“1, 2, 3…Breathe…GO!”
When we were married, my husband and I made a promise to each other we’d have a “Date Night” every week. From the early days of marital bliss through the many ebbs and flows that would make even a cast iron stomach feel weak, we’ve rarely been led astray from that commitment.
Initially our “Date Nights” consisted of elaborately planned evenings of white linen tablecloth restaurants and fancy clothes. Today you’ll find us in flip-flops strolling the aisles at Costco in search of free samples or going to a movie with a popcorn coupon. To be honest, the dates of yesterday were certainly lovely but holding hands while seeing a movie or trying to sweet talk our way into a second Costco sample, are moments of togetherness not to be missed and cherished time I hope to always remember.
This week our “Date Night” landed on a Wednesday. Business travel and a weekend golf tournament trumped our time together. Opting for a movie, we agreed to see “We’re The Millers” starring Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston.
Admittedly I wasn’t looking forward as much to the movie as I was to snuggling like a teenager with my handsome husband. Yet to my very pleasant surprise, I found myself laughing out loud, glancing to our movie-seat-neighbors in camaraderie.
Due to my many stretches of laughter, there were scenes I’ll need to see again as I’m sure I missed some key dialogue while trying to gather myself. Yet there was one scene I was so grateful to have experienced sans giggles.
Jason Sudeikis’ character is provoked to share some pseudo-fatherly advice when the young man pretending to be his son failed in an attempt to kiss a girl.
The advice he gave was, “When you’re scared, just count to three and on three, go for it! Don’t think, just do it on three … works every time.”
The second those words tumbled from the movie theater speakers into my ears, I about knocked over the popcorn. (To note if I had actually spilled our popcorn, I would have put a huge damper on our “Date Night” because aside from a good movie, warm buttered popcorn is always a highlight.)
When I heard Jason Sudeikis describe how to move through one of life’s tougher moments, I thought about the fact I never appreciated life skill direction like that until I became willing to embrace a program of recovery.
For decades my everyday consisted of chaotic plate-spins, knee-jerk reactions and ill-considered responses to the situation du jour. In the heat of any given moment, I’d rush to get something done, get my point across or fuel what used to be my incessant need to be right. Ultimately I’d wind up regretting much and unwinding more.
I remember watching others who walked along this recovery railway before me as they paused for just a quick second; taking a deep breath or shifting their stance before answering a question or taking an action. I became curious about this pause/breathe dance and then became an advocate and expert choreographer of the dance.
Taking a moment to breathe before engaging in any action has transformed my ability to shift from experiencing life chaotically to experiencing life calmly.
In school I was taught the calmest point of a tornado is in the center. For years before I found myself in recovery, I’d try desperately to reach through the swirling debris only to find myself swept up in the whirlwind, grasping for anything that felt like a solution.
Although Jason Sudeikis’ character suggested not thinking when taking action on the count of “3”, I suggest adding one small step in that process, taking a second to breathe.
When you’re ready to launch into something because of fear or anxious to relieve a need or a fiercely desiring to be first at fixing a problem, do yourself a favor, count to three, breathe and then decide if you should go for it. That one whisper of a second could determine whether you face disaster or brilliance.
Calmly responding to life’s ups and downs in this way has been my salvation. Eliminating panic and stress allows me to see, hear, and think clearly; standing in the center of the storm, not destroying everything in my wake. And that my friends, is certainly no laughing matter.
A Moment to Breathe (no pun intended) …
You always have a choice. If you’re more concerned with a short-term “feel good”, hit the “GO” button on three. If you’d prefer to obtain long-term benefit after taking any action, stop and take the time for a few slow, deep breaths.