Pause Button

IMG_4701Recently my grandbaby sat in a highchair for the first time. I snapped a photo and sent it to his dad.

He texted back, “My heart needs a break!!”

I thought, “Hold on tight baby boy. That feeling never goes away.”

The saying goes, “Being a parent is like watching your heart walk around outside your body,” but it’s more than that. It’s a constant feeling that life is happening at warp speed and you’re desperate to find the pause button. Except for those days following sleepless nights, if only those days would speed quickly by so you could catch a few hours of precious sleep then things could slow down again, but even those days are treasured in hindsight.

Being a parent is having your heart stretched wider and wider. It’s thinking you couldn’t possibly love someone more and the next moment you realize in fact you do. It’s a constant opening and growing, not always of our own choosing. Seldom is there time to relax comfortably in the space of our growth before the next life event happens. One day you’re holding this helpless little human and the next day he’s sitting in a highchair and banging his spoon on the table.

Precious moments come and go and you will your brain to remember them all. The way his little body curls around my middle when he falls asleep in my lap. The pudge of his checks and the rolls on his thighs, the feel of his little hands when he grabs my face and plants an open mouth slobbery kiss on my checks, that flirty little smile as he pulls away and laughs, all of it you hope to remember in detail but deep down realize you won’t. Perhaps we aren’t meant to.

Imagine if we were capable of storing every little detail, our minds would soon become too cluttered with the past to be present in the now and what a shame that would be. Imagine a home overfilled with stuff, floor to ceiling stacks of memorabilia, shelves piled high with papers, pictures, trophies, magazines and newspapers all saved in an effort not to forget some special moment in the past. Eventually, the home becomes so filled with things there is no space left to enjoy the company of people, to sit and talk, to laugh and play, no space for living, only space for holding memories. Occasionally, our homes need to be de-cluttered so we have room to make new memories. Perhaps our minds are like this too.

With age, I’ve come to know the reality that I will not remember every little detail and so I find myself slowing down, listening harder, noticing more. In the moment, I am more present because I understand that I won’t be able to easily retrieve these memories in years to come. The present moment is a gift that will only be unwrapped once and I want to savor every layer of its essence, immersing myself in its beauty, and living only in the now of it all. I believe being fully present has the power to transform mental memory into soul memory. What my mind may not remember, my soul will never forget. Years from now, I may not remember the words that were spoken but I will know the love that was shared because I sat quietly with my heart open wide and allowed it to soak deeply into my soul. This is as close to a pause button as you’re ever going to find.

Doing vs Being


Walking onto the back porch before the sun has made its way over the roofline and the dew is still glistening on the grass, has a way of instantly relaxing the built up tension in my shoulders from a restless night. As I drop into a corner chair with coffee in hand, a huge sigh releases. A welcome feeling of gratitude emerges as I recognize the gift of the next few minutes I’ll spend quietly reflecting, sipping the perfect cup of coffee, listening to the birds chattering away, and taking stock of how blessed I truly am.

It’s easy to get lazy when life becomes busy. The busier I am, the lazier I get. The more productive I am at doing life, the less energy I put into being alive. It’s easy to believe I have no choice. I have obligations, responsibilities, people depending on me.

  “If it were only me, I’d do things differently. I would eat healthier, exercise regularly, go to sleep earlier, read more books, write everyday…”

It’s easy to convince myself that this is my reality when in truth, reality is what we create for ourselves. Each day I make a choice as to how I spend my time and energy, how I direct my thoughts, and how I feel about what I am doing. It’s easier to “do life” than to truly “be alive.”

What does “doing life” look like? It looks busy, stressed, hectic, productive, important. It looks like long To Do Lists with a lot of check marks, a calendar with no empty space, and a day that zooms by without conscious attention to exactly what is taking place. It looks like events to plan, clients to serve, family to care for, parties to attend, causes to champion, letters to write, phone calls to make, houses to clean, and no time for reflection, gratitude, or rest.

We convince ourselves that our purpose in life is “doing” and the more “doing” we accomplish, the more successful we are. We believe doers are the strongest and most successful in life but this is simply an idea we choose to believe. In reality, doers are lazy. Those who are busy doing are afraid of being. To do is easy. We can be taught to do most anything and if not, we can find someone to help us. Most doing takes little conscious thought. We perform tasks robotically, efficiently, and routinely. Systematically, checking the boxes on our to do lists. Driving the same route to work each day oblivious to our surroundings. Doing can be exhausting but doing does not require strength and it does not equal success. Doers avoid the hard work by staying busy with the mundane.

Being alive is not for the faint of heart or the lazy. Being takes courage. Only the strong are able to sit in the quiet, to look inward at the darkness and see throughto the light. It isn’t easy to consistently make conscious choices, to listen to intuition and ask ourselves the Why before planning the How. To trust that fulfilling life’s purpose is tied to something greater than ourselves and to allow intuition to lead us on the path to fulfillment is hard. It can be scary and extremely uncomfortable. It’s much easier to fill our time with work and obligations, all the while believing we have no choice.

This morning I realize I’ve recently fallen back into the trap of “no choice” and it isn’t the first time this has happened. In fact, this is a fairly solid pattern I’ve created. Over the past six or so years, I’ll dive deep into the area of self-discovery for a period of time. Doing the hard work, I’ll connect with inner intuition, glimpse life purpose, and taste my true passion. Coming out of the experience, I’m energized and determined, feeling I know what I’m here to do and excited for the journey ahead only to be distracted by the busyness of life shortly thereafter. Often I’ll beat myself up for falling into the trap of doing yet again.

  “What’s wrong with me? I know better. Why can’t I do better?”

But trying to do better is exactly the problem. Life isn’t about doing and the harder I try to do, the further I am from actually living. Life is about allowing, letting go of expectation and trusting the Divine path that is set before us. We are all part of a universal stream of energy that flows swiftly and effortlessly toward our life’s purpose. Being aware of this energy and trusting our place within it is all that is required in order to participate in the abundance that life has to offer.

Imagine this stream of energy like a river with each of us in our own little canoe. If we are so busy paddling our canoe that we don’t take the time to notice the direction of the river’s flow, we might spend our lives paddling furiously upstream, never making any real progress. But, if we pick up our paddles and sit quietly long enough to become aware of the flow of the water, we soon feel our canoe floating along swiftly in the flow of universal energy. Life isn’t meant to be a struggle but picking up our paddles can be scary. It means giving up what we see as control and letting go of the belief that busy equals success. It means trusting in something greater than ourselves. This takes courage and it takes strength. It takes forgiving ourselves when we get scared and start paddling furiously again. It takes the courage to pick the paddles back up and to sit quietly. It takes the occasional gift of a morning on the porch with a perfect cup of coffee.