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Running on Empty?

March 31, 2014 Leave a comment
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Running on Empty

I read a blog post from the minister at the church I attend and what he wrote really resonated with me. We are at a time of year in the academic calendar when energy is low and demands are high. I can see it written all over everyone’s face: in the slow dragging of feet, the deep sighs and yawns and the expressionless way that people seem to be lumbering through their days. When there is so much to be done, I too find myself forgetting to even check my tank to see how much gas I have. I commonly find that I am running on fumes, focussed too much on what needs to be done and not enough on whether I have the energy to do it.

Whatever it is that you need to keep yourself going, to fuel your body, mind, and spirit, I encourage you to take the time to do it. The impact of time lost in stopping to refuel will be paid back exponentially in the revitalization of your energy and focus.

Thanks Kevin, for reminding me to stop and refuel and not let myself run on empty.

Kevin’s Post from Canon Kevin’s Corner

When I first got my driver’s license 26 years ago and was driving my father’s car it would perturb him to no end if I brought the vehicle back less than half a tank of gas. You see, he never really let his car get much below half a tank before he would fill it up. He could never understand why I would let my own cars get so low on gas. On the many trips he and Mom made to Ontario, right at about this time of year, he will be traveling with me in the car and always ask the obvious question, “Why do you let your car get so low on gas? There’s no need of it! You pass all these has stations every day and you still wait.” He would shake his head upward, lips pursed, and eyes closed as if to say – it’s no use telling you anything.
He knew me!

Dad was really on my mind today. I had pulled over to return an email on my cell phone when I noticed that the fuel light on my car was not just low, but was flashing. Then I remembered that it originally showed low fuel three days ago. O dear!!! I was about three-quarters of a kilometer from the Shell station. Thankfully it was downhill. As I pull back on the road the car actually sputtered but then gained some momentum as the car tipped downward. I pulled into the Shell station and literally sputtered up to the pumps on fumes and stalled out!!!!!!! Close call. The image of my father shaking his head, resigned to the fact that I do not listen, came right before me.

Not long after I first moved to London and purchased this car, I actually ran flat-out of gas and had to be rescued. That happened to me once in Windsor as well. One would think that I might learn from my mistakes. One would be so wrong. There is no need for me to run out of gas. As dad told me all those years ago, I pass gas stations all day long in this city. Bad habits are hard to break sometimes. But I commit there and now to not let my car get that low again.

Having fueled the car up and having avoided the embarrassment of being out of gas again, I began to think about the other ways that we run out of fuel. How often do we move through our days mindlessly, knowing full well that we are getting pretty low and our energy is at a place where it will be hard to imagine how we could keep going? We fail to take the necessary steps to make sure we have the energy to continue. Or how often do we spiritually feel that our tank is getting pretty low? There are times I am sure that most of us feel as though we may be drifting further away from God and not closer.

A couple of weeks ago I became aware of the fact that I was not taking the time to do things that replenish me. I cannot tell you how I got there – but I can tell you that I was feeling as though I was not as in touch with my Creator as I normally like to be. As I engaged in my Lenten reflections it became painfully obvious that in the busy day-to-day grind of life, that for a number of weeks I was not taking the time to do the things that were spiritually life-giving for me. As much as I needed to get to Shell today for petrol I needed to name what fuels me – and go get it. I love to read, and two weeks ago I came to the stark realization that I had gone a couple of months without reading a book at all. I also love to write. My writing had all but stopped. Again I could see my father saying to me why do you let your tank get so low? Just as I sputtered to the tanks today, I sputtered to the book store a couple of weeks ago and have been reading and writing in an attempt to keep things moving?

Dad was right! We have no need to let our tank get so very low. The car and our spirits need ‘regular’ attention in order to keep running smoothly.
I would be interested in hearing what fuels you. What do you need, to keep you moving forward. If you feel comfortable, comment on this blog and share the things that are life-giving for you. When you feel a little low, or lacking energy spiritually or otherwise, where do you go to fill up as it were?

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A New Year Is A Great Time to Dream

January 3, 2013 7 comments

dreamsI asked my 4 year old son what he wants to do when he grows up and he said “sleep in hotels and go down water slides.”

The first question I ask students when they come into my office is “If you could get paid to do anything you want, what would you do?”  Shockingly I find that often the answer to this question seems to have very little to do with their so-called ‘real’ career goals.  When did they stop dreaming?  Perhaps they have been brought back to ‘reality’ by a parent or counsellor or friend who, out of a sincere desire to ensure their ‘success’, has encouraged them to focus on getting a secure job with a big company rather than actually pursue their passions, strengths, motivations, and preferences.

No matter what the state of the economy, however, there are people who get paid to do what they love: hockey players, sports announcers, sommelier’s,  marketing executives, lawyers, counsellors, teachers, doctors, authors, chefs, computer programmers . . .Unfortunately, on the flip side there is the majority of the population who spend 94,000+ hours of their life doing something they dislike.  In fact, according to Forbes magazine 71% of employees are disengaged from their work. What a horribly depressing thought.  No wonder there is so much road rage and so many grumpy people at the grocery store, bank, Tim Horton’s, Dollarama, movie theatre, dog park, shopping mall, Boston Pizza, walking down the street, . . .   we are subjecting ourselves to lives of misery on a massive scale.

So how did those other individuals end up getting paid to do something they love?  If you look at what it was that got them that job you will find that it was not just luck, but a combination of dreams, determination and serendipity.  If we remove any one of these elements from the equation, we are certainly going to be one of the 71%.

Instead, let’s allow ourselves to dream for a moment about a future where we are not slaves to a weak economy, but instead optimistic and excited about our future.   Take some time and watch Professor Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture.  Professor Pausch, who was dying of pancreatic cancer, gave his last lecture at the Carnegie Mellon University on Sept. 18, 2007. His talk, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” highlights his lessons learned and provides advice for students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals.

waterslideI am not suggesting that my son will actually become a hotel and water-park consultant when he grows up but, if he is determined, I would certainly support him.  However, I am saying that we need to pay more attention to our dreams if we want to end up leading a healthy, happy and balanced life.  If you are going to spend thousands upon thousands of hours doing something, why not at least try to make it something that you love?

12 Tips for Managing Stress and Maintaining Happiness

September 10, 2012 2 comments

happinessThe fall can be an overwhelming time for everyone.  You are starting a bunch of new courses, settling back into routines, assignments, part-time work . . .   Here are 12 tips that will help you balance the work-load, get into a grove, and stay motivated.

Happiness is a Choice:

There are some people who seem to choose to be miserable regardless of their circumstances and others who choose to be happy regardless of their circumstance.  Choose happiness; there is an abundance of research that proves that if you take a positive approach to life you will be healthier and more successful.

Give Up Perfectionism:

Because there is no such thing as perfection, if you constantly strive for the unnatainable, you will innevitably suffer from poor self-esteem.   The reality is, if you want to get everything done that you need to get done then you are going to have to just let some things go even if they are not perfect.  Getting an imperfect assignment in on time is better than a perfect assignment that is late, gets marks deducted anyway and compromises your sanity.

Stop Procrastinating:

Delaying completing a task that you need to attend to is only going to cause more stress and drain your energy.  You may try to ignore them, but you know they are there, and they eat up your energy.  Get those little things done.  The most effective and efficient people are those who attend to the details quickly.

Learn to Say NO!

Although you may feel that you are being selfish if you refuse a  request, you need to learn to distinguish between self-centerdness and self-care. Alternatively, if you have a hard time saying “no”, then just don’t say “yes” right away.  When someone asks you to help with something or do something say “that sounds great, I will check my calendar and get back to you”.  Then if you really do have the time, go for it and if you don’t you can let them know that “you are sorry, but you just can’t make it work, or you can’t help this time.”

Take Time for Simple Pleasures:

This can mean something different to everyone; for some it is a hot bath, for others eating a decadent dessert, or going for a walk.  Whatever it is on a daily or weekly basis that makes you feel good, take the time to do it.

Take Some Time to Get Organized:

Your physical space is a reflection of your mental space.  If you want more inner organization and clarity, take the time to establish an organize and uncluttered physical environment.

Re-adjust Your Thought Patterns:

Some suffering is unavoidable, and other suffering is self-inflicted. You may not be able to control everything that happens in your life, but you can control how you respond to life’s challenges.  So stop beating yourself up over every little thing and get on with it.

Be an Optimist:

Switch your thought patterns from

This is personal and it always happens to me (a victim mentality)

To

This is a challenge, but I can control how I respond

Reframe Your Life:

Change the frame of reference through which you choose to see things. Try to see the silver-lining.  Remind yourself that even when things seem bad, they almost always could be worse.

Are You Having Fun Yet?

Life is a journey, not a destination.  Enjoy each step.  What would you rather it said on your grave stone?

“Finished everything on her list, and died totally pissed off”

Or

“She loved a lot, was kind and silly, was a friend you could count on, knew how to play, and did a reasonably good job even though she didn’t return all of her emails.”

Misery Loves Company:

We all have the choice of throwing ourselves a pity party every time something doesn’t go as planned, or we can pick ourselves up and keep going.

Don’t forget, complaining can compromise other people’s sanity as well as your own.

Take the Time to be Grateful:

When you are feeling burnt out and sad, take some time to list all of the many things that you are grateful for instead of focusing on all the things that are not the way you want them to be.

For more tips on Managing your Stress Check Out:

Dr. Joan Borysenko  

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