PAUSE – 20.09 – How Could You Reach Out In Kindness?
September 2, 2020
Reflection: In response to last month’s Pause ezine, one of my readers reminded me (and rightly so) that all is not easy-peasy wine and roses for everyone in the midst of this pandemic. Those with frontline responsibilities, those trying to juggle working from home along with childcare, and those facing financial hardship are struggling and exhausted. I get it.
I’ve been thinking more about how we can ease the burdens of those around us by reaching out to connect with kindness and support.
Action: Here are a few actions I’ve noted and/or experienced that might spark ideas for you.
Lend a hand with the kids. Harried parents can use help – even at a distance – engaging with the youngsters so mom and dad are free to finish up a work project or start cooking dinner. I’ve been using the Caribu app to connect with my 4 and 7 year old grandsons. It allows us to see each other while reading stories, playing simple games, or co-doodling on a drawing.
Catch up on colleagues’ lives beyond work. There’s a tendency to think of workplace zoom meetings as needing to be ‘all business, all efficiency, all the time’. However, in the ‘old normal’ workplace, there would be time for informal chats about life in general. Try booking a zoom coffee break, lunch or 5:00pm wine date with a colleague with the express intent of getting caught up on each other’s lives outside of work. A bit of genuine empathy can help ease the burden.
Meet briefly outdoors in person. Face time and zoom conversations are good. But sometimes you just need to see a real (as my friend says non-digitized) face. Connecting in person at a safe distance for a conversation, a coffee, or a walk can lift the spirits of all involved. (more…)
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?
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 – 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 – 19.05 – 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 – 19.02 – 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…)
You Know Your Life Is Good When… (Motivation)
February 5, 2019
Is your life good – or good enough? In the face of today’s nonstop media and social media barrage of ‘get this, do that, go there, live large’ it’s easy to question yourself and your choices.
In the interest of calming things down a bit, I offer a few ideas to consider – ten ways you might know that life is good.
You engage in work that draws on your unique skills and talents in the service of something that matters.
You know what’s happening in the lives of your friends and neighbours because you connect with them regularly.
You show up in the lives of your family members – for the small moments and the big events.
You chat with your partner often about matters that go beyond the mechanics of everyday life.
You pursue your dreams and express your most creative ideas.
You treat your body with care and respect (regular exercise, sound nutrition, sufficient rest).
You have a spiritual practice that grounds you, nourishes you, and helps you keep life in perspective.
You contribute to the well being of others in your community.
You frequently stretch and exercise your mind exploring new ideas and new ways of thinking.
You know what you value and let that awareness lead your choices.
Mastered a few of these? Others are works in progress? That’s life!
Count your blessings. Relax. Enjoy and know that life is good – and maybe even getting better!