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The Humble Comma

Pause. Relax. Speak.

This is how we begin the class that I take every week in Communicating Mindfully: Deepening Self-Understanding and Enhancing Relationships.

The whole idea behind pausing – whether you are responding to or initiating the interaction – is to prevent yourself from being reactive. The goal is to consider how you say something rather than being moved by emotion. For example, instead of snapping when our partner asks, “Why didn’t you take out the recycling last night?” we pause, relax our bodies with a deep breath, and then say something like,”Sometimes I forget, I will do it tonight.”

During the holiday season, we spend hours with family, friends, colleagues, and even strangers, celebrating all the good things that December brings. It is a good time to think about improving our relationships through the ways we communicate to those in our lives. To that end, I share this poem which reminds us to pause by using a simple comma. Enjoy!

Filling my Purse with Commas
by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

All afternoon, each time
I think I should hurry,
I pull out a comma,

such humble punctuation,
and invite it into the moment—
and the comma does

what it always does, which
is to invite a pause, a small pause,
of course, but a pause long enough

to breathe, to notice what else
is happening, a slight
suggestion that right here

is a perfect place to rest,
yes, how funny I never noticed
before that the comma itself

looks as if it’s bowing, nodding
its small dark head to what is,
encouraging us to find

a brief silence and then,
thus refreshed, to go on.

Pause. Relax. Speak. Who do you want to try this with first? Do you have someone in mind? I’d love to hear your thoughts on enhancing relationships through the use of the simple comma.

I am here to support you, and am simply an email or a phone call away. If you need additional guidance or just want to chat, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at gail@gailcummings.com or 215-260-4881. If you know of anyone who might need my help, please pass this email along.

With mindful communication,


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215-260-4881 - gail@gailcummings.com