It’s Rest Week

You know, you take one lovely spring walk on a 64 degree day to carpe diem or whatever you want to call it and – boom – you wake up the next morning with swollen eyes and an itch in your throat.


Tis the season. Ken and I get crazy allergies every.single.year, and yet, I’m always taken aback. I always freak out a little, always think they’re going to last forever and I’ll never again be able to downward dog without my nose draining into my ankles.

The pounding head, the achy joints. They’re minor inconveniences, sure, but they also feel like the most socially unacceptable ailment, which is bothersome. Just yesterday, I texted a friend to cancel dinner and I so badly wanted to call it something else, something with a threatening name, like strep throat, a sinus infection, heck I’d even take a migraine.

Allergies just, I don’t know. They sound lame. Like, here, take a tissue and get back to work.

The upsides, of course, are many. Sweat pants. Netflix. Responsibility cancellations. Ice cream (who am I?! I don’t even like ice cream!).

You want to hear a Not Secret? I don’t watch a ton of TV. I don’t watch a ton of movies. I’m a book girl, and the reason for this is because I am so overly emotionally involved in screen people. I just cannot separate myself. When I watched Friday Night Lights, I picked up a Texan accent (worth it). When I watched Parenthood, I started playing Bob Dylan all the time (worth it). When I watched Mad Men, well, I had to quit Mad Men after the first season because SO!MANY!AFFAIRS! and boy did that show make me want to take a million showers.

Books don’t do this to me, probably because I take them in bite-sized chunks. I read a few chapters, turn off my lamp, fall asleep. Rinse, repeat, no emotional investment.

But tell me, have you ever tried to ration Friday Night Lights? It cannot be done.

All of this to say, I suppose, is that I’ve been watching a whole lot of Netflix and my brain has turned to mush. I’ve lost myself in shows I’d never normally make any stretch of time for (Fuller House, here’s lookin’ at you, kid), and I don’t know, it’s nice for a change.

(But I really do feel like mush.)

The great thing about this stretch of allergies is that it’s convenient. When the heck does that happen? When does the sick lottery offer you rest when you really wanted rest anyway?

Last year, allergies hit in the middle of my first book deadline. Two years before, in the middle of filming a commercial for IKEA. The year before that, halfway around the world in Ethiopia. And the spelling bee in 6th grade?! I do not speak of this anymore.

Allergies do not have a tendency to show up at opportune times.

But this week? Dare I say this week is opportune? Dare I say the allergies were kind to me, ushering me to the warm, wide bed I pretty much wanted all along? Patting me on the head, pulling a wool blanket over my eyes, luring me with a lullaby I wouldn’t have allowed if I’d been feeling healthy and strong?

Rest is best. Daniel Tiger said it.

Last weekend, we had some favorite friends over. The kids were doing that general run amok thing in the basement and I was feeling alllll sorts of jumpy. Nothing was wrong – absolutely nothing was wrong! – but I heard a boom from the piano and I just knew someone has broken their neck jumping from the shuffleboard table to the couch, and in a single instant, I’d dreamed up an entire evening in the ER with a paralyzed kid. And when this happens, I know I’ve jumped the ship.

So I said to Ken, Listen, this is completely irrational, but I cannot parent tonight. I am absolutely jumping out of my skin for no reason at all and my brain feels like it is on fire. Can you feed the kids? I’m gonna take deep breaths in the bathroom.

I said the same to my girlfriend, who completely understood because SURPRISE, SHE IS A WOMAN and anxiety is no stranger to her, and you know what? Everyone got it. It wasn’t weird. I didn’t have to power through and fake smiles or grit my teeth, and I retreated as Ken dished out pizza and plastic cups and then I just laid down on the cold bathroom floor next to the shower for ten minutes of rich, perfect silence and emerged from the bathroom a completely new woman.

And then the allergies came.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence, is what I’m getting at. I don’t think it’s just a fluke that I asked for rest, took a bit of rest, and then – boom – my body said, You know, let’s do some more of that.

Daniel Tiger is a genius.

So that’s what this week is. It’s Rest Week, which is like Shark Week, but better. I’ve cancelled a few meetings, rearranged some playdates, let Bee watch a whole lot of Wild Kratts, served the same mediocre roast for dinner three nights in a row, have not changed out of my woolen slippers, and my hair is yet to be washed. Things are still getting done, just slower. It’s not bad.

There was a time, not long ago, when I’d never have convinced myself that this was an opportune time for Rest Week. I’d have made the molehills of my cancellations into MOUNTAINS OF LETDOWN and I’d quietly punish myself for days. I’d fail to see that things are still getting done, just slower. I’d fail to see that things will get done, just later.

I don’t know, it’s just that I think I’m growing up. Maybe I’m learning the value of rest, of priorities, of letting it all go sometimes. Maybe I’m finally learning the secret to balance.

Maybe I’m getting wiser.

Or maybe it’s Fuller House.

Just kidding.

(It’s definitely Last Man Standing.)

  • I’ve thought for a while that we’re kindred spirits but your assessment of specific TV shows just sealed the deal. Why, Mad Men, why?

  • Too funny, I feel the opposite with books vs. tv, getting way too emotionally involved with the former. Like if I’m reading a novel about a rocky marriage or the abuse of women and young girls in India, I am in a fog of depression for days after. I’m affected by it in movies, but once it’s over I usually don’t retain the emotion for long. Maybe because when something is portrayed on screen I am not in the person’s head the way I am with the protagonist in a book?
    You’re right, allergies are lame sounding and so inconvenient. I personally most love the Rudolf nose one carries throughout the entire season.

    • Ha, that is so interesting, Choong!! That makes so much sense re: movies vs TV characters. :) And ha, the Rudolf nose. I’m familiar! :)

  • This has been us, basically all winter. Two kids, twice as many colds, and of course, snow and stuff. I’ve never been a big fan of powering through, so it’s been one week of fun snow play, library story time, play dates, and then BAM slow down for 7 to 10 days and watch a smidge too much TV (but hey, it’s PBS so it doesn’t really count) and do the easiest crafts I can find (more coloring pages and mazes? Sure!). Summer will have plenty of time for being maddeningly busy, this season of slow is totally my jam.
    Also, allergy shots. As lame as shots sound, they are a WONDER for seasonal allergies. And less lame than tissues ;)

  • Erin – I just really connect with your writing. I could have written the exact sentence about Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, and Mad Men. Amen on all accounts.

    Looks like I’m not the only one who feels like we’re kindred spirits :-)

    Thank you for being you!

  • Hi Erin! I hope you feel better and enjoy your safe and warm cocoon of home while able. I remember last time when I was sick Cancelling things all around me until all I was left with was this strange sense of peace and a new appreciation for Home.

    I love your words and am glad you are resting. Nothing trumps rest!

    Also I bought a neti pot last year and it’s amazing! I used it yesterday too after giddily leaving my doors and windows open all day! The first time using it is weird but it really gets better and clears me up within a few minutes and it’s natural! Was also on oprah:)

  • Sorry to hear you are battling allergies :( .

    I have struggled with sessional allergies my ENTIRE life—until a couple of years ago when I stumbled upon a “cure”.

    I started taking Garden of Life’s Primal Defense probiotic for gut health and voila. No more seasonal allergies. It’s the wildest thing.

    I hopped online to see if other people have experienced similar results and they have. If I stop taking it, the allergies come back.

    Thought I’d share, in case this could be your or someone else’s “cure” too :)

  • Not that I’m opposed to a rest week (sounds heavenly), but can’t you just take an over the counter allergy medicine? I have ridiculous seasonal allergies and I wouldn’t be able to function without zyrtec or claritin. Either of those takes care of the problem right away for me. I also am a zealot about using a neti pot and I take probiotics, and while I do believe those help with allergies, nothing gets rid of them for me but medicine.

  • At the end of each term in college, after my final Final, I would plop myself down in a McMenamin’s for a bacon cheeseburger and pint of beer, then wake up with a wretched cold the next morning. Rest is best. Enjoy! = )

  • I think because of how & where we grew up, we have this idea in our subconscious that rest = lazy. We learn it at school (“Study! All-nighters!”), we learn it at work (“deadline! Tomorrow!”), & we even learn it in our social life (“You’re cancelling! Killjoy!”). We feel like we have to be “on” all the time, & now, our bodies are forcing us to slow down. I guess I can relate cause I just experienced it last week (got the flu on an business trip which turned into allergies afterwards). Either we learn to rest or our body teaches us to.

  • I love this post so much. And I really really love Friday night lights and parenthood. And now I feel like there will never be another show that compares to these two, so I haven’t even bothered watching t.v. for years. I just re-watch episodes of these same shows with a little felicity thrown in! But I am with you on slowing down. It feels good, and I’ve learned to be o.k. letting my kids watch t.v. for hours on certain days because I know once the weather gets nice we will all be outside all day…so yeah, balance! Happy resting!

    • I’m the same! Some of my favorite memories are Saturday mornings when cartoons were aplenty. Cereal, couch, bliss. ;)

  • I love the sentiment that things will get done, just slower. A great philosophy to implement in this (usually) chaotic life! I hope you feel better soon. I find rest is often responsible for miracles (and greater patience!).

    • Thank you, Nataly!!!!!! You’re very right in that rest is VERY responsible for miracles! :)

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