Last Monday, I woke up with a fat lip — my upper lip the size of a hot dog. I assumed I got sunburned on my lip in the pool Saturday (yes, I had on sunscreen and a hat).

For the past four months, I have been teaching Mindfulness and Self-Compassion as a specialty teacher one week a month at a residential spa. I was thinking I’d wear a mask teaching my July week because I felt embarrassed and self-conscious about my lip — and I could also use that as a teaching moment about how to manage those icky feelings if I felt like unmasking.

Luckily, the universe provided me a temporary pink slip, as there was a misunderstanding, resulting in me being left off the schedule for this week. Driving home and talking on the phone with one of my wise older sisters, I realized this schedule mix-up provided me with another gift.

I have been feeling solid about the spa guests that experience my entire five-day course and dissatisfied about those guests that pop in on day three, four or even the last day, day five. When participants share the growth each day together, they report having received something meaningful and impactful. For the guests that pop into the course on day three or later, it is not only difficult to blitz through a recap, but the pop-in guests get short shrift in terms of practice. My sister said something that was like a light bulb moment: “it’s not in alignment with the integrity of your teaching.”

I emailed my employer at the spa to tell her I was pausing my teaching for them and would be happy to resume if they wanted to offer and market the course as a five-day series instead of a drop-in class – or hire me for a once-a-month workshop that lasts 2-3 hours, or more. I feel a huge relief!

Anyway, the next day, my lips were worse, and I had an epiphany: perhaps the swelling is not from the sun. Maybe I’ve developed an allergy to plums!

We just harvested bushels of plums (that I’ve been posting photos of) and I’ve been eating them, cooking them, eating them, and giving them away and EATING them. I’ve put over-the-counter cold sore medication on my lips (the stuff that burns, with camphor) and am picking up an Rx for the Valacyclovir pills I take when I get a cold sore. It’s always something!

Fresh plums and other fruits

Plum jelly

Fat lips from eating too many plums

I never wanted lip enhancement and now I can see how truly horrible it would look on my face!

Then there’s the deeper issue: I am a teacher who goes all in for my students. Mindfulness and Self-Compassion is a journey we take together in the classroom. I’m not comfortable with merely providing lip service to the students who miss sessions, or to the curriculum that I painstakingly adapted and crafted for this course.

From the Online Etymology Dictionary, I found this apt definition:

lip-service (n.)

“something proffered but not performed, service with the lips only; insincere profession of good will,” 1640s, from lip (n.) + service (n.1). Earlier in same sense was lip-labour (1530s). This was a general pattern in 16c.-17c., for example lip-wisdom (1580s), the wisdom of those who do not practice what they preach; lip-religion (1590s), lip-devotion “prayer without genuine faith or desire” (c. 1600); lip-comfort (1630s).

If you see me in town this week, giving away bags of plums, I’ll be the woman standing in the power of my integrity — with big fat lips.

Please share your thoughts. . .