There’s a voice inside all of us that wants to guide us, alert us, warn us and calm us. Call it what you want—your gut, your subconscious, your inner guru. I call it the Heart Voice. It’s oh so wise and helpful. Without fail, when I haven’t listened and followed my Heart Voice, that’s when the proverbial shit has hit the fan.
But here’s the thing. We’ve got to be able to actually HEAR it. And in our modern lives of constant alerts and media and kids and pets and our frontal lobes that are designed to get caught up planning the future, that intuitive Heart Voice that’s trying to tell us what we need and what we should do, gets drowned out.
So what better time than Spring to clean out a lot of the noise so we can hear the really important stuff. Let’s be honest, we should be doing this all year long. Because if we don’t, here’s what happens. The whispering Heart Voice becomes louder and louder. And then when you still can’t or don’t or won’t listen, life will throw you a big curve ball that MAKES you stop and listen. And along with a little bit of “I told you so,” it lovingly helps you make the changes you need to make.
Case in point. For months and months—and if I’m being really honest, for the better part of the last year—I’ve felt like a cell phone battery that just can’t fully charge or keep a charge. No matter how much sleep I got, it wasn’t enough. No matter how healthy I was eating, it didn’t matter. I would feel depleted after my workouts instead of energized. And I was becoming a coffeeholic just to get through the day.
Amidst two businesses, a never-ending to-do list, the multiplying kids’ activities and issues, volunteering and an 87-year old mom who had fallen and was facing a long road to recovery post-surgery, I kept telling myself, “No wonder you’re tired. You’re doing too much and as soon as you finish some tasks and get Mom through this, you’ll be fine.” So I trudged on, even as I got every bug that landed within 5 miles of our house, and I got it worse than everyone else. Yet I still slogged through.
I even fell part-way down a mountain on a holiday ski trip (read more about that here) and while I admittedly got part of the message, I still didn’t get the big picture the Universe was painting for me. I kept moving forward at full speed into the new year, making shizz happen, slaying goals and checking things off my to-do list left and right.
Until I couldn’t do it anymore. I don’t mean figuratively, as if I just needed a short break. I mean that I was now dragging myself through my days. I remember saying to a friend, “I’m so incredibly tired. If I could just get sick—not life-threatening sick, but just sick enough where I was forced to stop doing everything, and everyone could just leave me alone for a while and I could crawl into bed and sleep. For like weeks.”
For a Type A doer who loves what she does and who she does it with, who loves her children and motherhood, who adores her husband and the endless ideas for projects we seem to banter about, this was NOT NORMAL. Who wishes they were sick? Especially with friends diagnosed and dying from cancer and car accidents every month? Talk about sick.
Thankfully at 47 I’ve learned the practice of having grace with myself, and instead of putting my head down, pushing forward and suffering through, I finally took a moment to listen to my Heart Voice. To really listen. And I actually saw the messages for what they were. My frustrated, last-ditch effort Heart Voice was telling me that I had to take notice and speak up.
I went to John that night and confessed how crappy I’d been feeling for so long (and no, not even a brilliant doctor husband is able to see everything when his wife is so good at ignoring and masking how crummy she’s feeling). John ordered some blood tests and lo-and-behold, what do you know? Turns out I was sick. Really sick. Sick as OMFG-I-can’t-believe-I’ve-been-functioning-in-my-life-like-this-sick. Not that I needed a blood test to tell me how crappy I felt, but now we knew why. I wasn’t life-threatening sick, but sick enough where I had to Stop. Drop. And Rest. Not after the next project was completed, or Mom was done with physical therapy, or Bebe’s dance injury fully healed. NOW.
My test results showed my Epstein Barre Virus (EBV) was active again and with a vengeance. I had mono in college, and EBV (the cause of mono, among other things) stays dormant until something weakens our immune systems. I was forced to make my health my top, non-negotiable priority, with a slew of supplements prescribed by my Dr. Hubby and big dietary changes after devouring the book, The Medical Medium. Lots of bed rest and only doing the things that I knew I had energy for, which wasn’t much. In a tearful video I told our direct sales team what was going on and that I needed to go dark for a while. I put a book proposal on hold. I declined interviews and speaking engagements. I missed some of the kids’ activities and missed board meetings. And John and I pulled out of a community service trip we’d looked forward to for a year. For four weeks I slept in, took long naps, read books and introduced myself to Netflix. Some days my biggest accomplishments were making a juice and a smoothie and brushing my teeth.
I had a big, bad EBV flare up 17 years ago and after the births of both kids (which is common with this virus I’ve learned), but since then I’d been able to keep it at bay, despite times of incredible physical and emotional stress. So why did it flatten me now?
In the many moments of quiet and stillness over the past month, I’ve come to believe that this flare up was my Heart Voice screaming “ENOUGH!” Enough of trying to be all things to all people. Of trying to do and be what others expect me to do. Of taking ownership of others’ happiness and well-being. And even after writing in my book Get Over Your Damn Self that we should stop should’ing all over the place, of having too many shoulds in my life. I’ve cleaned out tasks, people, commitments and expectations that are no longer serving me. It’s not only good medicine for my body, it’s great medicine for my soul.
And guess what? Our team had a stupendous month in business. They worked together and figured out the things they usually come to me for, and became more empowered in the process. Same with the kids. The book proposal is still waiting for me and still as exciting, and there will always be more interviews and speaking engagements and service opportunities. The crippling fatigue is much less, the headaches and nausea, chills and heart palpitations are gone, and I’ve started light workouts again. I’m still far from my usual self and tire easily, but I know that I’ll be that fully charged cell battery again. Yet I’m forever changed. And I know I’ll be making different choices on where to spend all that energy. Taking care of myself will always come first. Because it has to or everything else goes to shit.
As for my Heart Voice, it’s asking “Can you hear me now?” You better believe I do. And I promise to keep cleaning the clutter so I never lose you again.
So now I’m asking you, what’s your Heart Voice been trying to tell you? I challenge you to clean out the noise and the clutter so you can hear it, before yours starts yelling at you too.