Christmas week, and I am sick. Not seriously sick, just a relentless cough and a cold that makes me feel not myself. Literally. I am usually the person up and doing. I am now the person having a nap.
I can’t work myself up into a frenzy of activity to tidy up the hurricane in my office where I was wrapping presents Christmas Eve. I can’t strong-arm myself into hauling the trash out and breaking down boxes and raking the leaves on the patio. If I pushed myself to do these chores, I’d only start hacking and coughing and set myself back.
So I’ve given myself a pass.
Best Christmas gift ever.
I have an entire week off work and no particular plans. Before I realized this illness would hold me back, my ambitions were leaning toward organizing the basement and finally unpacking boxes of extra kitchen appliances we need to sort through since my honey and I combined households three years ago. I thought I might go for a day-long hike, have people for dinner and make a complicated meal that takes hours of planning. I would finally hang those shades in the spare bedroom. Tidy up the year’s finances, maybe even write some holiday cards. You know, all the things you think you’d do if someone gave you a magical extra week squeezed into your busy life.
But with my sick pass, I am doing none of this.
I am lingering over the newspaper in the morning. Taking my time. No rush. Skipping over the worst news, savoring the advice columns and the funnies.
I am doing the crossword puzzle. I don’t care if it takes a long time. Because what would I be doing otherwise?
I’ve leafed through a fantastic magazine called Kinfolk and read short essays and discovered a recipe for a hot toddy that I remembered when I sat down to watch a James Bond movie with my honey. I got up off the couch and made it. It was medicinal, I decided. And delicious.
When you are whipping through life from one task to another, thinking about the next thing before you’ve even finished the one you’re doing, you don’t have space in your brain to remember things like that hot toddy recipe. You don’t even have time to leisurely page through the magazine that has the recipe, and the great little essay instructing you about the tradition of toddies and the things people choose to put in them (I made mine old-school, with just the scotch, honey and hot water, no citrus).
I have found all the most comfortable places in the house for reading a book. Lying in bed, for example. Or nested into the pillows on our couch. I read for hours at a time – an entirely different experience than my usual 10 or 20 minutes before I go to sleep. I get to know the characters better, feel the rhythm of their world.
It’s one of the things I used to do when I was a girl. In fact, now that my world has slowed down, I’ve revisited a lot of girlhood favorites. Maybe I’ll call this week Let’s Be Ten Again.
I colored with my 23-year-old daughter and her friend: watercolors and colored pencils on pre-printed postcards. Yes, adult coloring is a thing now – but it is still coloring, dressed up so we can feel okay about doing it again. My picture was a sunflower, and I got the petals just the right shade of yellow and brown. So satisfying.
Then I had a bubble bath. When was the last time you did that? Sure, I’ve had baths with oil and baths with salts, but a luxuriously thick, rich, super-foamy, bubbles-all-over-the-place bubble bath? Oh, man. Amazing. It stopped me completely. I thought I was going to read in the bath but no. I just sat there and played with the bubbles. Felt how smooth they are on my skin. Made patterns with them in the water, piles of them, up the sides of the tub, hiding my body, then revealing it, then covering it up again. Put my head back and let my mind wander. Reached for my glasses with a bubbly hand, read a bit, then splashed some more. And when I finally drained the tub, I sat there until nothing but bubbles were left, and slid along the slick surface of the tub, just for fun.
The new year is just around the corner. My resolution is going to be something about slowing down long enough to read, and color, and take baths. Something about giving myself a pass more often. Something about being 10 years old again.