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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 – 19.09 – Take A Power Nap For A Power Boost

September 4, 2019

Reflection:  As a youngster, I spent more than a few summer days at my Grandfather’s farm. Each day after his noon lunch, Grandpa grabbed a scratchy red wool plaid blanket, and headed out behind the house.

There, in the caragana windbreak, he stretched out for a nap on a set of rusty old bedsprings he had strategically placed in the shade. Jack, as he was called by his friends, was definitely a man ahead of his time.

Research from Harvard (which I’m sure Grandpa never read) has proven what he knew from experience – that a mid day nap increases productivity and gifts you with the mental freshness of morning all over again.

As a student in elementary school, when we returned to our desks following the noon hour break, our teachers would read us a chapter or two from an ongoing novel.

We were encouraged to rest our heads on our desks to listen, and nobody cared whether you tuned in to the story or caught forty winks. I often thought that the teachers would have enjoyed putting their heads down on the desk and having someone read to them!

We’re learning more all the time about the impact of naps. (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 – 19.07 – 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 – 19.05 – Banish Cranky to The Hills

May 1, 2019

Reflection: It wasn’t an unusual week, but I do remember it well. By the time Friday rolled around, I was good and cranky.

It hadn’t even been an especially demanding week. Just an event or three here – a project or four there – an errand or five elsewhere – and so it went. Not unlike a host of other weeks.

But I was tired and out of sorts all the same. Snappy – short tempered – restless! I recognize the signs more easily at this stage in my life.

The situation called for measures – not even drastic ones. I knew I needed time for me.

And so, I cleared the decks for Saturday. No commitments. No errands. No leaving the house to tend to anything for anyone.

What DID I do? I indulged in a series of simple, small and seemingly insignificant treats:  (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!)

But here’s the challenge. (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…)