Room to Breathe

Categories Family, Health, Life, Love, Self

It is difficult to write about blessings in the midst of tragedy.

I’ve fought with with my words for this piece and three others all morning, searching for a way to reconcile the half-written drafts with the fresh feelings of sadness that have taken residence in my heart this morning after news of the suspected terrorist attack in Manchester.

What right do I have to reflect on my blessings when others this morning are broken and blessing, perhaps, are the last things on their mind. I hardly expect that I would find it easy to do were I in their place. But if we can’t recall our blessings in times of sadness and need, in times of tragedy and pain, what good are they at any other moment? I can’t help but think of Job, faithful to God always, even in the face of great loss. Is it easy? No. Absolutely not.

It’s easy to post messages of hate and revenge and despair this morning, to vow that we will never forgive and speak all manner of negativity. But that’s exactly what evil wants. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think evil should have its day. Not now. Not ever.

Maybe the best thing to do today – for any of us – is to remember to breathe. It’s an involuntary action – no thought or effort is required, really. It’s not like we can actually forget to breathe. But in the midst of great stress, we do sort of forget that essential action. To bring focus to something as simple and necessary as breath is to bring focus to life. It gives us a moment to pause, to think, and then to continue living. And that is precisely what we need to do. Continue living.

Life around here lately has been a whirlwind of sorts. I find myself thinking often that there isn’t a moment to breathe. We are busy. We are juggling all kinds of stress – the positive and negative kinds. As we near the end of the school year, though, life does become less hectic. We find ourselves lately with more time to play and relax in the evening as homework assignments become less hefty. I am thankful for the gift of time, of later sunsets, and of longer walks in the evening.

It is the time of year to clean out, purge, and organize. We are in the midst of that here. It is time to clean out the garage, tidy up the yard, sell or donate the things we no longer need, and make room to breathe as we simplify our physical surroundings. It is so much easier to be at peace when there isn’t clutter around. Staying ahead of it is a challenge, but we’re well on our way. I am thankful that we are moving toward the time of year when life is less structured and demanding. I look forward to the feeling of freedom that summer brings and the slower pace nature seems to expect of us as the days grow long and warm.

I am thankful for the opportunity and the ability to learn. Right now the Hub is pursuing further education in his field and I am doing the same in mine. The ability to do much of it at home and online is a great benefit, allowing us to spend more time raising our daughter and more time together as a family. I am always thankful that my daughter has a great love for learning. It serves her well and she is learning young the benefits of an interested mind and spirit coupled with a strong work ethic. Her school year has been tremendously positive in so many ways. She is thriving. We are happy and blessed.

I am thankful for inspiration. My Husband in particular always manages to offer inspiration for my writing – even when he thinks he’s simply being funny. I am grateful every day for his unyielding support of me and of my work – and Zilla’s, too. There is nothing like having your biggest fans in your corner, cheering you on every step of the way.

And I can’t lie – I’m pretty happy that I have more room to breathe in my clothes lately. Healthy lifestyle choices make a huge difference in physical, mental, and spiritual health and that leads to so many great things.

As much as we are very deep in the throes of working toward our goals, it definitely feels like things are moving along more comfortably, that we are not as constricted or limited in possibility. We are making way for what is coming, preparing for changes and transitions in each of our lives. What lies ahead is going to be amazing, but so is each step of the journey along the way.

Maybe today that is important to remember – that life is a journey and the entire thing is beautiful, not only when the road is smooth, and even as we travel across the rough sections. Not every day ends well. Bad things happen. Tragedy strikes. And we do suffer – each and every one of us.  But I truly believe it is in these moments that we must, more than any other time, be keenly and fully aware of the good that exists in the world and of the blessings that we have.

So I am thankful that I was able to kiss my beautiful child on the cheek as she slept last night, even as mothers across an ocean would not. I kissed her for them. I am thankful that I can hold my child a little longer and a little tighter today and I will do it because they cannot. I am thankful for every breath she takes. I am thankful for every breath of mine that I find taken away by what IS good and beautiful in this world.

Pause for a moment. Breathe. Then continue living…

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Lisa A. Listwa is a self-employed writer with experience in education, publishing, and the martial arts. Believing there was more to life than punching someone else’s time clock and inspired by the words of Henry David Thoreau, she traded her life as a high school educator for a life as a writer and hasn’t looked back. She is mother to one glorious handful of a daughter, wife to the nicest guy on the planet, and reluctant but devoted owner of three Rotten Cats. You can find her adventures and thoughts on living life deliberately here on the blog.

8 thoughts on “Room to Breathe

  1. So often your thoughts mirror my own, Lisa. I know the heaviness that weighs on our hearts after yet another tragic and senseless event claiming the lives of so many innocents. Then I stop and think about the innocent victims of life each day that we never hear about, should we mourn them any less? I absolutely agree with you about taking time to breathe, not adding our own negativity to what’s already out there. We need peace and love, not more hatred, and certainly not more rhetoric! There is not a day that while I am so very thankful for my children, that I don’t think of and pray for those mothers who have lost theirs, and for the children who have lost their parents. Like you, I think it’s important to be thankful in the midst of sadness and difficult times, because as we say, there is always something to be thankful for. It is still a good world, and God is still in control.

    I liked your other thankfuls a lot too… a learning environment for all of you, the school year soon ending giving you a more relaxed schedule and time to share for a few months, decluttering the house (can I hire you to do mine?), and definite yay for looser clothes!! 🙂

    Most of all, I love that your husband inspires and encourages you. A good relationship is just that, always cheering each other on, building up rather than tearing down, and facing problems together as you navigate life. The two of you are teaching Zilla powerful lessons about how to treat each other and family values, and that is surely one of the things she will be thankful for some day when she is grown!

    Blessings to you in the days ahead, thank you for a very timely and sensitive TToT today. We needed that! XOXO

  2. ” But I truly believe it is in these moments that we must, more than any other time, be keenly and fully aware of the good that exists in the world and of the blessings that we have.”

    Absolutely! I , too, live in privileged, peaceful circumstances (so far!), and am grateful for those late sunsets, the new growth in my garden, coffee and a cat on my lap. And perhaps these blessings are to encourage us to support others, whose normal is war, disease, poverty, with love and not judgement. As you show, to appreciate the present blessings and let that form our souls, rather than let the fear of losing it all.

    Lovely piece (peace?)!

    1. Thank you, Liz. That’s exactly what I mean. We are so blessed and so far removed from what some have to live with every day. I hope that in some small ways the things I do will be helpful. It won’t be on a world stage or of any great magnitude, but maybe it helps.
      Thanks for reading and your lovely comment.

  3. Mr. Rodger’s (to paraphrase something I read) said to make sense out of tragedy, look for the helpers. Your writing of the things of thankful in your life at this horrible historical event where evil seems to triumph good, is a helper, for me, the reader and for those of us who need to find sense in it all. Thanks.

    1. You know, Val, I remember reading that, too. Mr. Rogers,was a wonderfully wise and kind soul. Love him.
      Glad this helped you. I know it helped me.

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