One is to celebrate your birthday.
I’ve felt this way for a long time. Come to think of it, I probably got the idea that our day of birth should always be the most special day of the year after discovering Dr. Seuss’s classic 1959 book, Happy Birthday to You!
In this magical Technicolor story, a little boy in the land of Katroo (or maybe it’s another planet; that’s never made clear) is whisked away by The Great Birthday Bird. This feathered friend then takes the child through an enchanted day, including a stop at The Birthday Flower Jungle; a skyway ride pulled by tightrope walking goats, and a dive into the famous Mustard-Off Pools (after gorging on hot dogs on a spool).
Finally, after day is done, The Birthday Bird flies the child home—happier, richer and fatter—snuggled sound asleep in what looks like the comfiest dog bed around.
So if the anniversary of your birth falls on a workday, please, life is too short.
And since very few of us know how many birthdays we have left, play hooky and revel in the things that make you happy. (Just make sure to plan ahead, and that cake and ice cream are in the mix.)
The other reason isn’t festive—as a matter of fact, it’s horrible.
That’s when you’re down with a nasty cold or flu.
Given that there are more than 200 different strains of these viruses waiting to pounce on us at any given time, we’ve all been here. (Life and death emergencies, of course, are an entirely different ball of wax.)
Now, there are those—and I was once in this arena—who not only come to work feeling achy and out of sorts, but show up hacking and sneezing around everyone in their path.
This is definitely never A Good Thing to Do.
I learned this lesson while working on my first television show.
Our offices were in a fancy Hollywood high rise with windows that couldn’t be opened, so we all breathed the same stale, recirculated air. (Who says that working in TV isn’t glamorous?) When a co-worker got really sick, but still came to work, it was guaranteed that I’d catch whatever she had. Predictably, I soon had her horrible bug, but because it was my first gig of this kind, and I was terrified of being let go, I, too, kept showing up.
When I finally realized that I had to go home, I was too weak to do much on my own. After not answering my phone for days, my mother drove from my childhood home to fetch me, where she fended off calls from my boss who threatened to fire me; made me eat clean food, and insisted I stay in bed for days on end.
The experience taught me that losing a job (in the end, I didn’t) is far better than losing one’s health.
Still, being home sick isn’t how I prefer to spend my time.
For one thing, there’s the expense. Even when it’s not necessary to bring out The Big Guns (seeing a doctor to score antibiotics, which I’ll only do when forced to), there are always lozenges, Kleenex and sleeping aids to buy. There are also cans of chicken noodle soup (oodles of noodles are required), orange tea, fresh lemons and honey.
And then, be prepared for the inevitable falling behind—something that those of us who run households can relate to.
Laundry doesn’t get done. Neither does washing dishes, grocery shopping and paying bills. Then, knowing that these tasks, and so many more, will all have to wait until feeling well enough to do any of them—when there will then be double the work—leaves me unsettled.
So, while some folks will insist that my only job is to get better (and my colds are usually three days coming, three days here, and three days going), I feel utterly depleted and completely unproductive.
For one thing—and this is a tough one to explain—the light is different.
Usual events that aren’t a big deal (a dog barking outside for no discernible reason, a dumb Facebook post, missing my daily walks) now make me way sadder than they ought to make me. With my schedule out of whack, I know I’m more vulnerable when I’m sick. But as the years pass, I also sink into a bit of a depression. In other words, there’s a negative mental component that simply wasn’t there when I was younger. (Friends the same age tell me this is true for them as well.)
I wish I knew how to fight harder against this part of a cold.
Listening to happy music; reading a favorite book, or even watching a funny movie or television show, doesn’t help as much as they used to. Telling myself, over and over and over, that I’m bound to feel better sooner than later is really the only thing that keeps the light from going away completely.
Is there a lesson to all of this?
I’d much rather miss work because it’s my birthday.
How do you celebrate your birthday? How, too, do you battle the mental negativity of a cold? I look forward to your stories and comments!