About Me

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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Why am I sick?

Why am I sick? I ask myself. Why is it always the same kind of sickness since childhood? Throat and lungs, hacking away bronchitis. What does it mean? Why now? It cant be random coincidence.

I was just getting back into the rhythm of my routine post California [trip]. Working out again, trying unsuccessfully to drop the 5lbs I quickly gained from Aunt Stella’s cooking (5 lbs is a lot when you’re 5 foot 2.)At work I was productive as always, great time management (still time to check email and Facebook in between making flashcards). Finished my midterms, reports on time, taught my kids the Sevillanas (traditional Flamenco dance of Sevilla) for their campout, wrote their graduation play and so on. Of course when I leave work my work is hardly finished. The evenings except for Thursday and Sunday night are fully booked which means I have to sandwich grocery shopping, cooking dinner, cleaning the apartment (usually the floors and kitchen) and spending time w/Z between coming at 5 and putting her to bed at 9. I was just feeling so vibrant. I remember on Easter feeling so uber-alive and radiant.

What happened?

Last week I was coughing and still went to the gym. Usually if I just sweat through it, I’d be ok. Not this time. While doing squats with the barbell I felt my groin/inner thigh/hamstring get into a ball and had to stop. Later that day as I was listening to one of my students I somehow sprained a muscle in my neck under my chin. I felt like my body was trying to tell me something.”You’re getting old!” I went for a massage on Thursday and haven’t been to the gym since. I’m dying to go tomorrow and do some weight, but the way I’m still hacking away, best not. Having said that, I will try to go the Latin dance/erotic dance class tomorrow night. I’d have to be in a coma or having dinner with the president to miss that.

Today is the first day I’ve taken a sick day from my work here. I left yesterday afternoon to go to see the Dr. and get my 3rd round of meds. I had to ask him for a note to give my manager and he looked at me like I was crazy (no just my manager, she makes us all question if we are her students or not).

I did have my period last week and that usually means my resistance will be down and I had stopped taking my vitamins because I was lazy (I never forget to take them, I don’t know why I didn’t, a kind of silent protest or rebellion). I just needed a break. Its like my body is trying to tell me, “Stop! You have permission to be lazy, do nothing—guilt free.” My mind in contrast is saying,” you’re getting fatter, you’re loosing muscle, you’ve got to clean these floors, do the laundry, water the plants, write something!...”

Yesterday afternoon after the Dr, I had to buy tissues because I’m a mucus factory, and I ended up buying groceries. I was so light headed I walked off with another ladies grocery cart. I hate feeling weak, flat, unproductive. I hate it. By nature I am not a weak person, I’m naturally a successful multi-tasker who can see what needs to be done the most efficient way and do it (and expect others to be like me, which I’ve improved over the years.)

Thich Nhat  Thanh would say I should embrace my weakness. St Paul went a step further and said I should rejoice in my weakness, because he found that it is through his weakness that the Grace of Christ manifests and shows its supernatural strength (2 Cor. 12:9). I see that I could choose to do the same thing. But its so difficult to admit weakness, defeat, vulnerability. After all, in reality I really am just a frail, little thing. It could take just an earthquake, typhoon or scooter accident and I’m done for. My ego believes I am this strong, independent, supra-energetic single mom who can do everything required of me and still find time to paint or bake some raisin oatmeal cookies. Actually I’m an hypoglycemic anemic, w/ an underactive thyroid, and extremely low blood pressure, who should be eating low glycemic foods, take her thyroid medicine and iron supplements.

So how did I handle my sick day off? I slept in and let Z sleep in. Got her ready for school, went to the morning outdoor market bought her some skirts and us some organic vegetables, tried to reorganize my extensive music library, watched Peter Weirs latest film (wonderful), cleaned the floors, did laundry, went to the beach for an hour, made dinner, picked up Z from ballet, took her to the pediatrician (her eyes are swollen), gave her a shower, played with her and wrote this blog.

But I did rest. I took my time. I felt better having clean floors to look at. I sat around. Its hard to sleep when I am coughing up a lung, when its irritating just to breathe.

I am not one of those people who need to be busy, who feels uncomfortable in the silence of doing nothing. I definitely have mastered the art of doing nothing; 6 months in Central America, mostly conjugating Spanish verbs in a hammock in between the rare Volcano summit, scuba diving twice a day-(diving felt effortless) or 5 months in Egypt where doing laundry was the week’s “I’m productive so now lets chill" mentality. But here at my home in Tainan I do get energy by going to the gym, its not about vanity at all (maybe it should be then Id actually count calories), I feel fine w/ my busy job aware that working with little kids is draining. I like doing laundry, I see an apartment full of things that need doing and I try to do it, fully aware that there are half-done projects around the house and it doesn’t bother me. If I were to ease up on everything that needs to be done, it would be more chaos and stress.

I was chatting with my animus (habit since a child) and he asked me what could I do to make my life less hectic, to slow down like what my body was telling me and I replied tearfully, “work part-time.” In secret I envy the housewife. If I were just a housewife I would clean the house and cook as always (but with more time so Id enjoy it) and have time for the gym, shop, massage, study Chinese, paint, watch a Peter Weir movie, write a poem, Skype with old friends, go the beach and read do some yoga, all in one glorious day. It’s all about choice, isn’t it? The freedom to choose whether to work or not, but I just don’t have that kind of freedom. Does anyone? As a person who cherishes, runs after, thirsts for, seeks and finds whenever possible, freedom, a day of not working of being ‘free’ is not just a novelty, but an enigma. Freedom isnt liscense to do whatever I want, but the freedom to develop God given interests and talents.

So why am I sick? I wouldnt know how to do less nor would I want to. Maybe my body isnt trying to tell me anything and Im reading way more into this than I ought too. My throat/lungs are just one of my weak links, its the change of seasons and all the kids in my class have been coughing away the past month. Im slowing down for now, I will seek the kind of Grace Paul wrote about, " hooray I'm coughing up my lung! Lord help me get some sleep!"

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