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Archive for December, 2013

It’s the time of year when so many people say “I can’t wait for this year to be over, next year is going to be so much better”. And what does that really mean?

Yes, 2013 has been a tough year for the community in which I live. There have been so many deaths and looking out at the congregation on Christmas Eve at 7:00 pm I had a catch in my throat through nearly the whole service. Looking out and seeing the families who are at their first Christmas Eve service since their loved one died. And feeling lost. I understand that feel very well.

On the radio and all over the internet, there are top 10 lists and “Best Of” lists and montages of 2013. Many people find it necessary to make Resolutions, as though the new year isn’t really a new year unless there is a list of often unattainable resolutions. THIS is the year I will run the Boston Marathon (and yet, getting up to the fridge during commercials makes one winded). THIS is the year I will lose 100 lbs (and yet not change eating habits or exercise in any way). THIS is the year I will meet Mr or Ms Right (and never leave the house) etc.

For me, resolutions are a recipe for disaster and I refuse to make them. What I do, instead, is look at my lifestyle from time to time, usually every 3 – 4 months and see where I am physically, spiritually, mentally, etc and decide if there are changes I should make or new habits I should incorporate. And then I do them.

Putting pressure on one night, New Years Eve, is crazy. It’s too much pressure. And it sets us up to failure. How many gyms has fantastic “resolution” specials, and by the first of February they are back to near empty? How many people have gym memberships that are virtually untouched? How many of us have exercise equipment that collects dust or holds unworn clothing?

This year I refuse to bend to pressure to make and share resolutions. I will live my life as healthy as I can. I will continue to reduce stress and to put myself higher on the priority list. I will be more diligent at taking care of myself and my family. I will continue to stamp out negative talk and self-shaming chatter, in my head and in the mouth of my daughter. There will continue to be no room for H8 in my house, and plenty of room for LOVE.

I still struggle as a food addict. I still have days when I hurt. And yet, these addictions and abuse do not define who I am. Or what I do. They are a part of my life, and likely always will be. And the living will be in the tension of finding the correct balance. Some days will be easier than others, just like always.

Live your life, love who you are. Make adjustments because you want to, not because of society’s pressure to do so. Eliminate H8 and love with all you are and with everything you have.

THAT is how we will change the world. Not with resolutions, but with love.

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You may wonder why this Christmas post is actually the 26th of December? Well, after three services on Tuesday, one yesterday followed by Home Communion I was physically, emotionally and spiritually spent. I was empty. And so I slept, and slept, and slept. I likely could have slept longer, but at some point you are expected to return to the world.

Christmas is about gathering. Gathering with congregation, with family and friends. It’s not about gifts, and if the day came that there was absolutely nothing material given to me, I wouldn’t mope. I am fortunate, to be in a place where I can buy myself, most of the things I need and want. If there’s something I can’t afford, I wait until I can afford it, or I don’t buy it. I didn’t always feel this way. Most Christmases past were financed by my credit card. And it would feel good to buy with relative abandon. Then I’d add up the receipts and be gobsmacked and furious that I had spent so much.

My credit card always carried a balance. And after Christmas was usually at its maximum limit. So when the bill arrived in January I would open it with a sense of dread. Then I would pull out a piece of paper, a calculator and figure out what money was coming in, what bills needed to be paid and how much I could put on the credit card to try to pay it down as quickly as possible. But I didn’t learn.

In September my beloved and I decided we wanted to make debt reduction a priority, and so we applied for a loan and paid off the credit card and both of our lines of credit. We still have an overdraft because sometimes we the loan payment comes out before he has a chance to deposit his paycheque. At first I thought I’d miss being able to plunk down the credit card when I saw something that I had to have. But I don’t.

Instead of wandering around a store when I want to pass time, I meditate or go for a walk. I spend time on my yoga mat or in my sanctuary, reading, being still or simply breathing. And it’s awesome. I am going to take a garbage bag into the home office, as the dog got in there recently and tore apart of whole lot of stuff. I am going to fill the garbage bag with things that are broken or simply not needed and get rid of them. Either to the garbage or to the back of my car and off to an agency that will use them, such as Neighbourhood Closet, Goodwill or Value Village. And it will be awesome.

Since I have been lightening my financial load, I notice that my waistline is thinning somewhat as well. I think I have finally learned to stop self-medicating with food or shopping. Could it be that I am finally learning, after all these years? Imagine that!

So this Christmas has been very Merry. I didn’t get a chance to see my Mam or my brother and sister-in-law and nephews, but soon I will. I don’t have to eat all the things put in front of me. I don’t have to spend my way into a coma to feel good about myself and how much I can give away. All I need to do is give of myself and that will be a good thing.

Because I am enough.

And so are you.

My wish for you is that your Christmas be content. That you feel joy, hope, peace and especially love. And that you realise that you have everything you need within you.

God Bless xo

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I’m looking around my house and it’s beginning to resemble a decent looking place. Not show-room ready, but certainly presentable for unexpected company. I don’t usually get unexpected company, other than my mother-in-law who really isn’t company. And whenever she drops by the house looks like a bomb just went off. It’s some kind of unwritten rule.

Last night my beloved decided to do some baking. At 8:00 pm. He doesn’t tend to clean up after himself, which I find very frustrating. When I got up this morning, there was flour and sugar from one end of the counter to the other. I cleaned up what I could in order to wash the dishes, then cleaned up the rest of the counter, finally emptying the corner that is a collector of all that doesn’t have a home.

The junk drawer now needs a serious clear out, but it doesn’t have to be done right now, or even this week. Because, in the state of mind I now occupy, if I did start clearing it out, I would end up emptying the contents into the garbage and I’m pretty sure there’s still stuff we need in there.

This morning I finished the pastoral letters at the Church. I need to clear up my desk, but that’s a task for tomorrow. I need to finish the 4:00 pm rewrite, but again, that’s a task for tomorrow.

I cleared off the corner table in the dining room that has become a mini-office and it looks quite good. There’s even empty space on it, which makes me very happy. I like unadorned spaces I have decided and I think that may be partially why I struggle with the whole decorating thing. It’s okay to have a windowsill with nothing on it. The house doesn’t have to look like the North Pole threw up on it, does it?

I hung two artificial wreaths with lovely plaid ribbon on the front and side doors today. I haven’t cut the greenery for the front porch. And it may not get done. Which is okay. I sorted through three bins of decorations for the house. One bin was put away, after I decided there’s some stuff that simply doesn’t need to go up.

The other two bins await The Girl’s magic. We have a 2 foot tree that didn’t go up last year. There are small decorations for the tree. She’s going to decorate it later tonight. There’s also angels and stuff that can go out on windowsills, but they don’t have to. We’ll see what kind of mood she’s in later tonight.

The dining room table still looks awful, and I will work on it tonight as she’s decorating the tree. I am fairly confident I can find homes for most of what is on the table that doesn’t belong. The extra-large plastic bag will be a great item to store one of the wreaths. It will go in the stair storage area.

The bag that has dead electronics, batteries and eye glasses will go into my car so the next time I pass a place that takes such things I am ready. I am confident that by the weekend, the dining room will resemble a dining room, not a jumble sale. And that makes me happy.

A thing for every place and a place for everything.

My summer goal was to clear out the home office. It’s still not done, in fact, it’s barely started. I am planning to spend a day sorting books in the week between Christmas and New Year. I think that, coupled with knowing when the next clothing distribution day is, will help me to regain control of the room.

I suspect there will be a lot of recycling to go out, and some garbage to go out. Some things will be donated away. Anything that is not absolutely cherished will be finding a new place to live, and what we cannot part, will be boxed neatly until it is needed.

It makes my heart happy knowing that I am moving, again, to a simpler life, free from “stuff” and filled with love.

My house is not now, nor ever has been perfect. And neither am I. God created me in the image of God, which is perfection. And I can live in the light of God’s perfection, not society’s perfection. God’s perfection is pure and reflects back to me through all I encounter. Society’s perfection is artificial and commercially driven.

The Martha Stewart/HGTV push for perfection Christmas home is not where I live. And it likely never will be. I have two dogs, one of which is a puppy who sheds A LOT. The floor is never clean enough, the dust is never all collected. There are tumble weeds of dog hair every single day. The windows have nose art on them and the furniture needs to be lint rollered.

But that is how we live. And we like it. Well, most days we do.

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There’s always just one more thing…to buy, to bake, to eat, to send, to make, to write, to mail.

I remember being a student minister in a very challenging multi-point parish and my supervisor piling more and more on my plate. About a month into the summer I pushed back, saying I couldn’t do any more than I was doing. And for the first time all summer he smiled. He said he had been pushing me because he wanted to teach me a lesson…you will never get it all done.

I struggle with the separation of Advent and Christmas. With Christmas and Epiphany. It seems every year, no matter how well organised I am, the Seasonal letter doesn’t get out until Advent III. It should be out Advent II. I’m working on the letter this week, getting them printed, folded, envelopes addressed, etc. Sunday is Advent III “Joy”.

I’m looking at magazines and websites for healthier Christmas baking alternatives. And I have to say, my heart isn’t in it. That may also be because I’ve been struggling with a chest cold for nearly a week. I don’t handle being sick very well. I’m incredibly impatient with what I want to do, and what I need to do. Then there’s what I feel I have time to do, etc.

My Beloved and I made a decision a few months ago to give up our lines of credit and credit cards. We both know the tendency we share to overspend this time of year. We simply cannot afford it. Recently I was invited to partake in a Mission Trip in April 2014 to Haiti to visit our Parish Prayer Partner. I would love to go, the experience would be life changing, but the reality of it, is that we cannot afford it.

We are on a repayment plan through a consolidation loan so that we are actively paying down debt without incurring any new debt. Bottom line. If we don’t have the money, we can’t buy it. Simple solution, eh?

We have a Visa Debit card, so if we need to make a purchase on-line for something i.e train tickets, we can do that with our Visa Debit card. Yay! A good friend of mine got rid of her credit card years ago and it was the best thing she ever did. All purchases are made from what is available in her bank account. If there isn’t enough money, she simply cannot buy it. IMAGINE!

I’ve done some decorating and I’m pleased with what has been done. I still need to finish up outside, but it’s been too cold to do much of anything. Hopefully Thursday the weather will be a bit milder so I can finish hanging the green. I don’t put up lights because I don’t think it’s environmentally responsible for us to do so. And with the age of the house its a fire hazard as well.

We burn lots of candles this time of year, celebrating Advent and the shorter days. By the end of this week I plan to have our Christmas cards made and mailed. It’s a very short list this year. Most people will be receiving Christmas cards via email. Some folks get a physical card. It’s not fair, but that’s simply the way it is.

I plan to have the dining room table, once again used as a dining room table, by the end of this week.

Slowly but surely, I’m seeing the changes in myself as we move through the season of Advent, a season of anticipation, of waiting, of wonder and of awe.

There will always be pressures of the season, with every season. But I don’t have to succumb to them.

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The 5th of December is a date that will remain with me forever. It has for the past 25 years. All day I’ve been irritable, uneasy, scattered, and generally miserable. Oh, and I think I have a chest cold.

On the 5th of December 1988 my husband of 99 days left me. It’s true. Twenty-five years ago I was adjusting to being newly married, only to switch to newly separated and finally to newly divorced. I had spent the day with my sister-in-law and had left feeling much better than when I arrived. She was married to my husband’s brother, so I asked her advice. She gave it and I was positive and excited about how things were going to be between K and myself.

I walked through the door to the apartment with a huge smile on my face. Then I saw two suitcases packed. “Where are we going?” I asked.

“Not we. Just me” he said.

“Pardon?” said I.

“I’ve decided this isn’t working for me, so I’m leaving”.

“Scuze me?”

“Yep, this isn’t what I thought it was going to be”.

“We’ve been married five minutes”.

“No, it’s been longer than that. But I made a mistake. I should have married you. Can I have the car keys please? I’ll be back in a couple of days to pick up the rest of my stuff. I called the landlord and you have to be out of the apartment by the end of December”.

And with that, he was gone.

At roughly 4:30 pm on the 5th of December 1988 my world was turned upside down.

Every year since, on the 5th of December, I have a physical memory of that day.

This year, 2013, just after 6:00 pm, I learned that Nelson Mandela had died.

A great man who leaves an amazing legacy. Nelson Mandela changed the world. And the majority of the planning and teaching for that change happened within the walls of his cell on Robben Island. Prisoner 46664 was initially tormented and humiliated. He rose above this and forgave. Through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (overseen by Archbishop Desmond Tutu) he was able to put a face on the inhumanity to which he had been subject.

He is a man of tremendous integrity, faith and grace. There is someone in my life that I need to forgive for abuse that was suffered from the ages of 3 – 6. I am closer now then I have ever been to forgiving him. And I believe that due to Madiba’s teaching, I may be able to actually forgive. Not this minute. Not this day. But soon. I may finally able to let go of that to which I cling. I cannot describe what “that” is, but cling to it I must. For now.

Over the past few days I’ve been cleaning and arranging rooms in the rectory. I have reclaimed a room upstairs as my Sanctuary, where I can meditate, stretch, pray, read, write, etc. It is a peaceful and lovely room.

I scoured the upstairs bathroom last night after both dogs had baths. Today I took down the curtains and washed them. I washed the curtains on all main floor windows, washed the windows and sills, and put the curtains back up. The house feels cleaner. It certainly smells cleaner. And my calm is returning.

This morning I reclaimed a small table in the dining room that had papers and other detritus strewn on it. A mess. Chaos. I don’t like that. It is now orderly. I know where everything is and most of the papers from that pile have been recycled or filed away. Order. Calm.

When I heard the news on the radio tonight I stopped what I was doing to listen carefully. Then I sat down and stayed perfectly still. Then I prayed. I gave thanks for Madiba’s life. I gave thanks to G-d for making Apartheid a memory instead of a reality. I promised to be more optimistic and to be more understanding. I prayed for guidance and strength. Then I sat, in silence and stillness for what seemed like a long while.

Then I slowly got up, made some tea and continued with what I was doing.

This week has been a physically and emotionally productive week. I’ve not slept nearly enough and I suspect that, combined with the dust and grime that’s been unearthed, is part of the reason I am having respiratory issues.

This weekend will be a very hectic weekend. And it will be draining, emotionally, spiritually and physically. But it will be worth it.

Mr. Mandela, you changed the world. You have inspired generations to learn from you and to do their part to change the world. I pray, one day, to make you proud of the changes that you have inspired in me, in my small corner of the world.

May you rest in peace and rise in glory. Well done, good and faithful servant.

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Every now and then I make a massive mistake and start reading. Not that reading is a mistake, but have you ever been in that place where you read one article, that leads you to another, and another and soon you’ve lost hours in your day?

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about clean eating. Eating food in its purest form. Fresh where possible, organic where affordable and available. Avoiding additives and GMO’s. Which has left me overwhelmed with what I should or should not eat. Good Lord…sugar is good, or it will slowly kill you. Dairy is necessary, or will poison you. You should eat meat…or vegan is the only way you will live past 50. *sigh*

For someone who already has massive issues with food, I am at the point where I hesitate before I eat anything…I try to cook fresh wherever possible. I eat local wherever I can. When local isn’t available I look to frozen vegetables, product of Ontario or Canada wherever possible. I hesitate with meat, for many reasons…I was a committed pescatarian (vegetarian who eats fish) for nearly two decades.

I reintroduced meat because I cannot digest legumes. One of the main sources of protein was unavailable to me. Then there’s the peanut butter debate. Yes, you should eat it, but only if you make it yourself or watch it being made. *sigh* Same with yogurt.

In a perfect world I would have a couple of milking cows, maybe a couple of milking goats, some chickens for eggs and would have a massive vegetable garden. I used to dream of a stone cottage near a stream where I would chop my own wood and haul my own water. I’m now 46 years old and have decided that hydro and running water with indoor plumbing are necessary. High speed internet is also getting high on the list of necessities… 🙂

To be completely honest, I’m scared. I don’t want to live forever. I am looking forward to the next life when I don’t have to worry about all this crap. I want to be the healthiest I can be. Which means to eat as well as I can, using common sense.

Remember that? Common sense?

Right now I’ve got two rooms in my house that are complete disaster areas. One is the home office that houses EVERYTHING we don’t have room for. If something doesn’t have a home it get chucked in there…which bothers me. But right now I don’t have time or energy to deal with it.

The other room is my “sanctuary” room. It was meant to have my clothes, exercise equipment, yoga mat, etc. It needs a major redesign. Badly. So I am going to get rid of my exercise equipment because I don’t use it. I am going to vacuum the rug in there and set out my yoga mat. I am going to make that room into a warm and inviting place. I will find room for all the “stuff” that is in there. And it will be awesome.

But right now I need to regain control of my brain. To stop double and triple thinking about every decision. I am a human being and can only do what I can do. All shall be well…I simply need to relax and let it be. Right?

Yeesh. I think I need to get doing something and stop thinking so much.

Organizing this afternoon will make me feel better. I’m absolutely sure of it. Regaining order from chaos always has a fantastic effect on me.

Yes, this afternoon will be awesome.

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