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The Pause

The Pause

“The pauses between the notes – ah, that is where the art resides.” ~ Artur Schnabel

When I recently read this quote, it immediately reminded me of all the gymnastic floor routines I’ve choreographed. One of my signature moves was the non-move. The stillness. The pause. I’ve had people make fun of my choreography for putting in the “Miss Val pause and stare.” Whether they meant to be hurtful or not, I don’t know and don’t really care.  I always loved the dramatic flair that came from utter stillness during an exciting powerful gymnastics floor routine. 

On a Zoom meeting today, a mom of a young gymnast asked, “How can I figure out how to motivate my child to do her schoolwork and get her athletic conditioning assignments done without being a dictatorial raging bitch?”

My truthful answer would have been, “I honestly don’t know. I don’t have children at home and have no idea how I would handle it.”  I can’t imagine juggling all the different hats parents are being forced to wear during quarantine.  And then I thought about the quote. “The pauses between the notes – ah, that is where the art resides.”  Change that to, “The moments of pause and contemplation is where the clarity resides.”

I don’t have to homeschool children or juggle a million parental hats.  But I do know what it feels like to spin from one pressing project to another all day long. Each time I dare to check my emails and texts, there are new requests and reminders of what needs to get done in the next waning hour. It can be overwhelming. So, I can’t even imagine how parents with children at home are dealing with their new reality.

When asked that question by the mom, the only response I felt qualified to give was, “Find time for the Pause. In the middle of the frustration and chaos, give yourself a timeout.  In sports, coaches take a timeout to pause, assess, recalibrate, then recommit to the game plan. To get to the desired outcome, sometimes the plan needs to be altered. So, even if only for a few minutes, take a timeout. Step outside, pause, breathe and exhale.”

For the first few weeks of quarantine, I was going 100 miles an hour. From the time I got up in the morning until the moment my head hit the pillow, I was on a proverbial hamster wheel.  I would vacillate between feeling drained and then pathetic for feeling drained. I’m safe, I’m secure, and I have a warm bed to climb into each night.  I have so much to be grateful for. 

A few days ago, I started following my own advice. Even if I only have a few minutes in between Zoom meetings, I head straight out the door to get some fresh air. I breathe, pause, and exhale. It’s amazing what simply being outside can accomplish in a short period of time. After all, the very definition of a pause is a brief interruption of action or speech. The definition of a timeout is a brief suspension of activity, intermission or break. We’re not talking about trying to find the time for recess, although if you could schedule recess in the middle of the day with your kids that would be great. I’m simply encouraging you to pause. Take a few moments for yourself, breathe in some fresh air and just be still. Remind yourself that this too will pass. You aren’t expected to have Super-Powers or be the perfect combination of Super-Parent, Super-Teacher, Super-Coach, Super-Inspiring Motivator… Your power is in the stillness. Acknowledge the things you are grateful for, search for the strength to be patient, find your spiritual calm and tap into your eternal power of love.

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