PAUSE – 15.02 – Sharpen Your Pencils Today

Sharp Pencil-wReflection: My grandson, Ethan, loves to draw. Inspired by video games and animations, he creates delightfully quirky characters all his own.

Last year we gifted him with a box of drawing pencils, a new sketchpad and a cool pencil sharpener. He was thrilled.

When I recently asked him how he liked the pencils, he told me he hadn’t used them yet. He is saving them up to draw something really good. He doesn’t want to waste them, to sharpen them down, and use them up too fast.

I encouraged him to crack that box open now, and promised that when they were all used up I’d buy him another set. No special occasion required.

At nearly eight years of age, he seems already to have adopted a ‘save the good things for later’ mindset.

It’s the same kind of thinking that causes us as adults to keep the good china safely in the cabinet, a vintage car locked in the garage, a special dress or a tux under plastic in the closet, and a fine bottle of wine tucked away in the dark of the basement.

That kind of thinking can also lead us to keep our best talents – our light and our uniqueness – hidden under a proverbial bushel basket.

What are we waiting for? Why are we robbing ourselves of the joy of using these fine and beautiful things?

 

Action: Do something daring today. Read More…

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

PAUSE – 15.01- Are You Asking A Beautiful Question?

Reflection: Welcome to the first Pause message of 2015. I hope your year is off to a great start.

I find it hard to believe that this is my fifteenth year of creating and sharing these weekly Pause missives. That’s a grand total of over 700 messages encouraging readers to pause for renewal, appreciation and insight.

I must admit recently I’ve experienced mixed feelings about this weekly commitment. Some weeks I’m like a kid in a candy store, keen to share an experience, an insight or a resource with you. Other weeks I’m like a lumbering ox shouldering a heavy yoke, feeling the weight and burden of coming up with something fresh by midnight Tuesday.

I tell you this because I like to be honest about the way things are, and also because I want you to know that I’m rethinking my options with respect to Pause. Continue? Stop? Simplify? Change frequency? Shift direction?

Where it’s going, I’m not sure. I had hoped I might have a resolution to that question by now. But I don’t. I’m still mucking around in the swamp of possibilities. And, that is not my favorite place to be.

I’m much more comfortable with a decision and a direction. But, sometimes a solid answer takes its own sweet time; and it’s OK not to know.

 

Action: I’m guessing that on occasion you, too, may find yourself in that swampy stew of uncertainty wrestling with one issue or another. Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.40 – Contentment Is Highly Underrated

Santa Sleigh Cropped600-withsig-wReflection: I’ve been thinking a lot about contentment. You may recall that I first wrote about this concept back in September, in a Pause message titled How do YOU Cultivate Contentment.

What is it? Mainly a state of satisfaction, an ease of being, a peace of mind. That makes contentment the antithesis of envy, striving and anxiety. It’s a state of mind in which we find a way to be at ease and at peace – perhaps even happy – with our lot in life at the moment. It’s an inward disposition – a mindset – and it’s not a choice that someone else can make for us.

In a world of overwhelm and overload, contentment is an oasis, an island of tranquility. While the feeling may or may not last long, in the moment it soothes, uplifts, and brings us joy.

You’ve probably seen contentment in the sleepy milk fed expression of a baby nodding off to dreamland. You’ve maybe seen contentment writ large across the faces of doting elders in the presence of their grand and great grandchildren.

It seems that those of us in the busy years between new life and nearer death lose touch with both the idea and experience of contentment.

My wish for you as this year winds to a close, is that you find ways to tap into contentment – wherever you are and whatever your state. It ‘s not necessary for all to be perfect, done, or as we might wish it to be. Simply appreciate who you are and what you have in the moment, and know that a sense of wonder and a spirit of gratitude are afoot.

As the new year approaches, with its new resolutions and fresh intentions, consider adding cultivating contentment to your list of goals, and see how it enriches your world.

I’ve been collecting thoughts and quotes on contentment to share with you as a way of closing out 2014. I hope you enjoy reading and reflecting on these thoughts.

May you welcome contentment into your world with open arms. Blessings to you all.

Holly210

 

Thoughts On Contentment: Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.39 – What Are You Waiting For?

Airplane crtoon-wReflection: As we lift off the runway on the flight home from Toronto to Saskatoon, something seems wrong. On our ascent, we level out too quickly, even drop a bit in elevation, and the sounds are off.

Within five minutes of take-off, the pilot announces a malfunction with the nose gear on the plane. It appears to be locked in the down position and refuses to retract. (Better that than the other way around!) He intends to return to Toronto after calculating how much fuel we need to burn off before it’s safe to land.

A half hour later we learn we will be working off another 45 minutes of fuel. In total, we spend an hour and a half zigging, zagging, and circling the skies over southern Ontario.

It’s an interesting experience to find yourself in a situation totally out of your control where your next 90 minutes may or may not be your last. What would you do in that place with that time?

I thought about it, and rejected the idea of reading the newspaper, watching a movie, or going over my notes from my conference. Those activities all seemed a bit pointless – distractions at best. I thought briefly about writing a note to those I love. But that seemed a tad melodramatic.

And so, I simply thought about my recent connections with those who are dear to me. I’d spoken with my husband by phone each of the days I’d been away. I’d visited with my folks the day before I’d headed east. I’d spent the previous weekend with daughter number one and her family in Calgary. I’d traded phone calls and messages making a plan to meet for lunch with daughter number two.

I’d connected with all five of my sisters as we worked through plans for Christmas dinner. I’d shared laughs and great conversations with my friends and business colleagues at the conference. I’d recently spent an afternoon with a group of women friends who meet two or three times a year. I’d posted encouraging comments on the Facebook posts of several dear friends. I’d spoken with the neighbors making a plan for a get together first thing in the new year.

Sure, there were plenty of loose ends and things undone that also flashed through my mind. I could easily have created a long list of tasks awaiting attention – programs to plan, gifts to buy, books to sell, and art to make. But, somehow that all seemed secondary and nowhere near as important as whether or not I was current with the key people in my world. Had the most important words been said and deepest feelings shared?  Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.38 – What’s It Take To Feel In Charge?

Pile of Books-wReflection: For several decades now I’ve been a student of productivity, effectiveness, balance and other things related to living ‘the good life’. As you may have noticed, there is no shortage of info on this topic.

Each time I hear about a new book in this area or see a magazine with a related article, I find myself drawn to check it out. I’m always hoping that there might be a new technique, a new idea, a new strategy– an insider secret that would be helpful to me that I could share with you.

At this point in my research I often find myself more disappointed than delighted. New expressions of longstanding ideas is often the best I can find.

And that leads me to consider that what we need may not be more information, but more execution. We need to act on what we already know pays off. And that thought led me to consider, ‘What is it that works?’

 

Action: To boil down 30 years of digging around in this area, here is my shortlist legacy of learnings about leading a productive, balanced and meaningful life. Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.37 – Good Health Nothing To Sneeze At!

sneezer-wReflection: Well, it’s been a very quiet week here – literally! My world was hijacked by a particularly nasty virus. It robbed me of my voice and left in its place a congested chest, muddled brain, hacking cough and world class case of lethargy.

I have experienced laryngitis before, but never a bout that lasted an entire week. As you might imagine, not having a voice is a significant loss for anyone, but especially for a speaker. When the problem persisted, I started to consider a possible future as a Stage Whisperer.

Eventually I was able to muster a bit of volume – but the screechy crackling sound quality sent small children running in fear and caused animals to cower in the corner.

I appreciate the valiant effort of my body in defending against this viral attack. Things are slooooowly returning to normal, and for that I am most grateful.

 

Action: Despite our best efforts to take our vitamins, get our exercise, drink water, eat well, and get our sleep, when an unexpected virus comes a-callin’ our health can take a beating while our bodies go down for the count! And, when good health takes a hike, our world closes in. Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.36 – What Can You Do To Brighten Things Up?

Weeping Willow Cottage

Weeping Willow Cottage

Reflection: December is just around the corner. The sun (at least here in the northern hemisphere where I live) is taking its own sweet time creeping over the horizon in the morning, while racing to darkness at the end of the day.

It seems like the ideal time to address one of the questions that came out of the Pause ezine reader survey conducted earlier this year. One Pause reader asked, “How do you brighten up the workplace?”

It’s an interesting question. If your daily experience delivers some combination of dim, dark, dingy, depressing or drab, it can be a real downer. (Sorry about that, there seemed to be a lot of loose d’s hanging around my keyboard!)

So let’s take a look at actions that could reverse the trend and bring a bit of lightness and levity.

 

Action: Here are a handful of ways to brighten your workplace. You might find one or more helpful. Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.35 – Always On Guard? Often Off Balance!

RelaxReflection: When I speak and write about granting our selves and each other permission to pause, many people grasp the idea in quick order. They can see that there’s a strong case for renewal and re-energizing in the face of overwhelming demands. It makes sense on an intellectual level.

But, that message doesn’t always make it from the brain to the gut – where so many of our decisions and choices are actually made. As a result, the idea literally does not sit well with us.

Now, as you know, it is possible to force yourself to sit down for a moment to catch your breath and take a break. But how often does that rest take the form of a tentative perch on the edge of your seat, burdens still at hand, muscles tensed to lift off again at a moment’s notice, brain on high alert?

That’s not much of a break especially when compared to option B. You drop into a chair and drop into the moment. You let your body be surrounded and supported, relax your muscles, set your burdens aside, and tell your brain to take a hike.

It’s the same 30-60-90 seconds, but it’s a significantly difference experience.

 

Action: The next time you sense you need to step back for a few moments, pay close attention to your approach. Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.34 – Need A Real Alignment?

Alignment-wReflection: Sometimes our best intentions and our everyday actions are not that well aligned.

A few cases in point:

  • We say, ‘To make a long story short…’ and then we make a short story long.
  • We feel virtuous about stocking up on healthy fruit and vegetables. But, do we eat them? No, we just let them waste away.
  • We buy new running shoes and set up the treadmill, and then let them collect dust in the corner.
  • We repeatedly show up late to appointments because there is always ‘something unexpected’ that gets in our way.

I recently led a training session for a group of leaders. They started the day by sharing how much they had been learning about the importance of being present to their staff – listening and attending with care. Many of them then proceeded to spend a big chunk of our time together flipping through messages and texting on their smart phones.

At the root of the issue is the quality of our self awareness – the ability to see ourselves as we really are. It’s an essential skill, but one that can be tough to cultivate.

Because we’re privy to our intentions – spoken and unspoken – we cut ourselves a LOT of slack. We credit ourselves with points for our good intentions and don’t deduct points for our less than ideal behaviors.

What really matters most, though, is our actions. And it is those actions that build or destroy our health or our relationships and establish our character – both on the inside and through the eyes of others.

 

Action: How do you get better at self awareness and alignment? Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.33 – Are You Owning It?

own it-wReflection: Every once in a while, an experience rolls around that lifts us up – if we let it work its magic. A few years ago, I was named to the Canadian Speakers Hall of Fame. Arriving at the podium after my name had been called, I struggled to pull myself together so that I might offer a few words of appreciation. A colleague on stage behind me leaned forward and whispered two words in my direction: “Own it!”

It was such a powerful phrase, uttered at such an emotional moment, that I’ve never forgotten it. That idea allowed me to step into the honor that was directed my way and to try it on for size.

Artist Owen Swain notes that many people have developed the habit of downplaying their abilities and contributions. He observes: People who are artists kill or stilt the gift by endless comparison. They say, “If only I drew/painted like you. So and so has a big blog following, is selling at Gallery Fancy Schmancy, or has a CV the length of Highway 401. Me? I just make scratches in my sketchbook.”

It’s not just creative types who are susceptible to minimizing their success and downplaying their contributions. I’ve seen this behavior put in an appearance in many different occupations and roles. Maybe you are that person, yourself, or perhaps you know someone who has developed this dispiriting habit.

 

Action: We live in a world where life experiences can wear us down – leaving us feeling overwhelmed or undervalued. ‘Owning It’ can be a helpful, uplifting counterpoint.

Try owning your skills and owning your offerings. Own what you have done in the past, and what you are doing now.

Take pleasure in your contributions. Enjoy the fact that you are able to put some of your best skills to work in the service of others – or simply able to use those abilities for the sheer joy of it.

Encourage those around you to do the same. Let them know how you see them, and how you value what they do and who they are.

When you help yourself and others ‘Own It’, you’ll see how that practice builds enthusiasm and confidence for what comes next.

 

Quotes Of The Week: We can’t stop comparing ourselves to others by trying to stop. We can only fall in love with our own adventure more. – Tara Mohr

Own who you are. – Owen Swain

 

Resource Of The Week: If you stress yourself with feelings of inadequacy because you don’t seem to be living up to the ideal you have in mind, you might find an idea or two to address that challenge in Tara Mohr’s article: If you Find Yourself Comparing Yourself To Others.

Incidentally, Mohr has just released her new book titled, Playing Big. Looks like it might be an interesting read.

 

Readers Write: In response to the recent message, Doubting Your Value? Know That You Matter, Pause readers JM writes: Your pause made me think about the movie, Midnight in Paris. The main character magically travels back in time to the 1920s during the time of Picasso and Hemingway, seeing that as the best time. When we are nostalgic for a time other than our own we are not celebrating our life currently. We wish for a time when we think we might be more special, happier, acknowledged.

Posted under Miscellaneous

This post was written by Pat Katz on November 5, 2014 Add a Comment »