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PAUSE – 20.06 – It’s Less Than Ideal But It’s Something

June 3, 2020

Reflection: ‘ABC’ – All Be Closed. For many of us, that’s been the global theme song for spring 2020.

‘C’ (for Covid 19) also brought us Confined. Cancelled. Called off. Crossed out. Cut.

Everyday experiences that we’ve long taken for granted – meeting friends for coffee, enjoying a meal at a restaurant, sinking into our seats at a movie theatre – all gone! Conferences, concerts, graduations, weddings, festivals, sports, vacations – evaporated into thin air.

And as we learned from our early alphabet studies, ‘C’ is followed by ‘D’. Disappointment. Disillusion. Dejection. Despondence. Distress.

Coronavirus has turned our world upside down. And, all but the courageous providers of essential services, have sheltered in place as we do our best to stay well and minimize the risks.

In the midst of the quarantine, it seems that another ‘C’ – Creativity – is lifting us from the dust of shattered dreams. (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 – 20.04 – In The Face Of Our Challenge

April 1, 2020

Two decades ago, when I began to write and speak about the value of pauses in our lives, this was definitely NOT what I had in mind.

This oh-so-necessary shelter-in-place, stay-home response to the assault of the Covid 19 virus takes the concept of pause to a whole new level. And, for many, the proverbial ‘pause that refreshes’ has the potential to morph into the ‘pause that depresses’.

Cut off from our habits of action, freedom of movement, and physical presence in each other’s lives, we are forced to confront our selves and consider what we actually do with our days.

Some are spending this time in a frenzy of productivity– cleaning and clearing, baking, polishing off projects, and more. Others not so much.

Many are exploring new ways of engaging and connecting at a distance. Zoom calls, Face Time visits, live Facebook broadcasts, and webinar offerings are at an all time high.

And social media is atwitter with well meaning tips and advice for survival in this time of global crisis.

I get it. When life goes sideways, we search for ways to create meaning for ourselves, deliver value to others, and maintain some semblance of normalcy in the face of days that are anything but normal.

That said, I can’t bring myself to prescribe advice for ‘how you should be and what you should do’ in these days and times.

So let me simply share how I’ve been approaching life in the last few weeks. Take from it what inspiration you might find helpful – and blow the rest away. (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?

Here are a few starter ideas: (more…)

PAUSE – 20.02 – Is It Time To Sift And Shift?

February 5, 2020

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 – 19.10 – 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…)