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Since lockdown began, I have lost and gained the same seven pounds. Well, I cannot be absolutely certain that it is the SAME seven pounds. Let’s just say they’re not far away from my body at any given time. I am walking every day. I am stretching, eating mostly good food, and spending time outside most every day.

I have tried changing what/when/how I eat. No difference.

I’ve tried intermittent fasting. No difference.

I have tried two different “eating plans”. No difference.

If I read or hear one more time that I need more “willpower” someone will get hurt.

The reality of the situation is this: I am an addict. I have very poor impulse control. I cannot eat one cookie or one potato chip. I eat them all. Maybe not in one setting, but most often. So I try not to keep junk food at home. The cravings get awful.

I have made the conscious decision not to drink alcohol. I used to love drinking alcohol. Like, REALLY enjoy drinking. And, like junk food, if I opened a bottle of wine I would drink all of it. Sometimes I’d open a second bottle. I’d buy a growler of beer. Then I’d drink most, if not all of it in short order. Then I decided I didn’t need to do this to myself…so I stopped.

When I was recovering from surgery at the beginning of the year, I was offered a glass of wine. I agreed. It tasted awful and it wasn’t the wine, it was me. I went out for dinner and ordered a beer. And again, it tasted awful. Ick. So I made the decision to stop drinking, aside from communion.

I’ve not craved alcohol since. Yay!

Before lockdown, I had significantly lessened the amount of sugar/stevia/aspartame that I consumed. I would have a small treat every now and then. I was on the way to kicking the sugar habit. And was really proud of myself.

Then lockdown happened. My grocery bills started increasing because I was determined to eat healthy foods; fresh foods. No processed food. No junk. Excellent plan, not fully realised.

The problem with being a food addict is that you cannot abstain from food. You will never hear at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting: “Hello, my name is Andrea and I’m an addict. It’s been 45 days since my last bite of food.” Food is a very social part of who we are and what we do. If we don’t eat, we die. It will take a long, harrowing time, but we will die.

Eating is a central part to the sacrament of the Eucharist. We gather to share together in the body and blood of Christ. Not literally the body and blood, but a small, round wafer and a sip of red wine. Or a cube of gluten-free bread and a Jesus-jigger of grape juice.

I say often, of the Church, that we gather at the table; either the Lord’s table or the kitchen table. Except right now we can’t. We are unable to gather in our buildings and share these expressions of sacrament and commitment, because it simply isn’t safe to do so.

In the grand scheme of things, being addicted to food isn’t the worst thing, right? Wrong. You can eat yourself to death. You can damage your body, mind and soul from eating the “wrong kinds” of food and abusing food. Many people laugh when I tell them I’m a food addict. Because it does sound funny. How can you be addicted to something that is meant to fuel your body? Impulse control…or lack thereof.

I was talking to a good friend of mine the other day and we were chatting about how I’m struggling with the food addiction. Food carries a tremendous amount of shame for me. I have difficulty eating in front of other people. When I go out to eat, which I haven’t done in a long time, I carefully manage how much I eat.

I am capable of eating mindfully, and when I do, I feel great. Yet when I am under stress I “fog eat” when I sit down to eat something and before I know it the bowl is empty, the container is empty and I have no recollection of refilling the bowl or emptying the container.

Almost immediately I feel profound shame for my lack of control. Why am I so weak and powerless to food? When I keep junk out of my house I’ll be fine for a few days to a week, and then I’ll start craving and it will be horrendous. I can’t function until I tend to the craving. I try all the tricks; drinking water, counting to 10, breathing deeply, having something as a substitute. But none of these tricks work, especially when I’m craving mashed potatoes or cheezies or chocolate cake.

Mashed potatoes are comfort food to me. I make really good mashed potatoes. And I can portion control them, most of the time. But when it comes to potato chips and sweets, I will crave and eat them until they are gone. I’ll make a list and stick to it at the grocery store. I’ll be really disciplined, I’ll be really “good” and then I find myself waiting in line…and the craving begins…just a small bag of chips. You’ve been good. Oh go on, get the big bag, you’ll have a serving and put them away. You can do it.

Except I can’t.

No matter how well I justify “earning” the treat, I cannot stop until they are gone. Not all at once, but within a 24 hour period I will continue to go back to that treat until they are all gone. More shame and self-disgust.

My friend told me, in the grand scheme of things, that overeating, at this point in time, is not necessarily a terrible thing. Yes, it’s self-soothing. Yes, it’s not ideal. But we are living in a time of heightened stress. We are living in a time which is unprecedented for most of us.

I’ve decided to keep a food journal. Not to judge myself, not to punish myself, but to see if I can find a pattern to the cravings and overeating.

So, to that seven pounds that I keep losing and gaining, I say this: “it’s been a slice. How about you go away and stay away? I have no further need of you.”

If only it were that easy…

Wish me luck. Imma need it.

My body is angry. I ache everywhere. I feel like I physically, from the neck down, have the ‘flu. My ankles are “clicking” more than usual. Same with my wrists. I was walking the other day and my ankle seized up. It simply stopped working and hurt a lot.

I stopped walking, rotated my ankle and was eventually able to weight bear. It scared me. I carefully walked back to my car, got home, elevated, medicated, applied heat and cold alternately and eventually dozed off.

I realised for the past two months I’ve been clenching everything. My jaw, my hands, my body and it’s unsustainable. We are living in a world most of us have never seen before. It’s scary. It’s frustrating. It’s unbelievable. And yet, it is our reality.

When I am at my best I eat three healthy meals a day. I cook at home, I drink lots of water, some decaffeinated tea, a little diet pop, and eat treats sparingly. I can get 8 hours of sleep and awaken feeling refreshed. I have few food cravings. My eyes are clear, my skin is dewy and I feel good.

Not these days, though.

My skin is sallow. I look haggard. I can’t sleep more than a couple of hours at a time. I wake before my alarm and when I decide to try and sleep more, I fall into a deep sleep and have difficulty rousing to my alarm.

I am craving foods I’ve not craved in months, if not years. I’m drinking mostly tea, lots of diet pop and a moderate amount of water. My skin is alternately dry and oily. Everything hurts. Well, except my hair. It’s just growing…fast…and a lot.

My food addiction is bad. I have so much shame about food that I feel humiliated. I am eating 1 – 2 meals a day. I start off with the best of intentions, then end up feeling ravenous, even though I KNOW I’m not hungry. I buy healthy food. Fruit, vegetables, lean meat, multi-grain bread. I don’t bring home a lot of processed food. And yet I crave chips and cookies. And I can’t eat one serving. I eat the whole bag.

I’m aware I’m doing it and I get angry and ashamed. Yet I can’t stop.

I’m currently using two online apps. One is through a wearable device which I really like because it gives advice on what to do as far as exercise in isolation. It’s adapted to the current reality of the world. The other is an online subscription app. I used it a few years ago and it was working well for me, then I stopped. I can’t remember why, but I know it was because I got frustrated with being moved from peer group to peer group.

The program has changed a little in a few years. And not at all since the pandemic. All the “helpful hints” involve getting together with family and friends, of going shopping with your girlfriends. Of going out to dinner, etc. NONE of which we can do right now. So, being the quiet and demure female I am… (you know, there REALLY needs to be a sarcasm font) I sent a message to my personal coach and the Concierge and didn’t receive a satisfactory answer.

I’ve asked questions about dealing with food addiction and been told “in their opinion” that such things don’t exist. Um, what?

I’m debating quitting the online program when my “course” is finished (August). I’m not losing weight, although I am following the course given the restrictions of COVID-19. Ugh.

I was listening to a podcast earlier today and there was woman who was raised by a crack-addicted mother. She was quite judmental with her mother for not having enough self-control. Until she found herself in her mid-twenties eating her feelings…until she weighed over 400 lbs and knew her life was in jeopardy. She joined Overeaters Anonymous and it helped her.

Food addiction is real. It is as valid an addiction as any other. Because I’m in a heightened place of stress, my coping mechanisms are weak…in some cases non-existent. My impulse control seems to be broken.

So, I’ve decided to check out Overeaters Anonymous. There are virtual meetings that I can drop into and drop out of. I think it would help me to talk to people who understand how I feel. Who understand the minefield that food addiction and grocery shopping can be.

Hopefully I can learn, again, to lessen my stress and eat properly so my body will stop being angry with me.

Oh! And then there’s the physical changes with menopause and HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy). I’ll get there. I know I will.

It will take time. It will take effort. And it will take help. Help which I am determined to get.

Watch this space…

I’ve taken up walking. I know, I know…walking. I like to walk, I’m fairly skilled unless there’s a hill, it’s windy or the road is uneven. I firmly believe my centre of gravity is between my eyes. I tip over quite easily, in fact, more easily than a cow…or so I’ve been told.

One of my favourite walk/hikes takes place behind a rest area about an hour’s drive from here. I drove there yesterday, a beautiful day, parked my car, got my water bottle and off I headed. I hadn’t hiked this area in more than a year and decided, instead of going the way I usually go, to take the other entrance, where I usually come out at the end. It’s a loop, so it really shouldn’t matter, right?

WRONG!

I started off well, stopping to read the signs about the geography of the area, to read about the Indigenous land and Ktunaxa Creation story. And off I perambulated. It’s a relatively easy hike, fairly flat. The path is wide enough to step off easily if someone is approaching, which I did a few times.

At one point there’s a switchback on the trail, which I completely missed. I would up walking on the Trans Canada Trail for about 1.5 kms. I was going in the WRONG DIRECTION but didn’t figure this out for quite some time. You see, I have a poor sense of direction, but it was a lovely day and I had my water bottle with me. I would stop and take photos, sometimes just stand a breathe, marveling in my surroundings. It was a beautiful day.

I prayed for the survivors of the Nova Scotia massacre and prayed for those who died. I prayed for my dear friends who were burying both their mother and father yesterday. And I walked. And I walked. And I veered off the path I was on, thinking it would get me to where I was supposed to be.

Nope.

Another kilometer out of the way.

But it was a lovely day and I had my water bottle with me. And my ankles were starting to hurt.

You see, I’ve not been walking in long stretches since my surgery. I walk for a kilometer or two, usually around a small lake or paved path. And I was getting very sore.

When I finally pulled out my mobile and took a look at where I was on the map and where I was SUPPOSED to be I started laughing…a bit maniacally. I said a prayer for strength and sanity, did a 180 and started walking back to where I had come off the path. I got back to the path and turned back onto the path, in the direction from which I had come.

While all this was going on I came up a foursome riding their trail bikes. I stepped off the path, we said hello and away I walked. When I was walking back down the trail I saw them again. We nodded hellos again.

I continued walking and eventually got back to the spot where I had gone wrong in the first place. Now keep in mind, I had planned to walk for an hour, perhaps two. At this point I’m 3 hours in and still need to get back to where I started. And my hips are starting to hurt.

Ugh.

I now have a decision to make…am I going to re-trace my steps or am I going to try and finish the original loop. In a moment of abject stupidity I decide to try and finish the loop…only to realise after half an hour of walking that I’m not going in the right direction (again).

As I walk towards the switch-back I see the four cyclists again and we nod and smile again. I’m asked “Are you following us?” and I respond “Yes! I’ll see you at the finish line”.

Ugh.

I get back to where I came off the trail initially and follow it back. Just as I’m getting to the mouth of the trail I see the foursome one last time. We smile and wave as I hobble towards my car.

When I got home I headed straight for the Tylenol. Then I had a shower, put on pajamas and relaxed for the rest of the night.

What had started as an easy 2 hour walk became a 5 hour endurance test. I did it. I survived it and other than being sore, I felt pretty good.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. Then I tried to get out of bed.

Kyrie Eleison.

More Tylenol. A quick trip to the grocery store. Cleaned up my kitchen and now I’m going for a nap. After more Tylenol.

Moral of the Story…don’t be a dumbass. Perhaps I should carry a compass. And maybe pack a flare gun for emergencies.

Oh, and I did stop on the way home to get some more water.

There really does need to be a sarcasm font. No, seriously.

Since my surgery in January I have been thrust into menopause. I have been peri-menopausal since I was 21, that’s 30 years in a state of peri-menopause. Some of the symptoms PLUS periods. Yay…not.

Now, I have symptoms. The most common for me are hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia. My doctor, in consultation with my surgeon prescribed me estrogen patches. For a month I was on 37.5 mcg twice a week. Last week then went up to 50 mcg twice a week. So far I’m not noticing much of a difference…which I suspect is okay?

Then there’s the insomnia. Given the heightened state of awareness we are all in, I was having periodic insomnia prior to starting HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy). Manageable…I guess.

I thought I had a lot more to say about this, but for whatever reason can’t remember.

Wait! Isn’t that another symptom of menopause?

Oh Yay!

Both are very important to me. I feel my best when I know what my schedule is. I function best when I know what is expected of me. Rituals help calm my mind and help me to focus. So, as you can imagine, the last month has been a great challenge as my schedule is in constant flux, there is an influx of emails demanding attention as well as phone calls, Zoom meetings, text messages and many more distractions.

I’ve never been good at managing boundaries, yet I am determined to come through the other end of COVID-19 with my marbles intact. Wish me luck.

I was lamenting with a friend that I’m feeling overwhelmed with the amount of contact that is demanded these days. I’m quite certain that I’m receiving at least twice as much email as I did before. And I’m attending 1000% more meetings by Zoom then I did before (that may be a slight exaggeration).

When I came back from medical leave I created a workspace in my flat so I could separate my home life and my work life. With the increase in Zoom, I’m finding there is a very blurry line between the two.

So what I (attempt to) do every day is turn off technology for part of the day or at least not respond to everything immediately. Constantly re-prioritizing is tiring, but necessary so I don’t feel too overwhelmed. I have discovered a feature on my mobile phone that when I place it face down it goes into Do Not Disturb mode. So texts, phone calls (unless from a specific list) and emails do not make any sound until the phone is turned back over.

I will be taking Friday and Saturday as my Sabbath Days as of next week. This week is Holy Week and I have Worship every day. My Sabbath Days will be marked with no electronics. No email, Slack, Facebook, Instagram, Zoom or Skype. Disconnection. An opportunity to be intentionally outside for more than half an hour.

If I need to sleep the day away, I will do so. If I want to clean my flat from top to bottom, I will do so. If I want to pack a lunch and take a drive, I will do so. With no guilt.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a waterfall about an hour’s drive from here. When I arrived there was not a soul in sight. I walked around to the other side of the falls and on the way back I noticed a dozen cars arriving. Everyone kept physical distance, we waved and smiled and got out of the way of each other. It was a lovely sunny day and I put the windows down in the car.

On the way home I stopped at one of my favourite hikes. There were three cars in the parking lot. I started the hike, realised after about 20 minutes that the trail was icy and not safe for me. So I turned around. I met a couple who stepped off the trail and asked how it was further along. I told them it was icy and with safe distance, they turned around as well.

I’m doing my best to take one day at a time. I’m doing my best to eat well and drink lots of water. I’m doing my best to go to bed early so if I have a rough night it’s not as bad come morning.

And of course, there’s the menopause, which will be a reflection for another day.

I hope you are all doing your best to take care of you.

We will get through this. And I do, truly believe, we will be stronger for it.

Take one day at a time, unless that feels too hard.

Then try one hour at a time, unless that feels too hard.

Then take one minute at a time. We’ll get there.

I received this prayer yesterday and I think it’s beautiful. We have been asked to come together in prayer today, 31st March 2020.

I invite you all to pray whatever time is right for you, a National Prayer for Canada.

O God, We gather together separated by life-saving distancing, but united more than ever in spirit;We know we are in a war against COVID – 19 together, and the more together we are, the better and stronger we will emerge:

We know the challenges are enormous, yet so are the opportunities;That whether we are in isolation with loved ones, or alone, we will have abundance of time;

We commit to using that time to the max, to help those in greater need in whatever way we can;We know we all have the opportunity, and time, to be life savers and life enhancers;

We give thanks for those who are on the front line taking care of those who are not well;We give thanks for the researchers who are working at breakneck speed to find cure and vaccine;

We give thanks for our leaders, federal, provincial and local, for their dedication to all of us;We give thanks for the providers of our daily needs who go to work in spite of the risk;We give thanks for those who have ramped up their ability to produce life-saving supplies. We pray for the well-being of all our life savers;

For those who are not well, that they recover fully;For those enduring difficulty, that they may overcome their challenges.We pray that a cure and vaccine will soon be available, And that we all – family, friends, all Canadians, the entire world may be healed in body and spirit.

We ask you, O God, to bless our leaders, our front line care givers, our life savers and life enhancers.

We ask you, O God, to bless Canada, to bless the world, to bless everyone. Amen.

Composed by Rabbi Dr Reuven P. Bulka & Archbishop Terrence Prendergast

Thank you to everyone who chooses to pray this prayer. In whatever way we choose to pray, God hears us. And I truly believe, when this pandemic is over and we are able to gather again, we, as Church, will emerge with a greater sense of self. We will imagine and realise life in a different way. The same with worship.

Regardless of what the calendar date is on the day we return to worship together, that Sunday will be our Easter…the day of Resurrection for our Parishes.

can be really difficult. Growing up I was allowed to be happy and, within reason, sad. Never angry. One of the “fun” side effects of that kind of upbringing is that I never learned how to identify the majority of emotions.

I know happy, sad, angry, sarcastic and frustrated relatively easily. Nuances beyond those are often difficult for me to pick up on. *shrug* It is what it is.

My emotions have been all over the map this past few weeks. I was doing really well…eating well, taking care of myself, working smarter rather than harder. Getting back to full speed after surgery and the subsequent recovery.

And then a virus was discovered in Wuhan, China. Which then made it’s way…well…everywhere. I watched in fear as it seemed unstoppable. Surely it wouldn’t get to Canada, not to my small corner of creation, would it?

Surely we’d be able to continue gathering as Church?!?

Two weeks ago I felt as though I couldn’t breathe. I was inundated with information…on the news…by email…from the denominational head offices, concerned parishioners, family and friends.

There was so much information, but how much was accurate? What was I supposed to share? What was I allowed to share?

And the decisions to be made…are we allowed to gather? If so, under what circumstances? How do we get this information out quickly, appropriately and calmly. Then I got a tension headache that made it difficult to think, never mind do anything.

Then I lost the ability to sleep.

I was feeling as though I was running as fast as I could…but getting nowhere. I was frantic. And I couldn’t figure out the emotions.

Turns out, it was a combination of grief, of anger, of frustration, of sadness. It was churning my insides and making me ill. So I made a decision.

I sat down with my day planner and looked at all the Zoom calls I was expected to attend. I made a list of all the ways I need to communicate with my congregation and community. I unclenched my jaw. I drank more water. I went for a walk. And I took a nap.

Friday I had to run an errand at a local hardware store. Keeping physical distance has made me afraid of crowds – well, that’s not exactly true, I’ve always been uncomfortable in crowds, NOW it’s reinforced. Red lines delineate where to stand while waiting.

I picked up the two items I needed and saw the most beautiful dog and his person. I commented on the beautiful pooch and lamented that I couldn’t say hello. The dog’s person said “Why not?” and gestured for me to walk to the other end of the aisle. Which I did. He then called the dog to sit and took off the lead, telling him to “go say hello”. I knelt down and this magnificent beast walked towards me, wagging his nub of a tail. He put his head against my chest and I gave his neck and ears some loving.

He looked up at me with these huge, beautiful brown eyes and my heart broke into a million pieces. I started to cry. He licked my tears away. Eventually I settled and stood up. I patted his head and back and thanked his person who said “You’re most welcome”, and called his dog to him.

Through tears I made my way to the checkout, paid for my purchases and walked to my car. I let the welled up grief out and cried for what felt like a very long time. When I was finished my head felt much better.

I’m doing the best I can. I am reaching out as I am able to everyone I can. I can’t do it alone and I have a wonderful group of folks who are checking in on each other and checking in on me. There was no course for this at Seminary. Yet I expect there soon may be.

I’m seeing lots of posts on social media about “being happy”. And of “bucking up and making the best of things.” And I’m tired of it.

A friend of mine is going through a really difficult time. She said she needs to stop crying and smile. I told her to feel her feelings for as long as she needs to feel them. Because when you swallow them; when you push them down they will build up until you end up on your knees in a hardware store, with a stranger’s dog licking your face.

I’m making this up as I go. I’m doing the best that I can. This is all uncharted territory. And I need to give myself the grace that most everyone else has offered.

So, I will feel those feelings. I will do my best. I will be the best I can be. And the rest will sort itself out. Priorities will continue to change. People will continue to challenge me. I will continue to hang on and do what I can every day. I will take time for me, every single day. I will take days off.

Without guilt. Without shame.

I’m just going to feel the feelings, and try to figure out exactly what they are.

I am a hugger. I’m a great hugger. And I’m an introvert. A BIG Introvert. Since COVID-19 we went from small gatherings to social distancing and I reckon we will soon be house-bound. Right now I’m going, alone, to the Churches at least once a week. It helps me retain a sense of normality in a world that seems to have gone mad.

Last Thursday I spent 10 hours on various screens dealing with phone calls, emails, texts, and Zoom meetings. By Saturday I was feeling completely overwhelmed.

It felt as though I couldn’t finish anything.

It felt as though I was running as fast as I could, simply to stay in the same place.

I couldn’t focus. Then my head started to hurt. It’s still hurting. To the point its distracting.

Last night I had a hot shower and focused the jets on my neck and shoulders. That helped. I’ve tried meditation, drinking water, walking outside to get some fresh air. I’ve tried medication, acupressure, and caffeine. I’ve tried stretching, self-massage and sleep.

What I think I need, no, what I KNOW I need is a time to disconnect.

I was speaking with a colleague earlier today and he said he feels as though this time of isolation has created more demands for connection. I absolutely agree. Working with two denominations has been stressful and enlightening. Both want to ensure that clergy feel connected. Both want to assure us that we are doing our best.

What I need most right now, is not connection, but disconnection.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parishioners. I love my community. I love my friends and family. I also love my own company. And complete solitude.

I’m now trying to work out a new routine. When I wake up I open an app called “Pray as you Go”. It’s a 20 minute reflection on scripture with some music and a calming image on which to focus. As I listen a breathe, sip water and give thanks. Then I say my morning prayers. THEN I get up.

I am going to take time every day to go outside. I’m going to restrict the amount of time I spent in front of a screen. I’m going to nap when I’m tired. Feed myself good, nutritious, food. And do something every day that brings me joy.

In my heart I believe this physical isolation is going to last for awhile yet. Which means I need to get myself into a routine and treat myself better than I have been.

We are having our 5th Sunday Joint Service on Sunday and we’re going to use a Zoom platform. It will be interesting to see who is able to attend and whether we continue to use the platform.

We, as Church, have not been in this position, of physical isolation, for hundreds of years. And while we cannot reach out and touch our friends, parishioners and neighbours, we can reach out and connect. I have recorded one homily and posted it online to incredibly positive feedback.

My hope is that the technology we are figuring out, will be a short-term solution and once the virus is in check, and the isolation is relaxed, we will gather in person once again. Time will be the measure of that story.

So as I watch the sun set behind the snow-covered mountains I give thanks to God for the blessings of this life. I ask for a restful, pain-free sleep which will enable tomorrow to be a beautiful day.

My wish is the same for you. Deep, restful sleep. Rise to a beautiful new day. Experiencing things which bring you great joy.

In many parts of Canada worship services have been suspended. Where I live, in British Columbia, we are still permitted to gather as long as there are less than 250 in attendance. Yet another reason why small is beautiful.

At the United Church today we sang a beautiful song as our Sending Song. The lyrics are:

Don’t be afraid. My love is stronger, my love is stronger than your fear. Don’t be afraid. My love is stronger and I have promised, promised to be always near. (c) 1995, John L. Bell, and Graham Maule.

Profound and beautiful words indeed.

We are living in uncertain times as a pandemic is threatening our health and our safety. We can choose fear or we can choose hope. I choose hope.

Last night we had an Irish Stew supper at the United Church. There had been some conversation if we should postpone or cancel it. After prayerful consideration, it was decided that the event would go ahead as planned. There was a hand sanitizing station for folks to clean their hands before they got their food. There was food, laughter, conversation and friendship. Safely.

We gathered this morning for worship and while our numbers were down our spirit was undaunted. We will be checking in with our shut-ins and those who are most vulnerable. We will be washing our hands, often and not touching our faces.

And for the love of God, we will NOT be buying toilet paper unless we do, actually need it.

As an empath, by the time I got home from the second worship services I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I lay down but couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t get comfortable, I couldn’t get warm. So I got up, found my copy of Voices United and sang the song we sung today at worship.

It’s a beautiful song. A simple song. And yet quite profound.

As we navigate these next days, weeks and months of COVID-19, let us remember to choose love first.

The time may come when we are unable to gather for worship and should that time come, we will figure out how best to faithfully serve our congregations while staying safe.

Don’t be afraid. God’s love is stronger.

I reached a major milestone this week…I drove home on Wednesday. Loading the car was an adventure as I overthought about putting the back seat down or what order to load things in. I made sure everything was at a weight I could safely lift so I put twice as many bags into the car to come home as I did when I left home.

Stopping half-way at a café for a Chai Latte (first time I’ve had one of those) was quite good. I drove the last half hour home feeling determined and relatively pain-free. When I got home a friend was waiting to unload the car which was wonderful. We had a quick visit and she left.

A friend and colleague stopped by with his adorable new puppy and we had a cup of coffee and a lovely visit for about an hour.

I unpacked my clean clothes, toiletries, electronics and groceries. I took my time as I did all these things, stopping for a sit down and a cup of tea or glass of water. Then I had a lovely hot shower in my own shower, put on clean pajamas and snuggled into a freshly made bed. Bliss.

I was wide awake at 2:00 am. I wasn’t fretting about it, I realised it was because I’d had a cup of coffee at 4:00 pm and that was my first cup of coffee since I’d left home. Jeez.

Since I got home I’ve continued unpacking and making lists of chores to do, all fun little things like setting up a new recycle station in my storage cupboard. I bought some indoor plants and plant pots and plan to transplant them into pots with better drainage. I have two small sewing projects to take on.

I’ve been out to appointments, and while I’ve seen parishioners, given and received hugs, “shop talk” has been an absolute minimum. And I don’t feel guilty about that.

I’m still working on the “deep dive” and there’s still some yucky stuff to deal with, yet I’m striking a balance.

Yesterday I saw my family doctor in the morning and my counsellor in the afternoon. At the end of our session she remarked that this was the first session we’ve had where I didn’t talk about work for the entirety of the session. She said I look calmer, happier and healthier then she’s ever seen me. She said she was proud of me! I said I was proud of me too! Then she asked the difficult question…”So, how are you going to maintain this level of self-care when you go back to work?”

Fair Question.

The answer is difficult but necessary. Boundaries, communication and the realisation that I am just as entitled to look after myself as I am to look after everyone else. I don’t have to and shouldn’t have to put my needs last.

It’s taken me 52 friggin’ years, and I am finally understanding that I am a good person, a kind person, and I matter. I am going to continue treating myself as well as I treat everyone else. And sometimes even better. 🙂

My relationship with food is still a big trigger and it’s part of the icky stuff I need to work through. I weighed myself before I had surgery and again when I got home and was shocked that I had lost 7 lbs. I’m not yet back to full-strength. I can’t walk as quickly as I was able to before because of an issue with my left foot.

I have not yet learned to be bored. I’ll need to apologise to my Bishop for that. Instead I’ve begun to daydream again. To take notice of my surroundings, be fully present when I eat and drink. To sit comfortably in silence or listen to music.

I’ve started writing poetry again…which I haven’t done since 1991.

This is work I’ve needed to do for years, no, decades. It’s brutally difficult work and I’m nowhere near finished. And yet I cannot imagine making time to do this work. I’m so very grateful that I’ve taken the time.

All it took was a hysterectomy and oopherectomy to make me take the time to do it.

I’ve missed my Parish and parishioners. I’m looking forward to being back to work, and doing God’s work in our small corner of Creation.

For the first time in a very long time I feel content.

Thanks be to God.