Bonjour! I like to think that we have always had this ongoing conversation that begins and ends with thought…(hence the ellipsis) We are always pondering conundrums and discovering new ideas. Did I ever tell you about the time I learned to pause? Well, first how are you and how has your day fared thus far? Mine has been steady.
Spring has sprung! Yesterday made it official–although it felt like winter temperatures in the neighborhood of 48 degrees staring into my anticipated spring-like gaze longing to plant new herbs and flowers. Pause. The one year that I choose to be proactive, I am advised to pause on my planting endeavors for the sake of potential growth and the well-being of my beloved plants. Did I mention that I do not have a green thumb? So this also marks one of many failed attempts. This unplanned scenic route that was not a part of my botanical excursion allowed me to reflect for a moment. Sometimes we simply need to pause. And that is just what I attempted to welcome in my life.
I tend to have the gumption and desire to “build Rome in a day”. Although I am well aware this is a figment of my colorful imagination, it does not keep me from attempting and trying. Only to discover that I need to place a pause where I am more inclined to spring into some type of action.
It all started with 2 minutes…
Upon awakening, I acknowledge the sovereign one that breathed life into my mortal body and gives me the ability to decide, the will to choose. I have activity of my limbs, my mind and how it functions even without my help—especially when toxic thoughts try to hijack my better sense of judgment when it comes to relationships and knowing when to make a graceful exit out of those relationships. Nonetheless, that is a rant for another day. Before I slide my feet from underneath the warm comforts of my serene horizontal position layered in solace and peaceful rest where I drifted off only 8 1/2 hours prior to touch the well-worn carpeted floor, I give thanks. A simple ritual that includes a well-appointed and much needed stretch to gently wake up those same limbs. The 2 minutes grew into 3 and so on and so forth. I challenged myself to sit in silence for an entire minute, focusing on simple thanks. You’d be surprised at how this aligns your day. My first fruits are to receive, whether it is a concise devotional or scripture reading and I meditate on that. The days that I don’t practice this important step–throws me off and has me playing “catch up the entire day. Just a few minutes makes that much a difference? Really? Yes.
Before I “decided” to choose how to awaken, I used to slump out of bed with little purpose, wishing for 1 more hour–forget 5 more minutes! Or how about siding wishing for a whole day in bed, for that matter. I had fallen deeply in love with my bed. We had a true relationship and it never let me down, except it drained me and sucked all of my time if I remained there. (hind sight 20/20-it reminds of past relationships as well). It seemed to have arms that held me ‘just right’, not too tight or too loose. Anything in excess is not healthy, you know. My bed saw more of me than anyone I knew. It became my security, where I was safe never to discover anything unknown. My face buried in the clean smell of fresh linens did not help. I took pride in creating the most comfortable and serene slumber environment to promote the best sleep possible. I would slide, almost limping toward the wash room deciding if I were going to hit the light switch or allow the morning light to provide what I needed. Plopping or easing (depending on the morning) down to do what every human has to do to flush any toxins from the night before out of their system. Yeah, you know, the porcelain throne that almost every home owns thanks to modern civilization. Thank God for indoor plumbing. My mind would drift off to times where there were “out houses” port-a-potties without the luxury that we are so blessed to have today. I would not or could not seize each moment to be grateful, because I was still desiring to be with my beloved…the bed.
Until one day, I decided to wake up with purpose. To live with purpose. To be more disciplined. I took a moment and decided to pause. Take in what was around me. If you were told that you only had 1 more day to live, how would you live it? What would you do? What about 1 more hour? Why not carpe diem right now?
I was going nonstop so much that I missed the simple pleasures all around me. The gaze of my loving husband, instead of being annoyed calling it a stare instead. The endless questions of my inquiring children that were well constructed to avoid chores or completing a task, instead of looking at it from a perspective in which they valued my insight. The repetitive singing from the little brown speckkedbird that perches itself on my window ledge every morning as if its sole duty was to be my personal alarm clock on the days I really wanted to sleep in. No, I did not experience a near death experience to change this “stinking way of thinking”. I desired more out of life in the simplest forms, wanting to learn a lesson out of everything around me. I did not need to jump out of a plane or travel to distant lands. I wanted to simply appreciate the life that I was afforded. This is how I decided to give back and show my gratitude. Patience is that attitude for gratitude while patiently waiting for change. Not sulking or moping or complaining about “should’ve, could’ve, would’ves” along the off beaten paths of an untraveled road not taken. I don’t have all of the things my heart desires but I have life and it is what I choose to make of it.
I challenged myself to choose to pause the things that brought me uncertainty, confusion, monotony or discomfort. Those toxic relationships that consumed my time & cluttered my thought process where I was always the one giving and never receiving. I paused because it takes time to sort things out to organize and it started with me.
Filling your days with “stuff”, or people, or projects is not productive if it is not conducive to your health and well-being. What we do affects others whether we are aware of it or not. If there is no impact being made, why are you still in repeat mode? The people around us know us best and have studied our patterns. For instance, take my youngest for example. She (aka #4) knows that she is rewarded after reading a book. She mastered minded this strategy only for her plan to be thwarted by one of her older siblings (#4).
One particular day, I was too distracted in “go-mode” to take notice, the younger child skipping gleefully toward me approaches and exclaims that she has read an entire chapter book by herself! (Side note: child was around age 6). My usual response, “Oh honey that is awesome! I’m going to give you a delicious treat for such hard work”! Being an avid reader and literacy advocate–why not encourage this type of behavior! One of the older siblings–we shall name #1 to protect the innocent– commented, “why don’t you ask her to read one of the other chapters”. The tone of older child was a sure-fire strategy to set up child #4 with an egg to the face style of sibling rivalry in a typical lesson of virtue.
Side note: Madam Dade Child Rule #1 Never manipulate “the mom or dad” with academic achievements. This never goes over well and if other siblings are involved, rivalry grows more aggressively. It also creates a comparison trap and forms favoritism—see where this is going?
Out of curiosity, I opted to oblige child #1. That afternoon we discovered that child #4 had memorized the book. I had become too busy to notice that she never chose any other book. When she was younger every one in our home took turns reading to her and she had memorized the book! Well, that’s good, however that is not the point. Never mind the obvious, #4 brought the same book over a period of a few months and I had not noticed. Minor details. This little being had learned my patterns enough to use it as strategy to reward herself whenever she decided that she wanted a “delicious treat”. What had I created? A system of what I thought were proper checks and balances. Not to sound cliché but reading is fundamental. The reward itself is to be able to read and enjoy it—as you are doing so right now. There is no tangible delicious treat afterward. You may walk away with a nugget of some sort but it is what you make of it. There are people in our lives that take advantage of our kindess and attempt to manipulate a situation that leave us wondering how did that happen? The story is a more comical way of looking at how toxic relatioships could turn into enabling bad habits. Thankfully, I recovered quicly and grew from an experience that showed how we can be manipulative or manipulated in the most innocent of situations.
I learned 2 things that day. Number one: take time to develop child #4’s reading progress and Number two: to slow down. I remember encouraging her great memory skills but tactfully redirecting the purpose and importance of the privilege in reading. Pause on the “treats” for being able to read. The sense of accomplishment should be rewarding enough. We had to take a “pause” and focus on what was important. I shared that story to show how even our loved ones take advantage of us when we operate in predictable patterns. It is human nature for children to only look out for themselves, can you blame them?! Their way appears to be done with such candid cuteness!
I challenge you to spring into a pause this moment. I encourage you to take inventory of the toxic people or things in your life that drain you, that offer nothing, and cannot provide any resolution that benefits you in such a way that you are excited about who you are and what you are doing. I am reminded of a scripture that reads, …”iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend”. (Proverbs 27:17 KJV Bible)
The process of elimination may take a little longer than others. Carefully think about what you want out of life and how you’d like to spend your day today…with purpose and with meaning as if it were your last. It is going to take a little discipline but you can do it! I paused and pausing has never felt greater. Now, I can hear what is NOT being said, I can see what is not being shown—such clarity and it all began with a simple decision where I sprung into an action that resulted in a moment to simply….pause…
Well, its been a pleasure chatting with you.
…until next time–Au revoir!