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Mocha Musings: Leaving winter, illness and injury behind

Ahhh. Sunshine. Warmer temperatures. Buds getting ready to open on the magnolia trees in Lithia Park. Crocuses and daffodils in full-bloom. In short, spring has sprung. We can hope that the brunt of that nasty flu season is behind us. A friend of mine recently recovered from a bout which slammed her for over a week. “Miserable,” she said, sniffling and blowing her nose. “My head felt like it was in a fog. I feel as if I’ve lost 10 days of my life.”

We sat over coffee and chatted. She told me it had been important for her to reflect while she’d been sick. “Once you’re through being angry about it. It feels like such a waste of time,” she explained. Her takeaway? Don’t fret; don’t punish yourself. Take the time to reflect on what you need to do to recover. In her words, “What is the universe telling you?”

That can sound like so much “Ashland-speak” to some, but there is a universal (no pun intended) truth that we can all understand. One could also ask: What are our bodies trying to tell us? To slow down, perhaps? To eat more greens and drink more fresh juice? Get outside and away from the computer? To love more and to love what we do more? Conversely, to stop doing the things that we don’t love to do, and stop doing the things make us anxious or upset? To, in her words, “revise our lifestyles and strengthen our immune systems?”

She also spoke of something which I think is important: that is, to just relax into getting well. It sounds simple, but is not. A few years ago, I suffered injuries from a serious car accident. It would be many months before I was able to move without pain or to take the agility of my body for granted in the way most of us do when we are healthy. I was extraordinarily lucky in that I had a full recovery, but it left me with an awareness and gratitude that, I hope, will remain with me for the rest of my days.

Relaxing into getting well can be a newly acquired skill in that the body can demand that we operate on its healing clock rather than an arbitrary, linear timeline forced upon it by our own sense of “doing” or a society and Western culture that says, “Run, run faster! Run!”

During my recovery, I was introduced to Jon Kabat Zinn’s “Guided Mindfulness Meditation” techniques, which I did daily for several weeks, and to his book “Full Catastrophe Living.” There is no doubt that his writings helped me a great deal, helped me to slow down my thinking and to relax into the healing process. I realized that I could not control this process, that I could only facilitate it by, in a sense, getting out of its way. I learned that I could deal with levels of pain effectively and accept it as part of this chapter of my life, that I could have faith that, yes, I would heal. I learned that, sometimes, slower is better — not only better, it is sometimes what is necessary. And I was also fortunate to have excellent medical care along the way.

My friend and I finished our coffee and polished off the rest of the cookies I’d set out. “Well, I’m not back to 100 percent yet, but I expect to be in a day or so,” she said.

Isn’t it amazing what can be gleaned from a pesky bout of flu?

Author, TV presenter and world traveler Susanne Severeid is an Ashland resident who enjoys making time for the important things in life — including mocha. Read more of her columns at bit.ly/adtssmm. For more, go to www.susannesevereid.com. Email her at susannewebsite@olypen.com.

Photo by Beatrice Angela JacobsSusanne Severeid