Stop. Look, Listen, and Love….

Monarch stop on Joe Pye Weed

STOP. Embrace 3 L’s – LOOK, LISTEN, and LOVE. Do you stop completely at a stop sign or are you a rolling-stop kind of person? Many of us adopt the rolling-stop at intersections unless we see a police car near-by. It may be an indication of how we live our lives. What’s next? I can’t wait to ______! We are so eager to “be there,” wherever that may be. What about being HERE?

Do you STOP at the intersection of one thought before going into the next thought? Often, I do not make even a rolling-stop between thoughts. What does it take to come to a full STOP in your mind? I find that a 20-minute meditation practice is helpful, but not foolproof. How do you practice stopping your mind chat for inner peace?                                                                                           

What is important is that you find ways to LOOK. Look in both directions. Look at negative chat and positive chat. Look with curiosity. Look without judgment. Look with flexibility. Look at THIS MOMENT and listen. What? What is there to listen to in “this moment?”  

LISTEN for your breath to slow down. Listen to your in-breath. Listen for your out-breath. After listening to your body, listen to your inner thoughts. Listen to what you tell yourself in the intersections of your driving. Listen to what you tell yourself in intersections of your thinking. Recognize that you can experience space between busy thoughts. Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl is attributed with the wise saying: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.” That space is a “pearl” of peace – a calm and compassionate state of being. Generations of people have labeled such spaciousness with many names.

LOVE. What? That’s part of stopping at a frigging stop sign? Yes! Love how you have the freedom to drive yourself somewhere. Love how the intersection STOP sign is for your safety and the safety of others. Love this moment of time. Take time to watch a butterfly. Love how you have constant intersections between thoughts. Love how consciousness of your many thoughts is a possibility. Too often we are not aware of our own thinking patterns and how they attach to traumas we experienced in the past.

Pearls of Peace (PoP) quiz:

4.What are the times that you recognize the spaciousness of calmness and compassion?

5. Do you have a name for such a state of being?


By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.

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