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 – 14.01 – 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 – 13.36 – Presence

Frosty The Snowman-wWith the new year peaking around the corner, it’s so easy to suffer whiplash – as we intently scan the past year and eagerly anticipate the next. But, as the infamous Yogi Berra once observed, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

And so, my invitation to you for the remainder of 2013 is to be as present as you can possibly be to the people and experiences that cross your path in the closing days of the year.

Presence is an awesome gift, one that’s far more valuable than any presents that may come our way in this the season of giving. When we find ways to be present we’re much more likely to appreciate the delights of each moment as life unfolds around us.

I hope you enjoy reading a few of my favorite quotes about presence. Read More…

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

This post was written by Pat Katz on December 18, 2013

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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 – 13.33 – 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 13.29 – 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

PAUSE – 13.27 – Is Stress Your Friend Or Foe?

Stress-wReflection: Stress…is it your worst enemy or your best friend? Given these recent studies, it may be time to rethink the relationship.

Study #1: People who experienced significant stress in the previous year had a 43% increase in risk from death – but this was ONLY true for those who believed stress was harmful to their health. Those who did not believe stress was harmful (even if they did have a lot of it in their lives) were no more at risk than low stress subjects.

Study #2: People who were trained to see stress symptoms (like pounding heart and faster breathing) as signs that their body was simply ‘taking care of business’ by responding in a way that could help their performance were less anxious and more confident. And, what’s more, instead of constricting and increasing the risk of heart disease, their blood vessels remained in a relaxed state (similar to someone responding with courage or experiencing joy).

Study #3: Each major stress event in a person’s life increased risk of death by 30% – except in the lives of those people who reached out to others. People who reported a lot of stress in their lives, AND who also spent time in the company of friends and family, or helped neighbors and others in their community, showed no increase in stress related death.


Action: So, are harmful effects from stress inevitable? Read More…

Posted under Miscellaneous, Overload & Overwhelm, Pause E-zines

This post was written by Pat Katz on September 11, 2013

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Pause Gem #27 – Rituals Bring Values To Life

Pause Gems-wReflection & Action:  Rituals are powerful things. Hello/goodbye, good morning/good night kisses are an everyday occurrence in my marriage. Leave takings with our daughters – by phone or in person – are punctuated from both sides with the phrase, ‘Love ya’. Our dinner grace includes a ‘Today I am thankful for…’ comment from each person around the table

Like brushing your teeth in the morning, these actions and phrases have become second nature. That doesn’t make them meaningless. Each exchange expresses deeply held values of love and appreciation.

One of the keys for bringing our values to life is turning them into rituals. If you value your health, turning a lunchtime walk into an automatic ritual breathes life into that value. If you value family, the ritual of a weekly phone call with a parent or sister keeps the connection alive. If you value the beauty of nature, the ritual of placing fresh cut flowers on your desk at work or your table at home keeps nature in the center of your everyday life. You get the picture. Read More…

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