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31 has been the year of breathing. If this was a Friends episode it would be titled, “The One Where Krystal Learns to Breathe”.
To many that might sound odd because I’ve obviously been breathing for 30 years and it’s been quite successful due to the fact that I’m alive BUT this breathing is different. My life has changed now that I breathe with intention.
A deep breath—I mean, a real belly full inhale and a strong stomach hollowing exhale has the power to change my entire day. In for 6 counts and out for 8 counts.
I’m one of those people whose mind never stops. I think all day and overthink everything I thought about during the day all night. I multi-task even when I’m attempting to relax which in all actuality; I lack the skills of relaxation.
I get overwhelmed throughout the day about the sheer amount of things on my written to-do list and the extra things floating around on my mental to-do list. Those things that I know I need to do or really want to do or someone told me I should do but I’m not quite sure what to do about them. Right now, as I’m writing this I can feel the tension building and a desire to pack up and hide under my covers. Instead, I’m going to breathe and bring myself back to what’s important now.
That’s the trick, getting me back to now and not stressing over things that I can’t control. All I have is now and I need to live this moment the best way I know how. It took me 31 years to realize that all of the stress I carry about my future and regrets I carry about my past are unnecessary and unproductive. They are both out of my hands. If I can give this moment justice, if I can do the assignment due today well, if I can pay this current bill on time, if I can have a great conversation with the person in front of me, if I can remember to exercise today then I’m doing alright. The goal is to always be a little better today than I was yesterday. That’s it.
My pastor knows that the congregation is running a mile a minute when they enter the doors and instead of jumping right in with his sermon he gives us the opportunity to “get here”. We close our eyes, plant our feet flat on the ground, and we take deep cleansing breaths. We breathe out the past and we breathe in now. When we open our eyes, we are exactly where we are supposed to be which is where we are. It focuses us on the message and this same tactic helps me focus on the gift of the present day.
When you’re 31, you get a lot of questions:
1. When are you getting married?
2. Are you going to rent an apartment forever?
3. Aren’t you worried about not being able to have children?
4. Are you ever going to move closer to home?
5. When are you going to get your Ph.D.?
6. How long are you going to stay in your current job?
Do the people who ask these questions think that I don’t have the same list wrapped around my brain and if I knew the answer to these questions, don’t you think I would have gotten all of this done by now?
Even less invasive and a question that many of us deal with every day is “How am I going to get everything done?” You know that moment when the plan for the day flew out the window as soon you showed up that morning to find a few new surprises on your desk or actually just standing in your office or when your boss had a new idea over the weekend that oddly results in you doing more work.
In any case, instead of getting trapped in the stress of these self and other imposed inquisitions and putting myself back on the hamster wheel of destruction, I inhale, exhale, smile, and bring myself back to what I can do right now in this beautiful moment to be successful. Focus on the now and be okay with whatever that may be. I believe that in that moment, the best thing that you can do for yourself is to breathe. Calm yourself and move forward. Slow down to speed up.
It’s amazing that the most powerful tool to get me through the day is not some expensive gadget but has actually been with me all this time. 31 just happened to be secret number that allowed me to unlock the magic of breathing.
Krystal Clark, M.Ed. is a native of Portsmouth, VA. Her undergraduate degree in Sociology/Psychology was earned at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA and her M.Ed. in College Student Personnel was obtained in 2007 from The University of Maryland, College Park. Upon graduation, she moved to Durham, NC and worked in Fraternity & Sorority Life at Duke University. Krystal came to Nashville, TN in May of 2011 to work as the Associate Director of Greek at Vanderbilt University. In May 2013, she began her new adventure as the Associate Director of the new Office of Student Leadership Development at Vanderbilt. Krystal is the Vice President of Membership for the Junior League of Nashville, VP Communications for Delta Delta Delta Fraternity Nashville Alumnae Chapter, Reader for Book ‘Em/Reading is Fundamental, a past member of the Board of Directors for Girls on the Run Nashville, a member of ACPA (College Student Educators International) and currently volunteering for her 10th year College reunion. Clark was a finalist for the Nashville Emerging Leader Award in the field of Education in 2012. When she’s not working at Vanderbilt she serves as a speaker/facilitator at college campuses and volunteers with men’s and women’s fraternal organizations. She’s an avid concert and movie-goer, reader, volunteer, and believes in being a tourist in her current city of Nashville, TN. Since 2011 she’s blogged over at peculiarpearl.com.
Photo Credit: http://picklebums.com/2013/01/24/parenting-mantras-make-that-little-voice-in-your-head-a-positive-one/ –Enough Purple