Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

Due to flight cancellations this weekend, I had an unexpected few hours of “nothing to do” before leaving a conference in Orlando. Now, while much of the country was shivering under the bitter and relentless arctic chill last week, Orlando was cold by its own standards—temps during the conference topped out only in the low 50s. So it hadn’t been the Orlando I was imagining when gearing up for the conference. But on Saturday, with my unexpected hours, the sun came out and the temperatures flirted with 70. 70! Oh, sweet heaven.

So while totally unprepared for sitting by the pool with my jeans and long-sleeved shirt, and with bags fully packed for the airport, I still grabbed a chair poolside, kicked off my boots, and just sat. I sat there and allowed the warmth of the sun to soak me in. I sat there and squinted up at the palm trees swaying in the breeze and the blue sky peppered with fluffy white clouds. I sat there and listened to the soft sounds of conversations carrying across the water and the splashes and giggles emerging from the waves. I watched and I listened and sat. And as I sat I could feel my whole body melting into a relaxed state of being—more relaxed than I remember feeling in a long time. It was like I hit some kind of pause button on life, only allowing the most pleasant of sights and sounds and feelings to come through. I tell you, it was glorious.

And you know what else happened? After about an hour of pausing, I started to think about an upcoming presentation I have to do and suddenly my mind was at creative work—shaping the presentation with such ease that I quickly grabbed a notebook so I could write it all down before it floated away. The pausing created the space for the creating.

And do you know what else happened? The cold that had clutched my head and chest for the better part of two weeks seemed to literally fade away, hiding in my toes or something. The pausing (and I suspect that all-powerful Vitamin D) created the space for healing.

And do you know what else happened? The multitude of to-dos and need-tos and don’t-forgets that had been attacking my brain and wrinkling my forehead suddenly seemed like nothing much more than a puzzle that just needed to be put in the right order. And as my mind was putting that puzzle together it was like some invisible hand was rubbing my head to release the tension. The pausing created the space for order.


How often do you do it? I know the only reason I did it was because the airlines made me. But it was downright restorative, and that only after a few hours. So what if I carved the space for pausing more regularly? What if I actually scheduled time to pause, time to just sit? “Sitting around” is often associated with “doing nothing” but my brief pause last weekend reminded me that “sitting around” can actually mean a whole lot of something. It can mean creativity. It can mean restoration. It can mean stress relief. I suspect that if I paid homage to the power of pausing more regularly, I would be a much more meaningful contributor to my work, my relationships, and my world once the play button was hit once more.

Can you make time to pause today? 


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.