So this word is for whoever needs it: breathe. Seriously. Right now. Draw the air in on a slow seven count. Hold it for a slow seven count. Release it on a slow seven count. Do it again. Do it again…Breathe

Leonard Pitts, Jr.

In a recent column, Leonard Pitts reflects on the difficulty of imagining things being better when we are in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic. Hope will come tomorrow. Which seems too late and too far away.

While wére waiting, there is something to be said for taking a breath. And another. And another. Getting the oxygen into our bodies is not just a nice idea. It´s the whole idea.

When I was first released from the ICU, I could not take a belly breath. My abdomen was drum tight from the assault of the ruptured aneurysm, the endoscopic intervention that sealed the leak, and the blood that washed up against all my organs for weeks until the doctors gave it an exit through which to leave. The hematoma that bloomed beneath my skin hurt. It hurt to breathe. It was like I had fistfuls of resistance where my belly should be.

So, all my breaths were restricted to my chest and upper ribs. Shallow breaths. As I healed, I took my own teaching advice and slowly worked my way down my torso. Way back when I taught at the New York Health & Racquet Club in Manhattańs Yorkville neighborhood, I had taught a yoga breath that went like this: Inhale chest, ribs, belly. Exhale belly, ribs, chest. It took weeks to get my body to relax into a full breath, but eventually I eased into it, and to sleep.

Old pj pants make nice tho pretty warm masks!

I realized today that I’m taking shallow breaths again. As if the fear of the unknown can be kept out that way.

Working out gets my lungs expanding better, but my breathing sounds unnervingly foreign. Between my face mask muffling the noise and the music in my ear buds, I swore someone in the neighborhood was sawing during my workout yesterday. The sound seemed to surround me. Turns out, it WAS me. Sawing away under my face mask as I plodded along.

My exercise students in Boynton Beach will laugh out loud to know that their old teacher is giving herself breathing lessons. After all, I had only two axioms:1, watch your shoulders, and 2, breathe. I had to repeat those sayings every day as I healed in Amsterdam, and here I am calming myself down right at home. Quarantined at home. Odd, isńt it, to have dreamed of being home for those three months, and now to be locked in.

So, Leonard Pitts was right. Hope and organization and the new normal all seem very far away some afternoons, and therés only so much Ozark that I can take as a distraction. My Brilliant Friend works in higher doses, but life is hard and harsh in the outskirts of Naples. Billions is back tonight, another set of criminal characters. I dońt know if I can take it.

Maybe Íll just rewatch the final episode of Schitt´s Creek and the cast interviews that followed. How these truly awful people evolved into characters we loved and rooted for is a wonderful thing. If they can make it, we can too.

After all, giving hope is the whole reason we have each other.

Leonard Pitts, Jr.

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