Breathe, Life, Perspective, Stress

Stress: Choosing to Breathe

Rainy day road

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

The door slammed as boys clambered out of the car. And gave me my first full breath since my guys had awakened on this battle-of-the-wills morning. Sniping and snarking had sapped my joy and irritation had replaced it.

God tried to get my attention with a beautiful sunrise, but one boy had already been snappish by then, and I ignored the colors.

Well, not totally.

I kept glancing out the window as roses turned to peaches and then to cream. I allowed my own pouting to take root in my morning.

After that car door slammed, I headed toward the freeway to meet my mom somewhere between her house and mine. Looking at my clock, I knew I’d be plenty early for our 9:00 breakfast date. Morning sunlight softened the curves of the landscape, making my heart yearn to pull over and snap a few pictures.

Resting fields

Farmhouse silhouette

A desolate road I’ve longed to explore came up. What the heck? I pulled off the freeway and onto a semi-paved road, just to see where it led. Browns of dead grasses and resting fields blocked off by barbed wire fences captured my imagination. No cars drove in either direction of the two lane road, so I pulled over and took out my phone.

My soul took its first deep breath as I framed a couple pictures in my screen and snapped. I turned toward the mountains and got the clearest, most beautiful view of snow-capped peaks that I’d had eyes to see all morning.

Mountain Majesty

This was how God loved me? By giving me beauty for my pouting? He knows me oh, so well. Sometimes what I need isn’t a spanking or a reprimand, it’s a glimpse of His amazing creativity.

I inhaled, my spirit perking up. I drove a couple miles further, stopping to snap pictures. When I came to some farms, I turned around. It could be awkward trying to explain I was photographing their buildings and property . . . because it made me happy.

I drove down another road, looking for picture moments, my soul lifting.

Country road

When I arrived at the designated restaurant, I wasn’t irritated anymore. Joy had reclaimed my heart. I wasn’t frustrated with non-morning sons, or the squirrelly-ness that’s hardwired into boys. I could smile and speak of them with love as my mom and I chatted.

Sometimes, I need time to just breathe. To step out of the appointments—the tasks—and do something that gives me joy. Taking pictures fills my spirit with breath, with life.

Sometimes refilling our spirits is more important than accomplishing those to-do’s on our calendars. 

Hoar frost morning

To choose to give ourselves time to be creative can unlock more creativity. As I inhaled the country air, story elements flooded my mind. And, I ended up with a few pictures that made me smile.

Although choosing spontaneity isn’t always possible, we can still take a few minutes to refresh our perspectives. Stepping away from the screen to take a walk outside, talk with a friend, or do something creative breathes life back into us.

Taking time away from the pressures of the day strengthens us to go back into our circumstances and give our best efforts.

Quiet Road

Putting a little distance between us and a stressful situation gives us time to catch our breath. It’s not always possible to walk away from the stress in a work situation, but it’s essential to take a few moments to breathe deeply as soon as you’re able. And praying in those moments? Even better.

The situation may not change, at least not immediately. But you can regain perspective and calmness to help you deal with the stress at hand.

What about you? What refills your spirit with joy? How do you take time to just breathe during your days?

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11 thoughts on “Stress: Choosing to Breathe”

  1. I love the pictures!

    What a great place to find refreshment.

    For me, it’s generally found in the sound of snoring dogs; when they are all asleep, their peace is so sincere and trusting that I can’t help but be drawn in.

    But I do think we can choose to be spontaneous. Ask my former students; when class got too boring I’d jump onto the table in the front of the classroom and do a Russian Sailors’ Dance (the one where you squat and kick your legs out).

    Or I’d do a somersault over the table, if I felt good that day.

    Not sane, but it sure woke ’em up.

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    1. Andrew, I can only imagine the peace that comes from hearing your dogs snoring softly, trusting you all the while.

      I loved your visual of how you kept your students on their toes. 🙂 My students (3-5th graders) would have loved to see their teacher do that. 😉

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  2. Very beautiful pictures! This very much reminds me of my mother (who is coincidentally names Jeanne too!) as she likes to go around taking photographs of the scenery. I’m sure that my brother and I have done much to irritate her before like your sons have but you know, there will be something that improves our mood along the way. It’s hard to stay upset for long and what you experienced was something really nice that helped you remove your stress 🙂

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    1. I’m so glad you stopped in here, Iggy. Kids have a knack for irritating their parents at times, but you’re right. It doesn’t usually last too long. 😉 Sometimes, we have to choose to move beyond the irritation, don’t we? I guess when we know what helps us move beyond the point of irritation, our frame of mind can smooth out a little bit again. 🙂

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  3. You are inspiring! I love that you took a new road and let joy in!! I need to remember that – even if it’s just stepping into another room, how can I reclaim joy in stressful moments?

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  4. So pretty. The moments I remember I don’t have to be perfect, those refill me. I wish I remembered more often. ~ a work in progress for sure.

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    1. Thank goodness those moments don’t have to be perfect. Sometimes they just need to give us enough air to breathe and move forward a little huh? And we’re both works in progress! 🙂

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  5. Your photos are spectacular, Jeanne. I get to work at 6:00 am each morning. After I get my water, I spend fifteen minutes praying and breathing in complete silence. I hope my boss doesn’t follow your blog. 🙂

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    1. Wow, Jill. You begin your days early! I love the way you begin your days at work. Prayer and simply breathing in silence can be a great prelude into the rest of our day, yes? I’m so glad you stopped by!

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  6. I feel like we could have a lot of fun driving around taking photos! Not many people get my need to pull over and snap a photo of all the stunning instagrams from God ;).

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