Recently I spent a solid week in bed with what my doctor was pretty certain was Influenza A (the strain of the flu not put in this year’s flu shot, incidentally). I felt pretty horrible the first few days and when the crazy pain eventually stopped I still had zero energy and would have to go back to bed after getting up for even the shortest time. It was rough, especially since my husband was away and then very busy with work for the worst part of my sickness. My kids are of an age where they can make meals and keep on top of basic household duties, thankfully.
But a week in bed is never welcome, is it?
Actually, that’s not true. I often dream of a week in bed when I’m fully healthy and running full-tilt. I would love to have a reason to slow down. But when it is sickness that makes you slow down (and all of the pain and discomfort that goes along with that), that kind of week in bed isn’t welcome.
I spent most of my sick week, when I wasn’t sleeping, watching Netflix. But I noticed that I couldn’t just put on anything from Netflix. It had to be calm, quiet shows. Even comedies were too much for me. So I ended up watching the new Anne (of Green Gables) series, This is Us, and Call the Midwife.
I assumed I couldn’t watch action or comedy movies because of the busyness and noise of them. But I think that the bigger reason was that I needed shows that slowed my heart and mind down.
Just as my body was needing rest, so did my heart and mind.
And what I learned from a week in bed, unable to do much of anything besides take Tylenol and stare at a screen, was that slowness and simplicity espoused in those shows are a huge value of mine — a value that I often miss.
The programs that I watched reminded me again that sticking to the basics of life and relationships is what I need to do.
- Creating a home that is secure and welcoming.
- Making mealtime a place that gives real nourishment to our bodies and our hearts.
- That stopping and listening to each other in the moments that we have is probably the greatest gift we can give.
I’m not sure what happens in my day-to-day life that makes me miss that or lose my sense of intention with these simple things.
But this week, I had a revelation that I would like to be like a grandparent to my kids.
Which for me means taking time and listening instead of getting caught up in the panic of, “What am I doing as a parent?!” “This problem is all my fault.” “Why didn’t I notice this sooner?”
No. I remember talking to my grandparents a lot. It seemed like there was always time. (I guess retirement helps with that, doesn’t it?) We would have a fancy plate of cookies and juice, play games, tell stories, and talk. And I was always assured that whatever I was going through was going to be okay… that I was a capable and lovely girl.
How often do we miss chances to offer hope and peace to our loved ones because we don’t take the time for these simple moments?
So, that’s what I learned from my bout with Influenza A this year — that I want to be much more intentional with creating simple, secure moments for my family and the people I meet.
(Also, my husband says I should learn to consistently take vitamins.)
My life continues to be a work in progress. But the work, these days, seems to be to simplify, to slow down, to declutter my mind and heart of its fears and anxieties, and to listen to the stories of those around me.
That is the good life to me.