I have a sign next to my bed: “Joy – Love – Peace.” It’s three words, each on their own chain, hanging down from my nightstand lamp. I bought them at Pottery Barn after the holidays – they’re meant to hang around the necks of wine bottles, I think. But I liked them and repurposed them to hang next to my bed as a reminder of the important things in life: joy, love and peace.
Unfortunately, even with a sign staring me straight in the face every night and every morning, it’s too easy to forget these three little words. Running to the dry cleaners, stopping to get a tea or bottle of water, writing a blog, calling clients, visiting with family and friends – these are all daily things that I get caught up doing and forget my little sign. Worse are the big things that I get caught up in, that I should instead let go of: taking other people’s inventory, trying to control situations that aren’t my own, trying to fix others, making decisions for others, doing anything FOR others. It’s these kinds of actions that not only allow me to forget my little sign, but they actually make me blind to it.
I don’t see it, I don’t remember it — and I don’t experience it.
It’s the last one that affects me the most, I think. Not seeing the sign: even though I see it, it doesn’t register with me as something to look at. So, I bought it to bring joy, peace and love into my space, and to serve as a reminder of the importance of those three things – but in seeing it every day, I no longer actually receive the reminder. So, I don’t remember it. When I don’t remember it – it escapes my every day existence. I find myself searching once more for those three little things that make everything seem so much better – but I’ve forgotten what they are, because my reminder doesn’t work anymore, and I have trouble remembering it on my own in the course of my daily life. Which leads me to not experiencing it.
By not seeing and not remembering my three words of joy, love and peace – I create a gap in my daily experience that is incongruent with who I am, and who I hope to be. I have had days, weeks even, when I have experienced joy, love and peace on a regular basis – and my life seemed endlessly “right.” And then I grew blind again and forgot, and I lost the experience; and life became somewhat harder and more distant. And it became more of an effort to find joy in everyday things, see love in a family member’s eyes, and experience peace in my own mind.
So – what does this all mean? In my opinion, it’s about slowing down. Taking a deep breath, and allowing yourself the time and space to remember what you’ve forgotten. It’s about pausing. If you look at almost everything in life where you have felt more peaceful, happier or healthier – there was almost certainly a pause that preceded the event. The pause is what allows us to remember. The pause creates the space for the reminders to float to the surface of our minds. There’s a reason the phrase: “take time to smell the flowers along the way,” exists. In fact, I used to have such a sign in my bedroom growing up – it was a coat rack, with pegs for hanging my childhood belongings, and it was perfect. Interestingly, I didn’t need the sign back then – I need it now. If only I could have remembered its lessons, rather than just hanging my leotard and ballet shoes on it.
So, as an adult – what does it take to stop and smell the flowers? What does it take to pause? It takes reminders. It takes awareness, and sometimes it takes crises, forcing us to pause. The Universe isn’t stupid – it knows what it’s doing. And if we don’t take the time to pause ourselves, we will, inevitably, get sick, get hurt, etc. I just experienced this last week. I forgot to read my sign, and I forgot to pause, and things were getting more and more hectic in my life, and I felt out of balance, out of control, and overwhelmed by all the little details. And I didn’t pause. Instead, I plowed through thinking everything would be alright if I could just….then wham! My back went out – from the silliest thing in the world: I was removing brownies from the oven that I had baked for the holiday weekend.
All of a sudden, I was in bed for three days, forced to pause, slow down and breathe. It wasn’t as if I could have even done work on the computer, because of the pain. So, when the Universe decided I needed a wake-up call…they gave me one! And now, three days later, I am feeling better, more focused, more grounded, and more grateful. I see the wisdom in slowing down a bit, and not worrying or obsessing about every last little detail, and carrying those emotions in my body (specifically, my back). Everything will still be there tomorrow, and if it’s not –then it wasn’t meant to be.
I paused. And in pausing, I saw my little sign. And in seeing my little sign, I remembered. And in remembering, I began to experience joy, love and peace. And in experiencing joy, love and peace, I was able to pause again, and feel them even more deeply. In feeling them more deeply, I was able to share them; and in sharing them, I am able to affect change around me – which is what I was trying to do in the first place, with no success, because it was coming from a place of blind incongruent behaviors, instead of who I am at my core.
So – this week, I challenge you to pause. If you need to set an alarm on your cell phone, or if you have another contraption that you can use – set it to go off at a random time each day. And when it goes off, see if you can pause. Just pause. You don’t have to do anything like breathe deeply, or meditate, or journal, or think, or speak. You simply have to pause. And in pausing – see what floats to the surface. You may just find something you were looking for without realizing you had lost it.
In love and light,