MAUREEN BURNS: Reflecting on the quality

By Maureen Burns • Last Updated 10:24 am on Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Maureen Burns

I have a sign on my refrigerator that says, “Meditating while multi-tasking.” Unfortunately, that sums me up! And those of you who know me can testify that is true. Many of us are traveling at the speed of life and it is too fast, way too fast.

My friend, Martha Henning, recently had a new grandbaby. We were talking about what a special time that is. When a baby is born, the world stops for a bit. Life goes on, but we step out of the busy into our own special place. We savor every bit of the experience.

While playing Scrabble recently, we got talking about savoring things. Mary Johnson said, “Savoring is highly underestimated.”

Connie Borton shared how Virginia, her mother-in-law, said that a visit from her family would last her for months. She would relish every minute of it by going over and over it in her mind, savoring it slowly.

I often think of that with surprise parties or events. When I have had a surprise happen to me, I am always in a fog while it is going on. I am in shock, really, and I can hardly enjoy it or take it in. I actually appreciate it more when I know about it ahead of time. When you have time to look forward to something special, it is a joy to savor the expectations. Then when the event happens, you can enjoy it more, and when it is over, you get to relish it again in your memory.

Marcus Aurelius said, “Very little is needed to make a happy life.” I think that is quite true. This week we said good-by to our dear aunt, Julie Burns. She was mentally with it until the end. She would have turned 90 in a few days. As she faced her life ending, it was truly a time to savor the people and good times she had had. She even savored her faith as she told us not to worry for a second about her, that she was going to a better place and that she was ready to go. We had some very special time with her savoring all we meant to each other. What a blessing to have time to do that while the world stops for a bit.

There are many things to savor every day. A cold, crisp winter day — OK, so we haven’t had much of those this winter. How about the smell of fresh-cut grass or a sheet hung out to dry? How about a beautiful snowy day where the world is blanketed in white? What about a beautiful sunny spring day with tulips and daffodils perking and everyone feeling renewed?

We can savor a sunset on the beach or while driving in the car. We can savor a good book and snuggle in to devour it as we let the world go by.

I think music is a good thing to savor. I never hear Pachelbel’s Canon without letting out a deep breath and taking in the lovely music to soothe my soul. Any music you love can be savored. We just need to take time to do it. Clarence Clemons playing his wonderful sax in the Lady Gaga song, “The edge of glory,” Adele’s fabulous voice singing some of your favorites, “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables — the list is enormous.

Friends and family can be savored, rather than being taken for granted. To stop and really listen to them, to stop and really look at their face, appreciate their smile, their eyes, to hug deeply as you think about how much they mean to you — there are so many ways to savor them.

Life rushes by pretty fast. Jim Humble once told me, “There are no rewinds in life, only pauses and fast forwards.” How true he is.

May I suggest taking time to pause more, to savor more, to slow down and enjoy more. Seneca reminded us, “The wise will always reflect on the quality, not the quantity of life.” That Seneca, he was such a smarty pants!

Certainly smarter than the guy who was told by his doctor that he had three weeks to live. He excitedly said to the doc, “OK, then I’ll take the last two weeks of July and the week between Christmas and New Year’s.”

Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is

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