This morning, I followed my little ritual as I added chlorine to our pool – bring bucket of chlorine to the skimmer. Take off the lid to the skimmer of the pool, and set it aside. Lean over and slightly unlatch the childproof locks on the canister. Stop. Close my eyes. Take in one, deep breath very slowly. Release. Take a second breath in deeply, slowly. Trying not to get dizzy, I take a third, very deep breath and hold it. Frantically, all in one movement, I open my eyes, throw off the cover to the canister, scramble for the scoop, measure the scoops of chlorine into the skimmer, throw the skimmer lid back on, snap the canister lid back on, and take off running as fast as I can across the yard away from the whole thing. When the air finally settled, I returned for the canister and carried it back to its place, walking calmly as if nothing ever happened.
Yes, I am sure I look ridiculous. But, 100% chlorine is miserable to breathe in as its fumes sting my eyes, nose and throat. I got a big dose once that taught me never to do it slowly again. So, that’s my theatrical performance in the backyard when the pool needs chlorine.
However, I feel that is also my reaction to life when it spins faster than a toy top. Ramping up for a new school year, with many changes happening for our family, I find myself neglecting to breathe. Literally. It seems when I get stressed, I shallow-breathe. I went to the doctor once about tingling hands and feet. She said it was caused from hyperventilating.
But, I’m not heaving deep breaths, nor am I all upset and worked up like some I’ve seen hyperventilate! I replied.
She explained that not breathing deep enough can cause the same malfunctioning circulation. I had no idea.
Ever since she taught me this, I am intentional about breathing when currents pick up and waves rise. Like adding chlorine to the pool, I try to remember to stop. Close my eyes. Breathe deeply.
Sometimes I forget. That’s been the case the past couple of weeks. It’s very easy to slowly let life control the ship, and the next thing I know my world is being rocked like a toy boat spinning in a bathtub drain.
God is the one who needs to remain in control of life. He is, after all, the one with all the answers, the patience, the knowledge and time at His disposal; crafted by His hand for our good. Even when life seems like it doesn’t make sense, He is good and sovereign. When bad things happen in this fallen world, I have faith He is the God of redemption and NOTHING is beyond His reach of grace and glory.
But, some days I still forget to breathe. I let the endless list of things to do, people to please, and pressuring priorities determine my day. That’s so backwards. Being intentional about breathing means:
1. Give the day to God first and let Him be captain and I be the skipper – not the other way around.
2. Pace myself and not get in a flurry and do too many things at once. I’m going to buffer time into the day for the unexpected things – of which I’ve already encountered three times this morning!
3. Realize the day’s expectations are more than I can meet. Some things must simply wait until tomorrow.
4. Move my body. Too often, my brain muscle gets all the exercise while my body lies dormant. Balance is a good thing.
5. Understand I am NOT responsible for other people’s happiness. They are.
6. Appreciate the small treasures buried along the journey’s path. Stolen moments with my kids. The smell of gardenias in the backyard. Pondering the blessings God has given me by way of family, friends, a new day to discover, and a healing back. 🙂
7. Work hard. There is no guilt when I fully know I’ve done the best job I can do.
8. Put my feet up – if only for a little while. Physically, it’s good for the heart. Mentally, it’s a priceless break from everything.
9. Use the Holy Spirit as my filter for my attitude and my answers. When seeking God’s perspective on things, His response is usually different than my own.
10. Breathe. Literally and metaphorically. Whatever helps decompress. I do intentionally take deep breaths throughout the day (my kids think it’s a sign of exasperation, but it’s not – it’s preservation!). I also breathe in ways that give me the same rejuvenating benefit like writing this blog 🙂 playing with my dog, a conversation with my husband or friend, doing something for someone else and doing something for myself – be it work or play (because sometimes tackling a long-dreaded project feels as good as taking a walk or watching a favorite show on tv).
Fall hasn’t begun yet, so I refuse to let its pressures and strain begin now. There are precious days of summer left, and perhaps by keeping these days in check it will help me do the same when new routines begin. It’s all good stuff, and it should be acknowledged as such. If I don’t want to hear my kids complain, then I shouldn’t either. This was a nice, deep breathe. I’m ready to
tackle embrace the day. Are you?
May today be a great day…and don’t forget to breathe!
Three, five, six and ten……changed and saved my life when I was about your age…maybe a little older…..but I just skipped around the house saying to “stuff” that cluttered…. ” It just doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t matter.” The kids thought I’d lost my mind, but actually I’d found it. See you soon.
This was such the appropriate time to read this as I think about delving into the new school year, tending to my father-in-law’s medical needs, and tending to (or lack of tending to) my newly sprained ankle. It’s been an overwhelming week and I found myself stopping, breathing and reflecting as I read your article. Thanks my friend! God always uses you in such a mighty way!