Reflection: When I first launched my business – almost 35 years ago – I was focused on improving the lives of women working outside the home. Many of us were juggling career and family responsibilities and struggling mightily.
‘Order From Chaos’ was one of my most popular seminars. It zeroed in on dejunking and organizing the physical clutter of life and creating systems to manage endless responsibilities. There was something very satisfying about finding ways to feel more in control of all that was coming at us from every direction.
In the midst of a global resurgence of Covid cases, we face the prospect of a long winter of restricted movement and limits on activities for our selves and our families. Toss on top of our virus anxieties a list of ongoing concerns about economic uncertainty, rascism, social inequities, and a host of other issues. Once again – or perhaps still – many parts of our lives feel chaotic and beyond our control.
In the midst of it all, it may be time to resurrect some of those ‘order from chaos’ practices that helped us through earlier times. (more…)
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 – 20.08 – Pandemic Delivers The Goods
August 5, 2020
Reflection: Well, we here we are about five months into the pandemic here in Canada. I can’t say this situation is or was something I welcomed. Did any of us?
I am fully aware that differences in our stage of life, family, career, and finances as well as our geographical location means that we are all experiencing this situation differently. A single mother working from home while juggling education and childcare is facing a totally different set of challenges than a retired pensioner living on their own. And of course there are many variations in between those two extremes.
So let me preface this by saying that from my corner of the world, as a self employed, empty nester, I have noted a few good things arising from the experience.
Since we are ‘at home’ for the entire summer, we signed on to take delivery of a weekly basket of fresh vegetables from Spring Creek Gardens. So far we’ve received baby potatoes, carrots, broccoli, swiss chard, kale, lettuce, radishes, beets, dill and more. It’s always a surprise to see what’s come into its own each week. And the resulting meals that hit our dinner table bring back childhood memories of fresh produce from the garden at the farm.
With the exception of the year we hosted our daughter’s wedding in our backyard, our garden has never looked better. I’ve cleaned out back corners and trimmed up shrubs that haven’t seen much attention for years. And I’ve done a much more regular job of fertilizing. The plants are happy about that. Biggest hydrangea blossoms ever!
Mornings are a delight. I’m up in good time with no place I have to go. There’s time to enjoy a morning walk, a bike ride along the river, or yoga in the garden. As warm summer days have finally arrived, I’m reading the paper, sipping my coffee, and doing my crossword puzzle outdoors while birds swap the morning news in the trees above.
I’m learning new things – how to navigate my way around delivering virtual presentations, for one. And since I’ve signed on for a couple of online language classes, my French is improving. Merci beaucoup pour ca!
We’re definitely spending less money. Other than grocery and greenhouse shopping, we haven’t spent much time hanging out in the stores or even shopping online for that matter. And our travel expenses, which are normally a big part of our budget, are nil. (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 – 20.03 – 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?
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 – 19.07 – 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…)