Music works not just because of the notes, but because of the space between them. Those pauses, some brief, some longer, create a mood. When we hear good music, we may fall in love all over again. Sometimes we are inspired, and other times just want to dance. Without the pauses, the music is nothing but a frantic pile of notes.
In life we must pause, too. Goldie Hawn, on Dr. Oz last week, said, “I have to take in that I’m holding a human brain.” She forced Dr. Oz and the audience to stop, breathe, and take in the magnificent wonder of that moment.
In Jewish religious services, each segment of the service is separated by a kaddish prayer. Each has a specific purpose, as in the well known Mourners’ Kaddish, but when we come to a kaddish, we know that we are pausing to transition to the next part of the service. It cleanses our spiritual palate.
In our work, though, we often move quickly from one project to the next, often not taking the time to stop, pause, and breathe. We run down our to-do list, busy, busy, busy, trying to take care of everything and everyone. Before we know it, the day is over, and we are left feeling as though we fell short somehow. I see this happen over and over again, especially with women. No matter how much we accomplish, it’s not good enough.
We haven’t learned how to pause.
Take a moment now. Stop reading this, close your eyes, and let in something that you completed yesterday or this morning. Maybe it was just unloading the dishwasher, but take a moment to celebrate. Acknowledge your success.
How did that feel? Did you let in that “atta girl” feeling easily, or was it a struggle? What if you did that throughout the day?
This past weekend I entered a manuscript in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel award contest. As I got closer to the opening of the entry period, I worked hard, making as many last-minute revisions as I could. I spent the prior seven days straight going through it over and over again. I entered the contest in part to give myself a deadline, and that last gasp of effort took a lot out of me.
So yesterday I stopped. I didn’t start a new project. Instead, I put on my 2010 NaNoWriMo winner t-shirt to remind me that I completed something big. I called a local day spa to book a special spa day for myself — I figure that finishing a book is a big deal that deserves some special celebrating. In a few days I will get pampered from head to toe.
I see many people start to pursue their dreams, only to get discouraged and quit before really getting started. I used to do that myself: get going, all excited, then bump up against a problem I didn’t know how to solve, or maybe just a good dose of fear. Being the good Puritan that I am, I would just work harder and try to muscle through. Of course, that doesn’t work. It just makes me tired and miserable.
What does work? I believe that if we build these little pauses and celebrations into our lives, giving ourselves little “atta girls” along the way, we settle down. We say, yes, I can do this. I can keep going.
Do you celebrate your successes, big or small? What’s your favorite celebration?
You can ask my boss but pausing is what I do best.
New ideas can’t get “in” if you are too busy doing other stuff.
I’m trying to learn from you, oh guru.
I love this. Great ideas develop in the lingering. Great learnings happen betwix and between.
So true, pauses are spaces notes use to grow, dallying with the listener so the nuances in the notes can dance with the listener’s mood to create a landscape that’s uniquely the listener’s very own.
I love your analogy! When I was young and watching my first live musical, I clearly remember being in awe as the glittering deer (played by an actress) expressed carefree abandon across the stage in complete silence. It was like the orchestra and the audience held their breath in synchronicity. I went back and watched it, seeking that magical moment, but the orchestra played through that scene. What a disappointment! It wasn’t the highlight it had been. As a corporate writer and speechwriter for much of my career, I would never attack the next article or speech without a short… Read more »
Wow, thanks for sharing your personal experience! It’s a perfect story to illustrate my point.
I also love the idea of the happy dance while heading to the printer. That gave me a chuckle. So true, though! Even a short pause makes such a difference.
I’m afraid I don’t pause like I should. I tend to think that I’ll relax when I get everything done, and done perfectly, and it never quite happens. I am learning more about mindfulness and am trying to build meditation into my life. It’s not easy for me, and I still tend to think, oh, I don’t have time to meditate today, so I’ll wait until tomorrow. Part of my problem is that I write for a weekly newspaper, so there’s always the next story to think about, to get ready. I end up draining myself and not doing my… Read more »
I know how you feel. Even now, knowing what I know, it’s hard to do in practice.
Some years ago I bought myself a stuffed turtle to hug when I felt the urge to run when I needed to slow down. It seems as though the more I slow down, the more I get done! Funny how that works.
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