Push the Pause Button

Posted: 5 May 2020

Author: Val Rathjen, Community Learning Network

Found in:

Comments: 6

Recommendations: 0



Pause –
1. a temporary stop in action or speech.



There is a moment at the beginning of each Holding Safer Spaces training, where a bell is rung twice, with a pause in between. The bell is used to help participants ground themselves in their space and become fully present to the conversation at hand. This seems like a simple, ‘no big deal’ type of thing, but honestly that simple pause between the bells has probably led to some of my deepest learning over the past months.

I love the work that I do and tend to dive in with both feet. Sometimes, in my excitement and desire to help, I can leap before fully looking or listening deeply. I can jump to fix instead of serve. I can shortcut the possibilities by being more invested in the destination than the journey. The realization that I don’t control the outcome is liberating, but mind blowing at the same time. 

I can hear the voice of a past coach in my head: “Give the best answer, not the first answer.” Then there’s this quote that I have on my bulletin board in my office: “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” Do you see a theme here?

I am in a season of deep learning. Things that I’d caught glimpses of before, but for whatever reason hadn’t fully embraced as my own, are now falling in an open heart. Embracing the pause is challenging me to slow down and lean into this learning, allowing it to seep into my everyday practice at work and home. 

To say that we are all in the midst of unique times and situations is probably the understatement of the year. We’ve all been pushed to places and learning that we may not have chosen on our own. We are stretching on many fronts and juggling responsibilities that can seem overwhelming at times. This is exactly when the Pause becomes so important, and when we need to make room for curiosity and listening in new ways.

If I could offer any encouragement, it would be this: Push the PAUSE button and take a moment for a ‘temporary stop in action or speech’. Be generous with yourself. Give yourself permission to stop and take a deep breath, to rest, to think on something instead of offering a quick response, to listen and understand.

heart bowlBesides adding the actual word ‘pause’ to my décor, I also wanted to mark my Holding Space journey by making a cloth bowl – to represent the bowl that we provide for people and their learning. It feels more like a nest than a bowl, and has become the home of a small silver heart. It reminds me to choose generosity – with myself and with others - to remember that we’re all doing our best in this uncommon season of change, and to walk alongside each other with kindness.

There is no one who has been down this road before, so it’s ok if you don’t know exactly what to do or how to do it. As a fellow traveler, I encourage you to practice the pause, and wish you all health and strength for the journey.

Val Rathjen
CLN RSS East-Central



Sign in to view 6 comments


The Digital Divide Project
Posted: 8 June 2021 Comments: 1 Recommendations: 0
Found in:

Literacy & Learning Symposium 2021 (Virtual) Launch - Register Now!
Posted: 18 May 2021 Comments: 0 Recommendations: 0
Found in:

Continuing to Pause – Lessons I’m Learning
Posted: 27 April 2021 Comments: 8 Recommendations: 0
Found in: