The Power of the Pause

By Michelle Oakley posted 10-22-2020 08:38 AM


Wherever you find yourself reading this article today, I encourage you to take a pause and take a deep breath. No, really, I encourage you to give yourself that gift. A big, cool breath in through your nose and a nice, warm breath out through your mouth. Repeat as many times as you need to find presence in this current moment.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it has been the importance of pausing, or what I like to simply think of as taking a big cleansing breath. We inhale, pause, and we exhale.

In our shared humanity, we have been forced to pause in many ways. As the world came to a screeching halt last March, many of our friends and relatives had no other choice but to hunker down and press the pause button on life, whether they controlled the press of that button or not.

As nurses, many of us did not have that option.

We continued to show up, sometimes maybe even scared—scared of the unknown and often confusing messages we were receiving or inability to give our patients clear answers to their endless questions.

But we showed up. Many of us have it in our nature to physically show up, but I would like to take that one step further.

Maybe we put on our scrubs and shoes over the last few months and simply showed up to work because we knew we had no other choice. If you have any connection to healthcare, people in the community surely sang your praise in some way or another during this pandemic and it felt nothing but right to continue showing up.

Now that the dust has somewhat settled and we are getting a grasp of life in this new norm, I encourage you to imagine what it looks like to show up more than just physically. 2020 was deemed the YEAR OF THE NURSE, for goodness sake. This is our year. This is our time to take a deep breath to pause and make our next move in a way that feels authentic to our practice as nurses. More than ever, it is our time to shine and show up for our profession, fully present as a human BEING, not merely a human DOING.

It is the time for us to step into our profession in a way that feels authentically and fully right. Maybe you have been tired and exhausted, drained and disconnected, but know that there is more to your calling as a nurse.

Have you taken a deep breath and examined what it is that you want to breathe in for knowledge, experience, connection, and maybe, metaphorically speaking, breathe out that which no longer serves you or your patients?

How have you been showing up for yourself? Have you taken time to connect to your why, to your breath, to your reason why you show up for your patients?

Often, it simply begins with taking a deep breath. One simple act that, for some reason, seems so daunting to some. In that place of pause and stillness, we often find the reason to keep going. The thing we want to breathe out to the world, the gift of our self that we want to share in our profession for our colleagues, our patients, and families.

I find it no surprise that we are about nine months into this pandemic and here we sit with the opportunity to birth new life into our profession, personally and professionally. We have dealt with the months of waiting, wondering, questioning, and we are now ripe with the opportunity to spend the next few months sharing the gift of our pause with the world. 2020 can go down as the year you held your metaphorical breath in resistance or fear, or the year that you birthed new life into your personal and professional lives by learning to breathe in and out. To take in the good and let go of what does not work. To breathe in hope and life and breathe out just going through the motions out of routine or “just a job.” To breathe in anticipation of the impact this career has for healthcare and our communities and let go of the things that hold us back from fully showing up.

May you go forward simply by beginning with the next right thing of taking a deep breath. It is there where life begins, widens, and expands to a more fully present version of you, not only as a nurse, but as a human living in these unprecedented times. Inhale deep love for yourself, this profession, this calling on your life and exhale that love into your purpose and the very reason you continue to show up, day after day.