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Appreciation

PAUSE – 20.08 – Pandemic Delivers The Goods

August 5, 2020

Reflection: Well, we here we are about five months into the pandemic here in Canada. I can’t say this situation is or was something I welcomed. Did any of us?

I am fully aware that differences in our stage of life, family, career, and finances as well as our geographical location means that we are all experiencing this situation differently. A single mother working from home while juggling education and childcare is facing a totally different set of challenges than a retired pensioner living on their own. And of course there are many variations in between those two extremes.

So let me preface this by saying that from my corner of the world, as a self employed, empty nester, I have noted a few good things arising from the experience.

Since we are ‘at home’ for the entire summer, we signed on to take delivery of a weekly basket of fresh vegetables from Spring Creek Gardens. So far we’ve received baby potatoes, carrots, broccoli, swiss chard, kale, lettuce, radishes, beets, dill and more. It’s always a surprise to see what’s come into its own each week. And the resulting meals that hit our dinner table bring back childhood memories of fresh produce from the garden at the farm.

With the exception of the year we hosted our daughter’s wedding in our backyard, our garden has never looked better. I’ve cleaned out back corners and trimmed up shrubs that haven’t seen much attention for years. And I’ve done a much more regular job of fertilizing. The plants are happy about that. Biggest hydrangea blossoms ever!

Mornings are a delight. I’m up in good time with no place I have to go. There’s time to enjoy a morning walk, a bike ride along the river, or yoga in the garden. As warm summer days have finally arrived, I’m reading the paper, sipping my coffee, and doing my crossword puzzle outdoors while birds swap the morning news in the trees above.

I’m learning new things – how to navigate my way around delivering virtual presentations, for one. And since I’ve signed on for a couple of online language classes, my French is improving. Merci beaucoup pour ca!

We’re definitely spending less money. Other than grocery and greenhouse shopping, we haven’t spent much time hanging out in the stores or even shopping online for that matter. And our travel expenses, which are normally a big part of our budget, are nil. (more…)

PAUSE – 20.06 – It’s Less Than Ideal But It’s Something

June 3, 2020

Reflection: ‘ABC’ – All Be Closed. For many of us, that’s been the global theme song for spring 2020.

‘C’ (for Covid 19) also brought us Confined. Cancelled. Called off. Crossed out. Cut.

Everyday experiences that we’ve long taken for granted – meeting friends for coffee, enjoying a meal at a restaurant, sinking into our seats at a movie theatre – all gone! Conferences, concerts, graduations, weddings, festivals, sports, vacations – evaporated into thin air.

And as we learned from our early alphabet studies, ‘C’ is followed by ‘D’. Disappointment. Disillusion. Dejection. Despondence. Distress.

Coronavirus has turned our world upside down. And, all but the courageous providers of essential services, have sheltered in place as we do our best to stay well and minimize the risks.

In the midst of the quarantine, it seems that another ‘C’ – Creativity – is lifting us from the dust of shattered dreams. (more…)

PAUSE – 20.04 – In The Face Of Our Challenge

April 1, 2020

Two decades ago, when I began to write and speak about the value of pauses in our lives, this was definitely NOT what I had in mind.

This oh-so-necessary shelter-in-place, stay-home response to the assault of the Covid 19 virus takes the concept of pause to a whole new level. And, for many, the proverbial ‘pause that refreshes’ has the potential to morph into the ‘pause that depresses’.

Cut off from our habits of action, freedom of movement, and physical presence in each other’s lives, we are forced to confront our selves and consider what we actually do with our days.

Some are spending this time in a frenzy of productivity– cleaning and clearing, baking, polishing off projects, and more. Others not so much.

Many are exploring new ways of engaging and connecting at a distance. Zoom calls, Face Time visits, live Facebook broadcasts, and webinar offerings are at an all time high.

And social media is atwitter with well meaning tips and advice for survival in this time of global crisis.

I get it. When life goes sideways, we search for ways to create meaning for ourselves, deliver value to others, and maintain some semblance of normalcy in the face of days that are anything but normal.

That said, I can’t bring myself to prescribe advice for ‘how you should be and what you should do’ in these days and times.

So let me simply share how I’ve been approaching life in the last few weeks. Take from it what inspiration you might find helpful – and blow the rest away. (more…)

PAUSE – 19.12 – Why Not End Your Year In Gratitude?

December 4, 2019

Reflection: As I wrote today’s Pause message, it was Thanksgiving Day in the USA. I took a look at my calendar and saw the tail end of 2019 barreling down the road in my direction.

Add those both together, and they put me in a reflective frame of mind with thoughts of gratitude bubbling to the surface. Putting pen to paper, this list of things for which I felt grateful flowed to the page:

  • Reasonably good health – with just enough aches and irritations to remind me to feel compassion for those who suffer chronic pain
  • Our travel adventures and the resources to fund them
  • My clients and the opportunities they present for meaningful work, along with my colleagues who share this journey of teaching and learning
  • A husband who loves to cook and who exercises his culinary talents in the kitchen every single day.
  • My daughters and nieces and their partners who have populated our extended family with a lively crop of little ones who bring joy and energy to every gathering
  • My sisters and my Mom who have been my touchstones through the years
  • Caring friends who share laughter and shoulders to lean on when times get rough
  • My Artists’ Workshop group and the talented colleagues who encourage and challenge my growth as a painter
  • This beautiful and (relatively) peaceful country I am lucky enough to share with my fellow Canadians

I was – and am – grateful for it all.

 

Action: Is pausing to take stock of all there is to appreciate a part of your end of year activities? (more…)

PAUSE – 19.11 – Bringing Who You Are To What You Do

November 6, 2019

Reflection: About a year ago, I joined a local artists group. We meet weekly to make art. We challenge and support each other. And, we show together annually.

Over the years, I’ve been a part of many groups at work and in the community. Rarely have I seen a group as cooperative and supportive as this one.

When a task arises, there’s no sitting on hands, avoiding eye contact, hoping someone else will take it on. There is an eagerness to volunteer – to step forward to make things happen.

Yes, there is a high degree of commitment to each other and the purpose of the group. But, underpinning all there’s a desire and willingness to bring who we are and contribute what we can in the service of the whole.

We vary in our interests and skills. Within the group we have: social media whizzes, creative photographers, skilled organizers, those with financial savvy, talented foodies, fine writers, imaginative thinkers, thoughtful listeners, and jokesters who brighten the mood and lighten the load.

Everybody is not expected to do everything. People step forward in areas in which they are skilled and have an interest; they pass on others. And, somehow it all works out.

 

Action: How well are the teams and groups in your world functioning? (more…)

PAUSE – 19.10 – Nix The Negatory Oratory           

October 2, 2019

Reflection:  How is your day going?

Not bad. Well, it’s not raining. I’m not dead yet. Could be worse.“

Thanks for your help.

No problem. It was nothing. No big deal. Not worth mentioning.”

Does language make a difference? You bet it does. It can lift people up or put them down – our selves included.

What features most in your way of showing up and conversing with the world?

Gloom and despair – or joy and fresh air?

 

Action: There are a great many things beyond our control that colour our everyday experience. But what is always within our control are things like these: (more…)

PAUSE – 19.06 – Will Your Memories Last A Lifetime?

June 5, 2019

Reflection:  A few years ago, I asked an aunt and uncle of mine who were nearing the end of their lives what they remembered most about their time together.

Independently, they each gave exactly the same answer. They both recalled the trips they had taken together, the adventures shared, and the time spent away from the everyday cares of home and work.

My husband, Dave, and I just returned from several weeks in Eastern Europe. I understand what they meant. It was a treat to be sharing new experiences – and not be thinking about paying the bills, mowing the lawn, and taking care of business.

We made a lot of memories. From this recent trip, we will most definitely remember:

  • Laughs shared in the Mirror Maze and Fun House at the top of Petrin Hill in Prague
  • Viewing Klimt’s painting, The Kiss, in person at the Belvedere in Vienna
  • Our challenging Amazing Race transit day between Salzburg and Vienna (shuttle, hike, boat cruise, train ride and subway)
  • A concert at St Stephen’s Basillica in Budapest that lifted us all up and away. An organ with 6,507 pipes will do that for you!

As wonderful as they may be, I also believe that travel memories are only part of the picture. We also create compelling memories in our very own backyards. (more…)

PAUSE – 19.04 – Turn Down The Screen – Turn Up Your Life

April 3, 2019

Reflection: Not long ago I found myself in my doctor’s reception area, waiting for my appointment. Also waiting were three young moms each with infants in car carriers parked at their feet.

All the little ones were awake and alert. All the moms were elsewhere – eyes glued to the screens of their smart phones making no effort to connect with their babies.

Now maybe they were dealing with important issues at a distance. Or maybe they were exhausted and just enjoying the quiet. (I do remember that parenting a little one can really take it out of you!)

But here’s the challenge. (more…)

PAUSE – 19.03 – Make It Meaningful To You To Make It Matter More

March 6, 2019

Reflection: I love it when ideas collide and spark a fresh insight. That happened for me this morning as I pondered my Pause message for this week.

The first inspiration came from today’s Dilbert cartoon. Pointy Haired Boss is discussing Asok’s ‘less than ideal’ employee engagement results. Boss counsels Asok that he should show a higher level of irrational enthusiasm for the endless string of thankless tasks – AKA his job. He also suggests that he expects Asok to show an unnatural preference for work over leisure. Don’t you just love that line of thought??

The second inspiration came from a poster quote that appeared in my social media feed. This quote by Francine Jay read, “My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.” I laughed when I read it and immediately forwarded it to a group of friends who share these kind of messages.

As quickly as I had I shared it, I realized it doesn’t quite paint a complete picture. (more…)

PAUSE – 19.02 – Want Less Stress? Stop Looking For Trouble

February 6, 2019

Reflection: Do you have a solid sense of the ideas that are whirring through your mind at any given moment?

Are you aware of the impact those thoughts may be having on your experience of the day?

I know where my mind goes, and it’s not always to the most helpful places.

Join me on a little mental review and consider these questions.

  • What if we stopped scanning our world for bad news and no longer stayed on high alert for stressors just around the corner?
  • What if we thought less and talked less about the stress in our lives?
  • What if we stopped swapping ‘poor me’ stories that focus on how overwhelmed or exhausted we feel or poorly we’ve been treated?
  • What if we stopped concentrating on where and how we hurt – physically and emotionally?
  • What if we stopped holding so tightly to real or imagined slights and slurs?
  • What if we stopped picking at life’s stressors like a wound that just won’t heal?

 

Action: What if, instead, we started looking at and talking about these things? (more…)