This is the time of year when everyone needs to breathe a little fresh air.
Our hot-air-pumped suburban homes are stale and stuffy. They seem like they are suffocating under the weight of a long, long winter. With the first nodding needs of miniature daffodils and the first waving purple crocus blooms, I long to throw open the windows and simply let the house breathe.
The house is not the only thing that needs to breate. My soul feels that same weight of winter -- burdened and heavy with holiday expectations, claustrophobic winter nesting, and sunless days that seem to closet our soul's ability just to breathe.
I know...you think I'm going to get all preachy on you today. Well, I am, but not really. You see, the way I interact with God -- the way my soul grows -- it isn't very preachy. I grew up in church and I went to a Christian university and we still go to church faithfully. All added up? That is a lot of preaching. I get a little tired of preaching. Don't you?
What I don't get tired of are those moments when I can feel my soul breathe.
I don't know if you have had those moments, the ones when something lifts in your heart and you are simply at peace. You aren't crazy happy. You aren't even full of elation. You aren't necessarily joyful. You are just at peace.
For me, that peace is directly tied to the way God speaks through nature. Perhaps it is childish of me that I find God the most through His tangible, smack-dab-in-your-face gifts instead of His more lofty spiritual gifts. I just love the feeling of freedom when my soul breathes.
Perhaps you are wondering when I'm going to get to the point. I'm getting there I promise.
A few years ago, we had just moved to Pennsylvania and we were living in a townhouse. We were supposed to live there for a year, but I was a little baby and needed a garden and a place for the boys to run. Looking back, I know that, realistically, we should have stuck it out. Quite honestly, I knew I was being ungrateful in my heart, but I just couldn't stand it. I couldn't stand the babies waking the other babies up because the quarters were too close. I couldn't stand the stark whiteness and "townhouse-i-ness" of it all. I couldn't stand the fact that my poppies bloomed 1/4" wide because they were being grown in pots that couldn't support them. I was tired of not having potatoes and tomatoes growing in my backyard. I was tired of not being able to paint walls and hang things on them. I was just a plain old baby about it all.
However, I am a little bit glad that I was a baby because we ended up with a house that lets my soul breathe.
I still haven't told you what I'm talking about.... Let me show you.
It is those places where sun glints through the plants like diamonds and that place where the sky goes on forever. It's that place where the green fills your eyes and then coats your veins and tumbles down into your heart. It is those moments when you breathe in the air and feel it giving you life. It is the country and the woods and the beaches and the ocean. It is the rocks and the grass and the trees and the sky. It is the place where God reaches out and can physically touch us. My soul can breathe when there is space, life, light, and growth. My soul can breathe when I can feel God.
Those photos? Those aren't of my home. They are of the [incredible] Rapid Canyon Ranch in Wyoming. The problem? We can't afford hundreds and thousands of acres of unbroken sky. We can't afford a home where neighbors are invisible. We can't afford a mountain.
However, we can afford a home that lets my soul breathe. Sometimes you have to get on your knees and look under the plants to see the way the sunlight glows through the leaves. A blanket and a baby and that view? Your soul can breathe. Sometimes it is looking in the right direction. Maybe you have a busy street in front of your home, but out back you can see rolling hills in the distance. You don't have to own those hills for them to grace your heart.
All that said...my soul can breathe now. If I wouldn't have been such a baby, my soul could have breathed in that townhouse, but I was too stubborn. I wanted grass and trees and room to plant. I wanted sky and breeze and trees to climb. I wanted to own my little piece of land and raise chickens and chase groundhogs.
It's understandable, but still childish.
I missed out on a few months of breathing because I was so busy worrying about finding a place to breathe.
Are you in a space where it feels like you can't breathe? Re-evaluate your space, add some life, try to embrace your space. You might try a few of mystyling tips to help. In any case, breathe. You can't live without it.
Amy Renea is a freelance writer and photographer based out of Hershey, PA. She lives with her husband, 3 boys, 5 chickens, and a feisty pair of bunnies on a couple acres in deer country. If you ever stop by, she'll have an iced sweet tea and sweet potato chips waitin' for you! You can find the bulk of Amy's work at A Nest for All Seasons. Amy is also a design writer for the award-winning Houzz.com, a designer for Crafts Unleashed, and contributes to various home and garden magazines.