Just Breathe




Image Credit Dee Ashley
Image Credit: Dee Ashley (view on Flickr)                    (License: Attribution)“So cradle your head in your hands. 

And breathe…just breathe.
Oh, breathe…just breathe.”
-Anna Nalick


Many years ago, in the midst of an emotional maelstrom so overwhelming that I spent a large part of my days and nights curling into a ball and gasping for breath between sobs, I met a young man, probably in his early 20s, who gave me one of the most life-changing pieces of wisdom I have ever received. This young Buddha–disguised–as–electronica–DJ said that when you are so overwhelmed that you don’t know what to do, find something that you can do and do it with everything you have inside you – even if that thing is just to breathe.

I find myself leaning heavily on this life raft, as I swirl in the sea of violence happening all around us in recent days.

I went under for a bit, swallowing murky seawater, clawing for purchase that I couldn’t find. I was sinking – arms and legs bound by helplessness, the bitter ashes of my own privilege choking me further, turning to paste and making it impossible to articulate my horror, my heartache, my outrage.

I am slowly beginning to resurface. I am still treading water, but my head is now above the surface. And I can breathe. While I am working out how to make a difference, I can continue to focus on my breath to calm my panic and sooth the jangled edges.

Please take a moment and breathe with me.


Are you, too, overwhelmed? Have you found a way to be present within the chaos?  Please share your thoughts in the comments. I would love to have a discussion with you.  We can effect change if we don’t allow this to pass into obscurity.


Be on the lookout for the upcoming Go Deeper podcast episode “#27: The World’s Gone Mad”. We will be overviewing (with compassion for all) the recent tragedies involving the deaths of Alton Stirling and Philandro Castille, as well as the 5 police officers killed in Dallas, offering it within the larger framework of violence occurring globally. Not content to leave it as a cry for change, we will be offering concrete suggestions for how to work towards being an agent of that change.


I’d like to share this beautifully articulated video by Kevin Peterson of the YouTube channel “the1janitor”. In it, he offers suggestions on how white people can help combat racism (though, amazingly, it goes even further than that, becoming a list of actionable steps anyone can take to fight any sort of injustice).

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2 Responses

  1. Dionne

    I saw your comment on Flickr about using my photo (the self portrait above) for this article and I always try to make a point of checking out blogs and etc. when someone is kind enough to let me know where they’ve used my work. I don’t typically comment outside of a note of appreciation, but when I read your article and realized what the message was, I felt compelled to say how honored I am that my photo spoke to you concerning these recent tragedies. You probably already knew this, but I also live in Dallas, TX., so your words ring especially near and dear to my heart. Thank you for taking the time to be part of the solution, and thank you for allowing me to help you achieve this goal. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for honoring the ones that have fallen, and having the foresight to include ALL of the fallen ones in your article. The tragedy here in Dallas, I’m afraid, had a secondary consequence of undermining the original message about those young men for whom the protestors were (non violently!) trying to represent. Keep posting, and thank you again for the beautiful memorial of the murdered officers as well as the senseless loss of the men and women in other parts of our nation at the hands of a select few that behaved unspeakably. No matter what the circumstances, taking justice into our own individual hands will never equal justice, this goes for civilian, officer, for all of us. I truly believe that when we start forcing our ideas about distinct individuals into one particular large group, we are asking for trouble. Your advise, “just breath,” is something that I will be needing to implement in my own life here very soon, so thank you for that too! Love and Light, Your newest follower 🙂

  2. Kim Forman

    Thank you for your beautiful message. It means a great deal to me to know that my words spoke to you. Your image is perfect for what I wanted to convey. The second I laid eyes on it, I knew it was the one I wanted to use. I appreciate your kindness in offering it freely.

    So few people take the time to comment on a blo anymore, so your message is that much more precious to me.

    I haven’t been good at regular publishing, but that is something I am actively engaged in at the moment. Your message was a lovely indication that I am focusing in the right direction.

    I would love to connect with you on FB or your preferred social media platform. Your work is amazing. I’d be happy to share it. 🙂

    *happy electronic hugs*

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