Meaning Mondays: The Sniffles Edition

Like everybody else, when I don’t know what else to do, I seem to go in for catching colds.

~George Jean Nathan

I’ve been under the weather the past few days. Nothing serious, just a vague sneezy virus that settles in the chest and leaves a general feeling of malaise in its wake. Bestowed upon me by my husband. Isn’t that how it always goes?

Actually, we’ve been under upper respiratory siege in my house for six weeks now.

It all started when an indiscriminate bug began to make its way through the cat family. And as it passed from Rocky to Tess and on down the line, it apparently replicated into something slightly different, and had another go round.

Poor kitties.

I’m still hearing a rogue sneeze now and then, and administering eye drops and the last round of antibiotics. In fact, I feel a little like I’ve been running a feline infirmary for the better part of the spring season.

I suppose it was too much to expect that we human members of the household would be spared.

I laugh a little when I consider that maybe Dave and I have been afflicted with the same illness as the cats. Of course, I know that’s not possible, but I like to imagine that because of our lengthy cohabitation, either they (the cats) have become more human or we (the people) have become more feline, and the result is a new strain of virus meant just for us.

Whatever it is we’ve got, though, I’ve been enjoying noticing my reaction to it.

Because while I can’t exactly say I’m welcoming it, I am at least accepting it. And that definitely has its benefits.

Long soaks in water of just the right temperature.

Sinking down in a freshly made bed and staying there for a long time.

Pulling my chair up to the window and looking at the garden.

Reading a favorite book that doesn’t tax me too much.

Listening to podcasts that I’ve been meaning to catch up on.

The weird thing is it’s not my normal reaction.

In the past, whenever there was the slightest hint of a cold coming on, I’d take up my sword and prepare to do battle. I’d down steaming cups of echinacea tea. Suck the life out of zinc lozenges. And vigorously dose myself with vitamin C and chicken soup.

Sometimes it worked. Often it didn’t. Then, not only would I be saddled with whatever was going around, but I’d be pissed off that I couldn’t beat it.

Which reminds me that the wisest warrior understands that sometimes the surest way through is not to take up arms, but rather to surrender or retreat.

Yes, that’s what I think I’m doing. Retreating. Surrendering. Giving in. Perhaps I’m even starting to understand the deeper nature of my inner warrior.

And I wonder, is there meaning to be located in a runny nose and a sore throat? I don’t really know.

But what do you think? I’d love to hear.

And when you get sick do you don armor and fight the good fight?

Or do you retreat, perhaps even waving the white flag of surrender?



40 thoughts on “Meaning Mondays: The Sniffles Edition

  1. Hey Patty,

    Sorry to hear that the whole family, including the cats have been feeling less than healthy. I hope everyone gets better real soon.

    I have a lot to say on this topic, maybe enough for a whole post dedicated to it.

    We have the right and the ability to be healthy. I start by staying super positive on the topic. I don’t even mention the word sick. If someone happens to ask, I tell them I’m getting better. It’s a challenge sometimes to convey to my wife that I’m feeling less than healthy. By now, however, she usually knows that if I come home from work and lay down in the bed, that I’m healing.

    How many times have you heard someone say “I feel a cold coming on,” and sure enough they get sick. If you tell yourself you are getting sick, then you’ll get sick. I want my subconscious to know that I want to feel good, so I tell myself that I feel good; over and over again if necessary.

    I can usually feel it when something is coming on. One trick for me is to act right away with extra sleep. Lots of sleep is the best defense for me. Lately I’ve also tried doubling up on the vitamins, although I can’t recommend that since it may go above the recommended dosages.

    I also practice self healing. I like using Reiki. It’s basically a visualization of positive energy entering the body and going to anwhere it’s needed. The visualization is combined with touch to form a type of touch healing.

    As you can see, I’m very much for fighting instead of retreating. Actually, it’s less of a fight and more of a desire to return to a natrual state of health. Part of that return to health may be a hot bath and sinking in a comfy bed. However, I’d much rather do those things while I’m healthy so I can better enjoy them.

    Get well soon so you can enjoy the book, the podcasts, and the garden view while feeling great!

    • Wow, Eric, thanks for all that! You do have much to say on the topic and I think there’s definitely a post in there for you. You really draw a connection between mind and body with your comment. Kind of like mind can overcome body experience? Like if we think a cold is going to happen, it will. Cognition over sensation? I’m gonna have to ponder that one, my friend.

  2. Patty, hope you are feeling much better, and Dave, and all the kitties, too. I understand your sense of surrender, of giving in – don’t you find that your sniffles, sore throat, runny nose clear up much faster when you don’t gear up to fight and resist?

    At the first sign of a scratchy throat or under-the-weather feeling, I drink a hot Kampo (Japanese herbal medicine) concoction and go to bed early if it’s at night. Or, like you, I now simply retreat and take things easy until I feel better. In Oriental medicine a cold is often perceived as a welcome sign of necessary energy shifts in the body – rarely as a condition that needs to be attacked like an intruder. Being a warrior is fine, but not when we engage in unnecessary battles, especially with our own bodies.

    In our harried modern lives a cold is typically perceived as an annoying inconvenience we must overcome so that we can just get on with our routines without interruption. When what a cold may really be telling you is to slow down and pay more attention to what is happening in your life. It can be your inner wisdom speaking up. Being alert to those little initial signs, and honoring the message, means that I rarely develop a full blown cold. My body needs the rest it is requesting, and if I listen, it responds by quickly recovering its innate health.

    The number of cats in our household has increased (we recently rescued a pair of abandoned twins from under a vending machine at the local station), and we have a dog family, too. But we haven’t experienced the cold virus that ran through your household. Afflictions usually affect one cat or dog at a time. Right now we are intensively nursing the aged mother dog – she is dying now, but hanging in there with us. This afternoon I sat out in the garden again with her, holding her in my arms so that we could enjoy the sun together.

    Thank you so much for your thought-provoking post, Patty. Evening greetings from the mountains in Japan – Catrien Ross.

    • I love that, Catrien – “a welcome sign of necessary energy shifts.” Your comment reminds me of a workshop I attended years ago with Greg Levoy. He talked a lot about body signals coming from a deep unconscious place. That they are there for a reason, asking to be perceived beyond what they appear to be on the surface. Thank you for reminding me of that. And I’m very touched by your words about your dog. Although it is so painful to lose an animal, there is something incredibly sweet about being there with them during their last days, sharing those moments in the sun. Such an immense bonding experience. Thank you, Catrien.

  3. I sure hope you feel much better soon, Patty. I think your approach to this is a good way of being kind to yourself.

    I’ve often found that no amount of positive thinking or stuffing myself with lozenges, medications or concoctions has ever actually helped. I’ve only ever felt more miserable when these things didn’t work (when I was fully expecting them to). Like you, these days I just accept that it’s happening and try to be kind to myself until I get through to the other side.

    In cases like sickness, time can be your best friend. 🙂

    • Sounds like you and I are on the same page about this one, Tony. And kindness is such a good word to describe it. Thank you.

  4. I think it’s Dr. Christiane Northrup who said “in our society, illness is the only form of accepted meditation.” It stuck with me as I see so many people falling so ill. A cold is harmless but it’s still a message from our bodies that we need to slow down. It’s so great to see that you’re listening. With my brain related issues I have a VERY hard time listening because I’m so tired of feeling tired! I want to push. But it does not help me in the long run. A cold, a TBI, it’s all the same. We need to surrender while keeping the image of wellness within us. 🙂

    • Thank you for sharing that quote, Maryse. That’s it exactly. Interesting, too, how you recognize that pushing doesn’t really get us anywhere. We do get impatient, though, that’s for sure. I love the duality, though, of surrender and wellness. That’s seems to perfectly state the paradox of healing.

  5. I had a Spartan mother. Illness was for weak inferior people, in her mind. I never used to actually take care of myself during a spell of under-the-weather. Like you I took up the sword and fought with denial, tea, supplements, and a “you just need to get tough and beat this thing” attitude. I felt guilty for being sick. Weird, huh. Well I love your attitude. I am trying to take better care of myself as well. Hope you are back at 100% soon, you and the cats!

    • Thank, Erin. Feeling much better today. I actually wrote this post a few days ago. My mom was also very stoic, but mostly about herself. Insisted on toughing things out. I’ve got my share of that too, but the older I get the more I want to just give in to all of life, whatever it brings. We needn’t feel guilty, right????

  6. A cold is a means of slowing down – I can’t get any great work done when I am not feeling up to it anyway so it is easiest just to relax and let it run its course… beds, blankets, books!! That said, I find that when I slow down, I seem to feel better more quickly. Who knows!

    I do hope you and the house are feeling better soon. I have four cats – and they just don’t seem to get sick. As closely as we all live, I have no doubt that anything they get could transfer to us… if that were possible.

    • Oh, another cat lover! You know, we seemed to go for years with no one getting sick, but this is one intense virus that hit them. I’ve never experienced anything like it before, and I’ve had cats my whole life. And your triple B’s are the best! Thanks, Marla.

  7. I fight the good fight and keep on going. Having the sniffles though; that is frustrating because you’re not all that sick and yet you feel so uncomfortable. Feel better Patty. Runny nose and sore throat… letting go of what has not been said… there’s my Louise Hay 2 cents worth. I don’t do sick well (interesting play on words there, eh?).

    • Louise would be proud of you, Davina! And that is indeed a very interesting play on words. Thanks for your well wishes. I’m definitely perking up today.

  8. Hey Patty,

    Hope you and the fam feel better!

    Perhaps, a sniffle is our body’s way of saying slow down, take a break, cuddle up with a good book and relax. I guess my “attitude” toward an impending cold depends on what thing is coming up that I feel I need/must/have to do.

    But do I?

    I’ve diverted upper resp things at times through sheer mental will. Other times I go with the sniffle flow knowing I can hang out and finally finish that book I started 2 months ago.

    The short of it? our bodies ultimately seem to know what’s best for us.

    Feel better! Giulietta

    • Yes, it does seem our bodies carry a great deal of wisdom. Thanks for the good wishes and good comment, Giulietta!

    • Thanks, Belinda. We’re much improved these days. Especially due to a new miracle antibiotic for cats that only requires two doses!

  9. Patty,

    I loved this post, but my favorite line was, “I like to imagine that because of our lengthy cohabitation, either they (the cats) have become more human or we (the people) have become more feline, and the result is a new strain of virus meant just for us.”

    I often wonder about this same thing with all the animals I’ve had:~)

    Regarding being sick, I have discovered the beauty of surrender. It’s not that I enjoy being sick, but I figure my body is telling me that it’s tired and needs rest. So, I climb into bed, pull the sheets up and take a good dose of NyQuil, which immediately puts me into a nice sleep:~)

    • Hi Sara – Yes, isn’t that fun to consider that we’ve become part animal and they part human? Kinda seems that way! And I like the way you put it: the beauty of surrender. So elegant! Thanks.

  10. I surrender if I can, work through it if I must. It can actually be sort of pleasant to be not too very ill, because it gives a sort of permission to slack and doze. I do tend to listen to my body and not deny it what it needs. It’s part of my sobriety to have changed my former habit of ignoring it and pushing.

    • Powerful point, Shay. The recovery process absolutely requires fine tuning the ability to listen to our bodies, and HALT. Buckets of wisdom there for all of us, whether we’re in a program or not. Thanks.

  11. Patty, I hope you and your kitties are on the mend soon!

    In January I fought a terrible cold/sinus infection for weeks. My head was so stuffy, my hearing was dulled, I couldn’t smell or taste anything – I felt so disconnected from the world. And when I finally started to feel better and my senses came back, oh how I appreciated my surroundings! The smell of my husband cooking, the sound of my boots crunching on the snow, the sunny winter days. So YES – I think there is a valuable lesson in being sick, and in appreciating your health once it returns.

    • Thanks, Eva, we are mending away. And I like your story. Not that I would wish that upon you, but you capture beautifully the awakening of the senses once sickness has passed. Lovely!

  12. Sorry to hear you and your whole brood including the feline members are under the weather. Here’s to a speedy recovery.

    “Yes, that’s what I think I’m doing. Retreating. Surrendering. Giving in. Perhaps I’m even starting to understand the deeper nature of my inner warrior.”



    • Thank you, K. Hmmm, now that I think of it, maybe even the kitties are finding their inner warriors!

  13. Hmm, sometimes when I was still having a busy life that was living me, feeling sick was great. It gave me an excuse to calm down and come to my senses. Now I am living a life I love, guess what? I am hardly ever sick and when I am I know I have been doing too many things against my will.
    If I am honest and I dare to look at what my illness is telling me, that is what I see. There are still very occasionally times when I am sick and cannot face that type of honesty, all I want then is complain, being a victim and and I want to be nurtured and felt sorry for. That I let now happen as well and afterwards I will look into what was happening.
    Oh, the body is an interesting measuring stick, isn’t it?
    I hope you all will continue to feel better and I love how this reminds me that I also can learn surrendering as a gift from my body 🙂 xox Wilma

    • That’s such an interesting shift you speak of, Wilma. I’ve worked with clients who actually look forward to getting sick, and I’m writing a little about that on Thursday. And that is exactly why: life is living them. Perfect way to put it. I’ve noticed I don’t get sick as often either, especially the older I get. But I chalk that up to the resistance we’ve built up to viruses as we age. Who says there’s nothing good about getting older??? Thanks for stopping by, and hugs to you my friend!

  14. Patty –

    Get well soon. I hope the whole household gets back on a vibe soon. When I’m sick I usually try to soldier on, then eventually realize that I won’t recover until I stop and give my body a break. To give the best to everything we do, sometimes we need to accept we’re human and give ourself a pass. Take care!


    • Yes! Accepting our humanness is necessary and worthwhile. We’re not super heroes, that’s for sure. Although I’ve had a some clients who think they are. Thanks for your well wishes, Phil.

  15. Dear Patty,

    Ah, such a wise response and a GREAT reminder!

    I don’t tend to have a high tolerance for being sick because I don’t think I should get sick – funny when I think about it.

    I absolutely think it’s true that relaxing into all the things you’ve mentioned (resting in a lovely bed, sitting in quietude, reading – gentle beingness) is a honorable approach.

    Listening to our body’s messages rather than OVERRIDING. Taking a break. Surrendering.

    I love that you have.

    Thank you for a thought-provoking post.


    • Hi Lauren – So nice to have you visit again. That’s interesting about you not thinking you should get sick, because you do such amazing work about loving our bodies. But I also love it that even you might struggle a bit with this, because it reminds me (again) that we’re all living the questions each day and it is a lifelong journey. Thanks for the comment.

  16. Pingback: The Story of One Day, Just For You « Why Not Start Now?

  17. Patty, as usual your words have stuck with me for days. I’m coming back to this now because, like some others here, there is something funny about actually looking forward to being sick. When you’re sick, you have the perfect excuse to miss work, to sleep all day, to wear PJs all day and watch daytime TV. In fact, it’s not just an excuse – it’s a necessity. And there is something great in this freedom.

    Being incredibly tired presents a similar situation for me. I really don’t operate on less than 7 hours of sleep a night. I prefer 8! This week, I had two late nights of work events, and then a very early morning bringing my sister to the airport, and it took such a toll on my sleep. Yesterday, getting home from work, I gave myself permission to do nothing because I was so tired! Order out for dinner, let the dog run around in the yard instead of walking her, ignore the dirty kitchen floor and mountain of laundry. Watch a few TV shows and go to bed gloriously early! Giving myself permission to do these things was a great feeling.

    • Well, that’s darn sweet of you to come back and tell me that, Eva. I love that you see the humor in it, and I totally agree with what you say about sleep. I actually think I need 9 hours! But I don’t often allow myself to have it. I resist going to bed…”What other interesting thing is there for me to poke my nose in before I turn the lights out?” I’m trying though. Really trying! Thanks!

  18. I like to face sickness by resting. I don’t think that is actually surrendering. I think acting like nothing is wrong and trying to act like you’re not sick can be victimizing to yourself. I know sometimes people don’t have a choice due to uncontrollable circumstances, but when you are sick and have chance to take care of yourself with rest and relaxation, oh my god do it! I don’t understand the whole “fake it until you make it” when it comes to sickness. I don’t see how that is being positive. I am a super optimistic person, but positivity shouldn’t be outside the realms of reality.

    I will admit my naivety on subject since I have never had a life threatening disease. I have a feeling that is whole other world of thoughts and philosophy.

    • You’re so wise, Angela. I’ve never had a life threatening illness either, and I agree with you that it may be a whole different story there. Thanks so much for pointing that out.

  19. Pingback: Meaning Mondays: Creative Chick Meets Warrior Woman Edition « Why Not Start Now?

Leave a Reply to bechtoldlifeworks Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s