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Inhale. Exhale.

By Elayne Savage, PhD


#180 TakeaDeepBreath

© CanStock Photos


This Seattle times op-ed by the Head of School at Seattle Girls' School, Brenda Leaks, is helping me get through the very tough times of late. I’m grateful to my daughter Jocelyn for forwarding this to me.

As the doors of Seattle Girls' School are opening for the beginning of a new school year Brenda Leaks is describing her complex thoughts, observations, concerns and hopes.

She seems to portray classroom challenges as a microcosm for the world and for our planet.

“This is not the back-to-school season any of us expected, she writes. With the delta variant surging, we are steeling ourselves for yet another year of uncertainty.”

“I found myself with my eyes closed, inhaling and exhaling deeply in an effort to center myself.”


Throughout her piece, she reminds us:


Inhale, exhale.


“At this strange moment, deep breathing seems like the best thing we can do. Inhaling creates the space to pull in strength and patience and exhaling lets us release anxiety and doubt.”


I was immediately caught up by her observations, especially because she focuses on so many of the themes I have been blogging about: the need for community, feeling left out or left behind, another year of uncertainly, how to feel safe, and how each person is dealing with different feelings, stressors, comfort levels and anxieties.


I just love her repetition of her reminders to:


“Inhale, exhale.”


These words have now become indelible inside my head.


And yet, as I write this while struggling to breathe because of the intense smoke from our nearby wildfires, I am fully aware that there are many whose lungs don’t cooperate, breathing is compromised from Covid or other disabilities. Perhaps the idea of breathing is best identified as a way of creating space when we feel tense, stressed, anxious, exasperated.


I’ve been working hard to keep my own anxieties at bay. I’m a news junkie at heart and I’m certainly feeling overwhelmed these days.


Are Evacuations Becoming a Way of Life?


So many evacuations –– in Afghanistan of course and in the US, too, from Hurricane Ida, floods, tornados and storms and because of all the wildfires throughout California.


Imagine! Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana on the same date Katrina did 16 years earlier!


Evacuations have become a part of my personal life too, mostly because of wildfire threats to our drought-ridden areas.


A year ago Josie the Cat and I evacuated 7 times in two months during extreme fire danger conditions. City officials kept warning us that cars would not be able to drive down the hill because of our narrow streets. And we continue to get red flag warnings regularly.


When I blogged last month about getting our Afghan interpreters to safety so there is no one left behind, I didn’t expect a Taliban takeover within 2 ½ weeks, followed by 2 suicide bombs by ISIS-K killing 13 of US troops and scores of civilians.


And, too, I have needed much healing space after a very scary car accident in mid-March when I hydroplaned into logs bordering the narrow road. I have a serious traumatic head injury from hitting the driver’s side window – hard.


Rescue, police and the tow guy all said I was really lucky — that my solid SUV saved me. The car was totaled of course.


I am working every day to stay calm in this chaotic world. I have been trying to cut back on my news junkie hours. I have been working one-on-one with a meditation instructor and I am making a real effort to spend even 10 minutes a couple times a day to calm my mind.


Once I got over my long-held belief from Zen Center days that meditation has to be 30 or 40 minutes, it has become so much easier for me to make the space.


Inhale, exhale.


And I appreciate Brenda Leaks down-to-earth description of Joy:

“Moving forward with purpose and excitement despite setbacks.”


Inhale, exhale.


So I’m sharing this op-ed with you, hoping you, too, can apply some her ideas to our larger-than-a-classroom-sometimes overwhelming complex world . . .


Until next month, Elaynne


© Elayne Savage, PhD


Comments, ideas, discussion anyone?

[email protected]


Elayne Savage is the author of ground-breaking relationship books published in 9 languages.
Both books are now available on Kindle!



You can use the articles in 'Tips from The Queen of Rejection'® as long as you include an attribution and, whenever possible, a live link to my website. I'd appreciate if you'd notify me where and when the material will appear.

The attribution should include this information: Elayne Savage, PhD is a communication coach, keynote speaker, and trainer, practicing psychotherapist and author of Don't Take It Personally! The Art of Dealing with Rejection and Breathing Room - Creating Space to Be a Couple.

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March 31, 2020