Midlife: The Time to Take a Pause

I complained to my counselor last week that my life isn’t going anywhere, I’m not accomplishing anything, I don’t know where I’m headed, and I’m not feeling productive. She smiled.

I explained how, after quitting my job last year, I thought about going back because there I felt needed, appreciated, and competent, but then after having dinner with my boss and his wife, remembered why I quit that job and why I’d never
go back. I spent many years of my life raising children, and that gave me a feeling of being needed, but they are all gone now and I’m left with an empty nest. She nodded.

So now I am here at this point–facing fifty next year– and I don’t know why I can’t seem to do anything, and on top of that, am having a temporary health problem with my balance that adds to my being stationary in my life…She laughed.

Then she asked if perhaps I had thought that maybe what I am doing right now, taking a “pause” in my life, isn’t just what I’m suppose to be doing?

I told her I believe God gives us each something to do, and I’m sure I’m not getting my purpose met.

She said God also may be thinking it’s time for me to stop and listen, and since I seem so adverse to it, he gave me a health challenge that wouldn’t debilitate me or cause any pain, but just slow me down for awhile… It was clear she wasn’t going to join me in my wallowing. So I began frustrated.

She asked, “Why do you feel you have to be DOING something all the time?” My only response I could come up with was so that I wouldn’t waste my life, so I’d feel worthy of it. She said that maybe, just maybe, I am right where I am suppose to be, and maybe just maybe I might be worthy of life even when I’m sitting still and taking a break.

She sure gave me a lot to think about.

I struggled so hard to find a purpose, something to do. When I first stopped working, I threw myself into spring cleaning and de-cluttering. After awhile, I realized that is a job that I’ll never get a sense of accomplishment for because it never is DONE. So then I tried crafts, only to discover I am not a crafty person, and it was actually more
annoying than relaxing. Then I began to write, which I enjoyed until I made it something I HAD to spend a lot of time doing every day or else I wasn’t DOING IT RIGHT. And certainly I had to be selling a lot of things. So I found myself with three stories being published in the next few months, with a few checks coming in, and enjoying the writing less and less because I made it be about the money. I bought canvases and paints and never touch them. I bought movies to watch that still have the wrappers.

So most days I get up with no “to-do” list and hours of free time and end up with them passing without anything really accomplished. But today I realized I’m HAPPY and peaceful. Despite all the pausing, I’m happy. I enjoy puttering around here not having to meet any goals, or deadlines, and not having to please anyone but me. I enjoy the hours of silence during the day even when I’m just sitting looking at the birds out the window. I enjoy playing with my puppy, or taking a nap on the couch with a big feather pillow and a quilt. And one of the things I used to pray for daily was a peaceful
life….

So maybe, just maybe God is trying to tell me to BE STILL, like a fidgety child. Be still and look. Be still and listen. Be
still and learn. So for now, I’m on pause, and I’m going to stop worrying about when I’ll push the play button again.

My story is probably not much different than yours. Lives today are much more hectic than in our parents’ day. We get up and not only turn off the coffeepot and lights before going to work, but also have to find our PDA or organizer, our pager and cellphone, and all the folders of work we brought home yesterday. Our “to do” list never is completed. By the time we get to the bottom, more things have been added. We put our families on hold. We are tired, mentally and physically. Things we used to take joy in no longer mean as much. Everyone, no matter what their circumstances, can take a pause. Even if it’s just blocking out the work piled on your desk to watch birds in the park on your lunch hour. Maybe it means leaving the kids with your spouse while you lock the bathroom door, light candles, and soak in a tub of bubbles. Maybe it means taking some time off from work to go on that trip you’ve always wanted to take. Or maybe it’s just sitting doing nothing for awhile. I think life today is so stressful, with our never-ending schedules, eating lunch at our desk, making endless lists of things to get done, and falling into bed exhausted but so mentally stimulated we can’t sleep. We all need some time to stop, listen, and learn.

Take some time today to put your life on pause. When you plan some time off from work, don’t feel like you have to schedule activities for all your free time. Enjoy doing NOTHING for awhile. You may just find that doing nothing was much more profitable to you than doing something. You will gain relaxation, a better mood, handle stress better, and sleep better at night if you can learn to just put your life on pause

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