Catching a Full Breath

It’s been just over five weeks since cancer became a common word in our household.  When the word was first spoken, it kind of took my breath away.  Some times good things take our breath away. It may be a vista that can only be attributed to an awesome Creator, or a song that says exactly what we are feeling. Cancer isn’t in that breath stealing category.


This week, my husband and I loaded up the suburban and headed west.  With medical approval we were going to spend a few days in Breckenridge.  My family can attest that it is a special place to me and to all of us.  We have spent a great deal of time together in Colorado, on the mountains in the snow.  Breckenridge is my favorite mountain spot so it was an easy choice to go there.  Sadly, we didn’t stay long as for the first time ever I battled some altitude issues.  When I say we didn’t stay long, I mean we left early the next morning.  Evidently it wasn’t the right time for me to be in the mountains as I couldn’t breathe deeply and get full breaths.  I wanted so much to take in the clear skies, the snow, the fresh air.  I wanted to visit familiar places and eat at our favorite restaurants.  I wanted to make new memories with my husband. I guess it was just another plot twist.

We did make new memories, but they weren’t  the kind I had hoped. However,  I was reminded of several things.  I am a fortunate person.  I have a husband who graciously adapted to my needs without complaint and with little sleep.  I have a home that is good to return to and a dog that was happy to see me. I have time to plan for more visits to a favorite spot.

I did not like the time spent feeling like I could not catch a full breath.  It is not something I had experienced before and would not like to experience it again. As I was reflecting on it this morning and thinking how good it was to sleep well, I thought how often I miss the full breath of what is around me. I wonder what I have missed in my rush to breathe enough to get through the tasks at hand. What I’m saying is nothing new. We have all heard of the value of slowing down and appreciating what is around us. Maybe it’s impossible to fully take in all that is around us, but I’m thinking I can do a better job.

For the past three and a half years I have consciously been working on my perspective. I have deliberately tried to consider how the store clerk is doing, how the people driving around me may be doing, how my child’s boss, teacher or coach may be seeing things. I’ve been trying to not put my assumptions on them, but instead have tried to allow them to be people dealing with life in their way.  I may not always agree with their way, but I know that I do not know what has led them to their choices and their perspectives.


On my perspective journey, I have found that I have an increased awareness of the joy of children and their imaginations and their joys.  I can pause and enjoy watching a four year old who is over the moon thrilled to be getting ice cream. I can pause and smile when the toddler in the cart points out that Mike Wazowski is on the fruit snacks box. I pause a little longer in case he says “Mike Wazowski” one more time. I have increased delight when I see a child wearing a super hero cape or a princess costume while walking through Target with their mom. And I add, way to go moms! Let them wear capes! (there will be a post about this in the future!)

My decision to take an added interest, an added moment to consider other people’s day and their journey, has really been one of catching a full breath. There is so much around us that is worth breathing in. Much of it is stuff that makes up the ordinary of our lives and without intentional thought, we miss it. If we don’t take the deeper breath. we may not find out that the clerk scanning our items is expecting her first grandchild. We may miss hearing the sweet little voice saying “Mike Wazowski!”  We may not hear the song of the birds as they greet one another. We may not smile at the person in the drive through or the driver in the next lane and who knows what that smile might mean. We may not experience the best part of our day.

I feel like this sounds very online inspirational-ish. If that is true, I wonder if I should apologize.

For me, I have been reminded in a very abrupt way to take a full breath! Catching a partial breath was a scary thing this week. It was not how breathing is supposed to be. It was constrictive, limited.  It made it hard to focus.  (For all my medical friends out there, I am fine!) When I take a partial breath in the metaphorical sense I have been referring to, I wonder what limitations I have put on myself and those around me? Have I altered my focus? Have I missed what was supposed to be or what is in fact right in front of me?


While the days did not go as I had hoped, I am catching a full breath today and relishing in the ability to do so!

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