I just have one question: Why do I not have a massage therapist living in my house?

August has been a challenge around here. This summer has set a record for hot days in the Portland-Metro area–30 or 31, I think. The previous record was in 2015 with 29. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I hate the heat. I hate it. I hate it so much. I understand that sun is a good thing and it’s important and all that, but why does it have to be HOT? So I’ve been sort of melting a lot for two months.

On top of the heat, there has been the typical summer balancing act–work, entertain bored teens, take a few days off for camping and vacation here and there, prepare for school, write, keep up with the self-care (exercise, Scripture, eating semi-decently)…. I like routines, and summer is everything and anything BUT routine.

So it’s in this hectic mess that I found myself with a rabidly painful shoulder. How did I hurt my shoulder? I have no idea. I’ve tried to pinpoint a moment, but it seems there was no moment. I think it was a combination of hiking, sitting in a massage chair, and weight lifting that resulted in–get this–a sprained back. Yeah, I sprained my back. I didn’t even know that was possible. But that was the official diagnosis–“thoracic back sprain.” It didn’t confine itself to my back. Instead, it enjoyed spending time cavorting through my shoulder and down my arm and into my elbow and hand.

Good times.

Fortunately, the prescription was massage therapy.

A blessed angel was able to see me this morning, and for the first time in a week and a half, I have no pain in my left arm and shoulder.

Hallelujah, amen, and praise Jesus.

I’m not even being facetious. Y’all, it hurt so bad sometimes I thought I was going to throw up.

I think the massage may have jogged loose a few ideas, too. In the course of the massage, when the Angel of Mercy found a trigger point, she would hold it and tell me to take deep breaths. Those first couple of breaths were tough–painful–tender–and then…


More deep breaths… In and out… Painful, tender, then release.

Of course, I thought of writing, because that’s what I do.

I still have this… I don’t know what. Aversion? Hesitation? Fear? Something… about working on Unquickened. I’m plodding away at it, a few words at a time, but I’m struggling with really getting it going.

But you guys, I think I realized something.

This whole manuscript is full of trigger points.

The thing about these trigger points in my back and shoulder is that I did anything I could to avoid connecting with them, moving them, touching them, etc. Not the Angel of Mercy–she understood that the very thing I was trying to do–completely avoid pain–was causing MORE pain. And she worked on those trigger points while I inhaled and exhaled, and then….

Release. No more pain.

Poking the raw places is hard. It takes a lot of guts to keep breathing when your finger is holding down that trigger point. But you keep breathing because one breath, two breaths, six or seven breaths, and then…


Oh, there are the words. There’s the pain, the joy, the beauty, the tragedy, the mess, the laughter, the anger…

All it takes is poking the trigger points these characters have. All it takes is holding down that spot, that ugly welt of tightness and pain, and breathing through it to see what comes out.

My God, that’s so hard.

But honestly, do you want to read the words that aren’t hard? Because I feel like I can tell a little bit–or maybe a lot–when an author had to push the words out of that trigger point. Those stories are the ones that resonate the loudest, aren’t they? Sometimes?

That’s the book I want to write, isn’t it?

*deep breath*

So here I go… Once more unto the breach, dear friends….

(But seriously, though, can y’all get about a million more people to buy my books so I can hire a part-time massage therapist?)

2 thoughts on “Breathing”

  1. Good to hear from you, and glad you got *that* taken care of. Isn’t it always the way? The thing you want least to do is the thing that most needs be done.
    Hope it cools down for you; maybe it’ll cool down over here in Boston, too.

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