We all get to the point where we just need to STOP. That could look like anything from a 10-minute meditation to a year’s sabbatical. Often we are feeling a little out of alignment, weary, stagnant.
This summer has been my personal Stop. For me, that meant putting aside the new website I’d been working on, letting my blog do online savasana and rest, and not innovating new programs. Yes, I’ve continued with my private clients. I still tied my shoelaces and did enough to keep money flowing. But all in all, it was my summer of stop.
What I learned this summer surprised me. I was visualizing that I’d sort of “clear out” over the summer so I could be a clean slate come fall. And I do feel more clear. However, what I really learned was how to do (and not do!) a stop. I realized it’s a lifelong practice. One way clears a path to your clarity, while the other obscures it. Here are a few things I discovered…
A good Stop has to have some amount of complete aimlessness. When I kept controlling what my day/hour/minute looked like, my ego was in charge and there was no room for something new to appear. So sometimes I had to let go and simply see what happened.
Just because we give ourselves time, doesn’t mean we’ll use it wisely. I discovered that I could have a whole open day and spend it in ways that deepened the gift of the Stop, or not. The former looked like meditating, reading inspiring books, journaling, resting and being present. Even working, but in a mindful way. The latter looked like too much – email, Facebook, unnecessary errands, Godiva chocolate, or business details on overdrive.
Sometimes all we need is that mindless TV show. The difference is making the conscious decision to watch it, versus unconsciously escaping (wait, when did the TV go on, and how did this Kind bar get in my hand?)
Road trips can be great mind-expanders for a Stop (even though you’re really “going,” I know). This summer I drove through New Mexico with my daughter Chloe, and my vision enlarged to meet the mountains, the palette of sky, the stretch of desert… everything opened.
A Stop is not all bliss. In fact, it can be incredibly hard. Our society is so busy because many of us are running from what catches up with us when we are not moving. There were days when I was clawing the walls, and all I wanted was to get busy and distracted. But it passes, and when it does, often a nugget of wisdom awaits…
You can get lost on a Stop, or you can get found. The easiest way to get lost is to completely forget why you are doing it and disconnect. The easiest way to get found is to have a daily ritual that reminds you of your intention. For me, that was a frequent morning meditation and holding big questions (Where does my greatest joy meet the world’s greatest need? How do I create a business that is both sustainable and enjoyable?), and listening for answers throughout the day or week.
So now, my creative Summer Stop is over. I feel refreshed and ready to dive back into life with new insights and energy. I also realized that my Stops will never end. With a creative business, I find that I’m regularly called to do a mini-stop – to slow down, pay attention, and see what needs to stop (even just in my head) so that something New can start.
Pearls for reflection or comments: How do you know when it’s time for a Stop? What are some elements in your most successful Stops?
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Carolyn Scarborough is a professionally trained creativity and writing coach. As founder of Backyard Pearls, LLC, she helps coaches and heart-based entrepreneurs to unblock their creativity so they can connect with and express what’s deeply meaningful to them. She leads retreats, telecourses and does private coaching with new writers, experienced writers, and those who simply need a creativity boost to launch business and writing projects. She is the author of “Backyard Pearls: Cultivating Wisdom and Joy in Everyday Life,” and is an award-winning magazine writer who has published more than 500 articles in publications around the world.
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