And Then I Could Breathe Again

The prose below is written by Julia Fehrenbacher and is just one of the beautiful gifts she offers to participants in her BREATHE writing course which I am currently engaging in. This one particularly resonates with me for personal reasons (see footnote) so I have asked Julia’s permission to share it here with you.

I was first introduced to Julia’s work when a friend shared a poem with me. Intrigued, I headed over to Julia’s website where I discovered her free eBook and disappeared… dissolved into a place outside time where nothing exists but the gentleness of compassion, the warmth of love and deep healing.

After a year of writing assignments for my OneSpirit training (frantically editing and battling with Grammerly to maintain at least a fragment of what I really wanted to convey within a strict word count), it was pure bliss to lose myself in words that just flowed through my heart, in the way that words do when they come direct from the heart of another.

Julia’s BREATHE course is the healing balm I needed to reignite my passion to just write from the heart without restriction. And I am truly grateful for what that reveals.

And Then I Could Breathe Again
          by Julia Fehrenbacher

Instead of picking up a pen or a paintbrush and getting down the ten thousand words/images that were flooding my head, my heart, my lungs - my breath...

I wiped coffee stains off the old kitchen table, fed the dog, the cat, the children, brushed the tangles out of my nine-year-old's hair while she screamed that I was hurting her, 

Yelled at my twelve-year-old to hurry or we would be late - again, got entirely too pissed off at the slow driver in front of me, forgot to remember to breathe. 

Instead of emptying the overflowing pile of tangled ick  that has been scratching and screaming and gnawing and howling inside of me for days, weeks - decades.

I scrubbed dried quinoa from the rice cooker, scoured the internet for the perfect paint color for my newly remodelled living room, folded two loads of other people's clothes, unloaded the dishwasher, made coffee, checked email ten times in ten minutes, called my sister, my mom, my friend scanned Facebook update after Facebook update for some sort of -

Instead of giving voice to the thing inside me I was born to give voice to - I stared at the tiny freckle on my right foot and thought about how Hitler, before he murdered millions, wanted to be an artist. 

And then I thought of the quote about how - what you don't bring forth will kill you and I wondered if I would ever, ever make anything of my life. 

Instead of making the ten millionth excuse I sat my ass down on the soft swivelling chair in the room I created so I could create
and breathed a breath that reached all the way down to that tiny freckle and wrote these words.

Then I stepped outside into the sun's big  arms and danced.


Days like those are likely to be familiar to many of us, and I am deeply touched by Julia’s willingness to share this so intimately with us. This reminder to breathe in a world that often feels frenetic is a reminder everyone needs from time to time. Moreover, I am particularly grateful for the compassion and insight she brings in her line…

“…and thought about how Hitler, before he murdered millions, wanted to be an artist.”

Whenever conversations about people like Hitler, Saddam or Putin arise I am reminded of the unusually deep conversations I had with my ex-husband during the reign of Saddam Hussein. We talked about the war, the affect on the people of Iraq (his family were in Baghdad) and the wall this leader had built around himself to maintain power.

Despite his fears for his family’s safety my husband expressed compassion when he spoke of Saddam’s childhood trauma, early influencers and the idealistic morals he held which eventually led to his downfall.

Those conversations have remained with me throughout my life. They are the bedrock of my faith, and a constant reminder that even those whose humanity seems to be completely lost, were once innocent children just doing their best to survive in a hostile world. When I saw the frightened broken man that emerged at his final arrest I knew that deep down, that innocent child still lived somewhere within him.

I don’t condone anything he or others like him have done. All I ask is that we remember they are a manifestation of the shadow that lives in all of us.

For information about Julia’s writing courses visit:

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