Gail Hoffman


My yoga teacher starts yin classes by stating, “Make these the best breaths you take all day.”

I try to remember this advice when I stroll…I used to walk, but I felt like I missed too much, so I have regressed to strolling, and I am quite happy with my step backwards.

I am fortunate to live within walking distance of a river, a river that ebbs and flows depending on the rain.  A river that invites me to breathe deeply and smell it.  Breathing and smelling the river brings me to my happy place.  Watching the spring slowly creep into view is the bonus for my breathing and smelling. 

Slowly, miniature grape hyacinth pop up.  Daffodils, crocuses, checked lily, and snowdrops each make an appearance.  Right now forsythia, dogwood, and tulips are showing their true colors.

I trace my love of breathing and smelling to having grown up on the ocean in Rhode Island.  My beach has a saltwater smell, and a slightly decaying fish aroma mixed with beach grass and beach rose wafting in summer only.  I prefer beaches off season because they are pristine and wild both at the same time.

My love of breathing dates back to my father slowly dying of COPD and my childhood wish to breathe for him.

Right now, my brother is in stage four COPD, and I have the same irrational wish. 

I think of those suffering with the labored breathing that appears to be a hallmark of this horrible COVID and I treasure my own deep breaths knowing each one is a gift. 

Once again, I am that small child, convinced that I can loan the suffering my breath. 

Photo and Text by Gail Hoffman

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