Wednesday, September 28, 2011


: repose, sleep; specifically : a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities

For the first time in the seven years that we've been a family of five, our entire family caught the same virus, one after the other.  The sickness started two weeks ago and first made its way to J.  K came next and missed two days of school with a fever.  Before long, A had a sore throat and I wasn't far behind.  I had hoped B would escape unscathed, but it was not to be.  Even strong-willed, strong-bodied B came down with it.  

Here's what I've learned: rest when you need to rest.

On Saturday, A danced (sore throat and all) in her ballet school's fundraiser.  I was there as a table host, hoping that adrenaline would get us both through the morning.  It did.  We then ate soup for lunch and crawled into bed with books.  Sunday found us much the same: we were napping by mid-morning while the rest of our family went to church and hung out with nephews.  By Sunday evening, we were on the mend, but B wasn't feeling well.  She ended up sleeping 14 hours and didn't awake until after 10 Monday morning.

Given that A and I were mostly feeling better by the end of day Sunday, I could have pushed through and had school (at least with A) on Monday.  Instead, I called it a sick day and we all three took the day off.  Healthy K was carted to school and then we rested.  We read.  We watched one documentary on Egypt and then I napped while they watched two more tv shows for fun.  (What's a sick day without a few tv shows?!)

It has taken me a while to learn that illness is your body's way of telling you to slow down and take a breath.  Perhaps this seems obvious to many of you.  If so, be thankful you've learned this lesson.  Years ago, I would push through at work, taking over the counter cold medicines and not missing so much as an hour of work.  I saw sickness - and my body itself - as something to endure, something that should be put into submission.  It took a while, but I finally learned that was no way to heal.  If I keep going like I'm not sick, I stay sick far longer.  Likewise, treating my body like something that is merely worth tolerating is not the solution.  As I've learned to listen to my body, I've found it is often wiser than my mind.  My body knows when I need to rest, when I can push and when to do what needs to be done.

I grew up with great ambivalence about my body.  Looking back, I think two main things conspired to make this the case: I went through puberty fairly early and my body rounded out before it lengthened out, resulting in a pudgy 4th and 5th grader.  I also didn't play any sports in middle school or high school.  I'm not a natural athlete and I let my insecurity about my body (a holdover from late elementary school) dictate what I would and wouldn't do.  Rather than persevere and learn a sport - any sport - I opted out.  It's only been in my 30s that I've learned my body can do some things.  I'm still woefully uncoordinated, but my recent morning runs have reminded me that I like to run.  I don't run fast.  I don't run with other people.  I don't ever hope to compete.  But the act of climbing out of bed, pulling on clothes and heading out the door to a sleeping world is the most pleasant way to wake up.  I love the time alone, the quiet of watching my neighborhood wake up around me and the feeling that my body is more than something I lug around to get my soul from place to place.  My body is worth being thankful for.

Both the return of outdoor running to my routine and my recent cold have reminded me that my body and soul need rest.  I've been trying to be open to change - trying to let go of behavior patterns that are ingrained, but not helpful.  I've discovered that change is hard work.  And hard work means rest should follow.  I need rest.  I suspect we all need rest, but I'm perhaps just more attuned to this need.  So the next time I get a cold, I'll take the Zicam in hopes of avoiding the full blown yuck of it.  If that doesn't work, I'm grabbing a cup of hot tea, finding a good book and taking a sick day. Rest is good for me - body and soul.


Kim said...

Sorry to hear you also caught the virus. Glad you rested and are better now!

Misha Leigh. said...

" I've discovered that change is hard work. And hard work means rest should follow. I need rest. "

That is genuinely profound.

Hope you all are feeling rested and on the mend!