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 – 20.03 – 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 – 19.09 – 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 – 19.08 – Invest In Prevention And Reap The Rewards
August 7, 2019
Reflection: About ten days ago, my left hip decided to let me know it still exists, and what’s more, that it was very unhappy with me. Maybe, from time to time, you get similar messages from various parts of your body.
I responded by returning to my practice of starting every day with 20 minutes of yoga, with special attention to stretching my back and legs. I’m happy to say it helped. My hip is still grumbling, but no longer sending hate mail and emergency alerts my way.
The experience has me thinking about prevention and its place in our lives – both for physical and mental wellbeing. (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 – 18.10 – T Times Three Can Serve You Well
October 3, 2018
Reflection: I mentioned this study a few years ago; and I’m going to share it again, because I believe it’s so significant.
The Energy Project stated in Harvard Business Review that employees who break every 90 minutes to pulse between work and renewal report: 28% better focus, 30% greater health and well being, and a 40% increase in thinking creatively.
I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that any practice that improves focus, creativity, health and wellbeing is good for us all. Yet there continue to be challenges in giving our selves permission to step away from the load. Those ubiquitous forces of guilt and fear prompt us to keep our noses to the grindstone – where we repeatedly crash and burn or live in a continuous state of blur and endure.
Even for those who are convinced of the value of pausing, it’s easy to get swept up in the work of the day and to forget that we had intended to take time for renewal.
Action: So, in support of those good intentions, here are three ways to move those intentions to action more often. (more…)
PAUSE – 18.04 – Shift Your Gears To Match The Flow
April 4, 2018
Reflection: It would be a fine thing indeed if the flow of our work was more evenly paced – with a perfect match between demands and time/energy available. Sadly, in today’s world, the size of the load tends to be much greater than the resources at hand – often with no end or relief in sight.
Still, in some worlds there are periods of high and low demand. For instance, in the face of looming tax deadlines, accountants know that February and March will be Crazy Time. The rest of the year, perhaps not so much!
When I facilitated a recent Boosting Energy program, one of the participants asked for some ideas to handle an uneven workflow that seesaws between too heavy and too light. If that is sometimes an issue in your world, too, here are a few suggestions for shifting gears. (more…)
PAUSE – 18.02 – Take Care Of You & Be Better For Others
February 7, 2018
Reflection: We’re three weeks into a kitchen renovation, so our home is a tad chaotic these days.
A veritable parade of tradespeople has been rolling through the house: demolition folks, electricians, plumbers, drywallers, carpenters, installers and those keeping track of what others are doing and how it’s going.
It’s been a lively, dusty, noisy experience. Happily, the reno is moving right along – even a bit ahead of schedule.
The fact that my office is in our home makes it doubly challenging for me. At the height of the hubbub, I took client phone calls hunkered deep in the closet of the master bedroom with two sets of doors between me and the noise.
Normally, my practice is to start my days with a walk along the river, a bit of yoga, an inspirational reading, or writing in my journal. Since the reno began, I’ve given that up so that I can be showered, dressed, and ready to answer the door when the first worker of the day comes knocking at 8 am.
I’ve recently noticed that I’m feeling a bit impatient, short tempered, even prone to feeling sorry for myself. That’s not my normal state. (more…)