Pause: to stop, cease, interrupt action, take a breath, respite, hiatus, interlude, create breathing space, wait, hesitate…..rest…
I am not good at this. I want to be. But I am not.
Sometimes I am robotic. Stuck in routine.
Most days I wake up, work out, shower, have breakfast, perhaps some coffee….and then I am off and running….seeing clients, doing errands, cleaning, cooking, keeping appointments for hair, nails, skin or with an eye doctor, perhaps a PCP or dentist visit. On a good day, I might meet a friend for lunch or a late day glass of wine or dinner.
But to pause….to actually, consciously make space for those things I tell myself I want to do, promise myself I will do? Those things I often neglect ….those things I push to the side….like meditating, reading, writing, journaling, even napping. I tend to minimize their importance…. or allow the old tapes to play in my head…”work before play”, “there is way too much to be done”.
I grew up in a pristine environment. As the saying goes, you could eat off my Mom’s floors. She was the cook and housekeeper and later in life also worked outside our home. My memory is of her gardening, canning the vegetables she grew, baking bread and pastries from scratch, cleaning our home until it gleamed, ironing my Dad’s work shirts to perfection and cooking nearly every meal. She rarely sat down….and neither do I.
As I start to seriously slow my work life, the option to ‘pause’ becomes more viable. I look around and note that some of my women friends are actually devouring books and painting beautiful images on canvases or practicing yoga and meditation on a regular basis. They have incorporated ‘pause’ into their lives. And through their example, and my desire to change, more recently, so have I.
I vacationed the month of March on the island of St. John. Many warm days and precious moments were spent interacting with family and friends on boats, beaches and over sumptuous meals in funky island restaurants….but I also took the time to journal, to meditate, read and walk.
I watched fascinating cloud formations swim by overhead while lying on a chaise by the pool. I talked with iguanas that hung from palm branches or sunned themselves on our entry stairs. Several times, I engaged tiny tree frogs that sat motionless on the sun-baked tile outside our living room door and many mornings spoke to tiny yellow birds that graced the outdoor railing searching for crumbs from our dinner the night before on the deck.
I literally took time to “smell the roses” in the form of luscious red bougainvillea or delicate white and pink hibiscus blooms.
I paused with nature to peer at deer in the brush, watched pelicans dive voraciously for their morning meal and observed dozens of hermit crabs traipsing around among the luscious greenery with someone else’s former home on their backs. I paused to connect with gracious, gentle people traumatized by the hurricanes that devastated their island, listened to their stories and held one who cried in my arms.
More recently, we visited New York City for a few days, a place that challenges any sort of pausing. Yet, instead of being consumed by the frenetic, indifferent, over-stimulating vibe of the city, I slowed myself down enough to admire the calming art deco and fiercely vibrant contemporary architecture and sat quietly among the exquisite flowering trees of Central Park. I slowed enough to enjoy a leisurely lunch in the open doorway of a small French restaurant in the Village, as soft breezes touched my face.
I also noted several times when the world paused in the last few weeks.
One afternoon I stopped, as many did, to watch Tiger Woods make comeback history in the game of golf and in personal redemption. On the same day, I saw a young, brilliant, energetic and kind mayor from a small city speak. I paused, hanging on each word like I once did listening to the oration of Robert and John Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Barack Obama. I watched with admiration this first “out” gay man announce his candidacy for President of the United States.
As I practice this new concept of ceasing, delaying, taking a breath…I am aware of an internal evolution. My instinct has been to minimize the importance of slowing down, of pausing, when in fact the opposite proves true. When I make relaxation and conscious awareness a priority, I notice how my body, mind and spirit regenerate. I feel refreshed and renewed. I take time to reassess life, to balance, to experience gratitude. I notice. I breathe. I am in the moment….present.
The challenge, like staying on a diet or sticking to an exercise routine, will be to remain focused and consistent. To notice when I am sighing or holding my breath. To look up, not down. To schedule time for what is fulfilling, enjoyable or relaxing into my calendar. To make doing nothing as important and mandatory as checking off items on my to-do list or focusing on my career, returning emails or completing tasks.
I am committed to making a change.
My greatest challenge going forward?
To REMEMBER…. to just….pause.