PAUSE – 15.08 – Could You Use More Breathing Space?

Broadway Roastery

Broadway Roastery

Reflection: It never seems to go away. This idea that our lives are so much better when we jam twice as many tasks into every minute and hour of the day.

Just last week, an article in the Globe and Mail proposed saving up to 20 hours a week by doubletasking instead of multitasking. Isn’t double is just a subset of multi?

The suggestions in the article? Catch up on email or social media while you watch TV or a movie. Study while you shave or shower. Listen to a podcast or watch a video while you exercise.

I must admit I’ve experimented with these combos myself. Just last month I took myself and a podcast for a walk along the river. I soon discovered that as soon as I tuned in the audio, I tuned out myself, nature, and the world around me. Instead of returning from the walk refreshed and relaxed, I had simply gone through the motions while someone else’s words rolled through my brain. The net result: a distracted splintered experience.

Here’s what we miss when we take this doubleheader multitasking approach. Breathing space, for one. Connection, for two. Creativity, for three.

One of the reasons we have original thoughts in the shower, for instance, is precisely because we’re not driving the ‘must think up something new’ bus while we’re cleaning up. We just engage in one task, the mind wanders at will, and surprises us – or rewards us – with original thought! That’s something that can’t be forced, but can be encouraged when we leave space for it in our lives.

 

Action: Yes, there are times when we can do more than two things at the same time. But let’s resist giving ourselves or others carte blanche to cram an unlimited number of activities into our already crowded days.

Be vigilant and thoughtful about your choice of combos, And know for sure that breathing space is a legitimate partner for many of your actions. Read More…

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

Pause – 15.07 – Will You Leave Them Smiling?

Reason Someone Smiles-w

 

My Thoughts:

So many of our everyday exchanges are predictable, dull and matter of fact.

What if we made it our business to add a bit more warmth or life to our conversations?

A smile. A compliment. A light hearted remark. A genuine expression of concern.

Each effort on our part could make a huge difference to someone else.

 

Your Thoughts:

What could you do or say that might leave someone smiling today?

What will you do?

And who are those people with the goofy grins on their faces as you walk out the door?

 

News Notes:

One of the reasons that I write these weekly Pause messages is that I know they bring a touch of sanity to an overwhelming world.

Many of you tell me how much you value Pause as a breath of fresh air in the middle of your week.

I’m eager to extend the impact of Pause, and would appreciate your help in growing the list of subscribers. Read More…

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

PAUSE – 15.06 – Cool Down To Calm Down

Yikes-wReflection: In a recent Pause message, Could You Be A More Reassuring Presence, I shared a few ideas for supporting others when things go sideways in their lives.

But what if it’s an event in your own life that’s giving you grief? How can you avoid getting unnecessarily bent out of shape when life sends a mind-bending challenge your way? How do you handle your own reactions when things go wrong?

 

Action: Here’s a five-step approach to bring relief and help you find your way back to a more even keel. Read More…

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

PAUSE – 15.05 – What’s Waiting For You?

Goodbye Hello-300w

 

My Thoughts: This week I’m saying goodbye to the self-created expectation (and 14 year practice) of publishing a ‘full featured’ Pause message every single week.

Every second week, I’ll be alternating the traditional version with a simpler more visual message like this. Makes me wonder what’s around the corner waiting to greet me.

 

Your Thoughts:

What do you think about Coelho’s observation?

To what might you be ready to say goodbye? 

What might be lingering around the corner waiting for you to make more space for it in your life?

 

News Notes: I’ve had a couple of clients ask me recently, “Pat, with all the traveling and painting that you are doing these days, are you still speaking?” Read More…

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

PAUSE – 15.03– Could You Be A More Reassuring Presence?

Sails At Sea-wReflection: Skinned knees, broken hearts, failing health, cancelled projects, empty coffers. It’s always something, and in this world of ours there’s no shortage of ‘somethings’. So, how to help?

A toddler who falls and scrapes his knee needs a band-aid and a hug, and our reassurance that things are going to be all right.

A friend who is reeling from a challenging health diagnosis needs us to hold steady in the moment of crisis, acknowledge the fear and uncertainty, and reassure her that we’re there for the long haul.

In the face of excessive loads, overwhelm and setbacks, our colleagues at work need reassurance, too – just not in a hug and band-aid sort of way.

They need us to acknowledge their distress and express confidence that somehow we’ll get through this together – that we’ll be all right.

All right doesn’t mean perfect or stress-free. The present may well be painful, the road forward rocky, and the outcome less than ideal. All right means that we trust we’ll have the resilience to make it through, and the strength to deal with whatever comes up.

The most helpful form of reassurance is far more than a blithe and condescending: “There there, you poor thing. It’ll all be better soon.” Instead, it comes from a deep sense of presence, a genuine feeling of care and understanding, and compassionate expression.

 

Action: There are many ways to be a more reassuring presence in the lives of others at work and at home. Here are four to get you started: Read More…

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

PAUSE – 15.03 – Are You Bringing Your True Self to The Table?

Key West Tower-wReflection: On our recent cruise vacation, Dave and I shared dinner each evening with the same three couples.

All came from different parts of the world, all were congenial and good humored, and all had interesting backstories to their lives.

Over the course of the trip, we looked forward to the nightly connection – swapping tales about our day’s excursions and life in general.

As our adventure drew to a close, I wondered how best to let them know how much we appreciated their company. In the end, I sketched a postcard for each couple. Each sketch was different and each one represented a unique aspect of that couple’s interests.

I signed them, added a personal note to the back of each card, and presented them at our last dinner together. The postcards were a colossal hit.

I was actually surprised at how deeply they were appreciated. To me, the ideas for the cards came easily, and I enjoyed making them. It felt like no big deal. I found myself curious about what prompted the strength of their reactions.

It occurred to me that one of the reasons could be that creating and sharing the cards was a direct expression of a few of my strengths: appreciation, creativity, and thoughtfulness. There seems to be an authenticity, an ease, and a deep connection that arises when we’re acting from the core of who we are.

 

Action: So what’s to be gleaned from this experience at sea? Read More…

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

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