Just Breathe

I have found that for the past 13 years of being a mother, it is a tough job with no recognition, praise or appreciation.  A mother must always be on-demand as she tries to attend to the needs of each of her children and maintain a healthy marriage.  More often then not, it is a struggle to maintain even a smile on one’s face as the trials and adversities of raising a happy family continue.

This weekend I have found the cure to helping mothers jump back into the arena of motherhood with a renewed vision of our role.  That cure is found on the campus of BYU during Women’s Conference.  Every year at the end of April or beginning of May, BYU host’s a huge women’s conference.  Woman from around the country and some from around the world, gather together by the 1,000’s to listen, learn and grow in their roles as mothers, daughters, wives and women.  It is held for two days and consists of motivational and inspired speakers that teach from a wide range of topics such as the doctrines of Christ, family councils, being good enough, refugees, speaking kind words and many, many other topics.

This year, I met my sisters in Utah to attend women’s conference.  This was my third time attending in the last 8 years or so.  I will never forget the first year I attended with my beautiful Auntie Hauoli who flew in from Hawaii, my sisters from California and Arizona and myself from Pennsylvania.  It was a time I will never forget as it was the last time we would all be together with my beloved Auntie before she passed away.

I had high hopes for another amazing conference when I packed my bags and boarded an airplane on my way to Women’s Conference.  Once we were checked into our BYU dorms for the night, I began to have a terrible cramping in my stomach.  I went to the bathroom which we shared with the entire hall and vomited for awhile.  I crawled into bed and thought, “this can not be happening again!”  You see, I flew to San Francisco as a guest speaker for a Conference of about 1000 teens from 14 to 18 years old.  I became extremely ill and was vomiting and sick for the rest of my stay in the bay area.

In our BYU dorm room, we had a sink that I shared with my sister where I jumped up, turned on the water and threw up as quietly as I could for the next couple of hours.  I think it was about 3am before my body fell into an exhausted sleep.  Before I feel asleep, I was a bit anger with God.  Here I was away from my 5 kids to spend time with my sisters and be uplifted by others and now I was sick in bed barely hanging on.  I knew my weekend was finished before it even began and I would end of staying in bed all weekend and miss the conference.  You see, anytime I throw up, I become very ill and many times I find myself in the ER.

I pleaded that night with God that I might be healed and well so that I could attend the meetings that I had come to Utah for.  I woke up at about 8am the next morning, missing the instant choir practice because of being so sick, and feeling completely fine in the morning!  It was a miracle.  I wasn’t sure if I was up to walking all over BYU as I would need to head from one class to another all day long.  I usually have to stay in bed for at least a day to get my electrolytes and energy back up.  Throwing up just has always wiped me completely out.

It was a miracle that I was able to get dressed and walk to the Marriott Center where the beginning meeting were being held.  I joined my sister seated in the stands with 1000’s of others.  I was in the middle of the row and as I sat down, I began to panic that I might get sick or have to throw up again.  My stomach started to tie into knots again and I had wished that I had sat at the end of the row or in the back of the Marriott Center.  I felt a bit panicked as I sat next to my sister.  I leaned over and whispered something to my sister and she slapped my leg like a sister would and said, “relax.”

Those words shot through to my heart and a voice said inside my head that I know came from God, “just breathe.”  That’s it just two words but as I did as the voice said, my stomach knots loosened and I was able to listen to the inspired counsel that was shared by Sister Sharon Eubank.  It was an amazing talk that inspired me and everyone else in attendance.

This began my weekend as I had a fantastic and inspiring time at Women’s Conference.  After attending almost a dozen sessions or classes and taking pages and pages of inspired notes, the key phrase that I took away from Women’s Conference were those two simple words heard from the very beginning, “Just Breath.”

As I have pondered on that simple message and what it means to me, I have had revelation poured down upon my soul that I hope can be helpful to you in your own struggles as a mother, wife and woman of God.  I often find myself in a race for my life where every moment feels like a whirlwind.  I recently wrote a blog post titled “Chaos or Order” where I shared some of those struggles.

One of my favorite sayings comes from Dieter F. Uchtdorf when he said, “We would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed and truly see the things that matter most.”  That quote reminds me to not only slow down a little when my brain wants to run full steam ahead, but to “just breathe” and take a second to pause.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I took a Lamaze class to teach me the proper breathing techniques for when I would go into labor.  In order to overcome the pain and endure childbirth, there are breathing techniques that help the body relax.  Through proper breathing, you can endure the pain more easily then without using these lamaze techniques.

Just as breathing can help reduce the pain, if I follow these two simple words “just breathe” I too can endure the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual struggles that I face day in and day out as a mother.   If breathing helped me get through the anxiety of feeling sick again while listening to a talk at the Marriott Center, could it possibly help me in my everyday life especially with bringing peace into my home and hearts of my children?

As with any Women’s Conference experience I have had, I felt rejuvenated and excited to get home and put into action the many impressions and ideas that were swirling through my head and heart.  I heard that voice again say “just breathe.”  Okay, so I can’t attack all of the amazing things I felt all at once or I would be in worse shape than when I started.  I felt like I needed to read through my notes, make a list of all the many ideas and then pray to know where to begin and then step-by-step implement them into my life.

I began with the first inspiration that came “just breathe.”  I tried it today and I can not believe that something so simple could be so earth shattering for me.  I mean, I have read countless articles, prayed, pondered the scriptures, sought professional help and so much more to find ways to bring peace and help with some of the many trials our family has faced, yet at a time when physically I wasn’t at my best, God gave me a very simple answer “just breath.”

I have never had a day like today in all of my almost 14 years of motherhood.  There was a peace, love and happiness that permeanted every part of our home and hearts of our children and it was all because I remembered to “just breathe” during the day.  It went something like this.  Whenever I would begin to feel my body get a bit annoyed at someone, frustrated with myself or husband or unhappy, I would say in my brain “just breathe” and then I would take a big breath in and out.  In that two seconds it took, I felt calm and I was able to react in love and patience.  I thought wow that was easy but it probably would not last.  Oh, did it last!  All day, I used that simple inspired statement to “just breathe” and it changed me which in turn changed my family!

Do you realize what that means?  I finally found the tool and answer to years of praying for my little family.  I also realized how very powerful the attitude of a mother is in her home.  Just because I was “breathing” my kids were calmer and happier.  My son who has been a challenge at times, did and said things in a kind way that knocked my socks off.  At the end of the day, I asked him how he felt about the day and he said, “very happy and peaceful!”  Oh, my heart wanted to sing!

I was discussing the day with my husband and he too said it was the most peaceful day we have ever had.  As I began to tell him how it really was just me breathing he said that it made sense since when you breath parasympathetic nervous system that controls our fight or flight response was triggered by taking a deep breath which then neutralized my stress and created a calming feeling in my body.  Wow!  I said, “how come I never knew this?”  He said, “the connection between peace, breathing and what happened in our home was never connected before.”

How many times a day do you take a breath in and out?  A billion times?  Do you ever even think about taking that vital breath?  As I have pondered on these two simple words, I have felt that breathing is a lot like Jesus Christ.  He is always there for us but we often forget about him in our busy race through life.  As we pause to take a breath, we also must pause to remember Jesus Christ and breathe in of His goodness, light and direction.

So, there it is, something I have searched for, for so long and it came in just two word “just breathe.”  Will you join me in continuing to take a second and breathe before responding to your children and husband as well as to your own thoughts in your own head?  Just pause a moment, regroup and follow the footsteps of the Master teacher, Jesus Christ, as we become more gentle with others as well as ourselves.