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The Beauty of Keeping Tempo

Inner Beauty
September 26, 2020
on Saturdays we talk about Inner Beauty

It seems the only place to start is with the obvious. This has been a difficult year, challenging. And while some things are looking up, others on the horizon are daunting. One thing we all have in common, our rhythm has been disrupted. Today, in this inner beauty post, let’s think about the beauty and importance of keeping tempo amidst the noise of an ever-changing world.

The Beauty of Keeping Tempo

When I was taking piano lessons while growing up, my dear piano teacher would occasionally send me home from a lesson with her metronome, hoping, I’m sure, that I would come to my next lesson with a smoother, more consistent tempo on the piece of music that was challenging me at the time. A metronome, shown above, is a device used by musicians to help them play at a regulated cadence. You can set the device to issue a click or other sound at regulated intervals of your choice.

Musicians don’t use the metronome when they’re performing, of course. That’s why you may have never seen or even heard of one if you don’t play a musical instrument. But I’d assume that the most proficient and accomplished musicians own and use this device regularly when practicing, especially when they’re struggling with keeping the right tempo in a particularly challenging part of the music they’re playing.

Disrupted Rhythms

Whether you’re usually an “on the fly” kind of gal or one who thrives on routine, your rhythms have probably been disrupted this year. Have any of the following changed for you in the last six months?

  • regular, weekly lunch or breakfast dates?
  • exercise options?
  • grocery routines?
  • vacations?
  • church attendance?
  • seasonal celebrations?
  • family gatherings?
  • work routines?
  • daily commutes?
  • interactions with your people?
  • enjoyment of seasonal sporting events or participation?
  • weekly or monthly gatherings with friends or social groups?

By themselves, these seem like little changes, insignificant even. But these are the routines that create the rhythms of our lives. The cumulative effect of losing or experiencing change in even a few of these habits is not unlike a musical train wreck.

I think the result of each of us experiencing such changes is somewhat like each member of an orchestra putting on sound cancelling headphones and then trying to play a piece of music together. Train wreck.

And while some things are beginning to return to “somewhat normalcy,” even those renewed activities have a different rhythm than before. We’ve had to learn new steps to old dances at the grocery store, church, social gatherings, the gym and work.

We’re coming back together, but we’re all out of step. We’ve been listening to our own music with headphones on too long and we’ve forgotten how to sing along in harmony with others. Some days we make good music with others. Other days it’s a struggle.

Amidst the Noise

It can be even harder to find your tempo once again when others are struggling to find theirs. If you’ve ever played in a band or orchestra or sung in a choir, you know that finding and keeping tempo amidst a group is even more challenging. There are always those who want to go faster and those who tend to drag. The louder instruments or voices usually “win.”

That’s why smart musicians keep their eyes on the conductor. He or she acts as the visual metronome for the group, setting the pace with the steady movement of her baton.

What All of This Means

I really didn’t mean to sound quite so contemplative and deep with this post. Ha! (I think it’s the classical music I’m listening to as I type. It’s moving me. LOL!) Let’s get somewhere with this.

I’m struggling these days to find my tempo. I’m out of rhythm. For instance, I’ve missed going to church weekly. And even though we returned to onsite worship services a couple of months ago, things are so different there that I still feel out of step.

We went to a fun party at the home of some friends last night. I loved it. But it still felt new and different and odd. There was no shaking of hands among the guys, hugging of necks among the gals. We sat far apart and wore masks and gloves as we served food. I’m so grateful for our hosts and the gathering did my heart good, but as we drove home I felt a little out of step with the world once again.

I’m so tired of struggling with this new rhythm. Aren’t you?

So I thought we’d simply talk a little about how we can learn to keep tempo amidst the changes and amidst the noise of all that’s going on in our world. And hopefully as we find our own rhythm we can also learn to harmonize with the world around us, too.

Tips for Finding & Keeping YOUR Tempo

I think the real key is simply to find and keep your tempo first. When we establish some steady and somewhat predictable tempos in our own lives, as much as possible, we’ll find that we can better stay in rhythm when we step out in to the world, turn on the television or get on social media. Otherwise, those same places create mayhem and confusion for us.

Here are the things I’m trying to do to establish my own tempo so I can keep it when I encounter changes in my world or other people who are struggling to find their own rhythm.

  • Exchange whispers with God before sharing shouts with the world. Lysa TerKeurst coined that phrase when she founded the First 5 app, which I’ve been using for my daily quiet times. The concept is simply to spend the “first 5 minutes” of your day in Scripture and with God. I find that prioritizing my time with the Lord this way is critical to setting the rhythm of my day.
  • Move daily and exercise routinely. I try to get out for at least a short walk every single day. Moving coupled with fresh air and sunshine clears my head. But I also get in three strength training workout and two full-on cardio workouts each week. These keep me feeling strong and able-bodied.
  • Use a to-do list. I’ve not always used a daily to-do list, but I’ve returned to the practice recently. Otherwise, without the familiar routines of the past, I can start feeling anxious about the day. Just writing down the things I need to do helps take away some of the overwhelm.
  • Keep some daily routines. I’m also trying to start my work, stop for lunch and end my work day at the same times each day. Working from home provides freedom to do those things whenever I want, but I find I feel mentally and physically healthier when I work on a schedule.
  • Set up new weekly and monthly interactions with people. It’s time y’all. Many of us have lost the weekly lunches, Bible studies, game gatherings, worship opportunities and other social outings we once enjoyed. And if we re-engage it will certainly be different. But it’s time for me to make the effort. I’ve been doing some of this already, but I’m starting to make a more focused effort of engaging with others socially. I’m beginning a new Bible study this week with ladies in my church and I’m going to set up some monthly coffee dates. These will be good for the rhythm of my soul.

These little daily rituals and habits are working like a metronome to help keep my emotions tempered, my anxiety at bay and my spirit more generous and gracious. Of course, like a metronome, these simple activities can’t keep me in tempo alone. I’m also practicing deep breathing at times, memorizing some scriptures that settle my soul and trying to talk through things with my husband.

What about you? How are you regaining the tempo of your life?

Do you have thoughts you’d like to share about today’s topic? I’d love to hear from you today! I tend to take as much time off from work as I can during the weekends, so I may not reply to your comments unless you ask me a direct question. But I’d love for you to carry on this conversation in the comment section below. And you can know for certain that I read and value each and every comment. Please remember that I try to keep this space free from controversy, so let’s stay away from the topic of politics or other divisive issues.

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xoxo, Kay
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13 thoughts on “The Beauty of Keeping Tempo

  1. Hi Kay,

    Thank you for your encouraging article.

    I live in Southern California and we narrowly missed being on the most restrictive tier last week. All of my Bible studies and meetings are via Zoom and church is online.

    I haven’t seen my daughter in 7 months because she lives in LA where things are more restricted and my husband has underlying health concerns. The holidays will be very different this year.

    Thus things are from normal and most days I grieve over my losses. But I try to keep a schedule and remember all I have to be grateful for.

    I don’t know if my best days are behind me or before me. My hope is not in this life but in the next one, in eternity.

    God bless you.


  2. You are such an encourager and it seems like you spoke directly to my heart. During this time my anxiety has been at an all time high along with my blood pressure. I am trying to do things that feed my mind and soul but I sure miss so many of the things you mentioned… including my Soul Sisters in Christ. Monday we will be having a Covid friendly visit on a friend’s back porch. It will certainly help and being with these 6 women always leaves me feeling so loved by them and Him! Hugs ML

  3. Most of us like the willow tree have learned to bend in the storm. We will survive but it will take time. You really couldn’t tell whether it was Spring, Summer or Fall here on the Coast. We have all these activities we usually do that just stopped cold.
    I have hope that the holidays will brighten all our spirits and we can recapture the old rhythm of our lives or move on to a new one if we have found it works better for us. Some enjoy the slower pace they have now. Priorities have changed.
    I thought of a saying by yogi Bera that seems to fit us. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it” ? I feel that what we’ve all had to do.

  4. Thank you so much for this encouraging and uplifting post! So many people need this. Like “exchange whispers with God before shouting at the world”. I am trying to be sure I have the Word before the world each morning.

  5. Since the start of this pandemic I sometimes wake up in the morning sad. I always snap out of it within minutes but it’s not something I am used to feeling. So many of the things we take for granted, like running to the store for milk, stopping to browse in our favorite store, even visiting a new mom and her baby have become so complicated. I’m trying to focus on the many good things I have been blessed with and not the negative. Much needed message today Kay!

  6. Hi Kay, Thank you for your post. Everything feels off right now and your words helped me see what I can do to possibly help myself.

  7. Your message spoke to my heart today. The most missed activity are the visits and get togethers with our son and his family. They are the only family left and close in proximity to us. We used to see them at least once a week and several dinners together monthly. I was OK in dealing with this Covid change in our lives until about a month ago. It hit me hard one day that I have missed out on being with my family for 6 months now. Yes, they stop by for a quick “how are you” once in a while to check on us and we celebrated my husband’s 80th BD in early May with a patio hamburger dinner but, other than that, there is the missing link of actual togetherness. And those visits are at a distance. There’s just something not right about me having to give my grandson the “covid hug”. I know they are concerned because they continue to work, (for that we’re thankful) and have more chance to become infected and don’t want to pass it along to us. We are thankful that we have remained safe from Covid but that does not take away the loneliness that this time in our lives brings. I feel almost shameful to complain about this when so many have been devastated by this virus, fires and floods. But, I know there is an end to this, hopefully soon. Until then, I intend to shake off this awful feeling and make the best of the life we are Blessed to have. Thankful to have been given another day of life and the chance to be healthy and happy.

  8. You inspired me to download a devotional app. To my surprise Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening was available as an app. Thank you.

  9. Thank you for a lovely post today, Kay. Sometimes it seems to help just knowing that others are feeling the same way that I am. I too have missed seeing my family – they live in FL – for over a year now. Spring and summer trips were cancelled. Working from home has been both a blessing and disruptive. I try to focus on the things I’m grateful for, and to remember to give everyone, including myself, a little grace as we all work through this at our own pace. Keeping a schedule and a new routine has definitely helped.

  10. Wow Kay, such a great post. The metaphor of the metronome was powerful. It hit home when you said it’s important to keep your eye on the conductor. . .and that’s exactly what we need to do; keep our eyes on our Lord Jesus. I think we all assumed this would be long over by now, yet dealing with COVID is proving to be a true marathon physically and emotionally.
    I’m so glad you’re getting some time to recharge your batteries, but thanks again for sharing your thinking today.

  11. This is right on time ! I have felt off for awhile. I was in a good routine during lockdown but now that im back to work , Im less intentional with take care of me or doing things i love. I pray i get back on track . going use your suggestion to help me

  12. Hi Kay,
    What wonderful reminders. I too have been out of sync. All summer we were active. However looking to colder temps, I will need to add some small things to my week.