Vow to Breathe

Dramatic Cloudy Sky .
Dramatic Cloudy Sky .

During my highly-distracted years, life was a blur -- the to-do lists took over ... my life was a constant mad dash to a finish line that couldn't be reached ... and my devices were gripped more tightly than the hands of my loved ones.

Five years later, things are different. Now I strive to open my hands, eyes, and heart to the moments that matter. And on this particular day, what really mattered was on my radar.

Out for a morning run while on vacation, I spotted a helpless starfish sitting in a tide pool. I couldn't remember the last time I saved a starfish like I did when I was a girl.

But on this day, it felt like the right thing to do.

I reached into a shallow tide pool and pulled out a starfish missing a limb. I turned it over expecting to see no movement, but amazingly its tiny tube feet waved at me. The starfish was alive--and it was fighting to survive.

"Breathe," I whispered to the broken creature. "Breathe."

Suddenly, it became crystal clear what I didn't want my life to feel like. Here are the thoughts that went through my head that day -- words that have become my daily prayer, my Hands Free Life mantra, my daily vow to breathe:

Vow To Breathe

No longer do I want to feel like I'm always running late.

No longer do I want to feel like I'll never catch up.

No longer do I want to feel compelled to rush my children through life.

No longer do I want to feel the brush of a hurried kiss on my husband's lips.

No longer do I want to feel guilty when I sit down to rest.

No longer do I want to feel depleted and empty.

No longer do I want to fill the sacred spaces of my life with excess.

No longer do I want to feel like each day is a blur.

Instead, I vow to breathe.

I vow to look my children in the eyes and step into their world.
I vow to remember what my heart loves to do and then stop making excuses.
I vow to close my eyes in gratitude and open my eyes wide in wonder.
I vow to have face-to-face, soul-to-soul connection with the ones who share my life.

I vow to
read a book.
Dance in the rain.
Say, "Take your time," and mean it.

I vow to
Give a good kiss.
Leave a surprise note.
Do absolutely nothing every now and then.

I vow to
And breathe.
And breathe.

So I can truly live.

It's been five years since I made this vow. My journey has not been perfect. Sometimes I stumble, but I get back up by reminding myself that the to-do list doesn't contain the most important tasks of the day. My heart tells me what I need to flourish and thrive--as long as I stop long enough to listen.


A portion of this story can be found in Rachel Macy Stafford's soon-to-be-released book, Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, & Loving More. It is a book about living life, not managing, stressing, screaming, or barely getting through life. Through truthful story-telling and life-giving Habit Builders, Rachel shows us how to respond to our loved ones and ourselves with more love, more presence, and more grace. For more of Rachel's inspiration, check out The Hands Free Revolution.