Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Silly Sleep Smile January 28, 2014

My heart stopped today. It was only for a second (or three), but it definitely happened. It seems an appropriate response to what I witnessed. Baby Carter stopped breathing. So my heart skipped a few beats.

The WatchdogThere we were – mom, Carter and I – settling in for our late afternoon nap (a custom to which I’ve come to very much enjoy) when it happened. Whoever coined the phrase sleeping like a baby clearly has never watched a baby sleep. There’s flailing and jumping and funny breathing patterns and grunting and the occasional random cries. But there are also smiles. Watching all of this unfold has become a favorite part of my days. I am watching over my little person and all is well in my world.The Sleep Smile

So today when he stopped breathing, my world turned on its axis. I wanted to do something – anything – to make him start breathing again. Fortunately I didn’t have to. It happened on its own a few moments later. And apparently it’s normal, at least from what I heard mom and dad discussing later. But it seriously and completely freaked me out.

That’s when I realized there’s something about newborn sleep that is kind of like life. It’s fun. There are moments that overwhelm you with joy and prompt a smile straight from the heart. It’s scary. There are moments that take your breath away – for good or for bad reasons. It’s not always easy. There are things along the way that make us sigh and grunt and flail (at least emotionally if not physically).

And dreams are real. Today was not the firs time I’ve longed to hop inside that little baby mind of his to see whatever he was dreaming about. Moreover, I wish I could have protected him from whatever made him scared in his dream and share with him whatever made him happy. But, just like life, there are some things that are uniquely our own. Dreams are one such thing.

My heart stopped today. It wasn’t for long, but it was long enough for me to realize in that small moment something pretty big. “Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s question,” suggested American psychic Edgar Cayce. If that’s the case, my questions don’t really matter. Because if that silly sleep smile is any indication, my little person’s got it all figured out.

 

The Simple Things December 3, 2013

It’s pretty simple. Fairly basic. And entirely necessary. The act of breathing is such a foundational function of life that most of us don’t even think about it. It just comes naturally. To most of us.

It’s not so easy for my great grandma who – at the age of 83 – is healthy as a horse if not for her asthma. It’s a daily struggle for my friend with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). And most recently my mom was challenged with an unbelievable shortness of breath because my future little person was comfortably lodged into her ribs. Like many things in life, the act of breathing seems to be one of those things that can be easy to overlook. We just assume that we will go on breathing, no questions asked. It’s not always that simple.

Just BreatheSo you can imagine my surprise the other day when mom held dad’s hand to her belly and had dad feel the baby breathing. I thought it was absurd. But sure enough, dad confirmed the rhythmic movements and the three of us sat there in awe for a moment. I’m not sure I understand it, but I can’t imagine it’s very easy for the baby to be doing this practice breathing. Yet it’s possible.

I know the biblical phrase is usually thought of to be “all things are possible to those who believe.” Today I got to thinking about how that applies to those who breathe. Albeit challenging for some, taking a moment to pause and recognize the miracle of breath can change a person’s entire perspective.

It certainly did for my mom the other day as we all bore witness to those miraculous baby practice breaths. In those same moments mom realized something. She too could breathe. The baby must have shifted off of her ribs in a way that made it easier for her to breathe again. So there we were, one blessed family, sitting together in silence. But it was more than that because in those moments I was reminded to be grateful for something simple. Something basic. Something that comes pretty naturally. Breath. It might sound silly, but I love when life reminds us to celebrate the simple things.

 

Just Breathe August 20, 2013

This has to be one of the strangest things I’ve seen my mom do. (Please bear in mind I’ve seen her do many a strange thing). I leave her alone for ten minutes to spend a little time with dad in another room and when I returned, I was welcomed by the most ridiculous sight.

There she was in the living room with her butt in the air holding herself up by her arms. I was alarmed at first, like something must be wrong that would cause her to be in such a strange position. What if she hurt herself? Or (worse) what if she hurts herself getting out of this strange bodily contortion? I was concerned not only for her, but for the baby! Couldn’t it just fall out or something with mom’s body in that position? So I did what any concerned canine would do and ran to her to investigate. I sniffed, but nothing smelled awry. And while she was breathing heavier than usual she seemed all right. Just to be on the safe side, I laid down underneath her in case she fell.

That’s when I heard the woman on the television say something most unusual. She was speaking in quiet tones and there were sounds like the wind chimes I hear in my backyard sometimes. Downward facing dog, the lady said. My ears perked up at the mention of the “d” word, and I began to gather this is something mom was doing by choice. The woman finished talking shortly thereafter and I heard something about this concluding the yoga session.Google Searching

Yoga. A quick search of the Internet explained to me that yoga is a very popular Hindu discipline that promotes balance of the spirit though a series of postures and rituals. (My search also uncovered something called doga, otherwise known as dog yoga, which I think merits its own separate commentary at a later date). Central to the concept of yoga is the importance of breath on inner balance, which my (19-weeks pregnant) mom has definitely seemed a little short on lately. Between her increased clumsiness and her random bouts of breathlessness, she could definitely use a boost of both.

So as strange an image as it was, I’m glad mom is doing this yoga thing. As it turns out, she was not in danger. She was not playing a joke on me. She made it out of the whole ordeal with all four limbs intact. And I learned something pretty important from all of this. Sometimes we have to do scary things, things we are not necessarily good at or comfortable with initially, to find balance in life. Sometimes it is best to simply pause and take a deep soothing breath. Just breathe. You might surprise yourself with the result.