Two years ago today we landed in Cuenca, Ecuador with four overstuffed suitcases after a whirlwind three months of preparation and on the heels of our youngest son's wedding. What a relief it was to arrive at our condo and breathe a sigh of relief. I also remember thinking, This is going to make a great story someday!
Thanks to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Say Goodbye to Stress for printing our story...
“Have you seen the wedding list?” I asked my husband.
“Nope… haven’t seen it,” Mark answered.
As I shuffled through the stack of papers on the kitchen table, my elbow brushed
against the “Have a Nice Day” mug, spilling the creamy mocha concoction onto the
newly cleaned carpet. Too paralyzed to breathe, I felt a tear trickle down my cheek,
followed by another and another, until they fell beneath my hands onto the pile of bills
It was too much! Our son was getting married in three weeks; we had out-of-town
guests who needed a place to stay; and we were selling our house, and packing up thirty-
five years of marriage in preparation for a move to Cuenca, Ecuador --our retirement
While I sat with my head in my hands, the phone rang beside me. “Yeah, what do
you want?” I answered, without thinking.
“It’s Kathy -- your best friend -- remember me?” came the reply. “Are you okay?
You sound like you’re having a crummy day.”
It had been weeks since I heard the voice of my dear friend and I could tell she
was genuinely concerned.
Kathy and I hadn’t connected in weeks and she was calling to cheer me up.
“I’m sorry, but it’s just so overwhelming,” I blubbered. “There’s so much to do
and not enough time!” As I shared my fears about our house not selling, out-of-town
guests arriving with no place to stay, and a house littered with boxes for an overseas
move, I heard Kathy exhale a sigh.
“Whoa, girl… you need to take a deep breath!” she said. “Would you like to meet
for lunch? I have time this week. I can even meet you halfway.”
Before I had a chance to respond, Kathy reminded me to practice breathing. “Heehee-
huu… shallow breaths and blow,” she prompted. “I’m a Lamaze instructor -- remember?”
“How could I forget?” I blurted into the phone. “But I’m not having a baby!”
“No, but you’re losing one,” Kathy replied softly.
A lump formed in my throat when I realized that not only were we moving to
another continent, but our baby was getting married. As soon as I placed the phone in its
cradle, I realized that breathing is how I made it through labor. It helped me focus on
something other than the pain. And just maybe it could help with a wedding and a move!
Hee-hee-huu, I practiced. “Breathe in energy… exhale stress,” I told myself.
“Shallow breaths and blow!”
Over the next couple of days, I practiced breathing while I packed up boxes,
prepared for a wedding shower, and “labored” through thirty-five years of memories.
Night after night, I stayed up until 3:00 a.m., scanning important documents, family
photos, and memorabilia, but I didn’t feel stressed. The breathing exercises were
I started to feel slightly better on the third day when I could actually breathe in
deeply without clutching my chest for more air. The wedding plans were going smoothly
and we finally had an offer on our home that we could both live with. It looked like we
were going to have a wedding and a move to Ecuador after all. As I started to take in a
cleansing breath, the phone rang.
“I have good news and bad news,” announced the realtor. “The new owners want
to move in and settle over the Memorial Day weekend!”
“They want what?” I protested. “I mean they can’t. That’s the wedding weekend!”
I shouted into the phone. “I have guests coming from California and they need a place to
stay. It’s simply not going to work out.”
Our realtor stood firm. “The new owners need to settle by the end of the month
and it’s in your best interest to do so,” she said.
After the phone call, I knew what to do. Hee-hee-huu, I practiced. “Breathe in
energy…exhale stress,” I told myself. “Shallow breaths and blow!”
Over the next several weeks, I had more opportunities to practice my Lamaze,
including when I found out the box labeled “wedding” accidently got sent to the
incinerator instead of the church. But all was forgiven when the bride and groom danced
up the aisle for the first time as husband and wife. When it came time for the mother-
groom dance --I breathed through that too, making sure I didn’t hyperventilate during the
four minutes and thirty seconds of our song. The wedding was a success and so was the
It’s been over a year since the kids said “I do” and we arrived at our retirement
destination in Ecuador, the land of “eternal springtime” and siempre mañana (always
tomorrow). I rarely have to use my Lamaze breathing anymore, except for the other day
when a taxista (taxi driver) slammed on his brakes for a pack of llamas crossing the
street. As we slid into the intersection, my husband grabbed my arm and whispered in my
ear, “Just breathe!”
Until next time...hasta luego!