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402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Tag: breathe

Day 86: Presence Day

I took a yoga class tonight and mistakenly heard my teacher wish us all a “Happy Presence Day.”

It registered quickly that she actually said “President’s Day,” but I like “Presence Day.” I’m taking one starting now. And since it’s already pretty late at night, I’m taking one tomorrow, too.

If you’d like to join me, below is our Presence Day regimen:

  • At three different times throughout the day, close your eyes and take three long, deep breaths. Don’t worry about your emails, your phone messages or the meeting you may or may not be missing. Everything will wait for three breaths. During each inhale, feel the air slowly draw in through your nostrils, breeze down the back of your throat and gently fill your lungs. On the exhale, let your ribs relax and your shoulders melt as your breath softly releases back out your nose. Three times.
  • When you feel the urge to interrupt someone, take one of those deep breaths and be quiet instead (also, unclench your jaw). As the person speaks, try not to think about what you want to say. Just listen. When they’re done talking and you’ve really heard it all, let two full seconds pass before you reply. You might be surprised what comes out.
  • At least once, put your hand on your heart and search for your heartbeat. It’s okay if you do it in the guise of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance—whatever works. But don’t move your hand until you’ve found that beautiful rhythm and enjoyed it for a while.
  • Smile when you don’t feel like smiling. And not one of those tight-lipped everybody-knows-I-don’t-mean-it smiles. A real one. That tiny, light-hearted muscle movement will help you pull back from whatever darkness you’re headed towards and focus on a present, much more pleasant action.
  • Eat at least one piece of fruit and a veggie of your choice. I don’t think I need to explain why this is a good idea.

There’s really no way this can turn out badly, so let’s try it and see how it goes.

Enjoy your Presence Day!

Day 34: The Meltdown

Ok. I’ll admit it. I had a full-on meltdown yesterday morning. I’m talking tears, Kleenex and the creation of a giant person-sized blanket nest (in which to burrow). The whole nine yards.

On an unrelated note, check out the recent New York Times article on possible originations of “the whole nine yards.” It’s pretty interesting.

In the midst of the meltdown, I identified four main causes that proved to be pseudo-causes upon even the most superficial reflection. Here they are:

I’m turning 30 in a week. Cliché crisis? Totally. With only a week to go, I was pretty sure I’d made it to the end of my 29th year without having one, but my brand new blanket nest suggested otherwise.

I quit my stable job in favor of a free-flowing freelancing lifestyle. But so far, there have been no downsides. I work hard, I work a lot, I dance often and I pay my rent. All good things, right? But—sob—“everyone thinks I’m crazy.” In truth, I don’t think anyone thinks that. And if they do, I don’t actually care (aside from when I’m crying about it).

I posted two blogs in a row with errors in them. I fixed the errors quickly, but not before the email-reader versions went out. I’ve spent years cultivating a “let it go” attitude (only about the small stuff, of course), but apparently attitudes can be un-done. I’d like to say I inserted an error into this post as an attempt to re-find my Zen state, but I’m pretty sure this one’s perfect.

I’ve never purchased a new item of furniture. The reality is that yes—I have. And even though I’ve purchased new furniture, I’ve never actually aspired to owning new furniture. There’s so much cool old stuff already in the world, I’d much rather continue honing my pre-loved shabby-chic collection. It makes my apartment look like an Anthropologie store. Perfect.

Here’s the probable actual cause:

I spent 36 hours closed inside a cozy cabin on the Oregon coast with five of my favorite family members. In my old age, I’ve developed all sorts of new and confusing allergies, including a pretty strong one to our Christmas tree. With no fresh air (aside from the little bits of oxygen sneaking past the ever-burning fire) and a whole lot of couch time, I desperately needed to get outside, go for a walk and take a breath.

I finally did and had the pleasure of watching the ocean churn and burn some of its own demons in the process. I felt much better afterwards.


Here’s what I learned:

If getting dressed and going outside seems complex and overwhelming, it’s exactly the right remedy. Just do it.