“True beauty, healing, is found in the most unlikely places, and richness of soul does not typically come to us in the times when we are feeling perfectly at ease.” page 178, Breathing Room
I didn’t expect to find room to breathe and reflect in the middle of Brooklyn. My husband and I went to New York City for three weeks in November with our three small kiddos. When I packed for the trip I threw a copy of Leeana Tankersly’s book, BREATHING ROOM, in my bag in case I couldn’t use my Kindle.
The second day we were in Brooklyn I met a new friend at church. She was going through a lot of change since moving to Brooklyn from Texas. I thought to myself, “This is why I brought Leeana’s book with me. Surely, God wants me to to give it to my new friend!” As I was putting the book in my diaper bag so I wouldn’t forget to bring it to her I heard the Lord whisper to me, “This book isn’t for your friend. I’ve got her and she is going to be okay. This book is for you.”
Well, when you feel like the Holy Spirit prompted you to pack a book and then you hear the Lord say, “Read it!” you start reading the book. I am so glad I did not give away my copy!
Breathing Room is one of those books that happened to be the right book at the right time.
I’ve heard the “take care of yourself” message before, but Breathing Room is the first time I took the message to heart. I wasn’t jealous when I read Leeana’s experiences and how she she started treating herself better. I read her words and wrote “me too!” and “yes, exactly!” a lot in the margins of my paperback. Leeana clearly explains how we bully ourselves, why we think we are failures, why we don’t need to be strong all the time, and how we can find healing in our attitudes, in our prayers, our actions, and giving ourselves permission to get help.
Since reading the book I have made a few changes in my life. I’ve stopped being so mad at myself on the days I get physically sick. That seems like a given, but I get really mad at my body a lot for not being able to keep up.
I’m making more of an effort to write, even if it means stealing time away from my kids. I’ve also joined a gym with childcare. I can take my kids to a place and get 2 hours a day of kid free time. I’ve been working on my health already, but working out will help me get in shape. I can also use the gym childcare to get some writing done.
Embracing Grief When I Learned to Breathe
I wasn’t very far into the book when I started taking its advice. Daniel came home from working in Brooklyn and I needed a break from the kids. I left our brownstone and settled myself into a window seat of a little coffee shop 20 footsteps from my apartment door. I drank coffee and began reading. The section I read talked about being mad at God for making your life Hard. The book talks about not comparing your Hard time to someone else’s. Also, how life can be Hard even while good things are happening.
“I was angry that God had allowed the Hard. I felt betrayed a bit, by him, by life.” – Leeana Tankersley, Breathing Room
I sat there and realized I was mad at God for giving me a child that is Hard of Hearing and will always require hearings aids to hear. Ever since he was born 3 and half years ago I was always taking care of the next thing in his development and never really grieving that my kid wasn’t 100% healthy. I silently wiped my tears away in the window of coffee shop and hoped no one noticed. I knew God was beginning to heal my heart. I’m not completely there yet, but I’ve learned that grieving a child’s special need is perfectly normal. I’m just a little late to the game.
I could write all day about all the things I learned from reading Breathing Room. Instead, I’ve narrowed down my top 10 favorite quotes and why I love the quote so much.
My Top 10 Favorite Quotes from Breathing Room
“Breath and begin again.” page 47
I don’t want to spoil the story, but Tanskersley needed a do-over after dealing with one her kids. I have adopted this mantra and use it all the time. I’ve always loved the idea of each day being a new beginning, but this phrase makes the new beginning happen instantly.
‘Working hard and working out of a place of anxiety are not the same thing.’ Beth tellS me. ‘If you can’t breathe, stop. Never move or act out of that place. Wait until you can breathe.’ In other words ignore that impulse to make it all so urgent. Just flat out ignore it. Do the exact opposite of what that anxious defensiveness is convincing you that you must do. The. Exact. Opposite. Just be still.” page 66
I know that place of working on something frantically all too well. I used this advice yesterday when I freaking out about getting something done and I could feel a migraine coming on. After I took some pain meds I sat down with my three year old and watched a show with him. I did feel better. I also want to stop when I get frantic about big things. I’m working on it.
“Sometimes you’ve got to steal time for the things you love, the things that fill you up, your soul’s deepest inspiration. The universe isn’t going to hand you time.” page 96
Can I get an AMEN!? I’ve learned that doing what I love (writing, editing photos, and working out) isn’t selfish. It brings me JOY and peace. It makes my life whole instead of being a shell of a servant to my family. I don’t feel guilty for writing when my kids are awake or getting a babysitter to write. I don’t feel guilty for taking my kids to the gym childcare so I can work out.
“I would have missed her plea, the Divine plea – Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened – to allow myself the dignity of rest and recovery.” page 120
I’m not a failure when I rest and recover. There is dignity when I stop to rest and recover and acknowledge that I have been through some hard things. It doesn’t mean I’m weak.
“Life wants us to turn the calendar page even when our souls want to stop and commemorate what is happening now.” page 123
This accurately describes the tension of my life. I love moving forward and accomplishing goals, but my soul wants to be happy now. I’m still learning how to enjoy the moment.
“It’s scary to let go of our worries and fears and resentments and anxieties and to celebrate the goodness that is now, that is here today. But, if we believe abundance is a trick and the bad thing is always lurking around the corner, then we will always let the darkness win.” page 148
I need to stop bracing myself for the next hard thing and enjoy today. I don’t think I was aware I was even doing this until I read that line.
“This is what people often forget about adventures. They are exciting, and they are hard. Especially challenging when you have decided to bring your entire family along for the ride.” page 169
I laughed when I read this quote, because I was in the middle of an adventure with my three small kids in New York City. Taking a three year old to NYC was especially challenging, but a lot of fun.
“Just maybe there’s a strain on my physiology that I can’t control. It doesn’t mean I’m weak. It doesn’t mean I’m flawed. It just means I’m a human being with an autonomic nervous system. Welcome to the party.” page 188
I know my physical symptoms when I am stressing out and I try my best to ignore them. I get mad at my body for betraying me. Especially when I don’t even know why I am stressing out. Leeana encourages you to listen to your body and slow down even if doesn’t make sense.
“I can keep pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing (you know the drill) or I can actually listen to the smoke signal my body is giving me. I can say, ‘Well, I don’t have as much on my plate as her over there and she seems to be doing just fine’ or ‘I can’t really think of a reason why my brain would be overwhelmed’ or ‘I’m not really that busy.’ I can explain it all away. I can decide known of it’s reasonable or valid. I can believe the lie because my circumstances aren’t as challenging as someone else’s, I am not allowed to struggle.” page 187
Yep. This was me. I am not allowed to struggle. I’m also really good at logic and explaining away why I shouldn’t be stressing out.
“Here’s what will happen if you don’t. You will be sleep-walking. You will be numb. You will be glassy eyed. You will be sad. I hate to say this, but you may be all those things anyway for a time. But, if you will care for yourself while you are in that state, then you stand a chance to recover; you stand a chance to be alive and awake in the world again.” page 189
Wow. In this quote and in other parts of chapter 24 Leanna explains in detail what happens when you don’t take care of your soul and yourself. I love that she makes it about your health for your sake, not for the sake of your family. A happier mom is a great by product, but taking care of yourself is important because you are valuable to God regardless of anything else.
I loved this book. Have you read Breathing Room, what did you think?