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Somewhere Along the Way I’ve Forgotten How to Breathe – The Spin-Cycle of Life

I have to say I have had a rough couple of months. A crazy reaction to a new medication literally threw my body into some kind of lurch. It also has been a big wake up call for me. You always hear people talking about taking “better” care of themselves. But at this point, I’ve realized I just need to take care of myself. Period. The “better” part will have to come when I’m actually doing the things for myself that I should have been doing all along. 

It’s the spin-cycle of life for just about every 30-something I know: Get up, get kids up, make breakfast, get kids to school, go to work, pick up kids, frantically run kids to gymnastics/baseball practice/tutoring, cook dinner, help with homework, make sure everyone gets a bath… and there’s not really any wiggle room.  You have to cook dinner at home, because eating out frequently is unhealthy and expensive. You have to chauffeur kids around because they can’t drive and even if you limit activities–which we do–with three kids, that’s still going to be a very busy schedule. And that’s on a good day when everything goes right. Add in a sick kid, or any other personal developments and it becomes chaos. How-where-when do you fit in doing anything for yourself? Some days, I feel accomplished just to have had showered.

As a good friend recently said about her own life, this is just a season in mine. And truly, I’m glad for this “season” of chaos. I just want to feel good enough to enjoy it and soak up every little, precious moment because I know my kids will grow up and the season will change and someday, I’ll miss all this chaos.

Lately, I haven’t felt good enough to enjoy much of anything. Not a lot of people know this because I have become quite good at hiding it. The other day I saw this meme on Facebook:

BeHappy.me

That is my mantra.   I’d like to think somewhere deep down I do it because I’m just that tough and that driven. But mostly, I think it’s because there’s really no other option. People depend on me. And so, like so many other mothers (and fathers) I know, I trudge on.

But eventually, the monotony of taking care of everyone but yourself catches up with you. That is what happened to me. It had been chasing me for awhile.

Recently, my chiropractor said I am likely a chronic “shallow breather.”

According to Wikipedia, shallow breathing is:

Shallow breathing, thoracic breathing, or chest breathing is the drawing of minimal breath into the lungs, usually by drawing air into the chest area using the intercostal muscles rather than throughout the lungs via the diaphragm. Shallow breathing can result in or be symptomatic of rapid breathing and hyperventilation. Most people who breathe shallowly do it throughout the day and are almost always unaware of the condition.

Regular chiropractic is something I’ve made a return to. It was one of the things I stopped doing when I became too busy to take proper care of myself. Now when I go, we work on breathing. Why do I have to be reminded to breathe properly? Shouldn’t it just be a given that one would inhale and exhale without intent, without thinking about it? Somewhere along the way, I’ve forgotten how to breathe.

Last week, I caught a snip it of World News Tonight where Dan Harris talked about his new book, “10% Happier,” and the panic attack on national television that put him on a path to rediscovery. He talks about how multitasking, stress, and all those things I know I do, weigh on you. I’ve only just begun the book, but it’s all about meditation. True meditation, they say, is really difficult.  To achieve that level of focus and concentration and truly clear your mind is an art. When I think of meditation, I think of someone far more open minded than me chanting “ohmmmmmmmmm” in a sweat lodge. Harris said he had similar thoughts.

You know how on an airplane they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then your child? That always seems so bizarre to me. What responsible, loving parent wouldn’t put the mask on the child first? But they say you can’t save your child if you don’t save yourself.

So, here I am… reaching for my own proverbial oxygen mask.

I don’t know if you’ll find me sitting cross-legged in my bedroom and chanting anytime soon, but I’m definitely slowing down some, breathing more deeply, and trying to remember that if I don’t take care of myself, I can’t possibly take care of everyone else.

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