In October of this past year, my grandmother passed. She lived a long and joyous life, and it wasn't an entirely unexpected passing (she was 90, after all). I was ears-deep in projects with tight deadlines, so other than attending her burial services, I didn't have much time to process her passing. October rolled into November, and December brought with it the holiday stress dividend of a seasonal respiratory ailment.
It's a sign of business prosperity that I didn't have the December slow-down that I've come to anticipate in business. That was a mixed blessing when I realized that subconsciously, I'd put off dealing with things until that anticipated "slow time". Apparently, my body and my subconscious conspired to choose the seasonal respiratory ailment as a way of making me take the time to "breathe", scheduled or not.
The thing about having a respiratory ailment of any sort is that it turns something that you take for granted into a conscious act. Something very profound happens to your thought processes when you focus on the simple task of breathing; when you're focusing on that basic requirement for living, it pushes back the ambient thoughts, plans and goals that keep your mind occupied, and allows all the things that have been "on the back burner" to come into focus.
I found myself thinking about my grandmother, and how I wanted her to be proud of me, of what I've accomplished with my life. My path to founding IndigoTea was not exactly a traditional one, and it's still in growth mode. This past year was an excellent one in terms of business growth, but not yet at the "set the world on fire" level; I'd really wanted to get to there before she passed, so that she'd know all the time and effort that went into helping me get a running start in my earlier years was worth the payoff.
With every revolution of that thought process, the weight of all those thoughts becomes an almost tangible sensation. With every thought, breathing seems to become an even more deliberate act, and at moments, you almost forget how it feels to not think about how to breathe, to move forward and move onward.
I'm not usually prone to seasonal depression in the winter months; the fact is that I love colder weather, sweaters, cloudy days and holiday lights. Working through delayed grief during the holidays is a far different matter. I'm fortunate in that I have a supportive spouse, caring friends who understand this sort of thing, and a vibrant family who are always a bright light for me (sometimes it's the light of an uncontrolled conflagration, but that's a story for another day). With all of that, remembering how to breathe started coming back to me. Here's a bit of what I learned about how to remember to breathe:
1) Pick small things, that can be readily accomplished - it may seem silly, but being able to tick things off that list of things that must be done, no matter how small, can create a "lift", and help you tackle the bigger, mentally-demanding tasks.
2) Get out. Even if it's a walk around the neighborhood, or an afternoon at a different coffee shop, the exposure to a different environment can help shake those circular thoughts that create a whirlpool inside your mind.
3) Trust your circle. People who care about you can help you find a way to look forward, and remember the goals you still have in front of you.
4) Just breathe. There are times that it's all you can do, and it's just absolutely necessary to allow yourself time to process whatever's going on inside, so that you can honor your need to heal, before moving forward.
Remember that moving forward isn't a betrayal of all that remains behind you; it's part of how things are meant to be, and honors all that came before.