I am a firm believer in the Universe sending us lessons in all forms. I've mentioned time and again that I'm not particularly good at giving myself breaks. I also have a habit of expecting an unreasonable amount of productivity from myself. This is illustrated perfectly by my inability to push back when I'm getting paid for a job. If someone is paying me I feel as though I should be able to accomplish absolutely everything given to me, even if the time it will take to finish it all is more than the time I've been given to complete it in.
Recently I was given a great lesson on being able to say, "No" to an employer. Not, "Sorry, no, I can't really get to that at the moment" or "No, but maybe this afternoon" but flat out, full stop, unequivocal: NO.
It was nerve wracking but liberating. I said 'No, it can't be done, and this is not my fault' and got on as best I could with the time I did have.
Everything started to ease up quite nicely and then the inevitable happened. Because I'm so bad at taking breaks, because I generally tend to give more than I should, and because I really need to learn the lesson, the Universe has bestowed me with shingles.
I've learned a lot about shingles these past few days. They're not the adult version of chickenpox, for example. Adults can get chickenpox or shingles and they're from the same virus but attack the body in different ways. If you never had chickenpox as a child you can catch shingles from someone who has them but if you did have chickenpox you can't. Shingles are something that you can get when you have had chickenpox - as the virus lies dormant in your system. The biggest thing which brings it on?
Huge amounts of stress.
And here's the interesting thing about shingles: it's debilitating. The Universe has struck me down and I cannot fight through the pain of the rash nor the drowsiness caused by the medication I have to take five times a day. I cannot help but rest, relax, and generally take it easy. I have been kicked to the curb and there I must stay.
It's refreshing, actually. It's liberating because now I have a damn good reason to back up my 'No'. 'No, I don't want to get shingles again, thanks.'
It's also meant I've had loads of time to sit about doing non-taxing things which require little or no movement, like working on my new website. I'm finally getting the website of my dreams and it has been so enjoyable to take my time with it. I've been able to do little updates each day, twenty minutes or so at a time, not feeling rushed or unreasonably pressured to get anything done. I'm really enjoying it and getting more and more excited about the launch!
I've also been writing a lot. This has been hugely fun because I often find it difficult to make time to write because it requires finding a space with no distraction and at the end of a long writing session I sometimes feel slightly idle for not having moved for several hours. Of course that's quite silly because in several hours I can write several pages, perhaps even several chapters, and ultimately my writing is something of which I am very proud.
So I think I'm learning the lesson well and as a result feeling emotionally extremely well, even if physically my side is in torturous pain. I'm learning that there are worse things in life then not meeting the unreasonable deadlines of other people and that I must always, always remember to take care of myself first and foremost.