Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Through the Eyes of a Child December 13, 2013

eyes
(As some of you may know, I am a regular, contributing expert on divorce for several online publications. The below post, is actually a copy of my most recent submission, so the “voice” of the article may sound a little different than what you are used to here. That said, I think it’s an important topic, particularly at this time of year, so I thought I would share it here, too.)

“Sorry I couldn’t give you that game console you asked for, if your dad paid his child support on time, maybe I would have been able to afford it.”
“It looks like it’s just you and me for the holidays this year, your mom is so wrapped up in her new family, she doesn’t have time for us.”
“Is your father going to do anything at all for the holidays, or does he just expect that I will do everything, just like I always did when we were married?”

When you read words like that, you may think, “I would never say such a thing in front of my children, even if I was thinking it” and if that’s the case and it never happens – then great! You are doing well, with something that is often very difficult to “master” in the wake of a divorce, particularly, if it was a contentious one. But for many it is hard to not let your feelings and frustrations bubble over, particularly at this time of year, when added responsibilities and financial pressures can make you feel squeezed beyond your normal tolerance level. It’s hard, it’s really hard and sometimes even with the best of intentions, we may vent in front of our kids often in an effort to explain away what we are a experiencing as some sort of inability to create the holiday memories for our children that we had wanted to. But clearly, allowing ourselves to let these sort of comments, slip out can be a lot worse for our kids than whatever it was we were trying to justify or explain away in the first place.

Have you ever really thought about what your child hears and feels when you say something like this? Chances are, it is not what you intended.

It doesn’t give them a better understanding of why there are less presents under the tree. It doesn’t prove to them that you are the parent who has their best interest in mind. And it doesn’t benefit anyone to have them “choose a side”. All it really does is – hurt.

This is their mother or their father that you are talking about. Children need to know that their parents love and care about them and undermining that, doesn’t really just undermine your ex, it undermines the very foundation of a child’s self-worth and self-confidence. It is true in some circumstances, the other parent may be disengaged, non-supportive or even abusive – but driving that home isn’t really the best message you could be giving your child; not at the holidays and frankly, not anytime.

If you need to vent, write in your journal, give out a scream when you are driving alone in your car, talk to your family, friends, therapist, coach or support group – but leave your kids out of it. The best gift you can give your kids this holiday is: yourself. Let them know, you are there, that you love them, are proud of them and a grateful to have them in your life. We can all go without “stuff”. One more video game left on the store shelf due to lack of funds, pales in comparison to the warmth and confidence of a child who knows they are valued and cared for. Do not let your disappointments become theirs. It’s not about the stuff, it never has been. Look through the eyes of your child, take a moment to see the world as they see it – and then give them what they really need. It doesn’t and will never come in a box.

 

Being David August 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:26 pm
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Let’s face it – the news out there these days is pretty depressing. The combination of tough times and the media’s propensity for sensationalism and exploitation combine to make a steady stream of less than cheerful headlines. So, unless you are completely out of touch with the world beyond your window or are made of some sort of emotional “Teflon” it is hard not to be effected by the daily onslaught of bad news. A couple of days ago – I felt that I had reached my saturation point – and was feeling a little low.  So, I posted on my Facebook page – that I needed some good news and lo and behold – I got some. From little reminders that the weekend was here, to posts about friend’s children, pets, simple bits of gratitude and little praises – my friend’s rose to the challenge. And I was reminded of two important things…

First. though we cannot deny that there is a lot of negative stuff out there – the fact is that there is a lot of positive, too. Though news programs may save the “human interest – feel good” pieces for the end of the broadcast – the reality is that there is a lot out there to be grateful for you just have to tune your vision to see it. It’s easy to get bogged down in the negative and quite frankly it should not be ignored – but finding a balance is very important to keep your head straight and your energy up to deal with all of “life’s news”.

And second, don’t underestimate the caring of friends and the kindness of strangers. There are a lot of good people out there who are more than happy to respond when you need a hand. It may not seem like a lot to do – to post a good thought on the Facebook of an old friend but small gestures can mean a lot. And don’t underestimate the capacity for these same people and others like them to offer grand gestures as well. There is a lot of good out there – allow yourself the opportunity to ask for help when you need it – and enjoy the beauty of people’s capacity to give to one another in this world where greed gets the headlines and warmth is the afterthought. Maybe some day – the tables will be turned.

 

 

The Squeeze August 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:36 am
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My schedule as it is, the best time always for me to write my blog, seems to be first thing in the morning. My usual pattern was to wake early, fix my coffee or tea, take my laptop out to the porch and start typing before beginning my other daily activities. However, lately, I have just not been able to swing it. The arrival on my schedule of two early morning appointments and what has become a daily battle with my snooze alarm have prevented me from finding the time in these early morning hours to get to writing. I don’t like it. But I am forever hopeful…

So here I sit, brain still a bit foggy, with few minutes left to devote to this task. As I type, I am busily strategizing a new system, for both waking early and for writing these blogs but nothing concrete has yet risen to the surface. I am pondering the blog of Seth Godin, and his ability to encapsulate a brilliant idea in two-three sentences and wishing I had his gift for streamlining my thoughts. But I will work with what I do have, do the best I can, and hope for a good result.

I do believe in the old adage – “where there’s a will, there’s a way” so I shall push forward in hopes that I can catch up with my own desires and get this piece, which is truly important to me, back up and running. So for now, you get this, just a small sample of my mental meanderings and the ever-present will to share my experience in this small form with you. May you find the time in your day today to do not just those things that you have to do, but those that you want to do, the things that make you feel whole and centered, refreshed and renewed, even if you can only squeeze them in for little bits of time.

 

Midsummer’s Day Dream July 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:12 am
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Mid-summer is clearly upon us; the days are longer, the temperatures higher and the time is here for a little relaxation that we don’t often get the rest of the year. It could be a day trip to the beach, a weekend camping-out in the woods or a couple of weeks spent at a favorite vacation destination.  Like kids who revel in the break from school we adults look to summer to provide a little rest and relaxation, too – in whatever form works for us. You know all the archetypes as well as I do – barbeques, bathing suits, cannonballs, kayaking, waves and lemonade. Just the thought of those images connotes a lighter, breezier sense of life. This week I am looking forward to taking a little respite from my usual routine so that I can take a couple of days off to enjoy myself. I am ready to go! And as I prepare myself for the break ahead – tying up loose ends both at home and at work I find myself thinking about the importance of “down-time” and the value and necessity of allowing ourselves a breather every now and then.

Growing up – people worked hard, and families took vacations just like they do now, but I don’t think that the need was as powerful as it is now. Though of course there were exceptions then, just like there are now, I believe as a society we are more driven and stressed than we used to be. Nowadays even our children’s schedules are booked to the hilt with activities and lessons. Add to the mix the pressures of a down economy and everyday life feels more like a pressure-cooker than it ever did before in our lifetimes. The result – we need to take a break from the grind more than ever, and though the resources for doing so may feel tighter than ever – the need is greater.

Not everyone can afford the luxury of a “real” vacation. When so many families are struggling to just keep up with the rising costs of living – the idea of taking time away feels harder to grasp than ever, nonetheless there is only so much pressure a system can take before it will inevitably fail. So I encourage you to do whatever you can to give yourself a little break. How you define what that will look like for you is a personal thing – it may be as simple as taking a stroll around your neighborhood after dinner, or inviting a friend over for an informal cook-out. Maybe you can spare a couple of days to go and visit family or friends, or a day-trip to a nearby lake for some of sunning and swimming. Whatever it is – do it! Have a little fun, take a little break and relax a minute. Your body, mind and spirit will thank-you for the attention. And then, wrap a little bit of it up and take it with you.

Find a way to incorporate a little down time into your everyday experience. Something just for you, and maybe something for you and your family, a little slice of the healing magic of summer fun, and keep it with you all year. This is life – this thing that we are doing every day, every moment, and when it is gone it is gone. Waiting for that one week a year to allow yourself to enjoy it is betting that there will always be another summer to enjoy. Better to hedge your bets now, stop and smell the roses, time fleets by so quickly and the only moment you know you have is this one. Enjoy it!

 

Balancing the Scale July 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:21 am
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Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure of watching a single hummingbird flit around my yard for what felt like an inordinate amount of time. I have a garden full of bright, pink phlox which apparently it found particularly attractive, and it buzzed from one flower to the next doing it’s thing. After a moment or so – it flew over to my apple tree where it lighted for a bit before trying the flowers again. And then, as if it heard my wishes for a closer view, came to one of the hanging baskets on my porch, just a few feet away from where I sat before disappearing into the neighbor’s yard. What a treat! I cannot ever remember having the opportunity to observe one for what felt like such an extended period of time. It really started my day off on the right foot.

I wish I could say that the rest of the day was as wondrous as that little moment had been, but it was not. Though it was particularly productive, which I needed immensely, the afternoon took a major dip as my teen son and I locked horns in what I guess would be considered a “battle of wills”. Nobody won. And though as the evening wore on – the overall mood relaxed tremendously – I think we were both hobbling a bit from the experience.

A simple sweet high to start the day, an emotional, tense low to punctuate the afternoon and a quiet resolve by the evening – it was quite a ride. This morning – no hummingbirds are treating me to a sighting and I am feeling a bit worn-out still from yesterday’s tussle. Navigating the highs and lows is a constant daily challenge we all face. There are moments of grace and episodes of stress and our job is to reset the system as best we can to face the events that confront us on a new day. As I slowly work my way over to my own reset button I find that I am filled with a sense of gratitude and wonder.

The universe has blessed me both with its simple sweetness in the form of a beautiful observance of nature and a willful and amazing son. Feeling the love I do for both and the privilege to be in such close contact with the things and people I adore is the gift that will refuel my battery cell this morning and give me the energy to face whatever this new day holds in store for me. My recommendation for the day – find that thing (or things) that give you your inspiration and hold them in your focus – it is the wonder of these simple beauties which can magically transform our experiences.

 

Pardon me, squeezing through… February 4, 2010

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There was a time in my life when I used to meditate every day. It was a regular ritual, which I practiced without thought or effort. I just did it. Every morning I would find the time between shower and lunch preparation to sit quietly, clear my head and just be. As time went on, and my life evolved, that morning ritual somehow disappeared from my routine. How does that happen? How does something we want and enjoy – which appears fully integrated into our lives, just drift off of the map and fade into a memory?

Life changes, eh? All the time and what was once our reality becomes a remembrance.  This is true for both things we want in our lives, like meditation is for me, and things we are happy to leave behind. My days are full, very full. It is filled with things I enjoy and others I do not, and recently there have been a significant number of new additions as well, learning to play the guitar and this blog, for instance. And despite how much I incorporate,  there is always an additional list of things I am trying to work into the calendar. But where to fit them? That is the question. Trying to find an actual free block in my calendar isn’t really a realistic option.

I think we just have to “make time” for the new additions. It’s not just sitting there open and waiting to be filled, you have to create it. As the new thing pushes in, the original activities just need to morph and shift, take new shapes to accommodate the addition and then settle back in. So starting today that’s the plan – I have talked about resuming my daily meditation for a long time – my life will create the space for it again. There may be a few growing pains and objections from the other occupants on my calendar but they’ll get used to it eventually and so will I. Om shanti…

 

Where’s that Reset Button? January 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 11:06 am
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Today has been a real challenge so far and without going into detail, let me just say that it has been a rough start. What I really needed was to feel energized and not drained as I faced the list of tasks that I had hoped to carry out. Fortunately, I have been able to reset myself and though I am sure that the day will wind up being less productive than I had originally intended due to some unexpected curveballs – I am back on track with at least making the best of the time and energy I do have at the moment. This got me to thinking about what strategies we use to get ourselves back on track when life and all its myriad of possible distractions knocks us off.

I know that for me, at least this morning what got me refocused was a chat with a friend, that allowed me to vent a little bit and to re-engage my mind in a more productive way. In this case I think the reset was simply – human connection. I say simply because clearly this isn’t a profound ground-breaking concept here, and yet sometimes I think we forget the power of it. Being able to connect with another person, share in that empathy and understanding – combined with a mutual concern for one another’s well-being was the magic bullet. Additionally, I think that HOW you approach the solution is just as crucial.  I was open to the being reset and was not invested in staying in the negative space I was in. I may not have been able to control all the events that made my morning feel so stressful – but I was able to control how I let it affect me. (This leads me to another topic which I have thought about a lot – locus of control – but I will get to that in another blog.)

In any case sometimes having a friend to talk to isn’t an option and even if it is, coming up with ways to clear our own heads and refocus ourselves is an almost indispensible need. So, what are your strategies for resetting yourself? When you are feeling the weight of life’s stressors how do get yourself back to calm? The temptation here is to list off a myriad of possible suggestions, and maybe that would be useful to some extent, but I believe it is a primarily an individual process, and what would work for you might not be found on my list of options. Nonetheless, just as there is a value in knowing what your resources are in other arenas of your life, taking time to access those internal resources is just as valuable. So, make a list, go ahead, and think about what buttons you need to push when clearly the situation calls for a reset.