Living a Creative Life Using the Pause Button

Back in the 1970s and ‘80s, tape recorders had several buttons, the one with the triangle represented “play,” the one with the square represented “stop,” and the one with two vertical lines represented “pause.” 

After more than 30 years as a graphic designer and entrepreneur, I am finally embracing the power of the pause—in my work and in my life.

To provide my clients with beautiful, creative, functional designs, I’ve spent decades working with two synergistic gears: the strategic, technical planning gear and the creativity gear. As a single mom working 10 to 14-hour days, I had to find ways to make those gears mesh seamlessly.

When you do this for so many of your waking hours, you begin to realize you are the creator of your own life. Just like when you’re creating something for your client, you have restrictions, realities, facts that come into play; and then you get creative within that set, working within the restrictions.

While I’ve done this out of necessity for clients; now I’m doing this more intentionally in my life.

Sometimes I mess up in my life and wish I could do what I do with my clients’ projects – hit Command-Z (the undo button). But since I can’t, I take a deep breath and reset. I hit the pause button. When I slow down enough to look around and look at my life, I am so grateful.

With social media, it’s sometimes hard to appreciate our ordinary lives, with their ups and downs. I mean, on Facebook, if your kid didn’t just win the Nobel Peace Prize, you’re pretty much a loser.

But the reality is that no one is happy 24/7, regardless of what their Twitter feed suggests. We all have moments of happiness—slices of joy—in a hard life.

So my question to myself each day is this: how can I create a moment that makes this hard day better or this easy day fabulous? I pause, and that provides a moment of creativity, a gift I give myself.

This holiday season, and year round, consider pausing to enjoy the ordinary moments that make life so extraordinary.