Who in your life reminds you to breathe?
What in your life makes you take that deep breath you didn’t know you needed?
For me it’s usually nature. You all know of my great love for trees and it’s true, thirty seconds after walking underneath those arms of wood stretched wide, the green leaves covering me like a blanket – I am breathing again. My people also remind me to breathe, and most of the time it’s because they make me laugh so hard that it forces me to take a deep breath in as I grab my stomach and tears fall down my cheeks and my soul tells me, Oh, Em. You needed that.
I took an unplanned vacation last week. For those of you who know me, you’ll know that anything ‘unplanned’ is pretty out of character for me. Yes, I can ‘go with the flow’ with the best of them and can embrace change like a champ (I actually crave change most times), but within a few days of the unplanned I’ll desire to be back to my schedule of routine.
I’d fought the desire to revert back to my “regular” like something fierce last week and instead, allowed myself to truly rest, to stop go-go-going… to no longer hold my breath. It meant emailing a few people to tell them my originally scheduled posts and plans would have to be postponed, and that felt incredibly weird and uncomfortable but wouldn’t you know, after a few hours of sending those emails to notify, and receiving responses back that only encouraged my unplanned break, I really just let my “to dos” fall away. Strange. And freaking awesome.
I let my phone die and stay dead. I didn’t worry about who might be trying to reach me or what I might have been missing outside of my little bubble that was husband + family. I didn’t really write at all. Instead, I read – something I haven’t done in so, so long. In fact, I spent three hours reading that novel out on my parents back porch, under the trees and close to hummingbirds who flew by every so often to grab a drink from the feeder next to my chair. I would glance up as I turned each page to admire the butterflies who chose to land on the flowers just across the way. I smiled as I listened to the birds sing their songs back and forth and back and forth. I allowed myself to get lost in a story that was make-believe, words printed on pages that I held in my hands. And I breathed again.
I spent time – quality time – with my husband and my brother and my sister-in-law and my parents. We went out to dinner and laughed SO hard over the fact that apparently my brother and I aren’t as smart as we think we always are 😉 I smiled as I took note of my dad and brother both rocking the same kind of shoes. Christian and I spent an afternoon canoeing with my parents. We counted over a hundred turtles. At one point in the journey, we docked our canoes and sat on the rocks while we drank Diet Dr. Pepper and ate almonds with raisins. We took in the beauty that was the sunshine hitting the tiny ripples in the water just so, and I closed my eyes as I listened closely to the breeze that ran gently through the leaves of the trees. And I breathed again.
I spent time with my grandparents – oh, what precious time. I bet you I took fifty snapshots of the soul. I watched closely as my dad sat next to his mom – so similar to the way I sit next to him these days… like I’m still his little girl and he’s still the greatest guy I’ll know. The two of them have this too. Of course they do! I fought back tears while we were all at dinner, as my heart told me to cherish every single second. And then just like that, I was belly laughing again, surely over one of my Grandma’s quick remarks or the new nickname she gave herself and my Granddad. Belly laughing, I tell you. And I breathed again.
These things happen when you’re in the company of some of the absolute greats, no? These things happen when you’re in the presence of God’s original intent of life… something that still remains even though we have tried to change it.
Sometimes you forget to breathe… but if you’re awake enough, you’ll have the reminders that force you to no longer hold your breath. As busy as our days can get, we must (we must!) recognize true rest when it comes to find us, if even for a moment. If even for an hour. And if it begs you to keep it for a few extra days? By all means – let it stay.
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