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PAUSE – 20.09 – How Could You Reach Out In Kindness?

September 2, 2020

Reflection: In response to last month’s Pause ezine, one of my readers reminded me (and rightly so) that all is not easy-peasy wine and roses for everyone in the midst of this pandemic. Those with frontline responsibilities, those trying to juggle working from home along with childcare, and those facing financial hardship are struggling and exhausted. I get it.

I’ve been thinking more about how we can ease the burdens of those around us by reaching out to connect with kindness and support.

Action: Here are a few actions I’ve noted and/or experienced that might spark ideas for you.

Lend a hand with the kids. Harried parents can use help – even at a distance – engaging with the youngsters so mom and dad are free to finish up a work project or start cooking dinner. I’ve been using the Caribu app to connect with my 4 and 7 year old grandsons. It allows us to see each other while reading stories, playing simple games, or co-doodling on a drawing.

Catch up on colleagues’ lives beyond work. There’s a tendency to think of workplace zoom meetings as needing to be ‘all business, all efficiency, all the time’. However, in the ‘old normal’ workplace, there would be time for informal chats about life in general. Try booking a zoom coffee break, lunch or 5:00pm wine date with a colleague with the express intent of getting caught up on each other’s lives outside of work. A bit of genuine empathy can help ease the burden.

Meet briefly outdoors in person. Face time and zoom conversations are good. But sometimes you just need to see a real (as my friend says non-digitized) face. Connecting in person at a safe distance for a conversation, a coffee, or a walk can lift the spirits of all involved. (more…)

PAUSE – 20.07 – The Risks Of Barreling On

July 1, 2020

Reflection: Last Friday dawned dry, calm, and sunny with a forecast of temps in the high twenties. Seemed like a perfect day to trim the hedge along the driveway.

Instead of starting early in the morning, when it was cooler and the sun not quite so high in the sky, I headed out around 11 am. By 12:30, with the job half finished, I took a break for lunch. Once fed and watered, I immediately headed back out, hat on my head for a little portable shade.

By the time I finished the job around 2:30 in the afternoon, I was overheated, flushed, lightheaded, and reduced to a labored shuffle as I stooped to clean up the last of the clippings on the ground.

Slowly making my way into the cool of the house, I collapsed into a recliner calling out for ice water and a cold cloth. Sunstroke? Maybe. Heatstroke? Likely. Stupidity? Certainly!

I could hear my Dad’s voice in the back of my mind declaring, ‘Damn fool!’ That’s what he used to say about our farmhand who insisted on weeding the garden in the heat of a summer day. I, apparently, had morphed into Bill McGowan!

As I headed into the last of the work on the hedge that day, I knew I wasn’t feeling well. But did I pause, take a break, or stop for the day? Nope. And why not? Because I was intent on crossing the finish line. Damn fool! (more…)

PAUSE – 20.05 – How Are You Doing At Soothing Yourself?

May 6, 2020

Reflection: These last few weeks have been an anxious time for many of us, flooded as we are by a barrage of worries and concerns.

Pick your Coronavirus induced worry of the day: personal health, finances, cancelled plans, restrictions on freedoms, wellbeing (or lack thereof) in friends and family, a downward spiraling economy … the list goes on.

If you are struggling to calm yourself down, you’re not alone.

I’m reminded of the difficulties that small children face as they learn to calm themselves in the face of disappointments, rebound from minor accidents, or simply settle down to go to sleep.

One of the measures of growing maturity – from infancy through childhood and onward  is known as self-soothing – the ability to calm yourself in the face of distress.

In many ways, the depth of distress that Covid 19 has delivered our way is new to all of us. And, we’re learning all over again how to soothe ourselves in the face of worries that invade our minds at unpredictable times of day and night.

 

Action: If you’ve ever tried to comfort a distressed child, you’ll know that diving right in with reassurance and diversions is rarely the best place to start. We need first to simply be with them, acknowledge and hold them in their pain.

This applies to us as well. Acknowledging that we are hurting, and simply being with that hurt for a time is helpful.

Once we’ve named and owned our pain, we can open up to other practices that help us settle down. You might find a few of these helpful. I know I have. (more…)

PAUSE – 20.03 – Do You Wish Life Weren’t Speeding You By?

March 4, 2020

Reflection: Our oldest grandson becomes a teenager tomorrow. Our eldest daughter turns 40 this spring.

Where, exactly, did all those years go? And, did I live them as deeply as I might have?

Maybe you’ve experienced that accelerated passing of time as well.

These days, as I estimate when something happened, my current practice is to guess how long ago it was and then double it. I’m usually closer with the second number!

 

Action: With the accelerated pace of life in the 21stcentury, how do we put the brakes on the passing of time to experience life as less of a blur?

Here are a few starter ideas: (more…)

PAUSE – 20.02 – Is It Time To Sift And Shift?

February 5, 2020

Reflection: I recently tried to wedge another folder into an overflowing filing cabinet and realized I had once again hit that point that calls for action. I took the time to cull completed projects from the office file drawers, and once again there was plenty of room for current and future projects.

I’ve had this kind of experience before. Maybe you have, too.

A calendar that was once manageable is now so crowded with new project commitments that the everyday essentials are squeezed for attention. Time to sift and shift.

The fridge and freezer are plenty big enough until they’re all stocked up for an extended family gathering. In the days that follow the event, it’s challenging to find anything in the midst of everything. Time to sift and shift.

The front hall closet works just fine until you to stuff the parkas and extra winter gear (mitts, hats, scarves, boots) along side the warm weather collection of light jackets and sandals. Time to sift and shift.

The trunk of the car has plenty of room until you try to haul the spring purchases for the garden in a space that’s still loaded with winter survival gear, snow scrapers and shovels. Time to sift and shift.

What’s common to all these situations is that we don’t need a bigger container – whether that be a file cabinet, calendar, refrigerator, house or vehicle. We just need to think and act differently. (more…)

PAUSE – 20.01 – What Fuels Your Imagination, Enthusiasm & Creativity?

January 1, 2020

Reflection: It was about 20 years ago – way back at the turn of the century – that I started dabbling in art. If you’ve followed me over that time, you’ve seen my dabbling turn into a full blown passion.

Over that same period of time, perhaps your interests have also shifted and evolved. Maybe you, too, find yourself excited about things that were barely on your radar way back when.

As we launch into a brand new decade, I find myself thinking about what I find so compelling about my adventures in art.

Here’s what I realized:

  • It keeps me noticing things – inspired by the sights around me, paying attention to light and color and design.
  • It challenges me to keep learning – stretching to master new techniques, experimenting with new materials.
  • It has opened up a whole new world of relationships – with fellow artists, collectors, gallery owners.
  • It meets my need to create beauty in my life and share it with the world.
  • It delivers deeper ways to experience the places to which we travel – visiting museums and galleries and sketching in the streets.

I don’t know what this fascination with art will bring my way in the years ahead; but I do know I appreciate its presence in my life and welcome what it has to offer.

 

Action: There are many forms of creative expression – from visual arts, music, and dance to photography, crafts, and cooking to welding, carpentry and beyond. (more…)

PAUSE – 19.09 – Take A Power Nap For A Power Boost

September 4, 2019

Reflection:  As a youngster, I spent more than a few summer days at my Grandfather’s farm. Each day after his noon lunch, Grandpa grabbed a scratchy red wool plaid blanket, and headed out behind the house.

There, in the caragana windbreak, he stretched out for a nap on a set of rusty old bedsprings he had strategically placed in the shade. Jack, as he was called by his friends, was definitely a man ahead of his time.

Research from Harvard (which I’m sure Grandpa never read) has proven what he knew from experience – that a mid day nap increases productivity and gifts you with the mental freshness of morning all over again.

As a student in elementary school, when we returned to our desks following the noon hour break, our teachers would read us a chapter or two from an ongoing novel.

We were encouraged to rest our heads on our desks to listen, and nobody cared whether you tuned in to the story or caught forty winks. I often thought that the teachers would have enjoyed putting their heads down on the desk and having someone read to them!

We’re learning more all the time about the impact of naps. (more…)

PAUSE – 19.08 – Invest In Prevention And Reap The Rewards

August 7, 2019

Reflection: About ten days ago, my left hip decided to let me know it still exists, and what’s more, that it was very unhappy with me. Maybe, from time to time, you get similar messages from various parts of your body.

I responded by returning to my practice of starting every day with 20 minutes of yoga, with special attention to stretching my back and legs. I’m happy to say it helped. My hip is still grumbling, but no longer sending hate mail and emergency alerts my way.

The experience has me thinking about prevention and its place in our lives – both for physical and mental wellbeing. (more…)

PAUSE – 19.07 – How About Being More Spontaneous?

July 3, 2019

Reflection: I grew up on a farm on the prairies at a time when people lived far enough apart that a visit was something to be treasured. Neighbors often dropped by unannounced. And when that happened, the work was set aside and a fresh pot of coffee went on the stove.

If friends or family dropped in around mealtime, we added a few more potatoes to the pot, and set a few more plates and chairs around the table. We called it prairie hospitality. It came naturally – was just the way you lived and were.

These days our lives seem far more scheduled and crowded. I’ve seen people spend ten minutes comparing calendars and commitments in an attempt to find a shared open space for a visit, a coffee, or a lunch at some future place and time.

A series of recent events reminded me of the joy of spontaneity. (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…)