You may have noticed that it has been a bit quiet the past few weeks here at Centering Down. Unfortunately I haven’t been on a long, glamorous vacation. No, dear reader, for the past few weeks I’ve been down with my yearly summer sinus infection.
By some unfortunate circumstance, it seems I am allergic to my hometown when she is in the height of her summer glory. One too many trips to the pool or picnics outside and I am a sniffling mass of swollen sinuses. This is a cruel curse indeed for there is no where I’d rather be than outside in the summer, listening to cicadas sing and watching fireflies dance.
But sometime mid-June my body begins to react to all this exposure and things get ugly from there.
What you need to know about me is that I fight against illness as if it were my worst enemy. Like most people, I hate being sick. I hate feeling poorly. I hate not being able to do the things I enjoy most. I hate not being able to do the things I need to do on any given day.
So when the sinus infection reared its ugly head (even after a year of being treated by an allergist) this time I was guns blazing, ready to fight back.
First off I made an appointment with my GP to get check out. He confirmed the sinus infection and sent me home with some antibiotics. I still had some energy at this point so I spent the next several days carrying out various plans of attack. I (in no particular order) got a sinus massage, visited the chiropractor, drank lots of water, took probiotics, made and drank turmeric/ginger tea, ate wasabi sauce on everything, ate horseradish on everything else, ate raw garlic in between. It is a small mercy my taste buds were so impaired that I tasted very little of what I ate.
In a moment of stupidity and desperation I even rubbed peppermint essential oil below my nose, on my side sinuses and along the base of my neck. A word to the wise: NEVER EVER DO THIS. Apparently many of my friends have had good luck clearing their sinuses by sniffing peppermint oil or rubbing a tiny dab under their nose. In a much failed attempt at more is more, I realized too much peppermint BURNS like crazy and makes one think one might just die. I think the nurses and doctors at the local med stop might still be laughing at my tale of how I rubbed myself with a natural oil and then washed myself with anything humanly possible to get the stinging oil off as quick as I could . . . and then came in to be checked out just in case. (Give me a break okay, I was quite sick and not thinking clearly).
Around the time of the great peppermint debacle, I began to give up a bit.
Heretofore as I was hitting my illness with every hammer of healing that I could think of, I had pretty much been going on with my schedule as normal. I was teaching five yoga classes a week, going to book club, going to church, volunteering in the community garden, and cooking and caring for my family. Since it is summer I was able to squeeze in a nap every afternoon, but other than that I was plugging along as normal.
I think part of this stubborn bent towards pressing on comes from being a mom. After all, if a mom is sick, who else is going to do all the mom stuff? But a good portion of my bent towards carrying on with work also comes from being an American.
Here in modern America productivity is King. You aren’t anything if you aren’t busy, right?
But as the number of antibiotic pills in my bottle began to dwindle and my healing hammers began to run out, I decided I had to try a different tactic. I began to wonder if I should stop striving so much to be well. I began to accept the fact that as a sick person I should take a break for a while and REST.
This was hard for so many reasons. First of all, everything seems urgent all the time. Everything on my list feels as if it has to be done. And I have to be the one to do it. But here two weeks later in a not so clean house with my pants settling in nicely at their new home at the dry cleaner along with a dozen other errands undone, life has gone on. I missed seeing friends at book club, I missed gardening. But if turns out they all did just fine without me. Even my yoga students survived a couple of cancelled classes. It turns out the world goes on spinning just fine if I lay on the sofa a couple of days to rest and heal.
As hard as it is to realize I am not essential to the world’s daily functioning, there was a turn that was even more humbling. When my energy level plummeted, my dear family stepped up to the plate. My kind husband started picking up groceries and making meals. The kids helped out around the house and looked after me. At first their care bothered me as it made me feel weak and frail. But then I changed my point of view. With each act of kindness and caring, I became more and more grateful to share a life with people who love me so much. I live with people who are truly kind and funny and who will watch Brady Bunch with me on the sofa instead of playing outside so I don’t get lonely in the afternoon.
Somewhere in the middle of the second week of sickness when I had surrendered to resting until I was well again, a truth began to hit me.
Even laid up on the sickbed when I felt good for nothing at all, I was no less worthy or loved in the eyes of those who truly cared about me.
Because here is the truth:
I have been created by a loving force and live among loving beings. The fact that I am in existence at all brings delight and glory to my creator and joy those who care for me most.
Now that is not to say that my husband never got tired of picking up my slack or that the kids never got cranky about being cooped up at home with a sick momma (he did and they did). But they seem to understand that weathering through sickness with a loved one is one of the prices you pay for having the gift of that person in your life.
So as the old sinuses are beginning to clear up, I am trying to take my lessons learned back with me into the rhythms of my life. My worth and value are the same whether I have been a busy bee or good for nothing. I am no less loved when this blog is quiet and unread that if I had thousands of readers. Whether a publisher decides to pick up my book when I go to She Speaks in a few weeks or not, I am a delight to my creator and those around me.
It is good to know where my identity and value come from. A lesson so important, it was even worth the sinus infection.
**Side note: The probiotic was quite helpful in preventing tummy upset that can go along with antibiotics. And the turmeric/ginger tea did seem to ease the inflammation. But always remember, with peppermint oil Less is better.