The Wisdom of Illness

January 10, 2011

Cruising at an altitude of a low-grade fever, I decided it might be a good idea to visit the doctor yesterday, even though it was Sunday and I had to wait all day for the ‘emergency hours’ to be open. My husband kindly drove me the twenty minutes, all the while having to listen to the moans of a person on the brink of another sweat outbreak.

Luckily, we were the first patients to arrive. I tried my hardest not to look ill, but you know, when you are, you are. Peering at the wall of pictures, I expected to be greeted by the grey-haired man who showed up in each of them. Not so. A very young-looking fellow (who, I swear, had an eery resemblence to my son’s best friend, who is, um, ten) welcomingly extended his hand.

“I’d better not,” I said sheepishly, followed by an apology for being rude. He grinned and I knew we were going to get along famously. He escorted me into his office as I peeled off layers of clothing now drenched in my feverish clammyness. A tap here, a look there, and he concluded that I had flu-like symptoms.

I could have told him that.

“Oh, and you have very low blood pressure.”

I cast him a glassy-eyed look. “I’ve been lying down all day.” He grinned again. Somehow he found me amusing. He commented on my accent-free German and tried to distract me with banalities. His recommendation?

“Drink plenty of fluids, take ibuprofen and don’t do anything.”

Ah, the wisdom of illness. It teaches us that we can indeed slow down to the beat of our hearts. Nice.

The doctor was quite pleasant, really, and when I left, I managed to remember not to call him by my son’s best friend’s name.

Luckily, I don’t have the swine flu (my worst fear abated). Illness is a great reminder of the power of slow. A little more beingness, a lot less do-do-do. And if you forget, your body reminds you, landing you in your sickbed for some casual pauses and a moment of pristine rest. 

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Memorex recently commissioned Harris Interactive to conduct a study on how much time families spend together and what they do during that time. Given that the power of slow is about what we do with the time we have, I was particularly interested in this chart.

We watch movies together. Admittedly, that’s what we did over the Christmas holidays. We also played video games on the XBOX Kinect that my husband insisted on getting for himself the kids.

But then we unplugged altogether and spent a week in the mountains playing board games, skiing and all the other non-digital things you see on the chart above.

I was surprised to see that video games landed lower on the list than expected. Perhaps it is because children use video games alone a lot more than with their parents.

The types of games conducive to ‘family play’ were also illuminating.

For over half of families (51 percent), “WeTime” – getting together with family to enjoy each other’s company, whether planned or spontaneous – happens at least every few days. Of the most popular WeTime activities for families, three out of the top five involve consumer electronics.

It is true that we still spend time together. But how we do it has changed. As we think about our digital faces versus our real-life ones (Late Bloomer Bride addresses this condundrum), I wonder how our children will interact with their kids one day.

One thing’s for certain: There is life beyond the screen. I’m still convinced that a good old-fashioned game of football trumps an XBox one.

Basking in the unfolding

January 6, 2011

What is it about a new year that brings our desire for sweeping change? Afriend of mine showed me her list of intentions this year. When she asked me what mine were, I gave her a single answer. “It is the Year of the Narrative.” She asked what it meant, and I attempted to explain. In truth, I am not certain what it looks like specifically. And I don’t have the desire to define it further than that. I am relying on my intuition to guide me to that which is true.

It may seem like a cop out. After all, so much of our world is about control. Controlling our weight; controlling our fate. But oddly I don’t have the need to control what happens, but rather a sincere desire to bask in the unfolding.

Something about the new year drives me to clear away the old (Christmas decorations included!). Books that once claimed an inalienable right on my shelves have withered into unimportance. Clothes that I once treasured have found their way into the recycling bin.

Transience. Everything shifts back to the source at one time or another. Even as I write these lines, the snow my son is vigorously shoving off the porch in veils of white will soon return to the heavens.

So while many have written resolutions to abide by, I make the single claim that time is my friend for as long as I have it.

Everything else shall pass.

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Naming Your Year

January 3, 2011

 

Image Courtesy of Frank Frenzer

Every year since grad school, my husband and I have set about to name the New Year to reflect our values and goals. We’ve had the Year of Fun, the Year of the House, the Year of Travel and the Year of Beauty. This year we’ve come across the Year of the Narrative, whatever that really means (last year I spent a great deal of time surrounding myself with Beauty in all forms).

I’m a big story teller. Whether it’s in pictures, in words or in motion, you can express your story however you’d like. It’s true. Everyone’s got a story to tell. I love listening to stories, writing them and speaking them outloud. Sometimes I dance the story or sing it (typically in the car ~ singing, that is. Dancing? I do that everywhere else).

How might you call 2011?  Name your year to mirror your vision of what you’d like your life to be.

 

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