Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Spread a Little Sunshine February 21, 2012

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(All has been pretty darned quiet on the Eastern Front these last few weeks with regard to me and my blog posting. I can’t even begin to count the number of ideas that have crossed my mind for posts, nor the number of times I have tried to schedule writing into my day – only to have it bumped off the list by something more pressing. But today – I seem to have both time and inclination working in my favor so here I am. You have no idea how happy that makes me, or maybe you do?)

Let me tell you a little story. Down in a nursing home about three hours from where I live, reside my two, dear aunts (I have mentioned them before in previous posts). They are sisters, who never married, have lived together their entire lives and who have always been central figures in my life. I love them dearly, but see them rarely. Now both in their mid-nineties each struggling with the effects of senile dementia – to varying degrees – they spend their days following simple routines and doing “not that much”. It is challenging to get down there to see them, and for the last couple of years they no longer have a telephone in their room, so I can’t even call them anymore (something I did fairly regularly, when they had one). And I miss them.

I have no idea, what they think about all day long. I know when I do get to see them that they remember me, though they sometimes forget who my children are – or who’s daughter I am (I am the youngest daughter, of their younger sister) – but I don’t know how they conceptualize time and if they are aware of the length of time between our visits. But I am aware of it. And always, in the back of my head, I wonder, despite their impressive ages and relatively good health, if I will get a chance to see them again before they pass. I hope they know I love them even if I am never there. Because the fact of the matter is that they cross my mind – all the time. Though age has in many ways made them into almost caricatures of their former selves (often highlighting some of their less favorable features) I still think of them in a more complete way.

These two women have always been some of my most ardent supporters. Unfettered by the constraints of parenthood they have always been in a position to love us (they have many nieces and nephews who they have been close with over the years) without restriction and they did, most admirably. Sure, it wasn’t all “rosie” – differences in viewpoint both personally and politically often strained interactions at times – but despite all of the “awkward” moments over the years our relationship has always been best characterized by the gift of unconditional love and positive regard. A couple of weeks ago – I decided I would send them a letter, since this is one method of communication which is still available and relatively simple to do. And again, I have no idea how they “received” it – or if by the third page they had to remind themselves again – who the heck it was from – but I hope that it brightened their day in some little way, I know it did for me.

Sometimes reaching out and letting someone know how much they mean to you is a simple way of sending a little ray of sunshine into someone else’s life – but it also raises the shades on your own. Because honestly giving love, gratitude and respect does not just enhance the receiver of such kindnesses but the giver as well. So my simple little thought for the day – is “spread the love, baby”. Life is so precious and unpredictable and acknowledging those who add value to your life is a win-win for all involved.

(As a footnote – I just wanted to share… I had NO IDEA that this was where I was headed when I sat down and started writing this blog. In fact I was quite sure this was going to be about time management and finding the time to do the things that feed your soul. And maybe in some ways, that is exactly where I ended up – but the process of writing these posts is very “stream of consciousness” for me – and part of the enjoyment is to just “go with the flow” and see where it will take me. I usually am pleased with the results – and the process is always enjoyable. Just thought you may want to know that.)


What’s for Dessert? September 24, 2011

Yesterday I baked a delicious peach and blueberry pie for my boys and I and “wow – was it good”. My neighbors had brought us over a half a dozen extra peaches that they had picked at a local orchard, and combined with a few I had purchased at the store last week and a pint of wild Maine blueberries that I acquired at the farmstand – I had all the inspiration I needed to pull it together. Baking pies reminds me of my two aunts who were never married, have lived together their entire lives and who were an extremely significant  fixture in my life from childhood to the present day. Emma (96) was the cook of the two, but Violet (94) had one skill in the kitchen – and that was baking pies. Actually, the combination of peaches and blueberries was inspired by my favorite of possible fillings from a pie I remember her making when I was little. Though I am a damn good cook, having grown up in a family where cooking delicious homemade food was the norm that my parents excelled in and having worked as a cook and chef for many years when I was younger – I am not a baker. But pie, is the one exception to this rule. It’s simple really and with pies as with regular cooking you can “wing it” as opposed to other types of baking which require recipes in order to turn out correctly. I hate following recipes – as it takes some of the joy out of cooking for me. The requirements of having the ingredients on someone else’s list, and specific instructions for the “how to” portion of the process – by their very nature leave out the spontaneity and creativity in the process which apparently, I don’t just prefer – in some ways I require.

Maybe that’s how Aunt Violet did it, maybe not and in fact it doesn’t really matter. If you enjoy the experience and the end result comes out to your liking it doesn’t really matter what your process was. Of course, the “what is in the fridge that I can turn into dinner” method that I most often employ – can make it a little tricky when you are trying to re-create something that you enjoyed before – but that doesn’t mean the final product will be a disappointment. I wouldn’t be a good executive chef – developing menus for my staff to create consistently and effectively night after night from the same menu – but ask me to develop some daily specials – and I’m your gal!

There is a time and place for order and repetition and a time and place for creative experimentation. Figuring out what works best for you in any given circumstance is the key. Trusting in yourself to stray from the directions a bit knowing that you will still produce excellent results is a perfectly good choice to make. Not every experiment produces a five-star creation but neither does every recipe. Determining which technique is right for you and when to apply which method, is the trick. So, that said – whatcha got in your oven?