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Transitions Can Be Challenging

March 5, 2021

Transitions can be challenging.

Last week marked ten years since my parents left the farm that they had lived on all their lives to take up residence in a condo in the city.

It was a massive transition that had its pros and cons. (more…)

PAUSE – 20.12 – Are You Searching For Glimmers Of Hope?

December 1, 2020

Reflection: Those of you who have been Pause followers for some time may remember that from 2004 through 2007, I ended each year’s messages with a set of reflections on one of the four jewels in the season of advent: peace, joy, love and hope.

If there was ever a year that we needed hope, 2020 – the year of the pandemic – would be it. And so I dug back into my files and pulled out that earlier message about hope.

I thought you might find it helpful as we wind down this year and look to the new year that is just around the corner.

For 2021, may we dare to hope for a reduction in the spread of Covid, the speedy delivery of an effective vaccine, and the return of those valued things we have set aside in our attempts to keep ourselves and others as healthy as possible.

Here’s that 2007 message on hope, one more time:

I’m sure you’ve learned a thing or two about hope over the years. You’ve probably hoped for positive test results on an exam (medical or academic), for a soulmate with whom you can share life’s joys and worries, and (from the sublime to the very practical) for a primo parking spot when you’re late for an appointment.

We know a lot about hope where I live here in Saskatchewan.

  • Farmers seed the land every spring in the hopes of a bumper crop.
  • Mining companies prospect and drill deep in hopes of finding oil, potash, diamonds and uranium.
  • Roughrider fans hope every year for their team to make and take the Grey Cup.

Sometimes those hopes and dreams come true, and sometimes they don’t.

Here are some of my favorite quotes on the powerful uplifting life force that is hope. Tuck some of these words in your pocket so they may lift your spirits in the days ahead. (more…)

PAUSE – 20.11 – Order From Chaos Revisited

November 4, 2020

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 – 20.08 – 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 – 20.04 – 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…)