Pause for Balance

Read the following passage and make a journal entry at the end.

In the last week, I’ve driven over 1,100 miles, much of it by myself, which gave me lots of time for podcasts and music, two of my favorite pastimes.  But for some of it, I turned off all the sounds and just gave myself time to think.  When I do this, I can feel my body settle, my blood pressure lower, and my mind relax.  I find that I’m so curious about the world and what’s in it, I take in a lot, but it always requires time to integrate.  Music and lyrics, as they do for everyone if we let them in, bring up feelings and emotions that help us identify our own human experience.  It’s why I am slightly obsessed with the gifted songwriters out there. They have the ability to put the human experience on display in the most powerful ways in just a few minutes. 

The morning of December 28th, on what would have been my 25th wedding anniversary, I woke up in San Luis Obispo. To be honest, it hadn’t occurred to me until I was pulling into SLO the night of the 27th and everything in me wanted to stop for the night instead of trying to make it home. Still, after everywhere I’ve traveled, it’s one of my favorite and most peaceful spots in the world.  After dropping Luke at Stanford, the girls getting themselves home to SoCal in a separate car, and Matthew staying a few more days in Fresno, a night of quiet on my own, after the holiday craziness was calling and I was happy to be able to take it. Healing takes a lot of pattern recognition and coming back to SLO reminds me of what I knew about myself 25 years ago that I allowed getting buried, trying to make other people comfortable, or, as they say, putting on the oxygen masks for others before you secure your own first. But as I travel the path, and trust that the people around me are doing the best they can with what they know, I find little room in my heart for regret.  Of course, the main reason for that is the four of them that have been the driving force of goodness in my life for 21 years.  But beyond that, to know that wisdom is pattern recognition and that without the gift of time and the ability to slow down and listen, I wouldn’t know what I do about myself, somehow it all makes sense, and I find peace. The only expectation I have is that I keep learning and am brave enough to apply what I learn.  So, I came up with some good areas of focus for myself for 2022 to take care of myself so that I can stoke the fire in me to bring the stories that I am excited about that promote generational learning and healing to the world. Hopefully, you may recognize where some of these apply in your own life;)

  1. Be kind, to ourselves first, so we can bring kindness to others Maybe we hear this a lot, and it goes in one ear and out the other because we think we are already doing enough.  Find another layer. Cut yourself some slack, stop the all or nothing thinking. In this space, we can see the choices that we have in our lives. If there is one thing that I am convinced of from the stories that cross my coffee table every day, it’s that people fight battles within themselves and in the world that are greater than their Christmas cards will ever show.  Kindness that starts with ourselves creates space to have these healing conversations that are vital to our lives.  
  2. Trust Your Gut.  If we have been in situations where questioning our own sense of self or the reality that surrounded us was part of surviving, or maintaining some type of social equilibrium, we lose touch with what we know is true at our core - that each of us has a unique gift to bring to the world.  Sometimes it gets buried under layers of insecurity and hurt, but the truth is it’s always inside of us, and its voice never goes away.  I realize how long I have spent letting that voice stay quiet, and then slowly finding its way out, and the courage to do that has always come down to trusting my gut. 2022 is going to be spent writing and talking about ‘what I meant to say’. Every day is gift, and no, you have not missed your calling.
  3. Spend time in silence.  There is no greater pull on our intuition and intelligence than modern day distraction.  In 2022, I want to grow my own mindfulness practice and help other people start or grow their own.  It’s not only the place where we get to separate our thoughts from our actions, it’s the place where we are able to connect to the Divine. And that’s where the healing and sense of calm resides.
  4. Sink in with my music, fiction, movies & animals This goes back to being kind to myself.  So often I have thought that these things are a waste of time, but when I look back on my most joyful moments of 2021, all four take a prominent and simple place in my joy. Rediscovering fiction was a highlight of 2021, when my back was hurt, and it was the only thing that took my mind off of it.  Now I realize, its novelty is an amazing gateway to my own creativity and flow. 
  5. Continue to learn.  This is the caveat to my above precept that people are doing the best they can with what they know.  We must continue to learn. When we do, our story progresses instead of repeats…not just for ourselves but for the generations that come after us.  And there is not a single thing in the world that motivates me more than that. 
  6. Promote conversations that heal.  I’m thankful for the science that backs up my storytelling ways.  From the neuroscience of flow and positive psychology, one of my favorite tools has been this VIA character assessment.  It’s a great place to start on the journey of self-awareness. I’m thankful that forgiveness always comes out in my top five-character traits because throughout our lives, we need to extend that virtue to ourselves and others over and over again.  And that’s ok, it’s part of the human experience. Silence doesn’t heal, the conversations need to be had, and forgiveness is always a healthy part of that process.  In 2022, I’m looking forward to taking this to the next level.  

Those green hills of San Luis Obispo reminded me that in this life, we don’t get do-overs. But, if we keep our senses alive and hearts open, we have many opportunities every day to do incredible things.  In so many ways, a new year is just another day to learn more and be a little bit better than we were the day before, but there is nothing wrong with a little rest and a holiday weekend to remind us of the greatness we are all capable of.  Sometimes you have to pause to pursue. Here’s to embracing the pause with all the kindness, love, and optimism we can muster and having the courage to say what we meant to say in this New Year. Can’t wait to show you what I have in store to do just that in 2022. 

TASK: Write a Journal Entry.

How relaxed and comfortable do I feel in the world? What could make it better?