There was a moment this summer when I said to myself, "I need to stop. Just stop."
The thought felt crazy highly concentrated and super true, and what came next was, "I don't know how to do that." And then: "I don't even know what that means." Hm.
I've worked long and hard on slowing down, but stopping seems like something different altogether. So I've been thinking about big kinds of stopping and little kinds of stopping. And as I've started to pay attention to how often I truly stop--or even take a pause--in my life, I've realized that it might actually be never. Never.
Maybe this isn't true of you. If it's not, maybe you'll be my guru of stopping. I would love that.
But if it is true of you, you might recognize this kind of not-stopping that I do:
I give my kiddo a smooch and head out the door and get in the truck and crank it up and back out while I'm turning on the radio and start thinking about whatever it is I Need To Be Thinking About.
Or I finish my workout and go straight to the locker room and take my shower and get dressed and exchange my locker key and walk out and pull out my phone and check my messages while I walk to the car and throw my bag in and crank it up and start driving.
Or I answer twelve emails and pull up a grant proposal and work on that and then right to the budget and hit save real quick and turn off my computer and get in the car and go to a meeting and walk straight in and sit down and start participating.
There's no stopping or pausing in there. Not a bit.
If I try to move my child from activity to activity with no transition in between, I know there will be meltdowns involved. If I give her new information and expect immediate action, I know she will resist like crazy because the new information hasn't had time to sink in. If I insist that she go all day long on a schedule she didn't create with no room for pause, I will be left with a frustrated, exhausted, unhappy child.
Holy crap. I'm not sure why I assumed it would be any different for the grown-up me. (Or you.)
We need a bit of transition. We need time to assimilate new information. We get frustrated, exhausted, and unhappy on this society's schedule, too.
I've been trying a simple experiment. And mostly failing. But even with the failing, it's been helping me see where I need to change my expectations of myself.
The experiment is this: When I change activities, I pause and take three breaths before I start doing the next thing. It takes 15 seconds.
I remember to do it about 25% of the time. If that. And sometimes I only get in one breath before my body or my mind (or my child) starts going again. But in the 25% of time that I do manage it, the stopping helps me be more intentional and more present with what I'm doing next. And when I notice that I haven't remembered to pause at all through hours and hours of activity switching--well, that's pretty dang illuminating, too.
School is back in, and that special energy of a season change is upon us. You might find that you're running from one thing to another with nary a pause. If you give this experiment with stopping a try, I'd love to know what you discover.
You are allowed to stop for 15 seconds. You are allowed to stop, my friend.