Transitions and the art of not maximizing every moment

I spent part of last weekend at a workshop led by the wonderful Jane Pollak and Brad Isaacs. With my to-do list starting to feel overwhelming, the event was well-timed—I needed to step away and get perspective.

Yes! There were shifts. (Having to do with gently meeting my demons rather than running scared from them.) And warm connections made with a small group of smart, gutsy, interesting people. And commitments!, and emotional stretching.

The workshop was at a conference/retreat center with beautiful grounds. Rhododendrons in full bloom, the scent of eucaluptus in the air.

When we said our goodbyes at 4:00, I was aware of the urge to head straight home, what with that long to-do list waiting. My mind began to whir in its busy-controlling-everything way, planning out how, on the short walk back to the car, I could turn on my phone and check for messages, then dig out my car keys, then find my sunglasses, then decide which CD would best fit my mood—because God forbid I should waste any time dealing with these earth-shattering tasks while standing still after I got to the car.

My mind whirred, and I walked slowly in the other direction, toward the rhododendrons. I sat on a bench in the sun for a few minutes. Then I ambled to the car. Did my earth-shattering tasks—phone messages, keys, sunglasses—one at a time, beside the car. Drove home in silence—no CD—letting the effects of the day sink in.

I noticed a cluster of cream-colored poppies on a highway median, and the dome of a synagogue as I crested a hill.

When I got home, I sat in my bay window and wrote about the day.

Slowly and quietly, I transitioned from reflective retreat mode to busy city mode.

My wonderful friend Havi says that in yoga class, Savasana—the pose where you lie down quietly at the end, to integrate what has happened during the class—is the most important part of the session. I don’t always allow myself integration time, in life. I did last weekend.

As I start another weekend—this one packed with appointments and expectations and opportunities—what spaces will I allow myself? Instead of lurching from one thing to the next, am I willing to let my experiences sink in?


  1. SO important to give ourselves time…and SO hard to do! We’re so conditioned by society to do the exact opposite. I’m glad you were able to overcome all those years of Type-A training to let yourself breathe and let the retreat peace soak into your spirit a bit.

    Now, can you come over to my place so that maybe a small amount of that ability will rub off on me? ;o)

  2. Janet Bailey says:

    @Michelle – Fortunately it’s self-reinforcing–feels sooo great when you do let yourself have that time!

  3. Matt Blair says:

    It’s so important to let new thoughts settle in before moving on to the next set of distractions.

    I wrote in my journal just the other day: “Less clock-watching during creative work.”

  4. It’s funny how a moment of stopping and quiet can give our brain room to breathe and settle and then if we allow time and begin to daydream we find a whole ‘nother realm of being. So much of what we do is so inessential, too, that busywork of the trappings of living in go-go-go modern society. Can we simplify? Or do we streamline and hope for the best?

  5. Janet Bailey says:

    @Matt – Less clock-watching — great advice.

    @Barbara – A little of both, right? Simplifying so there’s less to streamline. Those moments of quiet really help us tell the essential apart from the busywork…for the moment, at least. 😉

  6. […] dirt. Or the making-space-to-shine goddess who talks about being overwhelmed and exhausted. Or the time management coach who talks about struggling with the urge to lurch from one to-do to the […]

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