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 – 17.15 – Another Way To Look At Things
November 8, 2017
Reflection: My husband and I were lucky enough to be able to get away this fall for a European travel adventure. On our return, I found myself feeling a little behind and a wee bit stressed. Adrenalin pumping – cortisol rising. I was thinking about all the business related tasks that were put on hold. I was worried about projects not begun; and so, obviously, not advanced.
Maybe this happens to you, too. You compare yourself or your situation to the performance of others or to your own high expectations. You find yourself fretting about falling behind and getting ahead. “I should be there by now, and instead I’m here!”
At times like this, I’ve learned to call on my wiser, smarter self for advice. You’ve got one of those mentors, too. Your voice of reason and perspective – the part of you that takes a long view on life and refuses to get bent out of shape unnecessarily.
Reflection: When I was growing up on the farm, harvest was one of my favorite times of the year.
I loved the fields of golden wheat dancing in the September breeze, the heavy swaths tracing the contours of the land, and the cascades of grain pouring from the auger into the grain bin.
In the farmhouse kitchen, boxes of B.C. pears, plums and peaches were being canned and set aside for the winter ahead.
Steaming cobs of sweet corn landed on the table to be enjoyed day after day after day. My personal best (or worst) was 13 cobs at one sitting!
Harvest time was a feast for the senses and the soul. And the practice of harvesting is one I’ve carried with me into my everyday life.
When I finish reading a book, I take a few moments to pull out an insight or two to carry with me.
When we travel, I keep a journal. As we turn toward home, I reread the record of the journey, and sum up the highlights.
After attending a conference, I scan my notes and pull out a few key ideas on which to act.
Action: The habit of harvest is a helpful one. (more…)
PAUSE GEM #50 – The Maturity Advantage & Art 150.7
August 9, 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 – Alberta.
REFLECTION & ACTION: A few years ago things were in flux in my husband’s workplace. Many of his co-workers were concerned about the impact of potential changes on their lives. Dave refused to get bent out of shape. When one of his colleagues asked him why he was so calm in the midst of the commotion, he replied, “They can’t scare me. I’ve raised teenagers.”
It was a laughable response, but one that contains a seed of truth. Life experience leaves perspective in its wake. You develop a better sense of what really matters. You learn to separate real risks from imagined catastrophes. You build confidence in your ability to cope and adapt to what lies ahead.
Call it the Maturity Advantage. One respondent to my Overload and Overwhelm survey described it this way: “I’m making different choices than I would have made five years ago. I’m too old to want to be miserable!” Another observed: “I constantly take readings of my stress level and deal with overload immediately. When you get to be my age (62) people just write you off as ‘eccentric’ and you can pretty much take care of yourself if you need to.”
Younger brains do have a faster processing speed and an easier time learning or memorizing, while the middle age brain struggles with short-term memory. However, a web of neural pathways in the more mature brain is an asset in dealing with complex problems. Years of connections and layers of knowledge help identify patterns and similarities in situations. They make it easier to see solutions – to get the root of the problem, to tune in the big picture. It appears that grey hair and grey matter do grow together.
Here are two ways to put this maturity advantage to work. (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…)
PAUSE – 17.07 – Stretching Can Be Good For What Ails You
April 5, 2017
Reflection: How excited are you and your colleagues about your career and your work? And what fuels that sense of engagement?
These are the questions I’ve been asking LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurses) as I prepare to speak at their upcoming provincial conference.
Here are some of the practices they described:
Paying attention to the good they are doing
Actively mentoring new nurses – in both the technical skills and the ins and outs of professionalism
Taking advantage of symposiums and upgrading events to keep up with new practices
Arranging to work alongside knowledgeable colleagues who are skilled at sharing what they know
Volunteering for assignments that stretch their skills
Taking on admin and leadership tasks to test their abilities in new areas
Thinking beyond the status quo and proposing changes that would improve service to patients and clients
Saying yes to opportunities to serve the professional association
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.
PAUSE – 16.29 – Can You See Yourself As A Perennial?
November 23, 2016
Reflection: Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and Millenials are all labels assigned to groups of people of a certain age.
In a world where we look for easy answers and ready-made explanations, this pigeonholing has gained a lot of traction. However, oversimplifying can build barriers instead of connections.
Each group is portrayed as having predictable motivations, values and behaviours. Those characterizations are not always accurate. For each generalization, most of us could cite an exception to the rule.
In truth, many of us share common values and aspirations despite the fact that we were born and raised in different times.
For these reasons, I was intrigued to read a recent article by Gina Pell, who notes that there are individuals of every age who live in the present, connect to world developments, and relate to others of varied ages. They stay curious and relevant, keep learning and growing, and consistently try new things.
Reflection: One of my favorite features in our backyard garden is a pond and stream nestled under the giant Scots Pine. I love watching the goldfish glide through the water and the songbirds splash in the stream.
That pond has also been a source of great consternation. For the last few years, keeping the water level up has been a challenge. As you might guess, the idea of fish out of water – literally – is not a pretty thought.
Over time, I’ve attempted a lot of different fixes. I wrapped the hose that carries the water from the pond to the top of the stream in a vinyl liner so any leaks would funnel back into the pond. I sealed around the spout at the top of the stream so the water no longer splashes over the edges.
I adjusted the pump and filter to control the flow of water in the stream. All were temporary fixes at best. At the end of the season last year, the water level in the pond still dropped six inches every single day.
This spring I decided a major dismantling of the streambed was in order, and that’s how I spent last Friday. I took the whole thing apart – stone by stone – and as it turned out, root by root.
Apparently the Scots pine that shelters the pond had claimed the stream as its own private drinking fountain. In three separate places, one-inch diameter roots had crept over the bank and into the stream – sending out smaller rootlets both up and down the waterway.
It took me four hours of steady work to rid the stream of a four-inch thick mat of roots and to free the rocks and stones held captive within. I traced the big roots back and cut each of them as far from the stream as possible.
I’m sure they’ll move in again, but this time I know to watch for it and will hopefully catch them sooner rather than later.
The fix was not easy – and it may not be permanent. But, at least I’m feeling more confident that this time I actually got to the root of the matter. Time will tell. (more…)
PAUSE 16.10 – PAT ANSWERS VIDEO: Malaise – What Can You Do To Find Your Way Through?
April 6, 2016
Welcome to the fifth in a six part series of short (3 minute) videos that explore the new topic I’ve been developing: Rekindling The Spark – Navigating Mid-Life Malaise.
The first module in the Engagement Series that I am delivering for the University of Saskatchewan Edwards School of Business is already sold out with a waiting list.
There may, however, be a few spots left in modules two and three. Check here for details on the programs and registration info.
Travel Cost Savings:
In addition to speaking at programs in and around Saskatoon, I now know that I will be presenting at events in these locations in the months ahead:
Toronto (late April)
Edmonton & Regina (June)
If you might be needing a speaker for an event or a professional development program in one of those locations around those times, give me a call (306-934-1807). I’m always happy to save on travel time, and share travel costs between clients whenever possible.