Pause Blog On Overload, Overwhelm & Life In General

PAUSE – 14.03 – Heh! Where’s My Coffee?

 coffee-wReflection: I don’t know about you, but I like to start my day with a hot cup of coffee. Well, truth be known, I like to sip coffee all day long. Decaf – for the most part – so I’m not jangling from a high wire by high noon.

This morning I set the coffee to drip as usual, and went about getting my day started elsewhere in the house. Hearing the beep that signaled the coffee was ready, I returned to the kitchen to pour my first cuppa java. What I discovered was an empty pot and a kitchen counter covered from one end to the other in a slick of steaming brown liquid. Apparently the flow-through flap on the pot lid jammed, and the coffee had nowhere to go but over the top.

Cleaning up a swill-spill was not how I’d planned to start my day – especially before my first cup of coffee. I muttered a few choice words as I mopped up the mess.

I also recognized the situation as one of life’s moments of choice. I could feed my frustration, let the annoyance overflow, seeping into the rest of the day like the coffee itself; or I could take things in stride and let it go.


Action: At the root of our frustrations about life’s unexpected challenges lies a quirky little belief that we’re somehow entitled to a world that runs smoothly all day every day. In fact, speed bumps, detours and breakdowns are a normal part of life. The real challenge is to keep it all in perspective.

Here are five ways to let it go and sidestep a frustration hangover that can set a downer tone for the rest of the day. (I used all of these this morning!) Read More…

Posted under Appreciation, Life Balance, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines

PAUSE – 14.02 – Is There Room For You?

courage-wReflection: As I was reviewing the Pause reader suggestions for topics to cover in future editions, this question caught my eye: “How do I find the courage to start a new endeavor? I’m wanting to start my own business. When I see that others are already doing what I want to do, does that mean there’s no room for me?”

Now, I know that not all of you are thinking of starting a new business. However, I have a serious hunch that every single one of you is toying with an idea, a pursuit, or a new endeavor of some kind that is nudging you to bring it to life. It’s a similar conundrum. So, perhaps, some of these thoughts will be helpful.

I do believe we each have something unique to offer the world, and it’s not always an entirely new enterprise that’s called for. Sometimes we are able to make that unique contribution right where we are planted now. The challenge is to tap into that uniqueness, grow it, and get it out there. What’s your uniqueness?

Many of the shifts and advances in my own life have been preceded by an investment in learning. Taking an Entrepreneurship workshop gave me a better idea of what I’d be facing if I started a business. Participating in a Masters program shifted my focus into the balance and wellness areas. Investing time and resources in painting classes brought me the confidence to take my art to the world. Books, videos, and mentoring conversations also helped me step up and give things a shot. What do you need to learn?

“Is there room for me?” is a tough question to answer. What pops to mind is the guidance of a mentor of mine who once counseled, “You don’t need everyone, Pat, you just need enough!” And, we’ll never know if there’s enough room or enough interest until we test it out. What might you regret if you never gave it a try?


Action: If there’s a new endeavor, or a new direction lurking on your horizon, here is a starter set of questions to pause and ponder in the days ahead:

  • What will you need to learn or who will you need to become to travel this road and bring this idea to life?
  • Where and how could you make a learning investment in your future – in what comes next?
  • What’s a first step you could take to test the waters?


Quote Of The Week: All real change begins with self change. As enterprise leaders, our capacity for organizational growth is directly proportional to our own growth. – Kevin Cashman

Resource Of The Week: Looking for a few more ideas or a bit of inspiration to help you jumpstart a new endeavor? Check out Kim Duke’s new book, “Ugly Baby – How To Get Over Fear and Give Birth To Your Odd Idea, Start A Business, Or Invent Something Cool”.

Posted under Life Balance, Life in General, Pause E-zines

This post was written by Pat Katz on January 15, 2014

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

PAUSE – 14.01 – Less Really Can Mean More

piles of stuff-wReflection: Several times over the years, I’ve created lists of things I might like to Do, Be and Have. The current lingo would label it a Vision Board (thank you, Oprah) or a Bucket List (thank you, Jack Nicholson). No matter what you call it, the exercise creates a set of intentions and desires for the future.

What was of interest to me an a recent round of inquiry was what showed up in the ‘What I’d Like To Have’ column. In my earlier days, I found it easy to come up with a lengthy list of possessions that I imagined might somehow make my life better.

However, on this particular day, the very first entry – top of the list – popped out without hesitation. What would I most like to have? Less stuff!

That could explain why I struggled with family requests to tell them what I might like as gifts for Christmas. That could explain why trips to fetch something from the crawl space in the basement are increasingly irritating. That could explain why I’ve had this feeling that the walls in my office and home are closing in on me.

The idea of more stuff has less appeal. I’ve taken that insight to heart and turned it into one of my first activities for the new year. I’m sifting stuff, ditching junk, and clearing space.

Old magazines. Gone! Outdated software disks and manuals. Gone! Christmas decorations that have lost their appeal. Gone! That mountain of cardboard boxes saved just in case they might be needed. Gone!

The garbage bin is brimming and the recycling bin is bursting. The Salvation Army Thrift Shop folks were beaming with my first delivery of six boxes and a suitcase full of stuff.


Action: Are you looking to lighten up? Chucking the clutter is a great way to start the new year.

Take a good look around. This stuff grows invisible over time. See what kind of excess may be cramping your style. Move it on and move it out.

A little elbow grease may buy you a little elbow room – and a whole lot more breathing space. Let me know how it goes!


Quotes Of The Week: Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire. – Wendell Berry

Give me the discipline to get rid of the stuff that’s not important, the freedom to savor the stuff that gives me joy, and the patience not to worry about the stuff that’s messy but not hurting anybody. – Vinita Wright

Clutter is not just physical stuff. It’s old ideas, toxic relationships and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self. – Eleanor Brownn

Resource Of The Week: You might find value in this article by Mikael Cho: How Clutter Affects You (And What You Can Do About It).

Posted under Life Balance, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines

PAUSE – 13.35 – Energy Challenges Of The Season

Reflection: At this time of ‘let’s be jolly’ pot-luck dinners, concerts and parties, it’s pretty easy to separate the extroverts from the introverts.

extrovert-wThe extroverts sport big grins and boundless enthusiasm for the events of the season. A party tonight? Excellent! Another gathering tomorrow? Awesome! Three more events on the weekend? It doesn’t get any better than that!

introvert-wIntroverts, on the other hand, struggle to keep pace. It’s not that they’re anti-social. Introverts enjoy their friends and family just as much as their more extroverted siblings, co-workers, cousins, and partners.

It’s just that large gatherings of people are exhausting for introverts. Being out and about and socializing exacts a huge toll on the introvert’s psychic and physical energy.


Action: If there was ever a time or a season for introverts to be attending to energy, this is it. Read More…

Posted under Life Balance, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 13.34 – Traction As A Stress Reducer

Spinning Wheels-wReflection: One of life’s great frustrations and stressors is that feeling that you’re not getting anywhere. Or, if you are in motion, that you’re just spinning your wheels or going in circles.

I’ve written before about Amabile and Kramer’s work on the Progress Principle, and how motivating it can be to see evidence of moving things forward in your work and your life – to deliver on an action promise made to yourself or someone else.

With the end of the year clearly in sight, you may be asking, “Where did those last eleven months go, and why am I not further ahead with X, Y or Z?”

Part of the challenge is that life tosses a lot of distractions our way. We can easily be pulled off course responding to the new and shiny or engaging in the quick and easy. In the meantime, the high level work – the big ideas – the important pursuits – languish for want of attention.

It’s still not too late to make progress before the end of the year on something that matters to you.


Action: Here are eight actions that can help you make space for and gain traction on the high level work in your world. (I’m particularly partial to number six.) Read More…

Posted under Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines, Wellness

PAUSE – 13.33 – What Would It Take To Be More In The Moment?

liveinthemoment-wReflection: It’s just another day in the flow of a busy life, but in the midst of it all ….

  • I pull the morning newspaper from the mailbox and take a deep draw on the crisp November air.
  • I sip my coffee as the sun paints the sky – first gold, then pink, then blue.
  • I laugh at a story a colleague shares, and thank my lucky stars for his awesome sense of humor.
  • I wait at the supermarket checkout tickled by a cart-bound toddler sharing a lively game of peek-a-boo with the next shopper down line.
  • I play a board game with my grandson and marvel at the fierce concentration that plays across his handsome little face.
  • I stand in the midst of a funeral gathering and watch the eyes of one old friend light up at the approach of another.

Life flourishes in these simple moments of presence. The cares and preoccupations of the everyday world fade into the background, shifting from front and center to the sidelines.


Action: What’s the nature of your experience these days? One giant blur or crisp sharp moments of presence?

These experiences are present every single day, but are we? The moments are all we really have. Don’t let them pass you by – unnoticed, unmarked, unappreciated.

Set an intention to be as present as possible as often as possible. Pause.


Quote Of The Week: Our true home is in the present moment. To be in the present moment is a miracle. – Thich Nhat Hanh


Resource Of The Week: Here’s an interesting article from Greg McKeown: Reduce Your Stress In Two Minutes A Day


Readers Write: In response to last week’s message, Go Ahead…Make Your Day, Pause reader MW writes: Your question as to how did I start my day was most timely to read. I usually start my morning swimming laps at 7 a.m. That is a great way for me to start my day even when it is -28 C outside. Last night, as I was setting my alarm clock, I debated about going swimming today. To do so I would have to be at the pool shortly after 6 a.m. to meet my other commitments for the morning.

But, I decided to go swimming early and am so glad I did. I do my most creative thinking as I am swimming laps and I had a brainwave for a creative project I am working on. Plus the swimming always revitalizes me and gives me the energy to get through the busy and stressful times.

Posted under Life Balance, Life in General, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines

PAUSE – 13.32 – Go Ahead…Make Your Day!

tea and journal-wReflection: I woke up yesterday feeling just a tad overwhelmed. Does that ever happen to you? I’m guessing it probably does.

My tendency in earlier times would have been to vault out of bed, dive into the day and plow ahead on the tasks at hand. Hmmm…vault, dive, plow…not the most graceful approach to life!

Yesterday, I resisted the urge to frenzied action. Instead, I spent fifteen minutes on my yoga mat, savored my first cup of coffee, read from a book of inspiration, and made a few notes in my journal.

In particular, I noted things for which I was feeling grateful. Nothing too extraordinary on the list  – health, family, the internet, automatic washers (laundry, you know), and Roughriders headed to the Grey Cup.  Can you tell my mind was all over the place?

Knowing that a taxing day lay in wait, I also made a commitment to do something renewing for myself at lunchtime. A 20 minute walk in the fresh snow or a 20 minute nap – depending on my mid-day need and frame of mind.

Over the years, I’ve learned the power of investing in self-care…first! The day always goes better when you start by doing something kind for yourself. And, I’ve learned that we benefit most from this practice on those days when it seems we can least afford to take the time.


Action: So, how did you start today? And how will you start tomorrow?

What simple but significant acts of self-care and kindness might steady your mind, govern your pace, lift your spirits, and sustain you through the demands of the day that lies ahead?

Whatever it is…go there…do it! You’ll notice a positive difference all day long!


Quotes Of The Week: Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again. – L. Frank Baum

Take time to take care of yourself, before time takes care of you! – Helen Cohen


Resource Of The Week: Looking for a few ideas on how to treat yourself more kindly? Scout out Cheryl Richardson’s book, The Art of Extreme Self Care (Hay House 2012).

And here’s a brief article on the same topic by Helen Cohen: 7 Ways To Effectively Practice Extreme Self Care.


Readers Write: In response to last week’s e-zine, Al Desko or Al Fresko, Pause reader SF replied: We really do lose out on so much by not taking a mid-day break. Some of my best ideas have been generated by chatting with a colleague over lunch (even a brown-bag lunch in a break room). I hope your calculation of working an extra 16 days a year helps put it into perspective for people. That’s more than two full weeks of vacation. Maybe we need to start calling it vacation hour instead of lunchtime.

Posted under Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines

PAUSE – 13.31 – Al Desko or Al Fresko?

eat at desk-wReflection: If you’re reading this on Wednesday morning, you still have time to make a date for lunch. Why do I mention it? Because it turns out that an astounding number of folks are eating Al Desko and not Al Fresko.

A recent poll found that 60 percent of workers eat lunch at their desks every day, while two thirds take less than half their entitled lunch hour. A quick math check shows those people are working (or at least sitting in front of their computers) an extra 128 hours (or 16 eight hour days) a year.

We’re discovering more all the time about the physical risks of too much sitting and too much desk time. When we closet ourselves away – brain glued to screen and bum to chair – we end up numbed on both ends.

Move around mid-day and you clear out the mental cobwebs and top the energy tank. You’ll return to your afternoon tasks with a fresh mind and body.

What’s keeping us glued to our chairs? Read More…

Posted under Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines

PAUSE – 13.30 – Recurring Life Lessons

Lessons-wReflection: Are there any life lessons you seem destined to learn over and over and over again? I know there are a handful that are very much alive in my world. I’m reliving one of them this week.

As I prepare for the December release of my new ‘Sketches of Saskatoon’ book, I find myself mired down in detailed marketing tasks, many of which I could have handled differently.

Had I been thinking and working a bit further ahead, I could have farmed out various tasks to others who have the experience, the resources, and the talent to handle them with ease. Alas, in the crunch and press of time, the opportunity is lost.

Maybe this happens in your world, too. You leave a project just a tad too long on the back burner. All of a sudden (or so it seems) it pops to the top of the list and you find yourself cradling a bona fide DIY (Do It Yourself) hot potato in your hands. Read More…

Posted under Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines

PAUSE 13.29 – Paris, Parks & Peace Of Mind

Sur Rue De Buci Paris

Reflection: The final week of my recent ‘Grand Pause’ was spent in Paris. It’s a city that’s renowned for its monuments (think Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe), its museums (think Louvre and Musee d-Osay), and of course its food (think buttery croissants and boeuf bourguignon).

Like any large metropolis, it also has a few downsides. Nonstop crowds of people and hordes of tourists (yep, I was one of them). Bikes, scooters, cars and buses all jostling for space on the streets. Honking horns and ‘ee-aw’ sirens day and night.

And still, in the midst of the commotion, there are places of peace and tranquility. The wide open spaces of public gardens – like the Luxembourg, the Tuileries, and Parc Monceau – are well used by the residents of the city.

Even more appealing to me are the many Parisian ‘pocket gardens’ tucked away in hidden spaces – just around the corner from the chaos of city life. You can find these tiny oases secreted away beside the National Archives, behind Notre Dome, on the western point of Isle de la Cite, and in countless other nooks and crannies sprinkled throughout the city.

These ‘parcs de poche’ as the French might call them are quiet, green, and frequented by individuals or small groups of two or three people who are clearly enjoying the peace and tranquility on offer.


Action: In the chaos and commotion of your daily life, where are your private parks – your points of pause and places of peace?

They could be anywhere. A bench in the atrium of a nearby office building. A corner in a public conservatory. A swing in a schoolyard or neighborhood park. A window seat looking outdoors from your local coffee shop. The lawn chair in your backyard.

Whatever and wherever they may be, keep them on your radar. Build time-out visits into your regular routine.

There’s much to be said for a pause practice that delivers a measure of peace and quiet in the midst of a crazy day and a chaotic world.


Quotes Of The Week:

Nature is not a place to visit. It is home. – Gary Snyder

Time and space – time to be alone, space to move about – these may well become the great scarcities of tomorrow. – Edwin Way Teale

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike. – John Muir

And this chuckle by Demetri Martin is just plain goofy: I was walking in the park and this guy waved at me. Then he said, “I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else.” I said, “I am.”


Resource Of The Week: Do you or does someone you know need more convincing that downtime is essential? Here it is – signed, sealed and delivered – in this article from Scientific American: Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime.


Readers Write: In response to the last ezine, All Will Be Well, Pause reader CT writes: Thank you for your e-zine this week. My husband often tells me something similar: “Everything’s going to be all right”. Sometimes I listen and sometimes I don’t; and yet he always seems to be right. I tend to catastrophize situations. Right now I’m at a low place. Things are not going as planned, and I despair. My head says I need to act on faith (as you put it) and stay the course, but my heart isn’t in the same place. Your reminder that “All will be well” was timely indeed!

Posted under Appreciation, Life Balance, Nature, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines