power of pausing

Negative Space is Incredibly Positive...The Power of Pausing

There is power in pausing.

Pauses are as important in life as they are in art. Breathing, we inhale, and breathing, we exhale! Yet, sometimes we need reminding not to hold our breaths. Rushing around from thing to thing, we forget the importance of the pause. In life, as in art, the negative space is a critical piece of the whole. Just as the negative space defines the boundaries of the art composition and draws attention to it, and just as the silence in music, or the stillness in dance, draw attention, we are given the opportunity to pause and reflect and to give thanks in those moments. The art is richer, the dance more meaningful, the music more poignant.

As Thanksgiving approaches, it occurs to me that there is something rather special about this particular holiday. Despite, all of the frenzy and excitement looming in December, Thanksgiving is a day when most of us pause to enjoy our families and friends.

What if we were to take that idea and weave it into our daily lives...into our personal and work lives and into our personal and work spaces? What if we remembered to take small breaks to loosen tense shoulder muscles, to play with the dog, to look out the window, to sit with a cup of tea without multitasking? Would we get less done, and feel more behind? Or would we actually feel energized and more connected to ourselves and those around us? Would our experiences change, would our views broaden and our eyes see more? I say yes!

For me, decluttering is another form of pausing. Removing things that no longer suit me, no longer make me happy, or no longer serve a purpose, is mentally cleansing. It leaves a visual pause, or negative space in my surroundings, and has a calming effect on me. Clear your desk at the end of your work day and notice how this impacts you the next time you sit down to work there. Clear the clutter from your purse, your wallet, your car, and savor the emptiness.

Pause to reflect upon what you have accomplished today. If you were to make a list, you would be amazed at how many things you do every day. I am grateful that I can do so much for myself. Ask anyone who has been ill or recently injured, and they will tell you how much they have taken for granted.  I leave you with this thought. The pauses, or negative spaces in our lives, invite us to focus upon how we view our days, our accomplishments, ourselves, and for that I give thanks.

*photo of painting, "The Dance Examination," by Edgar Degas

Life Transitions...be not afraid of change; you might lose something good, but you might gain something better

Life transitions...they are a part of the human condition and of life in our modern world.

Changes of our choosing can be challenging and at the same time exciting and motivational as we anticipate the future. We delight in the possibilities and feel that butterfly tickle us deep in our guts telling us we are making a good decision! With happy heart we make our lists, gather our tools, and get started. Or we hire a productivity specialist to come in and help break down the big picture into manageable tasks. Lucky for me that is my specialty.

But then, there are those changes not of our choosing...unexpected, painful, confusing. I sit here not to tell you to cheer up and get back to work, but rather to pause, take a deep breath, and remind yourself, that we are in good company as we navigate the trials and tribulations of life.

What once seemed so effortless, can feel insurmountable. I understand. I too am grieving for what I have lost and yet yearning for a contented future with a hopeful heart. Gather your dearest friends near and learn what soothes and feeds your soul. That is what I am doing... moving forward, awkwardly, tentatively, as if a toddler learning to walk for the first time. And, I am learning to appreciate and savor the now. Now is really all that we have.

Morose...I apologize. As organized as I am, I have somehow misplaced my sense of humor. Please let me know if you find it. It will be along side my battered heart.

And, in the meantime, I will share a few of my favorite strategies for getting unstuck and being happy!

1. Do something nice for yourself every day! That may or may not require retail therapy. However therapeutic shopping may be, there is a bill to be paid at the end of the month. Consider, instead, a stack of books begging for your attention, your favorite CD long forgotten, walk the dog a new direction and admire the changes taking place in the world around you.

2. If you live close to the beach, GO!!! The ocean is a magical, soothing place that should not be overlooked. There is something larger than you and I at work here and never so obvious to me as when I listen to waves crash repeatedly upon the shore, smell the sea mist and witness the beautiful changing sky and sea at sunset. If you don't have the ocean, then find a park, a garden, a piece of nature. She is there to bring you back to your spiritual self.

3. Do one thing each day that moves you toward your most important goals. And, if you don't have goals, then making a list of everything that pops into your head, and build your list from there.

4. If you still cannot breathe, cannot move, cannot eat...find a confidant who will leave fruit in a bowl at the table for you, someone who will notice that you need a hug, and let your friends envelop you with their kindness. I am certain that you have done the same things for others when you felt whole. Being cared for is a blessing for both the giver and the receiver!

Peace my friends...change is an opportunity for growth.

October...anticipating the holidays with a happy heart and clean windows

I LOVE this time of year! The evenings are cool and the leaves are falling from my birch trees.

I'm  not sure how much my neighbors appreciate the leaves that blow their way, but these are signs that some of my favorite holidays are approaching. I have yet to make my lists. I am pausing first to reflect upon what is truly important to me. And, I have chosen to treat myself to something simple.

This year, I am beginning the season with clean windows. Yes, you read correctly! There is something wonderful about having squeaky clean windows. Turns out...again...that mom was right! I have a lovely view from my back windows and expect to see even more of it through clean glass.

Whatever is it that lightens your load a little bit before the holiday madness begins, consider it for yourself. Be prepared to enjoy the rush headlong into the fray from October to January.

Clean carpets

Polish floors

Clean gutters

Fill the bird feeders...but be prepared to repeat frequently!

And then sit with a cup of tea near your favorite window, make your lists and hang on to your hat!!

Time Management..."Today, I will deadhead my roses!" she said.

I love our home gardens! They are not perfect and would not suit everyone, but they suit me and isn't that the point?!

What does this have to do with time management, you ask? Everything! The rose bed that greets me every time I drive up to my house was dropping petals yesterday and in need of a little TLC. I come from a long line of green thumbs, so knew just looking at it that 15 minutes would transform this little space that brings me such joy.

As I tended my roses this morning, my neighbor's words came back to me and I would like to share them with you now.

She commented to me several months ago when I was outside gardening, saying "That looks pretty, but I DON'T have time to garden!" I felt judged and dismissed.  I also smiled to myself and went back to my task. Because what she doesn't understand, is that this is not a chore for me.

It is a time that I set aside to clear my mind, to be grateful for my life and all that is good and to step away from my busy day to day and just breathe. You could say that this 15 minute break in my day is actually prayer time for me.

We ALL have 24 hours in each day and it is up to us how we use that time. Carving out a few minutes every day to do something that reenergizes you physically and mentally and renews your sense of gratitude is a good idea. How will you spend your day?!