Messages show up in the most peculiar of places.

“Wait, you actually have one of those?!?” I asked incredulously.

“Yes, it’s in my garage. Well actually it’s my brother’s and that reminds me, I have to give it back to him.”

I was speaking with a friend—a quick catch up before some work. She had asked me how things were, and I said I felt like I was in a rock tumbler.

“I’ve never seen one,” I said. “What do they actually do?”

“Well,” she said, “you basically find a cool rock, and put it in there because you want to make it its best version of itself.”

“Oh my goodness!” I said, “This is EXACTLY what I’ve been trying to do. But I’ve been putting my energies in so many places at once, I’ve felt exhausted and don’t know where to continue.”

And suddenly even with all the trials of the last few weeks, I felt a little lighter.

“The thing is,” she continued, “you can’t move all areas of opportunity forward at the same time, you have to concentrate on one or two at once.”

FULL STOP. She was so right. And that was just what I needed to hear.

Every night I read, even if it’s just a few pages, and the book I just finished had a chapter about asking the universe for help: posing a question and then requesting a specific sign that you’re on the right track.

No pressure there.

Because, what sign do I ask for? It could be one of a million things, right? And there has to be some element of practicality; I can’t ask for a polar bear to stroll by me in the middle of a desert. Plus it feels odd to be (what I interpret as) demanding. I haven’t shut it out entirely, but I’m not completely on board with it . . . yet.

But what I do know is that my Team, my Higher Power, does hear me. Because the magic of me asking for help and then paying attention is it usually shows up in conversation—someone randomly saying something. It doesn’t appear necessarily as an answer, but rather gives me more to consider. Like a gentle re-routing en route to my destination.

With this conversation I realized how I’ve been working SO HARD at so many areas of my life these last two months: career, income, relationship, physical health, emotional healing, et al, I had forgotten how important it is to pause—rest and repair—and give space to allow my efforts to take hold.

In this place I can carefully consider what I’m doing and where I’m taking action—a little inventory, if you will. When I don’t, I not only feel overwhelmed, but can also a) fall into the trap of getting impatient when I don’t see the results I want and try harder, or b) quit because I don’t think anything I’m doing is working.

It’s like planting a bunch of seeds, tapping my watch, and then planting more—in exactly the same spot.

There are three questions I recently read in an online post (<—not always books) that can be helpful to get clear in times like this. In other words, they sniff out any ego impatience or misalignment with my authentic self:

  1. What do I want to do?
  2. Why?
  3. Do I like my reasons?

I’ve been using this model especially when I believe there are multiple “urgent” things that need my attention. I slow down, sit down, and write the answers (on paper!) out.

This doesn’t always lead to a great reveal, but is always interesting to consider. I have a hunch at the very least it gets me out of my own (and my Higher Power’s) way for a bit. And sometimes, just like a helpful parent, the distraction can permit said greater Power to go to work.

Plus by practicing the pause it reminds me, polished or not, I’m still a pretty cool rock.

“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.”
—Lucius Annaeus Seneca