Breathing Deep


A run with a view

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Frank Herbert, Dune – Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

My friend Jamie is in the hospital and she posted this today.  She is amazing and always finds a way to rise above circumstances so her insight is expected and not the least bit surprising.

My question is : How on Earth did she know I’ve been grappling with fear?

I am not sure when it actually started but this week I became keenly aware that my fears were taking a stronghold. Typically things have to manifest themselves with me physically before I  get a clue. I realized this week that my breath was short and shallow.  Now that sounds scary until I tell you that I only noticed this when I was talking to someone. On my runs (3-10 miles at a time) my breathing was smooth.  As a matter of fact, I have made tremendous gains when it comes to endurance. I’ve also been strong in my Crossfit workouts…even the ones that left me tapping out in the end.

So what was the difficult breathing all about?

Well it was what I was talking about. From my husband’s car accident, my son’s concussion, to the fate of America, my conversations were labored. Add the fact that several of my close friends are battling serious illness (Jamie is one) did not help. I realized that I have literally been holding my breath. Waiting for the next shoe to drop. For weeks.

I consider myself to be pretty pragmatic at this stage in life, so I took this insight and broke it down into pieces. I knew the what and the why. Now I had to figure out how to fix it. And fast. If past performance is any gauge for future experience, I was on borrowed time from my body.

I first focused on exercise. Although my runs are very important to me, I did not need to be pumped up, I needed to chill out. I gave myself permission to do one less run this week. This is huge because my marathon training program already only calls for four runs a week.  I took the high road in Crossfit. Ignoring the Rx and letting my body guide me. No personal bests this week.

I also focused on nutrition. I made sure to get my Vitamix blend (sample recipes here) in five days this week.  I managed to drink water constantly and gave up wine for the week too. <——-MAJOR. Dinners were simple and wholesome.

On Thursday I went to see Sue. She is my pint-sized miracle worker who has a knack for taking my inflamed body and making it shiny and new again. She told me my muscles were more hydrated then ever (yes!) and that with the exception of`a small funky patch in my back and really tight hamstrings (I don’t stretch at all like I should) I was in pretty good shape. She released my right ovary from bondage (that originated as a result of my tight hamstrings -who knew???), applied incredible pressure in my armpits (I am convinced she reached under my ribcage to the other side), taught me stretches (that I already know and don’t do) and sent me on my very merry way.

I had addressed myself physically and cleared my thoughts making room for some spiritual headway. I replaced my anxiety about events taking place around me with feelings of gratitude. Whatever the situation, we were all alive and functioning.

Another day is another chance.

On Friday I paid particular attention to the Fall leaves on my run and  I started breathing consciously. With each breath I felt my heart sing a soft Thank you God. I was becoming very aware of the exchange of air.  I could feel the stress leaving.

I was able to reach out to my husband, son, and friends without totally absorbing their hurt. Taking on someone’s pain can be paralyzing and how is that helpful?  I was able to listen, empathize and help (if that is what they wanted/needed).  I think this worked much better then the deer stuck in the headlights place I found myself in before.

Perhaps the best example of this is my son. He had suffered a concussion in practice the night before leaving for his first National League experience.  My heart sank. This kid works harder than any athlete I know to be better every single day. This is his dream and now it was on hold. So instead of feeling sorry for him (or myself for that matter) I decided to come up with a plan.  His dad and I spoke to his coach and we all got on the same page. Darsi could not play but we would trust him to go with his team (this is somewhat against doctors orders and a mother’s fears). When I told him he could not play (yeah- I had to be the bad cop on this one) I let him feel the pain as I moved on with the plan. He was silent as we drove to meet his team but I gave him something to focus on… pumping up each of his teammate as they cycled on and off the field. I reminded him that his efforts (in part) got them to this point and he could own each and every win; even though he was not going to play.  I also gave him extra money. That always helps. 🙂

His dad met him in North Carolina but Darsi called me every day. Each day I could tell his spirits were getting higher. Not a single complaint.  The situation sucked majorly but he was thriving.  They won three games and tied one.

Thank you, Jamie, for reminding me today of the power of looking fear dead in the eye and owning it.


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