Pause to Listen

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #77: Pause

As the world bustles, and we rush to meet deadlines, check off to-do lists, and fulfill those party invites, find a moment to pause, look, and listen. Share a photograph, thought, or inspiration.


It’s been a busy week. Next week – with Christmas in the middle – will be even busier.

However, I realized the need to…pause…in my usual December madness of holiday planning, shopping, wrapping, card writing – and all that leads up to the 25th.

This past Tuesday I flew to Washington DC to attend my daughter’s commencement ceremony at the Univ. of Maryland College of Education. Where she received a doctoral degree in Education Policy. How could I not go? Even if it was the week before Christmas. She worked extremely hard and I am so happy for her. Oh…and proud too.

Traveling is one of my least favorite activities as I’ve gotten older…especially in winter weather. So imagine my rising anxiety level on Tuesday with the snow falling at a steady clip as I rode the bus to the airport. No surprise when I found out (after boarding) that the plane was delayed.

I sat and waited….with a look out the window.

plane snow
First look

Two hours passed.

rain plane
Two hours later

All the while hoping the flight wouldn’t be cancelled.

rain plane window

My only choice…trapped in row 14 for 4 hours…was to pause, look and listen…

…but mostly to think…about the ceremony I would attend the following day, along with my son-in-law and grandson.

This would be the last of many graduations I’d attended for the little girl who grew up so fine and fast. Who loved school and learning from the age of 3. Passionate and driven by a desire to make this a better world for everyone. Not just for people like her…who are blessed with opportunity and privilege.

She was also the commencement student speaker.
I told my grandson, snuggled in my lap…Mama will be making a speech!
Why? he asked.
Because she has important things to say! I answered.


She proposed a different approach for those graduates entering their postgraduate lives – the flip side of talking and sharing their voices…

….Pause. Close your mouth, calm your mind, allow for silence. Cultivate humility. Acknowledge the limits of your education and engage in the practice that scholars and advocates call “radical listening.” Community organizer and activist Chanel Lewis describes radical listening as “intentionally quieting your internal voice and judgments thereby offering your full mental space to the speaker and suspending what you presume to know about someone and their experience in our shared society.”…Radical listening, I argue, is a crucial skill to help move our world toward greater justice….
Dr. Kristin Sinclair

This is just a snippet of her three minute speech, but it caught my attention.


You don’t hear that advice very often.
Usually it’s…Speak Up. Talk. Be heard.

Pause and listen…listen without judgment.

Perhaps that is radical.

But I like it.

It gave me much to think about on the plane the next day…before returning home to my holiday to-do list.

plane sun
Flying back home


18 thoughts on “Pause to Listen

  1. Great post, congratulations to your daughter! I wish her great success in the future.

    I’m with you on not liking travel so much these days, even my jaunts to Michigan two or three times a year are more difficult. I feel your pain being stuck on the aircraft, trapped. I’ll never understand why it takes so long to get an aircraft de-iced. I’m glad you made it to your destination on time! 😎

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am filled with admiration for you and for your family. Can’t think of more to say except to be sorry you had to endure 4 hrs (!!!) in row 14. I’m a bit older and can only say that dislike of travel seems to only get worse … like right now, I have to “travel” to the supermarket and it’s cold and gloomy outside… I will have to really, really force myself to go out.

    But all that has little to do with what a joy it is to know there are still people out there who know the value of thinking, of education, and of overcoming fear of flying to hear one’s daughter make a speech!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words. It was an experience I wouldn’t have wanted to miss.
      The traveling part will continue to be a challenge, that’s for sure. Both my “kids” live in the DC area – so travel is in my future. Including this Christmas week! Hopefully with no delays. I agree – going out in the cold only makes it worse!


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