Friday, December 30, 2016

What a Way to Go!

 The crisp winter sun warmed a living room filled with grown nieces, nephews, greats and grands, and a tree brightly gleaming for an early Christmas with Aunt Pat’s family.  One by one the children opened their gifts with joyous shouts, the adults chimed in as gift by gift opened to surprises.  Pat laughed and continued to direct who would open the next gift.  We loved her skills at directing the chaos of Christmas,  a classroom, or a school filled with teachers, children, and parents.  Pat took charge.

Her golfing friends from Prairie Dunes lovingly nicknamed her Madam President and Lemmon Drop. When she'd hug someone she admired she might say with a giggle, "I bet you've never been squeezed by a lemon before."  She loved it when we teased her because she understand that we knew her deep down inside.  We knew she loved children; she loved life; she loved organizing people. Her commitment to Civic Duty in Hutchinson, Ks made a positive impact for many.

More than anything she loved to play golf and bring friends to Prairie Dunes.  As the sometimes self-appointed greeter for generations of people coming through the doors of her beloved golf course, Pat beamed with pride. She was never short on her opinions.  One of her proudest achievements in golf came when she won the Jeanine Washburn trophy in 2003 and 2009. It had been her idea to celebrate her friend, Jeanine, by creating a trophy for the Senior woman who played the best in the annual City Tournament.
Trudy, Pat, Letty, Doris, Manon, LeeAnn, Pat Lemmon 2003

Putting was her favorite part of playing golf, and she secretly carried on conversations with the original designer of Prairie Dunes, Perry Maxwell, about the dastardly breaks and nuances of the greens. When her golf ball rolled in the hole you could see her blue eyes sparkle in delight.  However, her golf ball sometimes went sideways instead of straight ahead, causing much laughter by those of us in her group. One time she hit the ball on the heel of the club causing the ball to eject behind her on the left side. In a heartbeat Trudy and I leaped skywards avoiding a sharp blow from the golf ball.  As we stood stunned Pat merely looked at us and asked, “Why were you standing there?”  Why explain that we thought standing behind someone and a few yards up was generally a safe place to be!  After stunned silence there was laughter, and with Lemmon Drop you could count on her high pitch laughter. 
Ike, Pat Lemmon, Sonja. Book Club dinner

At book club she regularly  had a point to make. When we heard her words, "Now I have something to say."  We all turned. She waited until the room was silent, then with her strict teacher/principal look she’d hold the book up for us to see and state her mind. We might have disputed her opinion from time to time, but we remained focused on her when she spoke.  Madam President knew how to control the situation.

That early December afternoon after kisses and hugs had gone round the room for thanks and love, her niece Susan stood up to bring in the fudge that Pat especially loved.  Within the moment, Pat Lemmon, my friend, a woman respected by thousands, closed her eyes and slumped in the chair. A massive ischemic stroke had closed her eyes forever. 

I wasn’t there but I can only imagine the beauty of her smile and the gentle touch from heaven above.  She never regained consciousness and died one week later. Oh, what a way to go. 

How ironic, that her death found a way to lift my spirits and belief in the almighty’s timing.  We are watching my mother-in-law travel the long painful road to heaven, and our hearts  break each day as we see her life slowly fading away.  “Why,'  I’ve cried to God so many times, “Why does my mother-in-law have to struggle and suffer this long slow aging process.”  After hearing that Pat Lemmon, was uplifted in such peace and glory, like The Little Match Girl, I realized the truth in these words from Ecclesiastes 3:

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven;
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

Thanks for the memories Madam President.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

On the Road to Grandma's House

Passing a black SUV on I-35 covered in dirty snow with wrapped gifts pressed against the back windows and children sleeping on pillows in the back seat sparked a memory of long ago arguments and pinching contests with my little sister; of my dad yodeling for endless miles of hilly dark roads; of empty coffee cans used for tinkling (no cafes or service stations stayed open on Christmas eve) on those long trips from Miami, Oklahoma to Wichita, Kansas to be with family for Christmas.  

Suddenly, my imagination tucked me into the back seat of a station wagon loaded with Christmas gifts and golf clubs, sitting next to my little sister where an imaginary line between us indicated our space on the cold vinyl seats.  Luckily, KGGF, the reliable AM radio station out of Coffeyville, Kansas played Christmas music and clips from old radio shows like Fibber McGee and Molly at Christmas keeping mom and dad happy and reflective of their own Christmases past.

When Roy Rogers sang "Jingle Bells" Jingle Bells sung by Roy Rogers dad began to yodel between each stanza, mother began to sing in flat notes, my voice rattled in sharps, and Jonya sat and stared until at last she joined with her cheerful but squeaky soprano voice.  The long dark road served and bounced us around in merriment.  

My Aunt Della once bought me a little red 45 rpm record of Gene Autry singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer  It mattered not the time of year when I'd play the record and sing along. KGGF played many of the Gene Autry songs and we all joined in. The long hours on the highway didn't seem so long while we sang in the car.

But it was Bing Crosby singing   White Christmas  that seemed to bring our voices into harmony.  Even as children we knew our father had fought in the war and missed many a Christmas with his family.  My father had played golf with Bing Crosby in Southern California after the war, and that somehow made "White Christmas" and time in the Army real in our minds. 

Before long the old narrow highway pulled into Augusta and passed the stinky oil refinery. The smell woke us up out of our dreamy sleeping states, and mother often reminded us that in those glimmering blinking lights of the refinery lived the "tooth" fairies that carried away our tiny teeth and replaced them with a nickel or a dime.   

As we neared Grandma's house dad began to honk his special horn that "Mooed" making sure everyone was awake for hugs, kisses, and warm chocolate chip cookies when we arrived. 
Christmas 1953 

Merry Christmas  and Happy Hanukkah Dear Readers. May you all experience the magic of the holiday season, and sing a song.  

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Miracle at Glacier Bay

Grand Pacific Glacier on the right and Margerie Glacier ahead.

With our eyes glancing and gazing off mountainous peaks the Grand Pacific Glacier came into view.  Grey misty clouds covered the sun and blue skies that had awakened us early that morning, so now our sky became one with the snow covered peaks and glaciers. The sounds of cameras flashing interrupted our sense of solitude.  I wondered how we could so easily feel alone with these vast lands and ocean around us, while standing on a crowded deck with hundreds of other people eager to catch a glimpse of nature’s beauties.

The Norwegian Pearl turned toward the Margerie Glacier. In the valleys between the peaks she appeared as smooth as a NASCAR raceway, but closing in face to face she towered twenty-four stories high with jagged and daggered iced crevices.  The ranger’s voice explaining her raw strength and power to churn and eat her way through granite kept me glued to the voice on the intercom. Suddenly we heard a thunder booming sound. The water rings showed circles where the ice had fallen.

The next few minutes the great ice wall continued to break and shatter into the Glacier BayMargerie was calving and we were her witnesses.  Thunder booming and echoing tingled my senses as the grey misty breeze crossed over my shoulders.  The ranger’s voice shouted “What a grand way to sing Happy 100th Birthday to our National Parks today!” The calving continued with our screams of awe filling the air.

Then out of the misty skies my head and heart felt a new voice, one I’d not heard in many years.  “Isn’t that amazing? Finally. I always wanted to see a glacier and feel the cold of Alaska, and now I’m watching this beautiful moment with my daughter.” 

“Mother?” my voice whispered. I turned away from the glacier and searched the deck and the skies. “Mother?” my voice quivered with my heart beat.

“Remember how I loved to travel. When I was young I spent a summer in Estes Park working. I’ve never forgotten the smell of the pines or the gushing of the winds as they swept down the mountains bringing summer rains, but this is bigger than I could have imagined. Thank you.” I stood frozen in time.

“Oh, mother,” I cried as warm tears welled in my eyes, “I wish you could be here now. I wish you could see this. Why did you leave me? I’ve missed you every day.”

“I’m here now. I’m watching this only because you brought me in your heart.  I couldn’t be happier to share this moment with you.”
In a ghost of a moment so much like the one we’d experienced at her death, exactly twenty-seven years before, nearly to the hour, she floated away.  But she was not my seventy-six year old mother, nor the image of the forty year old mother I’d witnessed floating to heaven that day from St. Francis hospital.  Instead my mother who witnessed this miracle of nature at work appeared to a healthy teenager filled with spirit and a zeal for life. Her wavy long blond hair touched her shoulders and her face illuminated like the sun on a pale rose.  She wore a white long sleeve blouse with the sleeves rolled up, long dark pants and brown and white Buster Brown shoes. 

My mother, whose sudden death from sepsis, saved her granddaughter’s life and reunited a family, was with me.  Little did I realize that she’d never left me. I’ve carried her in my heart and in my head all of these years. 

It never occurred to me, when we booked our cruise the year before, that we’d be fortunate enough to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th Birthday at a National Park, and the only one on water.  What small blessings we receive from moments we never dreamed possible.

“Yes, mother, I am like you and your mother. I love to travel.  Thank you for giving me this zeal for life.”  God Bless….

For more views of calving or about Glacier Bay please check these links.

Calving at Margerie Glacier

Margerie Glacier

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Postcards from the Wild: Skagway, Alaska

A Vast Silence reigned over the Land.  The Land itself was a Desolation, Lifeless without movement, so Lone and Cold that the Spirit of it was not even that of Sadness...It was the Wild. 
                                                     Jack London, White Fang

 Wild sprung up around us as the small white bus
 climbed the mountains away from Skagway. 

Switching toward the water's edge and away,
back and forth we bumped and swerved onward to the last port of the Alaskan Gold Rush, the ghost town of Dyea.

We were not seeking gold in the Klondike,
nor hiking into Canada;

Merely dreaming of  a snowy Alaskan dog sled run complete with Huskies and Malamutes.

Alas, there was no snow, no blue-eyed dogs of old who carried with them bold attitudes and acts of defiance.

The new breed, smaller slender and more eager to  run.

Rains gently fell soaking our smiles of delight as the dogs pulled and tugged at our sleds.

Yapping continually, they seemed to generate even more energy. Winter in Aspen couldn't come soon enough for these sled dogs.

Mud, low clouds, and ferns greeted us, not snow.
That wouldn't fall until September. 

Mushrooms, ferns, and rain forest plants lined the
slippery muddy track, but no one complained.
Mushing through the Tongass Rainforest opened our senses to smell of mold, of moistly cushioned leaves and dying debris. 

Our upwards hike opened vistas of the salt water
inlet that carried thousands of souls on their perilous journey North.

Treacherous terrain grabbed our attention at every step,
and awe of the mighty mountains.

Imagining the cold, shivers ran up our spines when we thought of  White Fang and Buck in Call of the Wild.  
Breathing in the cool air and emptiness of the space, my heart beat for the man, too cold, to empty, To Build a Fire

The warmth of sunshine in Skagway greeted us upon return.

Old codgers in their rocking chairs nodded to the tourist, as they showed off their dogs. 
Tibetan Mastiff

Sipping on a beer and sharing a meal, we reveled in our experiences: I could lick the clouds in my face on the mountainside...Wasn't that merely mud from the dogs?...Can you imagine traveling upstream in the bitter cold current...The desolation and fatigue killed so many...The cold.

At day's end, we marveled at the size of our ship,
and sighed in gratitude for living and traveling in 2016.

Skagway and Dyea map of the Gold Rush
*For more information on the Klondike Gold Rush please click on the link above.  It is one of the best sights I've found.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Postcards from Alaska

So much to sea :-))

Fear and worries consumed my summer thoughts.
My writing mind seemed lost and in disarray.
We boarded the ship and sailed away.

Puget Sound lapped at the bow as we gently 
 sailed away from Seattle.
Hours drifted as we sat on the deck and watched
 the island chains on the distant shores.
No internet, no cell coverage, we were alone
 and one with the waters and the world.

Early the next morning we sat and sipped
Relaxed in the quietness surrounding us.
The captain's voice roused our minds
In the distance a pod of whales surfacing
  brought joys echoed in the voices of hundreds
  of awes and ohs from all over the silent ship. 

Nearly two days later we arrived at Juneau.
A Capitol and port city which can only be reached 
 by boat or plane.
How strange I thought, hailing from  the plains states. 

Their only McDonald's closed the day it opened--
 because, of course, it ran out of food. 
It reopened when more food was available, and we
  continued to laugh at our tour guide's stories. 

Our expedition left us nearly speechless with the distant glacier and magnitude of mountains touching water's edge.
Orcas owned the channel and surfaced as if on the wishes of the tourist.

Sea otters swam alongside, perhaps protected by the boat?
Cries came from the other side of the small boat-- humpbacks spouting.
We stood in awe as they surfaced nearby
Spouting then Plunging.
Plunging deep deep into the waters for the abundant foods,
Preparing for the voyage to the warmer waters. 

We toasted to the crew with an Alaskan brew
And Reindeer hot dogs.
Cold and wet we arrived back at our ship
And relished in the vastness of our voyage.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Mindful Art

Jackson Pollock at MOMA

Walking down the sidewalk as a child often tweaked my imagination. One time I saw a bullet holes all across the front a house. I ran home and told my parents that somebody had been shot (The tales of Bonnie and Clyde were rampant in my childhood.) To my dismay that was not the truth. The truth, as my mother pointed out to me when we stood in front of house, was that those places that looked like holes were nothing more than dirt and mud splashed on the house probably by some ornery boys.  How disappointing for me.  In my mind, I had created another picture. When I see a Jackson Pollock canvas I am reminded of those mud splats on the white framed house.

As I matured my eyes still saw things that others might have missed, and I began to think of these pieces as art. When I was a single parent my daughter and I put thousands of miles on our little green Toyota driving from Western Kansas to anywhere. We chased a rainbow one day for miles and miles, just to see where it ended. We drove by an old brick factory in SE Kansas. I pulled off the side of the road and drew the smokestacks, some still tall and stately while others stood broken with bricks askew in nearly every scene.  My plan was to create a macramé hanging of those geometric structures. 

Playfully, I turned the pictures of trees and various structures, upside down to create my macramé hangings and sold them in craft shows. Now, I'm grateful to use my cell phone to take photographs, but I still believe that my most vivid memories will be those that I keep in my mind.

Traveling offers so many unique opportunities to see and imagine art in various forms. While walking the streets of Santa Fe last winter, I discovered many painted doors, and my mind gleefully recalled a trip to Marblehead, Mass that once opened my mind to beauty of brightly painted front doors. Originally, or so the lore of the ocean tells me, when ships wrecked at sea the people living near  the shore would take what items washed onto the beaches, and put them to use in their homes. Whether the story is true or not it not important. What's important is that the people found a way to bring art into their homes, no matter their situation. 

Social Media offers a place for us to share our imaginative adventures.  Susan Dragoo takes professional photos of her hikes and travels, and shares them on Instagram. With her permission I'm posting one of her photos. Looking at the shapes, colors, and textures of her photograph all help to create a story in my imagination and stimulate the "I wonder?" and the "what if?"  Playing with these 

questions creates a colorful playground in my mind. It’s inspiring to me to see the photos and places that other people share.  Without ever leaving my home I’ve hiked with Sherpas, imagined ocean waves lapping at my feet, seen art in hidden places, walked the swampy bayous, visited ice castles, and hiked the hills of Oklahoma.

As I sit here watching leaves fall, listening to Pachelbel, I'm reminded to be quiet in my thoughts, and be Mindful of Art for it will enlighten the day. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Golf Gypsy: Darn Good and Funny

Art Linkletter understood that Kids Say the Darndest Things, but he didn't know that golfer's also say the darndest things, too. 'Fore' instance, the term UBE is often used when one hits and "ugly but effective" shot in golf. We've all hit that shot and laughed about it! One of my old standby slang terms is when I can humbly say "That's a BIPLI!" Translated it means Ball in Pocket, Lost Interest.  I recently reported a BIPLI on a par 3 when I hit my tee shot into the gunch (lost it), my next shot into a bunker, skulled it out of the bunker over the green into the tall grass, nailed it back over the green, and then chunk chipped it. Still not on the green, I picked up my ball, and placed it in my pocket. Then said with a growl, "That's a BIPLI."  

Another explanation women occasional utter is, "Give me a Snowbitch." I howled the first time I heard that term, and my imagination went wild. I could see that hand drawn figure on a scorecard with eyelashes and a smile looking at me and laughing.  I came home and immediately drew my version of a snowbitch "8."

Keeping my mind focused on golf and not my "to do" list is difficult, so I learned years ago that singing softly to myself keeps my rhythm and control of my brain. One evening in a couples event, I was quite surprised to hear a man say, "Ha, that's Linda Ronstadt shot." I studied the moment then inquired. "That shot just 'Blue By You'" he explained. A moment of laughter is always appreciated. Every time my head sings Blue Bayou I think of that shot, and swing with purpose.  

The newest humorous line added to my vocabulary and to help lighten the day or the moment is, "Got your Bitch Wings Showing?"  It's the act of a person standing staring while placing one or both hands
on the hips.  Now that's a pose I've seen before, with and without smiles to adore the moment.  

The next time you notice a pose like this I hope you laugh, and remember to play faster, "while we are young at heart.*"

*Thank you Arnie.  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Golf Gypsy and the Rat Bastard Reunion

Not many people have friends who give them "rats" for surprise gifts, but I'm fortunate to have friends who know that I love to tell a good story, and so "Rat Bastard" came to me over five years ago needing a home and acceptance.

Rat tours every golf course proudly covering the head of my five wood. Who can blame a rat for admiring the scenery at PGA West where the mountains cascade into the desert surroundings and nature's critters roam the golf courses, but when she strays from the fairway in search of adventure I sometimes pinch her tail to show her my disgust with her errant shots. On moments like that I can blame the rat for a poor shot, but when she's good she's very very good and I compliment her by saying, "Great shot Phyllis," the lady who gave me Rat.  I've found that I get better shots out of her when I reinforce those great moments.  

So imagine my surprise this summer when I looked for my golf bag on a golf cart in a mass of carts lined up for a tournament, and casually walked up to the cart carrying the "Rat." But the bag was not mine. There were two "Rats" in the world. I laughed, but time was escaping me and I needed to be efficient. My partner and I hit some practice shots, putted then after announcements drove out to our tee box. At last the other two ladies drove out, and there she was, the second "Rat Bastard."  I couldn't believe my eyes and to hear the lady tell her story, I laughed even more.

She bought her first "rat" and enjoyed watching the faces of her friends when she'd throw the club cover on the ground and the tail would flop or slide just like a rat. Her friends screamed or jumped and she laughed. Our stories were so similar.

She then told me, "Once I lost Rat at a golf course and panicked. Luckily, by the end of the day someone had turned the 'ugly club cover' into the golf shop, and they called me. I drove 45 miles back to that course that evening just to get my loveable club cover. After that I went online looking for a second 'Rat Bastard' cover just in case.  I had no luck until someone in the Daphne company gave me a list of where they sold them.  Then I called each golf shop until I found one unsold rat. Now, I own two rat club covers."

So that day the rats enjoyed a ride around Dornick Hills. For the most part each rat performed with grace and humor, and their proud owners each found another soul mate on the golf course with a great sense of humor.   

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Our Last Rose is Fading

Our Last Red Rose is Fading

Our little Rose grew strong and resilient
          ~in the Oklahoma Red clay

In times of drought she took in less

          ~her roots held strong

Her petals danced to the strings 
          ~of the fiddle 

Her strong canes rhythmically moved 
           ~over the piano keys

Like a butterfly born to fly
          ~music lifted her face to the sunshine

Our Last Red Rose is Fading

Her trunk once green and strong stands
     ~now brown and broken

Her vibrant red  buds and blooms bend
     ~ downward toward the earth

Some years she barely survived, 
          ~now she is weary

Watching her wilt day by day
     ~we struggle

Then a bud appears out of no hope
     ~a smile radiates across her face

There is Hope

This rose without a thorn
     ~is a rare beauty

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Golf Gypsy: His Magnificence

Three of us stopped suddenly as we neared the par three.  The talking stopped and we stood in awe and delight of a magnificent Desert Bighorn Sheep nonchalantly chewing the neatly trimmed and fertilized lush green grasses of the desert homes near the foothills of the mountains where he roams.  I slowly crept back to the golf cart and quietly retrieved my camera.  Par suddenly wasn't on my mind, but watching him eat, meander, and drift around the green fascinated me. He walked across the bridge right into our way, seeming to nod, "Oh, a camera I see.  Let me strut for you and show you who's King here at the Palmer!" 

 "I'm watching," I told him.  He stood and stared for a long time then ignored us completely and slowly climbed right up the ragged mountain side, disappearing in the rocks. 

Those of us who are fortunate to enjoy the outdoors, whether in golf, hiking, biking, exploring, or simply being in tuned to nature, are so often blessed with a glimpse of the magnificents. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Golf Gypsy in the Enchanted Forest

There is a cliche my mother used to say, "You can't see the forest for the trees."  I might change it to say, "Some Days you can't find the fairway for the trees."  

One day this summer the groves of trees and tall grasses must have been exuding an unfavorable enchantment over my ball. My woes began on the fourth hole and didn't end until we finished our 18 holes.  The Trails Golf Course in Norman is a river bottom course lined with towering trees on every hole and sawtoothed pampas grass where the trees aren't growing.  I might add the witches boiled their pot and added water filled ponds, and sand bunkers, to the mix of curses that I experienced that day.   

Ironically, I hit some tremendous shots and made one dynamic putt, but I incurred several penalties along the way.  Overall, if I count only my trees hit, sand blasts shots, water shots, and penalties then I shot under par. I may have even set a personal best for hazardous play. 

On hole #7 the pro drove by and chuckled to see four of us wondering through the forest like lost souls, tripping over fallen limbs, and raking the leaves away looking for long lost golf balls. He smiled and asked, "Are you looking for Letty's ball (she who rarely ventures out of the fairway)?" 

"Yes," I responded still able to laugh, not knowing what the future held. His face turned red and he said, "Oh, that was suppose to be a joke!" 

That day on the golf course, I felt a kindred spirit to my hero, Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day, with the thought, "And then do you know what happened next?"

At The Trails a golfer is rarely alone in the forest.  The tree witches will find a way to tease and insult one's ego. Sometimes, they leave a trail of exchange balls, never yours but occasionally a fair exchange ball; other times they will kick the ball around in mid air like a Quidditch match from Harry Potter. The player can only watch as some other force is in control of the golf ball.

Somewhere in the Rules of Golf there is an unwritten rule that I did not know.  It reads, "When the wondering foursome agrees that the ball must be nearby, not lost, but covered by a magical leaf then there is NO penalty.  The once cursed player may drop a ball nearby an agreed location and hit the ball back into play." I thought it made sense. Why should a player have to go back and hit another golf ball when the first played ball is sitting nearby, just not visible due to the enchantment in the forest. (Rule:  7 ate 9) 

I watched my husband launch two fire bolts today, both flew into the enchanted forest with the firepower to break a curse, but the magic on the limbs and leaves never returned his shots.  No one laughed, but we were in awe of his lightning fast swing.

In golf, like in any sport in life, I am safe from the evil spells for another day, or until my spirit weakens, and I cannot hold them at bay!  Between now and the next tee time, I will walk with the humility that this game teaches us, and laugh at the stories we share. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Golf Gypsy Hyperventilates

"Next on the tee the foursome of ......  A ten minute call for the following ladies...."

How many times as a teenager did I hear that announcement before a round of golf. Whenever my name rang across the loudspeaker at a golf course for a ten minute call to the tee, I immediately ran to the bathroom with knots in my stomach.  When I didn't pass out, I ventured out to the first tee. However, my breathing came in gulps of air with shoulders pulled upwards toward my ears in tension. Once I hit that first tee shot, the shoulders usually began to relax and my breathing pattern became quiet, instead of yawning, gasping, and sucking for air.

Decades passed and I learned that I hyperventilate when dealing with stress or tension.  I tried every trick I read to stop the labored gasping. Meditation and yoga worked best, but I didn't know how to incorporate them into my everyday life when suddenly I couldn't breathe normally. 

This spring I began to hyperventilate on the golf course. It has been decades since I couldn't breath on the golf course, because golf has become my solace, my retreat from the tensions of everyday life. Again and again this spring I found myself nearly fainting from dizziness. In fear of something serious, I consulted a doctor, and we decided it might be depression, which is nothing new to me.

After one week on my medication, I woke up and said, No this is not my problem. I stopped the pills and began a lengthy internet search, where I found a natural way to treat my difficulty in breathing. It is called the Buteyko Breathing Method.

Since May I have applied every breathing method that Buteyko shares for those of us who struggle with chronic "over breathing" which includes mouth breathing, upper chest breathing, sighing (yawning), and taking large breaths prior to talking. I am not asthmatic, but I have created a very unhealthy response to stress.

The first step is to use the control pause concept to evaluate your relative breathing volume.  This website explains it best and provides videos: Buteyko Breathing Method  

Because these methods are new to me, and my stress and tension has not gone away, I've discovered that I must be conscious of my breathing at all times. The exercise to reverse mouth breathing is one I use nearly every morning, and it clears my nasal passages without medication.

The other lifesaving technique I learned quells panic attacks and anxiety. When I catch myself gasping for air, I take a small breath through my nose; a small breath out; I hold my nose for five seconds in order to hold my breath, and then release it to resume breathing. I breathe normally for ten seconds and repeat the sequence.  Sometimes, after three repetitions I am breathing normally again, other times it takes four to five repetitions.  This works in any location; home, driving, eating, playing golf, walking. 

The science and story behind Buteyko's Breathing Method is amazing yet simple.  By breathing calmly, using more shallow breathing I have better oxygenation to help my tissues and organs, especially my brain. If I over breath then I have too much oxygen in my system and not enough CO2. Lack of CO2 (carbon dioxide) causes the blood vessels to constrict. By over breathing we lose carbon dioxide, and the smooth muscles surrounding the airways and the blood vessels constrict. As the airway constricts, there is a natural reaction to breathe more intensely. However, this causes even greater loss of carbon dioxide, and cooling of the airway causes it to close even more. For me, this created a vicious cycle of gasping for air, dizziness, and a foggy brain that kept me from enjoying healthy thinking and living.

This is perhaps the healthiest lifesaving activity I've ever discovered, and I truly wish I'd known it decades ago.  To read more about how to calm yourself and breath properly please follow up with the above mentioned site or the one shown below. 

The Buteyko Clinic  

Letty Stapp Watt
historian, golfer