You can’t be Type-A when you have Type-A flu. That’s it in a nutshell. I’m sitting in bed, debating on a nap. The most strenuous thing I’ve done today is drink a cup of tea and brush my teeth. It’s been ten days and while I feel decent, I’m exhausted.
It really doesn’t matter how tired I am, I can always find the energy to get things taken care of. I don’t like having items on my list lingering, waiting on me to take care of them. My to-do list needs to be checked off while I wave sayonara and move on the the next task.
This bought of the flu has certainly been a wake-up call. No, I didn’t get a flu shot. Somehow, in the busyness of life, that’s the one thing I didn’t check off of my list. I made sure everyone around me had theirs, but I ignored my own.
Maybe that’s the great lesson I’m taking away from this. I’m a huge advocate for self-care, always have been. When I was single and only had to worry about me, it was an extended soak in the tub with a book and a cup of tea. As the stay at home parent of a small child and freelance writer, I would head to the tub when my husband got home for 15 minutes. My son is now a teen, he doesn’t need me like he used to, but I’ve let myself get trapped in the cycle of busy and haven’t been taking care of little things, like my flu shot. There has been no soaking in the tub, no mani/pedi, no extended period of journaling, no delicious pot of tea to be drank while reading a novel that is so juicy I can’t sit it down.
I only have myself to blame.
We talk about the cycle of busyness and how we’re not, or don’t appear to be, successful if we’re not always doing something that others would outwardly approve of.
Technology is partially to blame. Once designed to lessen our collective burden, it has created a new set of challenges, making it all too easy to be constantly plugged in. It’s too easy to sit in the carpool line and work, or stand in line at the grocery store, or work while sitting in a mile long back up at the toll gate. I used to use that time to listen to a book or read, now I’m checking to see what work emails I’ve had come in or think about all of the things I haven’t finished.
The New York Times article, “The Busy Trap,” by Tim Kreider, explains that our “busyness,” often serves as a euphemism for “exhaustion.” He’s right. I’m so busy all of the time, I am quite literally exhausted. Which means I’m in a fog most days and can’t focus on what I need to be doing because I am so incredibly tired.
My son recently asked me “Why do need to go to the beach? You never just want to go, you always say you need to go.” I didn’t have an answer, but now I think I’ll share this blog post with him. That’s my place where I go, to the hidden cottage no one ever sees, and I sit and I just allow myself to be. There are no mobile phones, no email, no nothing. It’s just me, a cottage, and the sea. The place where I make myself whole again. That sacred space where I meditate, soak up Vitamin D, and breathe.
As I take on new roles in my life, this bout with the flu was my wake-up call. If I’m going to do the job I want to do, and do it well, I have to take care of me as part of the process.