The Flu

BreatheJust over a week ago, I had an energy reading with Limitless Megan. In 30 minutes, she validated everything my intuition had been screaming at me about 2013. It’s time to slow down, to simplify, to dream and vision and turn inward. To write and create and take extra-special care of myself. It’s a foundational year – one that the next decade can build on. I knew all this but it helped to hear it from someone else. This kind of turning inward can be scary, particularly when our culture values constant forward motion. We fear losing momentum…we fear floating in the unknown.

The next day in yoga we did a kriya (a set of exercises) for disease resistance. My teacher reminded us that sometimes getting sick is a necessary letting go. It can be what we need to release the old and make space for the new. Knowing my session the day before included a massive energy clearing, my inner warning bells rang loudly.

That afternoon my husband come home from his business trip with the flu. I ran to the health food store for immune boosters, nodding at the synchronicity of it all, fingers and toes crossed I could keep myself and my daughter healthy.

Sometimes we get sick because it’s the only time we allow ourselves to slow down. To clear the calendar and sink into the couch. To sleep as much as we need for a week, or read that 1300 page book, or stop checking email.

I found myself listening to my body’s cries for rest. As I did the dishes and made lunch and swept the pet hair off the floor and helped Ada, I noticed that all I wanted to do was stop moving and sit down. But I didn’t. I felt like I couldn’t.

Then the realization came. I was going to get sick because I needed to learn this lesson. I needed to clear the old and make way for this new year, this new way of being. My prayer became, Please let me coast over the top of this flu. Let me be sick enough to give myself permission to stop, but not so sick I can’t take care of myself, or my husband and child.

Everything I thought I could keep on my calendar canceled. My fever lasted 20 hours and the fatigue stayed all week. I got exactly what I prayed for. As I lay awake at night, my hand on my daughter’s burning body, I wondered, How can I give myself this space when I need it, without getting sick?

We’re all feeling better physically now. But yesterday at lunch, I started to cry. I don’t want to set the alarm on Monday morning. I don’t want to go back to stress and to-do lists and feeling 2 steps behind. To other people’s timetables and expectations.

Months ago I read a friend’s newsletter where she talked about needing a lot of blank space in her calendar. Time to stare at walls. She’s also prolifically productive, happily building her third six-figure business.

I need that time too, that space, and I can’t remember when I stopped giving it to myself.

There are big dreams wanting to be born. My soul is done waiting for me to be creative and the call is insistent. But I need to create the space first. I need time to stare at the ocean or the walls or the back of my hands. I’ve forgotten how to do this. I want to remember.

What do you need to create for yourself? What do you want to remember?

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7 Responses to The Flu

  1. WOW. wow wow wow

    we were *totally* meant to connect at this point. i almost cried, myself, in reading the above…. recognizing so many aspects of myself in the experience(s) that you describe (right down to the clearing with Megan!!! WILD!).

    when *did* we stop giving ourselves this time willingly? why does it take being sick to even BEGIN to let ourselves be? to cut ourselves some slack? why is it so much easier to encourage others to do this, when we ourselves are drowning in overwhelm made up of to-do’s and others needs??

    this conversation is one that needs to be had…. i am so glad you’re starting it!


    how *can* we create the space to “stare at the ocean, or the walls, or the back of my hands”?

    and how can we hold that space with the same determination that we would were it an “important” appt with someone else?


  2. jenn says:

    it came up for me no less that half a dozen times last year. a voice inside me saying ‘please lie down. now. please.’ it is still there. i keep shushing it. working over it. past it. through it.

    i think about a time in my life when i would lie on the grass and watch the clouds. or the sunrise from my bedroom window. or lay with a lover for hours. i do exactly none of that these days.

    i sometimes wonder if being self-employed blurs the lines too much. i wouldn’t trade it for the world, but my to do list, my desk, my clients, they are all always right there. waiting. my desk is literally at the foot of my bed. how unhealthy is that!?

    i agree with angel’s comment: ‘how can we hold that space with the same determination that we would were it an “important” appt with someone else?’

    i have been feeling a big thing percolating. i can’t name it. couldn’t recognize it if it came up to me on the street and announced itself. cannot see the shape, smell, color, sound of it. it is made of fog and soft and a dark light that hangs out in my belly. but it can’t overcome the clamor that shuts it out. not without space.

    space. and silence. and stillness.
    and permission.

    • YES! Love that you mentioned, Jenn, the lying and watching the clouds… and just all of it.

      there was a time when i would go sit out under the shade of a big tree, and watch the clouds roll by slowly in between its branches. it was such a peaceful and relaxing experience, and yet…. and yet every time i think about doing this now, that voice inside me starts screaming about all that ‘should’ be done. (like *now*)

      i’d say definitely that being self-employed (at least for me) has changed the rules of the game. and where i once thought that being my own boss would mean that i could spend lazy lunches outside & enjoying the fresh air… more often than not i’m hunched over my desk inhaling that lunch instead.

      yes, everything that others need is always right there waiting… accusingly, almost.

      hmmm…. i just keep believing that there must be a balance. and i think, for me, it has to do with being a ton more mindful about what i am actually doing with all my time… not just with the time that’s accounted for on the calendar (in the form of appts with others). i think once i’m more mindful about the time i have, i can get clear on the bits that i want and need to release… and maybe then be a bit kinder to myself when i need time to sit and watch the clouds roll by…

  3. Pingback: on the struggle to just stop | permission given

  4. pamela says:

    I struggle with this constantly. Wanting to lie down but feeling as though I NEED to get things done first. I am not sure how to balance this. I am trying 10 minute intervals. Thank you for reminding of this important need to rest and recuperate. And for also showing us that we are not alone:) I hope you feel better.


  5. Mary says:

    15 years ago I got terribly, horribly sick with a life-threatening disease. My husband and I stopped everything — his hectic career as a high-powered attorney, mine as a psychotherapist in southern California. We “retired” way earlier than most to the Colorado mountains. We changed absolutely everything about our lives. We carved out the lives we wanted to live, not the ones we thought we should live. I no longer have that disease. Our marriage is far better than it ever was. And still, I sometimes doubt that what we did was right — not because we didn’t believe in it, but because it is not the American way. I no not everyone can do what we did, but far more people can do more than they are doing to create the lives they want to live. Thanks for your exquisite, timely and very important post.

  6. Merry ME says:

    I have not had the time constraints of children and business, so I should be really sane and unstressed-right? What I am is un-disciplined. But that’s another story. Someone who worked almost round the clock once told me that people in his profession actually put themselves on their calendar. Maybe you could make an appointment with yourself(s) to sit under that tree, or get your nails done, or sit quietly on the grass and watch the clouds go by. I suspect it might be hard to justify at first, but after a few weeks, I bet you wonder why you hadn’t done that before. Just a thought.

    Alana, hope you’re feeling better soon.

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