Here is a seasonal Trio of Wishes for you and yours. May the year ahead being you love hope, joy and blessings in abundance. Thanks for being an ongoing part of the Pause community. See you in the new year.
Reflection: Do you find yourself wondering if you’ve made a difference, or struggling with some of the slights, oversights, and regrets in your past?
Earlier this year, I read a book by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi titled From Age-ing To Sage-ing. In it, he suggests that one of the challenges we face as we move through life is making peace with our past.
Although he focuses mainly on late life, I believe the opportunity to make peace with the past is always available to us, no matter what our age or stage or page of life.
It occurred to me to share these ideas with you now, because late December – after the holiday uproar settles down – can be the perfect time to reflect on the year gone by.
Three actions are at the core of this practice: harvesting, reframing and forgiving. (more…)
PAUSE – 17. 17 – Choose Good To Feel Better
December 6, 2017
Reflection: The daylight hours are dwindling here in western Canada. The sky is dark when we roll out of bed, and it’s dark again before dinnertime.
Early winter has descended – with a combination of snowy, slippery, icy streets and sidewalks as the temperature bounces around on either side of the freezing point.
For the other three seasons of the year – spring, summer and fall – I’m highly motivated to roll out of bed and step right into my sneakers for my morning walk along the river. This time of year – not so much!
And, so, I struggle to get my exercise – that 30 minutes of fresh air and movement that renews my body and restores my soul. Somehow, it’s not the same to be taking that walk mid-day when the path is fully lit and I can see where I’m going. And, it’s not the same to be heading out at the end of the afternoon, when I’m already weary after a day’s work and what I most want to do is put my feet up by the fire and sip a glass of wine.
What I have learned, though, is that just because it’s not the same, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done – or that it won’t be good. Each time I work an outdoor ramble into my mid or late day schedule I come back glad I went – mind clearer and body stronger.
Action: When it comes to doing those things that are good for us, especially when it’s not easy, it helps to keep the outcome in mind. (more…)
PAUSE – 17. 16 – Feeling Grateful? Pass It On
November 22, 2017
Reflection: Today, as I often do, I started my day with a morning walk along the river. It was chilly, breezy, and snowy out there. All the better to clear my head!
It seems, no matter what the weather, when I walk outdoors, my mind putters. It dusts off the cobwebs, rearranges the shelves, empties the garbage, beams a light into the back corners of my brain, generates new ideas, reminds me of things I’d forgotten, and generally puts things in order.
This morning, as I walked, my mind was on you – my Pause readers. Some of you are new to the fold. Some of you are have been following my ramblings right from the beginning of the ezine some seventeen years ago. And some of you joined in at other points along the way.
No matter how long you’ve been with me, what I realized this morning is that I am exceedingly grateful for your presence in my world. You see it’s in my nature to notice things, to think about life, to make connections between A and B and C. If I didn’t have you to share my observations with, I’d probably be walking along the river just mumbling to myself. BTW – that still happens on occasion any way!
So what I really want to say to you today is this. (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 – 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.
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 – 17.09 – 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…)
Rekindling Their Spark – Can You Be A Guide On The Side? (Spirit)
March 28, 2017
Is there someone in your world who is uninspired, apathetic, disinterested? Seems dissatisfied and less than engaged? Shows signs of rusting out, coasting on autopilot or being stuck in the swamp?
Maybe you feel concerned, and you’re not sure how to help. Rest assured, there are things you can do.
The first thing to know – and share – is that malaise is a common and often recurring life experience. At first, each new venture seems fresh and exciting. Eventually it becomes old and familiar.
Understanding that this ‘loss of luster’ is a normal part of the ebb and flow of life reassures those who find themselves mired in the mud.
In a recent survey, 95% of respondents reported they had experienced malaise in their lives. 57% in their forties. 53% in their fifties. 39% in their thirties. And even 20% in their twenties.
Many people experience a dip in satisfaction part way through their lives as they come to terms with unmet expectations. Although life may be ‘good’, it may not feel ‘great’. Some feel discouraged by a loss of passion. They’ve run out of dreams and goals; or they’ve become creatures of habit and stopped learning new things. Others question whether they are really creating the kind of legacy they had hoped to leave along the way.
Sometimes all that’s needed is a sense of possibility. – Rachel Remen
Beyond normalizing the experience, here are other actions you can take to support people as they set about rekindle their enthusiasm for life.
Reach out to connect and open a conversation. Let them know what you’re noticing. Ask what they think and how they feel about their situation.
Listen in a deep respectful way. Sometimes what others need most is an opportunity to give voice to what’s going on inside. They may not need or want someone else to step in and try to ‘fix’ the situation. They simply need to hear themselves say out loud the ideas that may be rolling around in their minds or drifting through their subconscious.
Offer encouragement. Perhaps there is a first step they are already considering, and they could use a cheerleader at the starting line. Letting others know you care about their situation and will be there as they move forward is one way to lift their spirits.
Share other perspectives and fresh ideas. Maybe you have wrestled with malaise and moved through it in your own life, but not yet shared that story. This could be the time. Or, you may know of friends and colleagues who have publicly shared their journeys. Some of those experiences might have relevance to the person you are supporting.
Extend an invitation to try something new. Novel experiences can help people jump their ruts and set off in a more promising direction. Sometimes being exposed to new possibilities is all it takes to develop a fresh and invigorating point of view.
Express appreciation for who the person is and what they do. When suffering from malaise, people can easily tilt to the dark side and color everything in their lives as negative and problematic. Most periods of stuck-ness are temporary. And ‘all or nothing’ thinking and an exaggerated sense of catastrophe add unnecessary weight to the situation.
Deliver honest feedback and straight talk. If you know the person well, you may be in a position to kindly question some of their assumptions in ways that will help them get a clearer grip on problems and possibilities.
Model engagement and renewal in your own life. In all things, we give greater credence to ‘what people do’ over ‘what people say’. Pay close attention to your own well-being. Stay as engaged as possible in your own life roles. When you model a pro-active approach to re-invention and re-direction it gives others hope and courage to step out in new directions of their own.
And finally… a cautionary note. Stay alert to the difference between malaise (a temporary fog that comes and goes) and depression (a dark and heavy cloud that feels like it will stay forever). Although your support will always to be important to someone who suffers from depression, that more serious situation calls for professional expertise. Help them access that sooner rather than later.
Reflection: Last Friday, March 3rd, was Employee Appreciation Day. Did you note it? Did you mark it? Or, did you miss it?
If you marked it, good for you! If you missed it, worry not! You now have a 51-week head start on planning a thoughtful gesture or two for next year’s Appreciation Day.
People love to be celebrated on ‘their’ special days. That’s true whether you are an employee, a volunteer, a boss, a mom, or a dad. However, cards, treats, lunches, and bouquets of flowers once a year only do so much. It’s what happens on the other 364 days of the year that determine whether people truly feel appreciated. (more…)