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December 5, 2013

How to Breathe Through Life’s Snowstorms.

I was recently reminded by a dear friend that magic exists outside of the hardbound covers of Harry Potter and beyond a three year old’s imagination.

Within the span of the last several years—and, more recently, the last several weeks—my little wounded, beating (typically thriving) heart has plummeted. However, sometimes it takes a miniature crash landing to remember why we attempt to fly.

Nearly two years ago, I wrote a blog about the most valuable piece of advice that I’ve been given in my life thus far. Interestingly, this tidbit of wisdom has recently come back to me and, not ironically I feel, it involves snow. (I live in Ohio—thank God.)

Once upon a time I wrote:

“I got crapped on by a bird this morning—right on top of my head like in a movie. The incident happened while on a stroller walk with my daughter. This was the same morning that my husband used one of my favorite sayings on me—pull yourself up by your bootstraps. (Note to self, this is annoying to be told.)

I was reminded of when a wise, old man once said to me (seriously, one did) that in life there are very few full-on tragedies, but many obstacles. This bit of wisdom was imparted to me in the middle of a particularly challenging semester of college. On weekends, my husband (then-boyfriend) and I were being paid to organize boxes of books into a home library for an eccentric, retired physician and his wife who lived in our relatively small college town. During one such afternoon, the doctor called me into his study, handed me a glass of pink lemonade and asked me to have a seat. He then told me something I’ll never forget.

“Jennifer,” he said, “in life there are very few blizzards. There are, however, a lot of snowstorms.” He then smiled and told me I could return to the library with his wife.”

I wrote this particular blog spontaneously (as blogging is often done) and found out within less than a week that this dear old fellow had passed. (I’m pulling up my sweatshirt sleeve as I write this and I have goosebumps even now.)

Yet that’s the funny thing about life; it’s often filled with moments of synchronicity, clarity, wisdom…and treacherous lapses of defeat—and it’s precisely these instances that remind us who we are and what we have to offer the world.

For example, I write.

Obsessively. Voraciously. Adoringly. Annoyingly. I write.

I also practice yoga.

I breathe. I move. I vinyasa. I chaturanga. I downward-facing dog. I yoga the shit out.

In short:

I live.

I fail.

I try again.

My tiny little light is blown out, either by me or by another party, and I re-light that flame and make it spark—grander, brighter, bigger than ever before.

Surely, it settles.

All embers fade and slowly die—but life is thankfully filled with continual opportunities for Phoenix-like rebirth

I have a blue, 17 year-old-self-drawn Phoenix tattoo on my right arm. It reminds me that I will never die.

Rather, I have the blessed chance to regrow and, though my wounds might never heal, I can feel how scar tissue thickens, strengthens and becomes painless.

The only problem is that the worst wounds are the ones we cannot see.

You cannot see the time in second grade that another little girl broke my tiny heart with her hateful words.

You cannot see the instance that I lost my fragile grip on the perfection of humans.

You cannot see the time my heart broke so severely that I thought I would not live.

But I did.

I lived. I survived and, more, I’m here—with sometimes streaming tears and a too-fast pumping heart—to tell you that we all have things that others cannot imagine living through, beyond and past.

I bought my daughter a pair of new shoes today. They’re sparkly and shiny and wonderful, just like her.

I want those shoes.

I want her childhood laughter as she stomps up and down and up and down in the length-wise store window.

I want her giggling screams of delight as she sees the reflection of purple and turquoise sequins caught in the glimmering image of her mirrored twin.

I am a mirror-image twin.

I’m only part of a person.

This completely colors and shapes and transfigures who I am. I’m almost always seeking out companionship and I’m more than grateful that I happened upon my spirited second-half at only 14. (I married my childhood sweetheart—read my bio.)

And what the hell is the point of this article?

“I got crapped on by a bird this morning—right on top of my head like in a movie. The incident happened while on a stroller walk with my daughter. This was the same morning that my husband used one of my favorite sayings on me—pull yourself up by your bootstraps. (Note to self, this is annoying to be told.)

I was reminded of when a wise, old man once said to me (seriously, one did) that in life there are very few full-on tragedies, but many obstacles. This bit of wisdom was imparted to me in the middle of a particularly challenging semester of college. On weekends, my husband (then-boyfriend) and I were being paid to organize boxes of books into a home library for an eccentric, retired physician and his wife who lived in our relatively small college town. During one such afternoon, the doctor called me into his study, handed me a glass of pink lemonade and asked me to have a seat. He then told me something I’ll never forget.

Maybe you’re going through a bona fide blizzard. I am so sorry. Sincerely. Words in print cannot convey my empathy. Yet all I ask of you—the 99.999 percent of you reading—is this: are you absolutely, positively, one-hundred and sixty-five percent positively, absolutely sure that it’s a blizzard?

Could it be a snowstorm?

Or a flurry, perhaps?

Could it be a light breeze that’s ruffled your shirt and mussed up your hair?

(That still stinks; trust me, I know.)

But you’re alive. You’re reading this. And trust me on this too:

Breathe.

Inhale. Exhale.

Repeat. (Often.)

(Also, just in case you hadn’t, please re-read this entire article in an old Victorian English accent, with a hardbound book in your lap, while gazing out a large front picture window and a fire just beyond your slightly chilled shoulder—that’s how it’s done in my head.)

 

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

{Photo: Flickr.}

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