When Rest is a Requirement

Your body is your best guide. It constantly tells you, in the form of pain or sensations, what’s working for you and what’s not.” — Hina Hashmi

The world will never stop spinning, and so is the rat race that is our modern life. Because the cheese keeps moving. Just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with constant learning, adapting, or having the latest shiny thing. But it’s the emphasis on must have or should do in order to be always ahead of the game that is problematic. Whose game is it, anyway?

Hence, it’s up to us to say that’s it for the day. I’m taking a break, I’ll continue tomorrow. Easier said than done, I know. Rewards from our hard work are sweeter than honey. But there’s a price for everything, especially for chasing the rainbow. And rest becomes a requirement not a reward.

On illness

Illness is not a favourite topic. Some don’t want to talk about it. Others don’t want to hear about it. We tend to lean more towards cheerful stories; we want to be entertained. Because hey, life is hard for everyone!

But to be ill is human. So, I’ll go ahead and talk about my illness, for the benefit of anyone in a similar situation. To say you are not alone. Also, I hope to reduce the stigma (fatphobia) surroundings gallstones and self-judgement about things I could have done better to avoid losing my gallbladder.

For me, ill health became the price of chasing the rainbow. My body has been signalling a problem for a while. But I ignored the whispers. Then it took to shouting. And I said, “Wait a bit, let me just finish this project.” By the time I was ready to listen, it had completely shut down.

Image of a ‘Get Well Soon’ card

I’m now a member of the “gallbladder-less club.” But I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I am the ordeal with gallstones is over. Though death from gallstones is said to be uncommon, each gallbladder attack felt like my exit, this past spring. Because I’ve never experienced such severe pain before. It literally took my breath away, at times.

It turns out I’m not dying just yet. It’s been a week now since surgery. I’m feeling much better; the body is healing well. But the mind still plays tricks; I’m still afraid of food, as if it’s going to bite me back. I guess, achieving freedom from micromanaging my diet will take longer than the fading of physical scars.

Thanks to all who provided comfort, cat videos (despite the physio’s warning that laughing will hurt for a while) and holding my hand throughout. 🙂

On the allure of reading as a form of rest

Any avid reader will agree that reading as a form of rest and relaxation is a timeless sentiment. No matter how much information we consume online, we always return to a good book. Immersing oneself in a good book offers a vital reprieve for our attention.

I can’t do any physical or strenuous activities, at the moment. My body has forced me to make reading a regular part of my relaxation ritual, again. I’m glad of it. The tranquil nature of reading and the sense of calm are happiness, right now! Anyway, I share some of my reads on beauty, in the upcoming newsletter.

On other news and book releases I’m excited about

1) In Search of Salve: Memoir of a Sex Addict by K.E. Garland

As I mentioned in a previous newsletter, Kathy writes with such unflinching honesty and on delicate subjects. But she won’t leave you raw and bleeding, rather with an important to learn. She is truly inspirational.

I feel privileged and honoured to have received an advance copy. And I’m saying it again, this is a book you want as one of your autumn reads. The release is in September. But you can pre-order your copy now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Bookshop.org.

*Book cover image courtesy of the author

2) The Horror Collection: Monster Edition by KJK Publishing

I’m also looking forward to a short prequel to an unpublished novel by one of my favourite horror writers, Christina Bergling.

It’s part of the collection mentioned above. And as she states, hers is a deeply personal bit of body horror about hair loss.

*Book cover image courtesy of Christina Bergling.

If you’re not familiar with alopecia, learn a bit about it from Christina’s experience, My Alopecia Blog.

OK, that’s a lot to digest. But I’ll leave you with this question. If you were paid to rest, how much would you charge?

Take a break and savor the season you’re in!

Khaya Ronkainen
Khaya Ronkainen is a writer, poet and creative professional. Her blog focuses on all things poetry and creative nonfiction.


  1. Good to hear your voice again, Khaya! Settling in with a good book sounds like just the thing – until you start to feeling better! Then you might opt for payment on continuing to ‘rest’!
    Take care

  2. First of all, I hope you’re resting and recovering! I know how we can be (and by “we,” I mean me lol), so I do hope this is a time of respite.

    “And rest becomes a requirement not a reward” is the best comment. I learned this with my rotator cuff surgery. Having to rest for weeks actually has taught me to slow down a bit and appreciate my body for what it does every day.

    Finally, thank you so much for sharing that you’re reading In Search of a Salve! It’s weird to hope you “enjoy” it, but you know what I mean 😉

  3. Thanks Kathy, I am taking it very slow and getting better each day. And I know what you mean; writers are always working all the time. 😀

    I view being ill a wake-up call, and being “forced” to rest after surgery a blessing. Because all these experiences help us to pause, appreciate our bodies indeed and learn to better take care of ourselves. A rotator cuff injury can take long to heal. I hope yours allows you to do the things you enjoy, to a greater extent.

    Girl, your book…! I’m in the early chapters, and I have so many thoughts and emotions going. “Enjoy” yes can be a word that is weird to use for certain books. But I’m enjoying In Search of a Salve for its educational ability and disrupting the stereotypes around sex, especially sex lives of Black women. Kudos to you, again, for writing this book!

  4. I’m glad you are on the mend!

    I’m not sure what I’d charge to be paid to rest, LOL. Last week was a big forced rest for me (I went on vacation and made a conscious effort to do lots of little fun things instead of sneak in work), It was definitely a needed break! I suppose I’d charge whatever is deemed a proper living wage for where I live, because I do believe that regular rest is part of living.

  5. Free! Don’t pay me nothing just let me rest! You’re right khaya, we need to learn to slow down enough to listen to our bodies otherwise it will enforced one way or the other. Get well soon and enjoy your fav. books.

  6. I’m on the mend, thanks Rommy. Glad to hear you made an effort not to sneak in work during your vacation. Checking emails, especially, can easily escalate into a task that takes hours before you know it. Rest is a regular part of living, and everyone has their price, what they consider fair…There are no right or wrong answers. LOL!

  7. Free, I love that a lot. I once told a former boss, who increasingly demanded more time from me even on weekends, that no-one can afford to pay to work on weekends. This reasoning works well, when one is employed by a different entity. But when you work for yourself, it’s a constant struggle to find the balance. But I vote for free, anytime. 🙂 Thank you, Shadia.

  8. First, I am glad you are on your way towards healing. Being in pain–and in pain from your gallbladder in particular–is a bit of a horror. I remember the gallbladder attack that left me thinking like I was dying… I’ve been run over by an ATV, I’ve had a mastectomy, my Crohn’s disease pain is no joke, but nothing has hurt as much as my gallbladder. So, I am so happy, your pain is no longer an issue. And about being afraid of food, I think that’s normal (well, I was afraid too, so at least is normal for us 😅). Take it easy, a day at a time… not being in horrific pain will be the best motivator when you miss foods you might no longer be able to eat.

  9. Hey Maga! You are a warrior, I’ll give you that. I didn’t know you had to contend with this kind of pain too, above all other health issues you had and still going through. Thank you so much for sharing about your gallbladder attack experience. Physically, I’m a feeling much better, slowly trying different foods and adjusting to the new normal. Hope you’re enjoying the summer season as much as your body allows.

  10. Girl Khaya, yes ma’am we do get our warning signs, but that overly ambitious part of us says exactly what you said, “But let me finish this project first.” Our bodies give us the telltale signs when we are overdoing it and when we fail to respond to the warning signs our bodies give us. We tend to dismiss our symptoms as “not that serious” until it says otherwise. Great post my friend. I think many of us have visited a health situation where we were warned way ahead of time before we heeded the warning. Take care of yourself my sistah girlfriend! 🥰💖🤗

  11. And the price of not listening is too great, I tell ya! Thank you, my friend. I appreciate your visit here and your continued support. Hope you’re taking it easy too, this summer. 🙂

  12. LOL Khaya, I think it’s a hit or miss for me. 😜 One day I am chillin’ and on another day I am like a mad scientist with projects. But, I have had some warning signs I needed to heed. You don’t have to tell me twice girlfriend. Sending you massive hugs and smooches. I am so proud of you Khaya! 😊💖🥰

  13. I’m so glad to hear you’re on your way to feeling a whole lot better, Khaya. Our wise bodies do send messages, and we should be mindful and pay attention. Hard to do when we’re so focused and busy with the project at hand. Reading sounds like a dream and what a perscription for recovery. Hugs and healing, my friend. <3

  14. Awww, thank you so much for this kind shoutout. It means so much to me, friend.

    This post resonated with me. LOUD. As you know, I too have struggled with my health and not listening to my body. It’s not the boss of me after all. Right? Turns out it is. I have been working so hard to collaborate and care for my body rather than push it. Baby steps.

    I am so glad to hear you made it through your surgery and are resting. I appreciate how complicated a process it is. And I admire your declaration of self-care. Take care of yourself. And tell me how when you learn 🙂

  15. You’re so welcome, Christina! I’m looking forward to the Monster Edition, please don’t forget to let us know when it comes out. And yes, it turns out the body IS the boss. I’m taking baby steps alongside you my friend, and as I learn that self-care is a radical act. Here’s to listening to our bodies and healing! <3

    Btw, I also enjoyed the essays in the Inside the Indie Horror World anthology. Thank you for your contribution there, cause we can always learn from one another.

  16. Khaya, poor you! How horrible to have gallbladder problems and the pain must have been horrendous. Thank goodness the op went well. I am relieved that you are taking things a bit easy and accepting that it is okay to be ill, to ensure that you have the rest and recuperation to recover fully. Oh yes, a good book (plus many more) is a tonic to healing. Once over the worst of the pain from my broken shoulder last autumn I could finally accept my lack of mobility (many weeks) and read lots! Take good care of yourself, my friend. xx ❤️❤️

  17. I know well the enforced rest one cannot resist when the body is in need. I am glad to hear you are doing better now. Take it slow and steady, my friend.

  18. Thank you, my friend. I am feeling much better, but continue to take things easy. Books and writing have both served as a tonic, indeed, and as I heal. It is important to listen to our bodies, I hope your shoulder has healed enough and allows you to do the things you love. Hugs and lovely summer season! <3

  19. I agree with you…we don’t listen to our bodies, or our souls, for that matter. That should be addressed. Right now.
    I am so glad you are back to the joys of pain-free living!
    What would be enough payment for rest? I think your lake and the ducks would do for starters lol!

  20. I’m learning to learn. It requires effort, focus and patience to listen to our bodies and souls. Praise be to the joy of living again! 🙂 And yes, nature heals. I’m forever grateful to be in close proximity.

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