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The Importance of that Deep Breath

Breathe.

One simple word. One unconscious act. We do it anyway. Yet sometimes we neglect to realize just how vitally important breathing is.

The other day traveling to my doctor’s office for my annual physical, I was stuck behind—on two different occasions—not one, but two slow moving vehicles. To know me means you know my blood was singing in my veins well on its way to hitting some note that’s off the register; I’m talking higher than a note Rachelle Ferrell can hit in REM sleep.

Why is it when you need to be somewhere at a given time, obstacles pop up invariably slowing down your progress? Good question. Another post; not this one. Now if I’m being truthful, I was running late. Left the house, drove a few blocks, realized I’d forgotten the daughter’s school medical form I needed to drop off at her pediatrician, swung a U. When I finally made it to my appointment, I was ten minutes late. Sat my butt in the waiting room where I remained for another ten. Ask me if I took a breath.

Finally I was ushered into the exam room after all routine procedures were completed with the exception of one. When chick—the nurse—pulled out the blood pressure monitor, I grunted. Literally grunted. I knew what the reading would be. I didn’t need a monitor to tell me a thing; my body already informed me. So before she placed the cuff around my bicep, I drew in a few shallow breaths as if that would help.

185/92. Hmm. Chick looked at me and walked out with “The doctor will be with you shortly” falling from her lips. That afforded me about a minute or two of laughter and a few deep breaths.

breathe

When we tense up, our breathing is stilted if not halted for a time and bizarre things take place in our bodies. If you’re in tune with your body you’ll notice, almost immediately, the subtle and not-so-subtle changes. We can attribute this tense state to numerous factors and variables: stress, anxiety, worry, career pressures, deadlines, an overactive mind and, even slow a** drivers. The moment you feel off kilter, edgy, or antsy, it is important to consciously breathe—draw deep breaths in and out through the nose. This act alone is a calming and centering one.

Sometimes early in the process, my mind has yet to quiet. Distractions vie for attention. As a result, my breathing is shallow. I repeat the breathing technique until I’m able to draw in deep, full breaths that naturally lift my chest and expand my lungs before slowly releasing. So wherever you are, I’d like you to close your eyes and breathe with me. A deep, slow breath in through your nose, hold for a count and out, slowly releasing the breath through your nose. Let’s try that a few more times. After a few minutes, notice the difference you feel in mind, spirit and body.

Consider incorporating this technique into your daily routine. It does wonders. When time permits, find a quiet space, sit in a comfortable position, back straight and begin this breathing exercise. Be sure to empty and quiet your mind of all noise and distractions. The stresses will still be there when you’re done, but now you’ll be in a calmer place to deal with them or perhaps, have a new perspective on how to. In addition to rocking the proverbial ‘S’ on her chest, she is also rocking the word ‘breathe’ as a gentle reminder to do so.

By the way, the two readings my doctor took on either arm were met with approving nods. 112/70. Go Michelle! Now back to my car. Damn! Just breathe.

* Originally posted at BlackHairKitchen.com on January 28, 2013 *

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Martha's Vineyard

Well, we're back from our Martha's Vineyard vacation. Love that place! We managed to squeeze so much activities and eats into six fun-filled, yet bone exhausting days. Would you believe me if I told you I even managed three before-the-break-of-dawn workouts all while cussing out my sister-in-law, Nicole (Jillian Michaels in-training) for the torment she inflicted, pushing me past the point of pain? It was sheer torture. Although the highlights of the vacation were many, one exceeded all others — I'm sure you'll think me crazy in a few. The highlight of my 2012 Vineyard vacay was not the private BET party nor rubbing shoulders or hobnobbing with notable personalities and celebrities, nor attending Grand Illumination nor Fireworks night, nor vibing with Wynton Marsalis as he smote the Tabernacle with jazz worthy of Count Basie's Orchestra and totally reminiscent of the Bleek Gilliam Quintet jammin' in Mo'Better Blues. The highlight was stumbling upon Murdick's Fudge. I spent the better part of many days wondering why I hadn't noticed this shop last year, thinking perhaps my husband successfully managed to turn my head in the opposite direction, distracting me with something else each time we passed the decadent shop. However, him was not so successful this time around. Hee hee!

*Pause for Confessions of an Addict* You have not lived until you've tasted Murdick's Fudge. Upon my word, I declare it to be the best damn thing around. On par with air and water, so it would be safe to assume that I practically lived in that shop for five days, became best friends with the staff and dropped oodles of cash on this ridiculously good soul satisfying sustenance. Yes, I said soul satisfying. And yes, I referred to it as sustenance. Shameful, I know. I understand my addiction and am fully aware that I might require some help in overcoming it in the far future, thank you very much. Anyhoo, much love to Laverne, Tanya, Omar, Mark and Shaddy for the love and feeding my addiction. *End of confession and shameless plug*

POTUS

Missing from MV this year was the energy and presence of the First Family and all who accompany them: Secret Service and the Press Corps. Cute side note: After the President visited a Bunch of Grapes Bookstore last year (photograph taken by Peter Richardson outside the bookstore), the establishment needed a larger location to accommodate the traffic the POTUS and his daughters drummed up (although I'm told expansion was in the works for some time prior to POTUS's visit, I've drawn my own conclusions *smiles*). So just one year later, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore crossed the street, branched out and now boasts more square footage to accommodate lovers of written words, the authors who share them, and even Presidents who purchase them.

A Pictorial Companion For those of you interested in seeing Martha's Vineyard from Chase and Tia's perspective, here's a little something especially for you: a pictorial companion to a portion of Never Said It Was Easy. I've compiled a number of photographs for you to enjoy. After reading the second novel, I'm sure you'll get quite the chuckle out of a few pictures.

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