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Dear Fellow NAJIT-ers

A woman stands with her back to us, arms wide open, looking at fall foliage.

Dear Fellow NAJIT-ers,

Happy September!

How the heck is it September again?!

Time. It never stops.

Jules, our fearless Editor-in-Chief, just sent me the nicest e-mail telling me he’d like to hear from me again. Eeek. I have been hiding all summer, you see. Thank you so much to my fellow NAJIT bloggers who took my absence in stride!

Now that hiding-time is over, I’m supposed to write again, but I am struggling back here in the land of Doing and Thinking.

Luckily, Janis spontaneously submitted a gem of a post just in time to save me from my writer’s block and that week’s deadline.

But here we are a week later, and I’m due a post.

So, I’ve been thinking about what to write. Something motivating, I thought. Something energetic to inspire us to enter the fall filled with vim and vigor, ready to increase speed and take on the intense challenges that our field has to offer us!

But there comes a time when one simply doesn’t have the energy for intense challenges full of vim and vigor.

So instead, I will write of the Pause.

I’m an advocate of the Pause. You see, sometimes velocity needs to be reduced, not increased. If the highway of life gets too curvy, we’ve got to slow down. To do otherwise would inevitably send us perilously off the cliff of whatever highway we are driving on, and we can’t have that.

I paused this summer. I was kind of due a Pause. First, I had a topsy-turvy tumultuous spring. Then, I flew to Fort Lauderdale to attend our annual NAJIT conference (which was wonderful, by the way! Kudos to the board and our management team!). On my way home, I came down with Covid.

If that weren’t enough, three weeks later I got slammed in the chest by the door of a car while bicycling in downtown Montreal at a speed of about 20 mph.

That was kind of the final straw. So I decided to hit the pause button. First, of course, I had to finish some work commitments that I already had. But after that, I cleared my calendar, put up an away message on my e-mail account, and actually hit the off button on my cell phone.

Of course, me being me, I don’t really stop when I stop. But I did slow down. I felt the wounds of my physical injuries. I listened to my body and worked on healing. I also felt the places in my heart where I don’t always go.

I thought a lot about my Hopes and Dreams. I’ve spent fifteen years being career-driven to the max, and there are other flowers waiting to bloom. I started planting those seeds this summer.

I meditated a lot. I cooked good meals. I spent a lot of time by myself, but I also reconnected with people who had slipped by the wayside.

In this life, we’re taught to go-go-go. We’re taught to pedal-to-the-metal and never-ever-stop.

But we can’t go full speed ahead every single day. We need pauses.

What we usually get instead are distractions. Popcorn for our brain; junk food for the mind. There is a careful, happy medium between live-in-the-woods-without-electricity and drown-your-brain-in-social-media-and-entertainment.

That happy medium can be found only when we pause. When we take the moment to actually notice our surroundings; to check in with our bodies; to turn off the distractions and listen to ourselves and what is around us. I know I paused for a whole summer (and was blessed to be able to do so) but it doesn’t always have to be so drastic. You can just pause for a day, for an hour, or even for a moment. Just stop what you are doing and listen to yourself.

What we may find inside could be  a lot of discontentment. A ton of anxiety. Fear, sometimes, and hidden anger.

And that’s where the gold is. Because inside yourself, you’ll discover your Necessary Goals. You’ll discover your Reasons Why. You’ll figure out what things are your dreams, and what things aren’t worth struggling for.

I know I’m not the only person who gets overwhelmed with work or who is anxious about proving myself professionally. Sometimes, we all need to hit the pause button and remember what we’re doing, and why.

I’m back now, in better health and moving slowly. I’m also trying to appreciate every Now that comes my way, because it won’t be here again.

Have a happy fall. Follow your dreams and be kind to yourselves!

Love,

Athena

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