Stop and Listen

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So it’s Labor Day Weekend, the traditional end of summer. When I was growing up, my mother informed me we didn’t wear white shoes after Labor Day (and never in San Francisco). After Labor Day, life got serious.  No more swim parties at the neighbor’s pool or picnics in the park. Summer camp was over and school would soon be back in session. We put away our shorts and sandals and stocked up on notebooks and number two pencils.


When I was in my twenties and living in New York, I hated it when the art world shut down for the summer. Galleries shortened their hours and put up group shows. The art critics wrote about eccentric out-of-town exhibitions they would never consider once the fall season got rolling. The New York Times Book Review, my favorite weekend pleasure, seemed pointless, especially in August. Only after Labor Day did intellectual life resurrect itself.


While it is still blazing hot in Austin, our summer officially ended a few weeks ago, when school began. Our lives have grown more hectic with teacher meetings and homework supervision. Also, my husband is a rabbi, so as it gets closer to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, he has more on his plate to prepare. Add that to the usual day in and day out stresses of having a child with special needs, aging parents, and two family members with chronic health issues, we are overwhelmed and exhausted.


It’s barely September, and I feel like I’m running on empty. When I realized it was almost Sunday and time to send out another post, I thought to myself, what could I possible have to share in this frame of mind? All I want to do is sit in a quiet room and be still.


So, that’s what I’m offering today: a reminder to slow down. When the kids go off to school and when the world goes back to work, before jumping into the next thing, we have the opportunity to stop and to listen for what’s next.


This is transition time. Time to ask what really matters and to wait for answers. Time to listen for what’s calling, outside of routine and responsibilities. What’s underneath the surface of your daily tasks?


This poem by Jane Kenyon, Afternoon in the House, may resonate:


It’s quiet here. The cats

sprawl, each

in a favored place.

The geranium leans this way

to see if I’m writing about her:

head all petals, brown

stalks, and those green fans.

So you see,

I am writing about you.


I turn on the radio. Wrong.

Let’s not have any noise

in this room, except

the sound of a voice reading a poem.

The cats request

The Meadow Mouse, by Theodore Roethke.


The house settles down on its haunches

for a doze.

I know you are with me, plants

and cats — even so, I’m frightened,

sitting in the middle of perfect



I still have a few spots open for Heroine’s Journey. If you’re in a life transition and/or ready to reclaim the lost pieces of your creative work, consider giving yourself the time and the space to inquire and listen. Details here.



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