I spend a good deal of time taxiing my kids around Boulder County, as I’m sure you can relate to.

To keep the backseat squabbles in check, I decided to play the girls an audiobook on the way to school. gave me a free gift of Anne Hathaway reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the perfect choice.

The girls loved the movie, so I thought it would be a good idea for them to experience the book; they were hooked instantly and never wanted the book to stop playing until Dorothy made it back to Kansas.

Whenever I would have to ask them a question, I would have to pause the recording to talk and have them listen to me instead of the narrator.

“What would you like for lunch?”

“Mac and cheese.  Now, un-pause it.”

“Un-pause it” has become the new catch-phrase while driving around town.

They don’t want to miss a word of the book, so they make me promise not to listen when they aren’t nestled in their car seats.

I now have three different audiobooks at the ready at all times: one for when only Siena is in the car, one for only Petra and one for when both are in the backseat.

I’ve started with kids’ classic stories, currently Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, in addition to the Wizard of Oz.

Fortunately, the audible app remembers my place in each story when I have to hit the pause button while I drop the kids off at school, otherwise we’d never finish them. I’d have to spend my time trying to remember where we were in each story every time we buckled up.

Still, there is a good deal of Play/Pause/Pay happening.

I have noticed how frustrated my daughters get when I have parked at school but they are engrossed in the story, most often in the middle of a chapter. At times, I have had to sit in the parked car, waiting for a good stopping point before they will exit the vehicle.

The Pause Button was a wonderful invention because it ensures we don’t miss out on what we are doing, watching or listening to if we get interrupted.

However, having the Pause Button makes it easier for people to interrupt us because, “you can always pause it and get back to it.”

There’s no more “wait until the commercial” or “wait until I’m finished writing this” because it’s not like you can’t just go back to what you were doing before the interruption, or so the thinking goes.


Too much of our lives nowadays are regularly interrupted by other people and, more and more, by technology that wants our attention at all times, at all costs to ourselves.

These distractions and interruptions, brief though they may be, come at very real costs.  Cognitive costs, productivity costs, relational costs.

Believe me, it takes a long time to listen to a story when I’m constantly pushing Pause, Play, Pause and Play again.  Not only can’t I get into the story, letting it drift into the back of my mind while I drive (so it doesn’t distract me), each time I have to hit Play or Pause, it robs me of my attention.

It can get tiring.

Yet this is how we are living, and some heroic, yet deluded people think they can be productive at work or present-centered with their families, all the while vacillating between Play and Pause.

Cognitive switching, trying to multi-task, takes a physical and emotional toll we seldom sense until we are burned out.

The situation is made worse because we use the Pause Button and not the Stop Button.  If we used the Stop Button, we would be aware that we aren’t actually doing something. It would be obvious we are not trying to do 5 things at once, doing each poorly.

By using the Pause Button on our lives, we fool ourselves into believing we are still on Play, that we are still in the midst of our activity, when we really are on Stop.

It’s a horrible mental trick being played on us.

The good news is that some tricks no longer work on us once we are aware of them.

So, as we look forward to 2015, take a moment to think of all the important parts of your life that are stuck on Pause, things you still want to accomplish, something you started, never finished and have to get back to (like earning that Black Belt), and…