Vow To Breathe By Rachel Macy Stafford via @carinkilbyclark

Vow To Breathe By Rachel Macy Stafford

Editor’s Note: I’m honored to bring you this beautifully written story and peek inside New York Times Bestselling Author Rachel Macy Stafford’s NEW book, Hands Free Life. You can read my review here. Be sure to pre-order your copy by September 7 so you can receive a free eBook of her bestseller Hands Free Mama. Learn more and pre-order your copy here.

Vow To Breathe By Rachel Macy Stafford via @carinkilbyclark

During my highly-distracted years, life was a blur—the to-do lists took over … my life was a constant mad dash to a finish line that couldn’t be reached … and my devices were gripped more tightly than the hands of my loved ones.

Five years later, things are different. Now I strive to open my hands, eyes, and heart to the moments that matter. And on this particular day, what really mattered was on my radar.

Out for a morning run while on vacation, I spotted a helpless starfish sitting in a tide pool. I couldn’t remember the last time I saved a starfish like I did when I was a girl.

But on this day, it felt like the right thing to do.

I reached into a shallow tide pool and pulled out a starfish missing a limb. I turned it over expecting to see no movement, but amazingly its tiny tube feet waved at me. The starfish was alive—and it was fighting to survive.

“Breathe,” I whispered to the broken creature. “Breathe.”

Suddenly, it became crystal clear what I didn’t want my life to feel like. Here are the thoughts that went through my head that day—words that have become my daily prayer, my Hands Free Life mantra, my daily vow to breathe:

Vow To Breathe

No longer do I want to feel like I’m always running late.

No longer do I want to feel like I‘ll never catch up.

No longer do I want to feel compelled to rush my children through life.

No longer do I want to feel the brush of a hurried kiss on my husband’s lips.

No longer do I want to feel guilty when I sit down to rest.

No longer do I want to feel depleted and empty.

No longer do I want to fill the sacred spaces of my life with excess.

No longer do I want to feel like each day is a blur.

Instead, I vow to breathe.

I vow to look my children in the eyes and step into their world.
I vow to remember what my heart loves to do and then stop making excuses.
I vow to close my eyes in gratitude and open my eyes wide in wonder.
I vow to have face-to-face, soul-to-soul connection with the ones who share my life.

I vow to
read a book.
Dance in the rain.
Say, “Take your time,” and mean it.

I vow to
Give a good kiss.
Leave a surprise note.
Do absolutely nothing every now and then.

I vow to
And breathe.
And breathe.

So I can truly live.

It’s been five years since I made this vow. My journey has not been perfect. Sometimes I stumble, but I get back up by reminding myself that the to-do list doesn’t contain the most important tasks of the day. My heart tells me what I need to flourish and thrive—as long as I stop long enough to listen.


A portion of this story can be found in Rachel Macy Stafford’s soon-to-be-released book, HANDS FREE LIFE: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, & Loving More. It is a book about living life, not managing, stressing, screaming, or barely getting through life. Through truthful story-telling and life-giving Habit Builders, Rachel shows us how to respond to our loved ones and ourselves with more love, more presence, and more grace.

Don’t miss out on the amazing pre-order deal: With any pre-order of HANDS FREE LIFE comes a free eBook of Rachel’s New York Times Bestseller, HANDS FREE MAMA. Click the link to learn more about the book and pre-order bonus offer good until 9/7 ☞ http://www.handsfreemama.com/hands-free-life-pre-order-goodness/

For more of Rachel’s inspiration, check out The Hands Free Revolution on Facebook!

About Rachel Macy Stafford

New York Times Bestselling Author Rachel Macy Stafford Rachel Macy Stafford is a New York Times bestselling author and certified special education teacher with a Master’s Degree in education. A few years ago, this life-­‐long writer felt compelled to share her journey to let go of distraction and grasp what really matters by creating what became the tremendously popular blog Hands Free Mama. Using her skills as a writer, teacher, and encourager, Rachel provides readers with simple, non-­‐intimidating, and motivating methods to let go of distraction and connect with their loved ones. Rachel lives in the South with her husband and two children who inspire her daily. She has been featured on “Good Morning America,” The Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping, TIME, MSN, Reader’s Digest, and more. For more information, visit www.handsfreemama.com.

Comments 35

  1. It must be hard to right down and relive negative experiences in a book. I don’t know how she does that, must be another stress reliever.

  2. This sounds like a great book. We all need to stand back, take a deep breath and smell the roses. Most of the things that consume our lives are not lasting. I will have to get this book soon. Thank you for sharing

  3. Thank you so much for this, somehow I clicked on this post, I needed this right now and after reading your post. I’m going to breath and than vow, for a second there I was feeling dragged down ❤️

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I have often found things that drag me down are not taking time for me, not saying no, putting others first. I do breathing exercises and meditation and it helps with anxiety.

  5. I need to get this book. I’ve been much better the past few years about being present but still find myself procrastinating the things I get done and think it’s because I’m not focusing on the moment and the breaths enough. Thanks so much for this!

  6. Ive been trying to practice breath and just let go, and its not easy. I am always a stressful worry wart and worry non stop. I have been just trying to talk to myself in allowing it to just work out.

  7. I. LOVE. RACHEL!!!! What an inspiration she is to so many… including ME. Of course, I love this post… I love everything she writes. I need to make my own list of vows… to breathe. I will surely be copying hers and adding a few more. I have been working on living with intention for years… it’s always challenging and changing for me- because what that actually looks like shifts in different seasons of my life.

    Rachel, if you see this, just know that you are an inspiration to me- both as a writer and a mom. Thank you, for all that you give. I can’t wait to get your next book. 🙂

    Carin, SO excited you had the *honor* of having Rachel as a guest on your blog. SO awesome.

  8. I have learned to breathe as well although it wasn’t by choice. God knocked me on my rear and I didn’t see it coming. I’ve learned to be patient and to enjoy the little things because of my back injuries and failed back surgery and although I live in constant pain, I’ve never before known what it was like to not feel rushed and hurried before now. I’ve just got to get this book. Thanks so much for sharing.

  9. I’m glad that you now can breathe and appreciate life more. I don’t think a lot of people can feel that way especially when they are filled with obstacles and hurdles plus disappointments along the way. I hope some day I can also vow the same vow you made.

  10. Beautiful words and an amazing posts. It’s so easy to forget to breath and let all the must-do’s take over you life. I’m actively trying to avoid it, but it’s not always the easiest thing to do.

  11. I truly believe I was meant to read this today! I have been wondering lately if I have taken on too much and should I let this new project of mine go. I started a new endeavor that is taking more time than I thought as a stay at home mom my first priority for the majority of my day is my sweet girl but I feel as though at nap and after bedtime I am constantly chasing my never ending to do list. There is no down time. I need to take a step back and breath and pray about my next move.

  12. This is so awesome. I just love it. I think every mom could learn from this. The world has become so busy, so distracted. Just breathe.

  13. I love all of this!! I have an empty nest now and have found my self reflecting on life in past and current. We have so many distractions working against us now that sometimes the little things get brushed aside.

  14. Wow what an amazing vow. I absolutely love it. I think things in our everyday life take over our everyday and they shouldn’t. We need to live, enjoy and be ourselves everyday and not be afraid to do so.

  15. This is such a powerful post. I can honestly say, it resonated with me. I was always racing to the finish line to check off my list and never really took time to really enjoyed life. Because of that I was never content. I remember thinking about how I was never happy in the now. It was after my grandmother died that I promised myself to be happy. It’s funny how you start to see life a lot clearer when you slow down and smell the roses or in your case save a starfish.

  16. One thing that’s helped me change and breathe is really just doing one thing at a time–no more multitasking! When I’m playing with my kids, that’s all I’m doing, not thinking about work. It’s so much more enjoyable.

  17. Your words are absolutely beautiful and thought provoking. I think it is very important for all of us to take time to just sit back and reflect on our own life’s journey and what I true purpose is to be here. I love the Vow to breath and this is something that I have struggled with for a while, because you want your course to reflect everyone else, but that can’t be the case. Thank you for sharing this really touched me.

  18. Beautifully said. I especially like the part that I “vow to look into my children’s eyes” and “step into their worlds”. It’s so easy to be caught in the tasking associated with motherhood that we forget they are little human beings we can discover, know and connect with. I am now reminded. Thank you.

  19. I am finally learning how to breathe and let go. Its been a long journey to learn and do this but I know that I can. I now have lazy days where I do nothing all the time because I use to hustle all day and night only getting 3 hrs of sleep most days and I knew that I had to do better.

  20. Thank you, dear Carin, for your incredible support of my book & my work. My words looks so ‘at home’ here in your beautiful space! I am grateful we have connected. You are quite extraordinary, dear one.

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