Just breathe

“Don’t hold your breath” is an expression often heard when someone anticipates a negative outcome about something we desire or are attempting to accomplish. It means “don’t get your hopes up” and “don’t be surprised if this doesn’t work out.” Far too often, we and those closest to us, anticipate a negative outcome rather than a positive one. Of course we are aware that something we are hoping for might not work out. But does that mean we should not attempt it?

When we are no longer working there is an opportunity to find meaningful ways to fill our time. This process requires sampling – trying various experiences and evaluating them. Some we will like; others we won’t. But what if you have a big, bold, idea that you want to launch? An idea you find both exciting and terrifying. You may decide this is the time to start a business, learn a new skill, or accomplish a long forgotten desire.

I guarantee there will be a chorus of naysayers to tell you every reason you will fail and point out all the possible perils you will encounter if you undertake your quest. It’s easy buy into the fears and doubts of others. I’ve done it many times.

Yet, there have been times when the still, small voice that says “Go for it!” persists in spite of the attempts of others to drown it out. That’s when you know what you are attempting is truly your heart’s desire.

Learning to slow down, to listen to our inner guidance, and to follow it is one of the greatest challenges of not working. At work we are conditioned to ignore our inner promptings so we can focus on the task at hand . Yet, that inner guidance is always there. When I can’t hear it I follow the advice of a dear friend – just breathe.

The act of paying attention to my breath calms and centers me. The calmer I become, the more connected I am to my emotions, thoughts, and dreams. When I am calm, I can “hear” the next step I am to take to accomplish my goal.

I still experience doubts and fears. But rather than give in to them I know to breathe, ask for guidance, and follow the inner promptings that come. What I have learned throughout my lifetime is that when things get really hard and really crazy, I am close to a major, life-altering, breakthrough. This is often preceded by tears, frustration, upset, and thoughts that I’ll never accomplish what I have set out to do. And then, somehow, it all comes together.

What I find extremely important is to surround myself with people who are committed to accomplishing something big, something that is a stretch for them, in this phase of life. If we are not actively pushing and stretching our boundaries and beliefs in what we can do, those beliefs and boundaries contract our world and life becomes smaller and smaller. Just breathe, imagine the possibilities, and watch what you can and will do.

Kathryn Avery

About Kathryn Avery

When Kathryn Severns Avery’s husband, Chris, began contemplating retirement in 2014, she knew they had to quickly come up with a multi-faceted plan. They spent the next year discussing, sometimes heatedly, what they would do once he stopped working. On paper their plan looked exciting. They would head from Colorado to the 1891 sea captain’s house they bought and renovated in Rockland on Maine’s midcoast. But the reality of planning and implementing retirement was much different than expected. Kathryn has worked in radio, television, marketing, and public relations. She is the author of five books and has written articles on interior design and crafts for national and regional publications including Romantic Homes, Log Homes Illustrated, The Rocky Mountain News and Colorado Homes and Lifestyles.