Eight years ago, I was struck by a virus that left me with room spinning vertigo for four months and having immense fatigue for another six. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had a genetic immune disorder called Hypogammgloblunemia which made it difficult for my body to fight infections.
The vertigo rendered me pretty much useless to continue my life as super mom/PTA mother of the year/photographer. My friend, Joan Berman, came to visit me at the beginning and told me, “There will be gifts from this illness.” Although I couldn’t relate to that statement at the time, her words rang truer than I could ever have imagined. I went from living a life without stopping to becoming the queen of my couch. TV and reading were not an option with the room spinning. I had to learn to sit still. I went deep into my meditation practice in order to stay sane. When your world is going round, you can feel a bit on the crazier side of things. (My poor husband!)
My illness was a game changer in profoundly beautiful ways that I could never have expected. Being forced to slow down (or stop completely) gave me the gift of time, introspection, and a chance to reevaluate what was important. I was forced to learn how to say no and understand the lesson of not trying to please everyone. Letting go of all the weddings I had booked for the year was difficult and then it became a relief. Accepting help and learning to ask for help expanded my heart in ways I couldn’t imagine. I became a human BEing instead of a human DOing. I learned to just be and accept that I had no control over the speed of my recovery. I became more grateful for the simple things in life. I appreciated the human body and mind in an entirely new way. The gifts are countless and for this, I am grateful. I have never taken my health for granted again.
After my health returned, I let go of my photography business and spent more time with my family and taking care of myself. I am careful to not overdo it or over commit myself. I take the time to enjoy “the smelling of the roses" and my life on Maui. I feel a sense of contentment and peace that I know I probably never would have attained without my illness.
Regardless of what you are going through, know that there WILL be gifts. Sit quietly and go within. Acknowledge to yourself what gifts there may be. Feeling grateful for the little things can easily snowball into feeling grateful for the BIG things. If you aren’t at that place yet, that’s okay. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind.