‘Tis healthy to be sick sometimes.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Indeed. But healthy or not, being sick still sucks.
In early September I went to Cancun, Mexico for a friend’s wedding and two days into my trip, I caught The Bug of All Bugs and Happy Vacation Me morphed into Sickly Sleeping Me.
Whatever virus I caught (I tested negative for Covid) certainly took its sweet time working its way through my system, manifesting in my body via all sorts of sexy symptoms…relentless cough, fever, sore throat, exhaustion, pink eye, thrush, no taste, no smell, no voice, no hearing in one ear. Ugh!
It took more than a month for me to feel myself again.
Apparently, getting sick is a sign of health.
“A strong, healthy body is responsive,” says Clinical Nutritionist, Sharon Browne. “When you experience a cough, a runny nose, achiness, or a fever, these are signs that your body has detected a pathogenic (harmful) invader and it is responding. Each of these is a mechanism that your body has evolved to fight infection. For example, a sneeze is the body’s way of expelling, or, pushing out, an irritant.”
Browne goes on to say that a person with a healthy, responsive immune system will typically get sick 1-2 times per year.
“Getting sick makes you stronger,” explains Browne. “Every time you get sick and support your body with the right nutrients to heal, you strengthen your immune system and help train it, in a way, so that the next time it encounters that pathogen, it can fight it off before it gets you down.”
Okay, so that’s some good news about the physical benefits of getting sick.
But I gotta admit there are other benefits, too. And the biggest one, for me, is that being sick is a powerful reminder to be grateful for good health, which I am blessed to have the vast majority of the time.
“The greatest wealth is health.” ~ Virgil
But being knocked flat on my back (or propped upright in a chair, in an attempt to ease the relentless cough) for weeks on end also gave me plenty of time to think and reflect on what is working well in my life…and what could probably use a tweak or two—when I was back operating at full capacity again.
In other words, being so sick felt rather like a…system reset. One I wasn’t aware I needed.
Okay…perhaps that’s not entirely true. I suspect deep down, I knew a reset was needed…but when I was healthy, happy, energetic, and functioning at full intellectual and creative throttle for months on end, I didn’t want to admit a reset was needed.
But here’s the thing: even though I was full of beans during the summer and getting the bulk of my tasks completed on a daily basis, I really wasn’t, as Marie Forleo says: “Moving the needle ahead on my treasured dreams.”
“Most of us don’t realize how much time we fritter away on dumb shit that has no connection to our deepest values nor moves the needle ahead on our treasured dreams.”
~ Marie Forleo, “Everything is Figureoutable”
Sure, my foot was on the gas, and technically, I was moving towards accomplishing my writing goals…but because I was spreading myself too thin, working on multiple projects, the needle was, in hindsight, scarcely moving towards getting ONE of them completed.
In fact, at the rate I was going, jumping from half-finished script to half-finished script like a hungry hummingbird, I wasn’t going to finish my next script until I was eighty.
Surely, there had to be a way to move the needle ahead on my treasured writing dreams…a little faster?
Which is where being sick came in handy. As I moped about the house, coughing and planning my next visit to Urgent Care, I got to thinking about strategy…and how perhaps mine might benefit from a tweak or two.
As it turns out, the strategic tweak needed was both simple and easy: do less.
For me, that meant I was only going to work on one writing project until the first draft is completed, then send it where it needs to go. Then—and only then—do I get to move on to working on the next writing project.
Sure, there are other work and life tasks I need to do in a day…but the first two hours of my workday—creative primetime—-are now devoted to getting one writing project completed.
How about you? If the needle ain’t moving much toward your treasured dreams, is there a small tweak you could make to…ramp things up a little?
“If you don’t know how to say no, your body will say it for you through physical illnesses.”
~ Dr. Gabor Maté
Previously Published on pinkgazelle.com