“ ... Slow down, baby, now you're movin' way too fast
Baby what you're tryin' to do?
You better slow down!
Baby, now you're movin' way too fast ...
Slow down, baby, now you're movin' way too fast ... “
~ The Beatles ~ Slow Down ~
There is something to be said for being viewed as “so strong”. For the past five years, specifically since this cancer diagnosis, others tell me how strong I am, how brave I am, how courageous I am ... so what happens when the strong, courageous & brave get sick? ... ah wait for it ... crickets.
... I’ve never met a strong person with an easy past ...
This year I completed my yoga teacher training. It took most of the first quarter of 2015 and was really something that I did for me. The training was phenomenal and intense. I found myself along side twenty-somethings, trying to keep up. Sometimes taking on two hot yoga classes a day, I knew I was pushing myself, but I felt strong and I felt capable. I recognized that all my insecurities were on display and I had choices at times to cower and give up. I didn't share with many that cancer lives with me. I didn't want it to be a crutch, burden or reason to be any different. And I had lost my close friend Mary earlier in the year. I knew her death was a push for me to do whatever I wanted to do, now. She inspires me to this day to live beyond a cancer diagnosis, to live life fully as long as I am alive.
“...dear God, if today I lose my hope today
please remind me that your plans are better than my dream ... “
Then came the summer ... teaching classes at schools, visiting public places and ... I started coming down with a nasty cough. Yet life seemed full of opportunities and I didn’t want to slow down. But as we know, there is a time to rest and pay attention to your body. Being sick is one of those times.
So I kept pushing and working through whatever this body was going through and sometimes ignore the signs ... slow down. Ignoring because deep down I had another voice wondering if I was simply running out of time? The five year prognosis mark was creeping up, the time frame given for my mortality.
There doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut answer of what to “do” when sick. Moderate exercise seems to kick start the immune system into fighting off yucki-ness. But intense and vigorous exercise may increase your susceptibility to being sick. Everyone has a home remedy and the staunch medical professionals will tell you that you are too late to do anything ...
And of course I ask myself ... how and why? A guess-timation of what the cause may be. Perhaps wondering with all the natural goodness in my lifestyle, where sickness can find a home? Simply a waste of time. Because I finally realized that the big factor of stress has to be considered ... again. Stress produces the hormone cortisol which turns off the production of cytokines, the molecules that encourage an aggressive immune response. Stress of job changes, relationships losses and lifestyle changes, all nicely packaged with a big bow ... yeah a perfect environment to allow yourself to break the self down.
So ... personally speaking ... 6 to 8 weeks of trying to naturally fight off this “heaviness” has resulted in learning that when I am sick, the best approach is to lean into it, specifically lean into the pain when it appears. This in itself has been a very difficult but awakening process. Pain has truly been my teacher. Days and long nights of intensity, realizing that there is no control only acceptance to what is occurring in that moment. Resistance is futile! I have had to yet again, take inventory of my body and the stress levels in my life. I have had hard conversations around this with loved ones, which initially can cause aversion but can help uncover where there may be opportunities to make changes. I am grateful for those words of direct wisdom. Sometimes it is the unconscious, unsaid, unstated tension that starts to simply wear us down.
With this in mind ... I ask those of you who are reading ... please take the time to take notice. We are capable of many great things but there comes a time to take a load off. Take notice and take care of YOU, now. You don’t want to spend the first half of your life carelessly so that the rest of your life you have to make up for it. Getting sick is a time to rest, recover and reflect. Bring the body back to balance and trusting, this too shall pass. But if we take note now, we can learn and attempt to prevent ourselves from dealing with a more sufferings like this in the future.