Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

#ChangetheWorldin2015 December 31, 2014

Change2015Change the World in 2015
Ask yourself…
Are you ready to create positive change in the world?
Are you ready to focus your talents, skills and passions on the dreams and goals of others and not just your own?
Are you ready to do something to make the world and your community a better place?

Then maybe you are ready to Change the World in 2015!
Here’s your mission, if you choose to accept it…
Choose to commit to something, anything of your choosing that will make the world and your community a better place in 2015.
How you choose to contribute positively to the world is your choice to make, maybe you:
o Volunteer some of your time at a local non-profit or other community service program that needs your help.
o Visit a neighbor that is isolated, or call an old friend and tell them how much they mean to you.
o Pledge to donate to an organization that needs your funding assistance.
o Make it a point to genuinely smile at every person you come into contact with today: the clerk at the grocery store, the gas station attendant, toll collector, bus driver, etc.
o Pick something you can and will actually do – “mighty oaks from little acorns grow”…

Invite the people in your circles of contacts to do the same, by sharing this blog, and liking our Facebook page: Change the World in 2015

Use one of the above listed methods to let us know what you are committed to doing and to send us updates, on how you are changing the world.Use the hashtag: #ChangetheWorldin2015

The world needs us to stop thinking, stop talking, stop wishing and start doing.
Let’s get this rolling and Change the World for the Better in 2015!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world;

indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

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Amazing Gracie June 30, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 7:37 pm
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20140626_094408-1 I wasn’t allowed to have cats when I was child. My mother didn’t like or trust them, having grown-up around cats when she was young whose primary function was to serve as “mousers” – and not as pets, she was always a little scared of them. I once brought home a kitten, from a fair, hoping that she would be moved by its soft, grey, “kitteny” cuteness – but found myself having to return it to the family I got it from a couple of days later. But once I moved out on my own, I have always had at least two or three feline family members of my household. I don’t know about the whole “dog-people” -vs. – “cat-people” thing, but I guess though I grew up with dogs my preference is for cats. I appreciate their independence, their affection (when they choose to share it) and their overall orientation to life. Cats are cool and I simply like having them around.

For the last ten years we have had three feline members of our family: Taku and Soma, two littermate brothers that we adopted as kittens from a local animal shelter and Gracie a neighborhood “stray” who we took in about four months after getting “the boys”. From the start, these three were not like any of the other cats who have been part of our family over the years. I think this stems from the fact that they had “feral” rather than “domestic” origins. The biggest difference that was very apparent was that they were all pretty darned skittish. While our previous cats seemed to like our human company, these three all displayed what can only be described as “terror” and mistrust when it came to casually interacting with the human family members. Though, they each had their idiosyncratic preferences for when, where and how they would interact with us, the general rule was, that it always had to be on their terms – certain rooms, certain times, certain people, certain interactions were tolerated – but there was little to no – “casual” opportunities for affection and interaction. For the first couple of years we had them, I was primarily aware of their presence because someone was eating the cat food and using the litter box – but not because I ever had the chance to actually “enjoy” them.

That doesn’t mean that they didn’t hang around us at all – all three cats would sleep with my sons every night – often switching between rooms throughout the night, I assume to make sure that everyone had a chance to snuggle. Gracie would join you on the family room couch if you were watching a movie and gladly stand in front of your face so you could not see the screen. Taku would race in front of you if you were walking up the front steps, hop on my son’s bed and purr wildly while you pet him and Soma, would sit next to me in the kitchen while I paid bills at the table, allowing me to pet his head or more importantly to crunch up small wads of paper for him to chase around on the floor. There were a number ways you could interact – but they were all very specific, and were interspersed with plenty of frantic fleeing from the room if you happened to walk through, as if your very presence was inherently threatening. They were three goof-balls and not at all like our previous pets – who were constantly present, endlessly affectionate and relatively mellow.

Anyway, the dynamics all changed a couple of years ago, thanks to a couple of coincident factors; one – my boyfriend, the self-described, “God of Cats” became a more regular presence in our home, and two – Gracie lost her hearing (which eliminated all of those startling sounds that had previously frightened her). The result – was that slowly, but surely the God of Cats and Gracie became the best of friends. Taku and Soma, observing Gracie’s interaction without catastrophic incident, eventually followed suit and came round themselves to regular interaction with the humans of the household and over time – we became one big happy family. It only took about eight years to get to something that resembled the ideal that was in mind when we brought these three felines into our home, but who’s counting?
But Gracie’s loss of hearing and apparent connection to a bottomless desire for affection was only a small part of the physical and personality changes that she was going through. Though calmer and definitely happier in her quiet little world, she was also aging rapidly and suffering from a number of health problems, which were slowly but steadily taking their toll. One by-product of her hearing loss – was that her “meow” went from normal range to something that sounded more like a super-sonic goat and she had a lot, and I do mean A LOT – to say. It could be tough first thing in the morning, and she could be pretty darned persistent, but it was also pretty darned funny. Honestly, I don’t know if I could have imagined the sounds that she made if I hadn’t been there to witness it firsthand. That girl had needs, and if she wasn’t fast asleep she would make sure that you knew about them – as she wanted either to be fed or purring in your lap almost all the time. Taku, not much for independent thinking, decided that if it was working for Gracie, then he should give it a try too – and though he neither fit on your lap as easily (since she was very underweight due to a number of health issues and he is quite overweight from stealing her food as often as he could) he took almost all of his cues from her. “Gracie is meowing, I should Meow. Gracie is hopping on the chair; I should hop on the chair. Gracie wants to sleep on this pillow; I should sleep on this pillow, etc.”

Gracie went from being one of the shyest cats I know – to one of the most affectionate. And by her example – Taku and Soma learned that they could get affection and attention at almost any time of day, in any room, from anybody. It was a great thing.

Last week, we made the difficult decision to have Gracie euthanized. Sweet and seemingly happy as she was, she was also very ill and in the last couple of years had lost a tremendous amount of weight and muscle mass. It’s hard to tell, because cats are pretty stoic creatures, but it sure looked like it was difficult and probably painful for her just to lie down and stand up toward the end. But she never stopped being sweet and affectionate. We will miss the old girl, her loud talking, her constant companionship and her sweet loving face. I am so glad that her last couple of years seemed to make her so happy, despite her health issues. I hope that Taku and Soma remember what she taught them and continue to be more interactive and affectionate than they had been before. Time will tell.

But whether they do or not, I guess taking this time to reflect on the last ten years with these three just feels important to me. Our pets whether they are cats, dogs, bunnies or whatever, really do become a big part of our lives, a part of our families. Their personalities shape our day-to-day experience and it is amazing how much love they can bring us. In this case, I learned too, that the capacity for change and transformation is present in all sorts of creatures – finding opportunity within obstacles. Thanks, Gracie.

 

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.

 

My Pride November 14, 2013

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IMG_0617Beautiful, handsome young man,
Towering over his mama.
Quietly traveling along his life’s path.
Responsible, wise, intuitive.
Slyly funny, loves to tease,
A closed mouth grin, sideways glance and twinkling eyes.
Sometimes unapproachable; a feral cat,
Interacts on his own terms.
Internally driven, externally achieving,
So bright, so confident, so calm.
Bursting with pride,
Overflowing with love,
Mama’s baby-boy.

 

My Favorite PRESENT! December 30, 2012

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Xmas presntI love the week between Christmas and New Year, I always have. I have managed to keep them relatively free from work – and since I became a mother it has been a goal of mine to keep this time clear and relatively open for my sons, too. Low on: responsibilities and things that “have to” get done, and high on: all-day pajama wearing, playing with toys, eating good food, watching movies, reading, playing in the snow (if available), staying up and sleeping in late, and generally just relaxing. It’s good…

This year seemed particularly nice, with my oldest son home from college, my boyfriend in-town and my youngest son on school break. It has been really sweet to be surrounded by “my fellas”. Love them! And though I have worked some of the time, in general, I am giving myself a break from having to be overly productive. Oh there’s a list though – and it gets a bit longer each day – but I am resisting the anxious pull of productivity. Soon the holidays will pass – everyone’s schedule will pull them back “into their regular routines” and work will be attended to. But not simply “work-as-usual”, New Year work. And that’s always exciting!

As I have said in the past – I am not one for New Year’s resolutions – they just have never felt “right” or “authentic” enough for me. On the other hand – I am a big fan of goal setting. In fact in a week or so – I will be leading a group entitled: “New Year – New Beginnings” – which is meant to support participants in taking the time to reflect on where they are now and where they would like to be, reflecting on the present, envisioning the future, setting intentions and creating concrete action plans for the year ahead. That’s what makes sense to me, and I started on my own plan weeks ago. But now, right now, I just want to enjoy the moment.

There are many families out there this year who have been deprived of the ability to spend their holidays with their loved ones. And the thought of that is heart-breaking to me. I am fortunate to have my loved ones close, so I can hug them, and spend time with them and tell them that “I love them”. And I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time. You see one of my intentions which I plan to continue into the New Year, and which I started working on quite a while back – is to be more mindful and present in my everyday life. To be as conscious as I can be in each moment, to be grateful for all that I have and to LIVE my life as it happens – while still building on the past and planning for the future. It’s a delicate cognitive balance that requires my active intercession in the moment – but it’s getting easier. Mostly, things always do… Enjoy your moments; like this one, right now and this next one, and the one after that, and…

 

Each Fragile Moment November 29, 2012

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One of my neighbors stopped me this morning, to tell me that the son of another neighbor died this week. He was 26 years old. How very, very sad.

My heart goes out to his parents, family, friends and loved ones.  Death of someone so young always feels like a tragic loss. It always feels like such a waste, a departure from the “natural order of things” and yet it happens all the time.

Last week I learned of the sudden death of a former business associate – he was 53 and that too, seemed like a loss before its time. Not that death at any age – is not a loss – even when it comes as an end to suffering. Nothing is ever one-sided.

And beyond the sadness and sympathy I feel for those who knew and loved these two men, one young, one middle-aged; a secondary awareness of the fragility of our existence here on this planet floods in almost immediately thereafter.  We really do not know when our time will be up – when those we love and care for will slip from this world – our time is finite, but the final chapter is rarely known beforehand. It’s a bracing thought isn’t it?

And while one can swirl into a pool of sadness and worry about whether the end will some too soon – I cannot think of a more powerful reminder about how important it is to be present in our lives, every moment. Each moment is all that there is – so make the most of it. Regret is not the legacy most of us are striving for… I don’t want to go now, or soon – I am not finished here, I have things to do, places to go, people to meet and more importantly I have loved ones who need me here with them. So this is where I want to be – “I’m workin’ here!”.

Live large. Love large. Be IN your life. Make the most of it.  Make your mark. Enjoy as much as you can. Do good. Be grateful. And strive to be the best you can be at every moment.

 

Passages June 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 4:08 pm
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It has been a strange week. (“Strange” – being an inadequate word to describe how this has actually felt – but we’re going to run with it all the same, rather than get bogged down in nuance.)

It began, on Sunday evening when I received a message from an old friend, telling me that another very dear old friend had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. (See previous post – Ode to Ed, 6/18/12) The next couple of days were passed in a kind of blur of sadness, fond remembrances and the sharing of feelings of grief by his friends and family, flung far and wide over the social network, Facebook. I took care of my work and family obligations but honestly, my mind and heart were adrift as I worked to process the concept that this adored man, no longer existed in the world as we know it.

On Wednesday morning, I learned that I had made a big mistake in my family’s calendar. (And let me just state for the record – it is completely un-characteristic of me to make a mistake like this – which is part of why it was so unsettling in the first place.) My fifteen year-old son was to begin work on Saturday (I thought), up in New Hampshire for the summer as an assistant counselor at a boy’s camp. What I discovered was that I was wrong about which day he had to be there – counselors were to arrive on Thursday, not Saturday (that was for the actual campers.) I had been counting on those couple of days to help us finish acquiring all that he needed and to calmly get him packed up and ready to go, oops! You see this is the first time he is going away for more than a single week, in fact his older brother who just finished at the high school, hasn’t been away from home for more than a week before either – so this was a big adjustment – not just for him but for his mama, too. Needless to say, all previously scheduled plans were cancelled and we set about in the next 24 hours to shop, launder and pack for all remaining necessities – followed by a day of driving to and fro. It was a bit of a whirlwind – but we made it.

And let me just add here, I am pretty darned proud of my boy. He’s ready for this, clearly more ready than I am and his calm, confident demeanor was really something to behold. At six-foot, two inches he had no problem, grabbing all his gear on his own and setting it on the porch of the assembly lodge where he settled in to wait for the senior staff to end their meeting and get him acclimated. And so after, briefly meeting a couple of the staff members and watching him introduce himself to another assistant counselor – we were kindly dismissed to take our leave. I fought the urge to hug him for fifteen minutes, tell him I loved him over and over again and remind him for the  50th time to apply plenty of bug spray and stay hydrated, but rather left on cue allowing us both to retain our dignity.

The camp is classic! Lodges and buildings, straight out of everyone’s imagination about summer camp, nestled on a wooded hill, which descends into a gorgeous, huge lake. It’s going to be a great experience for him – and though I will likely never hear half of them, I am confident that he will amass stories and experiences that he will remember for a lifetime. So, the timeframe was a little squished – he’s there – he’s psyched and I am excited for him. Once again, I am reminded that my little baby is growing up and I love the young man he is becoming.

So today, I am cleaning up the aftermath of not really business as usual. I have an important meeting on Monday and a presentation on Tuesday for which I need to do quite a bit of work, but I wanted to write this blog first. Because it just felt like it would be a reset of sorts to acknowledge these passages – one  life ended and another is moving forward; meeting milestones, growing and expanding. We are always in a constant state of flux – no moment ever identical to another. And the people who we will love and who will change and transform us will come into and out of our lives over and over again and in the grand scheme of things we cannot really control the changes headed our way. But we can choose how we will act and react and more importantly “pro-act” – so that we are doing the best that we can do as often as possible. And I am reminded always that we are charged with making the best of each and every possible moment for the next is never guaranteed. What’s the expression – “Plan for the future – but live in the present”?

Practicing mindfulness and gratitude for all that I have – right now and working to share the love as much as I can. What about you?