Saturday, March 14, 2009

Slowing down

While I lay curled in a ball on the bed, Dave brushed a strand of hair back across my cheek and away from my face. Frustrated and in pain, I realized how quickly I had forgotten the severity of my illness and the physical limitations my body has imposed on me.

Having started feeling better in late November, I have eagerly accepted more responsibility over the last few months. I have taken on these roles with enthusiasm and passion, having found a place in my community from which I derive great satisfaction, happiness, and where I feel I have much to offer - Coordinating the Brazos Locavores, writing this blog and contributing to others, founding the Friends of the Brazos Valley Farmers Market and all the special event coordination, fundraising efforts, networking, and proselytizing that is part of the start-up of any new organization. But it was too much, too soon and for the last few weeks, I've found myself in excruciating amounts of pain, day after day, back peddling slowly towards the long months when I was practically bedridden.

Reminded of my vow of voluntary simplicity, I just stopped. Week day meetings in the downtown cafe I love became email or phone meetings giving me more time to rest. Long bike rides became shorter, less demanding walks. I again started turning down wonderful opportunities for lunches, dinners, and community events for the sake of my health and the ability to focus on what I am currently doing - helping people discover the wonderful world of local food. Everything I was doing was good, but I needed to slow down, find my focus, find clarity, and reevaluate my goals.

In stopping, in stepping back from my newly energized schedule, I have been able to refocus on one of the things that matter most - my health. Sure. I may one day be able to fill my days with other meaningful things, my body able to take on the challenge. But not today. Today, I need that clear, refreshing openness to my day that gives me good health and healing. 

To be honest, I guess I feel a little selfish. I feel guilty saying "no" to things I would love to do, projects I believe in, time with friends, family, and a wonderful community.  It's frustrating to be so limited by my health, knowing I just can't do what others can do. But focusing on my health, on my husband, and on my current projects (though on a lighter scale) is all I can do right now. And (here's the most difficult part) that's ok. It has to be. Because I truly believe it's the way life was meant to be led - slowly, mindfully, deliberately. For it is only when we can slow the pace of our life, take in the world around us, and make mindful, deliberate choices that we have the opportunity to share our hearts with a world that sorely needs us. 

Slow down. Find peace. Be well.

9 comments:

Green Resolutions said...

I'm sorry. I love to read your blog, where it is so obvious that you love what you're doing. I hate that you're hurting and feeling limited. I hope you find a new mindfulness that will allow you to fully enjoy what you are able to do.

Theresa said...

I'm so glad you can say, "It's ok, it has to be." I am not glad that you have this illness, but I am glad that you can see it as part of a system of checks and balances that will help you do enough but not too much. Sending you lots of healing and comforting thoughts and vibes!

blondeoverboard said...

heather,
i'm glad that you see in this the message to slow down and take the time. you've done an amazing amount of work in the last several months and you should in no way feel guilty for having to say no now and then.. after all, if you don't stop to take care of yourself then what do you gain and what message do you send? i sincerely hope that you're feeling your best soon and are able to resume doing the things you love all the while seeing the gift inherent in the present situation. maybe it sounds silly coming from someone you've never met but, i'm proud of you :)

Chile said...

Oh, Heather, I can feel your pain right through the computer. Having dealt with chronic health issues myself, I agree that it can be incredibly frustrating to be limited when you see others around you not restricted in the same ways.

But, just as you say, we have to accept what our own bodies will do. It's like a financial budget: Live within your means. Think of it as a Health Budget. Do what you can and don't feel guilty about not having enough for more. Hugs!

Heather @ SGF said...

Green Resolutions - I believe I will. It's just a matter of allowing myself more time to heal. Well, that, and being smarter about the work I'm already doing. I was scheduling a lot of meetings away from the house to meet people and I'm starting to do much of it by email now because it's just easier on the old bod. :)

Theresa - In a way, I think being sick is a good thing. I mean, I hate the pain, but it has forced me to live a simpler life. Sometimes (obviously) I need a reminder of that, but in the end, my body tends to keep me in line.

blondeoverboard - Thanks! I definitely needed to reevaluate what I was doing. Not that anything I was doing was bad, but I was neglecting my meditation and not spending nearly as much time in my garden or bread baking as I like. As much as it sucks, it's a good reminder.

Chile - I like the way you put that: staying in my health budget. Thanks, that really helps to put it in that perspective!

Lisa Sharp said...

I'm sorry to hear this but I do understand. Chronic illnesses run our lives, something healthy people don't really understand. Having to think "how much will this hurt me tomorrow" is not fun. As I have been agreeing to more and more things this is a good blog for me to read so I remember I'm not a normal person, I can't agree to do everything.

Rest up and I hope you feel better ASAP!! Feel free to e-mail me anytime you want to talk.

Heather @ SGF said...

Lisa - Thanks! I'm getting there. It's amazing though how much busy work I can do at home. I'm supposed to be resting and I've been scurrying around all day doing one thing after another. I got my meditation in though and that's good because I've been skipping it lately...

Beany said...

Oh no! Take it easy Heather. This is one of the few times I wish I believed in a God that really existed so I could pray for you to have good health.

Heather @ SGF said...

Beany - This was definitely a slower day. I took a short bike ride this morning, made some pizza dough (tucked it in the fridge for tomorrow), worked in the garden, baked whole wheat bread and a few rolls, and took a short walk. In between things, I sit down to read off my computer or my latest mystery novel. It makes the day less hectic and yet I don't get bored because I'm doing all the things I enjoy. No need to pray, just send some good vibes my way :)