The Gift of Quiet Weekends

The Gift of Quiet Weekends

younger than 30

If you have read my previous columns, you are likely aware that my life before being diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) was very different than it is now. This is something I often write about because I can’t believe the dramatic transformation from who I was before my disease to who I am now. Other than having to give up many things that I loved, such as sports and running, all of the changes haven’t been bad.

One of the major changes that I experienced was learning to be still more often and appreciate times of quiet. This is something I never did before my diagnosis, and I initially viewed this as a burden. I maintained the attitude that my diagnosis took physical activity away from me and forced me to “do nothing.” In the early stages of my diagnosis, I always paid attention to how I was feeling during physical activities. I was scared that I suddenly would be left unable to breathe.

Instead, my decline was gradual in terms of stopping activities, and I slowly eliminated one thing at a time. First, I gave up my favorite sport. Then I scaled back running to a jog, and then a slow jog to a walk. I tried my best to push through to see if I could still manage to participate in sports, maybe a little less often and without pushing my limits. But the shortness of breath and the burning in my lungs quickly became too much for me to tolerate.

As a result, I stopped the physical activities I once loved; I was very bitter and angry with this. I felt cheated, especially as I watched all of my friends continue on with their lives, breathing well and being carefree. That bitterness stayed with me for a long time, until I decided I didn’t want to live being angry anymore. After all, I didn’t have anyone to be angry with since it was no one’s fault that I fell ill with IPF. So, I felt like anger was wasted energy. And I learned energy was increasingly precious to savor.

After I decided not to hang onto anger (although I sometimes have my days), I tried my best to reframe my thoughts and to think about the positives in what I still could do. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that being forced to have quiet weekends at home would be rejuvenating for me. Sometimes I feel bad that I cancel plans with friends or opt not to make any on the weekends, because I have a wonderfully supportive group of friends who want to hang out. They want to spend time with me, and for that I am grateful. I am also grateful that they understand the importance of my wanting time alone, to be quiet, to rest, and to get things done around the house at a pace that is manageable for me.

I don’t enjoy living in chaos or being rushed, because if I am having a tough day with my disease, being rushed is, unfortunately, not an option for me. In an effort to avoid this, I really enjoy quiet weekends at home, where I can do some meal-prepping, light housecleaning, and organization, catch up on non-work-related tasks like my columns and social clips, or just let my body rest by lying in bed or watching a television series.

When I think back to the emotional turmoil and anger when my disease started preventing me from living the busy life I knew and loved, I would never have imagined I could grow to love quiet weekends in the comfort of my own home. This means not having people around, even the friends and family that I love most. I just enjoy time in silence, value being able to move at my own pace, and bask in the appreciation of productivity and organization. I am thankful that the people who are closest to me acknowledge the importance of this and support me when I cancel or opt out of plans.

It is amazing the lessons that life chooses to teach us and when we learn them. Thinking back now to how quickly I was moving through life, and at the pace I was maintaining, I am sure I would have burned out within a few years. While I’m not yet comfortable enough to say that I am glad I was diagnosed with IPF (I don’t know if I will ever get there), I am thankful for the lessons it has taught me, such as appreciating moments of stillness and quiet.


Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.


  1. Elayne Lemanow says:

    I also cannot be “rushed.” I am surprised at how much I don’t mind big stretches of alone time to organize myself with daily things, bill paying/paperwork, etc. The one thing I do find frustrating is that I can’t always predict when I will be so tired that I can’t follow through on any plans I may have had that day. Thanks for sharing. I can relate.

    • Charlene Marshall says:

      Hi Elayne,

      Thank you for reading my column and contributing to the comments section. Like you, I am also very surprised at how much I enjoy being alone these days. I am not sure if it is just my getting older and valuing more quiet time, or if it has something to do with my diagnosis. Which is it for you? I really enjoy the feeling of productivity and like to take advantage of it when I am feeling good. I also find it frustrating that I can’t predict when I will be unwell, and I think this is why I like to be productive as often as I can. Stay tuned for another article about anxiety; I touch a little on wanting to get everything done because I don’t know when I’ll fall ill and that can leave me feeling anxious at times. Thanks again for commenting!

  2. gil says:


    Thank you for being our voice.

    The photo is perfect, it touches me and it transports me to that serene setting, as if I were there simply enjoying the day in spite of my illness; is that you? Good photo to include with the video you are doing.

    • Charlene Marshall says:

      Hi Gil,

      Thank you so much for your kind comments as always, and for reading my column. I think this was one of my favourite columns I’ve written for PF News so far. It talks about how different my life is now compared to before my diagnosis, but not in a bad way. I’ve learned to appreciate some of the changes that I’ve had to endure. Yes, it is me at my cottage in summer 2017. I spent a weekend at my cottage with two friends who have really supported me through so much these past few years and we had just finished supper and gone down to see the sunset. Since this lake faces the west, there are some of the best sunsets in the world that happen on this beach…. even a magazine says so! 🙂

    • Charlene Marshall says:

      Hi Joan,

      Thanks for reading my columns and sharing your thoughts in the comments. I’d be curious about this too, it is always something I’ve always wondered about… whether or not the ocean air would be much better for my lungs than the congestion and pollution of the city. Something worth asking your Doctors about anyways. If you do, can you report back on what he or she says?


  3. Erica says:

    Great article!

    It’s been 3 1/2 years now for me since this journey started. my job was taking care of others. I was left in shock when I realized that my work life was over, permanently. In the beginning, I too became angry, bitter and frustrated with the loss of what I thought was myself. I was forced by my lungs to learn to slow down.

    As time has gone by though, I have made peace with this disease and not only accept but embrace the new me. I’ve learnt that the proverbial saying…stop and smell the roses…should be appreciated and adhered to. I now feel sorry for the people I see that have to maintain this fast paced world.

    I sometimes wish I was still healthy with a long life ahead but now realize how much I took for granted, because I believed time was on my side.

    • Charlene Marshall says:

      Hi Erica,

      Thanks so much for reading my column and contributing your comments. I believe our experiences are strikingly similar and find comfort in your sharing, so thank you for doing so. It was really hard at first to know of what we’d lost as a result of our disease, wasn’t it? I don’t know what it was that made me come to peace with my disease and accept what I had lost but also appreciate the gifts and learning that PF has taught me. Believe me, I still have bad days sometimes but they aren’t near as frequent as they used to be. This new appreciation I have just seemed to happen and I don’t really know when, but like you I am so grateful to have been given the gift of slowing down and no longer rushing through life. I also wish to have a long life ahead, but another gift I now value is quality of time vs. quantity. Wishing you the very best as you continue on this journey and thank you again for sharing.


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