Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Make a Wish… March 13, 2014

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birthday cakeHere’s an article of mine which was just featured on the Divorce Support Center website. http://divorcesupportcenter.com/

My sons aren’t “little” anymore, though they were when their father and I got divorced. And that was scary! I think the single biggest issue for their father and I

when we decided that our marriage was simply not going to work, was how to end it in such a way that the impact did not negatively affect our children. It wasn’t easy.

Because truly, with the exception of possibly ending an abusive, volatile relationship – how could a divorce negatively affect the kids? The very nature of the beast requires significant changes at the very core of our lives for all of the parties involved, and the importance of stability at home is probably felt most acutely by those who have the least control and resources with which to understand it – the children.

In fact, it is probably true that many couples, stay together “for the children,” despite their own personal needs and desires to separate. Not too long ago, that was probably “the norm,” but not so much anymore. And I am not going to digress here into the “rightness” or “wrongness” of a couple’s decision to remain married or not, there are enough eager voices out there who are willing to judge the life choices of others, mine is not one of them. But I will say this, if you are a parent whether you choose to divorce or stay together – you absolutely have a responsibility to do your best to give your children what they need to grow up into confident, healthy and well-adjusted members of society.

So what does that mean exactly? Well, in the case of divorce, it means keeping your children out of the emotional fray, letting them know how much they are loved, providing as stable and consistent a home life as possible, fostering healthy relationships with both of their parents, being there to support their emotions, and finding other outlets to deal with your own: for starters.

And you may not want to hear this but if you thought that parenting was challenging before, you better brace yourself for the challenges of single-parenthood, which is not to say that it won’t at some point become easier and more normative. But if the situation allows it, the reality is, they still have another parent and is your best option. It isn’t always easy; after all your emotions are running high, too.

But you are the grown-up, and your children need you now more than ever to act like one. Agreeing with your spouse to put the needs of your kids first – is the first step. And you may need to remind yourselves, over and over, and in countless ways, what this actually means on a day-to-day basis – but you will be rewarded in the long run.

Last week was my son’s nineteenth birthday. It was his tenth birthday since his father and I separated. And I was a bit surprised when about a week earlier he had asked me if his dad could join us for dinner. I said, “Yes.” And though clearly it wasn’t the “nuclear family” of yester-year, it was a pleasant evening. I made his favorite dinner and his dad made his favorite cake. I don’t think any of us, for even a moment were fooled by the guest list into thinking that we were the same family that we had been years before, and yet we were still a family inextricably and forever bound to one another.

It was awkward and fine. But most importantly, my sons were both happy, and that’s what it’s all about.

 

Inspiration from the Inside – Out February 6, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 11:37 am
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Quiet Day in the showroomI was stuck… There was a list of “to-do” items as long as my arm – I sat at my desk, searching for a place to start and painfully aware of the need to get going. The phenomenon is not unusual, many people feel pressed right now and it is not uncommon for it to create a sense of overwhelm that results in a state of inertia. But common or not, it isn’t a place anyone really wants to stay for very long. The trick is how do you find the path outward? Though it may not seem so obvious in the moment the options are plentiful, here are some of the most common:
• You may decide that you need to just “break” the moment a bit, step away from the “stuckness”; go fix yourself a cup of coffee or take a walk to the supply-room to grab a new pen – anything that takes you out of the moment in hopes of a simple reset when you return.
• You could try to force the issue – mustering your discipline to “just do it” and hope that by jumping into the fray – your sheer force of will, can suffice to break the stand-off.
• You may seek to do a little meditation to quiet the mind- since often it is the swirl of all the tasks in your head themselves which are preventing you from getting started on any one of them.
• Or you may choose to spend a little time connecting with a friend or colleague – taking a moment to vent, to distract, or to seek a little collaboration and insight.
• You may look outward – reading a favorite quote or passage which rekindles your spark.
• You could decide that today is just not going to be your most productive day – and hope that tomorrow a fresh start will provide new momentum.
• Or you can take the time to look inward, to connect with your own self; your values, goals, passions and strengths. Connecting the “why” with the “what” and thus creating your own inspiration.
From one day to the next you may find yourself working through this list of alternatives or trying something not mentioned here – but I generally find the last option to be the most effective. Because often, when we can truly connect with our own personal motivations for what we do we are most effective at re-energizing ourselves to actually get the work done. It’s easy to lose track of “the why”. On a day-to-day basis – so many of us are on a sort of automatic pilot – going through our days – checking off our lists – but not really even completely conscious of what we are doing and what got us here in the first place. For many, life has become a series of days where the only obvious purpose is to “just get by” and our investment in the process has become just enough to keep us around to face another day tomorrow. And indeed, there are times when that is in fact an achievement worth striving for – but the hope is – at some point – it will be about more.
Maybe you aren’t in your dream job and the work you do provides a simple paycheck to help make ends meet – but if you connect with your fundamental value – that you are doing it to provide a home and basic amenities for yourself and your family – well, hell in my book that’s pretty darned important. Maybe you have a burning need to create something, to inspire others, to be of service to your community, to be a positive role model for your children, to teach, to build or any other countless possibilities. Inside you somewhere, are your values, goals and passions – and whether or not they are obvious in an outward fashion – they are shaping the decisions you make, the things you do and how you do them. So next time you need a little inspiration to move a ahead – take a moment to look within – to find that part of your soul which fuels the fire within your very existence – and let it burn baby! You’ll be surprised to find out just how inspiring you can be.

 

Notes to Self December 29, 2011

As I sat down to write this blog – and searched for the words to begin – one phrase kept coming into mind, “Bless me father for I have sinned, it has been three weeks since my last blog posting.” (Apparently some things stay with a person no matter how long ago they have become obsolete.) But this post is really not about religion, Catholicism or sin – rather it’s about the promises we make to ourselves and what happens when we break them. In a few short days I will hit my two-year anniversary as a blog writer and that makes me feel pretty good. Over the course of two years I have written about 150 posts – or approximately one every five days or so. Not bad really when you look at it that way – though there is part of me that wishes the number was more like one every other day.

When I set-out on this little journey I endeavored to write a blog every day – and I did – for about a month or so. Inspired by the prolific, cleverness of Seth Godin ( http://sethgodin.typepad.com/) – I started out “all fired up and ready to go”. For a while I set my alarm for 5:00 am, as I found that the morning was my best time to write, and even though on some days I wasn’t sure what I would “talk” about – I somehow managed to get something out. And I loved it! Though I would not have described myself as a “writer” I could safely say that I always enjoyed writing and spending some time composing a blog each day was a centering and rewarding experience. But after a month or so – daily entries started to feel like way more than I was willing to commit to. Some days I just didn’t have anything to say – and/or I just couldn’t manage to “get up and at it” as I had been doing. So the writing started to drop off and at some point even had dwindled to one post every couple of months.

And this – did not sit well. Because almost every day – whether I wrote or not – I would think about writing. Sometimes I would jot down ideas, only to never get around to fleshing them out, other days I would plan writing time, only to find that other demands would get in the way. Many times, I would start a post – and then get distracted by something and end up never finishing it. There is a stream of consciousness and immediacy about this for me – which makes finishing a partially written post almost impossible. In fact, I started a post about two and a half weeks ago – which was mostly written, but not finished – and for the last couple of weeks I have revisited it many times – but just haven’t been able to finish and post it – it is still languishing in my drafts folder.

So, where the heck am I going with all this anyway? I guess, I just want to say – that writing this blog is something I am committed to doing. Though delusions of grandeur have me hoping that my words will resonate with and inspire the reader, I know that there are times when likely no one will read these posts besides me. And though I would prefer if they were “spread around” and I was connecting with others through these posts – I know that is only one of the reasons I am writing here. Simply – I need to do this for me, it makes me happy. Would I prefer to have the consistent proliferation of a daily blog – “yeah, maybe”. Would I at the very least like to post every couple of days – ” I would”. Will I continue to write here and there even if weeks and months occasionally separate the postings – “yep”. Because when I think about it – the promise I make to myself here – is to keep writing – it isn’t about the frequency and volumeof posts, or even about the number of people who read it – it is about the experience and doing something I love.

Sure I could choose to “beat myself up” for not writing more frequently – but I seriously doubt that it would have any positive effect. Rather I shall choose to celebrate my two-year blogging birthday and my commitment to continuing to do this thing that I find so rewarding. And I hope that others will read these words, share them with others, and most of all walk away wuth the message – to be gentle with yourself and support yourself in that which makes you feel good. It is not “lowering the bar” it is “opening the door”. Come out, come out wherever you are…

 

Your Mission – If You Choose to Accept It April 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 8:30 am
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When you think about your life, your future and what you want it to look like; what do you see? Do you have a picture of where you want to be? How you want to be living? How you spend your days? With whom? Where? Doing what? Many people do how a vision, complete with great detail and precision, a picture so clear that they can hear, feel, smell and taste their future. Others really don’t. Their lives are lived day-to-day, focusing on the short-term goals with an idea that someday they’ll retire, things will be different but no clear picture of what it will look like. While others still are somewhere in between, they know what they want but haven’t been able to or allowed themselves to flesh out the details. What about you?

Having a clear picture to pull you forward – “keeping your eyes on the prize” – can be a useful way to stoke your life with fire to propel you forward. Most companies when they are first forming will create vision and mission statements to outline what they want to do, how they want to do it and where they want to be – it is a combined framework stating their purpose, strategies and goals and it underlies how they function as a business. On an individual level few people formalize these pieces into a mission/vision statement but they may have a sense of it anyway. The choices they make on a day-to-day basis are informed by their beliefs, values, dreams and visions; consciously or not. It’s easy to spot the individuals with a strong drive or ambition, they seem clear in their focus energized and passionate about where they want to be, while others may quiet, simple steps forward.

There is no right one right way. In fact, I believe that sometimes we can become so distracted by our future visions that we miss out on the simple joys of the present. Or we can define our dreams so rigidly and specifically, that we miss all the imperfect but beautiful and rewarding events and people along the way. As with many things, finding that tender balance is a crucial component in creating a life that is fulfilling. Nonetheless, I think we all owe it to ourselves to create a picture of where we want to be both now and going forward. You write a list for groceries – why not give your life the same concerted focus? Take the time to allow yourself to dream forward, make it big, full of detail, alive and inspired. Write it down, in bullet points or paragraphs, draw the images of what you want to see and then save it. Refer back to  it and ask yourself what can you do today to bring that vision into your reality. Go ahead you deserve your dreams…

 

Five Minutes Ago I was a Cromagnon January 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 10:29 am
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Evolution – the personal kind – not the apes to humans thing (though – maybe it’s true for that kind as well) is a constant. Each day we wake, we do, we feel, we interact, we start again. And even if it seems that the day is fundamentally the same as yesterday, it is not, it is new, each moment is new. We are alive and here – working our way toward the end and its indeterminate date of arrival with a constant movement forward at least as far as time and aging goes. But what we make of each of our days here is unwritten. Despite our best laid plans and expectations for what we will do today or tomorrow or next year there is absolutely no guarantee that anything is going to turn out that way.

How we interact with that march of time, the constant gamble, the choice of how we want to live each day is totally up to us despite all that is not in our control. We all know of one of those amazing stories of courage and resilience about a person who experiences some horrific life changing catastrophe and goes on to live a life full of fulfillment in a new direction than they ever imagined before. Or of a life crushing trauma that sent another person into a tail-spin of despair from which they never recover completely. There are a lot of factors that weigh in on the conclusion; mental health, financial resources, support systems, etc. but there is also the personal factor – the person involved.

What’s the expression? One person’s loss is another’s gain? What I am suggesting here is that that little quote is as much a personal orientation as an outward product. And to some degree – it is a choice that we get to make every moment of our lives. Right now, without having to think about it too hard I can think of five people I know (or maybe that would be 10) who are going through a divorce. And it is not an overstatement of fact to say that this is a devastating experience, no matter how amicably and equitably it transpires, particularly if there are children involved. And yet it is also such a huge fundamental shift in the day-to-day existence of the people involved that it is also probably one of the biggest “do-overs” we will ever be presented with in our lives. But even if we are not going through a change as dramatic as a divorce in many ways each day, each moment provides another opportunity to be different then we were before.

My day started out kind of weird today. I was having a hard time getting going and wrapping my brain around all that I had to do, and then I had a conversation with a friend. Something in that conversation reminded me of “the why” of what was on my list – the things I value, the things I am responsible for and how they interact with my dreams – and my energy shifted. I cannot predict what my day will be like exactly, but I don’t have to, in this moment I have a focus – I am moving forward, making the best of a little free time. No guarantees, and for right now, I am okay with that.

 

A Simple Question of Complexity January 3, 2010

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“Tell me, what it is you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”
Mary Oliver

When we were children, the answer probably came pretty quickly – “I want to be a teacher, a doctor, an astronaut, a mother, an artist.” As we grow from children to young adults, some of us can still answer that question relatively quickly; a facility for math in school may lead someone toward science or business, a volunteer job at an animal shelter may lead you toward a career in veterinary medicine, or the family construction company may be calling your name. Others have inclinations but are not ready to commit – so they try out different jobs or go to school and pursue liberal arts studies until something clicks in. But determining a career path is just a small fraction of the equation.

If you really take that question in – the subtleties begin to emerge.  It really is asking so much more…

What is important to you?

What impact are you going to have on the world?

What do you value?

How do you want to live?

The beautiful thing is, the more you think about the question the more it asks of you. And of course, there are no right answers and you have the ability to change them at any time.

Liberating, isn’t it?