originally published on 3/3/17
‘We learn best at the edge of comfort’
That bug that’s out there…the one that’s going around? It somehow found it’s way into our house. Maybe it crawled down the chimney. Or perhaps around a window that was flashed incorrectly.
Symptoms (in order of appearance): headache, sore throat, fever, chills, body aches, cough, wheezing, stuffy/runny nose, belly ache, throwing up. These are what Matilda (my 4-year-old daughter) has been dealing with since last week. On her second day in, I started in with the same symptoms. Because it was so prevalent in our week, I figured I’d write about it, in hopes of tuning in to what’s going on.
In a way, I wish meteorologists and doctors would convene and create a radar…a doppler of sorts, in which we could see colds, flus, viruses, etc. approaching with real time data. Severity of sickness could be articulated through saturation of color. With luck, we could have Al Kaprilian warning us of an amplitudinal viral jet stream, approaching from the west. We’d have time to check our medicine cabinets and make a vegetable soup. Click HERE for a little fun with Al.
We all handle being under the weather a little differently. I’ve been told by many females however, that men are total wimps when it comes to being sick. At the first sign of a scratchy throat, men are all…can you get me the Nyquil babe…is that Tiger Balm still in there…can you rub it on my chest…and compresses and humidifiers and can you just take care of the kids for a while and thermometers and pseudoephedrine and if I just lay and watch this game I’ll probably get better sooner and tissues everywhere and annoying salt water gargling and snorting and clearing of throats that is all completely unnecessary.
My sister was telling me about a great line she noticed online stating that ‘during labor, the pain is so great that a woman can almost imagine what a man feels when he has a fever.’
While I like to think that I go unphased when the bug comes around, and keep checking off items on the to-do list even when the coughs commence, I am more likely very affected by illness, and possibly play the part of a wimp. I have found some ways to cope though, and I hope they help you! Here are 3 ways to kill a bug:
- Acknowledgment/Awareness – My mom used to say if you pretend you’re not sick, you won’t be. While I believe in mind over matter in some instances (more on that in #2), this one hasn’t worked for me. I’ve found though, that an initial lowering of expectations for myself is healthy. I can’t just power through. With age comes a better understanding of our own boundaries and limitations, the ability to say ‘no’ when needed, and a self-awareness that connects us to the ebb and flow present in all of the natural world. There will always be suffering and prosperity…storms and sun…strep and a clean bill of health. Too often, we live with a desire for a life free from suffering. When we hit a wall or find a bug though (which will happen), we define it as a failure, or as ‘unsuccessful’, and discover negative emotions threaded there. In that world, success…and everything desired…is fleeting. Intangible. I’ve found that an acknowledgment and acceptance of all the good and bad unlocks doors to rooms, all containing joy and happiness. Mindfulness and meditation are probably the most effective keys for those locks.
- Nip it in the bud – When I was teaching, I once had this hilarious student. He pulled out a huge tomato in class and started eating it like an apple. I thought he was putting on another show, and I asked ‘what are you doing?’ He said his mom told him that eating tomatoes at the start of a cold will stop it in its tracks. She packed him 3 massive heirlooms for the day. Just 3 tomatoes. So while juice and seeds spewed across the classroom, he held the biggest tomato eating grin on his face…and he was fine! It’s science. Actually, I believe science has proven that zinc, taken at the onset, can shorten the common cold. But you’ll have to look that up on the world wide interwebs. This is where I believe in mind over matter though. Whatever you do, do it early, and commit to believing in it, even if your significant other thinks you’re ridiculous. Down your excessive amount of vitamin C. Pop those echinacea pills. Teachers…turn your Airborne tablets to fizz, and tap dance into your classroom. This is simply a habit that you’ll form…a commitment to a routine that, in your mind, is helpful and productive. You may even be able to convince others that your crazy concoction is the elixir of life.
- TLC – If you listen to the song ‘Waterfalls’ by the group TLC during sickness, you will greatly… You didn’t honestly fall for that did you??? Please tell me you did. It will make my day! This one isn’t for your ‘self’…it’s for others. TLC stands for tender loving care, for all you cold-hearted curmudgeons out there. When someone around you isn’t feeling 100, take it down a notch, provide a softer shoulder, be careful (that’s ‘full of care’), be mindful, and generous. It will come back to you in unforeseeable manifestations. As a dad, one of the most fulfilling responsibilities for me has been taking care of Matilda when she’s needy. I love being attentive and able to sooth and comfort when I can. I feel very fortunate and grateful for that. Having one child has allowed me to be more present. Knowing my own abilities, I wouldn’t be as effective with more children. I have a great appreciation and respect for you parents with multiple children. When I feel overwhelmed, I sometimes think of some of you, and find inspiration there.
When the bug gets in our houses…when we have what’s ‘going around’, we can learn much about ourselves and others. We can find teachable moments for our children…with limits and boundaries…with pain and acceptance…with a tissue over a sleeve.
A college professor once told me we learn best when at the edge of comfort, and that I should try to find contentment there…and sit there often. I can’t thank that professor enough for this. That edge of comfort is a place where our needs are met, but where we are frequently challenged.
Let us all walk that edge carefully, holding the hands of our children, being deliberate and delicate with every step.