Learning how you rest is the first step to getting better.

Lessons from being Sick: How to Rest

Rest is so important. But how do we rest?
Back in 2013 when my husband and I sold our boutiques, I did a series of articles called Lessons from the Boutique. They cataloged what I brought home from my years as co-owner of two consignment boutiques.
2015 began with me getting sick. The ten years we’d owned the boutiques, I ran on adrenaline. Constant adrenaline. When we sold them, I started doing all the things I’d never gotten to do. I jumped in the deep end of family, church, and writing. Go. Go. Go. More and more adrenaline. I even knew I was doing this. I knew I needed to stop, but I didn’t know how.
(Just writing that gives me anxiety.)
January 2015, my body gave up. It shut down. I couldn’t move off the couch. Reading took too much energy. Showering took too much energy. Conversations drained me. My church had to cook and clean for me. Life had changed, and changed forever.
I struggled with depression. I cried over all the things I was missing. I hated being the weak one. I hated being the one who needed help. I hated saying no. I hated not getting to be part of the lives of everyone else. I felt cut off from everything I loved. Once in a while, I would get a breath of energy, which would immediately wear me out. Being happy wore me out. Being sad wore me out.
I spent the majority of 2015 laying on the couch just trying to eat healthy. That was it. That was all I could do. Stay clean, eat healthy, and try to make it to church. Life was small. Tiny.
2016 saw some progress. We discovered my body’s need for Vitamin B and red meat. So much red meat. I got off the couch and started, slowly, taking life back on. By the end of 2016, I had enough energy to get a small, part time job. It seemed horrible to me at the time to take what little energy I had and gave it to someone who wasn’t my church or my family. Now, I think it was a good idea. It got me out of the house, back in the world, back moving and going.
2017 was the year of anxiety. I had anxiety about everything, and had so much repenting and retraining to do. 2017 was the year of teaching myself double-entry accounting, new To Do lists, and the year to take back control of my home. I started working on my Command Center. I discovered the idea of making my homemaking a career. 2017 was the year of coming home, again.
2018 has started. It’s already almost the end of April. (This year is flying.) I’m not back to the energy level of my days of adrenaline. I don’t think I’ll ever have that much energy, and I don’t want to. I don’t want my body to crash again in a few years because I started back into everything. I don’t think my heart could take it. It makes it very clear when it’s tired. And I’ve learned to listen. I’ve learned to stop when my body says stop. I’ve learned, and am continuing to learn, to communicate to my husband when my body says no more.
Butt on couch, TV on, done.

How to rest when you're sick: faerie-stories.com
Image from Pixabay.

The first lesson from being sick? How to rest.

Resting is interesting. There are different types of resting just like there are different types of exhaustion.
Level 1: Being Tired. This is just every day, normal tired. This means that it’s been a busy day and I’m ready to be done with it.
Rest: Quiet evening and an early Bedtime. The best fix for this type of tired is to not have any after dinner projects, and get to bed about 930. If I’m consistent with this, I lay a good foundation for the coming day.
Level 2: Go Away. Being social can be exhausting. Running errands can be overwhelming. Getting dressed can seem like too much.
Rest: Hide. The best fix for this type of tired is to move my schedule around so that I don’t have to get dressed or go out. Generally, I don’t have to put all my work down during Level 2s. I just have to stay away from people. Sometimes, it only takes a couple hours of being alone to recharge. I never knew how exhausting being dressed and with people could be until I had limited energy.
Level 3. Done. This is when my chest starts to hurt, and my brain gets clogged. Everything overwhelms me. (My poor husband.) Every conversation, every decision, every chore, every commitment, everything overwhelms me.
Rest: Rest. The only fix for this is to move everything that can be moved, everything that doesn’t involve just staying alive, to a different day. This is when I spend hours in my PJs binge watching TV. This is when I re-watch my favorite shows. I usually can’t even read at these times, or on these days.
When I was first sick, my life was Level 3. As I got better, it was Level 3 and 2. Existing at Level 3 and 2 caused unexpected anxiety. Driving, getting out, the simplest errands, things I’ve done a thousand times, took a great amount of effort and planning.
Now, I’m mostly between Level 1.5 and Level 2/2.5. My Level 3s are hours instead of days, unless I’m coming down with something or had a major stressor. I couldn’t be more thankful for God’s generous kindness to me each day as I try to balance between all the ordinary demands of the world and my body’s abilities. The same is true of my husband, and all the friends who have stuck by me for years while I have had to hibernate.

Learning how you rest is the first step to getting better.
Image from Pixabay, edits by me.


Permission to Rest: I’ve spent my whole life working, working, working, working. I get up at 5:00am and hit the ground running. Honestly, I think I was quite proud of my work ethic. (Oh pride.) Now, I remind myself that sometimes the best way I can serve my church is by stopping. It isn’t going to help my husband, my home, or my family if I break down again. Instead, I admit that I have to stop, and stop. Not all rest is laziness.
What is Restful for Me: Pajamas and TV. There is something about watching TV that keeps me more down. If I try to read, I start thinking of everything I need to do. If I try to do on-the-couch-work, at Level 3, I can’t focus. If I sleep, I won’t sleep when I go to bed, and tomorrow will be worse than today. So, I watch TV. Sometimes, that’s just one episode and I’m good. Other times it’s six or ten.
Project Management: Before I got sick, I would start a project and I wouldn’t stop until I finished it. If that meant not eating for hours, even if I was starving, that was fine. No matter what, I didn’t stop.
Not anymore.
No matter the project, I stop, eat lunch, and watch an episode of whatever show I’m watching. If I start to feel tired, I take a break, go do something low-energy oriented. Sometimes, I’ll have several projects going at once because I have to do what I feel like doing.

Resting is stopping when my body says stop, resting how it’s restful for me, and taking breaks. I don’t push through things anymore. I don’t plow through life. I stop.
It took me years and years to learn this lesson. In fact, I had to get very sick to learn to stop just going and going. My husband, and my friends helped me learn that resting is how I take care of them. It doesn’t help my hubby if I go all day and don’t have the energy to make him dinner. Or if I push and push until I breakdown in tears and have a huge Level 3 relapse. It doesn’t help my church if I overdo it during the week and miss church on Sunday. Sometimes this does happen. I’m thankful people are gracious.
Learn to rest.
Listen to your body.
Find out what is rest to you.
Learn the difference between needing rest and being lazy. Don’t be lazy. Rest when you need to.
Take a break.
Don’t push through.
Eat what your body needs.
I learned to rest through the journey of being sick for two years. Today, I continue the work of dealing with my new abilities, my limits, and my smaller world.

Have you ever dealt with a life changing sickness? How about a life altering event? How did you process how to deal with this? What helped you carry on?


Quote of the Weekend

Adventures aren't as fun in real life as they are in books.Proving I’m a hobbit at heart, I’d much rather read about adventure than have one of my own. Maybe when I’m 50. 🙂

Meet the Muse: Constance

Picture by Alethia Young.

Constance has been one of my muses from early on. In fact, it is her muddy fingers that often grace the start of one of my Texas Cousins Adventure Stories.

I’ve been itching to write one of these again, so keep an eye out.

Constance, you are beautiful, smart, and have the heart of a mother. I love watching you with your baby sister, and any of the other babies in the family. I hope that you continue to use that gift to take care of the little ones around you. I miss you more than I can say, and am excited anytime I get to see you. I hope you have a wonderful year! Happy Birthday my dear dear Constance!

Quote of the Weekend

“People do not give it credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father’s blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day. I was just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name Tom Chaney shot my father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robbed him of his life and his horse and $150 in cash money plus two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band.” Charles Portis, True Grit

I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that I feel in love with this book instantly. It’s touching, funny, exciting, and sad. I think it’s a book boys and girls can both enjoy, but if you’re a tomboy of any stripe, you will love it.


Why do I blend a little western into my faerie stories?

Why Westerns?

Why do western themes and styles keep popping up in my stories?

One of the things I learned from Tolkien, and my own upbringing, was to respect my own mythos. England is an old, old land with lots of myths and legends. They have Arthur, Vikings, Robin Hood, and even Tolkien’s work functions as a myth for England.

I’m not British. I have roots there, just like I do in Ireland and Scotland. (Both have wonderful mythologies and legends.) But, what about here in the young, young land of the United States? We have the Revolution. We have exploration, the constant push west. We have the Civil War. We have winning two World Wars. We even have a bit of Vietnam. All of these shape us, our laws, and our culture. They’ve influenced us for generations. But, my favorite (other than WWII) is our cowboy mythology. Yes, most westerns aren’t historically accurate, or they have many inaccuracies. But, they’re part of who and what we are. We are the drifter who is more than what he seems. We are the gunslinger, the card-shark, the cowboy, the cowgirl, the rancher fighting those who would take all he has. We are long wagon trains. We are laying tracks for technology all the way across the country.  We are all of this and more. My favorite element is the man who rides into town, gets drawn into a conflict on the side of the underdog, saves the day, and gets the girl.

When I was a kid, probably around twelve, I read all my Dad’s Louis L’Amour books. Devoured is maybe a better word. I loved every minute of them. I loved the men. I loved the women. I loved the action. The adventure. I loved his fist fights. I loved the Sacketts. Oh, the Sacketts. My first dream as a writer was to be as prolific as Louis L’Amour. I just wanted to write the same story over and over and over, and only change the settings and names. Why? Cause that was what I loved reading.  (I still love reading things like this, just like I enjoy action flicks that are basically the same guy in different settings.)

I also loved True Grit. That book was one of my favorites as a kid. Here was a girl not being anything but a girl, but getting this old guy to help her avenge her father, it was perfect. I loved it. The writing is top notch, and the adventure is one of the best. If you haven’t read it, you need to.

Now, my favorite western is Firefly. Yes, it’s a SciFi show, but really it’s a space western. They’re cowboys in space. It has all the right elements. It has the rough around the edges hero with has his ragtag crew. They’re pushing out from the government to make a life for themselves. They have a code and each other.

Why do I blend a little western into my faerie stories?
Image by B. Iyata, edits by me.

After Firefly, comes The Sackett movie, the Magnificent Seven, Quigley Down Under, and Tombstone. Doc Holiday is a great example of why I love westerns. He’s loyal to a fault. He’s willing to do everything for Wyatt Earp. He may not be safe, but there is something you love about him. The Magnificent Seven is a redemption story. You have seven guys who’ve lived by their guns their whole life, and now they’re called to sacrifice everything for a small town who can’t pay them. They see this as a way to redeem their souls from all the wrong they’ve done. (I know that theologically they can’t earn salvation, but redemption stories, be they ever so humbly human, are still an expression of us knowing we need redemption. It is a great way to start a conversation about the fact that we know what we’ve done will damn us.)  

The Sacketts is a great family movie…meaning it’s about a family who will do everything for each other. When the word goes out that they need help, the Sacketts all come running. They are the kind of guys you would want your sons emulating.

Another beloved one from childhood is Down the Long Hills. What could be better than a story about two kids and their horse? I watched this movie so many times growing up. It combined two of my favorite things: kids shouldering the hardest elements of life and coming out ahead, and horses.

We also watched a lot of John Wayne growing up. I still love to hear his voice and see him walk. As I’ve developed my style over the years, I’ve found westerns popping up all over. My characters keep leaning towards long coats and tied down guns. They keep riding in on bikes to take out the bad guys and get the girl. They use rifles, shotguns, and revolvers. All the years of soaking in L’Amour pours out between my stories of magic, doors, and worlds.

I realized I was writing modern, faerie story westerns.

Instead of turning away from the subtle themes, I decided to embrace it. Westerns may not be super popular right now, but they are special to me, and these are my stories. I embrace the mysterious man who saves the day. I embrace the woman who knows how to shoot. I embrace the kids with guts. I embrace strong friendship themes, land themes, and family themes. I embrace the man who is mistaken for a backwater yokel who is rich with wisdom and insight. I embrace friendship between natives and newcomers in the middle of war. I embrace hunters, wild places, dangerous animals, and range wars. I embrace the lawless and the lawman.

These themes push their way into my stories, sometimes without me even noticing. Westerns flavor my work with grit and gunpowder. I’m a Texan reaching deep into my countries own myths and legends.

Do you have a favorite Western? Book or movie? Let me know in the comments!   

Quote of the Weekend

John Wayne on true courage.I love this quote because one quickly learns as a child that life is full of fearful things. We see our heroes and think they don’t feel fear. We want to be like them. We want to be unafraid. But, in this life you will always have fear. Courage is doing what is right even when you are afraid. That is true courage.

Meet the Muse: Shannon

Photo by Alethia Young.

Happy happy birthday Shannon. I love you so much. You hardly know me, but you don’t hesitate to let me hold you and carry you around every time we get to be together. You are such a pretty little girl. I love your smile. I love to watch you run around exploring your world and taking in your huge family. I’m so so glad God blessed us with you. Happy birthday little one!