Mental Health

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Three times a day (9, 12, 3), three emoji’s pop up on my phone: a heart, a prayer symbol, and a sunflower. It means it is time for me to take a deep breath and reconnect with the moment.

When I set up this alarm, two years ago now, I was at my friend, Joy’s house. About twelve of us had gotten together to talk spirituality, and just when we felt we were getting quite deep, one of Joy’s dogs, a golden Chow mix, decided to take a monstrously big poop in the backyard, right near the window we were all looking out at.

His butt was facing us. He seemed quite proud of himself when he was done, kicking the dirt and shaking his coat. We all got a good laugh out of it, and then one of my friends went on to share about how she keeps an alarm on her phone to remind her to pause and reconnect. Still laughing, not fully recovered from the literal shit show, I created my little emoji alarm then and there.

It was December, towards the end of 2015, and I had high hopes for becoming a better version of me in 2016. I thought the year was going to be a beautiful one. And in some ways it was. But of course, nothing is ever one thing.

In addition to beauty, 2016 also brought pain and darkness. Never could I have imagined that we’d lose Joy to a terrible tragedy that year, I’d lapse into depression (yet again), and as new, expecting mom, I’d spend far too many anxious moments wondering if I was a strong enough person to bring a baby into this chaotic, heart-breaking, beautiful world.

Now it is January 1, 2018. I’m in bed, writing you. On my nightstand, a cup of coffee sits beside a tube of Babyganics strawberry toothpaste, which I put on my son’s tiny two teeth every night. The rescue pup is at the bottom of the bed, nibbling at her paws. The clock’s just turned noon, and there’s my emoji reminder to pause and reconnect.

Most of the time this reminder goes unnoticed. Sometimes, it reminds me of Joy and I feel sad. Sometimes, the emojis, particularly the sunflower, make me feel a little fluffy and ridiculous. And then sometimes, there’s anger: Why can’t life be this simple? We set an alarm to be present and then we become present. We take care of our bodies and we live a long time. We do kind things and life is kind back to us.

For the love of God, doesn’t She know this is the way the world should work? Why did She make life so baffling and confusing and hard? Why did She take Joy from us? Why don’t we have all the answers?

Whooooooshh. That’s the sound of me taking a deep breath.

Whooooooshh. That’s the sound of another.

I’ll just take this breath. Deep and soft and from the center of my belly, the way my yogi friend Joy taught me, too.

This one breath is enough, she used to say.

From wherever her soul lives on, Joy is saying it still.

This one breath is enough.

Happy 2018, friends. My only goal this year is to keep on breathing. That’s all. No need for resolutions. No need to watch another diet or gym ad for even a millisecond. Just need this breath.

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Author of Pound for Pound. National Recovery Advocate for Eating Recovery Center. Rescued By Shelter Dogs!

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