I have had the last several days off from work. Wonderful right? Except, not so much. I came down with the flu, and it was brutal. This is my first real day “up” since Sunday and I have watched it warp from head to sinus to chest, with fever and cough and exhaustion. Not quite the week’s vacation I had planned for myself. I was determined to make the most of my time laying in bed. The flu may have come to extract from me, but it deposited some nuggets as well. Here’s what having the flu taught me:
Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home. Although not perfect, I have never been so thankful for my own space. In almost five days and nights, I have not turned the television on once. I listened to a podcast here and there, and my beloved audiobooks when I was able, but other than that it was wonderfully silent. I am one of those unique people who does not care for T.V. other than every so often. I sometimes think about getting a room mate or worry about the income needed to carry these high expenses alone. This week however I thought about all of the reasons I really want to find the way TO keep doing it all. I am proud of, and grateful for my independence, and the privacy to be and do whatever is best for me.
Pay attention to how people regard you when you are at your most vulnerable. Oddly enough, this works both in the negative and the positive. Associates who knew I may be asleep would contact me early and wake me to ask questions, people I thought would care really did not, and others who have very little interaction with me showed up in wonderful ways. One neighbor brought food to my door two days in a row. Her steaming soup warmed my heart more than my belly. Others offered care for my dog, or groceries. Of course my tried and trues were steady, but it was an interesting and eye opening look at my social landscape. Much can be learned about folks by watching the smallest of interactions, or lack of them at critical times.
Self care is not selfish. One of the more alarming things that hit me was that I allowed my physical, emotional and spiritual self to become so run down. If I had practiced better self-care overall perhaps I may not have succumbed to the extent which I did. I realized that I am quick to catch colds, or get over tired and lose sleep, often for days on end. These are all physical manifestations of stress, anxiety and self-neglect. Although I can’t do weekly massages and facials, I can commit to nightly baths with a candle lit, spending a few minutes at the start and end of each day clearing my mind, choosing healthier foods, some exercise each day, playing my music, and getting some type of break mid day at work. I made a promise to myself to start taking these small, actionable steps because I realized that I only have one body. It houses a wonderful spirit and soul. Once it breaks, its hard to fix.
Budget for balance. I don’t believe in a true “work/life balance”, since for most of us work takes up the majority of our waking hours. However even within the framework of work, there needs to be some margin. I am not in a flexible situation, nor do I have an easy setting to work in. Still, this week made me think of ways that I can extract moments, and re-frame current situations until they can be improved or changed. More importantly, I decided to make room in my budget for things I must have to counter-act my everyday grind. I figured out three monthly expenses worth eliminating in order for me to embrace three things much more meaningful to me. Everyone’s individual needs will be different. Perhaps you spend time cleaning, mowing, or food shopping. There are services designed for just about everything to make your time more efficient and your day a bit easier. Invest the dollars wisely by investing in yourself. I would rather give up paying for lunch and breakfast every day, in order to pay for other things that keep me on track, aid in my well being ,and keep me moving forward to where I want to be 12 months from now.
Gratitude is possible. I was miserable, absolutely miserable. The more I thought about how awful I felt, the worse it all became. Then I remembered gratitude. I thought about my steaming hot shower as I had the chills from fever. I had clean sheets, fresh clothes, a warm bed, medicine, health care and paid time off. I was safe, clean and a phone call away from help if I needed it. Call it hype, call it new-age, call it whatever you want to call it, but it helped, a lot. I realized that if I can force myself to be grateful feeling like that, then like any other habit, I need to force myself to do it in all sorts of scenarios. This will be a work in progress, but one worth the effort. It’s far too easy to take the smallest things, and even the largest things for granted.
Flu who? I caught more than just the virus, I caught the wisdom. I am still not feeling great, but I am good enough to string these thoughts together, and for that I am thankful.