You Need a Break – Even from the Things You Love

You need a break even when you love something.

The Set Up

I never really understood this concept until recently.  Some part of me knew it but now I believe it.  It’s internalized deeply today like never before.

I love to work.  I love the constant challenges work brings on a daily basis – it’s mentally stimulating to constantly face challenges and find resolutions or accomplish a task or complete a project successfully.  Success is addictive.  I get quite caught up in accomplishing more and more.

I love to learn too so the combination of learning continuously and applying what I learn is a thrill when it works.  On the other hand, when it doesn’t work, I find out why and I’ve learned something that way too.


The Change

Recently, an unexpected opportunity came up.  My first impulse was to refuse.  Then, I changed my mind.  I was in the middle of a project and felt I just couldn’t leave it.  I did.

And I’m so glad I did!

There is nothing like peace, quiet and nature to recharge me – the more trees, water and animals, the better – being in that kind of environment of beauty and on-going regeneration is energizing.

In the city, we simply don’t realize how much noise we are constantly subjected to day and night.  Even when we think it’ll be a quiet night, something happens.  We go to work and there’s noise – people talking, street working equipment, trucks, cars, hoists, screams and some of us have a continuous stream of “noise” coming from our electronic gadgets – the body and mind is under constant siege.

Today, I am grateful for that break.  I feel refreshed, my creativity has returned full force and I am able to complete parts of the project at lightning speed.  My body feels terrific and my mind is alert and fresh.  Problems are fun again.

We simply don’t realize . . .

Stress creeps up on us.  We don’t realize the effects of stress.  Stress comes from many places in our lives, and it all piles up.  Eventually, like an overloaded piece of machinery, our performance slows, our mind gets cluttered and things move along much more slowly despite exercising, watching our diet and sleeping.


It’s Critical to Find a Place for Rejuvenation

Not everyone rejuvenates the same way.  However, I would venture to say that being surrounded by nature – trees, water and animals – is for everyone.  It reconnects us with our essence and allows us to breath good air.

In the city, the air is filled with chemicals and fumes – our lungs work hard.  In nature, your whole body drinks in the oxygen like a sponge and all of a sudden we have more energy – lots more energy!  In an instant, our body feels better.  Our mind seems clearer.  Food tastes better and we don’t need much of it to feel very satisfied.  Curiosity returns and engagement with people is so pleasant.

A break every couple of months – for a few days – I think is just the right thing to do for the health of your whole being and your whole life – and that message comes from a workaholic!

As a convert, I will put it in my calendar to schedule a few days off in nature every couple of months.  The return on investment is priceless!


The Recipe

You don’t have to believe me – experience it – leave all your electronic gadgets off for a few days – yes, your cell phone too – and give yourself the luxury of a total break (no sneaking out at night to check your email).  Don’t take work with you either and don’t give anyone the number of the place you will be staying at either – no one from the office or your home can reach you.  Take a book with you you’ve always wanted to read and a journal to jot down all of your thoughts and your dreams.  Walk a lot.  Resist going home after two days.  Stay a full five days away from everything including tv and computers.  Just connect with what’s around you.  It’s a simple but difficult process for many in this wild, wild world!  You’ll be glad you too the time for some “nature” therapy!

Lorraine Arams



Why Do We Hate Our Work So?

Hard work – I hear work referred to constantly as “hard”!  Is it?

Are we obsessed?  Do we think that somehow if we refer to our work as hard that it makes us somehow more special than if we referred to our work as fun?

I think so.  Why else would we condition ourselves and tell others how hard our work is?

Does anyone like anything that is continuously hard?  I don’t think so.  Is it any surprise then that 85% of the people hate their jobs?

Thinking about work

We’re thinking about our work and our jobs the wrong way around.  We think of them as austere – hard –

  • go to work and “be professional” – who defines “professional”?  Often people say the word to express to you that they don’t like something you said or did and has nothing to do with whether it was “professional” or not!
  • Show up on time and stay late – that’s encouraging!  Really makes people want to do their best work?!?
  • Don’t laugh!  Heaven forbid there should be any fun at work!
  • Don’t have fun!  Oh, no – fun and laughter in the workplace – how repulsive!  It’s serious business you know – serious about what?
  • Your boss is out to get you – the big meanie!
  • Office politics – what are there?  Does anyone really know?  Are office politics just a mean game by people who love to manipulate?
  • Don’t show emotion!  Oh, no!  An emotion – heavens – a human showing emotion!  What have we come to!

If someone came from another world and you described work in these terms, do you think they’d hurry and get a job?

Only if they were insane!

We are!

We believe this nonsense right from the start.  As we evolve into management, we bring these beliefs with us.  Isn’t it about time to change and make the workplace a friendly rather than hostile environment?

Can it be different?

Yes, you can work and have fun!  You can laugh! You can show emotion and still make a profit!  All human things in the workplace are possible – it’s whether or not management is willing to work with people or not.  It’s so much easier to give orders.  It is so much more complex to actually create a humane atmosphere at work.

The bonus:  people stop thinking of their workplace as a hostile environment and the “work family” is born with all its warts and beauty.

How Do I Know?

I’ve lived both worlds of work.  I can tell you that the humane place is more complex but more gets done with greater efficiency and effectiveness than the obedience model.

I learned to manage that way because I felt there was a better way and there was.  My superiors were shocked to hear the laughter and experience the high levels of productivity and involvement.  My superiors were shocked by the tears that flowed when I left.  They could have done the same but they couldn’t bring themselves to do the work it takes to get to that point.  Perhaps they didn’t know how.

If you want your workplace to be a place where your employees want to show up, contact me.  I’ll show you how.  My consultancy is all about making your operations effective and efficient but fun and profitable.  I’m on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – just type in my name – you’ll find me – and send me a message or comment on this blog.

Lorraine Arams


The ONLY – A Lesson in Success

What’s The Only?

The Only used to be a very tiny little restaurant in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada which was known far and wide.


It’s a lesson in success:  Provide a good product at a good price with energy, enthusiasm and a smile!  Create “an experience” every single time.   They’ll pack in!

Was it a dump?

The Only may have been considered to be a “dump” by some.  But the diamonds, rubies and gold which shone on some people would tell a different story. They came too – the rich.

On the other hand, the person sitting on the next stool could be someone quite poor.  The rich and the poor mingled every single night, 7 days a week at this little “steamer”.  There was no snobbery – everyone conversed with everyone else – it was the name of the game.

It was very tiny – counters with stools and a couple of tables against the wall.  There was always a waiting line – people crowded at the door like sardines waiting for someone to leave.  The shouts of glee when someone finally got a seat!

The Chinese cooks cooked right in front of the counters – big black woks, steaming away till the last customer was out the door – in the wee, wee hours of the morning – clang, bang, sizzle . . .

The menu was small – very small – clams, mussels, fresh fish, a few noodles and vegetables – that’s it.  But everything was clean and fresh – that’s one of the main attractions – fresh shellfish, fresh vegetables and cooked fresh – right there, right now.

There was no waiter or waitress – just cooks – they took your order – no 1, 2, 3, 4, . . . ..  Done.  In minutes, you had your order!  Sumptuous, flavorful – the wafts of onion and garlic were constant and made those waiting drool in anticipation!

People came back for more – from Toronto, New York, Europe – all over the world – The Only was the place to go!  The word was:  if you didn’t go to The Only, you really missed something special!

What happened?

There are still a few holes in the wall like The Only.  The Only itself succumbed to massive development projects in downtown Vancouver.  Sometimes change is not always what it is cracked up to be!

People still talk about The Only today.  It has never been duplicated.  And yet . . . what a simple and effective business model – fresh food cooked fresh with lots of energy and enthusiasm at a good price and a smile welcoming everyone – rich and poor – and each person was treated the same.  It was an experience!  Everyone was made to feel as though they were part of the scene!

You got to know the names of the cooks.  They spoke very little English but were always friendly and fast. You felt “at home”.

Lorraine Arams



It’s so wonderful to be calm.  We love it, don’t we?  Even the most hyper of us love the feeling of calm.


In our busy world, calm seems to be at a premium.  If our cell phones aren’t ringing or vibrating, someone is honking at us.  At work, emails come in fast and furious, the phones ring, people “drop by” to talk, someone asks for help, and we run to the gym at lunch hour where the machines whirl, bang and people grunt and fret – oh, no, another pound!

How can we stay calm when from the time the alarm clock rings, we are surrounded by noise, demands and schedules?

Here are a few ways to help you “sneak in” some calm into your day, every day:

  1. Breathe:  On your computer, set an automatic reminder every hour on the hour, to take 10 deep breaths.  It’s a quick way to make sure the anxiety and stress doesn’t build up to a peak by the end of the day. Breath in down to your belly and breath out to empty your lungs.

  2. Stretch: Put another reminder on your computer every hour or hour and a half, to stretch your body.  Stress builds up in the body and stretching for 5 minutes several times a day can release your body from the tightness which can build up.

  3. Nature: Every single day, even if it is only for 15 minutes, go outside, smile at a dog, watch the wind in the trees – get back to nature somehow.  We’re indoors a lot and just that fact alone can start making us feel like a caged animal.  Free yourself, go outside, appreciate a flower!

  4. Gadget: Invest $10 in a stress squeeze ball and take it to meetings with you.  When you start feeling any negative feeling, squeeze the hell out of it!  You’ll feel better and stay in control of your feelings.

  5. The Written Word: Write down everything that is whirling around in your head.  It clears the brain and releases the emotion associated with them.

  6. Sleep: Schedule the sleep you need – all of it!  Sleep should be the most important part of your schedule.  Without sleep, all your activities take longer and your emotions are closer to the surface. You can waste a lot of time trying to get yourself to “wake up” or “energized”.  Use that time to sleep instead!

Calm is good!  Calm makes your day go much better even if someone screams at you for no reason!  Calm is a good habit to cultivate for the enormous benefits it gives us!

For more tips on managing your time, do visit my blog at – make it easy on yourself, sign up and get each new posting directly into your email box or your RSS feed.

Lorraine Arams

Why Do You Get Angry? Do You Know?

Angry?  Why?

Did you ever wonder why you get angry?

Yesterday, I was sitting quietly – it was a pretty good day.  Then someone said something.  I was upset.  My mood changed from okay to angry.

I observed myself and wondered why I get angry.  What is it in me which turns on the “fire” when something is said or done by someone else?

The television was on at the time.  They were showing some of the protesters in Egypt.  They were angry.  Why?

So I thought about anger while calming myself down.


It dawned on me that there is only reason why anyone gets angry:   not getting what they want – very simple!  How simple is that concept!

Books have been written about anger.  Workbooks have been written on how to deal with anger.  People are talking about it all the time or upset because someone else is angry at them.

Yet . . . the answer is so simple.

Why were the people in Egypt angry?  They were not getting freedom, democracy which to them translates to a better life for them and their families.  They were angry – they wanted a better life and weren’t getting it.

Why does a child get angry in a store?  Because the parent isn’t buying the candy the child  wants.

Why does a manager get angry at an employee?  Because the employee is not getting done what the manager has been assigned.

Why does a spouse get angry at the other?  One of the spouses is not doing what the other wants – help, hugs, support, caring, etc.


For me, understanding why often leads to finding good solutions.  In this case, I found a way to defuse my anger by asking myself:  “What am I not getting that I want?”  followed by, “What can I do to get it?”.

What that did for me was to quit wasting time reeling, and spend my time productively figuring how I could get what I wanted without the impact  an angry response would generate.

How was I going to convince the other person to give me what I wanted?

Concentrating on finding the words and the approach to communicating with them dispelled the emotion.  While my mind was busy innovating, there was no room for anything else.

Give it a try.  Drop me line.  Let me know if it works for you too.

Lorraine Arams