Don't forget to breathe, Barb.

Sometimes what we need is simply to remember to take the next breath. 


My weeks in rehab marked me in more ways that I realize. Before I go on, lets be clear. This is not rehab like celebrities go to in the desert to recoup or a facility full of addicts. It was a rehab hospital where the average age was 68 and most people were there for hip replacements and strokes. That was my ticket in…a stroke. 

I never expected to be 36 and in a rehab facility learning to walk, bathe myself and tie my shoes again. But life is rarely what we expect. 

Every day I attended a group “exercise” class which consisted of one pound dumbbells and trying to lift our feet off the ground. We were pretty hard core and slayed at the wheelchair obstacle course. (I’m not kidding about that BTW. It was a real thing.)

Three o’clock would roll around and I’d scoot myself in my wheelchair with my only working leg down to the room where class was held. There I would get in a circle with about five other senior citizens and we’d jump in to our workout for the day led by the therapists. 

I laughed till I cried almost every time. The people were golden and there is something about the freedom that comes with age that makes me want to be comfortable in my own skin. The stories they told would make you cry and their jokes would make you blush. 

Barb was one of my favorites. She was perfection in every way except for one thing. She would keep forgetting to breathe. It’s challenging to get through simple things when your body doesn’t work anymore and she would focus so hard she would literally hold her breath. 

“Don’t forget to breathe, Barb!”. Thats what we would say every few minutes. She’d laugh and catch her breath again. 

Don’t forget to breathe.

Life can throw hard punches to all of us. The wind gets knocked out of our souls and we feel our spirits staggering to regain footing. Panic, pain and dread creep in as we gasp for air. We just need to catch our breath…

At this very moment, I am writing from my bed recovering from heart surgery. I have brain surgery coming up in three weeks. There have been lots of breath holding moments in this journey. Don’t forget to breathe, Liz. 

Each person has their own demons they struggle with. My insecurity isn’t so much what other people think about me, the number on a scale or if I am liked. The battle I face is an internal one. There are times where I feel insecure about how my personality comes off or if my failures will define me.

We all have our own places of vulnerability – the place we loose our breath. Maybe it is low self-esteem, feeling isolated, fear of the unknown or being hyper-performance driven.

Perhaps you experienced an abusive childhood, absent parents, you are single and long for a family of your own.

I don’t know what your is, but you do. You know the cause of your stress, anxiety and makes you want to switch off.

When I feel that heaviness creeping in I remember that this isn’t the way I was meant to live. The unsettiling tide of dread and suffocating situations do not have to be my normal. I remind myself to breathe.

I slow down & remember that my life is bigger than this problem I am facing.

I remind myself that I can choose to let go of the burden I am carrying.

My thoughts focus back on what I truly value & what matters to me the most.

I also meditate & recite this passage:

“… For I am convinced that neither death nor life,

neither angels nor demons,

neither present nor future, nor any powers,

neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,

will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

– Romans 8:37

If you don’t have something to cling to in those moments of vulnerable pain, I recommend meditating on this. Not one single thing – not terminal illness, personal failure, abusive pasts, an unknown future, addictions, no situation or circumstance, nothing you could have done could separate you from Love.

When I take time to slowly breath and meditate on that Truth, I find myself refreshed and ready to walk through whatever is confronting me.

Some of us may need professional help to assist us in catching our breath again. Get it, no shame in that.

All of us need to remember that whatever is weighing us down doesn’t really own us. We simply need to keep breathing and remember that Love is holding us all the way.


Liz Griffin