Firebirdlifecoach's Blog

Pursuing a Passionate Life

Hearty Breakfast September 3, 2010

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Almost every morning my alarm clock, doing the job that I have requested it to do, begins the slow and predictable process of attempting to awaken me from my deep and well-needed slumber. It is a clumsy and awkward dance, and though I resist its persistent efforts to stir me from my sleep I appreciate the thankless job it performs on my behalf. The ritual begins around 5:00 am and usually after about a half an hour of false starts, I finally drag myself up and begin the “stuff” of my day. But some days, it just takes longer… And the thing that I am always working to squeeze in to those wee hours of the morning is writing my blog.  Showered and slowly starting to come into consciousness, coffee or tea at my side, laptop resting on my knees and weather permitting, I take my place on the porch and begin to look and listen inside for the words that want to emerge. And though my body is still moving slowly and my brain is still on auto-pilot, I find it is one of my favorite times of the day. There is something meditative and beautiful about this state of being.  

I carefully guard my head space – doing things like avoiding reading other people’s blogs before I write myself, mindful that I want to develop my own ideas and not inadvertently allow my direction to be influenced by the thoughts of others before I begin. Some days, it just doesn’t happen for me. In order to write an entry I need to have a minimum of about a half an hour to sit in quiet reflection and extract the thoughts I want to write about. Twenty minutes, won’t cut-it and I have a file full of half-written entries, just in case, at some point I decide I want to get back to them and complete what I have begun. But for the most part the writing is a totally in the moment, organic process. I may have an idea before hand of what I want to write about – but typically I don’t know what I am going to say on any given topic until I have finished the entry. And as I am writing this, I am thinking, “no wonder I enjoy this so much, it is like a mini-dip into the space of flow”. A-ha! You see what I mean?

I may not make it to this space every morning, despite my best intentions, but when I do, I am most certainly grateful. I don’t know why most people write – and suspect that each person comes to this process for their own particular reasons, but for me it is an opportunity to give voice to some of the myriad of thoughts that are swirling through my mind. It is a chance to express myself, to connect with other people who for whatever reason are interested in hearing what it is I have to say, and it is an opportunity to tap into that intuitive space that moves through each of us. Not unlike the experience of doing art, connecting with this automatic, organic brain allows an expression of a different sort that energizes and relaxes all at the same time. It’s an odd combination of focused concentration, non-intentional thinking and an abandonment of control all at the same time.

And like the process itself, I resist the temptation to over-analyze the experience, but find myself feeling naturally curious about how and if other people experience this same sensation, and wondering what gets them there. The draw is compelling, and though my life does not allow me to languish in the pool of flow and luxuriate in the pleasure and satisfaction it provides, I am glad to know that I can create even this small place for it within my days. What about you?

 

The Squeeze August 2, 2010

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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.

 

Return of the Prodigal Blogger July 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:17 am
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I don’t want to write another blog about writing a blog – but I’m afraid every time I sit down to start writing that’s what comes to the fore. I guess it just feels funny to me to post an entry after having taken a couple of weeks away from the blogging world without acknowledging that absence. And believe me, not a day passed in between when I didn’t at least think about writing, though on many occasions I had started entries but never finished them. I have given this whole thing a lot of thought and have been trying to figure out what it is I want to and am willing to commit to with regard to the regularity of my postings and I am still undecided.

Ideally I would be posting something every morning (weekday mornings that is, given I decided several months ago that giving myself the weekend off was a good thing.) Though for a while there – posting three entries per week also felt satisfactory. But lately my presence has been more like absence and I for one am not satisfied with that situation. And despite what this may sound like, I am not giving myself a hard time about it. We all have only so much energy and lately with my schedule as it is I have needed to focus it elsewhere. That said – I miss the writing – this forum has provided a great outlet for my musings, I get a lot from it and do not want to let it go altogether. I don’t want it to be an abandoned hobby in my storage room but a regular part of my life.

So as I sit here writing about this issue, here’s what occurs to me regarding how I want to approach this frequency of posting issue. I guess, I have decided that like so many other things, my best approach is a fluid one. Rather than force myself to conform to a rigid schedule, I will simply allow myself to post as frequently as my time and energy allow. Maybe I will get back to daily postings at some point, maybe it will be three times a week or once – and whatever it is will be enough. I know this is something I want to be a regular part of my life but forcing it to become a responsibility and a chore will do nothing to enhance either the pleasure of the experience or the quality of efforts.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss anything – then feel free to subscribe to it – so you will get email updates. If you want to check back in periodically to see if you’ve missed anything then that’s fine, too, that choice is yours. For my part, I am committing to still doing writing these posts for myself and for anyone out there who enjoys reading them. To that end I also commit to the ideal of writing as frequently as I am able – balancing the writing with the other demands for my time and attention.  To some this may sound like a cop-out, to me it is anything but. Every day we each have to consider where and how we will focus our time; balancing our work, families, responsibilities, pleasures and commitments. It never ends. How we choose to find that balance is an individual decision, and allowing ourselves to trust our judgment as to what is best is our responsibility to ourselves and those around us. “So, you all come back now – ya hear…”

 

Allowing for Flexibility April 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:07 am
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Good Morning Out There… I feel like it has been a while since my last entry (and my last confession), and in actuality it has been longer than usual. These last couple of weeks have been particularly challenging for me with regard to getting these blogs out every day (every, weekday that is.) I believe it is a combination of things all conspiring to make this more difficult than usual; a grueling schedule, a touch of writer’s block and just overall exhaustion. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have felt something missing. A few months ago when I started to write these blogs, I began with a seven-day-a-week regimen, which bumped down to five-days-a-week within the first month or so. And with a couple of exceptions I have indeed kept to posting a blog each weekday ever since. That is until these last couple of weeks when I have struggled to post three blogs.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t sat in front of this computer each day and attempted to write something. My “work-in-progress” folder is full of half-written pieces and jotted down ideas, but getting to the finish line has been more complicated than usual lately. So the result is that I am thinking a lot about this “exercise”; what it means to me, why I am doing it and whether or not it even matters to anyone else that my production level has dropped off a bit. (Total aside: Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, “Johnny Appleseed” is playing on http://www.radioparadise.com in the background, I haven’t heard this song in a long time, and I do love it.) What I have decided is that despite the fact that I have no real idea about how this is impacting anyone else out there, it is important to me and at least at this point I am not willing to let it evaporate.

It has given me a great amount of satisfaction to just have a forum for writing regularly again; I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I began this blog. It has also made me more conscious of my thought processes through the day. Not that I was not aware of all the ideas I have, but noticing things, thinking about how I would write about them, what points I would want to make, and overall just fleshing them out a bit more than I probably would have has been very gratifying.  I also believe that there is more than a little bit of “pride” involved in sticking with this process for me. And while all this is true – my plate is full right now schedule-wise and I have decided that if I need a little more latitude here I need to take it. I don’t believe it serves anyone to stick to an arbitrary, self-imposed regimen if it is going to have a negative impact on other areas of my life. So what I guess I am trying to say here is this is my plan… I shall endeavor to do the “best that I can” because really what more do I have to offer. I will aim to keep to my schedule of writing a blog for each weekday and if sometimes I miss one (or even two) I am doing it for a reason that makes sense for me in the overall scheme of things. I just felt like I wanted you – whoever you are – to know that.

Having a goal is a worthy thing, and doing your best to get there is all that you can do, but along the way it is important to recognize your limitations and to allow yourself the flexibility to adjust the plan on your way.

 

I am here… April 9, 2010

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This has been a tough week for me with regard to writing my blogs, and I am not thrilled about it. Earlier in the week, unexpected changes in my schedule made it too difficult to find the time to sit down and when I did make the time my mind was unable to find a topic that I could stick with long enough to get my ideas down on “paper”. Today seems to be another one of those days. I have been sitting in front of this computer (on and off) for two hours already, starting blogs, adding to ones I have already begun and just not feeling satisfied with any one particular direction. All the same having missed two days this week already, I did not want to miss another one entirely.

It’s not for a lack of topics that I have found writing so difficult this week. There are a lot of things on my mind that I would like to explore a bit but I am having a difficult time fleshing out those ideas in a way that fits with my blog. So, it looks like today will not produce anything substantial. And as I sit here absorbing that reality, ever-aware that I have to get my day going in other directions, one thing stands out for me – “sometimes the best that you can do is to show-up.” Not every day in our lives is going to be exciting, not every thought in our heads is worth sharing, and sometimes just being present is enough. Today I acknowledge that the best I can do, at least at the moment, is to be here. I do not know what the next moment will bring – but for now there is just the simple acknowledgment of my desire to move forward with this “blog project” and temporary pause in a more substantive input. Here’s wishing you the best of whatever your day turns out to be…

 

The Paths We Take February 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 6:12 am
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I have an active imagination. When left on its own – my brain is a whirl of activity. It is one of my greatest assets and biggest challenges. I don’t see things from one side only. Instead my mind has a facility for floating around each individual idea and considering the possibilities from all sides. It’s a very busy place in there – and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Nonetheless it poses specific challenges.

When I write one of these blogs for instance, I have to work very hard to contain all the possible tangents that tempt me at every turn. I prefer to write in a “stream of consciousness” fashion, and am often surprised myself at the final results of my meanderings. There has been more than one occasion when I sit down at my laptop – thinking I am going to write about “x” only to find that I have just completed a blog about “y”. For the most part it works for me. I have grown to be flexible and open-minded with the process, thankfully, for if I was not it would surely be a very frustrating experience.

Now this technique probably wouldn’t work for me in all settings, but in this genre it doesn’t seem particularly problematic. Which leads me to the notion of flexibility and forgiveness, is it better to adjust and bend or to stay firmly on a single track? One could say that in order to meet your objectives you need to define a specific path and stay on it in order to reach your goals. Or you could take the stance that the journey itself is a goal worth exploring, it may take you longer to get there but you will learn more on the way. In coaching, one of the primary activities is helping folks to define their goals and to take the necessary steps to achieving them, but it is imperative that you work with what is best for the individual rather than adhering to one particular technique.

Because really – the two approaches are not mutually exclusive anyway. I do believe in setting goals and in defining specific and attainable steps to get you where you want to go. However, sometimes it is necessary to be flexible in your approach – life is not always linear – and giving yourself a hard time about getting your goals completed can be more counterproductive than helpful. As long as you keep the end goal in mind and your efforts continue to pull you in that direction – exactly how you get there is less important. Some people work well with structure and clear and concise limits but allowing yourself the autonomy to create a path that works for you seems like the most useful approach to reaching your goals.

 

Daily Dreaming February 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — firebirdlifecoach @ 8:49 am
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Argh! So yesterday, I didn’t get around to posting a blog and I am sorry about that… I had started one, but hadn’t finished it when my day kicked in and I had to move on to other things. I had thought I would finish it last night – but that didn’t happen when I ended up being out later than I had originally anticipated. So, this morning I decided I would just write one before I have to leave. Here I am, feeling a little more than simply sleepy and tossing ideas around in my brain hoping one will stick. (The one I started yesterday will take a greater degree of concentration to pull together than I feel capable of at the moment.)

So, the result is this, a bit of processing on the experience and a little observation. People set goals for themselves all the time and sometimes meeting those goals is challenging. “I’m going to start exercising every day.” “I am going to start looking for a new job this weekend.” “I’m going to be more patient with my children, etc.” We are big planners and sometimes we achieve our goals on our own and sometimes we do not. This is a big piece of coaching – helping people identify what they want and need in their lives, making a plan to integrate said goal, dealing with obstacles as they arise and getting to a place where you are living the life you want to lead. Often the goals are a little less concrete – and the work involves breaking the abstract down into manageable, real-world bits that can be addressed in real-time. It is a dance, a process, and it is not always easy.

Writing this blog for me is actually a small piece of a more long-term vision for myself (as well as having become a pretty significant part of my daily life). So if I miss a day, the world will not end and my vision does not go dark. I can allow myself a little break here and there if I need one and yet at the same time – I just simply miss it if I don’t do it. I am committed to the process and the place that this fits into my bigger picture. Some days will be more inspired than others but all are part of a whole – a whole I am inextricably committed to. So here’s the pearl: the degree to which we are able to achieve our goals is directly related to our sense of commitment to our long-term values, visions and dreams. Find the root, evaluate its weight and decide from there – what are you gonna do to further your dreams today?

 

Inspiration Part One – The Personal Approach February 1, 2010

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For weeks now, I have wanted to write a blog about inspiration, and yet I haven’t done it. I think because for me this is one of my “golden topics” by which I mean it is one of the most important ingredients in living a purposeful and passionate life and the weight of it is significant. So the result has been that as I ponder the best way to approach this topic in “blog-form” I have avoided writing about it at all, and really that’s a shame. So today I have decided to let myself just break off a chunk of it with the awareness that I will get to the other bits at some later time. Manageable bits…

Inspiration Part One – The Personal Approach

I find inspiration in the thoughts and ideas of people who are passionate and engaged. People, who transcend difficulties, rise to challenges. People, who march to the beat of their own drummer, speak out for others and are true to themselves.

I relate inspiration to passion. When I am feeling inspired I am energized, passionate, productive and alive. I am inspired by historical happenings, present events and the possibilities for the future. For me inspiration is timeless and fluid.

I am inspired by beauty, simplicity, tenderness, strength of character and brilliance. Creativity and individuality are inspiring, courage is inspiring.

I am constantly on the look-out for thoughts, experiences, and events that inspire me and yet it is a natural and effortless endeavor. It is how I am wired these days; it is as if it is a skill that I have honed, an orientation that has developed over time.

Inspiration sparks passion that is manifested in a myriad of ways. It may be the spark that results in a great meal, a new drawing, an interpersonal connection or a new idea. It leads me everywhere and nowhere specific. It is unbounded and limitless.

Inspiration can feel like a connection to something transcendent or like a very personal firing of an internal furnace. It comes in the face of an old man, a thought-provoking statement, a demonstration of generosity, or an extraordinary color.

It is everywhere, and letting it in, allowing myself to see all the ways that it is accessible, is a gift I hold onto with both hands (and everything else, too!)

 

Baby Steps, Benchmarks and Blogs January 7, 2010

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Today marks the conclusion of my first week’s worth of blog posting – and it has been a really interesting experience for me. I thought I’d take a moment to reflect a bit on what this experience has been like for me and share some of what has come up for me in the process.

  • I have always loved to write, but over the years I seem to have gotten to a point where I was doing less and less of it. Writing this blog has become an excellent outlet for this long-ignored passion of mine and I am very happy to have it back.
  • As I mentioned in my post a couple of days ago, “Never Underestimate The Kindness Of Friends… Or Strangers For That Matter”, the outpouring of encouragement, support, congratulations and kudos from many of the folks in my life has been incredibly gratifying and heartwarming.
  • I am finding myself constantly noticing things throughout my day and considering them as possible blog topics. Initially I was concerned that writing a daily blog would exhaust ideas for topics relatively quickly. But quite to the contrary, the more I write the more topics come to mind. It has me thinking in a new way and I love that!
  • I am looking forward to mastering all the bells and whistles of the site itself, so that I can enhance the site and tweak it as I see fit over time.
  • Knowing that I have a blog entry to write has been an exciting element to look forward to in my day. Though the parameters around this experience are totally self-imposed  – I have made a commitment to myself that this is going to be a daily event, and though I feared it may feel like one more item I “have to do” in an already crowded schedule, it is truly a bright spot and a pleasure.

I am looking forward to the evolution and future of this blog and find myself considering all the myriad of possibilities for directions it could take. I hope you stop by often, comment if you are inspired, pass it along to friends who you think may enjoy my musings and even subscribe to the site for regular updates. One week down, many more to go… Yay!!!!!

 

Go with “The Flow”… January 5, 2010

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Do you know what it’s like to be “in the flow”? It’s that feeling you get when something is just clicking along and you don’t have to think about it or work for it – it’s just happenin’. Those in the arts; musicians, artists, writers, dancers, chefs, etc. experience this feeling (if they are fortunate) when they are creating their work. There are times when I am working on a piece of artwork and the moment just feels right. My mind is alert and awake yet quiet, and my hands are moving over the paper as if compelled by an energy that is moving through me. I am aware of the texture and sensation of the pastels as they glide onto the paper. My voice tells me, “Put some blue here, move the green over there” and I just go with it – without really consciously thinking about what comes next. When I am done, I feel both calm and energized – it is a wonderful experience. Often I find that these are some of my most favorite pieces. Though I can’t always count on having that experience when I do my artwork – I am still grateful when I do.

I think that there are moments in all things when you have the sense that you are doing your best work and it is effortless and smooth and synchronous. I believe people can experience it in other ways as well. I think that a gardener who is slowly and methodically weeding a garden can feel that calm, the experience of being fully present in the moment, engaged and attuned with the simple task at hand. It is acute focus without controlling thought. And though it may have some qualitative differences, I believe it is still a type of “flow”.

In coaching it is called “Dancing in the Moment” – those times when you are working with a client and it feels effortless and inspiring. The “creative juices are flowing” and you are being propelled forward together doing good work, having meaningful insights and connecting on a powerful level. It doesn’t happen every time, but when it does, you know it. The focus is on the client’s agenda in coaching and the purpose is not to advise clients on what you think they should do but rather to assist them in planning their own strategies for moving forward and achieving their goals. The more you are able to be in the moment and to connect with the client, on as many levels as possible, the more likely you are to hit that sense of flow, where both client and coach can do their best work. When I lead with my intuition rather than my intellect I am more likely to move “into flow”.

Let it flow…