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 – 20.10 – Checking In To Check Things Out
October 7, 2020
Reflection: Well, it’s been a good half year since all hell broke loose and our need to respond to the Covid pandemic significantly changed the way we work and live. Many folks continue to work from home, having settled into routines that may or may not be working well.
Dr. Paul White recently released the results of a survey that highlights the concerns around those working remotely from home.
Two main issues stand out.
Topping the list is a concern about the emotional and mental health of team members. How are people dealing with the roller coaster stress ride that is life in a pandemic? How are uncertainty about the future and the requisite social distancing affecting our state of mind? How do we get a real sense of people’s state when contact is limited to business focused head and shoulder zoom chats?
Secondly, there is the challenge of maintaining any sort of healthy boundaries between a home life and work life. When your front door opens to both your home and your office and you don’t know (as one person put it) ‘whether you are working from home or living from work’, how do you allocate your time and attention? What and who may be getting shortchanged? And how do you cope with feeling caught in the middle?
There were many other concerns identified in the survey, and if you check out the resource link, you can read the full report for yourself.
Action: What to do with information like this? (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 – 20.07 – The Risks Of Barreling On
July 1, 2020
Reflection: Last Friday dawned dry, calm, and sunny with a forecast of temps in the high twenties. Seemed like a perfect day to trim the hedge along the driveway.
Instead of starting early in the morning, when it was cooler and the sun not quite so high in the sky, I headed out around 11 am. By 12:30, with the job half finished, I took a break for lunch. Once fed and watered, I immediately headed back out, hat on my head for a little portable shade.
By the time I finished the job around 2:30 in the afternoon, I was overheated, flushed, lightheaded, and reduced to a labored shuffle as I stooped to clean up the last of the clippings on the ground.
Slowly making my way into the cool of the house, I collapsed into a recliner calling out for ice water and a cold cloth. Sunstroke? Maybe. Heatstroke? Likely. Stupidity? Certainly!
I could hear my Dad’s voice in the back of my mind declaring, ‘Damn fool!’ That’s what he used to say about our farmhand who insisted on weeding the garden in the heat of a summer day. I, apparently, had morphed into Bill McGowan!
As I headed into the last of the work on the hedge that day, I knew I wasn’t feeling well. But did I pause, take a break, or stop for the day? Nope. And why not? Because I was intent on crossing the finish line. Damn fool! (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?
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 – 19.09 – 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…)