Breathe in: breathe out

And… Exhale. (Photo credit: colemama via Flickr)

I had said to myself I wasn’t going to write this week. As of two days ago, I went on strike.


I wasn’t sure if it was my body or my emotions that were the part I had overdone but either way, I felt like an elastic band that had snapped, and was wandering through life in a bit of a stupor. (I’m lying, by my use of the past tense. I am still in a stupor). I told myself I would give myself permission not to do my Story 101 writing course assignment about the rhythm of creativity – because I am wrung out and have no more ideas, no more words, nothing left of myself to give to anyone.


And then the words just snuck in through the back door of my mind, and here I am, writing.




I should probably tell you a secret: I am writing a book. (I am trying to write a book).


It seems that every time I write a post about how it feels to have M.E., thinking that it is self-indulgent and no-one will want to read it – it goes huge and people thank me for saying how it really is. I had so many ideas for blog posts about M.E. and what it really feels like, I realised it was long enough for a book. So I started writing it, secretly, with my spare energy, spare minutes. I am hoping to publish it in January 2014, via Kindle. (I have a few other writing plans up my sleeves after this project, but this is the first.)


It feels foolish and exciting to write these words, to confess my ambition whilst realising I may never complete it, and I say it to you whilst shuffling my feet and looking down at the floor. But I’m telling you anyway, because I am realising that to do anything in this life I need deadlines, accountability – and cheerleaders.


Though my mobility is still pretty terrible, my cognitive energy has been good and steady for a few months, so I have been able to write more, and I feel excited and energised by it all. And then there are weeks like this week, where I feel listless and wordless and wondering what on earth I am doing; I am in a slump, with no idea how I can flick myself out of it.




The word ‘slump’ makes me think of my boy.


I love the transparency of toddlers. Some people complain about the phase: the tantrums, the embarrassing things said to strangers – but I like the honesty of it all. They sigh, and you know it is time to change it up.


Yesterday, we were building Lego houses, and we were completely absorbed in the fun of deciding where to put the fifth bed – and I heard it: the sigh. The slump. It was subtle, but it was there. The completer-finisher in me wanted to carry on but my Mummy radar knew this was the time to stop.


We are not designed to do the same thing for a long period of time. We breathe in – we breathe out – even our anatomy is in a perpetual state of flux. My boy had reached the end of breathing in, sitting down – he needed some OUT; he had had enough quiet and he needed some noise. Toddlers are no different to adults: we just hide the sigh a little better.


“Would you like to go and run around outside?” I asked. His eyes brightened and we put on his wellies, and I sat and watched him run in circles in the garden, whooping, laughing, shouting; his breath releasing the energy and emotions that were stored up from playing.




We are not designed to be continual contemplatives, most of us. Nor are we designed to be constantly running a marathon. We need to pray, to think, to dream, to inhale deeply of God’s word, and worship in the quietness of our hearts; and then we need to breathe out – to run, to serve others, to discuss, to walk alongside, to work, to produce.


We inhale: we exhale. If we exhale for too long we find ourselves gasping for air; if we hold our breath for too long, we burst. Sometimes we need to listen for that sigh, the slump. I had heard it in my soul.


I saw it in my boy, his slower pace as he clomped around the garden, the restless way he was fiddling with the stones.
“Shall we go in now?” I said.
“No! I LIKE it here,” he said, but his tone was whiney and I knew we were about five minutes away from him losing concentration, falling over and crying. We went inside and cuddled up on the sofa together, and we both took a big breath as we started to read The Wizard of Oz.



My health means I have the lung capacity of an 80-year-old (almost literally, and very definitely metaphorically). I have been breathing out for too long, just in the bursts of writing and the enjoyment of chatting with friends. I have loved it; I have been whooping and hollering and laughing, but I have also been overwhelmed and I am five minutes away from falling on my face.

I have heard the sigh. I need to pause.

This is what I will do: I will not write any more today; I will read. I will read the word of God and breathe in his life-giving Spirit, his holy Breath.

Over to you:

  • How do the rhythms of breathing in, breathing out; creating, receiving; working, resting ebb and flow in your life?
  • Are you feeling the need to ‘breathe in’ or ‘breathe out’?


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58 Responses to Breathe in: breathe out

  1. Beth 26th April, 2013 at 12:36 am #

    This is so very convicting, Tanya. Because, terrifyingly, although I do not have chronic health issues, I can identify with much of what you describe about. I’m hoping that it’s all due to baby-induced lack of sleep, but it really is scaring me how I feel, as you wrote, completely wrung out.

    And then you said this: “I have been breathing out for too long, just in the bursts of writing and the enjoyment of chatting with friends. I have loved it; I have been whooping and hollering and laughing, but I have also been overwhelmed and I am five minutes away from falling on my face.”

    Yes. I have heard the sigh, too. I have been consistently operating at the very edge of collapse, for weeks or more (I’m too tired to remember). Thank you for the reminder, and for the permission, to rest.

    Your writing is lovely.

    • Tanya 26th April, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

      Thanks so much for this lovely comment. I had been feeling like I was the only one – there’s something beautiful yet intimidating of a whole ‘class’ of wonderful women writers – it’s always a relief to find kindred spirits! I so appreciate you sharing this with me.

  2. Mandy 26th April, 2013 at 12:19 am #

    I’m so pleased that you’re writing a book Tanya,… don’t look at your feet because your writing is just so beautiful. I’ll be your virtual cheerleader (that way the uncoordinated balance and limbs don’t matter quite so much!)

    • Tanya 26th April, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

      Thank you for the cheerleading! Thank you!

  3. Christina 25th April, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    It’s so exciting to hear that you’re writing a book! This was a great post and I have to say that breathing in and breathing out is something that I focus on just about every day. I tend to push myself too hard, causing myself way too much stress. The best way to deal with it all is to breath deeply and force myself to take a few more breaks then I normally would. Funny how a little break and down time can really regenerate you.

  4. Kimberly 25th April, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    Cheering you and your book on! I’m thrilled to hear this bit of (fabulous) news:)

    • Tanya 26th April, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

      Oh Kimberly – I SO appreciate you stopping by and cheering me on! Sending you much love. Xx

  5. Alia Joy 25th April, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    I love that your wisdom in knowing there is flux and season and timing. I tend to be all on or all off and I’m learning the rhythm of allowing myself to be less at times. To just sit and breathe. Love you, friend. This was beautiful and if I could pull your eyes up from staring at your feet, I’d say, I can’t wait to see what God does with your book, a story that needs to be told.

    • Tanya 26th April, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

      Alia – thank you so much for these words. They mean a lot. 🙂

  6. sandra hughes 25th April, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    Thank you Tanya for describing so beautifully how it feels, and will really look forward to reading your book. Having a very quiet, peaceful time out…and learning to accept my limitations. I appreciate the time I now have with God. A friend commented how she had noticed a difference this week, when I was very quiet….even talking is an effort sometimes. It is very hard for some friends and family to understand. I find Facebook a great way of keeping in touch with folk when I am stuck in my room. <3

    • Tanya 26th April, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

      Hey there – glad you’re having a peaceful time out – and thank you so much for your encouragement on the book!

  7. Andee Z 25th April, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Tanya, thanks for your honesty. I feel something may be in the water lately (though you’re across the Pond from me). I don’t share your illness, but have health issues all the same. A stroke 18 years ago leaves me normal looking on the outside, but my brain has other ideas. A few weeks ago, I just crashed. Every task I literally said, “One foot in front of the other.” Only last weekend I couldn’t even do that. But writing about it helped a little and I imagine God’s hand pulling me out of the quicksand.
    The best thing about a blogging community is the support. Even if we never meet the writers on the other end, just knowing someone else is going through something similar is comforting. And of course, I’ll look forward to your book.
    Breathe in, breathe out. One foot in front of the other.

    • Tanya 26th April, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      Thanks so much for commenting – and for sharing a snippet of your story. I can definitely relate to the frustration of looking well, but my brain deciding to go on strike! I also agree about the support on the Internet – this community is so important to me!

  8. Jo (@Piano_Jo) 25th April, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    So pleased you are writing a book and will absolutely be cheering you on any which way I can. My favourite line in Chris Tomlin’s version of All the way my Saviour leads me is ‘Cheers each winding path I tread’ He sings it over all of us!
    Have noticed you have been quieter lately, have been praying for you, Jon & the boy.
    Thanks so for your cheering of me & others too.
    *\o/* *\o/* *\o/* *\o/* *\o/* *\o/* *\o/* *\o/*

    • Tanya 26th April, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

      Thank you for noticing – thank you for cheering – thank you for the cool little cheerleaders at the bottom!

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