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Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’

Tomorrow is the 25th of January, Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk” initiative to help quell the stigma of mental illness.  Celebrities have recorded brief interviews and have stepped up in raising awareness of depression, anxiety, OCD, Bipolar disorder, etc.

As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety the past couple of months have been scary.  I am a Canadian, and proud to be one.  Our neighbours to the south elected a new President and it seems the world has been in a tailspin since.  Every day the rhetoric increases, the attacks get more personal and social media is reaching a frenzy status on who is right and who is wrong.

What scares me is the increasing vitriolic hatred that both sides of the debate engage.  There is hurt and anger and a decided lack of respect.  There seems to be no acknowledgment of the other side as a human being.  Memes spring up everywhere and there are veritable twitter wars and Facebook battles over who is right and who is wrong.  Over who is telling the truth and who is lying.

We seem to have lost the respect of basic human dignity.  Regardless of whether you are a supporter or protester of POTUS, we need to come together in unity.  He needs to be held accountable.  We need to ensure our voices are raised in unison.  Can we please, please stop with the division and hatred.

I don’t like being told that as I woman “I must” feel a certain way or behave in a certain manner.  I don’t appreciate being told as a Christian “I must” say certain things and if I fail to do so I am a disgrace to Christianity.

I am a child of God.  So are you.  So is POTUS.  So is our Prime Minister.  So is everyone we meet.

I’m tired of the anger.  I’m tired of the hurt.  I’m tired of the hatred. I want to join the revolution of love.  I want to change the world with respect; with words of empowerment and love.  I can and will change how I view the world by looking through lenses of love and respect.

I short, I refuse to hate.

My mental health is always fragile in January…I’m not really sure why…but it is and I tend to cocoon more than usual, trying to stay warm and safe.

I am blessed in being surrounded by people who love me.  Who hold me when I cry, who bolster me when I struggle.  Who check in because I am on their mind and in their heart. I am blessed to love many of those who surround me.  And lately, I’ve begun to fall in love with myself.

I know I am not perfect.  I never will be.  And that’s okay.  In God’s eyes I am created in perfection and that’s more than good enough for me.

There is a South African word, Ubuntu, that means “I am because you are”.  In other words, I can’t be who I am without you.  It doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree and think the same.  It means we have the right and even the responsibility to disagree and hold one another accountable for our words and actions.  It means we are all in this life together.  It’s a way of living, an understanding, that is both powerful and profound.

If we embrace Ubuntu, perhaps we, together, can change this cruel world in which we live?

As always, I live in love and in hope.

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I struggle, at times, with depression and anxiety.  Most of the time I can cope with medication, relaxation, proper diet, exercise and rest.  Lately I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed, and it’s completely understandable why I’m feeling this way.

On Friday I’m having surgery.  For the second time in my life I will go under general anesthetic.  I’m not afraid of the surgery.  The surgeon has reassured me that he anticipates the procedure will go well.  The procedures I’m having are minor, taking 20 minutes in total.  The anesthesiologist has reassured me that all shall be well.  She asked if I was nervous and I said I wasn’t and smiled.  She asked why I was smiling and I replied “if things don’t go well, it won’t be my problem…it will be yours.  As you’ll get to tell my congregation”. And we both laughed.

What I fear is the unknown.  Which is truly a silly thing to fear.  And I participate in mental gymnastics…what if I get an infection…what if it takes me hours to come out of the anesthetic…what if something goes wrong?  All legitimate questions, all with unknown answers.  Try to explain that to my anxiety.

I’m not worried about the congregation.  My Wardens and Licensed Lay Ministers will take care of everything in the parish.  My Regional Dean will look after any pastoral emergencies.  And still my innards flutter.

So, between now and Thursday morning when I find out the actual time of the surgery I will keep myself busy, which isn’t difficult to do.  The difficult part is remembering to take time to breathe, to care for myself…to do everything I can to release the anxiety I feel.

I’m staying with a good friend in the community where I’m having the surgery to make sure that I properly rest and don’t overdo things.  Left to my own devices I would push myself too hard and too soon.  I’m told it will be approximately 10 days before I can return to work…I’m giving myself 14 days.  And I fully anticipate returning to work at a bit slower pace then I am maintaining right now.

If you are a person who prays, I ask for your prayers for myself, and also for the doctor’s, nurses and support staff who will take care of me through the surgery.  I ask for your prayers for those who will care for me after the surgery until I am able to care for myself.

Thanks!

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Insomnia…really?

Again?  Didn’t we dance this dance the other night…

I thought we had an understanding, you and me.  I would take better care of myself, exercise every day, get outside every day, limit caffeine, eat real food, drink water.  Okay, I’m not perfect but I’m better than I was.  Yes, yes, I had coffee today, which for the record, was gross and I only drank 1/3 of it.  It was SUPPOSED to be steeped tea.  What happens when you go to the drive-thru…you get SCREWED at the drive-thru…

I’m not drinking as much water as I should…but I’m drinking some.

So, how about your end of the bargain, eh?

If I do the aforementioned, you are supposed to blanket me with deep, restful sleep for at least 7 hours.  I’ll even get up to use the bathroom if I can slip back into sleep.  But not lately.  Jackass.

I don’t understand the problem.  Room is cool.  Relatively dark.  Bedding and pjs are clean.  To Do list is made for tomorrow.  Clothes are laid out.  WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

WHY can’t I shut off this brain of mine…no wonder it’s addled…can I get a dimmer switch installed?

ARGH!

Well, as I’m not getting answers from you, I think I’ll do some research…maybe about dimmer switches…  I’ll read my daily meditation and once I get my shoulders to come down from around my ears, I’ll go upstairs and try this blasted sleep thing again.

The problem is, if Insomnia decides to stick around…what’s my recourse?  Afternoon nap?  Back to sleeping pills?  Ick.

*sigh*

*whimper*

*growl*

*sigh*

Okay, insomnia.  I’m not (that) angry anymore…can we call it a truce?  At least until the next full moon?

 

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All my life I’ve had a love/hate relationship with food.  I am a self-described food addict.  When I eat, I tend to eat a lot and when I crave, it’s never for healthy food.

Something that I’ve been seeing a lot of lately is articles about foods you should “never” eat.  Foods that are “poison” and foods that can kill.  Seriously?  Toast is evil?  Give me a break.

I should eat better than I do.  And I will admit that on occasion supper is a bag of Smartfood.  Which really isn’t all that smart.  I know what I need to do to eat healthier and better.  The problem is being motivated enough to actually do it.

In just over two weeks I’m heading to southeastern British Columbia.  A whole new way of life.  A new culture, a new geography, new grocery stores, and a whole new level of panic and anxiety.  I know my local grocery store.  And I’m sure it won’t take me long to learn my new grocery store.  But the fear is real.

I am not moving with any food.  I’m taking some of my favourite tea with me, the rest I will buy when I get there.  Stocking a pantry, buying spices and condiments is both exciting and terrifying.  I’m taking reusable bags with me to never use a plastic shopping bag again.

I will buy cookwear when I get there.  And bakeware.  I’d like to stay I’ll plant a little garden, but the reality is, I likely won’t.

I’d love to homestead where I grow my own food.  But the reality is I don’t have the knowledge, experience or motivation to do any of these things.  And that’s okay.

I am recommitting myself to a pescatarian lifestyle.  A pescatarian is a person who is a vegetarian but eats fish.  I have the proper supplements so I will be healthier in myself and in my diet.

Yes, I’m fat.  Yes, I shop in fat girl stores.  I’d like to lose weight but I don’t think my body is ready to let go of a lot of the stress it’s been holding.  If I was a betting person I’d say that my cortisol levels are extremely high, due mostly to the stress with which I am surrounded.

Once I get moved I will re-establish a healthy routine that will include exercise, yoga, meditation, prayer and silence.  I will eat healthier than I am right now.  Because I will be ready.  The weather here has been mild but also slippery.  I’ve fallen a couple of times in the last two weeks, and while the injuries were minor, it’s scared me, to the point where I don’t want to venture outside.

This morning it was raining.  Rain in January scares me because when it changes it’s almost always to ice first, then snow.  Sure enough a winter storm whipped up, and there’s a thin layer of ice beneath the snow outside.

I’m not sure why I’m so scared.  I suspect, in part, it’s because I don’t want to arrive in my new pastoral charge physically damaged.  They hired someone with all appendages intact, I’d like to arrive that way.

I’ve started bookmarking recipes again, especially ones that replace pasta noodles with veggies.  That kind of thing makes me very happy.  I’m looking forward to buying a soup pot and I have two special soup bowls that are coming with me.

My goal as I pack and prepare to move is to downsize and simplify my life.  I don’t need much to be happy.  Open space, uncluttered, is good.

I think I will be writing more regularly as I prepare to move.  I may even blog at the end of each travel day.  Only time and wifi will tell.

 

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When I was first discerning my call to ministry, I worked full-time and went to school part-time.  I was involved with my local congregation every Sunday as a licensed lay reader and longed for the day when I would be full-time at only one thing.

When I got to Seminary I was full-time in study, as well as close to full-time in a parish placement.  But still didn’t feel like I was fully in one world.  I was waiting to be a graduate, and ordained and THEN I would be completely in one world.

Wrong.

I was posted to my current parish in September of 2007.  I was ordained to the Diaconate at the end of November and Priested the following February.  At last, I thought, I will be full-time in one place!  Both feet in one place!  And I was full-time in the parish, but let’s not forget the community, the “outside world” as it were.

Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and I’ve loved being where I am.

Very recently I accepted a posting on the other side of the country.  I’m moving from Southwestern Ontario, Canada, to the Kootenay Mountain Region of British Columbia, Canada.  I leave at the end of January.  I’m driving out, through the U.S. with a friend.

And while this is very exciting, it’s also daunting as I attempt to remain fully present where I am.  Service planning as per usual.  Working on the readings for the balance of 2015 and well into 2016.  Concluding ministry where I am while attempting to prepare ministry in the new posting.

It’s all terribly exciting and terrifying.  It’s going to be something completely different – unlike anything I have every done before.

And so, once again, I am one foot in two places, except this time, it’s more geographic than anything else.  I’ll be leaving farmland, plain and forest for mountains, rocks and trees.

Fighting the overwhelm is difficult.  But together, with God’s help, I’ll get there.  Saying goodbye is never easy.  Even when it’s for something good.

So as 2015 winds down, I will be cleaning my house (as always) organizing my thoughts (as always) and trying to figure out which foot I’m standing on.

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There has been a lot of news coverage about refugees lately. Nearly every television report, every radio interview has political pundits talking about the impact of refugees. Our new Prime Minster has committed Canada to accepting ten thousand refugees. Given the time of the year, I find myself reflecting on what Joseph, Mary and thousands of other pilgrims must have felt like, being summoned to Bethlehem to be counted.

Scripture doesn’t provide us with much detail of those times, simply that “All the world should be registered” (Luke 2.1, NRSV) and that “Joseph went to the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.” (Luke 2.4, NRSV)

Not much is told us of the community in which they lived, Nazareth, or the community to which they traveled, Bethlehem. Over the years Bethlehem has been romanticised into a peaceful, joyous place filled with the love of a newborn baby. Some of that is true, but much more detail is needed to fully understand the picture. We sing “the cattle are lowing” and assume it’s something delicate and lovely. Lowing cattle are loud cattle. They are calling to each other, and considering where the newborn baby was laid, in a food trough, also known as a manger, their lowing cry may have been for food.

The birth of Jesus – as the birth of any baby, was truly miraculous, especially given the place where he was born. The city was filled with people, who were there filled with fear because they had to be registered. There was not enough of anything for everyone who was there: not enough beds, not enough food, not enough room.

In the midst of fear and anxiety, Mary’s baby came. She was surrounded by strangers, and in the barn she had only her husband and animals to hear her cries as the baby Jesus was born. There were no receiving blankets or mobiles for him. He was wrapped in strips of clean cloth and tenderly laid in the manger. He nursed from his mother and in that moment the love of God came down and dwelt among us.

Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus were registered and then Joseph was warned in a dream to leave where they were. Joseph heeded the dream and fled to Egypt where they left one violent regime for another. They were strangers in a strange land; they were refugees seeking shelter and safety.

The Wise Men or magicians arrived at Herod’s door seeking to know where was the baby who was born King of the Jews? They had seen a star in the East and happened across Herod’s palace. This posed a problem for Herod as he was the self-proclaimed King of the Jews – no baby was going to take that from him! So he sent the Magi to Bethlehem to find the baby and pay homage to him. They were to return to the palace so Herod could go and pay homage himself. Herod wanted the baby dead – imagine a newborn with a price on his head!

So Jesus grew up in the shadow of fear. His parents did their best to keep him safe, but he was a very special boy – he was God’s earthly son. He was in danger.

Imagine for a moment, being in Joseph’s position. Your young wife has given birth and you cannot stay in the barn. You must head somewhere – knowing you can’t go back where you came from. So you head for Egypt, to another violent regime that was only marginally safer because Herod was not there.

Imagine not knowing where to go? Not knowing where was safe? Arriving in a country where you didn’t speak the language or know the customs? Everything you have you carry with you and you don’t dare think of what you left back home. Because that land you knew no longer exists…you don’t have a home.

The definition of refugee is this “a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster”.

For the 10,000 refugees coming to Canada, let us be welcoming and remember that for many of us, Canada is a second home. We, or our families, came from somewhere else. Perhaps, like my parents, you came to Canada for a better life. Perhaps you too were refugees from a war-torn area of the world.

Regardless of where you come from, Canada is now home. I was born here, from Immigrant parents, and have only ever known life in a free country. I’ve taken it for granted all my life. And now this incredible country will be welcoming strangers from a strange land. Spiritually speaking, it makes the story of Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus that much more poignant – that much more real.

When we hear hateful and hurtful things about the refugees coming here, let us remember that one we know as sent from God – and his humble beginnings. Let us respond with love.

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Is it just me or does it seem the winds are strange this year?

When I was away in Tobermory there was a constant warm wind blowing.  It was especially prevalent on Election Day and in fact, the winds of change blew through Ottawa and beyond.  Most of the time the wind was gentle and soothing, but on occasion it whipped up into something approaching violence.

Since I’ve been home the winds seem to be shifting…making it difficult to point to one direction or another.  The leaves get whipped around, the dogs can’t seem to settle.  I’m having difficulty sleeping, which happens when the seasons change.  I can’t seem to settle…when I walk I feel connected and aware.  I’ve been walking at my usual morning time and again through the day, and I still can’t seem to settle.

My neck, head, face and jaw are in agony.  I’m going to see my RMT tonight and hopefully she can help relieve some of the pressure that is crowding my head.

The temperatures have been significantly above seasonal for this time of year.  I’ve yet to wear a pair of gloves and it’s November…strange.  But wonderful at the same time.

I’ve heard the word “El Nino” described for this winter…while that may mean above seasonal temperatures it can also mean more freezing rain than usual.  And that’s not good.  I’m not a fan of freezing rain.

This Sunday is Remembrance Sunday at the Church and I’m feeling a mixture of anxiety, sadness and pride.  There is so much to be said about the sacrifice of the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces.  There is much to be said for the sacrifices of the soldiers who fight today.  And there’s the overwhelming need and desire for peace.  At heart I am a pacifist and yet I come from a proud military heritage.  And therein lies the tension.

I pray that God will be with me as I open my heart to preach.  I pray I will find the balance of that which unsettles me.  And I pray I will find the strength to heed the winds of change as they blow through my community, my life and my soul.

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