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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Music for Your Soul August 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:45 am
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Yesterday, I bought my 16-year-old son, his first drum kit. With the generous help of my friend, who hunted down the right set for us on Craigslist, the bartering lessons from another friend, and a financial contribution from my sister, we bought the right set at a decent price. We set it up in his room last night after just a minor amount of fumbling with the hardware and off he went. And though my neighbor’s may think otherwise, I am happy to hear the sound of the drum beats reverberating down the stairs. Of course, it is day one – but I don’t anticipate much of a change. I had the same reaction to the electric guitar that I gave him last Christmas.  I love the sound of music, drum beats and guitar riffs are all good for me, but what I hear is a lot more than that.

As my son, expands and explores his new-found passions for making music, I hear the sound of him becoming his own person and finding and investing in an interest that hopefully will be with him for his lifetime. Finding that thing, or things that make you happy is a beautiful thing no matter what it is. I have never been one to force my kids into participating in sports or activities if they themselves did not have an interest in doing them. My approach was to offer, over and over again, the opportunities to try new things and the encouragement to try them, but when the resistance was significant, I didn’t push. My hope was that if I offered them enough chances, they would find something that spoke to them and invest in it because they were interested not because they had to. And at this moment in time, it seems to be working.

For each of us, of course, our passions and interests take different forms. For me, it was art. A propensity to draw pictures of flowers and swirling designs as a child, led to a life-long love of art. Both the making of and the viewing of, and as I grew I took classes in everything from photography to silk-screening, metal-smithing to life drawing and so on. I may never have a one-woman show, though it would be nice to someday, but I know that making art in whatever form it takes will always be a part of my life. I hope that my son will find the same home for himself in music.

In my world, having a passion or passions is an ultimate enhancement of who you are as a person. It is a place to find inspiration and comfort and a way to individuate yourself and truly be the best that you can be. You owe it to yourself to find your passion. Without are passions we move through our days in a life,  half-lived. When was the last time you fed your dreams, or those of someone around you? If you can’t remember, then it must have been too long ago. Go ahead, do it, it feels good…

 

Remembering Dad June 21, 2010

It’s the day after – Father’s Day. These days, it is more a day of remembrance than actual celebration of any sort. My father passed away almost 18 years ago, so I did not buy any records or participate in any cookouts in his honor. But I am thinking about him. My father was a tricky fellow, a hard-working man who took the idea of supporting his family very seriously, he loved to enjoy life when he wasn’t working and had a pretty “old-school” temperament around parenting. He was always more inclined to say “no” than “yes” when you were asking for permission to do anything, something I learned to avoid as much as possible by going around him and asking my mother if I could arrange it. He wasn’t the sort of guy who would sit down and have long talks with his kids but could tell some great stories when he had an audience. When he died after a long, debilitating illness there was a definite sense of relief to see this proud man freed from the role of dependence that he had been forced into.  That day, the world shifted on its axis and has never felt quite the same way since, knowing he is no longer out there watching my back.

But there are enduring memories and gifts that I got from my father that have shaped me as an adult, and I find that I still think of him often. For one, I am a master – parallel parker – as a graduate of his private school for defensive driving I am a “smart driver” and I hear his lessons in my head as I navigate the competitive streets of the greater Boston area every day, (too bad he hadn’t taught all those people – how to drive!) I love music – it is constant and ever-present feature in my life – my dad did too and often would play his big band favorites on Sundays while preparing a dinner that would silence a crowd of starving chefs. All “his kids” are great cooks (including one technically trained chef) and we can each hold our own with pride. (Nod here to my mom too, who was no slouch in the kitchen, herself.) But the music piece, the records or in their absence the constant whistling was a direct hand-me-down that is very present in my life. Serious and stern though he could be – he also loved to cut loose and enjoy his life; his dancing, singing, whistling, cooking and joking were all testaments to that aspect of his personality, and that sense of enjoying life I have, I attribute to him.

On another level – my dad taught me to be a “hard-worker”. There was a sense of pride instilled by my father in doing a job right if you are going to do it at all. This little bit of business, has served me in every position I have ever held – from ice-cream scooper as a teenager to my current role as a life coach – I care a lot about the work that I do and always try hard to do my best. But the most important thing my dad gave me was the sense that “I could do anything”. Given his old-school attitude in a lot of ways, I was always a little surprised by this – but my father had great aspirations for me, and even though I didn’t fully get it as a child – somewhere in my head I always heard his voice and his un-wavering confidence in my abilities. When I received my degree from graduate school, my father was too ill to attend the commencement, but I was very aware that I couldn’t have done it without him. I hope that I pass that message along to my children as well.

Things with my dad were definitely not perfect. He wasn’t easy – and the differences in our personalities and outlooks often made for some big riffs and clashes. It was only with maturation, distance and time that I fully began to appreciate all that he was about and the struggles that he faced, kids being primarily ego-centric and all, this isn’t that unusual even for a perceptive kid as I had been. Nonetheless, I am grateful that he was my dad. The gifts that he gave me are priceless and precious to me. So for this father’s day – I just wanted to take a moment to say “thank-you” to my dad, he may not be here anymore but he lives on all the same with each random whistle, surge of self-confidence or excellent dinner, that I create. Buona Sera Dad…

 

Thoughts from a Dancin’ Fool March 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:48 am
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I am a fan of an occasional show of reckless abandon. For me it usually takes the form of dance, but I suppose there are other forums for such displays. This weekend I went to hear a great funk band from New York with a few friends and I (as expected), danced to my heart’s content. Their music just has that “great beat” that you need to get your feet a tappin’ and your body a movin’ and once the music begins I just can’t resist the urge to get up and start shaking. Whether my friends were beside me on the dance floor or not – I was happy to be up there just “doin’ my thing”.

For me, when I am dancing it is all about the beat and the movement. It is truly a “primal experience”, by which I mean there isn’t a lot of thinking going on. I am 100% in the moment, just listening and moving and smiling. And afterward, exhausted and sweaty I feel renewed and revitalized by the experience. It is a forum in which I am completely comfortable and at ease, though a lot of folks seem to experience self-consciousness while dancing, I have to say that I luckily do not. And it is just that, the experience of tapping into something without thought that I find so refreshing.

The experience of dancing allows me to do something which in other forums I have to approach in a more intentional fashion. It is the experience of being 100% in the moment, and 100% focused of the experience at hand, without thought or analysis and without effort. There are other things that allow me to be in the present for instance, it is a big part of how I prepare myself when I am getting ready for a coaching session with a client. It is part of the process that allows me to open to my intuition and to ease up on my intellect, though in these cases like many others it is a conscious shift. Dancing is a given for me, there is no prep needed. Finding the places and experiences in your life to let go and just be are little gifts with big impacts. My recommendation for the day, find the thing that allows you to just sink into the moment, and treat yourself to a little quiet time with the simplest of yourself.

 

Essential Ingredient – #1 January 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 7:23 am
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I was thinking this morning about music, my constant companion. I didn’t grow up in a “musical family”, by which I mean that except for my sister’s occasional piano playing and a brief period when she actually took accordion lessons, the only other person that played anything was me with my previously mentioned 4th grade violin lessons. Oh yeah, in junior high school the same sister gave me a really nice harmonica so I fooled around with that for awhile. But that’s it – there weren’t any REAL musicians among us. Nonetheless, I do remember a lot of music when I was growing up.

My dad would often play one of his big band records on Sundays while he cooked our dinner. Louis Prima, Glenn Miller, and the Dorsey brothers were staples in the rotation. Sometimes he would dance with my mom, one of my sisters or me and the sense of joy he felt in hearing this music was contagious. Often he would sing too – I remembered thinking as a child that he could have been an opera singer if he’d wanted to. My mother always sang us an assortment of goofy songs (In My Merry Oldsmobile, Down in the Valley in the Itty Bitty Pool) that she often embellished with humming since she would forget a lot of the words. My parents had an old stereo console in the dining room which housed an odd collection of albums on either side; Romance Italian Style, Mutiny on the Bounty, Jumbo and Frank Sinatra among them.

Us kids had an old vinyl record-player on which we listened to the Beatles, the Monkees and Bobby Darin – 45’s. I carried around my brother’s old transistor radio when I went to my friend’s house to play. As we got older I recall that my older siblings were always listening to something – I remember my brother’s Herb Alpert, Three Dog Night, and Dave Mason Albums. My oldest sister’s, Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin (I recorded Stairway to Heaven on my hand held cassette tape player three times) and my other sister’s extensive album collection which was conveniently located right across the hall from me.

I can easily recall my first album (Aqualung by Jethro Tull), my first stereo –  a mish-mash of hand me down components with a new turntable and the songs, albums and artists that marked each year of my life from about 7th grade on. I guess what I am trying to say here is – I love music. But it goes beyond love – it feels essential. To this day, I would say that I rarely choose silence over the sounds of music. I may favor some genres but appreciate a broad variety of sounds and styles. It lifts me up, calms me, keeps me company, brings me to tears, makes me dance, inspires me and just provides a sense of completion – it is my constant companion and dear friend.  Just thought I’d share…

 

Re-inventing the “Bucket List” January 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 2:28 pm
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This year for a Christmas present I received a beautiful, acoustic guitar as a gift. You should know that many years ago I was able to read music, but I believe most of those skills are now buried somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind. Over the years I have played “easier” instruments a harmonica and hand-drums, but this, this is my first “real” instrument since playing the violin in 4th grade. Music has always been very important to me and I have always wanted to play the guitar and make music of my own. But over the years I just never got around to pursuing it. When I told family and friends what I had received for Christmas several of them were surprised that at my “advanced age” I would entertain the idea of learning how to play the guitar. Now let me just state for the record I am 47 years old and though aware that things are changing (like the fact that I cannot write this without wearing my reading glasses) I hardly have one foot in the grave. I guess a lot of people believe that when you get to a certain point some things are outside your grasp as “new endeavors” but really? Learning to play the guitar at 47? Am I missing something?

I have been thinking about this quite a bit these last few days and there are many directions it pulls my thoughts. But my mind keeps referring back to the idea of “The Bucket List”. “The Bucket List” a term made popular by a 2007 Rob Reiner film of the same name, is a simple concept. It refers to that mental (or for some of us – physical) list of things we would like to do before we “kick the bucket”. In the movie, two terminally ill men set out to fulfill a laundry list of wishes before their time runs out. But why wait until you are knocking on death’s door to start living your life and doing the things that you want to do? And who makes the rules about what you can pursue and when? Whose life is it anyway?

A few years ago, I started to think about hang-gliding quite a bit. Here again, I had, had a lifelong fascination with flying, I often dreamt about flying as a child and somewhere inside me I never let that sensation go. Hang-gliding seemed like the closest method available for what my mind’s eye often envisioned. (Concurrently, I should point out that I really don’t like airplanes and actually have a pretty significant and irrational fear of that kind of flying, which I have to conquer every time I travel). Somehow the idea of hang-gliding had come into my mind and I realized that for years I had dismissed it saying to myself, “you are not the kind of person to do something like that.” But a curious voice in my head demanded that I consider this one simple question; “Why not?” And though I thought about it long and hard I was unable to produce a satisfactory reply. So, off I went – and to this day I can still feel the breeze on my smiling face as I looked down and saw a hawk soaring BELOW me! Extra-ordinary…

So as we step off into a new day, on this the first day of 2010, the beginning a new decade – here are a couple of questions for you to ponder. What’s on your list? What choices are you going to make today to get you closer to living your dreams? And when you stand at the end of your life looking back do you want to be able to say “I should have…” or “I did…”

Happy New Year!