This post was produced with support from Clean Air Moms Action. All opinions are, of course, my own.
Some of my favorite parenting tactics came right out of my son's preschool class, and one of them is balloon breaths. His teacher taught the tiny, still-tantruming, radically milestoning, wooden block-wielding justice seekers who also love to hug that the first thing to do when you are mad or frustrated or overwhelmed or terribly sad your mommy left for a little bit is to fill your delicious cheeks with air and then slowly, slowly blow out. Fill up an imaginary balloon with breath, she's say. Blow out the feeling and fill your body back up with calm.
Nearly a decade later, I still pause in the middle of tween moodiness, tears, door slamming and action novel-wielding justice seeking to instruct my boy to balloon breathe his way through the moment. He's even reminded me to take some cleansing balloon breaths when I've gotten ramped up over work or traffic or someone taking forever to tie their shoes when we should already be in the car on the way to school. It works. It doesn't solve everything, but slow and deep breaths bring ease to tough moments.
Like you, I have been taking balloon breaths through most of this election, needing to clear the air of negativity and name calling, bigotry and misogyny, and many hurled words I am ashamed are said aloud, let alone broadcast over and over. Fill up with hope, I think, exhale the tension. The calmer I get, the more empowered I feel in voting my convictions.
I have a list of causes and rights that I will fiercely protect on election day (or before, if I choose to opt in to early voting). One of the issues I'll be focusing on at the ballot is clean air.
I'm seeking out candidates down the ballot who are committed to:
Keeping our air clear of toxic pollutants that aggravate asthma and other chronic health problems.
Vigilantly addressing climate change, which not only is choking our once-healthy planet, but also exacerbates devastating weather events, respiratory healthy triggers and heart and lung conditions.
Toxic chemicals that are in our homes and (baby!) products, and may not ever be disclosed to consumers, researched or identified as safe, and have been directly linked to reproductive problems, cancer, asthma, skin irritation and birth defects.
It's simple to commit your vote to healthier lungs (especially the little ones) and to support candidates who will fight for us to have plenty of opportunity to inhale and exhale safely.
1. Seek out candidates who stand up against big-dollar lobbyists so our country can create clean energy and a healthier future for our kids.
2. Vote for propositions that support cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, and for the candidates working to protect American jobs while cleaning up these unhealthy business practices.
All that balloon breathing works, so long as the air around us and our kids is clean and free from toxins even bigger than a classroom bully or looming work deadline. As we work to help our kids navigate life's stresses and emotions, let's also work together to keep the air that envelopes us all healthier and cleaner.