Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

“Showing Up” for Yourself January 19, 2012

What do you do when other people “don’t show up”? Whether it’s that you find yourself sitting alone at a coffee shop waiting for a friend who was supposed to meet you, awaiting an email response on a time-sensitive issue, or dealing with the repercussions of a task that someone else said they would take care of but didn’t – the fact is that people are going to disappoint you and let you down. Lately it seems that I have found myself in several conversations with people regarding the impact of “other people’s inability to be dependable”.  We’ve all experienced it – some more than others and quite frankly – it stinks. If you are a person who regards yourself as someone who is dependable and responsible it can be almost unconscionable to comprehend. Afterall, how hard is it to pick up the phone, send a quick email or simply say, “I’m sorry – I won’t be able to do it, to make it, etc.”? Well, apparently, it’s very hard for some people. I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they are not intentionally causing stress – but honestly for the purposes of this blog – trying to decipher the myriad of possible reasons why some folks are unable to be reliable is a detour down a path that won’t get me to where I want to go.

The issue I would like to address is the impact this experience has on the person who was left waiting. It really is a “sensitive subject”, though at first glance it might not seem that way. But what I find is that being the one who does “show up” can be pretty complicated. The emotional responses can be pretty widely varied. You may feel angry, because you have re-arranged your schedule and shuffled around other important agenda items only to find yourself frustrated with a block of “free-time” that you would just as soon preferred not to have at that particular moment. You may be relieved because you were tired and not really  “up for it” yourself. You may question yourself – “why did I count on that person when history tells me they are unreliable in this regard?” Or you may feel simply hurt and frustrated. The possibilities are many and I am sure there are others I haven’t mentioned here – but suffice it to say that most of the time – you aren’t left feeling “happy”.

No matter what the exact circumstances or emotional response is to any given event of this nature – I think you need to make a conscious and concerted effort to do a little healing before you can move on. Whether you take a little breather for yourself to calm and refocus – call someone and vent a bit – or simply acknowledge your disappointment and re-strategize about your day, there has to be some sort of “re-set” in the moment. But beyond the re-set which is re-active in nature, there is a pro-active piece as well. The reality is – there are always going to be people who, for whatever reason, are simply not going to “show-up” for you. And it generally doesn’t feel good when they don’t. But if you know this, you can choose to prepare yourself for its eventuality. Maybe not every time, and maybe being miffed for a little while isn’t too much to bear, but you can choose to not let it de-rail you.

The big problem lies in letting it “ruin your morning, day or evening”. ‘Cause the fact is that you “showed-up” or were ready and willing to take care of the task at hand at that’s a good thing (not that I want to quote Martha Stewart or anything). The reality is you can’t control what other people are going to do or not do – so focus on what you can control. You are in charge of how you both “react” and how you “approach” the situation  in the first place. “Show-up” for yourself and allow yourself to take the actions necessary to keep moving forward.  Don’t worry – you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try this out – so next time you find you “threw a party and nobody came” – remember to celebrate with the guest of honor – you!

 

How are you really doing? December 8, 2011

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“How are you doing today?’

It’s a simple question, right? And it’s probably the single question that we will be asked the most, over and over again throughout our lifetimes. Something we all share in common, at least in this culture. Often times for most of us the answers are pretty automatic – “”I’m fine.” “I’m good.” I’m doing well.” “I’m okay, a bit tired.” “Great, and you?” It’s as much a greeting as it is an inquiry and for the most part our answers are not in-depth, thorough or even in some cases, particularly honest. Actually, our responses often are linked pretty directly to who is doing the asking. If it is a casual acquaintance, the person behind the counter at our local coffee shop, or a co-worker we don’t know particularly well – our answer spills out with little to no thought at all,  a simple – “Good, thanks.” and you keep moving along. If it is a dear old friend, a spouse, a coach or confidant – we may flesh it out a bit – fill in some details about what is good or not so good about our day. This isn’t a particular surprise to most of us – and speaks to the many governing factors that influence our response; such as social mores and boundaries.

Of course if we were to stop and really think about that question every time we heard it – we would become aware of a lot more about how we were doing then we might want to have to think about at any given moment. But if you pause for a moment and really think about it – how would you answer that question for yourself – right now and what determines what your answer would be? When you think about it the number of contributing factors can be endless; How much sleep did you get last night?, What’s on your schedule for today?, How’s that pain in your lower back doing today?, How do you feel about what you’ve accomplished so far today?, Where are you headed? What’s this time of year like for you – any anniversaries in your awareness?, Is it raining outside? and Who are you going to see? there’s a lot going on all the time that impacts how we are doing.

And while all of this “input” into our systems certainly has a big impact on how we are feeling at any given moment – the other big factor is what are we putting out. By this I mean, what are you bringing to each moment? How do you chose to let the outside impact your inside experience. How are you taking in and processing all that is impacting your life and what are you doing with it. Sure, some days you just wake-up with a little spring in your step, and a “can-do” attitude that seems to have come out of nowhere – but your perspective is a key factor.  It’s the old – glass half-empty, glass half-full story and it plays itself out over and over again all day long, each and every day of our lives. I am not suggesting that you look at every bit of bad news in your life with blind optimism – but rather that you recognize your ability to impact that which impacts you. Find the control in what feels beyond your control and chose your point of action.

And while you’re at it – instead of waiting for someone else to ask you how you are doing – take a moment here and there throughout the day to ask yourself that question. If you like your answer, then good and if you don’t take a moment toreflect on what inner adjustments you can make to effect a different outcome.

 

School of Thought September 20, 2010

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Yesterday, I took my 16-year-old son for a preliminary look at a couple of nearby college campuses. He wasn’t really very enthused about the trip. In fact he simply didn’t want to go – and was very unhappy that I was disturbing his Sunday plans to do his chores and his homework and then go “hang-out” with his friends. “I know”, I said “but this is what we are going to do – so let’s make the best of it”. It was a long and grueling struggle and honestly by the time we got to our first destination, I was feeling pretty frustrated and defeated by the emotional wrangling to get there. But at that moment, something shifted, I am not quite sure what, and reaching a compromise that involved driving through, rather than walking around campuses we began a process that felt better for both of us.

The point of the trip – was not for him to choose one of the schools we were seeing (necessarily) but rather to get the sense of what different kinds of campuses “feel” like and to begin to get a perspective on the differences between big and small, public and private, suburban and urban campuses, and to begin to have a sense of which environments felt best to him, cause right now he has no idea of what he wants to study or where he wants to be or even how to begin the process of making such a choice. Additionally, I was hoping that it might give him a bit of inspiration; something to start getting excited about, something to fuel his resolve to work hard this year so that he can have choices about where he will eventually end up attending school. Ultimately, I think it was a successful experience, though earlier in the day I wasn’t so sure.

What I didn’t elaborate on is that in fact we have choices all along life’s path. That midway through his college career he could change majors and schools, that years from now, he may decide to go back to school for a degree in a totally different area, or that he may find himself working in a field that has nothing to do with what he “thought” he wanted to do, and loving it. That can all come later. The reality is all we really ever have to work with is what we bring to the table in the present moment. Sure, a good education from a well-respected school doesn’t hurt when opening up opportunities for future choices, but life can always surprise you with a curveball or two – some good, some not so good.

Nonetheless, this doesn’t dismiss us from becoming active participants in the process. We all need to have goals, to have dreams and aspirations for the life we want to lead. The choices are ongoing and constant, we can give ourselves the opportunity to do what makes us feel like we are at our best or we can choose to settle. But the responsibility is ours alone. Your life is what you make it, and there will be plenty of times when you have no clue as to what direction you want to head in but the possibility always awaits for us to find it out there. The trick is being open to the whispers of inspiration that surround us every day and the fortitude to follow our dreams. To make mistakes and to try again, to be disappointed and to persevere, and to be the person we know we were meant to be – that’s the ticket.

 

Back-to-School August 30, 2010

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The final countdown is upon us; two more days until the first day of school and the kids aren’t the only ones who are mourning the end of summer. On the one hand I have to say that I look forward to having them back to school – and the structure and stimulation it will add to their days. On the other, it means an end to a more relaxed time for all of us. As their schedules get more filled, so does mine. Events, meetings and added responsibilities for them often mean the same for me. In addition, though I like my quiet time alone, I definitely miss having them around when they go back. It’s a mixed blessing as they say – not fully all good or all bad in either direction. But for me, and I think for many of us, the return to school that we now face with our kids brings up all of the similar sensations and thought patterns that we experienced when it was us returning to school.

There’s a certain hopefulness mixed with a thin wash of anxiety and anticipation. Hopes and wishes that it will be a good year, that you’ll like your teachers, do well in your classes and make new friends are the order of the day. There are resolutions to work hard, to get things done on time and to try our best and a tangible sense of the passage of time. The advent of a new school year brings with it more significant and notable changes than our birthdays or New Year’s Day do when you think about the changes we are about to embark on and the awareness that you are getting older. It’s the equivalent of starting a new job every year for us adults, only with different developmental markers.

So, as we sit here just a couple of days away from this new beginning, planning our last “hurrah” for summer doing things like; hanging out with friends and staying up late those last few nights  – we are also prepping for the new start which is right there on the horizon. And while we countdown the moments, we plan ahead, gathering our school supplies, getting haircuts, buying favorite foods for lunch boxes and new clothes, we are busily taking care of all the last-minute preparations to put us in good stead for the year ahead. It is a fresh start, effected by – but not continuous with – our last year, each academic year offers an opportunity for new achievements and experiences and we queue up to march through those doors and begin again.

Here’s hoping that it will be a good year for all the kids out there who are starting again and for their parents who love them. May it be filled with growth and learning, great experiences and meaningful friendships, may it form the moments of new discoveries and lasting memories as only a new school year can provide.

 

The Balancing Act February 16, 2010

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Responsibilities, we all have them, some more than others. For many of us they are the bane of our existence. We feel overwhelmed, dreaming of all the things we would like to do if it weren’t for all the things we have to do. And yet, there is a certain sense of pride that you experience when you have met your responsibilities, when you know you are taking care of things. Those who shun their responsibilities are often shunned themselves. We do not admire those who abandon their responsibilities; they are seen as “irresponsible” (of course) and selfish. And though we may admire what appears to be a “carefree” existence in others – many of us don’t feel like it is a real possibility for ourselves. The trick of course is in finding a balance.

“All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” (And if you can get past the scene in “The Shining” and think about it – that simple saying has a potent ring of truth to it.) Loaded down with the responsibilities of home, family and work – many of us could (and often do) go from one task to another throughout our day – leaving little time for relaxation, reflection and pleasure. Though our lives are not filled with the toil of our ancestors, they are also far more complex than they were in times past as well. Finishing one item on our agenda – simply makes space for the next to rise to the top of the list – never affording a real break. So what do you do?

There is an Italian expression, which simply translates to: “Work to live. Don’t live to work.” The culturally relevant idea takes in a certain prioritizing and valuation that many of us seem to miss. When I get to the end of my life – I would hope that my epitaph says something about how I “lived life to its fullest” not simply that I “paid all the bills and made sure there was always clean laundry”. Life itself is fleeting, our time here unknown, our future uncertain – so making time for all of the bits is the challenge. When you include enjoyment in your list of responsibilities you open up the possibility for a fuller experience and simply a balanced life.

Choose the activities that fill your day wisely. Value all the aspects of your existence from your work and family to your interests and passions and allow yourself the space to incorporate it all into your regular existence. After all, if you don’t take responsibility for your own fulfillment and happiness, who will?

 

Hey! Who’s steering this boat, anyway? January 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 8:27 am
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There is a term in psychology called, “Locus of Control” which describes the degree to which people feel that they can control events that affect them. The concept was originally put forth in the 1950’s by Julian Rotter and remains an important piece in the understanding of personality today. Basically, the concept refers to whether a person believes that the control for the good and bad things that happen in their lives resides within them or outside of them. Per Wikipedia, “One’s “locus” (Latin for “place” or “location”) can either be internal (meaning the person believes that they control their life) or external (meaning they believe that their environment, some higher power, or other people control their decisions and their life).”

It is not an either/or proposition, there are times in our lives when we are more in control of the circumstances we find ourselves in than others. And in these difficult economic times, there are a lot of people who are powerfully affected by forces and trends way outside their sphere of influence. Nonetheless, the pivot point is what and how we face these circumstances. We may not control everything that happens to us, both good and bad, but we can for the most part, control how we respond to it. The response itself may also be impacted by external factors, to some degree there is a measure of privilege at work here in even the mere pondering of the question. But there is also a pretty heavy weigh in on the spheres of personality, resilience, confidence, responsibility, commitment and courage.

There will always be things that impact us that are outside our control but how we allow them to impact us is within ours. When you allow yourself to take responsibility for how you live your life it can be both daunting and liberating. Too many factors exist to predict the positive outcome for all of your endeavors, but you efforts are never truly wasted. It is your life – what are you going to do with it?