Each morning as the sun streams in through my bedroom curtains and half dome window above it, I stretch and welcome the day. I set an intention to ‘create an extraordinary day and connect with amazing people’. Uncertain how it will play out, but one thing I know for sure is that it won’t be boring. Every 24- hour period is filled with opportunities to live full out. All about choice, regardless of circumstance. At this moment, I am listening to Train belting out Hey Soul Sister and nursing away pneumonia that has kept me housebound for the past few days after being discharged from a three-day hospital stay and quick turnaround back to the ER as symptoms intensified. For the first time in a while, I feel like I am reclaiming my body.
Someone asked me what pneumonia felt like and I told him that it was like drowning and not being able to bail the water out quickly enough to keep from going under. Ironically, a few weeks ago, I had a dream in which a ship I was on was sinking and I was the only one who was aware of it, while for everyone else on board, it as business as usual. How foretelling. Since I have come to learn that each aspect of the dream is part of the dreamer, there have clearly been ways I have been ignoring the rising waters in my life.
Back in 2013, I began a series of wakeup calls/do-overs including shingles on the left side of my head, followed by a heart attack in June of 2014 and a month later, kidney stones and a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue. The kidney stone event revisited this past October and now the diagnosis of pneumonia. At every turn, I said to myself, “Yup. We got it. We need to slow down and take a break.” Even though I was consciously aware that change had to happen, it was short lived. I had myself convinced that I could keep up. My work week consisted of clients, teaching classes, writing, editing, and promotion those services. My play time included 3-4 times a week at the gym, being with family and friends, taking workshops and doing my FREE HUGS thang. A full rich life, indeed…and yet, it took its toll. Bubbling beneath the surface was an unconscious belief that I had to keep moving or I wasn’t productive. Add to it the concept of FOMO, and I was prepping for exhaustion. It reminds me of when I was a little kid and didn’t want to take naps for the same reason.
Call it denial too, as I am about to turn 60 and don’t want to accept that I can’t do what I did a decade ago, as much I would like to believe I can. I did my first 5k back in September while limping from plantar fasciitis in my left foot. I wheezed my way through gym workouts, bicycling and walks through parks since then. As part of my recovery, in addition to nebulizer treatments, inhalers, and cough meds, I am using a Breath Builder Volumetric Exerciser, one of those thingamajigs you breathe into and watch the level rise. I am remembering a conversation back in 2008, with my gym rat dad who had Parkinson’s that inhibited his activities as well. I asked him how he was doing, and his response was “Disgusted. Your mother has to do everything for me and I can’t exercise the way I could before.” I’m sure that it contributed to his decompensation.
One of my biggest fears is that of incapacitation. Even stronger than death. I dislike feeling a limit in stamina and strength. The workaholic go-getter is impatient with herself. With the love and support of family and friends, I am learning that, paradoxically, vulnerability is a strength. I agreed to take two weeks off from my regular routine that even when they hear about it, exhausts people. As I am on the flip side of the pain and illness, I will take this next week to slowly and gradually, ease my way at a human pace. I am looking at the beliefs I have been carrying that have consisted of thinking I need to perform superhuman feats. I have accepted food, cheering up gifts, flowers, healing treatments, rides to the hospital, calls, visits in the hospital and at home. One friend hauled over a beautiful blue recliner chair, yesterday so I could comfortably sleep sitting up. She wanted to find a new home for it, and this was the perfect opportunity.
I have renegotiated agreements, rescheduled appointments and canceled activities which flew in the face of my ultra-responsible persona and no one objected. No one expressed feeling let down. I even got a bit of a giggle out of it, knowing that the world didn’t stop spinning on its axis because I took time off.
I am pushing the reset button as I allow for do-overs and makeovers.
“It’s time to reclaim your life…
One breath at a time.” ― Malebo Sephodi
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