“Taking time to be still and reflective actually increases productivity and gives more joy to what you’re doing when it’s time to take action again.” -Maria Erving

It’s 116°F outside as I write this. People often ask me how I handle the summer heat in Arizona? I tell them that when I lived in the Midwest, it was too cold to walk outside in winter; here, I can’t walk outside in summer. Different seasons, but either location I miss my walks and need to stay in. I do yoga, stretching, some sort of movement; I position myself in front of the window so I can look outside as I’m doing this. I love looking out at the blue skies, bright sun, palm trees, and beautiful plants that dare to bloom in the heat. It’s much better for my mental health than spending dreary Midwest winters inside.

There’s one thing that bothers me as I look outside—a STOP sign right on the corner of where I live. It’s hard not to see it, and it skews my nature view. In recovery, I don’t like to think about stopping, what about you? Rather, I’m often thinking about never giving up, overcoming obstacles, and being resilient.

As my eyes met that sign this particular morning, I felt a different perspective. I realized I really did need a “stop.” I needed to stop and just breathe. Literally. Take one deep breath and then another and then another and allow myself to sit in stillness. I needed to stop and consciously take time to create space for myself regardless of the “to-do’s” needing attention. More than my “to-do’s,” I needed to allow myself to stop – to simply be.

In this stopping, and being with myself in stillness, thoughts and feelings arose. It led me to music which sank me straight into my heart, which led me to expressing much needed “letting go” I’d been holding onto—and that culminated in peacefulness and gratitude. As I sat with that a few minutes more, I felt rejuvenated and able to do things that I couldn’t bring myself to do earlier. The heaviness was gone, which made room for joy.

What about you? Are you overdue on a “stop”? I encourage you to gift yourself with some stillness. Be curious, and see where it leads you.

Cheri Thomas

Cheri works as a Peer Support Specialist for RI in Arizona. She has experienced loss and grief which has led her to write for the masses to bring voice to those in similar situations. Cheri possesses a deep passion to share with, encourage, and inspire others on what she calls the Journey of the Heart.