Waking Up with a Sore Throat

This morning, I realize immediately that I have a sore throat. 

I know what this means:  I’m getting sick (or maybe it’s an allergy or just the dry air in my home or the fact that there’s snow on the ground one day and daffodils blooming the next).  Whatever the cause, that irritating sore throat signals something.  It’s a constant, annoying reminder to slow down, drink fluids, rest, and get better

I can’t ignore the feeling of it.  With every swallow and every word I speak, I experience that whisper of raw pain telling me:  slow down; get better.  When I want to push through and scurry about to clean this house, the throat says: slow down; get better.  When I want to schedule a million things for the family, that throat responds: slow down; get better.

So Saturday cleaning day isn’t happening.  Living with flair means you respond when something or Someone tells you to slow down and get better.   I just wish I didn’t have to wait until something painful happens to realize the benefit of slowing down.   

Cat vomit, bad parking, and sore throats can teach me something about living rightly, and so far, Year Two of Live with Flair challenges me to learn from whatever negative, inconvenient, or painful thing comes my way. 
 
Thank you for inspiring me to live this way.  

____________________
What in my life is telling me to slow down? 

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The Not To-Do List

Instead of a to-do list, a friend of mine suggests a not to-do list.  I’m at a conference all day teaching about writing personal mission statements, and I present the idea of a not to-do list, as in “what I am not going to do today in order to do what’s best and more aligned with my life purpose.”  People who aren’t taking notes suddenly start writing. 

It’s revolutionary for me:   I will write a list of all the things I will not do today.  I will make some space somewhere.

Two different people ask me how I handle the guilt I feel about that.  “Won’t I feel so guilty?  Won’t I disappoint so many people?”

Yes, you will.  You will disappoint people your whole life.  And those people need to be disappointed every once in a while because you can’t meet all their needs.  You weren’t designed to.

And the whole world will not fall apart if you say “no.”  

As I leave the conference, I’m so tired that I literally cannot speak.  I need to rest.  So I walk in the door, and I make my mental not to-do list.  I will not do a load of laundry.  I will not grade one single paper.  I will not call this person back. 

I collapse with my daughters in their bed.  I start reading aloud from the Children’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos.  It’s taken us several weeks to get through the book of Genesis, and now, we are nearly finished with Exodus.  As I read the 10 Commandments, my oldest daughter asks me why our family isn’t resting more on the Sabbath.  She lays her head back on the pillow and wonders:  “Does God mean no raking leaves?  No homework?  No dishes?  What does Sabbath mean?”

Right now, it means having a not to-do list so I make space for the best thing.   

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Sound the Alarm!

Apparently, word spread that I wasn’t in church yesterday.

“What did you tell people?” I asked my husband.  I was in bed, still in my pajamas, destined for the flu.   

“That you were tired, really stressed-out, and probably getting sick,” he said.  Meanwhile, he collected the children to take them to an afternoon movie so I could sleep in a quiet house.

Then, my oldest approached me with her fist holding a crumpled up dollar bill.

“What’s this?”  I asked her.

“It’s my tooth fairy money from my piggy bank,” she said, very seriously as she put it slowly beside me.  “I want you to have it in case you need to go to Starbucks later.”  

I had husband love, daughter love, and then, and then, some completely unexpected neighbor love.

At 5:30, neighbors came over with dinner.  This amazing family brought me teriyaki pork tenderloin, fruit salad, green beans, rolls, potatoes, and ice cream for dessert.  I hadn’t been in the hospital or anything.  I didn’t even have a fever. They just heard I was tired and maybe getting sick.   

Then, this morning, another neighbor handed me a pack of those mocha frappuccino drinks to sustain me while working today.

“How did she know I love those?”  I asked my husband.

“It was either that or a bag of beef jerky.  You’re sort of easy to please.”  

It isn’t like I’m on my death bed.  I was just really, really tired from a long semester.  I sounded the alarm on Sunday morning, and the family and neighbors mobilized immediately.  I know what happens when a mom takes a day off.  All of a sudden, the whole operation jams up.   There’s a clog in the wheel; everything overflows.  She feels guilty and lazy because, after all, she’s still breathing and can therefore empty the dishwasher. 

But I had to do it.   Living with flair means sounding the alarm if I have to. It means receiving from a community.  I want to be strong enough to stay in bed and strong enough to accept help.  And today, because I know what it feels like to be loved with a meal, coffee, and a quiet house, I know just what to do if I hear that somebody else is tired and stressed out.

My neighbors have flair.  Bringing unexpected dinner and iced mocha frappuccino drinks to a tired woman is a beautiful, and so appreciated, form of flair. Community flair–that’s what helped me get out of bed today.

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