Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Lessons from Flowers March 18, 2014

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Hanging Flowers (I promise that someday soon – I will once again post a blog, that is just that… a blog. But since lately I have been pre-occupied with various other projects – I thought I would once again share an article that I wrote a while ago for the The Divorce Support Center about resilience, personal agency and self-care which has just been published and featured on their home page. It is relevant for all of us, I think – no matter what our marital status is!)

About an hour ago, I stepped out onto my porch to see two very sad looking hanging baskets. Vines drooping, flower heads sadly bent toward the ground and leaves folding in on themselves – all combined in one plaintive and unmistakable plea, “Water, please!” So, I obliged, as I always do, except for on the days that I forget, like yesterday, apparently… An hour or so later, when I went back outside to add an empty bottle to the recycling bin, I looked up to see my floral friends: refreshed and rejuvenated. This got me to thinking… Wouldn’t it be nice if people could “perk up” as quickly and easily as a freshly watered flower?

Life is hard. Stress abounds. And that is especially true when you are going through a divorce. There simply is so much to deal with on top of the needs and responsibilities of just regular old everyday life – that it is no wonder that some days we just end up feeling wilted and defeated. While it would be nice to wish for days of endless sunshine, plentiful water and the proper nutrients needed for continual and blissful growth, the reality is that sometimes the sun doesn’t shine, the rain doesn’t fall and the nutrients become depleted. So what’s a plant or a person to do?

Luckily, unlike plants whose personal agency is severely limited by nature and the sometimes faulty memories of our caretakers – as people we have much greater control. So the question is what can you put in your own metaphorical watering can on those days when you are feeling a little wilted? Each of us will answer that question differently, wouldn’t we? For some it could be an extra hour in bed, while others might choose to awaken early to have enough time for the gym or a brisk walk before work. Some might pick-up the phone and call a friend while others might take out their journal, pour a cup of tea and snuggle up in a comfy chair to work through their thoughts and feelings on paper. Maybe you want to do a little meditation to clear your mind or head out to hear some live music and dance so much that your negative feelings are left somewhere underfoot on the dance floor. The options are as infinite as each of us is unique. But the common denominator, is taking the time to reflect on what we need a bit and to give ourselves the nurturing that’s required.

The solutions may not be as simple as sunshine, water and nutrients – but that’s really more of a blessing than a curse. So fill that watering can and keep it close because, “You in full bloom – is a beautiful thing!”

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Here – now… November 12, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 9:12 pm
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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.

 

Short Form November 11, 2013

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short formSleepy eyes strain to see the type-written words despite the glasses.
A hungry tummy growls for nourishment.
Tired brain, longs for the “go-ahead” to stop working for the day.
A feeling of calm, quiet satisfaction for a full day; creativity stirred, intellect stimulated, connections made, ideas made real.
Playing with new forms that require a brevity that doesn’t come naturally.
A promise kept.

It’s all good.
Good day…
Good night.

 

Mindful Spontaneity January 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 5:17 pm
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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…

 

“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!

 

Breakfast is Served July 9, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 7:19 am
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Time has gotten away from me, and along with it – writing blog entries. What began as a daily practice has faded into almost complete non-existence. Too many demands for my attention have effectively obliterated my hopes for making blog writing a regular and consistent part of my daily routine. At this point, I would be happy to write one a week – and I am quite unsure if this little musing will actually attain “post” status, but maybe…

Writing makes me happy, and I miss it. A year ago, starting my day with a cup of coffee and the keyboard started my day with a sense of personal accomplishment and purpose, whether the writings themselves held any great insight or not – there was a peacefulness that came with both the experience of writing and the knowledge that I had done it.  A relatively simple exercise that fed my mind and soul. How is it that something that can feel so good – can slip off the boards and into non-existence? In many ways I have more time in my life now than I did then, so what’s stopping me?

There are a lot of things like that in life, aren’t there? A lot of little self-nurturing activities that somehow lose their status in the priority of our daily lives and drop away. Maybe it’s time to work them back  in. Afterall, we have this one shot at this life business, if we spend our time filling our moments with things we “have to do” and meaningless time-munching nothing – then we are missing out on simple opportunities for enhancement that feeds rather than drains us. I prefer a hearty breakfast and today is as good a day as any to take a moment to serve one up. What’s on your plate?

 

Pit Stop June 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 5:47 am
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Lately, it has been a particular challenge for me to get these blogs posted as often I would like to. And quite honestly, I miss it. Today is another of those jam-packed mornings, and I know that if I don’t write something now, I won’t have the chance to get back to it later. So, I am stealing this moment to make a quick entry before I embark on my next task. For me writing this blog provides a little reflective moment to put into words some of the thoughts that are perpetually spinning around in my mind. It isn’t quite meditation, nonetheless I find it helps me to feel centered. Like many other folks finding the time to do the little things that are rewarding and self-nurturing can be a challenge but the resulting positive benefits are undeniable.

So my question to you this morning is; what are those little things that you do for yourself that make you feel refreshed, inspired and centered – and are you making time to incorporate them into your day? The constant need to prioritize how we spend our limited resources often leads to neglecting those things that actually refuel our batteries. This is not the case for all of us, some people work time into their schedules for daily yoga exercise, brisk walks, trips to the gym and writing in journals (among other things). And some of us struggle to find the place to do those little bits of self-care and internal resetting. The point here is to not give up on these most precious of tasks and continue to work toward doing those things that enhance your experience.

Focus on what you want to do, not on what you didn’t do and take whatever opportunity you are offered to do those things that make you feel whole. We each deserve to nurture ourselves, because no one else can really do it for us. So before your tank hits “E” – allow yourself the chance to refuel, you don’t have to “top-off the tank” every time. You can get a lot of mileage out of a gallon of fuel.