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 – 20.05 – 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?
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 – 19.12 – 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 – 19.08 – 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 – 19.06 – 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…)