I read Rachel O’Meara’s article on the importance of pauses—especially as a tool for reevaluating professional direction—about a month ago. I took interest in the piece because I’ve been working to slow down these days.
Not too long ago I mentioned that I tend to force decisions, or make them too precipitously. My intention—to be proactive and not overthink things—is sensible enough. But when I act too quickly I often regret it; I end up wondering whether I might have come to a clearer and more lucid determination had I given myself time to think.
Like many people, I’ve historically fallen into the trap of believing that quicker is always better. I forget that time—unstructured time in particular—can encourage problem-solving. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with what it feels like to pause often, sometimes for longer than is comfortable, so that I can tune into my intentions before choosing to act.
O’Meara, whose career was reinvigorated after a three-month leave of absence, speaks to the value of pausing as a means of reassessing priorities and replenishing personal resources. Like many professionals, she hit a moment of burnout that left her questioning whether or not she could remain at her job. Unlike many professionals, she had the good fortune to be employed by a company (Google) that grants unpaid leaves of absence for non-medical reasons. O’Meara’s time off gave her a chance to move deliberately, without an urgent agenda. She writes,
In the end, the pause actually encouraged her to return to work with a renewed sense of purpose and possibility, which she believes has made her a more valuable employee and colleague. While she acknowledges that sabbaticals or unpaid leaves would, if adopted widely, result in some employees choosing to move on, she suggests that those who stay would be positioned to do more meaningful work:
Needless to say, most employers can’t or won’t offer the kind of pauses that O’Meara took, and any amount of unpaid time off is too much for the vast majority of individuals. Still, it’s interesting to think about what would be possible if more of us were given small opportunities to stop and reassess.
More and more, I find that big decisions—the ones that really matter—can’t be rushed. When there’s no readily apparent “right” choice, it’s important to give oneself time to weigh options, consider different outcomes, and even change one’s mind a couple of times. It’s incredibly difficult for me to embrace that last bit; having always prided myself on being decisive, I’m uncomfortable with fluidity. Yet I’m coming to understand that changes in perspective are often an essential part of finding direction.
Hope you’ll enjoy the reads this week, which include a fascinating report on cholera treatment around the globe and a nurse’s honest reflections on finding herself in the role of patient. As usual, let’s start with some wonderful food!
Nothing beats a hearty, healthy, nutrient-packed vegan burrito. Heidi’s super green vegan quinoa burrito is all of those things, and it’s also a great make-ahead option for packed lunches and travel.
It’s not exactly the height of pumpkin season anymore, but winter squash is still easy to find around here. I think my farewell to squash season will be Kati’s beautiful roasted pumpkin soup. I love the addition of crispy tofu as a “crouton” (I do the same thing with tempeh all the time, and this would be a nice variation).
I’ve had crispy roasted broccoli on my mind ever since I made this recipe a couple weeks ago. Now I have an exciting new use for it: Shira’s recipe for spicy roasted broccoli and sesame noodle salad, which is packed with plant protein (there’s kale and tempeh in there, too).
I love making homemade pizza, but sometimes it feels like a commitment. Alissa’s recipe for vegan Greek pizza is so simple and awesome-looking that there’s no excuse for me to whip up some homemade dough very soon.
Speaking of simple, I’m loving Tessa’s easy vegan chocolate pudding cake recipe! No mixer required, one bowl, and super fudgy—that’s my kind of dessert.
1. I remember reading The Ghost Map years ago and being surprised to learn that in spite of cholera’s communicability and virulence, treatment for the disease is relatively simple. This New York Times profile of global efforts to halt cholera outbreaks dives into that paradox and highlights some recent advances in the fight against a notoriously deadly infection.
2. When I first went vegan, I started to realize that my food choices stretched far beyond me and my body; I saw that what and how I ate could have an impact on the environment, animals, and fellow non-human animals, too. I wish I’d made these connections sooner; I think they would have helped me to be less obsessive and more passionate about eating.
So, I was interested to read about a new app that teaches kids about the environmental impact of their food choices. The app isn’t intended to push a dietary agenda, but rather to help kids understand that their food has origins and a story. It—and other technology like it—might be an important step forward in making young people feel informed as consumers.
3. Also on the topic of kids/teens and food, I really like these insights into helping children develop a healthy relationship with eating.
4. Lindsay is an oncology nurse who crossed the bridge into life as a patient when she was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer. In this beautifully honest blog post, she offers an apology to the patients’ whose struggles and experiences she may have dismissed or witnessed without empathy, until now.
5. Finally, Rachel O’Meara’s thoughts on the value of pausing.
I hope you enjoy the reading, and the next time I check in, it’ll be with an easy, hearty vegan comfort food recipe!
As I was drafting this post today, I looked at the date and realize that May is, amazingly, more than halfway over. This spring–this year, really–seems to be flying by. I had so many goals for my blog in 2015, and one of them was to put more of myself into each and every post, to invest my words with the kind of candor and intimacy that (I think) characterized my blog when I first started blogging. But it’s a sad fact that…
My next door neighbor—I’ll call him Glen—passed away recently. I’m not sure when. I’d known he wasn’t well for a long time, based on our passing encounters and the haunting sound of his cough echoing through the hallway we shared late at night. For the past few months I suspected things might have taken a turn, since I didn’t see or hear him. But I didn’t know for sure that he was gone until my management company started gutting the kitchen in his apartment…
This week has flown by, and as I watched it pass I definitely sensed that the slowness of summer was giving way to the busier energy of fall. We’re not there yet, I know. But it’s coming. I got my first two DI rotation placements, which means that I now have a sense of my schedule through December. September and early October should feel pretty manageable, and late fall will be demanding. After an initial day or two of nerves and resistance, I’m…
The first half of this past week flew by, a blur of class and reading and clients and work. The second half screeched to a halt with the arrival of a fall cold and a middle ear infection, which forced me to slow down and spend most of yesterday curled up on my sofa. I was supposed to travel to DC today for my cousin’s baby shower, but, with my first set of midterms coming up this week and more travel on the horizon…
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Just bookmarked the article and will read it tonight. Thank you for sharing it and your thoughts on it. And also a big Thank you for mentioning my pumpkin soup. Have a great and hopefully relaxing weekend x Kati
i Gena, Thanks for this important reflection on the “pause” and being willing to take things more slowly–to switch gears, wait, let the mind change. It’s hard work. I was thinking today about “pausing” and how in the context of working at a place like Google, that word now has a technical meaning that it didn’t have when I was growing up. That made me think of an old soft drink jingle “the pause that refreshes” which made me realize how hard it is to actually really pause in our culture. The ad would have us guzzling a drink as a pause, and a pause in computer land is bringing operations to a temporary standstill. So I salute you for pausing when there’s no paid leave, no easy sweet drink to distract and no apparent “right” answer or path to resume. Sometimes we need to pause to discover what’s next. That takes courage. That’s what you’ve got. Thanks for the Greek Pizza too–that looks really delish!! xoxo