Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Spread a Little Sunshine February 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 12:53 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

(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.)

Advertisements
 

Being David August 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:26 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.

 

 

Music for Your Soul August 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:45 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Yesterday, I bought my 16-year-old son, his first drum kit. With the generous help of my friend, who hunted down the right set for us on Craigslist, the bartering lessons from another friend, and a financial contribution from my sister, we bought the right set at a decent price. We set it up in his room last night after just a minor amount of fumbling with the hardware and off he went. And though my neighbor’s may think otherwise, I am happy to hear the sound of the drum beats reverberating down the stairs. Of course, it is day one – but I don’t anticipate much of a change. I had the same reaction to the electric guitar that I gave him last Christmas.  I love the sound of music, drum beats and guitar riffs are all good for me, but what I hear is a lot more than that.

As my son, expands and explores his new-found passions for making music, I hear the sound of him becoming his own person and finding and investing in an interest that hopefully will be with him for his lifetime. Finding that thing, or things that make you happy is a beautiful thing no matter what it is. I have never been one to force my kids into participating in sports or activities if they themselves did not have an interest in doing them. My approach was to offer, over and over again, the opportunities to try new things and the encouragement to try them, but when the resistance was significant, I didn’t push. My hope was that if I offered them enough chances, they would find something that spoke to them and invest in it because they were interested not because they had to. And at this moment in time, it seems to be working.

For each of us, of course, our passions and interests take different forms. For me, it was art. A propensity to draw pictures of flowers and swirling designs as a child, led to a life-long love of art. Both the making of and the viewing of, and as I grew I took classes in everything from photography to silk-screening, metal-smithing to life drawing and so on. I may never have a one-woman show, though it would be nice to someday, but I know that making art in whatever form it takes will always be a part of my life. I hope that my son will find the same home for himself in music.

In my world, having a passion or passions is an ultimate enhancement of who you are as a person. It is a place to find inspiration and comfort and a way to individuate yourself and truly be the best that you can be. You owe it to yourself to find your passion. Without are passions we move through our days in a life,  half-lived. When was the last time you fed your dreams, or those of someone around you? If you can’t remember, then it must have been too long ago. Go ahead, do it, it feels good…

 

Remembering Dad June 21, 2010

It’s the day after – Father’s Day. These days, it is more a day of remembrance than actual celebration of any sort. My father passed away almost 18 years ago, so I did not buy any records or participate in any cookouts in his honor. But I am thinking about him. My father was a tricky fellow, a hard-working man who took the idea of supporting his family very seriously, he loved to enjoy life when he wasn’t working and had a pretty “old-school” temperament around parenting. He was always more inclined to say “no” than “yes” when you were asking for permission to do anything, something I learned to avoid as much as possible by going around him and asking my mother if I could arrange it. He wasn’t the sort of guy who would sit down and have long talks with his kids but could tell some great stories when he had an audience. When he died after a long, debilitating illness there was a definite sense of relief to see this proud man freed from the role of dependence that he had been forced into.  That day, the world shifted on its axis and has never felt quite the same way since, knowing he is no longer out there watching my back.

But there are enduring memories and gifts that I got from my father that have shaped me as an adult, and I find that I still think of him often. For one, I am a master – parallel parker – as a graduate of his private school for defensive driving I am a “smart driver” and I hear his lessons in my head as I navigate the competitive streets of the greater Boston area every day, (too bad he hadn’t taught all those people – how to drive!) I love music – it is constant and ever-present feature in my life – my dad did too and often would play his big band favorites on Sundays while preparing a dinner that would silence a crowd of starving chefs. All “his kids” are great cooks (including one technically trained chef) and we can each hold our own with pride. (Nod here to my mom too, who was no slouch in the kitchen, herself.) But the music piece, the records or in their absence the constant whistling was a direct hand-me-down that is very present in my life. Serious and stern though he could be – he also loved to cut loose and enjoy his life; his dancing, singing, whistling, cooking and joking were all testaments to that aspect of his personality, and that sense of enjoying life I have, I attribute to him.

On another level – my dad taught me to be a “hard-worker”. There was a sense of pride instilled by my father in doing a job right if you are going to do it at all. This little bit of business, has served me in every position I have ever held – from ice-cream scooper as a teenager to my current role as a life coach – I care a lot about the work that I do and always try hard to do my best. But the most important thing my dad gave me was the sense that “I could do anything”. Given his old-school attitude in a lot of ways, I was always a little surprised by this – but my father had great aspirations for me, and even though I didn’t fully get it as a child – somewhere in my head I always heard his voice and his un-wavering confidence in my abilities. When I received my degree from graduate school, my father was too ill to attend the commencement, but I was very aware that I couldn’t have done it without him. I hope that I pass that message along to my children as well.

Things with my dad were definitely not perfect. He wasn’t easy – and the differences in our personalities and outlooks often made for some big riffs and clashes. It was only with maturation, distance and time that I fully began to appreciate all that he was about and the struggles that he faced, kids being primarily ego-centric and all, this isn’t that unusual even for a perceptive kid as I had been. Nonetheless, I am grateful that he was my dad. The gifts that he gave me are priceless and precious to me. So for this father’s day – I just wanted to take a moment to say “thank-you” to my dad, he may not be here anymore but he lives on all the same with each random whistle, surge of self-confidence or excellent dinner, that I create. Buona Sera Dad…

 

The Change Game February 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 8:25 am
Tags: , , , , ,

A few months ago, my mother sold the house that she has lived in for 56 years and moved into a senior living community in a new town, closer to my siblings (and me). It was a big move and a big deal, but despite a couple of bumps along the way it has gone rather smoothly. Now in her mid-80’s my mother is creating a new life for herself; new town, new living arrangements, new routines, new friends, new everything. The furniture is the same (though scaled back) but everything else is new. It’s about as a big a life transition as you can make, and it is going amazingly well.

Thanks to the efforts and support she receives from my siblings who live near my mom is adjusting beautifully. Oh it’s not all flowers and sunshine, there are hiccups here and there but really, for the most part it has been seamless. Not necessarily something that any of us were sure of but certainly what all of us had hoped for. My mother is a devout woman and thusly she credits her success to “a miracle” that she has been able to make the move in such a stress free way. I don’t see things quite the same way, nonetheless the result is the same.

Sometimes in life we are faced with challenges and changes so big – that it is hard to imagine how we will react to them or if in fact, we can handle them at all. Sometimes the path to our new life is fraught with parallels and obstacles, and sometimes it is more open and clear. Not all transitions go smoothly for all people. But more often than not I think we underestimate our resilience. Maybe it is some genetic throw-back to the unpredictable life circumstances of our ancestors or maybe it is simple adaptation. But inside of each of us is a wealth of resources and strengths to draw from, some long dormant but still present, all the same.

Getting through life with all the challenges we face in today’s unpredictable climate is no cake walk but most of us will get through it relatively unscathed. The one thing we can count on happening tomorrow is that we cannot be certain of how it will go. Finding that faith inside you whether it is in a higher power as in the instance of my mother, in the help, support and goodwill of others in our lives or in the skills and abilities we own ourselves is the key. Remembering that we will manage and hopefully thrive as we move forward is the message to hold on to.

 

Friend or Foe? February 2, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 7:24 am
Tags: , , ,

Think for a minute about the people you surround yourself with and what their effect is on your life. Who are these people and what sort of impact do they have on you? Cuz it’s really important. Most of us lead a very busy life, that’s just the way we roll in the new millennium. Endless streams of commitments and responsibilities fill our days and our free time is precious and hard-won. So don’t we owe it to ourselves to fill it with people who make us feel good about ourselves? What purpose does it serve to fill your life with people who are draining, demeaning or difficult?

No one person is perfect. We all have our rough patches and we are not all easy to get along with, it’s just the simple reality. It is necessary to accept that imperfection is just part of the human experience and learning to work in an imperfect system is part of the game. But we all deserve to be treated respectfully. We hope that our friends see in us the qualities we want to see in them. The suggestion here is not that we must constantly be surrounded by people who stroke our egos and flatter us with false platitudes. The idea is to have people who encourage you, who care about who you really are and who support you even when they don’t agree with you. And don’t expect them to be mind-readers, tell them what you need and don’t expect to always get what you want.

Our friends are the people with whom we can make lasting memories, not just a collection of names of Facebook. Think about how they impact you, do they shore you up and drive you forward or do they hold you back and tie you down? You have the choice to work within the given relationship, attempt to fix the parts that aren’t working for you, reject the things that are not, make the situation better or move along. As with everything there are no right answers.

 

Never underestimate the kindness of friends… or strangers for that matter. January 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 11:42 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

 

So, since I decided to undertake this whole “Blogging Thing”, I also decided that I might as well let some folks know about it. Because really, though I am enjoying writing these little blurbs these last few days just for the mere pleasure of writing, it would be nice to know that someone else out there was reading them besides me. To this end I decided I would let friends, family and other various and in sundry contacts of mine know about it by “getting the word out” in a couple of ways.

Since I am not fully confident that I know how to negotiate around the wordpress.com website myself, nor do I fully comprehend all the bells and whistles for my blog site (yet, give me time) I thought I would go with what I DO know first. I put a simple link on my Facebook page and sent an “announcement” email to some folks in my address book. What resulted really shouldn’t surprise me, but it did somehow anyway…

Several people sent me reply emails, offering their best wishes, support, positive feedback and encouragement. And can I tell you – it made me feel great! Old and new  – friends and acquaintances shared their warm greetings and I was reminded of how such a simple gesture really can go a long way. Not surprisingly, a little bit of sincere encouragement helps folks feel valued and cared for. I think sometimes we all forget how powerful a few kind words can be, even if we don’t need it, it doesn’t mean that it’s not appreciated.

Note to self: Spread the love, baby. Spread the love…