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Archive for January, 2014

Yesterday was our Annual Meeting. The meeting lasted nearly three hours. This is an inordinate amount of time, but there were some difficult discussions that needed to be made and the congregation present rose to the occasion. By the end of the meeting I was physically and emotionally spent, but spiritually energised.

The Church as an institution is in trouble. It has been for a while. And there are numerous studies that tell us we should do this, try that, change, adapt or die. It’s easy for me, a relative newcomer to the area, to talk about losing our building and starting new. The reality is something very different.

In my life I try to be environmentally conscious. I try to eat organic, buy local, support local business, lessen my carbon footprint, etc. I buy biodegradable laundry and dish soap and don’t have a dishwasher. And yet, I get my hair professionally highlighted. I wear makeup that is for sensitive skin, but is not vegan or organic.

I stopped drinking alcohol and drink much more water than ever, but still drink coffee, mostly decaf, but occasionally high-test.

I try to encourage fair trade coffee and reusable mugs for our coffee hour. The first is a hard sell, the second is a given.

I’m realizing that while I give a 5% household tithe to the Church, I could do more. I give of myself as much as I can, often more than I can, and still; I’m never sure it’s enough.

So over the past couple of days I’ve began to realise that I can’t do it all.

I cannot be everything to everyone.

I cannot single handedly save the world.

But I can do my part.

I can live my life in a more mindful manner. Being fully aware of my surroundings, of what and how I eat. I can show my daughter what I have learned and learn also from her.

I may not always get it right, but I can and will, keep going.

Today was a snow day for my daughter. The buses were cancelled. The snow was drifted badly and it was really cold. So I stayed in my pjs for the morning and watched Netflix. There was a great deal of stuff that needed doing. But I didn’t do it. And shockingly, the world did not stop turning.

I shut off my cell phone. I did not check email. And at 2:00 pm I turned on my cell phone and I did check my email. I made a list of things to do this week, and then I meditated for 45 minutes. It felt great.

You know that I am not a fan of resolutions. I prefer intentionality. My intentions are to take my medication and supplements properly every single day. My intentions are to exercise my body, heart, mind and soul every single day. My intentions are to be mindful in everything I say, so and buy. I reckon with time it will be easier to be mindful and I won’t have to work so hard at it.

I may be wrong, but that’s a chance I am willing to take.

I am learning to identify my emotions. One that is most difficult for me to identify is anger. It was recently pointed out to me that I am angry. At first I resisted. And then as I began to identify physical posture, general feelings, etc., I realised that I am angry. At many people. For many things. And I’m working through it as best I can. I am also seeking professional help, which I believe will be the most helpful thing I can do for myself.

A year ago I would have been in a state because the package of information from the Annual Meeting wasn’t ready to go immediately following the meeting. This year it’s not ready to go, but will be by the end of the week. I will drop it off in the City next Monday. And the world will not stop turning.

I am not perfect…nowhere near it. I am human. I am flawed. And as a good friend of mine says often…I am keeping it real.

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It’s been a rough few months. There have been ups, but mostly downs. Last Sunday a parishioner died in her sleep. Her husband of 58 years died only 2 1/2 months ago. Her death was peaceful, she was found by her son, fast asleep in her bed. No sign of pain or struggle.

I met with her sons and they both remarked how they were not expecting to gather again so soon. We all thought she would have had at least a year. Yes, she was ill, she had cancer, which had spread, but she didn’t seem to be in much pain. The week between Christmas and New Year she had a stroke, and she had bounced back from it really well, other than her memory.

We will gather this afternoon and tonight for visitation, and tomorrow to Celebrate her remarkable life.

January is always a hectic time of year with our annual meeting coming up. We discuss budget, look at the narrative story that tells who we are. I’m always anxious at this time of year, but for some reason it seems heightened. I’m not sure why.

I feel completely exhausted, which is not good considering I was away for eight days to regain some strength. I had that strength when I came home, but it quickly evaporated upon returning to reality.

I find myself irritated at the silliest of things. I know I’m making a big deal out of a little thing, but I can’t seem to stop myself.

I have been sleeping more in the past few days then I have in the past few months, and yet, when I get up, when I wake, I don’t feel refreshed. If anything, I feel angry.

I’m angry with myself for not taking better care of myself. For neglecting my body, my yoga, meditation and prayer. I’m angry with how I feel and how I look. I’m angry with my family for not noticing that I’m struggling. I’m angry with my husband for not helping me feel special. I’m angry with my husband and daughter for not pulling their weight around the house, even though they’ve been asked and told time and time again.

The truth is, if I had more strength I would pack a bag and leave. Go away from here. Walk away from this community, my family, the dogs, my congregation. Simply go.

Where? I don’t know. Hopefully somewhere with a comfortable bed so I could sleep for a month or two and then assess what I want and need.

The reality is I won’t do that because I am too responsable a person. I am in love with my husband, and my daughter, and my congregation. And yes, even the dogs. I would never pack up and leave. I think about it, yes, but I wouldn’t actually go.

I’ve been hearkening back to the halcyon days when I was young and single. When my apartment was always clean, neat and tidy. When I shopped for food I liked and cooked for only myself. I remember the wonderful silence of the apartment. I remember reading for hours and not being interrupted. I remember walking to the library and discovering a whole new world of books. I remember having the whole bed to myself, and no dog hair. Anywhere.

What I don’t reflect on is the loneliness. Coming home after a hard day and not being able to share it with someone. Coming home after an exciting day and not having anyone with which to celebrate.

I have always lived a small and uncomplicated life. And I like that.

Right now my small and uncomplicated life seems really very complicated. And I don’t like that.

So today I am going to take one hour at a time. There are things I have to do. A funeral home visitation and meeting with the funeral director this afternoon. Picking bulletins up from the printer that will be needed tonight, tomorrow and this weekend. Prepare for a meeting tonight. Supper has already been prepared.

And hopefully the sun will rise inside of me and the darkness will abate. And this damn black dog will find someone else to visit. Right now he’s sitting on my chest, making it difficult to breathe. But I trust, with time, he will leave me alone. I’m not sure if it will be faster if I ignore him or acknowledge him. I’ve tried both. He’s still here.

Today is about survival. So is tomorrow. Saturday there will be time for me. And for rest. Because Sunday is a big day. A hope-filled and a long day. And some day, today’s worries will seem insignificant.

Thanks be to God.

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I am a Type A personality. I own it, I love it, I live it. I like things to be in order. Granted, I have two dogs, one of whom sheds profusely. The floor is constantly in need of sweeping. I have relaxed my tight standards into something I can live with, and I suspect, my family can as well.

On Sunday afternoon/evening, my beloved and I spent a good part of the day cleaning. He vacuumed and I swept. We washed, polished, put away and returned chaos to order. When we were finished it felt good. It wasn’t completely done, but we were both spent, so it was enough for the day.

There was a time, not that long ago, that I’d have continued to push myself until I was ill. I can’t afford to do that anymore. I can’t afford to have, what I call a ‘dead day’, where all I do is sleep. Those days frighten me and yet, also seem a luxury, if that makes any sense at all.

The end of the month is our annual vestry meeting where the entire congregation comes together and hears the budget, the good news, the challenges and we put steps in place for the new year. We elect and affirm our Council, saying goodbye to some members who are moving to other challenges, and saying hello to new members.

As we don’t have a parish administrator, the gathering of information for the Vestry book falls to me. And I love it. I have to admit, there is a great sense of pride in putting the reports together and dropping the booklet off at the printer. We are not yet advanced enough in our data gathering that all reports are electronic and some of the formats are not compatible with each other, but I make it work.

Today and tomorrow I will spend compiling information and working on the Narrative Budget piece. This is a watershed year for our parish and we will decide the future. We are capable of very many things, but the decision needs to be made if it is worth the effort. Only time and God will tell.

I know that there is very little in which I am in control. We are having a dinner party on Sunday night to celebrate my Beloved’s birthday. The dining room needs work, but it won’t happen today. It likely won’t happen tomorrow. But it may happen on Thursday.

My Mam is coming for the weekend. I am going to get her Thursday night, staying over and coming back first thing Friday morning. So my compulsion for list writing is at an all-time apex. And it’s okay.

So I am going to head off to the Church office to put together the Vestry book and, for a little while, enjoy the illusion of control.

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I have just come home from an 8 day retreat in the eastern part of the province where I live. The weather was extremely cold. We had an ice storm that kept us indoors for an entire day and that was alright. While I was away I did a lot of resting, praying, meditating, some journalling, some cooking and generally, trying to rid myself of the anxiety and stress of the past few months.

I came home to a disaster area of a house. The kitchen was a mess, laundry in the dryer, bedroom floor covered in detritus, bathrooms a mess. I was not a happy camper. I am frustrated that I work to keep the house clean and tidy. I cook healthy meals as often as I can and I care for my family. When I go away all that goes out the window. Nothing gets put away, there’s a trail of crumbs and flour on every surface.

I know I should be grateful for a family at home and food in the fridge. And I am. But to me, it’s disrespectful to not clean up after yourself…especially when you know that the person coming home will clean it up.

I know I should leave the mess for the ones who created it, but I can’t stand the mess. So far today, although struggling with a migraine, I have swept the bedroom floor and made the bed. Have done two sinks full of dishes and cleaned up half the kitchen. I still need to finish the kitchen, then the dining room and the bathrooms will wait for tomorrow afternoon.

My whole life I’ve lived by the rules. I’ve changed myself to be who people want me to be. I am tired of always being the one to bend and stretch. I want to have my needs respected and honoured. And a clean house, in my humble opinion, is not that big a deal. To me, it would be a lovely way to welcome me home. A clean kitchen, the bed made, laundry put away. That would make me happy.

My beloved teases me that I’m the only person he knows who insists on cleaning the house before I go away. When I was single, I would leave the house clean and tidy so when I came home it was the same way. It’s more difficult to do when you’re married, but really, does it have to be?

So now that I’ve had a chance to vent, I will make myself a cup of tea and clean off the dining room table. It will be grand once it’s done, but it does bug me that it has to be me that’s doing it.

I feel like stamping my feet and shouting “It’s not fair”. But of course, I can’t do that…can I?

The good news is my homily is nearly ready for tomorrow. It’s the Baptism of the Lord. One of my favourite holy days in the Church. The message will be simple, but hopefully profound.

And after Church I will bring my house back in order. it might not be fair, but it’s life.

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