I’m a busy person, just ask me, I’ll tell you.
I’ll tell you how very, very busy I am all the time… how there is never enough time in the day, how I have to work weekends and all hours of the day and night… how it will never end and never get done, but how I’m making fantastic progress.
I will say, “I am kicking ass and taking names!” and I’ll say it with the self-satisfied smile of triumph.
Ok, that’s how I used to be… until just recently. Happily living my caffeine and adrenaline-spiked life (did I mention that those are my drugs of choice?), finally caught up with me.
Not just a little sick. Not a cold. This was an exhaustion with awesome symptoms that made it impossible for me to function at all for nearly four weeks.
There were defined physical ailments — a double ear infection that left me dizzy and nauseous any time I stood up. The exhaustion was so severe that the effort of getting out of bed to go to the bathroom left me needing a nap. There were times when I was too tired to chew my food… TO CHEW! (Think about that for a moment, if you will.) And, I LOVE to eat!
Then there was the constant LOUD ear ringing and there was the bronchitis and coughing that came a bit later. That was pleasant, too.
I’m told that there was a “bug” going around with lots of weird symptoms, a flu bug — that included ear issues, respiratory issues and vertigo/nausea. The doctor said it might be mono — and he could test me for that, but there was nothing that could be done if I did have it, other than to recommend rest. (I was doing that already, so decided to not waste the money.)
Personally, I think my immune system was tired of my foolishness and decided to take matters into its own hands. I think my body was tired of being totally taken for granted.
Being unable to do much of anything for four weeks was life-changing. I couldn’t even look at my computer screen (it gave me vertigo) for three of those weeks. My phone and tablet did the same thing. (Yes, I tried them all.)
I could watch a movie if the screen was far away and there were no sweeping panoramic views or fast-moving action — which would give me waves of vertigo and more of the lovely nausea. Basically, I could watch classic movies and romantic comedies — but only in small doses. I could write in my journal – long-hand for brief periods of time, until my elbows gave out from propping myself up in the bed. That’s about it. That was what my life was reduced to.
This afforded me a lot of time to do nothing but think… mostly to think about how things would be different if I ever managed to get well again. I spent time thinking about how, without my health, little else mattered. I reviewed all the ways I had stressed myself out mentally, physically, and emotionally in the preceding days, weeks, months… even years.
Upon reflection, I’m honestly amazed my body didn’t shut down my foolishness years ago.
I can not believe how much I enjoy working. I thought I was burned out with my work. I thought it was time to re-evaluate pretty much everything about my work day because for several months, I’ve found little joy in work. It just hasn’t been there.
When I found myself in a position where I COULDN’T work, I REALLY missed it. Of all the things I wanted most to do when I got better, it was to work. I love writing, I love helping my clients, I love building beautiful websites, and when I couldn’t do any of those things, I was devastated.
I also hated that with this time “off” from work, that I wasn’t making any progress here on LivingSmall, or with all the projects I want to do around the cabin, or in other areas that I’ve wanted to explore. I couldn’t even do research or plan and make extensive “to-do” lists (all things I love to do! — I know, I know, it’s an affliction.)
So, the realization that I love to work and wanted to work more than anything else was an important one. It helped me to do a little (mental) planning for the way I approach my work in the future.
Now that I’m feeling human again (this is week six), I am still more tired than normal, but I listen to my body and sleep when it says sleep — whatever hour that may be.
I’m still battling with tinnitus. That’s really annoying, and I notice it gets louder — MUCH louder — when I get too stressed or too tired. But, rather than letting this upset me, I’ve decided to pay attention.
I’m treating it like my own built-in personal bio-feedback machine. It’s always there, unfortunately, but when it gets unbearably loud, I take heed and stop what I’m doing and give myself a break. (I find that using noise cancelling in-ear earphones and listening to an audio book, music or watching a TV show helps mask it some, but it is still bad enough to wake me up some nights.)
I’m hoping it will resolve itself in the near future, but in the meantime, I’m paying attention to it and diligently obeying when the volume tells me “that’s enough!”
I’ve always wanted to meditate. I’ve tried on and off for years, but my monkey-mind refused to cooperate. Once I got well enough to read again, I started reading about wellness and how to get off my self-induced hamster-wheel. Of course meditation was one of the top suggestions. I looked into various forms and found mantra meditation and gave it a shot.
I’m amazed with the results. The sounds and saying the words seems to keep me focused enough to be able to actually meditate! I’m not saying the mind doesn’t veer off on occasion, it does — but it’s much easier to pull it back now. And, when I complete my (relatively short) session in the morning, I feel GREAT!
(I’m seriously considering adding another short session in the evening.)
Right now, I’m not timing myself. I do not yet have Mala beads to count to help me time my sessions (but I’m planning to string some soon). For now, I’m just practicing BEING. My sessions are short, but they are powerful.
I no longer want to feel that I’m busier than anyone else. I don’t want to compete — and let’s be honest, isn’t that was it was? Wasn’t I somehow equating my value as a human being to how in demand I was, how busy my life was? Now I’m going to take the same approach with my work as I have with my smaller more mindful closet. I want quality over quantity.
I want to work smarter, more effectively and enjoy it more.
I plan to take bigger steps in the next week to begin eliminating my constant urge to multi-task. The little bit of focused work I’ve managed to do so far has delivered huge dividends. I think, with a little discipline and an eye for more MINDFUL practices, my work and the pleasure I find it in will continue to improve.
Once I feel that my mediation, my mindful approach to work, and my health is back on track, I want to start exploring Yoga. I’ve wanted to for years… but never quite had the time. I’m going to find that time now.
What are YOU doing to improve your life in 2017?