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Apr 15, 2024

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When I was around twenty-five, I got the word "BREATHE" tattooed on the lumbar region of my back. At the time, I hadn't yet heard the term 'tramp stamp,' so I was blissfully unaware of the lifetime of comments I would soon receive, having such a word tattooed on my upper butt. The decision to mark my body this way (in a place I could never see, save craning my neck to view it in a mirror) was spontaneously inspired, but it felt absolutely necessary and paramount to my being.

It was an important reminder because sometimes I

You know that feeling right before something exciting happens? When you hold your breath in anticipation of what's to come? When your muscles tense up, your heart rate drops, the world stands still, and everything gets super quiet, and just for a moment, it feels like being frozen? That used to happen to me a lot. And it seldom had little to do with being excited. I remember locking eyes with a deer once, paralyzed in my late-night headlights, and I recall thinking, "Oh, friend, I get you."

I felt like that fawn much of the time. I experienced a lot of loss and heartache in my youth, much more than anyone I knew or could relate to. And sometimes, my body would forget to exhale—or inhale, for that matter. After an episode, and the moment thawed, my brain would hammer down on the ol' carburetor as if to say, "Breathe, dummy!!" And then I would.

It would be years before I learned of words like 'trauma' or 'trigger' or knew what the 'fight or flight response' was or the equally important but much less mentioned integral parts of that equation, "freeze and fawn." It makes perfect sense now, and I have since found ways to cope with my body's somewhat annoying neuro responses. Deep breathing and conscious stillness have become integral to the steady flow of my existence.

The night before I got my "BREATHE" tattoo, I found myself lying in the dark, contemplating my life's surroundings. In those days, I always positioned my bed underneath the window so that if I were restless (which I often was), I could look out and feel comfort in the moon and the stars. On that particular night, the only sound that broke the silence was the pounding of my heart in its rapid flight. I closed my eyes and concentrated on balancing the ebb and flow of my breath. A calm washed over me as I realized that even though I was navigating some tricky and turbulent waters, I had a distant drum beating within me. The rhythm of that drum was a sole/soul reminder that I was still alive and could make it through anything as long as I continued to remind myself... to... breathe.

The solar eclipse of April 8th, 2024, has me thinking about my relationship with the wide blue yonder. As the advent reached totality, I sat beside my children, gazing up at that incredible ring of fire, holding my breath, and wanting to freeze that moment for as long as time would allow.

Many have asked me through the years what I believe in: is it a creative God? or a cosmic event that made all of this possible? My truth is, I don't know. I can't fathom the answer, as much as I can't fathom there ever being an end to this vast expansion that surrounds us. It does not mean I lack faith or hope of believing in something more significant than I am. That is certainly a given. It is one great mystery, which, to me, is a miracle.

My daughter asked me the other day if I ever prayed.

"Sometimes,' I said.

"How can you pray if you don't know if you believe in God?" she asked. "Do you ask for things?" she added.

"Ha-ha, No". I giggled. "Sometimes, I talk to Uncle Vic. Sometimes, I like to think about how lucky I am to be your Mom. But mostly, I express my gratitude for BEING here, regardless of HOW I got here. And even if it is just me listening, that's pretty important too, don't you think?"

"Yeah," she answered thoughtfully.

This song captured a pivotal moment, a glimpse through a window before I stamped it in ink as a forever reminder—a reminder to keep an open mind, listen to my heart, and...just... breathe.

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