A dozen different versions of me

I’m becoming a fan of “the pause.” Between notes and pages and words and breaths, between thought and voice, between action and reaction. In that momentary stillness, in that space between before and after, there is possibility, a  myriad of paths that can be taken, a dozen different versions of me.

I’m not good at the pause. That’s what I’ve realized about myself. I tend to rush through it. I get excited, or angry, or nervous, or restless, and I erase the pause, just like that, and only later do I think of it, often with such yearning.

“If only” thoughts are some of the hardest thoughts of all.

I’m sorry for the pauses I’ve missed, the times when I could have stepped into that stillness, breathed, found the best part of me, uttered something different than the thing I did say, caught up as I was in the heat of the moment. I’m sorry for the times I rushed through it, that chance to be more thoughtful, more receptive, more giving. I’m sorry for the people I may have bowled over in my exuberance or anger, the ones who were maybe only pausing themselves, in search of a path, a better version of themselves.

I’m late but I’m learning, and I can spot them now, the pauses between things, the opportunity to get quiet, to still everything else, if only for a few seconds, and  just activate my heart.


  1. June O'Reilly (@LunaJune) on December 1, 2011 at 8:56 am

    between breaths
    the time we need to take
    to let go
    be present
    and center ourselves
    yes… we should all take more of those
    about to go take one now

    thanks for the reminder

    • j on December 1, 2011 at 11:40 am

      You’re welcome, June.

  2. Julia Fehrenbacher on December 1, 2011 at 9:34 am

    “I can spot them now, the pauses between things, the opportunity to get quiet, to still everything else, if only for a few seconds, and just activate my heart.”

    The pause. I was with a group of beautiful women friends a couple of nights ago and we talked about the importance of the pause. I was having trouble putting it into the words that meant what I really meant, but you just did it for me. “Activate the heart…” Yes! That’s it. Time to activate the heart. Oh, do I love that. You do that for me, you know, Judy. You activate my heart. Every time I think of the words you wrote to me yesterday, my eyes fill up and my heart spills over.

    I do love you–in the sweetest, bursting kind of way. Thank you for your brilliance.

    • j on December 1, 2011 at 11:48 am

      Sadly, a fight with my husband led to this post… the fight and then the realization, hours later, that there was a moment when the whole thing might have gone another direction had I hesitated for just a second, just long enough to pick a different set of words.

      And THAT realization wasn’t as hard as the one that followed on its heals – that the “if only” feeling washing over me was WAY too familiar.

      Thank you for the sweet, bursting love. It is responsible for my huge bright-as-a-sunburst smile.

  3. Kathleen on December 1, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Ah, yes. The pause. I often need to remind myself, too. Your writing is beautiful and true, J, like you.

    • j on December 1, 2011 at 11:48 am

      Thank you, Kathleen. That is so what I needed to hear on this one.

  4. terrepruitt on December 1, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Oh, I am pretty sure we are all guilty of the things you are sorry for. I know that I often rush through things, but I am also a fan of “pausing” as you say. I think I need to work on recognizing other people’s pauses. I might be in “go-mode” and not realize that they need to pause. Plus in general I believe I could hone my pauses.

    Love they way you expressed yourself here.

    (Hope to see you tomorrow. XOXO)

    • j on December 1, 2011 at 2:51 pm

      Thank you, Terre. I’ll be there.

  5. kaleighsomers on December 1, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Oh, activate your heart. I love that. That could be a motto for some street team of love bombers going around hugging strangers and writing love note graffiti on the sides of abandoned buildings and rocks on hiking trails.

    • j on December 1, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      Ha! I love your idea. Gorilla lovefare. 😉

  6. Marcie on December 1, 2011 at 10:55 am

    The transitions between the poses. That’s where the truest of life’s gifts can be found! Beautiful and inspiring – as always!

    • j on December 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm

      Your comment made me smile. I’m just figuring out what happens between pauses. 😉 Thank you, Marcie.

  7. Clare Flourish on December 1, 2011 at 11:12 am

    How to be that best version? See it, feed it, nurture it, and perhaps those “if only” thoughts can lead to valuable change. Crivvens, I’ve got the theory…

    • j on December 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm

      They do lead to valuable changes. No doubt. But they’re still fraught and painful.

  8. NM (@echo90803) on December 1, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    “Between the thought and the deed lies the shadow.”

    J, I continue to be amazed at the synchronicity of our journeys. You express this concept (and the others, too), so eloquently. I can viscerally feel your yearning. Compared to me, you’re not late in learning the pause. I’ve only recently learned that the value of a broken or cracked heart is that it lets love in and out, and lets light in and out to illuminate ourselves and our connections. To me, this is related to learning to pause. What I can tell you is that with practice it gets easier to let the pause happen naturally. One of my dear friends simply reminds me to take two breaths before I reply to something, even when it’s a positive something (you two would adore each other). I know I say this often: thank you so, so much for sharing your vulnerability with us; your soul glows and illuminates everyone with whom you are connected in any way at all. Ripples of badass fearless love in the lakes of so many lives,

    • j on December 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm

      Two breaths before every response? Are you able to do that? I’m thinking, for now, I’m just going to watch for the highly emotional opportunities. Baby steps! 😉

      Thank you so much for that last comment. I’m humbled and grateful.

    • NM (@echo90803) on December 1, 2011 at 8:26 pm

      No, I can’t do it every time, especially when the exchange seems factual without emotional content. However, I’m really working on doing it in all situations, because what I see as a factual exchange often has emotional content that just doesn’t occur to me. However, I am consistently doing it in situations where I already know there’s some emotionality involved. It’s also helped me to realize that when I listen I can just really listen. I have that pause to think about my answer, instead of formulating my answer during the time the other person is speaking to me.

  9. Pam on December 1, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Lovely post.

    I admire the measured pause. Sometimes I achieve it. You are so right in describing it as a moment to activate the heart. 🙂

    • j on December 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm

      Thank you, Pam. My success rate is still pretty low, but I’m all about practice these days.

  10. Joanne Marie Firth on December 1, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I love this, so much. That pause. That’s what I try to explain to people, now that my life has slowed down. That moment between thought and reaction. If you take it, things absolutely turn out differently. Years of therapy taught me this. It taught me, but it took years for me to put it into action. I’m not very reactive anymore. I use that pause all the time, many times a day sometimes. There is a lot to be said for a pause. The pause changed my life. Beautiful and enlightening post j.

    • j on December 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm

      I always feel a tension between loving my passionate, fiery, reactive self, and being exhausted by her. That’s why “the pause” is good. It’s just a few seconds, a minute maybe, to get centered, to see clearly. Feels like I can manage that.

      Thank you, Joanne.

  11. Boonies Chick on December 1, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Beautiful post. I’m not great at pauses either. But, like you, trying to consciously get better.

    • j on December 2, 2011 at 8:51 am

      I figure it’s a practice. Like most things, right?

  12. Brett Bee on December 1, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Lovely, Judy. I’m pausing right now. Thank you.

    • j on December 2, 2011 at 8:52 am

      Me too. Coffee in hand. Thanks, Brett.

  13. Andrea Lewicki (@Andrea_Lewicki) on December 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    A dozen different versions in the pause. Love that!

  14. Christie on December 1, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    I just recently had the “pause” lesson come to me full force – gotta love those lessons! Never been good with pauses, don’t really like empty space so I always feel like I have to keep talking in conversations when the best thing would be for me to be quiet :^)

    Growing up with an alcoholic parent, my intuition was constantly negated. If I sensed something was wrong, I was told there wasn’t and it was all in my head, all while getting very cold and stilted answers. Then I was usually the one blamed for everything so I learned to be a conflict resolver because I couldn’t stand to have someone mad at me. I would try to figure out what the issue was so I could get it resolved and get on with my life. There was no room in the air for pauses. I would push the issue, even if the other person hadn’t processed all their feelings. I would want an answer, I would crave resolution and there was no stopping me. Trying to force it recently brought me answers I did not want, answers that were hurtful. After cleaning up my wounds, I realized that my need for resolution can be at times a cry for validation, for acceptance, for someone to tell me that I am not the problem. The thing is, as I continue to grow and open up to love, I am finding that I can let someone have that pause. By not jumping to the conclusion that it is my fault, I allow some time for the issue to have the potential to resolve itself. By letting others work through their feelings, I am trusting that everything will be okay, that it is not the end of the world, even if they are upset with me.

    Dave was so proud of me in this last situation because I didn’t send any emails that I could have regretted later, didn’t leave any ranting voicemails or texts. I just let it be, took some deep breaths and although the issue is still being resolved, I am feeling good about how I managed it.

    Thanks j for sharing, as always another wonderful post ♥

    • j on December 2, 2011 at 9:00 am

      I think your impulse to fill the pauses, to be uncomfortable in the silence, isn’t uncommon. Especially in very tense situations, the silences feel unreadable, and therefore scary… especially for those of us who tend to rush in, caught up in our own emotional momentum.

      It’s these little wins that will make us better at it, I think, when we take a breath, get more centered, tap into our better selves, and everything unfolds more smoothly. We just have to remember how well it worked last time when we’re actually in the (pausable) moment of truth. (I think I just made up that word.)

      Yay you!

  15. Estrella Azul on December 2, 2011 at 4:14 am

    I’m not that great with pauses either.
    However, this past year I’ve been trying to notice and let the pauses be pauses, which could as well be one of the reasons I want to try a year-long photo challenge – I can’t not pause while taking a picture, or even while thinking of what I’ll be taking a picture of.
    Thanks for the reminder, I’ve been thinking what exactly I wanted to say regarding this and your post prompted the perfect response.

    • j on December 2, 2011 at 9:02 am

      That is one great thing about photo projects. It’s all about getting quiet and noticing the world around you. Good for the soul, for sure.

  16. Meg Sweeney on December 2, 2011 at 5:19 am

    J – with a capital letter! You’ve nailed alliteration here! Blasted us with the pause…Wonderful read, and wonderful start to the end of the 2011 ‘Love’ project! Now I would like to pause, to…

    • j on December 2, 2011 at 9:03 am

      Just felt a little pang with the “start to the end of the 2011 Love Project.” You’re right. We’re beginning the ending. Fortunately I have big plans for 2012. 😉

  17. tree peters on December 2, 2011 at 9:01 am

    I do the same thing and have been working on that pause myself. Part of my problem in relationship has been my confidence in my own intiution and vision. I’ve had to practice allowing for the possibility that I might hear something that is true, useful, fair…. Allowing myself to not be in charge.
    I do love the way you express yourself, and I have to add that you have readers who are poets themselves. I always have to read the comments here too.

    • j on December 2, 2011 at 9:06 am

      I attract a poetic crowd, for sure, present company included.

      I absolutely recognize myself in your comment. Especially when I’m angry, it’s really hard for me to slow down and consider that there might be another valid point of view. I’m hoping if my goal is to stop and activate my heart, some natural empathy will surface. I’ll hear better.

  18. […] In her awe-inspiring way, j has, without prompting, given me some of the best reminders for as long as I’ve been reading her blog. Like she recently has in her post about pauses. […]

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