Sunday, October 23, 2016


Have you ever given much thought to your breath? To how often you breathe, the rhythm of your breath, whether or not you breathe through our nose or mouth?

Maybe, or maybe not. 

I've given a lot of thought to my breath. I distinctly remember an instance when I was young- maybe 6 or 7, sitting in the chair where my mom would do my hair for school. I had been thinking about my breath, and I said "I'm worried I'm going to stop breathing or forget how to breathe." Instead of brushing off my fears, my mom said "I know what you mean. I've felt that before, too. I just remind myself that I know how to breathe. But I know it can be scary". Ever since then, when I feel like I CAN'T breathe, I go back to those words. I know how to breathe. I know this is scary, but I will catch my breath again.

When have I lost my breath? In times of severe anxiety. When tears are falling too hard. When I am put on the spot. When I get scared. When I heard bad news. After a long run or a hard workout. And, at one point in my life, simply walking up a flight of stairs. But I always find my breath again. Without having to think too much about it, it comes back. And trust me, there are times where I do not think I will ever be able to catch my breath. But I always do.

All my life, the words "breath" and "breathe" have brought me immense comfort. I think it's the simple fact that to breathe means to live- and so long as you continue to breathe, you are still alive. You have not been consumed by whatever it is you thought was going to take your precious breath away.

I've been taking yoga classes here and there for the last three years. Breath, and paying attention to your breath, is one of the core aspects of yoga. Learning to really control my breath, to sit with my breath, to try different KINDS of breathing (who knew there were so many?) has made a very deep positive impact on me. I have a breathing technique when I cannot sleep at night. I have a breathing technique at the dentist, when I'm getting a massage, when I'm anxious, and when I'm nervous or when I'm angry. 

It's so easy to turn to someone who is anxious and to say, simply "breathe". Sometimes it can come off sarcastic, or rude. But breathing really is one of the best things you can do in that situation. It will bring on the calm, and the peace you need to move onward. 

I'm honestly not sure why I wrote about this, or that my post even makes sense. I just feel almost surrounded by the idea of breathing, and with breath comes calm. I know there are may be other people out there who struggle with anxiety and may "lose their breath", and I hope it helps to know- you know how to breathe. You WILL breathe. And you will become calm again.

I told you've I've been drawn to these words, I've also been drawn to songs that embrace this idea. I'll share a few here:

Sunday, October 2, 2016

I put my armor on, show you how strong how I am

Last week, my family learned that my dad has a brand new tumor growing in his brain. Ever since he was diagnosed with cancer in September 2013, we've been through all kinds of ups and downs, twists and turns. I've written about all of them. Perhaps, you, too, are getting sick of reading about it.

Cancer is not supposed to be easy, and of course, bad news comes with the territory. We get bad news, we fix the problem, we go on. Until the next thing happens.

So even though we are "used" to this type of news, even though we KNOW that this is not going to be a smooth ride, that doesn't make it easier. And that doesn't mean I'm going to stop writing about it.

Selfishly, writing helps me to release my emotions. But I also think it's important to share my dad's story- to share our story.

In short, it sucks. It feels like a sucker punch to the stomach every time we hear something like this. No matter how much fight we have in us to conquer forward and to leap over this hurdle, there is no denying that it plain sucks to have to deal with this.

I cannot promise you that we are going to "be positive" or "stay strong" all the time. There are some days when that is just too hard. There are some days where we need to cry or be angry or hibernate.

This is cancer in it's ugly moments.

Having said all of that, I want to assure everyone around us that we are NOT going to give up. My dad will fight, and we will fight. When one of us is weak, the others swoop in. We will rise, even when it doesn't feel possible. Because as ugly as cancer is, it also gives us this incredible gift of perseverance. Cancer has been the hardest, most challenging, work out I've ever had.

Thank you for reading my very raw, somewhat depressing ramble of emotions. Like I mentioned, for as much as cancer tries to bring us down, we will fight back 10 x stronger. It just takes a moment-or two- to get back in that mindset. After we catch our breaths, and after the tears stop flowing, we plan our attack on cancer.

I'm saying we, of course, because my family moves as a unit. None of us can feel what my dad feels or fight this fight for him, but together, we move forward, one step at a time. #carolinstrong