I’ve spent the past week on the couch with a box of tissues and not enough energy to make it to the bathroom without stopping to rest along the way. Mostly I’ve slept through this sickness, but when I’ve been awake and not coughing I’ve picked up a few little life lessons.

1– Take a break before it gets this bad.

Pretending to be a Superhero who never needs a break

Slowing down is hard. …ok… nearly impossible for some of us. It’s so easy for me to look at my friends and know they need to take a break. They are Super Women, doing everything plus some.  It’s a lot harder to admit that I, personally, actually need to take a break. That is, until I’m sprawled on the couch unable to move.  Saying no from time to time, taking a day off, deep breathing and classical music are all a lot easier to handle than a week out of commission. I’m certain a virus was involved in my past week, but I could have fought it off a lot better if I’d been rested.

This is a lesson I keep relearning and trying to apply. I hope I’ll do better at it.

2– My kids are a lot more capable than I give them credit for.

by mrgreen09 on Flickr

Not only can my kids cook meals, clean up the kitchen and supervise themselves pretty successfully, they are also kind, compassionate people who actually look pained to see me not feeling well.  I sometimes forget that they are growing up. There is something so wonderful about fading in and out of consciousness on the couch while watching my son and daughter laugh and be happy as they do the dishes together. And when they sit beside me and ask, “Is there anything I can do for you?” I want to say, “You already have. Thank you for being a kind and caring person.”

3– Flowers really do cheer me up.

There is a wreath of flowers hanging on my front door, on the inside where I can see it. It was on the outside, but the wind was threatening to blow it to Kansas so we brought it in about a week ago. The pink dogwood is a beautiful reminder of spring and of my home in Virginia. I’ve never really understood the point of sending flowers to sick people, but perhaps that’s because I’ve never spent a week lying down with cheerful flowers in front of me. I’m going to make a bigger effort to send flowers more often, especially to friends who are sick. They cost so little and are so cheering. Small things can make a big difference.

4– Listening to stories is as comforting at 45 as it was at 4.5.

I don’t get headaches often, but this illness brought with it a whopper of a headache. Reading is my escape of choice, but it made my headache beyond unbearable. What I really wanted was someone to read to me. So I downloaded the audio version of the book I was reading, closed my eyes, and let someone read to me. It was wonderful. I faded out a few times and had to go back to figure out what was going on, but I also remembered that I used to read aloud to my kids all the time. Even my teens and college students. Reading aloud and being read to is magical and bonding. I’m going to bring this back into our lives by reading a chapter a night again like we used to do. Find a good book. Read to someone.

5– Relax. The world keeps rotating even if I don’t get everything done.

tonynetone on Flickr

There are deadlines, and then there are DEADLINES.  The latter are the kind we drag ourselves through even when we’re sick. But the former are the things that felt important when we were well and that we realize actually don’t matter when we are struggling to sit up.  And even the all-caps kinds of deadlines rarely involve life and death eternal consequences. So lighten up! Relax and take time to get well. The world will still be rotating when he sickness is past.

6– Bodies heal themselves.

Human bodies are pretty miraculous that way.  For the most part, illness is temporary. Rest, drink lots of water, provide your body with some healthy food, and voila! The cough and headache go away. The vitality returns. And before you know it you have energy to think about laundry and papers and schedules again, and you’ll be wishing you could have an excuse to collapse on the couch and listen to a good book.

Judit Klein on Flickr

Which brings us back to Number 1.  Take a break before it gets that bad.  Schedule time on the calendar for relaxation and consider it an appointment you have to keep.  =)