“…with my breath held”

On Wednesday, one blogger I follow left a comment on another blogger’s post saying that she is “living life, but with my breath held” and I felt the way I feel when I pass by a store window and am startled to realize that the person I’m seeing in the window’s reflection is me.

As soon as I read the words I realized that I, too, have been holding my breath, the way we do when we know that a needle is about to poke (just got my second booster this week) or some other kind of discomfort is going to land. Aside from living among the constantly flaring dumpster fires of the larger world, I’m also waiting for or living through a fair number of transitions in my personal life. Uncertainty abounds.

image of old, sleeping dog

It’s all well and good to say, “just breathe”–and I have moments when I intentionally do just that. But life has been moving swiftly and requiring my brain to attend to many other things. Mostly, I now realize, I’ve been getting through the days with my breath held, preparing for shoes to drop or ducking to avoid them. It’s become habit, and most of most days is really pretty good, so I hadn’t noticed the breath-holding until someone else pointed it out. I suppose it’s why I haven’t had much to share here lately; perhaps it’s because, like the blogger whose post prompted the comment, I have so many words that I have no words about quite a lot of things.

So, here are some pictures from the past little while, with just a few words.

Note from student: Hey Mrs. Ramstad
This note from a student kinda wrecked me, with the distinction they make between being treated like “a human with feelings” and like “just a student.” There are so many words I might say here–about schools, about lost opportunities, about what’s happening to our young people and those who care for them–that my throat feels tight with them.
Dishwasher on kitchen floor and man peering into hole under counter where dishwasher used to be

This is the hole where the dishwasher used to be. Some words: Full house, sustainability, needs, wants, money, renovation, priorities, eyesore, time, gratitude, love.

urban yard with the beginning of an island in the lawn with a tree and two shrubs

Mother’s Day plant sale. Kill your lawn. No man is an island. Wind in the willows. Work in progress.

Because Wordle wasn’t enough for me. Because the NYT crossword and Spelling Bee weren’t enough. Because when there are too many words knocking around in your head, wordplay can be a balm for the brain.

Cluttered kitchen with reading chairs

Funky kitchen, part II. Archie & Edith chairs. Best fika spot this side of the pond. It’s weird, but it works. #howwereallylive

hazy purple square

Why is this on my camera roll? What is it? How did it get taken? I don’t know, but it is strangely soothing. I like it.

12 thoughts on ““…with my breath held”

  1. Ally Bean says:

    Thanks for mentioning me. I see that you also know what it’s like to go through your days holding your breath. I have the same waiting for the other shoe to drop feeling in my personal life as I watch the world burn, literally and figuratively. Until I can process how to understand this time in my life, I’ll be like you and remind myself to just breathe. I like your last photo, too. Soothing, yes.

    • Rita says:

      In my class this spring we’ve been looking at the idea of books as windows and as mirrors. Your comment reminded me of why I read. I don’t know how to process this time, either. We can muddle through together, yes?

  2. TD says:

    I wish you the best with the transition, Rita. I’m glad that you took some time to journal in your notebook, today.

  3. Kari says:

    I feel like I’ve been holding my breath, too. I love the bloggers who I keep company with. It feels like we’re all in this community together.
    I love your house. It feels familiar, cozy, and warm.
    I am also slowly trying to kill our lawn. Mike and I had this talk yesterday. So I will send him this article and share it with my readers in the tater tot post.
    Kari recently posted…Song = ExperienceMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      I love my house, too. 🙂

      I’d love to know about your lawn progress. We planted clover seed in our back lawn this spring. We’ll see what happens with that.

  4. Kate says:

    For some reason your posts aren’t showing up in my reader so I was very happy when I typed in your web address thinking “I haven’t heard from Rita” and found not one but two posts.

    I always feel a little less alone when I read your posts.

    I’ve noticed that I’ve started clenching and grinding my teeth again. A bad habit that I picked up in my late 20’s and managed to curb. I’ll never forget my dentist saying TMJ was really common in women in their late 20’s-40’s and he was sure why it was so common in that population. I’m still boggled.

      • Rita says:

        And, really? Of course really. (You can’t see it, but my eyes are rolling further back in my head than a teen-age girl’s can.)

        • Kate says:

          Right? I think my response was “oh I have a few theories”. I had a night guard before braces. I will again after I’m sure. My poor jaw. I have actual knots below my ears.

          It doesn’t surprise me that we are alike in this way either – though I wish it wasn’t this way.

          • Rita says:

            I wish it wasn’t, too. The only fillings I have are from breaking my own teeth by grinding them. Gah.

    • Rita says:

      Hi Kate,
      I know something is wonky with my blog, but I haven’t had the bandwidth to fix it. Thanks for letting me know, though. I suspected it wasn’t showing up in the usual ways, and it’s good to know for sure.

      I don’t know how to not grind my teeth. Many years ago my dentist told me it’s just how my body responds to stress, and I can’t control my body’s response to it any more than someone who has, say, a heart attack in response to stress can. I don’t really know what to think about that. I wear a mouth guard at night and have for years. I’m doing what I can to reduce and alleviate stress, but…you know. It’s a hard time we’re all living through right now.

      I feel less alone when I read your words, too. (thank you)

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