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PAUSE GEM #52 – The Burden of Bundling & Art 150.9

August 23, 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 – Quebec.

REFLECTION & ACTION: These days, merchandisers are pretty adept at bundling goods and services together in the hopes of extending one purchase into a bigger payday. A telecom will sell you a phone line and then bundle in internet service, cell phone, and unlimited long distance. At our Canadian Tim Horton’s you can purchase chili and a bun with coffee – and for another 14 cents Tim tosses in a donut. Bundle! Bundle! Bundle!

Bundling CAN create good deals. And yet, as much of a bargain as it may be financially, bundling can also bring you more than you need or want, more than you bargained for, or, literally, more than you can chew.

The concept of bundling popped to mind as I recently listened to a colleague fret about a complicated workplace problem. It was clear that by taking one issue and bundling it together with others she was making the situation more difficult and overwhelming than it needed to be. On top of the precipitating problem with Employee A, she had layered an ongoing performance concern about Colleague B, and was already anticipating having to deal with the fallout of the situation on Employees C & D.

Truly, she had legitimate concerns in all three areas; and all would have to be addressed at some point. However, bundling them together in the moment had sent her into a tail spin. It made things much more difficult than they needed to be in dealing with the single precipitating issue. And, the resulting confusion of thoughts caused a crisis of confidence. (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 #49 – What’s New & Art 150.6

August 2, 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 – Nova Scotia.

REFLECTION & ACTION: What’s new? It’s a common enough greeting and an innocent enough question. Novelties – new information, new opportunities, new ideas – have a place in our lives. They generate energy, engagement and excitement about life’s possibilities.

However, a preoccupation with the latest, up-to-the-nano-second news can keep us from more meaningful, long-term pursuits.

Scientists looking at how we juggle the bombardment of email, phone calls and other inbound info are finding that our ability to focus is undermined by constantly reacting to these info bursts. We have more trouble sifting out irrelevant information, become more fractured in our thinking, and end up less focused on what we know in our clear thinking moments constitute our top priorities.

‘Incoming bits’ provoke an excitement akin to an adrenalin rush – and are just as addictive. As we become more obsessed with pursuing new bits of info, we are then less likely to stay the course – less likely to follow through putting older, more valuable information to work.

This incessant influx of information can work against our long term productivity and well being – and leave us more stressed, to boot. A University of California study found that people interrupted by e-mail reported significantly increased stress compared to those left alone to focus on the task at hand.

So, what’s the take away learning from the latest research? (more…)

PAUSE GEM #48 – Stopping Starting & Art 150.5

July 26, 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 – Ontario.

REFLECTION & ACTION: More than one study has confirmed that backlogs are an everyday fact of life in today’s overcommitted workplaces – not to mention on the home and community fronts. Despite the fact that we have an inordinate number of irons in the fire at any one time, that doesn’t seem to prevent us from adding more.

Personally, I’ve got a tall stack of books waiting for my attention. That hasn’t stopped me from firing off orders to Amazon or Chapters for yet another interesting volume or two.

I’ve got a number of articles partly written, and program ideas partially developed. That doesn’t stop me from grabbing another scrap of paper and scratching out a few thoughts about yet another fresh idea.

Over the years, I’ve registered a number of web domain names that seemed like an inspired idea at the time, and then let them languish for lack of attention.

Anything similar happen to you?

When we talk about streamlining our life and work activities, a fair amount of attention and lip service is paid to what we could stop doing.

Maybe it’s time to ask a different question. (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…)

PAUSE GEM #46 – Burnout And Meltdowns & Art 150.3

July 12, 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 – Newfoundland Labrador.

REFLECTION & ACTION: I’ve been thinking a lot about burnout in recent days. Not because I’m feeling burned out myself, although I have been there more than once in the past. But rather because I’ve been digging back through results of the Overload and Overwhelm survey that I conducted a few years ago.

Over and over again, people mention the downward spiral triggered by too many expectations and too few resources. They describe the hopeless feelings associated with not being able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. And, to cap it off, much of what they are doing feels pointless.

Still I’m hopeful. While meltdowns may be common, they’re not necessarily inevitable.

One of the things I have noted over the years, is that burnout is not always related to the number of hours worked. Meltdowns and burnout are just as often connected to feelings of hopelessness and pointlessness. It’s like we’ve lost track of any meaning that might once have been associated with the activities that fill our days. And so while we invest more and more energy we experience fewer and fewer returns on that investment.

And therein lies one of the main challenges: staying connected to the reasons why we’re doing these things in the first place. (more…)

PAUSE GEM #44 – The Not So Classic BMW & Art Cda 150.1

June 28, 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.

REFLECTION & ACTION: Nothing damages the morale of a workplace more than a collection of individuals whose response to every situation is to complain and criticize from the cozy confines of victimhood. “Isn’t it awful? How dare they? What were they thinking? Someone should do something about this!”

A recent conference participant, in a session I was delivering on encouragement and appreciation in the workplace, described this group as her BMW’s. Not the classic high priced automobile – but rather the folks who specialize in Bitching, Moaning, and Whining.

Her abbreviated description generated a considerable number of guffaws and knowing looks as other attendees nodded their heads in recognition. It seems the BMW problem is familiar to many. There might even be a few BMW’s ripping up the streets in your world.

So what to do and how to handle them? (more…)

PAUSE – 16.23 – Coloring Outside The Lines

September 14, 2016

hillside-village-100scriptborder

 

My Thoughts:

The inspiration for this image was the Provencale village of Gordes. Although the buildings of Gordes do sprawl across the hillside, they’re built from neutral colored stone with pale weathered terra cotta tiles. They’re nothing like the bright colors you see here.

One of the things that painting has taught me is that you don’t have to stick with what you see or what you know. You don’t have to be locked in to ‘do this-don’t do that’ rules.

You can step out in new directions, color outside the lines, and things will be okay! Or, surprise, even better than okay!

 

Your Thoughts:

What lines and rules might be holding you back?

Where could you step around, hop over, or slide under a line to add more freedom and energy to your world?

 

News Notes:

Add Spark To Your Next Conference

I’ve just booked another keynote and follow up session on the topic of Rekindling Spark – Navigating Malaise for a spring 2017 provincial conference of nurses. This topic is hitting home for many different people in many different walks of life. The experience of ‘rusting out’, feeling ‘meh, bleh, blah’ seems to know no boundaries.

 

I’d love to bring my strategies for dealing with this issue to your professional association, too. Do keep that possibility in mind and pass the idea along to those in charge of professional development activities for your association. This link gives an overview.

 

Plein Air Show

During the month of September, you can see samples of the work of various Saskatoon artists who share an interest in painting in the great outdoors – including three pieces by yours truly. You’ll find the show gracing the gallery walls at HUES Art Supply, 1818 Lorne Ave here in Saskatoon.

 

PAUSE – 16.07 – Simple Pleasures

March 16, 2016

Spring Returns -w-210

Reflection: When my dear Aunt Eileen moved from her large home in Edmonton into a small assisted living apartment here in Saskatoon, I took her a small bouquet of flowers – just a couple of blossoms in a tiny glass vase.

She loved that vase and it held a place of honor on the coffee table in her new living room.

On my regular visits I brought fresh blossoms to replace the ones that were past their prime.

That vase and its flowers were a Small Treasure that delivered a Simple Pleasure.

I learned the value of small but wonderful from my parents. Each year my father made a pilgrimage to the patch of prairie where he knew the first blooms of spring would appear. Each year he placed a small bowl of fuzzy purple crocuses on the kitchen table – a gift to Mom from Dad and Mother Nature.

As spring turned into summer, and the flowers in the garden burst into bloom, my mother regularly harvested handfuls of blossoms (nasturtiums, calendula, poppies, pansies).

She placed these nosegays and posies in small vases scattered on counters, shelves and window ledges throughout the house. More small treasures that delivered simple pleasure!

(more…)

Diary Of A Painting

March 28, 2015

Tree In Canola Field-100-wEver wonder how a painting moves from inspiration to finished work?

Here’s a behind the scenes look at the progression of a recent painting titled Field Trees. (more…)