June gloom has taken over so completely that I ended up miming its symptoms of dripping, intermittent chills, followed by enough heat to trigger sweating and a cough that made me sound like one of our harbor seals.
It has been a long time since I’ve been down for the count. Before this bout of sickness descended, I was smugly congratulating myself for being seemingly immune to the various strains of this cough, cold combination that has been making its way through our town.
I should have known better. The humility gods were on patrol and the result was that I got benched for a week. For the first few days I tried to ignore that all I wanted to do was climb in bed and sleep. Finally I had to give in.
Personal reminder. I have a remarkably strong resistance to surrendering. It must be left over from being raised in a family of 11 children with seven brothers. Competitiveness is inbred. In my family, playing hide and seek meant the person who is ‘it’ has to find you and touch you before you are captured. Since I spent a lot of time playing in the woods and in contact with poison ivy without ever getting it, my great idea was to hide right in the middle of a huge poison ivy patch.
Good news: I won the game. Bad news: it was the week of Halloween and Calamine lotion all over my swollen itchy face, arms, legs and hands wasn’t the look I envisioned for my princess costume.
Slowing down has some benefits. It has given me an opportunity to lighten up on performance expectations that I was only dimly aware of and it allowed me to strip down my schedule to bare essentials.
“No” became my new best friend. Any thoughts of what I should be doing or what I have to do were quickly put off until another day.
It makes me smile to notice how easy it is to elevate almost any activity to supreme importance until our responsibilities and social engagements attain life and death urgency.
It is both freeing and ego deflating to realize that the world continues on quite nicely without my diligent participation.
This respite has reminded me once again that life works best when I have a realistic understanding that I am simultaneously somebody and nobody. When I become ‘a legend in my own mind’ and my specialness is over-inflated or when I am reduced down to an over-abundance of negative thoughts of inadequacy and worthlessness, it is like trying to move forward by hopping on one leg.
When my self-knowledge is infused with a self-esteem that seeks out a balance between expertise and innocence, then I am able to move within my own natural rhythm, timing and tempo. I can then meet the challenges and receive the gifts that come from full participation, while moving through it all with a level of grace and ease.
In retrospect, this opportunity to pause has given me the gift of some unexpected and welcomed time to reflect on what directions I might take next. This was an unexpected but beneficial time out.
I always get a kick out of the thinly disguised disgust in the voice of the GPS device when one doesn’t follow her directions. “Recalibrating,” it says. It’s as though she deeply resents being diverted from her original path.
This time, rather than resenting the inconvenience of being temporarily knocked off of my pre-determined schedule, the time-out and extra sleep has served me well.
As a good friend shared recently: “Sleep is like death, only without the commitment.”
Susan is the author of BEYOND INTELLECT: Journey Into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind. Feel free to contact her at: www.susanvelasquez.com or (949) 494-7773.