Breathe with me, Babe.

Breathe with me, Babe.

“Breathe with me, babe,“ I tell them often in the face of pain, fear, uncertainty, impatience, or unrest.

“Hand on your heart, close your eyes, deep breaths. You’ll feel God and Mama there,” are the words that soothe the discomfort associated with transitions away from home.

It is 2006 and I am expecting my first child. The pregnancy is peppered with concern and we are enduring turmoil within the extended family in the same season. The doctor asks if I want an amniocentesis to confirm potential “issues.” Without having to think I say, “No. NO. This is my baby. We’ll face anything.” My mother gifts me her personal poetry on my birthday the year my son was born, titled Breathe. It hangs on the wall of the room that will serve as a nursery for both of my children. Years will pass without revisiting the words.

Simultaneously, my exploration and pursuit of intentional breath, yoga, and meditation take root. I am a seeker and find my answers more clearly in spaces shared with kindred breathing bodies and in nature where inhalation comes easy. Among my most sacred engagements is that of breathing deeply and loudly into every ounce of space in my body with a collection of people in unlimited and authentic expression. There is an unspoken agreement to safety and care in a room or circle of people choosing to expand in their being together.

It is a handful of years ago and I wake to the floor falling out of my life. It is gone in one unforeseen instant. Trauma forces my breath shallow and frantic, redirected toward survival, held too frequently. In the days and months to follow I must learn to breathe all over again. I must learn to be all over again. Focusing on my breath saves me and fosters my growth into something new.

It is December of 2014 and we sit in an exam room awaiting the doctor we have been anticipating in turmoil to hear from, still cloaked in the fog of this medical unfolding. There is cold, sweat-laced, nervous energy in the room and there aren’t enough places to look. We are given a diagnosis. It is followed by an indeterminate timeframe. The lower end of the range is a figure that is indigestible. I leave my body temporarily, simply drifting from focus, floating out of myself to try on the projected groundlessness of a single woman with no present parents, but quickly return to steadfastly devour any detail the doctor can provide. I sit down the length of a bench from my mother, watching her profile as she takes in this news. Suddenly breath, an involuntary function, becomes a precious and threatened limited resource to our family. I breathe deeply and audibly.

Parenting independently, or co-parenting between households, is an incredible test of perseverance for many. The ability to move through the acceptance of what is beyond one’s control or desire for their children is dependent on the ability to continuously pause, reconcile, and re-center; my intentional breath serves as the conduit for cultivating serenity.

There are seasons when our lives are turbulent and we look for the sacred places where we can exhale fully, set aside burden, and seek freedom from suffering. Cutting corset strings, we breathe deeply the whispers of wisdom, the voice of our souls – the divine, so profoundly present in that space. With breath comes clarity and rebirth, a tender holding.

Long after deciding on the tattoo I desire, I stumble upon the framed poem, kneeling before it while cleaning toys from my daughter’s floor. I read it for the first time in years. I am awestruck by its significance. The unexpected has ravaged my family in accumulating layers for quite some time, depleting the resources of full, personal expression to support a mode of survival instead. Tears stream as I realize how long it’s been since my mother has communicated this richly and confidently. Her mind has been flooded with distress and challenge, blanketing the light from permeating in its full glory. The filter threatens connection and presence. But the words framed on this wall instill immense hope and reaffirm the beauty in the walk forward.

A growing collection of songs and texts about breath rest on my shelves and in files, each reaffirming its connection to source. I daydream about yoga teacher training, and pass down to my children stories of this superpower we all possess inside.

I now wear on my arm one of my most treasured words, inked in the personal handwriting of one of my most treasure beings, my mother. I sit silently on my yoga mat, in stopped traffic, in long lines, or in moments before I drift to sleep, focusing my attention on sending love and light out to her with each exhale. Offering her the strength that she doesn’t feel or recognize in herself in this turbulent season, hoping that the wind catches in her lungs, filling them up fully, sustaining her.

Our intentional breath is our remedy. Over and over again.

Breathe, by my Mama

I write to process. I write to remember. I write for village. I write so that one-day my children may know where they’re from. If words move you, share them…


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