Eva’s Excerpt December 2022


I think many people look at me and assume that I work non-stop. “Driven,” might be a word some would use to describe me. There is clear truth to that. And I am also a strong believer in the importance of the pause. It is a practice I’ve developed, use consistently, and is something I think is particularly important for me during the holiday season. This month marks my birthday, my son’s birthday, and the end of a year. And because of the work, stressors, and life chaos associated with COVID and now accreditation, I have been remiss in attending to the importance of the pause. So this month, I want to talk a little bit about what I mean by a pause, why I think it’s important, and use this as an opportunity to hold myself accountable to taking a pause. I hope you will do the same.

What do I mean by pausing? I like this description by Mara Karpel in her Huffington Post Blog: “Sometimes that pause consists of moments to smell the roses, and sometimes that pause is time spent with family. (I am particularly grateful for the moments with both of my parents because, after all, there are no do-overs.) Sometimes that pause consists of days spent playing, and sometimes that pause is a longer one, to heal the wounds we have sustained on our journey.” I especially like this definition because it’s so flexible and allows one to consider pauses even when things are hard, or, as often occurs during the holidays, filled with must do events and activities.

So, why is pausing so important? Terry Hershey writes in his book, The Power of Pause, “While waiting for perfect, we pass on ordinary. While waiting for better, we don’t give our best effort to good. While waiting for new and improved, we leach the joy right out of the old and reliable.” Bottom line, there is joy in what we often consider mundane. I had the opportunity to experience this early this month. I was traveling to Southern California for work and I decided to fly to the Bay Area to visit my mom. I could only stay for less than 48 hours and all we did was talk and watch TV, but it was so rejuvenating and joyful for me.

There are also clear health and wellbeing benefits to pausing. You can refer to a variety of online sites from the Veterans Affairs to a variety of health and mindfulness blogs. From those, I’ve cobbled together this list of benefits (and some great quotes) that most resonate with me:

1) Pausing helps you reevaluate priorities and adjust goals
When you’re busy pursuing your goals, it often feels unproductive to stop and think about your priorities and whether they remain the same. But living head down, work hard can cause you to miss the realization that your goals and priorities, or simply the world around you, may have changed, taking you off track from your true purpose and priorities. Pressing pause gives you the opportunity to reevaluate your goals, take stock of your accomplishments, and adjust your focus so you don’t later look back and wonder how you got there.

2) Pausing allows you to restore your strength
As a former athlete and still exercise junkie, this one really resonates with me as I age (thanks especially to my PT for forcing this on me). Being constantly busy and buried under problems (or injuries, illness), with new ones piling on top, weighs us down and slows recovery. To keep living a full life, it’s crucial to recover. Short pauses are the easiest way to do this. The longer we put off the rest we need, the more time we need to restore. If we take a break without waiting to be exhausted, we can recover our strength much faster than if we wait until we are completely drained (or injured or knocked on our butt with illness). I actually bought an Oura Ring to help me with just this and I love it (thanks to my bestie Tina for pushing it on me)!

3) Pausing helps you regain your creativity
I continually find that I have moments of inspiration and creativity after a pause (for me this is usually problem solving or a new curricular/ assessment idea – sorry team). A pause can be a source of inspiration that helps us reach for new opportunities and see ordinary or difficult things from a different perspective.

4) Pausing keeps us going
Brene Brown in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life says, “The dig-deep button is a secret level of pushing through when we’re exhausted and overwhelmed, and when there’s too much to do and too little time for self-care.” As people who work in healthcare and medical education, we know this dig deep button very well – it’s our go-to button. Brown tells us that when we pause and refuse to automatically hit that “dig-deep” button, it doesn’t mean that we get off track, are lazy or fail. It means we care for ourselves enough to take some time to reflect and rejuvenate.

Pausing is a necessity, not a luxury or indulgence. In her book, Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach writes, “Through the sacred art of pausing, we develop the capacity to stop hiding, to stop running away from our own experience. We begin to trust in our natural intelligence, in our naturally wise heart, in our capacity to open to what arises.” I wish you all a healthy and happy holiday season and an intentional pause to rejuvenate and take stock.