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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 #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…)

PAUSE – 17.10 – Wading Your Way Through The Waiting

May 17, 2017

Reflection: How comfortable are you with waiting? I’d say as a society it’s not one of our strengths.

From the small things – like waiting for our coffee, waiting for software to reboot, or waiting our turn in line. To the big deals – like waiting for test results, waiting for the perfect job or partner, or waiting to figure out life’s purpose. We want the result and we want it now.

We don’t like sitting in confusion. And we stress ourselves out when we’re stuck in uncertainty – when progress seems slight.

However, we can experience less angst and stress when we find ways to become more comfortable with waiting, and when we allow whatever process needs to unfold the luxury of time to do just that.

 

Action: How then to wait with greater grace and ease? (more…)

PAUSE – 17.09 – Kindness Costs Us Nothing

May 3, 2017

Reflection: A recent conversation amongst friends led to an exchange of stories about odd behaviours. Of course, those would be odd behaviours exhibited by others, because nothing we ever do is odd at all!

The most unusual contribution to the conversation was the story of a condo neighbor who grows a bit more confused each day and exhibits some of the early signs of dementia. She has taken to propping her front door open, and positioning herself in a chair where she can see all the foot traffic in the hall.

As people come and go throughout the day, she waves and greets them like long lost friends each time they pass by. Most of us agreed that would be an annoying neighborly behavior to have to deal with every day.

However, the friend who shared the story – who lives down the hall from the woman with the open door policy – simply smiled and remarked, “Kindness costs us nothing.” (more…)

PAUSE – 17.08 – Appreciating What Shows Up In Your World

April 19, 2017

Reflection: The last two weeks have delivered quite an eventful ride here at the OK Corral.

Health issues landed me in the ER for eight hours and hospital for a couple of days. I’ve been tested, scanned and scoped with no specific diagnosis other than the possibility of a virus. However, I am feeling better and back to functioning once more.

My 91-year-old father moved from their home (where Mom with nursing support had been looking after him) into palliative care. He passed away after a week of further decline concluding with three days of around the clock bedside support from members of our family. A celebration of his life, funeral service, and burial were held last Thursday.

My husband, Dave, is retiring from his work with the Government of Saskatchewan on the very day this message is published. Over Easter weekend, we marked the occasion with a family dinner and a Friends And Family coffee party – both planned by our two daughters. Dave is looking forward to the freedom of his future days; and I am happy for him.

However, since my business office is also at home and I’m accustomed to having the space all to myself, I’m just a tad apprehensive about being together all day long. (more…)