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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…)

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…)

PAUSE – 19.01 – Fine Tune For A Fine Year

January 2, 2019

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 – 18.09 – 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.

Well, the good news is this. (more…)

PAUSE – 18.03 – What Could Be Stealing Your Happiness?

March 7, 2018

Reflection:

How happy are you with your life these days?

And if you find things falling a bit short, who or what do you hold responsible?

This business of happiness is an interesting creature.

Throughout our lives, it’s often the case that we imagine we will be happier and more content when we reach some future state.

  • When we’re done school – or going back to school.
  • When we’ve landed an exciting job – or disengaged from a boring one.
  • When we’re married – or divorced.
  • When we have children – or when the kids leave home.

And so it goes on multiple fronts. I don’t know about you, but I continue to learn that future states are not always the glorious versions of bliss that I might have imagined them to be.

John Izzo’s latest book, The Five Thieves of Happiness, sheds some light on this experience. One of the messages that stands out for me is John’s observation that ‘We don’t need to seek happiness as much as we need to get out of its way.’ (more…)

PAUSE – 18.02 – Take Care Of You & Be Better For Others

February 7, 2018

Reflection: We’re three weeks into a kitchen renovation, so our home is a tad chaotic these days.

A veritable parade of tradespeople has been rolling through the house: demolition folks, electricians, plumbers, drywallers, carpenters, installers and those keeping track of what others are doing and how it’s going.

It’s been a lively, dusty, noisy experience. Happily, the reno is moving right along – even a bit ahead of schedule.

The fact that my office is in our home makes it doubly challenging for me. At the height of the hubbub, I took client phone calls hunkered deep in the closet of the master bedroom with two sets of doors between me and the noise.

Normally, my practice is to start my days with a walk along the river, a bit of yoga, an inspirational reading, or writing in my journal. Since the reno began, I’ve given that up so that I can be showered, dressed, and ready to answer the door when the first worker of the day comes knocking at 8 am.

I’ve recently noticed that I’m feeling a bit impatient, short tempered, even prone to feeling sorry for myself. That’s not my normal state. (more…)

PAUSE GEM #51 – Keeping It Simple & Art 150.8

August 16, 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 – New Brunswick.

REFLECTION AND ACTION:  Broker world peace. Jump-start the economy. Cure cancer. Eliminate poverty. Save the planet.

The range of global concerns seems endless. Even our more modest individual goals and ambitions can end up supersized to the max.

As inspiring and enervating as big hairy audacious goals can be, they also carry significant weight. And, shouldering the weight of the world can feel overwhelming, crippling and exhausting.

That’s why a recent commentary by my Halifax friend and colleague, Peter Davison, struck me so positively.

Peter wrote: “Go forth, do good, return home, stay blessed. Repeat as necessary.”

It’s an approach to daily life and a plan of action that’s blazingly simple and eminently doable.

In the midst of demands on your time and draws on your energy, keep Peter’s prescription in the forefront of your mind. (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…)