Pause Blog On Overload, Overwhelm & Life In General

Pause Gem #35 – What’s The Message You Need To Hear?

May Spray Floral4-wReflection & Action: When I bought myself a bunch of flowers, the florist asked if I wanted a gift card to go with them. I declined, saying they were just for me.

“All the more reason to add a card,” she declared. “I always write myself a card when I buy myself flowers.”

When I asked what she wrote, she replied, “Well, it depends on the day. Sometimes it’s: ‘Thanks for being you.’ Other times it’s: ‘Wow! You’re smart and gorgeous, too!’”

We shared a chuckle. I left with the flowers and a card in hand.

It was a simple reminder of an important lesson. The florist knows how to fill her own wellspring of appreciation. With her own spirits freshly topped up, she’s in a much better position to share her goodwill with others.

Do you take yourself for granted too often? I do. If we don’t show ourselves some positive attention from time to time, who will? Most of us don’t have our loving mothers following us around moment by moment, applauding our courage, cheering our sense of adventure, or delighting in our presence. This is true in our work and personal lives. And if it’s true for us, it’s true for others as well.

What would life be like if you extended a bit more appreciation in your own direction more often? What would it be like if you encouraged others to do the same?

What would you write on your card today?

Read More…

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

Pause Gem #34 – Do Your Rituals Serve You Well?

Tea Cup-wReflection & Action: Rituals are powerful. 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.

As with 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.

Rituals bring our values to life. 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 sibling keeps the connection alive. If you value the beauty of nature, the ritual of placing freshly cut flowers on your desk or your table keeps nature in the center of your everyday life. You get the picture.

What kind of rituals are already working for you? What other rituals could you create to shift more of your deeply held values from intention to action?

Tie those practices to a specific time or place. Build them into your daily or weekly routines. Watch the impact!

 

Read More…

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

Pause Gem #32 – You Can Laugh It Off To Lighten Up

Laughing ColorfulReflection & Action: I chose a poor day to renew my driver’s license. That day, problems with the phone lines made credit and debit card transactions impossible. Customers dug for checks, scrounged for spare change, or dashed down the block to the cash machine.

The cashiers did their best, but progress was slow. A fellow who arrived just moments after I’d entered the queue didn’t appreciate the delay. Like a bull in the paddock, he shifted from foot to foot, snorting and pawing the ground. Jingling the change in his pocket and rustling the papers in his hand did nothing to calm his jangling nerves. Neither the repeated checks of his wristwatch nor the disgusted glares he zinged at the cashiers brought him relief.

A few minutes after his arrival, a newcomer fell in line behind the restless rustler. In the loudest possible voice, the raging bull cautioned her that he hoped she’d brought a book and planned to spend the day because he’d been waiting in line all morning!

In less than five minutes, it was my turn at the counter. I leaned in close to the cashier and told her I hoped she had 911 on her speed dial; I thought our friend, the raging bull, was about to pop an artery. She chuckled and rolled her eyes, clearly relieved to connect with an understanding customer who showed a sense of humor.

Life is full of delays and detours. Read More…

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

Pause Gem #31 – Should You Unitask Or Multitask?

UniTasking-wReflection & Action: A business man races through the Denver airport towing his roller board suitcase with one hand – briefcase and coat balanced precariously on top. His ‘free’ hand, held near one ear, grips boarding card and cell phone. Deep in phone conversation and all but oblivious to his surroundings, he steps onto an ‘up’ escalator that, instead of taking him down one floor, dumps him back where he started.

The mind-racing, self professed ‘Efficiency Queen’ confesses to blurting out this phrase in the heat of an intimate moment with her husband: “Man, those bagels are sure going to taste good in the morning!”

A frenzied mother tells her teenage daughter to take her dinner plate to the counter and eat standing up so that the girl can empty the dishwasher and finish dinner at the same time.

Three real people. Three real events. All three actions share one belief – that it’s a waste of time to do only one thing at once. Multitasking rules!

There are times when multitasking does make sense. There are times when it does not. Read More…

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

Pause Gem #30 – Answer The Good News Question

Count Blessings-wReflection & Action: I caught a ride on a beautiful fall day with a cab driver who could easily have taken the grand prize for the world’s darkest outlook on life. In response to my comments on the freshness of the morning, the beauty of the autumn leaves, and the glassy calm of Wascana Lake, he responded in turn, “Frost last night – gonna make the harvest tough! Just reminds me winter’s coming! It’s never like that when I go fishing!”

I’m sure if he won a hundred thousand dollars in the lottery, he wouldn’t waste a minute celebrating. He would launch right into a litany of complaints about the uselessness of a prize that small!

Our mindset has a lot to do with our experience of the day.  It is possible to shift from pure pessimism to a more optimistic response to life. It’s a matter of attention. What do you notice? What do you hang on to? How do you start your conversations with yourself and others?

As day’s end nears, and you shut down your computer, pull on your coat, or jump in the car to head home, ask yourself this simple question: “What went well today?”

Ask the same question of colleagues as you close up shop, and of family members as you gather for the evening. Yes, you’ll eventually get to the complaints, but at least the good news of the day will hold center stage and pride of place. That’s all it takes to start the shift of focus. Read More…

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

Pause Gem #29 – The Gift Of Stopping

Stop Light-wReflection & Action: If you drive, you will be very familiar with red lights and stop signs. It’s a sign of our preoccupation with getting places fast, that those lights and signs often seem to be working against us and in favor of the opposing traffic.

When you are out on the highway, you are sure to find yourself stuck behind a slow moving vehicle of one sort or another. Slow, of course, is a relative concept. When you are in a rush, slow may mean that the unit ahead is ‘just’ driving the speed limit.

With more multi lane highways and passing lanes, slower moving traffic is less of a problem than it was during the days of single lane highways and Air Stream trailer convoys. Still, for most of us, patience is not a strong point in our high-speed non-stop world.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Read More…

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

Pause Gem #28 – Are You Sporting Badges Of Honour?

Editor’s Note: During the months of July and August, your weekly Pause Blog posts will feature the ‘Best of Pause’. These are readers’ favorite messages from the earlier years of the Pause e-zine. Featuring these Pause Gems will give me a bit of a breather, and also introduce our newer subscribers to some of those early editions.

Whether you are a long time subscriber, or new to our list, I sincerely hope you enjoy these messages. Come September, your Pause messages will once again feature all new info and resources.

PS – The Summer Reading Bookshelf shares the titles of some of the books I’ll be dipping into over the next couple of months.

 

BadgesOfHonourReflection & Action: From time to time, I have worked with colleagues who sparred for brownie points by quizzing each other about issues like these: How late did your meeting run last night? How many weekends will you be on the road? How many holidays are you carrying over? How many miles have you clocked on the company car? What’s the points total on your frequent flyer plan? How many emails stacked up while you were on vacation?

More recently, I listened to a panel of work-life balance experts talk about their successes and failures in balancing their own busy lives. They admitted they were challenged to live up to the goals they set for themselves. That’s true for all of us. Still, something in the tone of their responses seemed to suggest that it was okay for their lives to be out of whack because they were doing such important work.

It took me back to other conversations where professional or personal success were measured in terms of load, distance, sacrifice, and ‘face time’. The scale paid little attention to results and none at all to balance.

Eavesdrop on the tone of your own conversations with friends and colleagues when you talk about work-life balance. Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.25 – Renewal On The Go

Bright Boxes-wReflection: It can be tempting (especially if you like things neat and tidy) to compartmentalize life, assigning each role its own box and time slot. Work is work. Vacation is vacation. Play is…well, hard to come by.

In today’s world, it’s next to impossible to contain life this way. It’s far more likely that we will be able to make time for more of the things we care about if we allow them to rub shoulders with each other – overlapping in the natural messiness and flow of life.

On this morning’s walk (which is, by the way, when I get some of my best ideas for Pause messages) I was thinking back to some of the combos that have danced their way through my life.

When our girls played outdoor soccer, I used to alternate visiting in my lawn chair on the sidelines with walking around the perimeter of the field while the game played on. Exercising, socializing, and supporting my daughters in one fell swoop.

For several summers, the girls took swimming lessons at an outdoor pool. While they swam, I caught up on my business reading while catching a few rays myself.

Over the years, I’ve invited my mom and my daughters to accompany me on business road trips. One on one chat time is precious; and it sure beats hearing the same tired radio newscast over and over again. Now that I have a grandson in Calgary, I try to route travel to or from my Alberta speaking engagements through that city to catch time with the little guy.

These days, my paints and sketchbook travel with me. Sketching makes time on the road more enjoyable and flight delays more bearable. Even though life may be busy with work, I still have time for art.

 

Action: There are times to turn off the biz world, and be only with family. There are times to be single mindedly focused on business while letting other roles cool their hoofies on the sidelines. And, there are times to encourage the bits and pieces of our lives to mix and mingle.

Look for ways to create a few more renewal combos in your world. In the face of the daily grind: add experiences that lift your spirits, mix in activities that renew your energy, and take actions that strengthen your relationships.

Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.24 – Tune Out To Tune In

Reflection: I’ve been thinking recently that I wouldn’t mind being listless for a while. I don’t mean in the traditional sense of the word: lethargic, apathetic, or weary. Nor do I mean without a list of things to do – although that would be welcome on occasion.

What I’m actually referring to is the proliferation of lists that circulate on social media and grace the covers of books and magazines everywhere. Here are a few recent examples:

  • 14 Things You Should Do On Your Lunch Break Every Day
  • 17 Things Extremely Happy People Say Every Day
  • 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently
  • 22 Quick Habits to Add To Your Daily Morning Routine
  • 30 Things To Start Doing For Yourself – or its sister list: 30 Things To Stop Doing To Yourself

Add ‘em up. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

I know these lists are published with the best of intentions – mostly to energize or inspire. And I grant you there is valuable advice in many of them. Heck, I’ve even created a few of these types of lists myself.

But here’s my challenge. When I spend too much time paying attention to these lists, I find myself in Tower of Pisa mode – tilted and off balance. I feel less effective and more inadequate because I’m not doing more or behaving differently.

You, too, might find yourself listing just a tad under the weight of what the advice aggregators believe we could or should be doing.

 

Action: With all these voices whispering instructions in your ear and putting ideas in your head, it’s hard to hear the one still quite voice that counts the most. That would be your own. Read More…

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

PAUSE – 14.23 – Are You Breaking The Flow?

Timer-wReflection: What joy it can be to find yourself ‘in the flow’. You’re supremely focused on the task at hand – caught up in concentration and creativity.

Yet, like most of life’s experiences, flow has its shadow side, too.

It’s possible to become so intent on the task at hand that we lose perspective or ignore our body’s calls for attention.

In a painting class I took from acclaimed watercolor artist, Charles Reid, we often worked with a live model. Charles insisted that the model break from the pose every 30 minutes.

Occasionally the model would protest saying he was just fine with sitting longer. Charles always responded, “Well, we’re not.”

Then he’d rise from the stool in front of his easel, stroll around, and step outside for a few minutes to either get some fresh air or smoke his pipe. We all followed his lead – well except for lighting up a pipe!

Newfoundland artist, Keli-Ann Pye-Beshara, takes a similar approach. I’ve watched her live-stream painting demonstrations and seen her set a timer for 30 minutes.

When it rings, she puts down the brush, stands up, and steps away from the work to stretch her neck, her hands and her back. She invites viewers to do the same.

 

Action: There is a physical release and renewal that comes with these breaks in the flow. Read More…

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