Just Breathe

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When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
— Lao Tzu

Every once in a while, life gets so hectic that I find myself unable to breathe. I find it hard to take in a deep, cleansing breath and to let go of all the internal conflict brewing. Like being underwater, I feel the pressure around me pushing its will against my chest, making the feelings of panic and anxiety rise and my ability to cope sink down.

I feel myself struggling, kicking against the oppressive power that is life. I feel it pulling at my sleeve, nagging for my attention to a million different details. My head spins, my vision blurs and I can feel the shortness of breath.

Where do I go? What do I do? What needs my attention now and what can wait?

Then suddenly, as if the waves parted and I could feel the fresh sea breeze against my face instead of the slapping current, I realize I don’t have to do anything.

There is nothing in my life that is as important as just breathing. A breath in and a breath out. Repeat. And again.

As I take these breaths, I can feel the chill of the overwhelming storm wash away and leave me tired and battered but alive and free. I need to do nothing more than breathe. Everything else can wait.

And all I have to do is slow down, breathe, and let go.

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As Needs

There is a sweating glass of untouched white wine resting neatly on the corner bookshelf. A pile of folded laundry waits patiently to be put away. Last night’s blankets pool around the legs of the bed, streaming along the floor, forgotten and ignored.

The air is stiff and the windows need opening. A stack of unopened mail waits quietly for acknowledgment. Toys linger in spaces where they are not supposed to be. And bookmarks leave impressions in forgotten pages of a book. A red blinking number increases on the voicemail box and flashes angrily at being ignored.

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There is only so much one human can do. Lists of priorities get made and then as quickly, they are forgotten. Things to-do are marked off hurriedly as another item to accomplish lengthens the ever growing list. Time never slows down. The days never seem to be long enough.

We keep our steady pace and push on. As my body tires, my eye droop and my system slowly begins to shut down, I ask myself how I can simplify my life. As a single mother, there is only so much I can do on my own. So that begs the question, where will I find room to cut back?

I wish the answer was as simple as the question. But I find so many areas of my home and my life that I could easily neglect to allow for more time and available energy in other more important areas. Right now the laundry rarely gets put away and the dishes are washed on an “as needs” basis. What else can I do to allow for more time to accomplish the things I need to?

So far the answer is unclear. For now, I continue to batter my way through the endless list of things I need to do, never feeling as if I’m making any head way.

No Two Alike

If two people were exactly alike, one of them would be unnecessary.
Larry Dixon

No two people are alike. Just as all snowflakes are different and the sunset each night will vary. No two people will speak the same, think the same, deal with the same situations or reaction the same in similar circumstances.

Why then, if this is true, do I continue to hold myself up to the standards of the average parent?

I had a revelation today as I signed and filled out the multiple forms and pages of my son’s new school paperwork. As I signed my signature for what felt like the 100th time, I began to feel overwhelmed. Along with the work of getting everything ready for his first big day at his new school, I also had a kitchen in disarray, a broken dishwasher, laundry that desperately needed folding, groceries to be purchased, food to be prepared and uniforms to be tried on and purchased.

I wondered quietly to myself how parents before me did it. How did they manage their time and their home and their family during so much change? How did parents get their to-do list done and get everyone to where they needed to be in the best shape possible?

That’s when it hit me. When I thought of such parents, I envision two of them. A partnership of adults that, whether together in a relationship or co-parenting apart, were working together. Sharing the weight and the burden of raising a small person.

Digesting this thought, I realized that, in all my time as single mother, I had been judging myself against the standards of a pair of parents. Instead of seeing myself at a slight disadvantage and giving myself the handicap for this game, I was ranking myself right up their with a team of people.

I was playing a single player game against a complete team with substitutes on the side lines. I was playing by the rules of a much different game when I never was expected to in the first place. No one told me to do it the same as all paired parents.

And yet here I was trying to live up to the standards of a mother who has a partner. A mother who can delegate some of the chores and some of the work load to another adult. To a mother that doesn’t have to do it all.

I’m not her. I am the mother who has to do it all.

And I do it all on my own.

Knowing this now, I see where the stresses in my life could be less if I allowed myself to play by a different set of rules. If I gave myself a little more time and a little more room. If I gave myself the right to say no and to makes plans according to my own needs.

To allow myself to be different because no two people are alike.

The same goes for parents.

Time To Heal

Time heals all wounds.

Your mother said it. So did your teachers and your friends. You’ve heard it in books and movies and songs. It’s a popular phrase used to mend the wounded and the broke-hearted.

Time heals all wounds.

But what about your memory? Does time heal that too? Can distance from a hurtful memory give your mind time to heal over and forget?

Maybe for some this is an option. The ability to forget those memories that you no longer want to recall. The hurtful ones, the scary ones and even the sad ones.

For the most part, my memory hangs on to it all. The good, the bad and the ugly. And I find with distance and time my memory stays intact but with a little more gray around the edges. A bit of fuzziness that blurs the corners and the memory fades a little. But the initial feeling evoked by this original occurrence is still there, a slight undertow pulling at my heartstrings when I feel my body relive that sight. Those sounds. Even the smells.

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I wish this phrase pertained to memory too. I have memories that are still fresh. Still painful. And in self-protection, I’ve begun to bury them in an attempt to allow my emotional wounds the room to heal. But all it takes is a scent, a visual scene, or a sound that is reminiscent and the memories flood in, wiping away all the work done to dam the river of tears.

It is exhausting. And I’m ready for it to be time to heal. Time to move on and to be let go of. I wish for my freedom and for the pain to lessen. I hope for a morning to come when I wake and my first thought isn’t “How sad am I today?” or “I hope today is the day I am left alone”.

For a day to come when I wake and enjoy the happy times again.

Just What I’m Looking For

Everyone is searching for something. Whether it be companionship, love, answers, a reason or a path, we are all looking for something. Something that we need.

I’ve found that my search is for balance. I’m constantly on the cusp of understanding just how to balance my life and everything in it for a peaceful existence. A balance between work and play. A balance between friends and family. And balance between everyone else and myself.

But, my search is on going. Balance is never reached and I find myself searching for new reasons why. Each time I learn something new, some fresh bit of information about myself or about my environment, I get one more step closer to achieving that personal balance I so desperately want.

And yet, as close as I get, I feel myself trip and fall with balance right out of reach. I’ve begun to wonder if I can ever have what I want. What I crave most in my life. That feeling of peace and everything being in its place in my world.

As far as I feel from my own person balance, I did learn something interesting this week about myself in regards to the relationships I have. For all the peace I desire in my own life, I allow myself to have relationships in which there is no balance.

Odd, right?

So here I am, constantly seeking that which I so deeply feel will make me happy, a sense of peace in my world and yet I go into a relationship with another human being and don’t request that same desire. The desire of balance and compromise between two adults.

Instead, I walk into the relationship and take on the responsibility of all the heavy lifting. Of all the big questions. I completely take on the job of caring and maintaining the relationship of two people without requiring the participation of the other member.

When I do ask for more than what I assume they are willing to give, I ask in a small tone of voice with little more than just a simple request, if they aren’t too busy. And that gets me nowhere. So I trudge along, bearing the weight of two people, not expecting more than the very least of my partner.

Then the burden starts to take its toll. My shoulders slump, my heart gets heavy and start to lose pieces of myself along the way. I forget who I am and why I started this relationship in the first place. I begin to resent my partner because they can’t seem to pick up on the stresses I feel and step in to save me. To help out and do their part.

Kind of silly of me to take on the whole job and then expect them to dip in and save me when I can’t carry the emotional weight of the relationship any longer. Not only that but to read my mind and my heart. To just know when I need them without me asking.

Finding this out about myself shed some new light on my past relationships. It also gave me a new boundary to set up for myself and a new habit to begin. I need to allow the other person to carry their half of the weight. I need to balance the responsibilities of the relationship and voice my needs to my partner.

Though I may not have all the answers, having a little more light to lead me back to my path is comforting. It was a sigh of relief as I put my thoughts and feeling together and saw where the change was needed. It also gave me some insight into the failures of my past.

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Balance, it’s just what I’m looking for. For both myself and for my future relationships.

Intuition

Intuition. That little voice that speaks from within. It understands something before you have all the data collected. A niggling at the back of your mind as you face a decision or an undefined point in your life.

Intuition. It can be a friend that guides you or it can deter you from what you already know and make you doubt yourself. When that small inkling about something turns into uncertainty. When confidence turns to doubt.

Most walks of faith will preach to let go and let [deity of your choice] handle it. But as humans, with our intelligence, our gut instincts and our intuition, we decide matters must be taken into our own hands. That we are in charge. That we can define our destiny.

For myself, I believe that our path is marked with signs. Signs that point us in the right direction. And my intuition is in tune with these points of interest. Like a cosmic GPS system with build in points of reference for the journey.

When I’m walking my path and I’m following what I am meant to do, I feel good, centered and confident. My mind is open, my heart is light and my feet have a spring in their step.

When I start to stray, I suddenly get a nasty feeling deep in my stomach. An uneasiness that creeps along through my day and gives the sense of a deep unrest. My mind is cluttered, my confidence is shaken. I feel off….

That was me last night. And that deep sense of uncertainty followed me today. I feel lost. Something isn’t quite right and I can’t find my way back to where I was. To the point where I felt confident. Back to the path on which I was walking.

For now I think I’ll sit and recenter myself. Catch my breath. Fight back the tears that cloud my eyes. Tears of dread as I glance around at the unknown territory I find myself lost in.

And hope. Hope to find my signal again. Hope to find my way back.