Munira Premji

In the hustle and bustle of life, where everything is governed by the clock, it is hard to just stop for a minute and take stock of life.  There is work to attend to, food to prepare, goals to accomplish, commitments to meet.  When does one stop and take a pause?  And doesn’t taking a pause interfere with everything that needs to get done?

That was very much my life prior to getting cancer. It was a life of activity, of immense productivity and of getting things done.  Sitting still was not an option.  Indeed, it was a  great life!  However, through this journey with cancer over the last 9 months, I have learned to relish the time I have to reflect, to slow down, to think.  No longer does the clock govern my time; rather it is the natural rhythm of life and of listening to my body that defines how I use my time and live my life.

I now live more in the moment.  I make time to spend with family and close friends.  I have started reading voraciously again.  When I have the energy, I focus my time on things I want to learn and on initiatives that are important to me.  Every Sunday, I consciously think of 5 things I am grateful for and jot these down.  It is almost as if I have replaced the quantity of what I accomplished pre-cancer to focus on the quality of my life.  It is my way of taking a pause.

This concept of taking a pause was reinforced by a commencement address that Maria Shriver gave to the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication in March 2012.  Shriver is a journalist and was married to Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Governor of California.  She urged the graduating class to take a pause.  In her words, “pausing allows you to take a beat — to take a breath in your life. As everybody else is rushing around like a lunatic out there, I dare you to do the opposite.”

There is great wisdom in what Maria Shriver says.  What if we were to consciously pause a couple of times a day and just take in what is happening around us?  What might we see?  What might unfold for us?

We could pause when we don’t know what to do to give us perspective on what can be done.  We could pause when things are not going so well in our lives and see what we can learn.  We could pause when we are happy and savour the moments that memories are made of.

Our natural inclination in today’s fast-paced world is to press that fast forward button and to cross things off the list.  It  takes a certain courage and consciousness to first press the pause button and see what gifts it  might reveal.  To listen to Maria Shriver’s full address — take a pause! — and watch the video below:


  • Anonymous , November 19, 2012

    Thanks for sharing these ideas, and for that video clip of Maria Shriver’s commencement speech. Taking a pause to enjoy the moment, and also to give yourself some space to reflect. It helps to bring balance to your life. I look forward to a time when I can take a pause to spend some time with you! 🙂 Your friend, Patti Kurgan

    • Premji Family , November 24, 2012

      Patti. Let’s make spending time together a priority. I miss you! Next week is very busy. Let’s plan for the week of dec 1. I come to the hospital for chemo on Thursday’s and am usually there for a full day. Munira

  • Shyrose Visram , November 19, 2012

    I loved reading this, thank you. God Bless!!!!! Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2012 20:18:22 +0000 To:

  • Anonymous , November 18, 2012

    Ms. Shriver mentioned to “pause” with good intentions for sure
    but sometimes I think pausing can lead your thoughts to wonder …..ponder
    isnt it good to be occupied and meditate,help, volunteer , (i mean keep yourself busy) then “pause” because unless you can rise up from that pause , you probably may pause for ever

    Now… you dont have to agree with me)

    • Premji Family , November 24, 2012

      I so agree with you! Too much pausing is probably not very healthy, particularly if it renders us helpless. It is about balancing the “doing” with the pause – otherwise nothing would get done. Thanks for your bery valid perspective. Munira

  • Sharmin , November 16, 2012

    It seems as though we are divided into a paradox of those who “work to live” or those who “live to work”. Seldom are we reminded to “stop and smell the roses” or relish the meaningful moments. Every time a new post of this blog appears in my inbox I feel a sense of simultaneous excitement and humility. I am always inspired by the stories, adventures and life lessons learned through your eyes and am grateful for your eloquent words of wisdom, that enable me to pause for a moment to remember and appreciate all that is important in my life, every time I read this blog. Thank you for this reminder.

    • Premji Family , November 24, 2012

      Thank you so much Sharmin! Really appreciate your comment and encouragement. We love writing posts and your note makes it all worthwhile! There is always so much to be thankful for in life — if we stop and smell the roses, like you say.

  • Mina , November 16, 2012

    Dear Munira, I can truly relate to what you have said . Before Cancer, I had umpteen things to do, but never ever paused to think about myself, always on the go. Since being diagnosed with Breast cancer with Bone Metastases last year in February, I have been forced to slow down and everything now revolves around me and my time, my health issues come first, I have learnt to think about myself instead of going out to rescue and help everyone else.

    • Premji Family , November 24, 2012

      Hi Mina. I am so sorry to hear about your cancer and the metastasis. I pray for your complete and absolute recovery. Your note reminded me of what we hear when flying on an airplane — first put the mask on yourself and then help others. Good lesson! Munira

  • Lynda Cavanagh , November 16, 2012

    You are so right Munira. Thank you for offering that message. i needed it. i will listen to Maria’s speech some time today. So many things get in the way if we let them. I think of you often and hope to see you soon.

    • Premji Family , November 24, 2012

      I think of you everyday Lynda. I miss you and would love to see you. It’s been way too long! Munira

  • Parin Sunderji , November 15, 2012

    Thank you for bringing Maria Shriver’s speech to my attention. I will try to remember to “pause”.

    • Premji Family , November 24, 2012

      How are you doing with attempting to pause Parin?!! Nice to hear from you! Munira

  • Anonymous , November 15, 2012

    you can take a pause in the very busy moments too by taking into account din and dunia concept??
    sometimes people don’t know how to pause but can at least think of din during dunia activities
    it must intertwine

    whatever Maria says has been informed/communicated to us in another way…. Do you agree ?

    • Premji Family , November 24, 2012

      Totally agree with you! Munira

  • snensi , November 15, 2012

    So true, in fact I did the exact thing (Pausing and feeling my heart beat) on Monday evening… to get the sense of myself.
    Normally this act helps me trace myself back to what I have lost… worked like a bowl of hot-sour soup on a cold day always,

    Now, where is that note that I got from my doctor a week ago… can’t seem to find it anywhere …
    need to find another pausing moment + added with a cup of laughter around us always.

    it was really delightful to see U …just like a bright smiling moon 🙂

    • Premji Family , November 24, 2012

      Wow! What a great note filled with wonderful metaphors! I find it so,helpful to take a pause a couple of times a day. It is not something that comes naturally to me and I a working on it! Munira

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: