Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Sleepy Bear January 29, 2014

HibernationI think I have been hibernating. That’s what I am going to go with anyway. It’s wintertime, and this year with the “polar vortex” turning the cold season into the frigid season, it feels even more appropriate than usual to pull inward until the world begins to thaw.
In my head, hibernation has always meant dormancy; a long, slow, quiet, sleep – but my current experience calls for a little redefinition of that concept. Yes, there is a palpable, quiet, sleepiness to life at the moment – but there is also much going on. It’s just that the activity is more inward than outward. For me, these last few weeks have really been about pulling inward: reflecting, planning, reviewing and taking stock. My mind is alive and awake with a quiet intensity that fills all my waking moments, and some of my sleeping ones, too.
And, I like it. It feels powerful, it feels necessary and it feels right. In all honesty, no matter what the season, my mind rarely sleeps, there is always a lot of activity in there – but something about this particular season’s meanderings feels different. There is a sense of reflection and quiet, retooling and making ready that covers my consciousness like the quiet stillness of a fresh snow.
I will welcome the spring warmth when it arrives, but I am in no hurry. Clearly, nature has its time for all things, and being right here, right now, is where I need to be. When I awake, stomach grumbling and ready to move out in search of nourishment, I will welcome the re-birth of the season. “All things in their own time”, comes to mind. Mindfully, taking pleasure in the gifts of the moment, knowing soon the seasons will change and new moments will bring their own lessons, their own gifts and their own challenges. Sweet dreams…

 

This Moment in Time November 29, 2013

SittingIt’s Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. The refrigerator is full, the dining room table has returned to its usual size, the serving pieces are put away. Like many folks, I am lucky to be enjoying a day off, not to participate in the “Black Friday” shopping rush (which I believe is a day of unnecessary chaos and “trumped-up bargains”) but just to take a breather. Yes, yesterday was a holiday, but it was a busy one, filled with cleaning, cooking and general doing, and I really just need a day of rest. Like many solo-preneurs most weekends are still filled with work activities, though I do get the benefit of being able to manage my time in a way that works for me.
Ever since we turned the clocks back, I have been waking earlier than usual, and today was no exception, despite my best efforts to go back to sleep. But that’s okay with me – I do love being up as the day begins in a quiet house where no one is asking me for anything, well, no one except for the cats that is. My older son is up and off to work already at his retail job and the younger is enjoying a little extra time in bed, since he doesn’t work until the afternoon, and my boyfriend is slumbering happily upstairs. It’s all good. Right now I am waiting for my banana bread to finish baking while I enjoy a fresh cup of coffee. And then? Then, I have no idea what I am doing, and for right now I am okay with that.
In general, I am an organizer and a planner, so often, when faced with a bit of free time; I have to actually “work” at just being present and relaxing. My mind typically is a buzz with lists of things that I want and need to get done. But there just seems something antithetical about “planning downtime”, don’t you think so? I know what I don’t care to do today; no shopping, no movies, no cleaning, no organizing, no working. I have a couple of ideas things that I might like to do today; writing my blog, taking a walk, doing some artwork, and enjoying the presence of my loved ones. That’s it – I would just like to let the day lazily unfold before me, and if an opportunity arises for a little spontaneous enjoyment – then I am in.
Right now, it’s about right now. Literally, being in the moment, for me it’s as luxurious as it gets and a personal goal. I am grateful to be a planner but it has its downsides. Sometimes, I miss out on what’s right in front of me in the moment, which is not to say that I am not able to notice the beauty and excellence that are all around us each day and to enjoy and be grateful for it. But I know there is room for improvement. So that’s my plan, what am I doing today? I am being present. That’s it and whatever specifically that means has yet to unfold, and right now, that is more than enough. Hoping your moments meet your needs today.

 

Here – now… November 12, 2013

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MoonI sit here this evening, listening to old music on YouTube that I haven’t heard in a long, long time (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – CSN.) My mind is slowly rewinding the thoughts, conversations and events of my day searching for a subject for today’s blog entry and I can’t help but notice this quiet happiness that has come over me. It’s not like today was particularly notable in any way, I didn’t win the lottery, wasn’t offered a book deal, my son didn’t get inducted into the National Honor Society and I didn’t have a call from a long lost friend. And yet, I feel wistfully at peace.

In reality, the day started off a little shaky when I overslept – after having had a rough night’s sleep due to a being woken up a couple of times by incessant coughing from a new cold that I am trying to overcome. I missed my morning walk with my friend, because we both overslept and by the time I did get up – I only had about forty minutes to get ready for my first client. My day was sprinkled with a decent smattering of low-level tasks, as I tie-up the final loose ends for this week’s expo. But I also had a couple of inspiring coaching sessions with my wonderful clients. I had time to work on a few substantial projects too; practicing my presentation for this weekend, developing the outline for next week’s writer’s group, reading a couple of great articles. This was the fabric of my day complete with many cups of hot water with honey and lemon, the wailings of my old, deaf cat who wants food every time she sees me and several phone contacts with friends.

It was a full, full day and it left me feeling lucky. I had a chance to work at a career in which I feel a great sense of commitment and satisfaction. I ate well. My sons were both in good moods and affectionate and interactive (which as you may know is not “a given” for teenagers). I got a lot done and feel good about the progress I made on my various projects. And though it was way too cold for me outside today, I did enjoy watching the leaves as they rustled down my driveway.

While at first, I thought this entry was going to be a more in depth dive into some of the topics of the day; self-care, confidence, passion, and creativity – it actually seemed to want to pull in another direction. The sense of gratitude I was feeling just did not want to be set-aside – so I am giving it my respect. We shall see where tomorrow will go – for now – it is about a mindful acceptance of the present state. Thank-you for sharing it with me.

 

Mindful Spontaneity January 28, 2013

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meditation“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Today, I meditated. And it was good.

Many people meditate on a regular basis, and at a times in my life I could have counted myself among them. Many others seek to create the space in their lives to develop and maintain a meditation practice – but experience only sporadic success. And many more – still “want” to meditate regularly – but just never quite get around to doing it enough for it to “count”. This can happen despite how good it feels when they have success. These days, I am sorry to say – I am somewhere in the latter two camps. Though I do “get there” with what can be best described as sporadic inconsistency – my general sense is; it is never quite a enough – it happens too infrequently and I never give myself enough time. (That said – I am a fan and regular practitioner of a number of brief “awareness, breathing and centering” meditations which are relatively quick – 2-4 minutes. And I do find them helpful.)

You see in my mind – I have some idealized notion that the best time for me to meditate (and I am talking about a 15-45 minute practice here) would be the first thing in the morning. My thinking is, at this time of day – a meditation would serve to clear my brain for a peaceful and productive day. (Of course this is also the time of day I also want to squeeze in everything else, too – writing, exercising, etc. They all seem like they would work best first thing in the morning.) On an intuitive level – it makes sense to me – but on a practical level it just isn’t a good time for me. Maybe because I already spend quiet, reflective time most mornings; enjoying the birds in the yard, watching the early morning sky, sipping coffee contemplatively on my porch. Most days – it is a calm and “meditative” start to my day. And as my mind and body shake free of the sleepy cobwebs that cover my morning countenance – I quietly find myself attending to other simple morning rituals – breakfast, shower, putting away dishes and that sort of thing until it is time to begin work for the day. Making a list of projects, priorities and tasks, catching up on emails and then just getting down to the actual business of the day. It works for me – but try as I may – I just haven’t been able to squeeze meditation (or any of the other items) into my routine, on a regular basis.

And so they fall into rotation at other times. After dinner – can work well for walking. Writing works on quiet afternoons or evenings. And meditation? Well – that’s the tricky one. If I am too tired in the evenings – I fear I will just doze off to sleep. In the afternoons – I am usually busily wrapping up my work and shifting into dinner/family mode so – it often gets lost. So what was different about today you may ask? Well this time when I thought about meditating after working for a couple of hours, I simply – did it. I didn’t try to plan a more opportune moment later in the day – I simply stepped away from what I was doing for a half hour and did it. And it was lovely…

Also a departure from my meditation “norm”, today I found a lovely bit of meditation music to accompany the experience. You see, typically, I just sit quietly – but the addition of the music added a lovely, purposeful “sacredness” to the moment. And I discovered a cool website for downloading music for the mind, body and soul: http://mysoftmusic.com/new. Good stuff. I chose a piece that was just the right length of time, I was clear about the visualization I wanted to use in my mind and I just went for it. And it was particularly sweet.
Ommmmm… Ahhhhh… And afterwards? Afterwards I felt clear, and calm and centered and quite simply – I just felt really good. And the experience has propelled me through the rest of my day.

For me, it feels like I accomplished something – which of course I did AND it is ironic when you think about – because that something – was sitting quietly and “doing nothing”. But the paradoxical nature of meditation and its effects are part of what I like about it. (A quick search on the internet will pull up numerous examples of how meditation benefits its practitioners on a multitude of levels, but I am not going to delve into that here.) Now, I don’t know if this is going to be the “new normal” – but I can certainly see how it might work for me to make it – just that. It’s fitting really when one contemplates the meaning of mindfulness – to allow myself to meditate rather than to attempt to force it into a schedule.

Anyway, I just wanted to share that story with you today. As someone who spends a lot of time, planning and has a strong commitment to thoughtful contemplation and creating structures to support your dreams – I guess I want to also acknowledge that sometimes what is called for is allowing for the organic progression of things. Mindful spontaneity, if you will. A good reminder to me to allow myself to trust my intuition and be in the moment. What about you? What are you going to allow yourself to do? Peace…

 

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…

 

You’re kidding! Right? December 2, 2012

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Last night in the wee hours of the morning, I decided, as I often do, to rollover from one side to the other; no big deal, no big newsribs here, we all probably do this countless times during the course of a normal night’s sleep.  This time about half way through, I paused on my elbows, feeling the need to stretch my back a bit, and as I was just beginning to push back, I was stopped by a sharp pain in my ribs and an audible “Crack”! I froze for a second and then sunk slowly back down onto the pillow with a very real awareness that I think I had just fractured my rib!!! What!?! Who fractures their rib – while doing a minimal stretch in bed? Me, I think the answer is unfortunately, me! Knowing there wasn’t much to be done, I drifted back off to sleep, only to be awoken each time I moved by a definite pain in my ribs. Ugh! You have got to be kidding…

This morning, as I got up to start my day, I was accompanied by the pain of this new “injury”, coughing, deep breathing and sneezing are all painful. It’s painful to the touch, and my movements feel compromised. Given that it’s a Sunday and I am not inclined to go to the emergency room for what is mostly a frustrating inconvenience and annoyance, I did would anyone does these days – I looked up “caring for a fractured rib” on the internet. In short, you rest, manage the pain and breathe deeply a lot in order to stave off lung issues, and that’s about it. So here I sit in bed, icepack on ribs, laptop on my lap typing away.

I am no doctor, so my diagnosis is of course, questionable. But nonetheless, I do think I am correct. Strange as it may be. And while this is most certainly uncomfortable, the pain is not too bad as long as I don’t cough – but mostly it is a frustrating inconvenience. I had a lot of things on my list of “to-do’s” today and resting wasn’t really one of them. But maybe it is the universe’s way of telling me to slow down. And while the concept that I could injure myself rolling over in bed confounds my mind – I suppose worse things could happen. So as the snow melts outside, and I surround myself with activities to pursue while resting (a bit of an oxymoron) I put it out there that next time – the universe wants me to slow down, I would prefer a non-injury related reminder. For now, I will practice my mindfulness, make the best of it and catch up on my sedentary pursuits.

 

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

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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?

 

Sweet and Simple – Slumber and Sparkle January 8, 2012

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So far, it is a quiet Sunday morning here in my world. It was one of those days when I apparently, could have slept forever. There were several times when; I woke up, decided I was going to go downstairs, make some coffee and start my day – but found myself falling back to sleep, again and again. Finally, about an hour ago – realizing I had fallen into a wake-sleep cycle that could easily go on for hours, I forced myself to toss off the covers throw my legs over the side of the bed and actually get up. Now, let me just be clear here, I am not adverse to “sleeping-in” now and then especially on a Sunday morning when the agenda is loose and the pressure is low – but this was one of those situations where I felt like the longer I slept, the more tired I became. Sleeping was only serving to make me sleepier and I do love the idea of paddling around in my slippers in a quiet house, coffee in hand while I do a little reading and ease into my day. It is a luxurious and simply lovely way to start the day – and I didn’t want to sleep through my opportunity. So here I am…

Later in the day – “the big plan” is to dismantle the Christmas decorations and get the house back to its pre-holiday state of being. The boys both slept at friends’ houses last night and should be home around noon and my boyfriend is quietly snoring – enjoying an unusually late start to his day. So, it’s just me and the cats, who themselves seem to be having a quiet, Sunday morning. One staring out the living room window, watching for birds and leaves and other exciting bits of life in the great outdoors, while the other two are curled up and sleeping on my son’s bed.

I look froward to getting the house “back to normal”, wrapping up our nutcracker friends and putting them away for another year, but I always hate taking down the tree. From mid-December to early-January every year, enjoying the silent, sparkly, beauty of the tree is something we all take-in in our own way. Soma, one of the cats, seems to wait for me to turn on the lights each evening when the dark descends on us, and curls up on the rug, in front of the tree for most of the night. For me, I like to spend a little time each evening, sitting in the livingroom with just the lights on from the tree, listening to a little music while taking in the smell of the pine and the twinkle of the lights. It is incredibly relaxing. And my oldest son, has taken his pillow and comforter down to the couch many times over the last few weeks to fall asleep by the tree. It’s sweet really. There is something, innocent, and nostalgic about it as he slumbers there in the tree’s shadow. But in a few short hours,  the time of the tree will be gone again for another year.

And it will be just fine. It will be nice not to have to search as hard for the everyday items which I have stored away, and the whole place will get a thorough and much-needed dusting – which should cut down on my sneezing!

And what is “coming through” for me right now about all of what I have said so far in this blog is how important it is to simply be in the moment, whatever it is. Whether it is lying in bed, contemplating your day, shuffling about with hot coffee or gazing at the twinkle of Christmas lights, each moment offers an opportunity of simple beauty and inspiration. If you allow yourself to be open to it – the pleasure and piece of a mundane task or the heart-tug of tradition and “specialness-ness” can offer a sense of calm happiness. Fulfillment and joy need not come in a grand demonstration of attainment – but are always there quietly waiting to be acknowledged. You just have to be open to noticing it. May you have a sweet and lovely day – taking pleasure in all the little things that make life what it is – one moment to the next.

 

Stolen Moments for Me April 12, 2010

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Good Morning… There is something very beautiful about the solitude and quiet of the early morning hours. It’s Saturday and I have the luxury of a little more time in my morning then I do during the week. I awoke without my alarm, took a nice long shower, made a pot of coffee, and went out to the porch to feel the morning breeze and to listen to the birds. It’s quite a bit chillier than it was earlier in the week when we hit temperatures in the mid 80’s, but yesterday’s rain is gone and it does feel like spring. Back indoors, talking to my cats, who seem to be a little wound-up this morning, contemplating if I would prefer to spend some time writing or reading as I listen to music in the background. It all feels pretty darned good.

It is moments like these when I particularly enjoy being alone. The pace is solely my own, I do not need to focus on anyone else’s needs but mine nor do I have to engage in conversation. I can certainly imagine circumstances where I would be happy to have the company of other people during these hours but I still enjoy the solitude. It is in these quiet hours that I most often write my blog. I think in this sleepy, relaxed state my mind is less likely to be distracted by a million other thoughts and that allows me a focus without distraction that other times of the day would not provide. This may not be meditating in the simplest form of the term, but there is something about it that carries with it an almost meditative calm and natural flow on most days.

I am forever trying to squeeze more hours out of my day. Trying to find time to work in walks, trips to the gym, meditation, or spare moments to complete chores, like bill-paying and laundry. I often think that these morning hours are the place to do it – and many of the tasks do have a renewing quality to them, but I am reluctant to make any ongoing commitments that might take away from the easy pacing and quiet I feel on most days. It may take me a half-hour of battling it out with my snooze alarm to get up in the first place and there are days when I am feeling particularly tired and less inspired or productive, but I still seem to not only love, but need this “me-time”. I think the best way to proceed is with an open mind to the idea that I may introduce something new or additional into the program, because you never know how your things may change, but for now I am just going to move quietly through the starts of my days, flying under the radar of the rest of my life to enjoy a little quiet reflection – just for me.