fact, “The Princess of Passion”. And it’s true, passion is my thing, and working with others to discover and realize their passions in also my thing. But I have to at the very least show my appreciation for gratitude. I can say that for years though I was not what you might call “an ingrate” I did not have the presence of gratitude in my life in the way that it is now. However, I have always been a passionate person. It is an element of who I am that I can trace back over time and find at many a stage. The tie-in for me is that both of these “world views” emerged (or re-emerged) at the same time in my life due to the same set of circumstances and one life-changing catalyst, namely the events of September 11th, 2001 and the realization of the precious, temporal fragility of human life. For me there is very definitely a life before, and a life after that tragic day in world history and though I have a lot I could say about this, for now I want to focus on the passion piece.

My sons can willingly attest that their mother is “a passionate, Italian woman” (something I have invoked on more than one occasion when my fervor for a particular topic is more evident than one might expect.) Nonetheless, there was a long period of my life when I was not in-touch with this aspect of myself either. Choices I had made created a circumstance in which my passions took a backseat to other demands in my life. And the result was a pretty “dulled down” experience of life. (This is not to say that I did not experience happiness and fulfillment – but rather that the connection with my essential life energy was encumbered by faulty wiring and lack of adequate voltage.)

“If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you.” T. Alan Armstrong

The reality is that though for some of us “being passionate” may refer to an aspect of our personalities, for all of us it is possible to connect with the passion inside of ourselves as it is a key to living a full life. Knowing what energizes you, what ideas, activities or experiences give you that sense of excitement, and interest and fulfillment is essential. But simply knowing is not enough. To really move forward in a positive way you need to engage with your passions and truly integrate them into your existence, otherwise you are selling yourself short in a life that is already short enough. You owe it to yourself and to those around you to be the best you can be, to live the life you love and to make the most of your time here. So my question to you is – what are you the prince/princess of?

 

Five Minutes Ago I was a Cromagnon January 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 10:29 am
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Evolution – the personal kind – not the apes to humans thing (though – maybe it’s true for that kind as well) is a constant. Each day we wake, we do, we feel, we interact, we start again. And even if it seems that the day is fundamentally the same as yesterday, it is not, it is new, each moment is new. We are alive and here – working our way toward the end and its indeterminate date of arrival with a constant movement forward at least as far as time and aging goes. But what we make of each of our days here is unwritten. Despite our best laid plans and expectations for what we will do today or tomorrow or next year there is absolutely no guarantee that anything is going to turn out that way.

How we interact with that march of time, the constant gamble, the choice of how we want to live each day is totally up to us despite all that is not in our control. We all know of one of those amazing stories of courage and resilience about a person who experiences some horrific life changing catastrophe and goes on to live a life full of fulfillment in a new direction than they ever imagined before. Or of a life crushing trauma that sent another person into a tail-spin of despair from which they never recover completely. There are a lot of factors that weigh in on the conclusion; mental health, financial resources, support systems, etc. but there is also the personal factor – the person involved.

What’s the expression? One person’s loss is another’s gain? What I am suggesting here is that that little quote is as much a personal orientation as an outward product. And to some degree – it is a choice that we get to make every moment of our lives. Right now, without having to think about it too hard I can think of five people I know (or maybe that would be 10) who are going through a divorce. And it is not an overstatement of fact to say that this is a devastating experience, no matter how amicably and equitably it transpires, particularly if there are children involved. And yet it is also such a huge fundamental shift in the day-to-day existence of the people involved that it is also probably one of the biggest “do-overs” we will ever be presented with in our lives. But even if we are not going through a change as dramatic as a divorce in many ways each day, each moment provides another opportunity to be different then we were before.

My day started out kind of weird today. I was having a hard time getting going and wrapping my brain around all that I had to do, and then I had a conversation with a friend. Something in that conversation reminded me of “the why” of what was on my list – the things I value, the things I am responsible for and how they interact with my dreams – and my energy shifted. I cannot predict what my day will be like exactly, but I don’t have to, in this moment I have a focus – I am moving forward, making the best of a little free time. No guarantees, and for right now, I am okay with that.

 

Life and the Locker Room January 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 10:36 am
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Hey – so what are you doing with yourself today? Same-old, same-old – or something else?

Everyone has a list of things that they want to do or are about to do. It being a week or so into the New Year a lot of folks have made resolutions to begin to make those changes in their lives. But many folks are still waiting for the circumstance to be “just right”. As a consequence, hours become days, days become weeks, and so on until we find that we are no closer to enacting those changes then we were a year ago.

I say, why wait? Some movement, is better than no movement at all. Perfection is over-rated anyway. This is it – this is your life – what are you waiting for? There will always be reasons why today isn’t a good day to begin – but there will never be another today.

In the words of the beloved Maude played by Ruth Gordon, from the movie Harold and Maude  – “A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. They’re just backing away from life. *Reach* out. Take a *chance*. Get *hurt* even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE! Otherwise, you got nothing to talk about in the locker room.”

 

A Simple Question of Complexity January 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 12:38 am
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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?