Pause Blog On Overload, Overwhelm & Life In General

PAUSE – 14.15 – Are You Dazed? Try A Doze!

napping-wReflection: When a busy toddler grows weary, he or she simply lies down and falls sleep. Doesn’t matter where. Doesn’t matter when.

When an elderly person grows weary, he or she simply nods off in the middle of a visit or the middle of a sentence. Doesn’t matter where. Doesn’t matter when.

As for the rest of us somewhere between toddlering and doddering, when we grow weary, we shake the cobwebs from our heads, grab another cuppa java, and will ourselves to wakefulness.

We power on. We don’t power down. Pressing …pressing …and rarely pausing. Because, after all there are important places to go, people to see, and things to do.

Sadly, this ends up working against us instead of for us. While we may be nominally awake and at work – it is with diminishing capacity and diminishing returns! That’s why, in a wearied state, so many things feel tougher and take longer. We’re neither fresh nor focused.

Now I’m not suggesting nodding off in a middle of a business meeting would be a good thing. However, I am suggesting that ignoring the body when it calls for rest can be a bad thing.

A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 100%. Although you and I may not be flying jets or spacecraft, how much more effective might we be if our performance and alertness improved that much because we took a rest when we needed one?


Action: What to do? Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.13 – Had Any Epiphanies Lately?

New Directions-wReflection: Epiphany:  A moment when you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.

Ariana Huffington had an epiphany. She fell asleep at work, hit her head on the edge of her desk, sliced open her cheek, and came to in a pool of blood. One hospital trip and several stitches later, she set about changing her habits and adopting a saner, healthier way of being in this world.

Some years ago, I had an epiphany of my own. As a young Mom, I left the house on a deep freeze of a winter morning. Burdened by tote bag, gym bag, child’s backpack, briefcase, and clamping a wriggling snow-suited toddler in my arms, I tried in vain to lock a reluctant front door.

In the end, the entire load, including screaming daughter and me dropped to the step. Freezing tears streamed down our faces. In that moment of overwhelm, I knew there had to be a better way, and set about discovering what that might be.

Fictional news anchor Howard Beale had an epiphany. In the movie Network, he punctuates his on-air rant about the state of the world by declaring, “I‘m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

Maybe you’ve had an epiphany or two of your own. Or maybe you’re working up to one at this very moment.

Epiphanies are rarely unheralded. If we pay close attention as life unfolds, we might notice the small occurrences that signal a need for change. But, heh, we’re busy, we’re preoccupied, and we’re on a roll! We get in a groove and it morphs into a rut that’s not apparent till it trips us up and down we go.


Action: The challenge is to tune into our ‘epiphanettes’ – those small wake up calls that surface day to day. Read More…

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

Pause Reader Reactions To ‘Where Is Everybody? Where Are You?’

Quill pen-wSome messages seem to touch more of a nerve than others. Many ezine and blog readers responded to the recent Pause message about disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with humanity.

In case you missed it or might like to refresh yourself on the content, here is the link to the original message: Where Is Everybody? Where Are You?

Here’s what Pause readers had to say about their own experiences with this issue:


LL writes: I started to leave my phone upstairs when I go to bed at night. I used to use it as an alarm clock but not anymore. I just felt like this was starting to be a heavy bedroom partner and got rid of it! My husband is now my alarm clock!


LC writes: I know what you mean!  It’s not just the young people anymore either.  Yikes – I think we are caught up in the hype and the allure of technology.  The most likely response is that the makers of the devices will ensure they can be smaller so people can’t see when you’re on them. It’s going to be a long time before this pendulum swings back the other way I fear.


Read More…

Posted under Life Balance, Overload & Overwhelm, Technology, Wellness

PAUSE – 14.12 – Where Is Everybody? Where Are You?

Stack of smart phones

Stack of smart phones

Reflection: I’m worried about us. Not in a global warming, political upheaval, where is the world headed kind of way. But rather in a very specific ‘why don’t we choose to be more present’ sort of way.

While facilitating recent seminars, I’ve noted – and not for the first time – that as soon as there is a pause in the program the majority of people seem compelled to plug their phones into the gap.

Like the fictional Dutch boy who stuck his finger in the dike, today’s smartphones serve as the first line of defense against potential threats like these: a moment of down time, the possibility of original thought, and the risk of actually connecting with a live person positioned within arm’s reach.

While answering email, returning texts, scanning Facebook, and checking news feeds may give the illusion of connectedness, I propose that the opposite may also be true.

Instead of enhancing connection, this habitual behavior insulates us from the moment at hand, distances us from creative thought, and diminishes the likelihood of meaningful live conversation.

Our ‘reach for the phone’ knee-jerk habits actually keep us reacting and retorting and stop us from reflecting and relating.


Action: Here’s a challenge for today  - and for tomorrow, too. Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.11 – Put A Little Spring In Your Step

Stairway Through Paradise-72Reflection: I’m an inveterate reader – always on the lookout for new ideas or unique expressions of old ideas stated in fresh engaging ways.

Today I flipped through my collection of recent blog posts and articles by other writers who focus on the importance of stepping back and taking time out.

I’ve picked three articles to share with you. You’ll find them in the Resources Of The Week section of this posting.

Think of it as my ‘Welcome to Spring and Fresh Ways of Doing Things’ gift.


Action: The articles are all great. But here’s my anti-overwhelm suggestion. Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.10 – A Little Can Mean A Lot

Van Gogh Seascap-wReflection: In painting, there’s a guiding principle loosely referred to as “A lot of this and a little of that.”

The concept in the art world is that all one thing can be boring, and that even equal measures of two separate elements may not be that engaging. To create a work of art with a more satisfying sensibility you need a ratio of elements that is often less than equal.

For example, a great work of art may feature:  a lot of warm color and a little bit of cool, a lot of light values and a little bit of dark, a lot of sharp edges and a little bit of softness.

Here’s how the principle could be applied outside the world of art to create a more satisfying balance in our everyday lives:

  • If you find yourself swamped by a whole lot of work, even adding a little bit of play can shift the experience in a more satisfying direction.
  • If your diet has you filling up on a ton of veggies, even adding an ounce of chocolate can sweeten the scene.
  • If you’re heavily involved in other-care (whether children or elders) planning a personal ‘just for you’ adventure could improve your outlook.
  • If you find yourself wholly office bound (suffering from filing cabinet fever), a coffee elsewhere with a client or colleague could lift your spirits just a little.


Action: What are you experiencing a lot of in your world these days? Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.08 – In Praise of Puttering

Hands Free!

Hands Free!

Reflection: When preparing to deliver a conference presentation or seminar for a group, I’ll often interview a sampling of attendees ahead of time to find out more about their workplace stresses and satisfactions.

In a recent series of interviews for an upcoming conference, I asked about successful strategies for coping with high demand, stressful times. I heard a predictable assortment of suggestions: adopting time savers, planning ahead, taking time out, celebrating successes and having some fun.

However, one unusual response stood out. This particular fellow described his stress reduction strategy as ‘puttering’. He explained that when life and work grow demanding, he narrows his attention and focuses only on the high priority items.

But, after several weeks of that high level focus, he finds he has sidelined a whole pile of lesser tasks. These smaller, less important bits and pieces build up to create a pressure all their own.

At that point, he devotes a day to puttering. No major projects and no big decisions are allowed. Instead, he putters around clearing away the small stuff.

He calls A, repairs B, stores C, answers D, files E, replaces F, cleans up G, and so it goes.

As he moves from one small task to another with ease and a meandering spirit, he fuels a sense of accomplishment and feels a sense of relief. Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.07 – Step Back To Step Ahead

Beach Walking-wReflection: If you happened to view any of the three short videos I shared while the regular Pause ezine was on hiatus, you would have caught one or more messages about the value of stepping back to step ahead. Just in case you missed it or them, today I’m sharing a ‘summing up’ and a link to the complete article.

I have come to understand that nonstop action is a dead end strategy for success. When we nix time-outs, we just hit the wall – not the mark. Sometimes we really do have to step back to step ahead. Making the most of our days involves building strategic pauses into everyday experiences.

When we step back, stand down and chill out, we tap more readily into renewal, appreciation and perspective.


Action: Here are nine (3 x 3) pause practices that will help you generate more energy, enthusiasm and insight. Read More…

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

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