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Archive for June, 2014

My dreaded insomnia has returned. Yesterday my Beloved and I saw our marriage counsellor and, as usual, I ended up in tears. It was horrible. But at least now I have a plan for recovery. I am completely exhausted and am taking time to be well. Finally.

The shelves in my living room have all been dusted and cleaned. The books that felt overwhelming have been pared down and put on the shelves in the living room. I have many books that now need new homes. They are all askew on shelves in the home office, and for now, that’s how they’ll stay. Eventually I will invite a select few to come and peruse and what they don’t take will be donated to a Christian bookstore.

I am a keeper of paper. I’m not sure why, but I am. I have an attachment to it like nothing else in my life. Last night I went to bed at my usual time, following my usual routine, but woke up fretting, about 2:30 am. I got up and tried to read, but I couldn’t concentrate. So I went into the home office which now has empty floor space and started going through boxes. It was meant to be one box, but I sorted through four banker boxes of paper. Notes from my undergraduate days. Notes from my MDiv. Essays, stories, sheet music, all kinds of things were found.

Evaluations from CPE and SPE. Report cards, certificates of merit. I pulled out of each box what I “had” to keep…what was still meaningful to me. When I was finished, I had filled three of the four banker boxes with paper to be shredded/recycled. I also pared down my home files…most of which will be going to the Church as that’s where they should be. Some for which I have electronic copies, I have set aside for shredding. I don’t need the hard copy.

This morning my Beloved loaded the three boxes into the back of my car. Later this morning I am going to take them to a stationary store that does shredding. And I won’t look back.

This simplification process is going really well. Now mind you, there are two boxes upstairs and two downstairs that need attention. They have memorabilia that have been meaningful to me for a long time. One day I will go through them and sort out what I must have and give away what no longer holds the same meaning.

There will always be something else to sort out, something else to clean up and something else to simplify. I must say this process has been very enlightening and lightening, in every way possible.

This is the summer of my simplification. And so far, it is going very well. Full steam ahead.

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When I was a little girl I used to stroll. I would hum to myself while playing, usually something I had heard on the radio, or a tune I made up. When I became a teenager I stopped humming and started rushing. I was always in a hurry, I walked quickly or ran wherever I was going. I took up cross-country running because it was a solitary sport. There was no team to worry about, it was me mesmerized by the sound of my feet pounding in rhythm on the hard soil trail. I wasn’t the fastest runner, but likely I was the most focussed.

When I attended University I was a nervous soul, always tapping or twitching, I wasn’t able to stand still. I was continually anxious and it was then that I was first diagnosed as anxious/depressed and given medication, which really didn’t do much. I felt like I was continually playing catch up, continually late. I would joke that I was born 3 days late and had been trying to make up the time since.

In reality I was in a perpetual state of anxiety. I was nervous all the time. I felt like I didn’t add up to anyone’s expectations. I felt like a failure and a fraud and kept waiting for someone to walk in the lecture hall, point at me and say “She is a fraud, she has no right to be here”.

When I graduated with my undergraduate degree and began working, I continued to run at a frantic pace. I would not leave my desk until all the tasks for the day were completed. I would leave myself a note so I would know where to begin the next day. Having to leave a file out and not re-filed would fill me with a sense of dread, of failure. No-one had ever said that everything must be finished, but I believed it to be so. And if I didn’t finish everything, and leave a spotless desk at the end of day, I felt like I had to play catch-up when I started work again the next day.

Eventually I ended up in hospital with the frantic pace that couldn’t be maintained. I realised that I would not finish everything that had to be done; that there would always be something not finished. Some projects would never be finished, and some would have to wait for other information, or for other people to complete. It bothered me, but it didn’t control me.

When I returned to school to begin my MDiv I developed a different work ethic. I would often come to class having not finished the required reading ahead of time. Sometimes my notes would not be complete. I always started projects and essays early so I could finish them in advance of the deadline, but often everything was due at the same time. So I would create artificial deadlines to get things in early.

I began to notice my environment, see the leaves in the trees, hear the birds singing. I still worked as hard, but not as frantic. When I was a Chaplain at our Diocesan Church Camp I would often stop in the middle of my day, go down to the lookout and pray. Or stand in awe at the majesty before me.

As I have entered middle age, I am still as busy as ever. But I find myself, on occasion, arriving on time or a few minutes late. Before, I would always be obscenely early and have to park a distance from where I was going and fret until it was time to go to the appointment/home visit, etc. Now I do my best to leave in time to reach my destination, but if I get held up, I don’t take it as a personal failure.

In the last month or so life has slowed down for me. I am as busy as ever, but I now leave things undone. I leave my desk untidy. And interestingly enough, I’ve started to hum again. Especially when I’m home alone and I’m finishing a task. Also in my car. I’ll hum along to the radio or turn it off and hum while I drive.

I believe I have finally reached that balance. I can leave things unfinished. I can move things on my list to another day, or to someone else. I am comfortable in imperfection. I am getting more and more comfortable with “good enough” as opposed to perfection.

Life is filled with surprises. And while, currently I am still completely exhausted, I am beginning to find the work/life balance.

I’m going to clean the fans before they installed for the summer. It’s a dirty job, but I will hum as I work. All work is God’s work.

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My Dad died. My mother and I were sitting in the funeral director’s office at the moment Dad drew his last breath. He wanted to be alone. And he was, save for a nurse who had come in to check on him. She knew his wishes so she was quiet as she stood by him, but not near him as he drew his last breath.

Today, in the province where I live, it is election day. My Dad never missed voting. He taught my brother and myself the importance of an educated ballot. In his mind, using a ballot was exercising choice, it was about making a decision. And my Dad always made educated decisions. He wouldn’t necessarily get to the all candidates debate, but he would talk to them if they came to the door. He would pore over the profiles in the local newspaper. And would never tell us for whom he would vote until after he had voted.

We didn’t discuss politics at home, Dad was not a political being, but he understood the importance of casting a ballot, of making a choice. And he believed that every vote counted, whether or not his vote was for the elected party.

It was two years ago today that my mother and I waited in the hospital parking lot for my brother and his family. We changed vehicles so Mam and I could take the boys to her house and let D & M visit with Dad. Both N & S were awesome. I even figured out the seat belts on the car seats.

When D & M got back to Mam’s we sat and chatted, laughed, cried, reminisced and remembered Dad, especially when Dad was well. His last couple of years were filled with faulty heart valves, pneumonia and COPD, among other things. But there were moments of laughter. He wrote his life story and I have it on a disk.

I miss my Dad, more than I can express in words. So today I will stay busy. I will vote this afternoon and I will never, ever forget him.

Take it easy Dad, this ballot will be cast for you.

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I must admit to having a lot of difficulty with books. I have all the text books I used at seminary and every book I’ve purchased in about 20 years. That’s a lot of books.

So the other day I started clearing off shelves in the living room and started moving books over. It was a matter of space…I had a certain amount of room and was not willing to make any more than what was available. And it worked. I have four set of three shelves in the living room and they were willed with stuff. And filthy with dust.

It took three days but I have moved all the books I need/want into the living room. And I likely have half as many books on shelves in another room to go to a new home. It’s very liberating.

There is one shelf filled with books that I have not yet read. And if I don’t read them in the next year I will get rid of them as well. In short, no new books come into this house unless I get rid of other books. The space is finite.

I also hung many different things on walls in the living room and dining room. I have to say I’m loving how cozy it all looks. There’s room to move, there’s room for “stuff” and I have covered my dining room table with things that also need a new home. It feels very good…very liberating.

I think I will attack my closet and dresser next. Shoe rack after that. Feeling good, feeling as though I am accomplishing things…and making life easier.

How’s that for progress?

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I know that technically, it’s still spring, but there is something about the warming temperatures, the open windows, the new life sprouting all around that makes me think of summer. Usually I have a project that I like to take on – one in the winter and one in the summer. For the last couple of years I have not been able to begin, never mind finish a project.

Lots of reasons, lots of excuses, and still the projects don’t come to fruition.

There is a room in the rectory that is large, has two sets of windows and a plethora of shelves. It also has two doors which close and stay closed, a rarity in 100+ year old houses. I am going to clean out this room, empty the shelves and make this room into a storage room. The reality of this house is that we don’t have a lot of storage. Things are stashed from place to place, but in any sense of order.

My plan is to simplify how I live. I’ve taken a great step with a new low-tech flip phone. It’s not a Smart Phone because I don’t need a Smart Phone. I need a cell phone I can carry with me. I don’t need to check email when I am away from the house or the office. What I need in a cell phone is something I can use as a phone (duh) something I can use to text, keep track of appointments and set an alarm. And my cell phone does these things and more. It gives me an indescribable joy to use. It’s easy. I like that.

I am going to go through all the things I have accumulated over many years and if I don’t really love it or have a reason for it, I’m going to get rid of it. If I like it, but don’t love it and don’t want to be parted from it, I will box it up for one year. If, at the end of that year I haven’t opened the box, it will be given away (or sold).

Same with my books. I have a couple of friends in Seminary who may benefit from the books I no longer need/have use for. What they don’t want will be given to a Christian book store/thrift store that will gladly accept them.

In short, I am downsizing. I am simplifying. I am divesting myself of excess ‘stuff’ in every aspect of my life. Clothing that doesn’t fit or doesn’t suit me. Shoes that are never again going to be worn, or were bought for a specific outfit which I no longer own.

Paper…good LORD, don’t get me started. I still have every university and seminary paper I wrote, along with lecture notes. I will likely keep my thesis and maybe a couple of special essays from my undergrad, but the rest will be shredded or simply recycled. The Seminary stuff, the same. Most of my notes and all of my papers I have stored electronically.

By the fall I will be living a simpler and (hopefully) happier lifestyle.

I will have rid myself of “stuff”. And it will be wonderful.

Who knows, by getting rid of stuff I may find myself losing some unneeded weight? That would be a most definite bonus!

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A few months ago I connected with a young woman through social media. At first we seemed to have so much in common, that we were soon finishing each other’s thoughts and sentences. She was seeking some spiritual direction and guidance and soon she was coming to Church. We connected a couple of months before Easter and she was interested in learning about how we do Holy Week.

She is legally blind and as such does not drive. I volunteered to drive into the city to pick her up during Holy Week. Most nights after service I drove her home, a couple of times my beloved did. Her daughter tagged along for a couple of services as well and it was amazing watching the two of them take in what they were seeing.

A few weeks ago my friend started having recurrent health problems that required her to go to emergency. She would call an ambulance and let me know what was happening. I would get there to see her if I could. Two weeks ago she called and told me she thought she was having a stroke. I advised her to call an ambulance and asked her to call me back. She was certainly undergoing some distress. The night she took ill I had driven to and from where my Mam lives and was quite tired. My ankle was badly swollen, I was exhausted and having some difficulty seeing (because of the fatigue).

I told my friend I could not come to emergency but asked her to call me when she was either admitted or discharged. She said she would. The next morning I received an email that said she felt hurt I had not been there for her and that she was walking away from God and therefore was walking away from me.

I was shocked and hurt but am not the type of person to beg someone to stay. If they want to leave I will do everything I can to get out of their way. I think my hurt was mostly because she had made it seem that if she rejected God she had to reject me as she saw me as a part of her Spiritual being.

My reply was that I was sorry to have hurt her and that I would not stand in her way. I wished her well and told her I would continue to pray for her.

The reply was met with hurt and angry words. It was filled with rage and blame. I did not reply to it, deleting it instead.

The first day of not hearing from her was strange, but also strangely liberating. She would often text and email all day and if I didn’t reply immediately would send another text or email. I had told her that I cannot always reply immediately and she said she understood, but in reality, I don’t think she did.

Three days passed without hearing a word. Yesterday I received an email through the church website from someone claiming to be a friend and spiritual teacher of hers. He indicated that she was in great distress and urged me to mend our spiritual friendship. He said he had not heard from her in years but God had told him to plead with me for her safety.

I felt bullied and curious at the same time. Emotional blackmail would be a good term to use. I waited a full day before I replied, politely, that the decision to end our friendship had come from her and I was respecting that decision. The email he supplied bounced back. I deleted the message and thought no more about it.

This morning I received a text and an email from my friend, attempting contact again, saying how she had forgiven me.

I asked her who this man was that contacted me. She claimed to not have had contact with him in two years. When I shared the email he sent me, her reply was that he had gathered his information from God. As much as I believe in God, I don’t think this is the work of God.

So I told her I was sorry she felt hurt. I told her that her words hurt me and that I needed time to myself. I told her I thought a break in our communication would be best.

She replied that she has forgiven me and wants me to forgive her, as God has forgiven both of us. Now I am angry and feeling manipulated, so I didn’t respond to her last two emails.

After spending time in prayer, I have decided to let this friendship lay fallow for a while. I don’t know if I want to be involved with her as a friend or as her spiritual guide. I feel as though she has manipulated me and wants things on her terms only. I don’t operate that way.

So I have decided that it is time to let go. I’m leaving this one with God.

In fact, I need to do more of that…but that’s a musing for another day.

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