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…)
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!)
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…)
You Know Your Life Is Good When… (Motivation)
February 5, 2019
Is your life good – or good enough? In the face of today’s nonstop media and social media barrage of ‘get this, do that, go there, live large’ it’s easy to question yourself and your choices.
In the interest of calming things down a bit, I offer a few ideas to consider – ten ways you might know that life is good.
You engage in work that draws on your unique skills and talents in the service of something that matters.
You know what’s happening in the lives of your friends and neighbours because you connect with them regularly.
You show up in the lives of your family members – for the small moments and the big events.
You chat with your partner often about matters that go beyond the mechanics of everyday life.
You pursue your dreams and express your most creative ideas.
You treat your body with care and respect (regular exercise, sound nutrition, sufficient rest).
You have a spiritual practice that grounds you, nourishes you, and helps you keep life in perspective.
You contribute to the well being of others in your community.
You frequently stretch and exercise your mind exploring new ideas and new ways of thinking.
You know what you value and let that awareness lead your choices.
Mastered a few of these? Others are works in progress? That’s life!
Count your blessings. Relax. Enjoy and know that life is good – and maybe even getting better!
Reflection: It’s the time of year when our thoughts turn to fresh starts – ways that we might improve our lives, change our habits, launch new goals. In the flurry of info about how best to accomplish these turn-arounds, an article by Tania Carriere caught my eye. I encourage you to read the full article linked from today’s Resource of the Week.
In short, Tania suggests that a shift in focus to something more and something new is not always necessary. In many cases we already know what works in our lives. We’ve simply distanced ourselves from the practices and choices that serve us well. Over time our shiny fresh intentions and actions tarnish and fade like a piece of good silver.
Like that silver, even though the surface may seem dingy and drab, the value still lives below. In her metaphor, what’s required most is not racing off in search of something new but simply finding our way back to what we already know puts a shine on our days.
Action: Over the last few days – as 2018 turned to 2019 – I’ve been pondering what I already know makes for a better life experience for me.
Here are a few strategies that would serve me well if I polished them off, and brought them back to life. They might spark some thoughts for you. (more…)
PAUSE – 18.12 – Are You Available To Awe?
December 5, 2018
Reflection: Familiarity brings with it a certain level of comfort and ease.
You hop in the car to head for work. Without even thinking, you steer in the standard direction of your standard route with your standard expectations about how the trip will unfold.
You walk into a social or professional gathering not sure who you will meet there. As you scan the group, you find a few familiar faces and gravitate in their direction.
You walk into your favorite coffee shop. Without even scanning the menu board to see what might be new on offer, you place your regular order for your regular drink in your regular size with your regular barista.
Same. Same. Same. Over and over and over. It’s little wonder that our daily interactions can have a distressingly numbing effect on our minds and emotions. (more…)
PAUSE – 18.11 – The Magic of Connection
November 7, 2018
Reflection: A friend and his wife did the dishes together every night. As she washed and he dried, they shared their news of the day, chatted about the kids, and sorted out plans for the days ahead.
Once they got a dishwasher and started taking turns doing dishes, they stopped talking. That simple shared habit had been their daily connection point.
A participant in a program recently told me that he and his wife tended to spend their evenings on their respective phones – physically present, but mentally absent.
They’ve made it a practice, every few days, to take an evening drive together and leave their phones behind. He says the conversation and connection in their lives goes up when they make time for shared adventures.
Last week, my husband and I picked up three coffees and took them to the viewing stands to squeeze in coffee and a visit with our very busy daughter while together we watched our grandson playing hockey.
In today’s nonstop world, it’s easy to grow distant from those we care about – occupied as we are with the minutiae of life and the lure of social media. Relationships suffer when we can’t find ways to stay in touch with those who matter in our world. And, that’s beyond unfortunate.
Research shows that strong relationships help us live longer and happier lives with fewer health problems. And by the way, it’s not the number of friends you have, or whether or not you’re in a committed relationship, but rather the QUALITY of your close relationships that makes the difference. (more…)
PAUSE – 18.09 – Did You Know You’re Retroactively Useful?
September 5, 2018
Reflection: I seem to be encountering a lot of people from my past these days. In the course of our conversations, more than a few of them are sharing how something I said or did influenced them years ago and continues to be meaningful in their lives today.
Sometimes it was the way I handled a challenging situation. Other times it was a piece of advice or a way of looking at or thinking about things that was important at that moment. Often those insightful tidbits have become reference points or touchstones for them as they go about their lives today.
It moves me to hear that my contributions, both intended and unintentional, added meaning to their lives. That prompts me to be even more active in extending my appreciation to others whose examples have been important to me. And…it causes me to feel more satisfied about the contributions I’ve already made in my life and work.
Action: The desire to be purposeful and of service to others does not diminish with age. In fact as people grow older, they often start to think more directly about leaving a lasting and positive legacy.