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Welcome to the Pause Blog which features strategies for boosting energy, fueling enthusiasm, inspiring insight, rekindling spirit – and my reflections on life in general.

PAUSE – 17. 16 – Choose Good To Feel Better

December 6, 2017

Reflection:  The daylight hours are dwindling here in western Canada. The sky is dark when we roll out of bed, and it’s dark again before dinnertime.

Early winter has descended – with a combination of snowy, slippery, icy streets and sidewalks as the temperature bounces around on either side of the freezing point.

For the other three seasons of the year – spring, summer and fall – I’m highly motivated to roll out of bed and step right into my sneakers for my morning walk along the river. This time of year – not so much!

And, so, I struggle to get my exercise – that 30 minutes of fresh air and movement that renews my body and restores my soul. Somehow, it’s not the same to be taking that walk mid-day when the path is fully lit and I can see where I’m going. And, it’s not the same to be heading out at the end of the afternoon, when I’m already weary after a day’s work and what I most want to do is put my feet up by the fire and sip a glass of wine.

What I have learned, though, is that just because it’s not the same, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done – or that it won’t be good. Each time I work an outdoor ramble into my mid or late day schedule I come back glad I went – mind clearer and body stronger.

 

Action: When it comes to doing those things that are good for us, especially when it’s not easy, it helps to keep the outcome in mind. (more…)

PAUSE – 17. 16 – Feeling Grateful? Pass It On

November 22, 2017

Reflection: Today, as I often do, I started my day with a morning walk along the river. It was chilly, breezy, and snowy out there. All the better to clear my head!

It seems, no matter what the weather, when I walk outdoors, my mind putters. It dusts off the cobwebs, rearranges the shelves, empties the garbage, beams a light into the back corners of my brain, generates new ideas, reminds me of things I’d forgotten, and generally puts things in order.

This morning, as I walked, my mind was on you – my Pause readers. Some of you are new to the fold. Some of you are have been following my ramblings right from the beginning of the ezine some seventeen years ago. And some of you joined in at other points along the way.

No matter how long you’ve been with me, what I realized this morning is that I am exceedingly grateful for your presence in my world. You see it’s in my nature to notice things, to think about life, to make connections between A and B and C. If I didn’t have you to share my observations with, I’d probably be walking along the river just mumbling to myself. BTW – that still happens on occasion any way!

So what I really want to say to you today is this. (more…)

PAUSE – 17.15 – Another Way To Look At Things

November 8, 2017

Reflection: My husband and I were lucky enough to be able to get away this fall for a European travel adventure. On our return, I found myself feeling a little behind and a wee bit stressed. Adrenalin pumping – cortisol rising. I was thinking about all the business related tasks that were put on hold. I was worried about projects not begun; and so, obviously, not advanced.

Maybe this happens to you, too. You compare yourself or your situation to the performance of others or to your own high expectations. You find yourself fretting about falling behind and getting ahead. “I should be there by now, and instead I’m here!”

At times like this, I’ve learned to call on my wiser, smarter self for advice. You’ve got one of those mentors, too. Your voice of reason and perspective – the part of you that takes a long view on life and refuses to get bent out of shape unnecessarily.

Here’s what mine had to say to me. (more…)

PAUSE – 17.14 – What Motivator Might Bring You More Of What You Want?

October 25, 2017

Reflection: The young CEO of a manufacturing company had a reputation for keeping long hours and working endless weekends, until…a brand new baby entered his world.

In short order, he found creative ways to get most of his work done during regular business hours and to claim his evenings and weekends for family.

A long time public servant found herself at her desk late into the evenings, struggling to find time for exercise and companionship, until…she brought an energetic young puppy into her home.

Now she had a compelling reason to leave work at 5:00. If she didn’t, she’d arrive home to unhappy accidents and a house in shambles. Most key tasks at work were accomplished during regular work hours. Turns out it had been her need to feel completely caught up at the end of every day that had kept her chained to her desk.

For years, a career homemaker spent all her time tidying, cleaning, cooking, and managing family affairs, until…she connected to a volunteer cause she cared deeply about.

She cut back to a lesser standard of home care and freed time and energy to devote to her new-found passion. (more…)

PAUSE – 17.13 – Are You Harvesting Your Life?

September 13, 2017

Reflection: When I was growing up on the farm, harvest was one of my favorite times of the year.

I loved the fields of golden wheat dancing in the September breeze, the heavy swaths tracing the contours of the land, and the cascades of grain pouring from the auger into the grain bin.

In the farmhouse kitchen, boxes of B.C. pears, plums and peaches were being canned and set aside for the winter ahead.

Steaming cobs of sweet corn landed on the table to be enjoyed day after day after day. My personal best (or worst) was 13 cobs at one sitting!

Harvest time was a feast for the senses and the soul. And the practice of harvesting is one I’ve carried with me into my everyday life.

When I finish reading a book, I take a few moments to pull out an insight or two to carry with me.

When we travel, I keep a journal. As we turn toward home, I reread the record of the journey, and sum up the highlights.

After attending a conference, I scan my notes and pull out a few key ideas on which to act.

 

Action: The habit of harvest is a helpful one. (more…)

PAUSE GEM #53 – Pause Every Ninety & Art Cda 150.10

August 30, 2017

Editor’s Note: As they have for the last couple of years, your summer Pause messages will feature the ‘Best of Pause. These GEMS are readers’ favorite messages from earlier years. Whether you are a long time subscriber, or new to our list, I hope you enjoy them all. After Labor Day, your Pause messages will once again feature all new info and resources.

P.S. – Also, be sure to scan right to the end of this message. You’ll want to be sure to catch the details on my Canada 150 Summer Art Project and the unique Provinces of Canada paintings on offer each week. This week – Saskatchewan.


REFLECTION & ACTION
: You’re working away – head down – afterburners aflame. You’ve been making great progress and, blessedly, the interruptions have been few. Still, after an hour and a half or so, you start feeling restless. Your attention begins to wander. And, you find yourself becoming a touch irritable and impatient.

Why are you having trouble with focus when the stars are aligned for work? It could be your internal body rhythms clamoring for your attention.

The human body isn’t built for nonstop high performance. We do a better job of maintaining energy over the long haul when periods of focused concentration are offset by time out for renewal.

There are parallels in other life situations. For example, a race car driver’s success depends on fast, high speed performance on the track. But an equally important part of that racer’s success is knowing when to pull off the track and into the pit for adjustments and repairs. Ignore, postpone or cancel the pit stops, and the race is lost.

Top performers in all kinds of fields tend to work in approximately 90 minute cycles – sprints if you will. They shift back and forth between periods of intense effort offset by periods of purposeful renewal.

A key word here is purposeful. The impact of automatically grabbing a caffeine or sugar hit, or giving yourself a ‘rev it up’ pep talk to drive your energy back up the ergometer, will be short lived. Many of these ‘short term quick fix’ energizers fizzle fast and end up harmful in the long term.

Plan for variety and be more intentional in choosing your renewing pauses. (more…)

PAUSE GEM #52 – The Burden of Bundling & Art 150.9

August 23, 2017

Editor’s Note: As they have for the last couple of years, your summer Pause messages will feature the ‘Best of Pause. These GEMS are readers’ favorite messages from earlier years. Whether you are a long time subscriber, or new to our list, I hope you enjoy them all. After Labor Day, your Pause messages will once again feature all new info and resources.

P.S. – Also, be sure to scan right to the end of this message. You’ll want to be sure to catch the details on my Canada 150 Summer Art Project and the unique Provinces of Canada paintings on offer each week. This week – Quebec.

REFLECTION & ACTION: These days, merchandisers are pretty adept at bundling goods and services together in the hopes of extending one purchase into a bigger payday. A telecom will sell you a phone line and then bundle in internet service, cell phone, and unlimited long distance. At our Canadian Tim Horton’s you can purchase chili and a bun with coffee – and for another 14 cents Tim tosses in a donut. Bundle! Bundle! Bundle!

Bundling CAN create good deals. And yet, as much of a bargain as it may be financially, bundling can also bring you more than you need or want, more than you bargained for, or, literally, more than you can chew.

The concept of bundling popped to mind as I recently listened to a colleague fret about a complicated workplace problem. It was clear that by taking one issue and bundling it together with others she was making the situation more difficult and overwhelming than it needed to be. On top of the precipitating problem with Employee A, she had layered an ongoing performance concern about Colleague B, and was already anticipating having to deal with the fallout of the situation on Employees C & D.

Truly, she had legitimate concerns in all three areas; and all would have to be addressed at some point. However, bundling them together in the moment had sent her into a tail spin. It made things much more difficult than they needed to be in dealing with the single precipitating issue. And, the resulting confusion of thoughts caused a crisis of confidence. (more…)

PAUSE GEM #51 – Keeping It Simple & Art 150.8

August 16, 2017

Editor’s Note: As they have for the last couple of years, your summer Pause messages will feature the ‘Best of Pause. These GEMS are readers’ favorite messages from earlier years. Whether you are a long time subscriber, or new to our list, I hope you enjoy them all. After Labor Day, your Pause messages will once again feature all new info and resources.

P.S. – Also, be sure to scan right to the end of this message. You’ll want to be sure to catch the details on my Canada 150 Summer Art Project and the unique Provinces of Canada paintings on offer each week. This week – New Brunswick.

REFLECTION AND ACTION:  Broker world peace. Jump-start the economy. Cure cancer. Eliminate poverty. Save the planet.

The range of global concerns seems endless. Even our more modest individual goals and ambitions can end up supersized to the max.

As inspiring and enervating as big hairy audacious goals can be, they also carry significant weight. And, shouldering the weight of the world can feel overwhelming, crippling and exhausting.

That’s why a recent commentary by my Halifax friend and colleague, Peter Davison, struck me so positively.

Peter wrote: “Go forth, do good, return home, stay blessed. Repeat as necessary.”

It’s an approach to daily life and a plan of action that’s blazingly simple and eminently doable.

In the midst of demands on your time and draws on your energy, keep Peter’s prescription in the forefront of your mind. (more…)

PAUSE GEM #50 – The Maturity Advantage & Art 150.7

August 9, 2017

Editor’s Note: As they have for the last couple of years, your summer Pause messages will feature the ‘Best of Pause. These GEMS are readers’ favorite messages from earlier years. Whether you are a long time subscriber, or new to our list, I hope you enjoy them all. After Labor Day, your Pause messages will once again feature all new info and resources.

P.S. – Also, be sure to scan right to the end of this message. You’ll want to be sure to catch the details on my Canada 150 Summer Art Project and the unique Provinces of Canada paintings on offer each week. This week – Alberta.


REFLECTION & ACTION
:  A few years ago things were in flux in my husband’s workplace. Many of his co-workers were concerned about the impact of potential changes on their lives. Dave refused to get bent out of shape. When one of his colleagues asked him why he was so calm in the midst of the commotion, he replied, “They can’t scare me. I’ve raised teenagers.”

It was a laughable response, but one that contains a seed of truth. Life experience leaves perspective in its wake. You develop a better sense of what really matters. You learn to separate real risks from imagined catastrophes. You build confidence in your ability to cope and adapt to what lies ahead.

Call it the Maturity Advantage. One respondent to my Overload and Overwhelm survey described it this way: “I’m making different choices than I would have made five years ago. I’m too old to want to be miserable!”  Another observed: “I constantly take readings of my stress level and deal with overload immediately. When you get to be my age (62) people just write you off as ‘eccentric’ and you can pretty much take care of yourself if you need to.”

Younger brains do have a faster processing speed and an easier time learning or memorizing, while the middle age brain struggles with short-term memory. However, a web of neural pathways in the more mature brain is an asset in dealing with complex problems. Years of connections and layers of knowledge help identify patterns and similarities in situations. They make it easier to see solutions – to get the root of the problem, to tune in the big picture. It appears that grey hair and grey matter do grow together.

Here are two ways to put this maturity advantage to work. (more…)

PAUSE GEM #49 – What’s New & Art 150.6

August 2, 2017

Editor’s Note: As they have for the last couple of years, your summer Pause messages will feature the ‘Best of Pause. These GEMS are readers’ favorite messages from earlier years. Whether you are a long time subscriber, or new to our list, I hope you enjoy them all. After Labor Day, your Pause messages will once again feature all new info and resources.

P.S. – Also, be sure to scan right to the end of this message. You’ll want to be sure to catch the details on my Canada 150 Summer Art Project and the unique Provinces of Canada paintings on offer each week. This week – Nova Scotia.

REFLECTION & ACTION: What’s new? It’s a common enough greeting and an innocent enough question. Novelties – new information, new opportunities, new ideas – have a place in our lives. They generate energy, engagement and excitement about life’s possibilities.

However, a preoccupation with the latest, up-to-the-nano-second news can keep us from more meaningful, long-term pursuits.

Scientists looking at how we juggle the bombardment of email, phone calls and other inbound info are finding that our ability to focus is undermined by constantly reacting to these info bursts. We have more trouble sifting out irrelevant information, become more fractured in our thinking, and end up less focused on what we know in our clear thinking moments constitute our top priorities.

‘Incoming bits’ provoke an excitement akin to an adrenalin rush – and are just as addictive. As we become more obsessed with pursuing new bits of info, we are then less likely to stay the course – less likely to follow through putting older, more valuable information to work.

This incessant influx of information can work against our long term productivity and well being – and leave us more stressed, to boot. A University of California study found that people interrupted by e-mail reported significantly increased stress compared to those left alone to focus on the task at hand.

So, what’s the take away learning from the latest research? (more…)