Boundaries ~ the line in the sand that ushers children into adulthood. When my daughter asked why she couldn’t have a mother who said ‘yes’ to everything, I said, “Because you deserve a mother who loves you.”

Blank stare. Non-comprehending stance. Arms parked in a crossed position. Furrowed brow. Then a sliver of light beaming at the bridge of her nose.

“Oh.”

We benefit from signals radiating from our surroundings that say ‘No, not now.’ Sometimes, even as adults, we ignore those signs, plowing forward as if we were invincible.

Today I went to the gym for the first time in two weeks. After having had the flu last week, I was astounded at how weak I still was. I thought about sticking it out to the end of the class, then left half-way through (I’ve only ever done that once before when the step class I was in was clearly over my head!).

I battled with that part of myself that says “You should be able to do this,” even though I was in no shape to do so. I wrangled with myself, wishing it weren’t so that I had overstepped my own limitations.

“Not now,” the power of slow part of myself gently guided me out the door. It is our higher selves, much like the mother who does not always say ‘yes’, that cares the most. It resides in the heart and speaks with a whisper.

Will you listen to your inner voice today?

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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