Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

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.