I am excited to share my review of Catching Your Breath: The Sacred Journey from Chaos to Calm by Steve Austin.
Steve Austin was a pastor when he nearly died by suicide. A second chance, a grueling recovery, and years of honest conversation allowed Steve to find healing and purpose. It’s evident in his writing, speaking, “podcasting, and coaching: he helps overwhelmed people get their lives back.
Steve begins, “This book is the journey I’ve taken to cultivate calm. Join me in embracing authenticity, silencing your inner critic, calling out the lies you believe about yourself, and getting your life back.”
Let me share ten key points I found helpful.
(I received this book for free to review from the Speakeasy blogging book review network and this post may contain affiliate links.)
“After all, I’m not alone in this. We’ve all had those moments. We’ve all had terrible days that left us wondering if stress and exhaustion will last forever.”
“Despair is a literal killer. I wrote this book because so many people tend to just “fake it ‘til you make it,” but that is the worst thing we could possibly do.”
“We don’t have to shove the anger and disappointment back down into our gut. We don’t have to pretend everything is okay while we’re silently imploding. We can (and should) tell the truth, admit we’re hurting, and ask for help.”
“Sure, we’ll talk about spirituality here and there, but this is a book about overwhelmed people, desperate to find peace in the midst of chaos.”
Look around. How many people fake it till they make it? About ten years ago I sat on a plane and enjoyed conversation with a co worker. We were headed to California to visit a client. Two weeks later I learned she had committed suicide. I was in shock. Our conversation never led me to feel how unhappy she was. She was faking it till she made it. I wish I was able to sense something in our conversation to prompt me to help her. Unfortunately there was nothing in our conversation that hinted at how desperate she was.
“Beneath all the different things we think we need permission for, I believe what we need is permission to be ourselves. Permission to belong, just as we are.”
“Jesus is always more concerned with wholeness than holiness.”
“Everyday spirituality is about relating to the Divine in a way that feels comfortable, like holey jeans, flip flops, and your favorite, faded t-shirt.”
Moving forward meant “letting go and choosing to accept myself, just as I am.”
I love the idea about relating to the Divine in a way that feels comfortable. I have shifted how I relate to God. I used to talk a lot more to God. I now practice Centering Prayer: wordless prayer. I have also noticed that when I speak to God I am much more brief and to the point. This is what currently makes me comfortable. I feel at home with it.
“This is what everyday spirituality is all about for me. This is good news for spiritual misfits. It’s about not having all the answers, but accepting myself as I am. It’s about journeying towards calm and wholeness, knowing God (or the universe, or my own soul) is moving with me, in me, and through me, every step of the way. This is really good.”
My spirituality has migrated to God with me. As I mentioned I practice Centering Prayer. I sit in silence with God. I then get up and walk with God. God is a constant presence throughout the day. I find great comfort in this.
“In his relationship workbook, Five Dates, Mike Foster says, “…loneliness does not come from being alone, but from being unheard.”
That is so true! Who around you just wants to be heard. Who around you just wishes to feel someone cares and will listen. It does not take much to make someone feel not lonely. A smile. Say hello. Ask a simple question, “how are you?” An invitation to join us for lunch.
“You have no equal. You are unparalleled, incomparable, a one-of-a-kind gift to this world.”
“Dr. Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Do you believe that you are a gift to the world? What can you offer to the world? What makes you feel alive? Small actions over time can have a tremendous impact on others. Share your gifts with the world. Start small. Where in your local community, home or place of work can you have an immediate impact?
“Truthfully, I’ve been done for a while, though it’s still a battle. I decided to start loving me. I am enough, exactly as I am. I am thankful to be loved by lots of people, but the truth is that I don’t need the approval of friends or family in order to love myself.”
“Stop trying to live up to the unrealistic expectations of others.”
Guess what? Someone is not going to like you. Not everyone will approve of your actions. I have a barometer. If the action excites me and it will not harm me or others, I move forward. I can adjust and pivot along the way. Most of the time no one is watching me anyhow. They are doing their own thing too.
“But I know from years of personal experience that it also takes medication, therapy, self-compassion, stillness, a safe community, and willingness to take actionable steps to get better.”
“If you’re not familiar with the term, self-care means creating a lifestyle that puts your sense of wholeness (mental/physical/spiritual/social) above everything else. It means you are intentional about making good choices for every aspect of your health.”
“Self-care is personal. That’s why it’s called self—it’s different for everyone. So what is it for you?”
“We must intentionally carve out time to care for ourselves, so that we can handle the chaos of life.”
What does self care look like for you? For me it looks like this. I go to the gym three times per week with a friend. I practice a form of silent prayer called Centering Prayer twice per day for twenty minutes each sit. At night I sit with my wife and drink French press coffee while we watch our favorite shows. I walk with my teenage daughter. I watch trains with my eleven year old son. Late at night I read a book. Sometimes on the way home from work I stop at a coffee shop, order a mocha and read a book.
“But do you know the secret to living your most efficient life? Slow down.”
“If you’re overwhelmed today, hear me: it’s okay to slow down.”
That is why I am attracted to Centering Prayer. I sit in silence for twenty minutes twice per day. I slow down. I take this slowness with me into my everyday life. It helps me focus on my tasks. It helps me filter the noise and do the things that I need to do. I pause before I react. Many times the best action is silence.
“Make three columns:
What I have to do.
What I feel pressured to do, but don’t want to do.
What I want to do.”
Great idea! How many people take the time to do this valuable exercise? Obviously there are things we must do like work to pay our bills, go to our primary care physician, take care of our teeth and eyes, and so on. Are the things you don’t say no to the things that stop you from doing the things you want to do?
“Do you take walks in nature to remind yourself that there is more to this life than the nine-to-five hustle and bustle?”
“Do you spend time in silence or in laughter or whatever it is you”“need? In the day-to-day, how do you take care of your soul?”
We need these breaks! What are my favorites? Centering Prayer twice per day is always on my list. Second place is coffee and a movie in the comfort of my home with my wife. Walks in nature and in small towns is in third place.
This book is sprinkled with many, many words of wisdom. I challenge you to take a run through this quick and fun read!
Also by Steve Austin:
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