Practice the Pause

My life is busy and I struggle to balance work and home. My business and my creative life take lots of time too. Then when you mix in the grand kids and Pippa the cat, well, there you go.

One of my areas of greatest struggle is Practicing the Pause.

What this means is to take a moment to breathe before you begin your day. Breathe when you finish one project and before heading into another. Take a moment to savor the wind on your face for that brief moment.

I have a tendency to go from task to task, work to home, family time to my side hustle before I stop and think. From when I wake up until I go to sleep, it is hurry, hurry. I would like to stop that.

But there is another side to practice the pause.

The Emotional Component of the Pause

What do I mean by the emotional component?

We’ve all been there. One moment you are quite calm and someone says something that triggers something that causes a reaction, either internally or externally.

It’s like going from 1 to 60 in 1.2 seconds.

Your entire being is calm and content then, BAM, all of your emotions are out of control and you are raging against the injustice.

The problem, at least for me, the injustice happened years ago, yet certain things can trigger me in an instant.

It is in these moments where I would like to remember to practice the pause.

How Do I Practice the Pause?

Good question.

It starts with remembering to take a breath. Chances are the person or situation isn’t there to trigger you. Chances are they are simply attempting to go about their lives and happen to connect with you. Stopping to take a breath before you unleash the monster of emotions within you is incredibly important.

Taking a breath before you speak or react can keep you from saying or doing things that you will regret later.

Yes, you will regret quitting your job in the heat of the moment.

Another thing that is incredibly helpful is to use the pause in ordinary moments. There are few actual situations that require you to react instantly. Even when there is blood, taking a moment to assess whether you need to panic and call for an ambulance or will it simply take a bandage.

Practicing before you need it will help improve the odds that you will succeed in those moments where your emotions threaten to go out of control.

Finally, (though probably not the last thing you can do) you can actually look at those things that cause you to trigger. This may require counseling and actually feeling your feelings but it can be helpful.

Journaling can help as you are attempting to work through your triggers, most likely caused by painful memories. Journaling is one of those things that doesn’t cost a lot and doesn’t have to be weird. I generally carry some kind of paper and pen with me at all times. Not to mention, I have an app (Hanx Writer) that will allow me to put my thoughts onto paper when necessary. It has come in handy more than once.

I do have to say I am getting better at practicing the pause and reducing my triggers. Perfection isn’t the goal here but living a functional life where emotions don’t tear down all that you’ve built up.

The biggest point of practicing the pause is to help you gain some kind of control over your emotions and other people’s opinions. If you are constantly being triggered, how can you live your best and most creative life? The life you are proud of and enjoy living.

I would love to hear from you all about how you practice the pause. Please leave a comment below with your thoughts.

And, while you are here, you can sign up for a 30-days of Journaling Prompts. It’s a PDF file that comes straight to you when you leave your name and email.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Until next time,
Angela

www.thecreativityadvocate.com

Starting on The Quest to Find Your Balance

The Quest for Balance

All quests must begin somewhere and the quest to find balance in your life is no exception. I wanted to jump in to each of the areas but then, I realized, I needed to begin at the beginning.

Where to Start

We all know this story: you work all day, rush home, decide what’s for dinner, laundry, dishes, homework, family time, etc. Weekends come and we want to catch up but then there is practice, chores around the house, family obligations, invites to celebrations, attempting to sleep (who gets the recommended amount of sleep anyway?) before getting up and doing it all over again.

Whew, I’m exhausted just thinking about doing all of that.

“But,” you ask, “all of these things need to be attended to? How do I find balance in all of the chaos?”

Good question (there are no stupid questions here)!

The Answer to the Good Question

The answer is to say no.

Seriously, just say no.

I know, I know. So much of the things on our to do list are urgent.

Or so we think.

I wrote about radical self-care on my other blog (www.achoekwater.com) a few months back and I think it is still very relevant. Here is the link to my post: The Simplist Form of Radical Self Care.

Saying “NO” is one of the most powerful and radical ways to bring balance back into your life.

“But, how do I say no?”

How Do I Do It?

It’s easy (or not) to say no. Here lets practice: “No.”

See, that wasn’t so hard.

Oh, right. It’s hard to say no to your boss asking you to take on one more project. And, your mom needs you to help her with some medical stuff. Well, you can’t say no to that. Oh and the kids need a special lunch for the field trip tomorrow. How can you say no to all of that?

Strategies

Saying no is incredibly difficult especially when you are used to saying yes. However, speaking from personal experience it can be one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself.

Here are five things you can do to help as you learn to say no:

1. Breathe – when someone asks you to do one more thing, just breathe. Nothing is so urgent that you can’t take a moment to think (blood and broken bones are the exception). Practice the pause before deciding.

2. Prioritize – balance is about taking care of you and that should take priority (again blood and broken bones, not to mention empty tummies are the exception) over most things. There’s a saying that you can’t fill a cup with an empty pitcher. Decide for yourself which things are the most important and then say no to the rest.

3. Get help – no one can do it all and something always slips through the cracks. Hire a housekeeper or a babysitter for a few hours of free time. Ask your partner to take over a task. Exchange services with someone. Enlist your siblings to help with parents. None of us is an island and we all need each other.

4. Realize the power of no – saying no is empowering. Just try it. Besides if you say no to things that don’t fit into your life, imagine what you could say yes to. That is the power of no. When you are constantly saying yes to everyone and everything, there is no room for you.

5. Boundaries – boundaries deserve their own post but I will say this: setting boundaries is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Decide where your line is and then fight like hell to keep it. It’s worth it.

I hope you practice saying no in your life. It also may help to start with the small stuff. Please leave a comment on how that worked for your this week.

Until next time,
Angela

Balance Isn’t Only About Work and Home

What is Balance?

Do you ever wonder what exactly does balance mean? We hear about it everywhere. It appears to be one of the new buzzwords. It probably isn’t and I probably think about it more than most since I find myself completely out of balance most of the time.

But what does finding and/or achieving balance mean?

It’s a good question, one that I have struggled for years to discover.

For me, it is more than simply work-home balance, so much more.

It’s More Than Work/Home

What I’ve discovered is that discovering balance is about looking at your life in a different way. While believing that work/home balance is important, it brings us to a larger issue. The issue, which I believe is the most important one, is about individual balance. Individual balance is more of an internal problem, rather than an external problem.

It’s easy to say that if only my job were better, I would have balance or if only I could get my home life under control, things would be better. But that isn’t always the case.

My hypothesis is that: When we learn to balance ourselves, the rest of our lives come into balance.

Crazy talk?

Hear me out.

I have struggled with balance for years. I have three beautiful children, none of whom I gave birth to but claim them as my own. Each of these children is different and the relationship is different, each requiring something else of me. I have two grandchildren whom I love. My job is one I worked hard for and continue to enjoy – most days. And, I have a husband who works hard and a home that is always a work in progress but that’s okay.

Sounds great, right?

It is great but none of that kept me from spiraling down until I was in danger of losing myself. I have worked for the past couple of years to climb out of that dark place I was in, a dark place that even now, every so often, threatens to overwhelm me again.

What I have learned, and continue to learn is balance isn’t a once and done kind of thing. It is something I need to work at daily. Much of it is by being present and aware of what is happening inside of me. Also, it helps to not stuff down the feelings but to acknowledge them. If I have learned anything, it is this: negativity and shame cannot survive the light.

The Five Areas of Balance

But how do I work at this every day? It’s quite simple really. I’ve learned to focus in five different areas in my life. Everything in my life generally falls into one of these five categories:

Cognitive
Emotional
Social
Spiritual
Physical.

I will be sharing more about each of these in their own posts but I wanted give an overview here.

Cognitive – Cognitive work is the learning part of our lives. I often say that when we stop learning we die, which is probably some paraphrase of something I heard about somewhere. But the idea is that our brains are muscles and need to be worked out regularly. This can be done by reading – something other than social media. Or, by playing games that engage your mind such as sudoku, word searches, etc. We can also learn new skills in any area you are interested in. One of my favorite ways is to use TED Talks. The sessions are usually short and the topics are nearly endless.

Emotional – Emotional work is one of those things that many of us avoid. We stuff our feelings down, give in to the anger and let it rule over our lives and ignore. None of these are very helpful, especially when the feeling doesn’t want to be ignored and we are faced with the aftermath. That’s when we go kicking and screaming to someone for help. I will never tell you counseling is a bad idea but learning how to deal with your emotions is a skill that will serve you for your entire life. I will share some ways you can deal with your emotions without having to see a shrink.

Social – You would think that social would be the easy one but not if you are an introvert with trust issues. Yeah, that would be me. Social can mean so many things. It can be a simple as going to the movies with a friend or for coffee. It doesn’t have to be big but the point is to connect with another human being. My social circle is small and it is that way both on purpose and by accident. Making friends is sometimes difficult but, as long as you have boundaries – which I will share at a later date – often worth it.

Physical – Physical work can be one of the hardest depending on your beliefs surrounding exercise and self care. When I talk about physical, I mean taking care of your body. What does it need? What does it want? Both of those things are different. The fact is our bodies need care and movement. But that doesn’t mean that we have to exercise for an hour a day or eat only organic fruits and veggies. If that is you and you are okay with it, go for it. But I don’t work that way. I like cupcakes too much. Discovering what works for your body and keeps you happy and healthy is so important.

None of these things requires big changes but they do take effort and intention. As we explore each of these topics, I hope you take up some of the suggestions and challenges offered. Even small changes can make a big difference in your life.

Until next time,
Angela

P.S. I’m still looking for some practice clients as I finish my coaching certifications. If you are interested, please click the link:

Yes, I Want to Work with You!