Are you breathing?
Let me tell you about when I started breathing again.
It was March 2019, and my youngest son, Montgomery Allen Jones had just died. While living out this trauma, I was volunteering as a team member for my friends women’s conference. During the conference itself, I was hanging onto the hope that my son would live. I was right at that coveted threshold, about to cross over into my second trimester, but things had been challenging along the way. Shortly after the conference, my son was dead, and I experienced my second miscarriage within a 20-month time period.
The day Montgomery died, it felt like all of the breath left my body and that part of me died as well.
A few weeks after the women’s conference and my latest miscarriage, the entire volunteer team supporting my friends event went on a day retreat at a local spa to celebrate and recover from all of our hard work.
The venue was a gorgeous Mediterranean escape, hidden in the middle of the desert here in Arizona. After a brief tour of the grounds and enjoying a light breakfast, we headed to a private garden to start the retreat with a yoga class.
As I anticipated enjoying a relaxing and gentle yoga practice, I was knocked off guard by the electrifying emotional storm I was about to enter.
The first lightning strike came, as the instructor positioned us in the garden. The garden itself was a small intimate setting, so she had us line up in two lines, each woman standing across from another, face-to-face. A harmless layout to most - but it just so happened that the woman standing before me was blessed with a big beautiful belly full of life.
And she was pregnant with a baby boy.
The next strike came as the instructor then asked us to go around the room and provide the following information as a way to introduce ourselves to the rest of the class:
Where we were from
Our experience level with yoga
And to disclose if we were currently pregnant
As soon as I heard her words, my eyes closed, my heart sank and I began to cry. I couldn’t believe that this was how my self-care retreat was beginning.
When it was my turn to introduce myself, I simply didn’t provide an answer to the last question. I don’t think that anybody noticed my omission, but knowing what my answer was created a heaviness of grief on the inside that was almost unbearable. In an attempt to not get up and just run out of the garden, I kept my eyes closed as the instructor finally started class.
As the class progressed and my mind began to settle a bit I started reflecting on the few weeks leading up to this retreat. Several friends had visited with me and brought meals to feed my family as I rested and let my body heal. When each of them would leave, and hug me goodbye I remembered that I heard several of them whisper for me to ‘breathe.’
Apparently, as they hugged me, I would stop breathing - I’d just hold it all in as if breathing out would be the final act causing me to lose my shit and be overwhelmed by the grief in my heart. And maybe, on some level that’s true.
But during that retreat, in that yoga class as I stood outside in a beautiful private garden, with my feet grounded in the grass and the desert sun softly kissing my face I set the intention to breathe - and that’s exactly what I did. And it felt like the first time I’d taken a breath since March 6th - the day I learned that my youngest son didn’t have a heartbeat.
During that retreat, I took my first breath, back to life.
Now I know that you may not be recovering from grief like I was, and still am, but if you’re reading this it’s probably because you’re experiencing the heaviness of life right now and you want to make space to breathe too.
That’s what self-care is all about - intentionally making time to take care of yourself. And know this, whatever you do for self-care doesn't have to be complicated or expensive.
Breathing is one of the greatest pleasures of life
Giovanni Papini beautifully sums it up by saying, “breathing is one of the greatest pleasures of life” and it is a pleasure that is accessible to all of us.
If you need the space to unwind, reconnect with yourself and simply breathe, I invite you to download and access retreat tools and use them as often as you’d like for a personal self-care experience anywhere you are.