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Overload & Overwhelm

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 – 20.06 – 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 – 20.05 – 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 – 20.04 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 19.05 – Banish Cranky to The Hills

May 1, 2019

Reflection: It wasn’t an unusual week, but I do remember it well. By the time Friday rolled around, I was good and cranky.

It hadn’t even been an especially demanding week. Just an event or three here – a project or four there – an errand or five elsewhere – and so it went. Not unlike a host of other weeks.

But I was tired and out of sorts all the same. Snappy – short tempered – restless! I recognize the signs more easily at this stage in my life.

The situation called for measures – not even drastic ones. I knew I needed time for me.

And so, I cleared the decks for Saturday. No commitments. No errands. No leaving the house to tend to anything for anyone.

What DID I do? I indulged in a series of simple, small and seemingly insignificant treats:  (more…)

PAUSE – 18.10 – T Times Three Can Serve You Well

October 3, 2018

Reflection: I mentioned this study a few years ago; and I’m going to share it again, because I believe it’s so significant.

The Energy Project stated in Harvard Business Review that employees who break every 90 minutes to pulse between work and renewal report: 28% better focus, 30% greater health and well being, and a 40% increase in thinking creatively.

I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that any practice that improves focus, creativity, health and wellbeing is good for us all. Yet there continue to be challenges in giving our selves permission to step away from the load. Those ubiquitous forces of guilt and fear prompt us to keep our noses to the grindstone – where we repeatedly crash and burn or live in a continuous state of blur and endure.

Even for those who are convinced of the value of pausing, it’s easy to get swept up in the work of the day and to forget that we had intended to take time for renewal.

 

Action: So, in support of those good intentions, here are three ways to move those intentions to action more often. (more…)

PAUSE – 18.08 – FOMO or JOMO? Flip It!

August 1, 2018

Reflection: Many of the things that we might consider problematic about our selves or our lives also have an upside. Indecisive? Well the upside could be that you are also flexible and open to possibilities.  Obsessed by details? The upside could be that you are organized and accurate. To claim the upside, we simply need to flip our point of view.

The same thing is true with one of the most common stressors of today’s modern life: FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. FOMO can keep us tethered to social media, with fears fanned by postings on Facebook or Instagram. We see an endless procession of cool experiences and special events. We see deals on this and deals on that. And all of a sudden we find ourselves feeling ‘less than’ or shortchanged – like we’re missing out on the latest and greatest.

My FOMO hook is travel. I see others enjoying vacations and adventures in exciting places around the world. And despite the fact that we do a LOT of traveling ourselves, and that I’m happy for the good times of others, it’s easy for me to work up a case of adventure envy. We should go there! We should try that! How did we spend all that time in Paris and not see this?

Well, it’s possible to flip FOMO as well. Turn it into JOMO – the Joy of Missing Out – the relief that comes when you’re not comparing your life to the lives of others. You’re not feeling compelled to be anywhere else. You are simply present to the joy of life as it is today. (more…)