Take a Breath

By Sara Vinci

Several months ago, I decided that I hadn’t punished myself hard in a long while, so I took up running again.

I really, really, REALLY loathe running. The only long jogs I enjoy are those taken by people who annoy me. I don’t like the way my chest gets all tight and my mouth gets dry, my hamstrings burn and my hair gets in my face. It really can be a miserable experience. There are plenty of other ways I would prefer to get my cardio in. However, I also have an overactive Australian Shepherd with needs…lots and lots of needs, and he requires regular exercise. I would end up with a brain injury if I took him for a bike ride, he would end up with a brain injury if I took him kickboxing, and if I took him to Pilates, someone would get, well, humped. Therefore, I run. It’s the best form of exercise I’ve found to date that comes complimentary with two birds once the stone is purchased: Buy 45 minutes in hell, get an exhausted dog and cardiovascular health.

I shouldn’t really say I can’t stand running. I’ve always liked sprinting. I’m even somewhat good at it. One of my proudest moments in high school was when the track coach came up to me after powder puff tryouts and said “Damn girl, you run fast.” My fast-twitch muscles are my friends; they are good to me for short bursts, don’t ask much in the way of oxygen, and then they rest in peace until the next beating. Yet, I am a terrible endurance runner. Come to think of it, I’m a terrible endurance anything. I’m happy to give it all I’ve got for 30 seconds to a minute, throw up, and then move on with my life. The thought of pacing myself and remembering to breathe for an extended period is a tough pill for me to swallow.

Lately, I’ve been trying my luck at interval training. I haven’t done the running thing in a long time, so I’m being kind to myself and doing the whole run X amount of time, walk for Y routine, and gradually increasing the amount of straight-up running I do each week. The other day, during a much-appreciated walking period, I was reflecting on how much I disliked the activity in which I was partaking, when suddenly I realized I was forgetting to breathe! Not only was I not soaking up the “Os” while in the midst of the running period, but I wasn’t inhaling the available air while in a “slow” walking period. I was too busy thinking about how much I really didn’t like running because it gets me so out of breath—and while I’m thinking all this, getting all huffy and puffy, I’m not breathing. There is plenty of air available for my pleasurable inhalation, but for whatever reason I can’t get myself to enjoy it, even though it’s right in front of me.

Story of my life: Sometimes life gives me rest periods, but rather than enjoy the “breaks” I tend to complain about a lack of something.

Seriously, life is one big set of intervals…sometimes it goes fast, sometimes it goes slow. It certainly isn’t one short sprint of “getting it over with”. Life is like a marathon with fast periods, slow periods, pit stops and sweaty competitors. To survive, we have to learn how to enjoy whatever phase we’re in and not focus on a lack of something.

Right now, my life is in a “walking” phase. Things are just kind of moving along. In a previous phase, during such an uneventful part of my life, I would have focused on the lack of action in my world. I would find something to feel slighted for to create excitement and drama. I could complain about being single, not having time off, not having a vacation planned in my future…and on and on and on.

Today, I’ve learned that there is a certain gift to be found in the “slow” times. Those are the seasons we are given to catch our breath, grow up, and learn. Instead of enjoying the time to breathe, we often focus on what we don’t have, when in reality there are plenty of good things around us to enjoy (including oxygen). When things are bad (i.e., life is “running” full-speed ahead), we can’t see an end to our troubles. Then, when relief comes we get so suspicious that the suffering isn’t really over that we refuse to accept our respite. Then, we feel like we can’t go on because we are exhausted.

I think God knows that we can’t really learn and grow when things are buck wild.

We need a period of slow contemplation. My real growing happened in 2010, when I was granted a “boring” phase that gave me the chance to figure out what happened in 2009. Today, my life is still in an easy-does-it phase. Rather than focus on what I don’t have, and making myself feel bored, I am centered on what I do have, and thankful for all the good that surrounds me. The more I do that, the more peace I seem to have and the more good seems to find me (although it’s always a work in progress). I don’t think that I’ll live my whole life without having another single bad thing happen to me, but the more I relax and learn to be thankful for the things that surround me during calm “growth periods,” the easier this marathon of life will become. Maybe, with time, running and I can learn to become friends.

Sara Vinci is a 27-year-old writer stuck in a pediatric occupational therapist’s body. Embracing the philosophy that life’s tribulations are gifts that urge us forward toward our Higher purpose, she fuels her spiritual quest by connecting to Source and then putting her insights down on paper. Contact Sara via the Web at www.carefulplateishot.com or email at svinci7@gmail.com.

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