Laying low…

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”

–Alan Cohen

I took a bad fall hiking two weekends ago, and had to continue walking almost another two miles on the nine-mile trail before reaching the base from where my friends and I started our adventure.

To recover, when I got home I laid low for a few days alternating between taking Epson salt baths and icing my legs.

At first the reprieve from being “a go -getter” felt restless, as I just wanted to be healed and beyond all this “sitting still” time my body was demanding.

Increasingly, I took these moments of self-nurturance to observe a few things:

  1. While I slowed down, the world around me seemed so much in a hurry. I began wondering why everyone was rushing. All those things I dashed about to get done suddenly seemed so meaningless as I took care of my body, which became my number one priority. As I have repeatedly learned through healing from breast cancer, the body cannot heal if it is racing about. It needs rest. I claimed rest for myself by sleeping in, moving slowly, and disengaging from others to “be” with myself.
  1. So many people sent me loving messages via social media, which was kind. I was grateful for the sweet notes. Yet, sadly, our instant mode of communicating has replaced the need for physical care. What I also really wished for was someone to bring me ice for my legs, soup for dinner, or to unpack the hiking gear and groceries from my car. Many of us are just “too busy” to accommodate one another in these ways these days.
  1. At the same time, I also felt great love from friends at a distance who called to see how I was doing. I hadn’t heard from many of them in a long time, and knowing I was injured, they showed concern. These “surprise” calls touched me deeply.

Bodily injuries (or illnesses) can make us feel vulnerable. It is okay to “need.” I couldn’t feign smiles when my legs were shaky and aching. Instead, I gave myself tender acceptance of my temporary fragile condition and didn’t pretend I felt all right when I was physically hurting.

In the process, I have gained a joy in softening, of not being the “strong one” anymore. I embraced the gentleness within that I so longed for from others.

The “old me” of driven years before would have found a way to hike the following weekend. The “new me” is relishing the slower space of using downtime to get caught up, to connect with friends in a more meaningful way, to rest by sitting in movie theatres watching some of the latest releases and taking long day trips where little walking is required.

Laying low is a great way to bring the pendulum of performing and continually “doing” back to center. I am not so sure I can speed up again too soon. Pacing life a few notches below my normal action mode makes me feel more abundant and content.

To the gifts of slowness,


The above photo, shot near Lake Pleasant in Arizona, where I was hiking when I fell, was taken by my friend Margaret, who also slipped that day.


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  • Sharon hildebrandt says:

    Yes, it is interesting in life how things happen to tell us “slow down.” I went on the bike ride yesterday with 10 others. We had just pedaled about two miles, and I became nauseous and felt like I couldn’t continue. It was strange, to say the least, because I was well rested (at least I thought) and so ready for a wonderful day of riding. The weather was perfect. Two of my friends went back to where my car was parked and met up with me to load my bike back into my car. It is going to the bike shop tomorrow, as my gears might not be working. It was not a tough hill, but this might have attributed to my early exhaustion. I picked up some soup and crackers and spent the rest of the day “chilling out” and just being OK with the fact that I came home. A slower pace is always needed at some point and if our minds are not conveying that message to us, our bodies will! Hope you are much better, Gail!!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Thanks, Sharon: And I hope you continue to feel better and keep “chilling out” (not an easy thing for us Leos to do!). Glad you enjoyed your day at your beautiful home. Hugs, Gail

  • Art Currier says:


    Sharon and I were ill from Christmas Day until Feb 20 with some periods of being OK but it was a bronchial and nasal challenge with a cold. Many people in this area have had such an experience this winter with some ending up with pneumonia. I share this because I did not begin to make real progress until the doctor said ” you are ill which means your body needs to rest to get better – you can not will yourself well so relax, sleep, read and let your immune system (and some meds) do their work”. We found it to be very solid advice that reinforces what you are sharing.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Art: I’m so sorry to hear you and Sharon were ill, and for so long. Thanks for sharing what you learned of rest. Our society is too focused on all the “doing” and not enough on the “being,” which brings us so many rich gifts. Blessings to you both, Gail

  • Ann Marie says:

    Be Well
    Wish I was close enough to make you soup!

  • Jill says:

    Hi Gail,

    Thanks for sharing. So true about how we can get used to doing pretty much what we want until the body “speaks” loud enough for us to “hear”.

    I lead a grief support group and recently used the anology of having the “flu” to describe some of those days when grief will be so heavy, nothing you read, do or force yourself to believe, will make the “grief flu” go away. Sometimes, we really need to give body, mind and soul – time. Time to rest. Extra sleep. Extra time for doing nothing.

    The real kind of flu is one of those things that stops people in their tracks. It “tells” us, “nope, you are NOT” going anywhere. Stay in bed.”

    Rest is good. Balance is good. When we “listen” closely, our bodies can teach us great things.

    Hugs and chicken soup for the soul sent your way.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Beautifully said, Jill. I love your line “when we ‘listen’ closely, our bodies can teach us great things.” Thanks for sharing the need to rest especially while grieving. Besides the grief that comes with the loss of a loved one, there is also a grief that comes with letting go of our old selves and old ways of being. Resting not only helps us release the ways of being that no longer serve us, but it also helps us make time to integrate the new self that often emerges after a loss. I now think of rest as a time to honor growth, to hold it as sacred, and to give ourselves great compassion for the ordeals we’ve been through. Blessings to you for the important work you are doing in the world. Thanks for sharing it with us. With love and gratitude, Gail

  • Shani Fox says:

    So interesting you should write about this, Gail. On the Camino I discovered that while the most important job of a pilgrim is to walk, the second most important is to rest. Otherwise the walking simply can’t continue to happen. Since I’ve been back, I’ve adopted a new pace of living and working, with plenty of rest between bouts of activity.

    Wishing you a complete and speedy recovery!

    • Gail Kauranen Jones says:

      Shani: So good to hear that “rest” is now integrated into your new pace of living. That Camino trip sounds life-altering; so nice when change is “sustained.” Thanks for sharing. Blessings, Gail

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