When will you pause today? What physical space will allow you to disconnect and find quiet?
"Busy, busy, busy!" Do you ever feel like Professor Hinkle in Frosty the Snowman or the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland? "I'm late. I'm late. For a very important date." Would it really hurt to take a few minutes to pause to regroup and replenish before tackling the next item on your to-do list?
As Arianna Huffington identifies in her book Thrive, "our culture is obsessed with time." But we don't have to be. With a shift in mindset, we can switch from time famine to time affluence. We all have the power to pause.
The quiet can be uncomfortable when you're not used to it and guilt may kick it to remind you of what you "should be doing" (I know mine does). With practice, I've found it gets easier and the benefits prove immeasurable. So many times, I have felt stress over "all of the things I have to do." But when I pause to prioritize the list and look at the blocks of time I have in the days ahead, I realize that it there's plenty of time, some things don't really need to happen today, and I don't need to stress. Pauses also allow for reflection and processing. If a task is taking me longer than it should, it's pausing that gives me the time to figure out why and make adjustments instead of just pushing ahead which usually ends with low quality work and lots of frustration.
Pauses can look like many things: a long hot shower, a walk, a juggling break, meditation, locking yourself in the bathroom (moms, I know you do this one!), or laughing with a friend. For me, a camera always does the trick.
I took this photograph in my yard last spring. We have a dogwood right outside our bedroom window that I love, but it wasn't until I went outside with my camera that I really saw it. A ten minute break in my work day provided me with a powerful pause. I appreciated little details about the budding process that I had never noticed before, but more importantly I entered a state of flow and wonder that stayed with me for the rest of the day. I don't remember if any brilliant new wisdom struck me that day, but it's after moments like these that I do my best work.
As preparations for the holidays and the end of the semester pick up in pace, please remember to slow down for a few moments to replenish your energy.