Speed deep breathing

A blank sheet of paper. Or “New Post.” So often I don’t allow myself that luxury. Instead when I sit down at the computer—even to write, for myself, for fun—so often I first check my various email accounts including the Poets Out Loud email. Why? Hoping for that little distracting buzz of new email, a distraction, a reason why, oh yeah, that’s right, I actually can’t write right now because my supervisor asked me to update the website with the new prize winners’ bios. Or here’s the schedule from Wally’s school—let me check if they actually have Lunar New Year off. My sister asking about Amtrak tickets. She saw a deal offered. I don’t remember seeing any deal. Or a photo from a friend’s vacation. Davos—where is that? Everyone else in the email chain seems to know exactly where it is. Let me google it…on and on…down the rabbit hole. #1 tip on any list of “how to be productive” – don’t fall down that hole! I like the tip in this interview from Bridgid Schulte who wrote Overwhelmed. In this NPR interview she says, “That to-do list will never go away. If you have this if-then mentality, you'll never get to ‘then.’” She recommends picking one thing you want to accomplish in the morning and getting it done before you check email. It’s such good advice. Email just adds a million more to dos, obscuring the view of the most essential tasks.

So today, right now, for these few minutes, I’m just going to open the blank page and write.

This morning I grabbed an outdated new age/health magazine and read some advice on deep breathing. Just like advice about not falling into the email/endless clicking rabbit hole, the advice itself is simple and well known. Inhale, exhale. Take a long time doing it. Focus on your breath. Take longer to exhale than to inhale. Yadda yadda yadda. But I was in a rush, so literally as I read and brushed my teeth and searched for cat food (oh yeah—we now have a cat) I started breathing in and out fast so I could, until I burst out laughing.

Last night Wally stopped the toilet up accidentally after he made a toilet paper mummy of Petra and proceeded to flush all the tp down afterward. Petra destroyed a lipstick--that happens all the time, but this one got all of both our hands and the couch and it's still  on my hands, 24 hours later. I tried to take a picture to show -- all day people thought my hands were horribly chapped. The bathroom was flooded, lipstick stains everywhere, the kids dressed up in my clothes, really the only clean, respectable clothes in the house (pulling them all off their hangers). It was chaos, absolute chaos. And at one point I stupidly made a comment about this is why people give their kids ipads because lately it seems many of Wally's friends have ipads and he asks of course why he can't have one (it's not like he's even remotely deprived - he has vast but not unlimited access to Alex's on weekends). 

This morning I tried meditation for a few minutes with the kids before school. We watched the sun rising, tried Wally's own version of the sun salutation. Petra did somersaults. 


  1. RACH! I just rediscovered your blog after setting up one for doggy daycare, AFTER I saw an article online and thought of you, then I decided, of all days, to set up a blog today and clicked on your burnt toast blog about parenting and all that. Anyway, so glad I rediscovered. The universe had you on my mind today. Here's the article: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/02/facebook-motherhood-challenge

  2. That is so funny - I did a total double take yesterday because I thought I saw you sitting in a deli on 6th ave. I thought back to the times we went to those health places -- remember? I thought - I have to see Jackie -- have not seen her in so long. Let me check out the article -- and your blog!

  3. I didn't know you had a cat! I want to see pics

  4. I was having such a parallel experience, that damn blank screen, and then a free fall down the rabbit hole of distraction. I loved all your leaps and slides down that rabbit hole - so perfectly illustrated. The quick deep breaths between brushing teeth and searching for cat food, the glorious portrait of you and your children amidst lipstick stains and your clean clothes tramping through backed up toilet water. Your lipstick chapped hands for all to see. And you, high energy and just rolling with it. I've got to try that speed deep breathing myself! And what a beautiful closing paragraph. Is Flash Creative Non-Fiction a thing yet? I nominate this post.

  5. Yes...when using a pen and out flows summing up the days and the tubes of lipstick and the delights of meow and the joy of plunging and such...I appreciate that I am getting the ink to flow. My ink. At least you didn't read an article about which nostril is the in and which one is the out...

    1. You're so right that the various flows seem confluent at times...

  6. Bearette - I'll DM you pix - yes - from a shelter right before Xmas Alex got it.

    Sarah - way too high kind but thank you very much. Thanks for your beautiful response/rendition..."clean clothes tramping through backed up toilet water"-- perfect. Let's start Flash Creative Non-Fiction if it's not yet a thing!


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