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Posts Tagged ‘balance’

I tend to apologise, a lot.  Often for things I don’t need to.  I’m sorry… 🙂

Back when I still had a real job (before I answered God’s call to a life of service) I was the Administrative Assistant to one VP and five Managers.  It was a challenging job.  One of the things I learned early on was the VP was very particular about how she wanted things done.  I learned that if she received an apology for something that had gone wrong she would often take the news much better.  So I became the department apologist.

When I left the working world (to enter the vocation of the priesthood) I continued to be an apologist…for the Church, for my denomination, for God, and for the world.  And you know what?  It’s exhausting.

I am the first to apologise when I’ve done something wrong.  I think it’s important to acknowledge when I’ve done something that may have hurt someone, especially if it was unintentional.  I also think it’s important to acknowledge someone’s hurt, even if I’m not the one that’s hurt them.

A few years ago I had a discussion with a friend of mine that got heated and some very hurtful things were said to me.  I apologised for my friend being upset, but didn’t stand up for myself and challenge how I had been hurt by what was said.   A few days later I did confront them (gently) and their reply was “I’m sorry you’re hurt”.  That statement hurt almost as much as the other statements.  What I wanted to hear was “I’m sorry I hurt you” or “I’m sorry what I said hurt you”.  But instead I’m feeling guilty for sharing my feelings of hurt and in that guilt I almost apologised…I say almost because I didn’t.

Sometimes I wonder why I apologise so much.  There are things for which I have no control…I can’t control my height…my hair colour…my sexuality…my left-handedness.  I can control my hair colour (until I decide to stop colouring it).  I can control what I eat and how much I exercise.

I know I am not society’s “ideal” anything.  And in fact, I take some pride in that.  I am unique in who I am.  There is not another me in the world…and I thank God for that.

I refuse to apologise for my size.  For how I dress.  For what I say (unless it is something hurtful).  For who I love.  For my faith.  For my denomination.

Yesterday I was getting a pedicure and was sitting next to a lady who looked to be about the same age.  We were talking about the freedom that comes with aging.  I’m much less self-conscious about how I dress now then I’ve ever been.  I really don’t care how people look at me.  I temper what I say carefully (most of the time) to not intentionally upset or inflame, yet I don’t apologise for speaking from my heart.

One of the most powerful homilies I preached contained the phrase “If you speak the truth in love, you will always find the strength to speak the truth”.  This phrase was repeated multiple times in the course of the homily.  And I still believe it to be true.

Many of my opinions may not be popular opinions.  Much of what I do may not be perceived as important or necessary  or relevant in society.  And I’m okay with that. I am who God created.  I am my father’s daughter, with my sarcastic humour and ferocious protection of the innocent.  I am my mother’s daughter, with my blunt speech and fierce determination.  But most of all, I am me.

And for that I will not apologise.

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I’m exhausted. I’m not really sure why…but I suspect it has more to do with emotional than physical exhaustion. Usually I’m up to date with emails and phone calls. I’m terrific at keeping up to date with filing, correspondence and all that kind of stuff. And yet lately, I’m finding myself getting behind, and while aggravated, I’m not worried about getting it done…as I guess I know it will get done.

I decided a week or so ago that it was time to put the paperwork together to file for divorce. As an educated woman I thought the process would be relatively simple…and after spending far too much time on the provincial website, only to discover that the jpg reader was out of date on my laptop, I debated about spending the $1,000 to get someone else to file the paperwork.

I had a cup of tea, a frustrated cry and started again the next day. And much to my amazement, I was able to navigate the forms with relative ease. This afternoon I took the carefully prepared forms to the court hours in the next largest city to the one where I live. The Registrar was very helpful and found a couple of mistakes. She also told me I needed to present her with 4 copies of all the documents. So I went to a friend’s home and made the corrections, then made copies of the forms and took them back to the Court House.

I now have a court file number that needs to go on all the other forms. As soon as I can arrange it, my soon-to-be ex-husband will be served with the primary document. The challenge of that is he lives in a different province…but it is doable.

Tonight when I got home I realised just how weary I was. I had an hours sleep and was supposed to meet with a couple for pre-marriage planning but I was simply too tired, so we’ve rescheduled for next week. Easy enough.

I’ve been looking at short hairstyles on Pinterest. I’ve decided I need a change in my appearance…and hair is the ultimate fashion accessory. I’m going to see my hairdresser tomorrow and hopefully either get it cut or make an appointment to get it cut. It’s time for a change.

My summer wardrobe is flowy dresses, capri’s and sandals. When its necessary to wear a clergy shirt, I wear one with one of the dresses. Definitely built for comfort this time of year.

As I reflect back on who I was before I came West I can see a significant shift in me. I’m more confident that I was before. I am far less afraid. I am as good a preacher as I ever was and as skilled a liturgist as I’ve ever been, but I feel, in some ways, as though I’m seeing the world differently.

I’m excited to be who I am. I’m excited at who I’ve become. I’m claiming back my identity and I will not surrender it again. Nobody will prevent me from being me. Not even myself.

With a shiny new haircut and a “go get ’em” attitude, I will have a new lease on life.

But right now it’s time for a cup of sleepytime tea and an early night. The only thing I’m after right now is my pillow…

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One of the challenges with moving provinces is re-establishing health care.  The first health care provider I procured was a Chiropractor, followed by a Registered Massage Therapist.  Next was the Pharmacist, and today I saw my new Family Doctor.  I had a list nearly as long as my arm with things to discuss with her.  She listened and acknowledged; she’s young and has a wonderfully warm demeanor.  I enjoyed sharing my list of concerns with her and she has started the referral process for many of the ailments I now have.  For the record; aging is NOT for the faint of heart…

One of the questions she asked was my form of birth control, to which I answered “my face”.  She blinked and looked blankly at me, then started laughing uncontrollably.  I think Dr. B and I will be getting along well.  She gave me a requisition for blood work, a number to call to schedule a mammogram, a referral in process for a gynecologist, a renewal for my prescription antidepressants and I see her again in a month for a physical.  Phew.  All that was discussed in 10 minutes.

Another of the things on my “to do” list is putting together the paperwork for separation and divorce.  I spoke recently with A and we agreed on a separation date and we’ve already separated our assets and liabilities.  For all intents and purposes, it should be an “easy” divorce…well, as far as administration goes.  Emotionally, it is an ending.  And although we both agreed that this was “for the best”, there is still a process of grieving.  The end of something that we once promised would last forever.

As I reflect on the end of our marriage and the rebirth of myself, I realise, once again, that sometimes love is not enough.  I love him as a person.  I love him as a friend.  But I am no longer in love with him, and if I were honest, I haven’t been for a long time.  Too many things unsaid, too many broken promises.  Too many times when one thing was said and another done.  Too many times when it was simply too much effort to work at our relationship.  The precedent scares me…unfortunately I’ve been down this road before.

And while I have said that I will never love another again…is it really fair of me to close my heart off from the world?  I don’t know…I suspect God does…

For now, the wall around my heart remains firmly in place.  I will mourn and grieve the loss of something that once meant the world to me.  I will survive.  I will come through the other side stronger then ever…knowing myself more than I ever have…and learning to love again.  Beginning with myself.  As a wise friend recently said “I’m worth it”.

And you know what?  I believe that to be true.

So while I mourn the ending of a marriage/relationship/partnership, I rejoice in the knowledge that I am coming back to life…I am experiencing my own re-birth.  I revel in the sounds of birdsong, of the gentle and often not-so-gentle winds that blow through my life.  I revel in the smells of Spring flowers, of walking around the village where I live and breathing in the fresh mountain air.  As I reflected to a parishioner at the induction service last week “I am home”.  In so many ways, British Columbia has become my home.

And in this home I find my heart, my soul and my life.  Thanks be to God.

 

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For many years I have closed off parts of myself…parts that held secrets or had been damaged.  Parts that I felt were no longer a part of me…that impeded me being who I have chosen to be.

Until recently…

Moving West has been, in many ways, a re-birth for me.  When I was packing up the myriad of books that have traveled with me for decades, I came across my old sketch pad from the early days at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary.  The pastels were dried up and useless, and yet the drawings held as much emotion as they had when I first drew them.  I must admit, at first I wasn’t sure what some of the images represented…and then I read the titles of the pieces…and a switch flicked.

I adore the mountains…and I’m feeling a creative part of myself awaken to capture them.  I’m not artistically talented in any way, and I have no idea what the images will look like when they are finished…but I do look forward to the creative process once again.

My wardrobe consists of predominantly black and neutral pieces…the occasional burst of yellow or orange.  I liken my wardrobe to that of a female robin…subdued.  However, I do have one dress that is my favourite…it’s a subdued rainbow tie-dye dress that I absolutely adore.  I bought it because it was on sale, and because it made me smile.  And yet I didn’t wear it much because I was uncomfortable attracting attention to myself.

When I was paring down my wardrobe I had to keep the dress, which actually surprised me.  That dress and a very feminine summer dress that I’ve had for decades made the cut.  So far it’s not been warm enough to wear the summer dress although I have worn the rainbow dress a couple of times.  In fact, I’m going to wear it for my induction with a light coloured clergy shirt.

I feel as though I am shedding the extra winter layers for the bright and beautiful promise of summer.  I’m wearing dresses with shorts instead of tights, and I’m walking a little bit straighter, head a little bit higher.  I’m stopping to smell and admire flowers and ask to pet dogs.

After a long, long, dark moment of grief I have emerged and reawakened — as a flower pushing against the newly warmed ground, seeking the sun and the promise of warmth on my skin…the feeling of rain refreshing and washing away the doubt and debris.

I am coming alive in ways I thought were finished for me…in ways I never imagined were possible, never mind wanted…and yet – here I am.

The colours that surround me seem brighter.  The sun and sky clearer.  The air sweeter.  The water cooler.  The grass smoother.  After a long, hard hibernation, I am daring to push my head against that which has held me down and embrace the new life which flows from within me.

I am alive.  And it is grand.

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I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  It is not who I am .  It does not define me.  And yet there are days when I really feel it.  Since moving west I’ve moved my body more than ever and I’m loving how my body is responding.  My skin is glowing, I’m drinking lots of water, eating fresh foods wherever possible, getting outside into the sun or rain and walking most everywhere.

When I first got here I was absolutely exhausted.  The Archbishop asked if my soul had caught up with my body from all the traveling, and when I stopped to ponder his words I realised that it had not.  And that was sad.  So I rested myself more than usual, took things slower and generally listened to my body.

One of the challenges with CFS is chronic pain.  It’s manageable…I’ve lived with it for 18 years.  Most days, once I get moving, it’s barely noticeable and so, I’ll admit, I get a bit cocky…and then that’s when my old friend returns.

Late nights, early morning, poor nutrition choices, overloaded work schedule, stress, etc. etc. etc. and soon the dance of fatigue becomes more complicated.

Last night was one of those nights.  I found my body getting heavy.  I found my ability to concentrate diminished. I fought to stay alert and when I started to lose my horizon I lay down.  It took me a little while to figure out which way was down, but once I did, gravity did the rest.  I slept deeply, heavily for a couple of hours.  Woke up refreshed and needing the bathroom.  Returned to bed and slept deeply again…glorious, restful sleep.

So today as I look at my schedule for the week, I’m going to be a bit more gentle with myself.  I’m still going to walk, but not push myself…life is a marathon, not a sprint.  I’m going to eat food I enjoy, and savour it.  I’m going to begin to journal again, noting the joy and challenge in my life.  And I’m going to live.

Slowly, I’m learning to reframe my language into something that is positive.  A wise friend recently commented that language and words define our power…define our reality.  And it’s so true.  “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me” is a fallacy and a damaging one at that.

My biggest critic is the negative self-talk that permeates my being.  Instead of building walls to keep people out, I’m going to build walls to surround the negative self-talk.  I will acknowledge it, dismiss it, and move on with my life.

A challenge?  Most definitely.

Do-able?  Absolutely.

Because I choose to be happy.  The only actions I control are my own.  And so I will choose to come from a place of love — always.  I will choose to come from a place of peace, of hope and of joy.

Oh there will be bad days…but they will not define me.  Like my CFS does not define me.  Right now we’re dancing the CFS is leading, but not for long.  And when that dance concludes, I’ll send him home.  Then I’ll continue to dance the dance of unbridled joy…perhaps even dancing in the rain.

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Before I moved west I was a basket case.  There were specific reasons for this, mostly involving my home life, but I was also struck by how incredibly tired I was.  Perpetually weary, I dreaded mornings and longed for my bed…sweet escape of sleep.

I still served my congregation and I was still pretty good at it…but I felt overwhelmingly empty.  I would work, and work, and work.  And never seem to finish anything.  I’d be filled with guilt if I didn’t return a phone call or respond immediately to an email.  It was frustrating and soul-rendering.  And I could not, for the life of me, figure out why.

I made a promise to myself when I made the decision to move parishes, that I would establish good boundaries, good life balance and try to be better at this whole life thing.  That began with the drive.  My traveling companion and I stopped every day, at some point during the trip, to discover something…and usually to laugh.  We stopped as close to dark as we could and explored wherever we were.  We would take a swim, find something for dinner, and otherwise decompress from the day.

When I got here I was conscious of my time.  And so was the rest of the congregation and community.  When I met with my Regional Dean he offered to be part of my self-care team.  He would hold me accountable to taking day(s) off and caring for myself as much as I care for the community.  I readily agreed.  And, for the record, he does make sure I take my days off.  And that at least once a week, I do something fun, just for myself.

In all fairness, the respect in this is mutual and I encourage the same from him.

Usually Easter Monday I’m exhausted.  I take to my bed and stay there, completely worn out from over-extending myself during Holy Week.  This year that didn’t happen.  I was intentional in taking time during Holy Week to focus on what was most important and didn’t fill my calendar with “should do” events.  Everything on my calendar was “must do”.  And that made a huge difference.

Easter Monday I had an opportunity to take a day trip south of the border…somewhere I had never been before.  I went and the experience was amazing.  There was a great deal of sightseeing.  There was laughter, conversation, music, prayer, absolute joy.  When I got home from that near perfect day I felt relaxed, refreshed, peaceful.  I felt peace-filled!  I felt unadulterated joy.  BALANCE!

If you’ve looked at the word cloud, one of the largest words is Balance.  It is something I seek and something for which I am very mindful.  I don’t always achieve balance.  I do my best.  Lately, I’m getting better with it.  And that makes me feel like I’m on top of the world.

For me, one of the biggest lessons learned is that I don’t have to do it all *gasp*.  And it will still be okay.  Another of the lessons is that if I don’t take care of myself, I cannot take care of others. *shock*  Taking time for me, sets a good example for the congregation.  Taking time for me means I can be happy in myself and therefore of higher service to my congregation, friends and family.  And especially in right relationship with my God.

My routine lately is to wake a bit early, give thanks for the day, say morning devotions and prayers.  Get up, dressed, and walk, sometimes to the chiropractor, sometimes to the post office.  As part of every day I get outside, whether it’s raining, sunny, windy.  Even if just for 20 minutes I get outside.  I’m drinking more water.  I’m consuming less caffeine.  I’m moving my body more.  I’m slowing down and savouring everything around me.  I’m aware, I’m mindful.  I’m happy…I’m peaceful.  I’ve found balance!

Everything around me looks brighter, clearer, more awesome, every single day.  And for that I am eternally grateful.

Thanks be to God.

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It is my tradition that on Good Friday black stones are given to the congregation.  They are invited to hold them in their hands and reflect on the last year.  Things we’ve done that we shouldn’t.  Things we should have done but didn’t.  Same for things spoken.  Every year I hold my stone throughout the service, usually holding it in my hand while I preach.  This year I didn’t do that.  I set it down at my seat and left it there.

During the service and the silence I was reflecting on how much has changed in my life over the past year.  Leaving my marriage, my home, my congregation and begin life again in a different place – a different province.

Today before I set my back stone down I kissed it.  And when I set it down I felt a large burden lift.  A burden of guilt, of shame, of self-loathing.  A burden of feeling I’m not good enough, thin enough, smart enough, simply not enough.  I may not an athlete or supermodel.  I may not the beautiful or even pretty. But I am who God made and I live the commandments by which God created me – to love God and to love my neighbour as myself.

I am enough.  I am me.  There’s only one me…and I’m good at that.  I’m a good priest, who is unabashedly in love with the LORD and who wants to be a beacon of light in a dark world.  I’m not anything special or incredible.  But I am me…and that is enough.

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