Ann Keiffer

Breathing In The Now

A hot, dry, breathless day.
Fatigue disassembling me.
The exhaustion that comes
with chronic illness
can make my life seem
so dry, so small—
limiting it to just
the immediate now.

And now,
I can only rest.
I practically crawl
to my bed,
lie down,
eyes closed,
so fatigued,
so fatigued,
so fatigued,
the ceiling fan
whispering above me.

And now,
all I can do is find
a rhythm of rest,
mindfully starting to
count my breaths…
the in    and    the out…

…but unexpectedly
my next breath flows in
with a new sensation.
Like a sparkling rivulet,
cooling as it flows
into my nose
all the way down
into my chest, my belly…
reversing,
flowing effortlessly out,
cooling, sparkling
as it goes
in   and then   out
again and again.
Like my first discovered breaths.
With each breath, deeper rest,
tears freshening:
The ecstasy of being,
simply breathing.
My world so small,
I discover I am wrapped
in an embrace
of breathtaking
intimacy with Life.

Ann L. Keiffer
August, 2021

Digital Collage by Ann Keiffer

After 38 years, a mystery unravels—the reason I have struggled with limited energy and stamina for so long, at times having my energy crash so completely I am what I call crying-tired down to core of my being…unable to do much more than basic daily tasks…strung out from erratic sleep without rest…legs aching so deep they’re like teeth that need to be pulled…too brain-drained to focus or read or deal with the stimulation of talk, TV, music or social commotion…taking weeks or even months to slowly recover from each crash. I’m just coming out of a crash that took three months for me to get back on my feet. But this time I was finally diagnosed: Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I can count myself fortunate because I am at the milder end of the ME/CFS spectrum. Many people are homebound or even bedridden, they are so very ill. There is no cure, no treatment, except learning to PACE, that is monitor one’s own energy, planning and limiting one’s activities and tasks accordingly and surrendering to rest as needed—a discipline and a strange anomaly in a world of going and doing and excitement and achieving. Still, I am infinitely grateful to understand what has been happening to me all these years, to have a context for it, to have a new plan for living in a manner that sustains what energy I have and for preventing deep crashes, to begin the task of ditching all the ego constructs that have made me judge my tiredness and limitations as some kind of character weakness. And perhaps to discover the blessings in living life simply, quietly, slowly.

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About Ann

I am interested in the strange beauty of brokenness, in transforming possibility in difficult times, in how we heal even when we can’t get better, in the alchemy of surrender, in the interplay of light and shadow, in the bounty of everyday wonders, in the gift of laughter…and writing about it, all and everything.

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