Saturday, August 27, 2016

The 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  

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Dream Fairies

The red-throated hummingbird flittered around the nearby feeder, as the couple gazed curiously.  “Look,” she said in a whisper, “there are several dull brown ones near that bush, and one male with a pinkish-purplish head.  Gayle was right when he said we could sit in the plaza and be entertained by the hummingbirds.”

The bottle of wine and plate of cheeses arrived as Jim opened his book to identify the birds.

Time passed slowly for the couple who spoke more through their eyes and actions than in words. Each waiting on the right moment to see a new bird or to capture a photo.  He walked the plaza, and wandered down the avenue to the park where he sat near a Palo Verde tree leaving his wife alone in the solitude of her imagination.

A sudden motion caught her eye and she turned to see the hand and index finger of a little girl pointing at her face.  The high pitched voice of a dark curly haired girl startled her, "Lady, you have a pretty fairy bird dancing by your ear." The little girl's eyes danced like her feet as she jumped in excitement.

“Oh, you see my earring don't you?" The woman reached for her ear and removed the earring.  "Look at this. It's not a fairy; it is an earring that looks like a hummingbird. I wear them for good luck." 

The little girl brushed up to the lady's lap. "May I touch it?"

"Of course." Then she handed the earring to the child. "Here you may hold it if you like."

The plaza was still, no traffic entered, and the lazy day seemed to rub off on those walking by.  At last the little girl sniffled and looked at the woman. "I don’t think it is true." The woman's eyes searched the child for answers. The child continued, "My mother used to tell me that whenever I saw a hummingbird then I'd have sweet dreams.  She said they were the fairies that delivered dreams to children at nap time." 

"What a beautiful story. I've never heard that story. I bet with your eyes the color of the skies you see many hummingbirds all around, and enjoy plenty of sweet dreams."

"No."  Then she backed away still holding the earring. "No, I don't have sweet dreams. My daddy says I scream in my sleep."

The woman noticed a man a few tables over nod as if to say, I'm watching. I'm here with her. Don't worry.

 "Do you like to watch the hummingbirds?" the woman asked.

"Yes, my daddy brings me to the plaza sometimes to help me remember, so I won't cry in my sleep." 

"Come here. Let me show you something." Then she pulled a chair up beside herself for the child, but the child crawled from the chair onto the lap of the woman.

"Maybe you just need to hold a hummingbird fairy in your hand to help you."

The little girl tried to giggle through her sniffles, "You are silly. No one can catch a hummingbird because they zoom front and back, even sideways.  That's why my mother used to call them fairies. No one could catch them."

"Your mother was right. No one can catch them, but I have an idea." Then she reached for her bag, colored in flowers of spring.  Digging around, she eventually pulled out a stack of square cut paper.  "Let me make you a hummingbird that you can carry in your hand, or put it in your pocket." 

Turning in the lady's lap and squealing with happiness she cried, "Come here daddy."  The man sauntered over and sat down across the table. Before he could speak the older woman held her hand up in a pause. "It's ok, I
like to make things with my hands.  Just watch. Placing her arms around the little girl in her lap, she began to work with the paper."

The green square paper turned to a triangle with a simple tear along the diagonal, then from a diamond, to a hexagon. No words

were spoken, but two pair of eyes watched the women’s hands fold the paper over and over until at last a tiny bill appeared with wings that flapped. The woman held the bird on the palm of her hand. "Would you like to hold this little fairy bird?"  The child nodded, as did her father. The woman smiled. 

"Please make one for my daddy, so he can have sweet dreams, too."

Jim walked up beside his wife as she handed the father the paper bird. He saw only the tears in the man's eyes as he held that tiny green hummingbird in his hand. The little girl's blue eyes beamed with delight.  His wife, too, saw the joy, and said, "Maybe holding the tiny bird will give you sweet dreams like your mother promised." 

“Thank you. Thank you.” The father and child replied in unison.

These links below provide instructions on how to make origami hummingbirds, and there are many books at the public library that will help you 

Origami hummingbirds 

Origami birds

Monday, August 8, 2016

Somewhere In Between

There’s a jagged line between real happiness and deep sorrow.
I’m somewhere in between.

Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you she said when we moved back to town.  
Her love and needs pulled our hearts and souls.

She knows how to care for others but not so much herself.
She'd rather talk than sleep, or watch the squirrels play tag around the trees than eat.

I'm somewhere in between.

She makes music for happiness
and I tell stories.
She raised a loving caring son
and I married him.

We've shared our heartaches, fears, and sorrows.
It's something women carry from deep deep within.
We laugh at memories our children gave us,
and pray that we were good mothers.

I'm somewhere in between.

I'm losing my friend.  Her health is failing every day,
and I carry sorrow so near to my happiness that the jaggedness strikes a pain in my heart.

An afternoon escape to Sonic for a corndog and shake, or a drive around Lake Thunderbird gives her time to reflect and remember.

Papa and Mama built a home on the other side of that hill, she pointed to a wooded area.  Mama cried over the dirt floors.

She was somewhere in between.

We still talk about the time she ordered a chicken pot pie at Nona's Kitchen.  It arrived with a baked flour chicken on top of the pie.  She giggled and smiled so brightly that we nearly laid an egg laughing at her delight. She gingerly cut if off the top, placed it on a napkin and took it home.

My friend of thirty-three years is slowly leaving us for a better place.  Her pain radiates down her body, and yet she smiles when we walk into her room.  Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you she smiles. I'm so glad you're here.

I’m somewhere in between.

Donuts and a cup of coffee with heavy cream, or the touch from a loved one brings such joy to our faces.  We forget how much joy can be found in life's simple pleasures.
She reminds us.

Time is passing for each of us. Today is a new day.
The sun slowly spreads the light and the dark fades in the west behind me.

I'm somewhere in between.