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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 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…)

PAUSE GEM #48 – Stopping Starting & Art 150.5

July 26, 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 – Ontario.

REFLECTION & ACTION: More than one study has confirmed that backlogs are an everyday fact of life in today’s overcommitted workplaces – not to mention on the home and community fronts. Despite the fact that we have an inordinate number of irons in the fire at any one time, that doesn’t seem to prevent us from adding more.

Personally, I’ve got a tall stack of books waiting for my attention. That hasn’t stopped me from firing off orders to Amazon or Chapters for yet another interesting volume or two.

I’ve got a number of articles partly written, and program ideas partially developed. That doesn’t stop me from grabbing another scrap of paper and scratching out a few thoughts about yet another fresh idea.

Over the years, I’ve registered a number of web domain names that seemed like an inspired idea at the time, and then let them languish for lack of attention.

Anything similar happen to you?

When we talk about streamlining our life and work activities, a fair amount of attention and lip service is paid to what we could stop doing.

Maybe it’s time to ask a different question. (more…)

PAUSE GEM #47 – Go For The Grin & Art 150.4

July 19, 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 – Manitoba.

REFLECTION & ACTION: Here’s something I’ve been observing for some time now. When I am out and about in public places – shopping the markets, gathering at festivals or theaters, or simply walking down the street – I’m looking at peoples’ faces and noticing their expressions. Do they appear happy, sad, indifferent, concerned? What emotion do they present to the world without even knowing they’re communicating?

I made a point of watching expressions on my last visit to Disneyworld. You would think if there’s any place on earth where you might expect to see smile after smile, and one set of sparkling eyes after another, it would be there. However, that was far from the case.

Sure, people cracked their smiles for the camera, but if you just watched the expressions on the faces as folks ambled down the streets of the Magic Kingdom, smiles were running at about 5% of the population. Even half hearted expressions of contentment were only running in the 25% range. The rest of the expressions ranged somewhere between numbly neutral and tersely tense.

Take a look for yourself. See what you notice on the faces of those you pass as you go about your business today.

Even more importantly, pause to check your own reflection in the mirror or a window. What do others see when they meet you on the street or pass you in the hall?

There is no reliable evidence to prove the old saying that it takes more muscles to frown than smile. However, there is research that shows people do respond in kind to the facial expressions they encounter.

So what would it take to raise the smile quotient and lighten the mood in your corner of this world of ours? (more…)

PAUSE GEM #46 – Burnout And Meltdowns & Art 150.3

July 12, 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 – Newfoundland Labrador.

REFLECTION & ACTION: I’ve been thinking a lot about burnout in recent days. Not because I’m feeling burned out myself, although I have been there more than once in the past. But rather because I’ve been digging back through results of the Overload and Overwhelm survey that I conducted a few years ago.

Over and over again, people mention the downward spiral triggered by too many expectations and too few resources. They describe the hopeless feelings associated with not being able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. And, to cap it off, much of what they are doing feels pointless.

Still I’m hopeful. While meltdowns may be common, they’re not necessarily inevitable.

One of the things I have noted over the years, is that burnout is not always related to the number of hours worked. Meltdowns and burnout are just as often connected to feelings of hopelessness and pointlessness. It’s like we’ve lost track of any meaning that might once have been associated with the activities that fill our days. And so while we invest more and more energy we experience fewer and fewer returns on that investment.

And therein lies one of the main challenges: staying connected to the reasons why we’re doing these things in the first place. (more…)

PAUSE GEM #45 – Overwork: An Artful Life Perspective & Art 150.2

July 5, 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 – Beautiful British Columbia.

REFLECTION & ACTION:

An experienced artist recently shared a few thoughts about overworking in response to a question from a novice painter.

Although, the conversation centered on the negative impact of overworking a piece of art, as the discussion unfolded, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between art and life.

The mentoring artist noted five causes of overwork:

  • Repeatedly going back over old ground rather than leaving well enough alone and moving on
  • Striving for perfection – spending time and energy on final finishing touches that don’t add appreciable value
  • Forcing the work – letting impatience over-ride the flow of the paint, the brush or the pen
  • Overusing a well developed skill when it’s not even called for in the work of the moment
  • Getting caught up in the fine detail without stopping to step back for the long view and gaining perspective

It seems to me that we might take a page or two from the Old Masters and put them to work in our everyday work-lives.

When you find yourself bogged down by overwork, take stock of these questions and see if they shift your behavior: (more…)

PAUSE GEM #44 – The Not So Classic BMW & Art Cda 150.1

June 28, 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.

REFLECTION & ACTION: Nothing damages the morale of a workplace more than a collection of individuals whose response to every situation is to complain and criticize from the cozy confines of victimhood. “Isn’t it awful? How dare they? What were they thinking? Someone should do something about this!”

A recent conference participant, in a session I was delivering on encouragement and appreciation in the workplace, described this group as her BMW’s. Not the classic high priced automobile – but rather the folks who specialize in Bitching, Moaning, and Whining.

Her abbreviated description generated a considerable number of guffaws and knowing looks as other attendees nodded their heads in recognition. It seems the BMW problem is familiar to many. There might even be a few BMW’s ripping up the streets in your world.

So what to do and how to handle them? (more…)

PAUSE – 17.12 – Going Big Is Not Your Only Option

June 14, 2017

Reflection: ‘Go Big Or Go Home’ is one of the most harmful pieces of advice floating around the ether sphere.

It implies that the ONLY way to live your life is to bet it all on a roll of the dice – to bungee jump off the highest cliff – to risk and risk and risk again!

It also implies that if you don’t live with this maxim as your guide, you should hang your head, stick your tail between your legs, and cower shame-facedly in hiding at home.

Bushwa!

Yes, there may well be times to go big. Challenges stretch us and build our confidence. We start to see ourselves as the kind of person who attempts ‘that’ – whatever ‘that’ may be for us.

Still, there is every bit as much value in the world of small. (more…)

PAUSE – 17.11 – Are You Ready To Take A Chance?

May 31, 2017

Reflection: Do you ever feel like your life hasn’t quite worked out the way you imagined it might? That there is something missing from the mix?

Do you ever feel like you’re being held hostage by your commitments? Show up at work, manage life at home, contribute to the community? Or whatever your version of the daily grind may be.

It’s a sure bet that ignoring those twinges of discontent is a first step on the road to bitterness and resentment.

There may never be a better time to take a chance on something new. Something that fuels your spirit and feeds your soul. Something that puts a spring in your step and a light in your eyes. (more…)