Making Lemonade in February
Last month, in my post “The Year of Keeping It Small,” I wrote about a new way of thinking about resolutions. I posited that it would be easier, and maybe even more successful, to make 12 smaller, less ambitious resolutions rather than one big one that might be jettisoned by the end of January.
We’re now rounding into the last week in February and I’m only now getting to my second resolution, which I had announced would be “The Month of Heartfelt Change.” That particular subject, along with my early February deadline, was left by the wayside when I contracted a particularly nasty case of H1N1 in the opening days of the month.
Of Mice and Men (and Pigs)
As Robert Burns reminded us, the best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew. My plans for heartfelt change, and pretty much everything else, were upturned by a profound inability to lift my head from the pillow for more than two weeks. While I didn’t produce much in the way of work during my recovery, I did have a chance to come to terms with the limitations placed on me by my illness.
I hate being sick, mostly because I hate being inactive. I’ve never been much of a lounger, or a napper, or a sit-in-a-comfy-chair-and-read-a-book kind of person. Enforced bed rest is my idea of, if not hell, then at least purgatory. The first few days of my illness passed in a fever-induced fog. As I began to recover I realized that even though I was feeling a little better each day, I was also beginning to get ants in my pants.
No sooner than I would get out of bed and try to accomplish something measurable like writing a 140 character Tweet or washing my hair, I found myself back in bed, spent and exhausted. I was forced to rely on others for care and feeding, forced to be satisfied with minor accomplishments and tiny steps forward, forced to find fulfillment in quiet and rest.
I learned a valuable lesson on this compulsory vacation from my Type A tendencies. Motion does not always equal progress. My “aha” moment came after an afternoon spent in bed, doing nothing more demanding than turning thoughts over in my head. I was finally forced to admit that my propensity toward action and away from inertia had robbed me of time for quiet self-reflection. My whirlwind of self-created busyness was not serving the process of personal development and growth. Physical activity made it easy to ignore the nagging, unanswered internal questions. But it didn’t make them go away.
The Month of Self Reflection
And so, under the rubric of “better late than never,” I celebrate February, the month that allowed Swine Flu to work its porcine magic on me and create The Month of Self-Reflection. I hope that the down-time I experienced and the perspective imparted by my enforced rest will stay with me long after I’ve regained my health. February handed me lemons. A piggy virus and hours spent examining my life taught me how to make lemonade.
Post Script My January resolution, The Month of the Clean Sweep, challenged me to tie up the countless loose ends that seem to go unattended in my life. Guess what? It worked. Myriad long-neglected tasks were acknowledged and resolved. Calls were made, appointments booked, plans executed. I won’t say it was a perfect result. I will say January’s mini-resolution was a darned good start. And I have The Year of Small Changes to thank.