Seasons of Breathing

There’s this concept of breathing in, as in a season of life when one just needs a little time to lean on others, to receive, to be quiet and not do a ton of things. Likewise there are seasons of breathing out when one needs to give, support others, be more proactive and take on a bunch of projects.

The season of breathing in, for me, is the scariest. When I’m in it, it seems like it will never end and I start to worry if I will ever get the chance to breath out again: to create works of art for others not just myself, to make meals for those in need even when they don’t ask for them, to go the extra mile when I have a bright idea on how I could uniquely brighten someone’s day. But instead I find myself having all these great ideas on things I could be doing, and the gentle voice of the Lord is saying “Stop. That’s not what I have for you right now.” It’s scary to me because it feels like being thrown back into adolescence, to a time when I couldn’t do things for myself. It’s scary because it requires vulnerability and reliance on others. It’s scary because it feels like weakness.

Being pregnant is a huge long period of breathing in. So it’s no surprise that I find myself antsy and wishing I could breath out. There is a dam of creativity that has been building up this whole time, which makes it oh so tempting to jump into projects the moment they pop into my head. I’m trying so hard not to do things like start a massive garden, launch an Etsy store, or get a puppy. And that is the beauty of being a writer.

It’s portable. I can write anywhere. Even if its on my phone or a post-it note. It can be picked up and set down again. I can set my own deadlines, and if they aren’t met, the consequences aren’t catastrophic. Plus so much of writing has to do with thinking things out ahead of time, which I can do in the car or waiting in line or when I feel like a beached whale and my pregnant belly makes it hard to get up to do something.

But all these micro-writing sessions squeezed into the in-between spaces of my life only barely stave off the imminent creative crisis. Soon the dam will burst, and I’m hoping I can time it right. I’m hoping that something big will be able to happen in October, a specific something. I will have had over nine months of building up to it, so keep a look out. It may just happen. If not October, sometime soon after.

I want to leave this post with a quote from Madeleine L’Engle that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with rhythms and breathing out or in. It just seems appropriate somehow.

“I have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re 5 or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.”

Sounds like good advice to me.

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