Monday, April 19, 2010

Breathe Deep

When I was a kid my parents would take us to see the Flying Circus in Bealton, Virginia each year. We'd go Saturday and my Dad would compete in the Model Airplane events and then we'd camp and stay till the show on Sunday. The show ignited my love of flying. It's a show of older bi-planes and a Piper Cub, doing stunts, rolls, fly by's - and the best part - with a guy strapped to the top wing. When I was a kid my goal was to become that man. :0) After the show they gave rides in the planes, and every year I heard "Maybe next year kiddo". So when I graduated high school Dad took me aside and told me his present to me was to take me on that ride at the Flying Circus.
And then life happened. I went to college, I got married, And I never went. Every few years Dad would bring it up, and I would say "OH yes! I need to do that!" One afternoon a few months before he died Dad and I had a talk about breathing. And how people forget to breathe when they get scared. And he told me this is why alot of people get sick on airplanes and roller coasters, because "they just don't breathe". It's something I had never really thought about, but for some reason it stuck in my head.
A few months later I woke up to a bright warm beautiful Sunday. My house was 30 miles from Bealton. And right then I decided that day was going to be the day. I made Brad go with me to take pictures. We drove out, and I signed up for the aeronautical flight.
What happened next was one of the best experiences of my life. We flew in an open cockpit biplane - which was a thrill in itself. But we did rolls, spins, fly by's upside down loops to the point I didn't know which way was up or down. I was disoriented, confused, and scared. And then Dad's voice came in my head "they just don't breathe" and so I did. I took long deep breaths and I stared at the instrument panel in front of me. In a few minutes I felt fine and went on to land and complete a wonderful experience. As soon as I got out of the plane I called Dad and told him, he was so excited to hear I had done it.
A half a year later when I started my journey with cancer Dad's lesson became even more important to me. I've had just about every test there is. Some hurt, some don't, but the ones that get me are the ones that hurt while you are confined inside a machine. This is where I would hear Dad's voice again telling me to breathe. And each time it worked, and it got me thru. And now I use it every day. When I exercise and I am pushing myself up the hill in a long run, when I am upset and stuck in traffic, when I am scared or anxious, when I am stressed....I stop and just breathe.
Life is hard sometimes, scary sometimes......but you can make it thru.....just breathe.....

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