Breathing Room.

You know how if you put a little kid (or even a reluctant man) in a tie, he’ll clutch at it like it’s choking him?

That’s me. Not that I’m a little kid or a man, but I don’t like tight things around my neck. I have a tendency to have throat-centric problems when I’m nervous. My mom and other spiritual people would probably conjure up (potentially true) stories for me of throat chakras and heart chakras and breathing exercises galore. They might also tell me I drowned or was strangled in a past life. Lovely, right? It could have been merely because I choked on a piece of Corn Bran when I was a toddler. (does anyone remember Corn Bran??) My father saved me, or maybe I saved myself. I like to believe it was my father, and that’s just one of the many more reasons I miss him so much, and that I get so nervous sometimes. Who’s going to rescue me from Corn Bran?

breath of air

Also, turtlenecks. I still don’t know why they exist and who the people are who can wear them without feeling itchy or trapped!

So lately I’ve been focusing on things that make me breathe easily.

– Things like laughter, which becomes tear-filled from this video. It’s never not funny. It’s probably not safe for work, though:

– Then there’s reading to Des, who likes truck and car books very much. He always likes to look for the buses in his books.

stress relief

– Kittens, and the way Dinah is so cute and will dive bomb off the couch, catching her sister by surprise. And the way Bella will put her paws around my neck and crawl into my cascade of hair, purring. In fact, she’s that way right now as I type this.

stress relief

– Scarlet’s insane logic. The way she puts together stories and theories about science and animals, and love and life in general. I love to hear her talk about hearts and thoughts. And that leads me, as most things lead me, to this song and its words.

– The other night, I fell asleep spooning Athena. When I woke up hours later, we were still in the same spooning position!

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– I’m a sucker for these three.

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– Did you ever see those billboards on 84 in Connecticut for Rein’s NY Style deli? I had one of their peanut butter cups the other day. It’s in my top peanut butter cup experiences, although Cassidy wasn’t impressed with the chocolate to peanut butter ratio.

(I don’t have photos of it. I ate it!)

– Lastly, there’s being with family, taking photos of family, and editing photos of family. Some from my niece’s photo session:

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breathing room

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(All shot with a Canon 60D and either a 50mm 1.4 or a 35mm 2. I used CowboyStudio Continuous Lighting for the blanket ones.)

What helps you to breathe more easily?

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  1. Aww, your niece is such a cutie and I couldn’t stop smiling at all the pictures of her and your family here, too. By the way, for me it isn’t so much about things around my neck, but heights and bridges. I used to have dreams all the time as a kid that I was falling from a bridge and plummeting. Haven’t thought about that for some time, but reading your post tonight reminded me of that for some reason as crazy as it sounds.

    1. Not crazy! My sister used to be afraid of all boats and bridges. All! She’s better as an adult. For me, it’s outer space. We were a bag of fun at Epcot center when we were kids! Her crying at the oceans ride and me at the space rides, of which there were many!

  2. Losing myself in a book helps me breathe more easily. Going for a walk alone. Snuggling with Matt. Hugging my kids. Aah. Even thinking about those things helps. Thanks Tamara:)

    1. I agree! I always have loved books and part of it is that I do lose myself, but in the best ways. Inhibitions and logic and anxiety. I’m losing myself in a book, as we speak! Well, after this commenting break.

  3. What beautiful, beautiful pictures. Your niece is absolutely gorgeous! I could just cry looking at those pictures… my girls were once little like that too. *sigh*

    I used to struggle with anxiety. Rather than feeling like it was hard to breathe, I felt like my heart was going to explode out of my chest. I went to numerous doctors and finally a cardiologist because I was certain I had heart problems. It was “just” anxiety. I pray, read, and take deep breaths to calm down. I breathe in a positive (i.e. the word “calm” or “peace” and I breathe out a negative “fear” or “nervousness”). I actually visualize the word entering me and the other word leaving me. It works wonderfully. Then I drink wine.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and these beautiful photos.

      1. The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with my heart… that’s how they concluded it was anxiety. I didn’t want to go on medication. So I sought out other holistic “remedies”. Between the breathing strategies, good eating habits, proper rest, and prayer, I feel like it’s become very manageable.

        1. I am with you very much on that. Always looking for holistic remedies, and things I can do myself. When I was in the hospital after giving birth, the biggest painkiller I would take was a Children’s Motrin. So you can see how I am with medicine.

  4. Hmmm…talking to hubby about life and my feelings makes me breath more easily. Sleep. Have a glass of cold water in the middle of the summer here in the desert. That all helps so much. Oh my. Des looks like a boy in that last picture…no more baby? Ahhh! I love the picture of Scarlet holding her cousin. Your niece is so precious. πŸ™‚

    1. No more baby! πŸ™
      Except for my beautiful niece, of course. Des is a big guy now.
      A cool drink of water in a desert. Dreamy! I was never as thirsty while pregnant as I was while nursing, in summer both times, and cool drinks of water were absolutely heavenly.

    1. I think I even called one or two of these photos “eyelashes.” She is very beautiful and calm. She probably makes breathing easier. And thank you for your good wishes and your solidarity thoughts on turtlenecks!

  5. Great post!
    I can’t wear turtle necks either. I can’t even wear a scarf if it is too tight. Pearl Jam is one of my memory bands. Whenever I want to bring back certain memories, I turn to Eddie. The pictures in this post just radiate happiness.

  6. Now why’d you have to go and post super adorable baby pics and make my ovaries flare up? Your niece looks so much like your other sister, the one with the big blue earrings on! I cannot stand turtlenecks either, every single time I look like I’m attacking myself and have to pull it off, and of course I have a huge head and the turtle neck gets stuck on it and I always slightly panic I will die from asphyxiation. Same goes for scarfs, no thank you.

    1. Remember the chokers craze in the 90s? I didn’t do it then, and I know I couldn’t now. I also found turtlenecks to be very ugly. Turtleneck sweaters are not ugly, though. They’re just trying to kill us. And my niece does wonders to my ovaries. I always thought I would have three kids. Two girls and a boy. Looks like I got partly there.

  7. Are you trying to make me go and get knocked up with all of those adorable, perfect, squishy new baby photos? i never liked turtlenecks..between the tight neck and the big boobs I was screwed.

    1. Haha! It can be pretty bad if you have small boobs too. I looked very bad in turtlenecks as a preteen. Shudder. My niece is out to get all the ovaries of the world, I’m convinced.

  8. I can handle some turtle necks (if they are super thin) – the thicker ones and I feel like I am choking. I have this irrational fear of heights yet I have no problems being on a plane. I am a walking contradiction. Franks hugs. My kids hugs. They get me through the day when the going gets tough. Also, Trouble.

    1. I am a walking contradiction too. Sometimes I’m afraid of something one day and then not the next. I think it all has to do with the underlying root of anxiety. Things just play off of it. I’m petrified of New York City on some days, then on other days I think it’s magical.

  9. I love how babies always look slightly terrified, slightly annoyed, and slightly confused in pictures. That, or they are asleep! I must confess that I love turtlenecks. In fact, my ex boyfriend used to say that was all I wore. They are just so warm in the winter!

    1. I hope your ex was saying that in a flattering way! When Des was a newborn, he looked like an angry and confused old man. World weary, for having traveled through the birth canal. Now he looks like a perfectly baby angel in photos.

  10. These are definitely all great things to help you breath easy πŸ™‚ Actually there’s a lot of changes coming to my department and the only thing that helps me breath easy is knowing my manager is still here and will actually have a bit more say-so in this place. He has outstanding management abilities and is a great leader – so it helps me not freak the f out or start applying to other places like a crazy person – lol. Also, music. Music always helps me breath easy without a doubt it makes everything easier – work, exercise, walking, living, eating, sleeping.. All of it. My son and partner goes without saying. πŸ™‚ Happy Monday lovely! -Iva

    1. Well that is nice that you have some of that peace at work. Work changes can be very brutal to the anxiety. And exercising is key. Drinking enough water and listening to good music.

  11. I am totally with you on the “nothing around the neck” thing. I hate turtlenecks.. even regular t-shirts. Gotta have a v-neck or a scoop neck. Which is kind of a bummer because I freeze all winter long. But I can do a loose scarf. What makes me breathe? The sun, the beach, a Tab, anything with salt, music I can dance to, encouraging words:)

  12. I can’t stand anything around my neck, no turtlenecks, no scarves, nothing. It’s been that way since I was little. I feel like I am suffocating! My family and waking up everyday helps me breathe easier. I take a few minutes each morning, before everyone else is awake, and just look outside, grateful. I take a deep breath and move on with my day. Your niece is so adorable and I love the pic of Des popping up in the back of the table. He has gotten so big!

  13. I’m just like you, I hate feeling like I’m being choked so I don’t do turtle necks at all. I do have a bit of anxiety, guess the military can do that to you, I practice my deep breathing exercises when I start feeling like I’m having an attack. I’m loving your photos and your niece is absolutely adorable! Can’t wait to see more of her and the kids as well over the years. It’s amazing how big Des has gotten since I first got to know of him. I so wish they could all stay little forever. πŸ™‚

    1. Deep breathing can do wonders. And I can imagine that the military would do that, because every job I’ve ever had has caused some anxiety and stress. Usually not debilitating. Just enough adrenaline to get things done.

  14. Oh, yes! I remember Corn Bran! I can’t believe I didn’t realize it’s not around anymore! I also have throat centric problems that seem to arise when I’m nervous or anxious about something.

    1. That’s so interesting! I always think it’s just me. I’ll get sore throats or feel a little queasy at the back of my throat. It’s like a dull background thing, though.
      And yay to Corn Bran!

  15. What a sweet baby.

    I also love kittens. And I hate turtlenecks. I do feel like I’m choking. For the longest time I couldn’t wear jeans because I felt like they were squeezing me too hard.

  16. Oh my goodness- that baby!! And I have to admit to being a turtleneck wearer- I get so darn cold in the winter- it is the only thing that helps! Glad I didn’t choke on corn bran as a child or I might be freezing all the time! That and it sounds like of yucky πŸ™‚

  17. I agree about turtlenecks, I always felt like I was choking when I would wear one. Being with good friends and Sam help, walks, warm showers. Eve when she is nursing or that rare occasion now when she falls asleep on me. Those photos of your niece are absolutely adorable…she can definitely rival Eve for the amount of hair she has! And Scarlet looks like such a natural holding her (not surprising!).

  18. I love turtlenecks…lol. When my husband and I first started dating I had a lot of sleeveless turtlenecks that I was always wearing. My husband still makes jokes about me wearing sleeveness turtlenecks all summer long.
    Love all the family photos.

  19. oh she is so beautiful Tamara!! Your niece is such a joy and she lights up the room naturally (regardless of what lighting you used!) πŸ™‚ Scarlet looks so happy to know her. I bet they will be close cousins when they grow up and that pesky 5 year difference no longer matters!

    1. It’s true – I can’t wait to watch them all grow up together. Right now she is so close with my nephew. I wish I had more family shots of just the four. Next time!

  20. Love those baby photos! I have so many memories tied to that Pearl Jam song. Love that too. The ocean always helps me breathe easier.

    1. There’s something about that song. It always gets me and comes around when I need it.
      I have a big thing with the ocean. I can’t think of any or many bad times I’ve had there.

  21. I hate pretty much anything around my neck – turtlenecks are truly the worst. (Though, I have worn turtlenecks once in a while that were nice and loose around the neck and weren’t so suffocating) And we all know that immature fart jokes are universally uplifting – that video is definitely worth sharing some more! Your niece is just adorable, too! It must have been wonderful snuggling with that cuteness.

    1. I didn’t snuggle with her enough! Or take more photos with her and her immediate family. Retrospect!
      I wonder if I’ll ever not think fart jokes are funny. Hopefully not!

  22. These days I constantly feel like I have something crushing my chest – not sure why or what but…..
    The picture of your niece are incredible and almost (even though it is impossible) make me want to have another baby!!!

    1. Ditto!
      And I’m sorry about the chest thing. One of my friends wrote about something similar above. It was anxiety for her, and now it’s managed on her own!

  23. You niece is simply precious. I have been having a hard time breathing lately, too, I think. I am drowning in summer time “can I please just have one minute ALONE” while also drowning in birthdays and memories and “Where has the time gone.” I haven’t quite found the best way to cacth my breath yet, but I’m working on it.

    1. Ah, me too! All summer birthdays in this house as you know! First Des, then Scarlet, then me, all within a few weeks of each other. So there’s that and then wanting them to be babies forever, and then there’s me really wanting to be able to work more at home and being excited for school/daycare. Contrary thoughts!

  24. I do NOT like things around my neck either! But, on winter walks with Phoenix I have to suck it up to stay warm. I hear ya on choking as a kid; with me I was 6 or 7 and it was a piece of celery. Celery sucks. You know what a massive Star Wars fan I am and that is the first time I’ve seen that video! Loved part of you spooning Athena with the pic. Great Pearl Jam video from the movie Elizabeth town, Tamara! πŸ™‚

    1. Never saw the movie, though! I just love the song so much. And it totally belongs in a movie. Celery does suck! I still think so too even now. And winter walks with the dog!? Does it turn to winter in Reno?

  25. Fart wars! Dying over here. How precious is your niece!!!?? It almost made me want another one…almost! Interesting to hear your mom is spiritual, mine is too. Always get the past life stuff.

    1. Really? My mom is very spiritual! And my niece totally makes me want another one. I would totally have three kids, if I wasn’t petrified of pregnancy. That’s the problem.

  26. I am with everyone on the rides! That little baby is so precious, I love all of the pics, as usual πŸ™‚ It’s a good thing we are not neighbors….I would be over there ALL of the time! πŸ™‚

    1. Same! We would have a mutually beneficial neighbor friendship. I would get so many good ideas for food and home projects from you. And I would hope I could offer something for you too!

    1. Hahaha!! This is why we’re friends. Sick minds. Also, fart jokes. If I ever reach a day or an age where farts aren’t funny, can someone slap me across the face? You can do it if you want.

  27. Aww your little niece is ADORBS!!! What a beautiful family you have! Totally with you on the breathing easier thing! Spending time with my little family (hubby and chihuahua), show tunes, and having a bit of a routine help me breathe easier on a pretty regular basis;-)

    1. I really do like routine! I think it helps with transitions, and summer is one big lack of routine here! All that will change soon. Your dog is so cute. And showtunes! I love that

  28. Fantastic photos of your precious niece! You know, I’ve always thought I must have been strangled to death in a previous life too – I have severe anxiety about things around my neck and choking! Your kitten looks like a cat I used to have. So cute!

    1. Aw, the gray one? She is very pretty. She is totally weird, so. Speaking of spirituality, she is always looking at and chasing invisible things.

        1. Yes! And she has this gorgeous yellow eyes. The other cat doesn’t do that. She runs on one frequency – affectionate. The gray one will LOVE you one minute, and be petrified of you the next. It’s like she’s Jekyll & Hyde, or she thinks we are!

  29. Your niece is a doll! It’s so fun having a new little baby in the family. They bring everyone together! Seeing your fresh little niece makes me want to hold a newborn so bad! As far as the throat centric issues, this spiritual person will tell you that your throat chakra (ha ha!) represents expression, so a discomfort or choking feeling would signify that there’s some conflict with your desire to express something. The color of the throat chakra is a light blue.

    PS. I LOVE Scarlet logic and isms.

    1. Thank you, spiritual person! That actually makes perfect sense. I think there’s often a lot that I am not saying or even feeling upfront, but that my insides are feeling and thinking.

  30. Ah I know what you mean about the choking fear. I always cringe when I see marbles – I hate them because I know that little kids can easily choke on them. That never happened to anyone I know, but that is what I think of when I see them. Your little niece is so adorable. Love seeing the photos of the kids awith the kittens too. Looks like you are all having a nice and relaxing week!

    1. It’s funny because my kids have never really choked. Except there was one incident with apples but I think it probably would’ve been okay if I hadn’t been there. Luckily I was right there! And marbles are totally scary!

  31. It’s so unacceptable how hard I laughed at the Star Wars one. I am actual 12 year old. geez.
    Laughter is the best medicine.
    I had to stop looking at the gorgeous baby photos. I swear I spontaneously laid an egg. and at 43 that is also so unacceptable. it surely does not make my hubby breathe easier. ha!
    If only I had started earlier, I would have had an entire hockey team if I could.

    1. I don’t know if I’m laughing more that you laughed that hard at the Star Wars video, or about laying an egg. I remember my cousin had two kids and when Scarlet was born she held her and said, “She is so beautiful but I’m not getting that feeling I used to get. It’s nice to be done. Closed up shop.” And I don’t get that feeling yet of being done and happy about it. Certainly not from my cute niece. I still feel like I want more. Maybe it’s because I still have time, or maybe it’s just something I have to work through. I will tell you that a third pregnancy is not in the cards!

      1. yeah, that’s what I said too. and then hubby said “what are the odds this one time we….???”
        and well, now we know exactly what the odds are. πŸ™‚
        and that the universe definitely has a sense of humour.

        1. It sure does! I have a good friend with three kids, and NONE were planned. Obviously they knew what they were playing at, but I don’t know that they really thought.. it would happen.

  32. That was a beautiful post! Congratulations on being an auntie. Your niece is adorable! What helps me to breathe more easily? That is a tough one. I guess I breathe more easily when all five of my children are quiet and behaving, which doesn’t happen that often here in the Talbert Zoo.

    1. Hence, the word zoo in your title! What about at night? Is it quiet then? Since I’m one of five kids, I bet my parents loved bedtime more than they ever let on.

  33. OMG you niece is such a doll! Makes me want another little baby. Congratulations! When I feel breathless, I have to take a moment to refocus and channel the issue. I get more palpitations that I do breathless moments, but they usual come from being physical overwhelmed. My palpitations come from being mentally/emotionally overwhelmed…anxiety. I like turtleneck sweaters, but not the skinny Diane Keaton kind. I like the big, cowl neck, knit sweater turtle necks…are those considered turtle necks? And yeah, they all make my neck itch, but they are warm!

    1. Sometimes I get palpitations too! I got them when I was pregnant and so nervous. And also when I was pregnant and walking up stairs. I even went to the doctor to make sure my heart was ok and it was. Ah, nerves.
      I’m laughing about the Diane Keaton kind!

  34. I can’t believe I never knew that Star Wars video existed. Seriously, I’m a sucker for a good fart joke and that totally made my day πŸ™‚

    Also, the pictures of your niece are insanely beautiful. What a sweet family you have (and the photos of your children with her? My heart just melted). Lovely πŸ™‚ XOXO

  35. Hmm, I don’t think I even own a turtleneck. I think they can look real cute, but I just don’t like that close feeling around my neck. Just like I don’t like to tuck a shirt into my pants or skirt – hate it!
    Your niece is sooo cute, sooo very tiny! No question, she will grow quickly πŸ™‚
    Pearl Jam – aaah, nice music. And poetry.

  36. Whew. A hundred comments. I feel like I am lagging behind! Lol. First of all, Scarlet looks so relaxed with the baby in her lap? Because when I didn’t have a kid yet, I get so scared holding and carrying babies. I was too afraid that I wouldn’t be able to hold them properly! Baby photos are so refreshing!! Also, I laughed at your idea of turtle necks! I have a few and I usually remove the buttons so that I won’t get “trapped”.. hahahaha!

    1. I can’t remember ever holding a baby before Scarlet! Maybe, but not a newborn! Scarlet was fairly careful with her cousin and last week, she held an eight-month-old on a bench. I got nervous!
      I’m laughing that you think you’re lagging behind! Never.

  37. I need to write a post like this – just listing out these good things. I def. need it these days! And yes, I hate that restrictive feeling. I can’t even wear jewelry or tight-fitting clothes to bed (well, who wears the latter these days anyway?!)

    1. Yes! In just a few weeks, Scarlet will be in full-time school and Des will be in part-time daycare. I can’t wait to actually get some work done! And maybe take some sneaky TV breaks in the middle of the day! The horror!

  38. Interesting analogy with the tie and feeling choked in life and letting yourself breathe and be free. I definitely agree with you on the laughter and I just love laughing with my family! What a cute photo of the pup, smiling at you! And congrats on being an aunt. Babeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Cute!

  39. Oh, how I understand what you said about your father. I know it is hard.

    Focus on goodness – which you are doing by relishing moments with your adorable niece. xoxo

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