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Posts Tagged ‘balance’

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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I don’t mean that in a derogatory or negative way.  I look around me and I see people with huge lives, always running, busy, busy, busy.  In debt, in therapy, under stress to “keep up appearances” and I simply don’t understand that.

Don’t get me wrong, there was a time when I wanted the best of everything.  The problem wasn’t that I wanted the best…but that I wanted EVERYTHING.  And I’m not (and never will be) in a financial position to buy everything that I see…everything that I want.  And that’s okay.  It’s better than okay.  It’s grand!

As I age my needs are simpler.  I need God, shelter, food, clothing and love.  Most everything else is a want.  I want classical music.  I want deep conversation.  I want meaningful relationships.  I want good food, with the occasional junk food meal thrown in.  I want hiking sticks, and good books.  I want breathtaking sunsets, meaningful liturgy and uncontrollable laughter.

I want memories, not things.

Because of where I now live, I can walk most everywhere, which I enjoy.  Even when it rains I can walk.

I have a small circle of friends.  I have a beautiful home in which to live.  I have a vehicle that gets me where I need to be when I can’t walk there.  I have love.  I have people that I can talk to about the things that matter.  I have food in my cupboard, money in my bank and even some in my pocket.  I have clothing.

When I look around I realise that life is not a competition.

I don’t want to be a competitive skier.  In fact, I don’t want to compete at anything.  I don’t want what “society” tells me I want and need to be happy.  I don’t need designer clothes.  I don’t need caviar (seriously, ick)  I don’t need fine china or expensive champagne.

When I look around my life I realise that for the first time in a long time I have enough.  I have exactly what I need and want in my life.  And that means everything to me.

Life, as they say, is grand.

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A little more than a week ago I came down with a cold.  No big deal, except this cold had fever, chills, nausea, and a bark-like cough.  Maybe it was more than a cold.  I don’t really know.  What I DO know is that it knocked me on my backside and I was down for the count.  As a rule, I don’t get really sick.  I’ll have a sore throat and some nasal discomfort that will last a few days, and I can usually work through it with little aggravation.

Not this.

I couldn’t read.  I couldn’t focus.  I certainly couldn’t drive.  I went to Church last Wednesday and was promptly sent home.  I guess I looked as bad as I felt.

Now, there was a time when I’d have fought tooth and nail to be there.  Not this time.  I was sick, I was tired and I needed rest.  When I realised I had two very capable people who could take the service for me I came home, changed into my pjs and went to bed.  I woke up 9 hours later feeling more like a human being.  But still not well.

I struggled through the rest of the week.  Drinking copious amounts of tea, water, eating toast.  Not really much of an appetite, and I was determined that I would be well enough for Sunday.  And I was.  Barely.

I preached and celebrated both services, but little else.  Thankfully I had licensed lay ministers who made sure the other parts of the service were covered.  It worked well.  And after service we postponed Bible Study, I came home and went to bed.

Monday was a full day, as was today.  Tomorrow is a full day, as is Thursday.  And Friday I’m finally getting my hair cut.

There was a time when I could shake off a cold.  I could fight through it.  Not anymore.  And as I reflect on how weak I still feel, I am horrified that I used to work when I was sick, so sick I would share my sickness so others would be sick.  That’s not good for anyone.

I finally got to the chiropractor and realised it had been two months since my last adjustment.  The intake process took the better part of an hour, and I was finally adjusted.  It was a loud adjustment and I felt much better.  Today I’m sore again, but thankfully I see my chiropractor again Thursday morning.

Now I need to find a registered massage therapist, a family doctor and a dentist and I think my health care team is in place.  One thing at a time.

I think I’m beginning to get the hang of this self-care model.  Look at me go!

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This is the third Friday I’ve been in my new home.  The third Friday that I’ve taken as a day off.  I have no desire to do anything and nowhere I really have to be.  But there are things I’d like to get done.

As I’ve been unpacking boxes I’m piling them in my kitchen.  Today I broke them all down and put them together for recycling.  The community bin is across the street, which makes this OH SO convenient.

My kitchen is ready save for a couple of small things.  I’ve been prioritizing wants from needs.  I’ve got everything I need for the kitchen.  There’s a few things I’ll obtain as I want them.  For example, casserole dishes.  I didn’t have any.  I really didn’t need any but was out one day and came across an incredible deal.  So know I have one that I purchased at 75% off.

I’m embracing a new attitude about “stuff”.  If it’s something I will use (more than once) and will enhance my life, I will obtain it. Otherwise, nope.  Don’t need it.

On my list still to obtain are a creamer and sugar basin for when I entertain, which I will be doing on Sunday.  An iron and ironing board.  Something I will be using, especially once I start home communions and will have linens to launder.

I am in need of new clergy shirts; the one’s I have are starting to come apart at the seams…granted, I have had them for 6 years.  But I’m waiting for a sale as they are EXPENSIVE.

I also need new bras.  The two I have are uncomfortable, too big and leave a weird line in my clothes.  Living where I do means there’s no easy access to buying them, so I’m beginning to look online.  Being a plus size gal makes it a tad more challenging.  But I will succeed.  I am determined!

Slowly I am mindful of a routine being established in my life.  I like routine, I like order and I am finding for the first time in a long time, I have both.  I work as hard as I ever did, and am mindful of myself and my needs.  If I’m tired, I rest.  If I’m hungry, I eat.  I’m still struggling with food addictions, and overall am making healthier choices most days.

There are times I abuse myself with food.  And I’m aware that I’m doing it.  It occurs infrequently and I am pleased that I can recognize that it’s happening.

So today I’m going to have a shower and get dressed.  Make my bed, go to the post office, drug store and grocery store, all of which I can walk to.  I’m going to go to the hardware store on the other side of town.  I could walk, but I’m going to drive.  And if I don’t get what I am looking for there, I will drive to the next largest community; an hour away.

There is nowhere I must be today and no commitment I must keep.  Today is a day just for me.  And I LOVE that.

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Those eight boxes arrived late last week and have been sitting in the front room…untouched.  I’ve been reflecting on moving day and it was absolute and utter chaos.  I intended to finish packing, but ran out of steam.  It was more important for me to spend time with my Beloved and engage in conversation with him before departing.

I intended to get up early and finish packing, but I couldn’t rouse myself early enough.  I completely forgot about packing my clothes (duh) and when my traveling companion arrived at 9:00 she pointed out that it wasn’t all going to fit in my car.  Panic.  Don’t forget to breathe.  We are not going to be away on time.  I’m throwing us behind schedule…ARGH!

I had a deep breath, she took my car to go get breakfast while I packed my clothing and when she returned we ate breakfast, and I pulled the boxes out that I would ship…8 in all.  A lot of stuff got left behind because there wasn’t time to pack and ship and there wasn’t room to bring it.  I spent a week trying to remember what I was shipping in those last 8 boxes.  I remembered two.  The other six were a mystery.

Today was family day in BC.  I woke up late, did a load of laundry and kept looking at the trunk in the living room.  It contains icons, pictures and art that I wanted to bring with me.  So tonight I unpacked it and put some of the art on shelves.  The icons are waiting to go in my office.  A few other things are on the dining room table.

I was looking for my mortar and pestle as I’ll need them on Wednesday when I burn the palm crosses from last year to make ashes for Ash Wednesday.  I checked the boxes…it didn’t make the cut.  So tomorrow I will try and find one in this town.  And if not, I got to Plan B.  For the record, I have no idea what Plan B is.  And that’s okay.

I have five boxes waiting to be unpacked.  And I will unpack them…but not today.  I think I’ll unpack the oil lamps and accouterments that go with them next.  Then the box of pottery and other breakables that survived being shipped by mail.  Then there’s the miscellaneous box of stuff.  And the hastily packed “I have to bring this stuff” box.  It contains mostly cards, gifts and things from the community and the congregation.  Fun, to be sure.

This week is a very busy week, with Aretha receiving brake work so she’ll pass inspection and I can get her registered in BC.  Next is Shrove Tuesday supper at the United Church where I’ll make my first “public appearance” in the community.  Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, then Music Selection Thursday night and my Day Off on Friday.  In the midst of all this I need to arrange a meeting with a parishioner, work on my homily and write a Bible Study for Lent.  Piece of cake!

I don’t like chaos and clutter, so for now it’s being maintained on the dining room table and in the front room.  And if I don’t get to it until next week, that’s okay too.

As the saying goes…one day at a time.

 

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I have walked around the neighbourhood…have discovered where many things are located and how to get there by car or by walking.  I’m getting there…

I took my traveling companion to Calgary Airport yesterday so she could fly to London (Ontario) and then begin her long drive home to the Bruce Peninsula.

Last night I ate supper alone and it was grand.  I had soup she had made before she left.  I rearranged furniture, moved curtains around and started to make my mark on this place.  Last night I sat and watched the snow fall, Christmas Eve snow, called Fernie Powder.  It was grand!

Woke this morning to more snow, a couple of inches of accumulation, and the need to get boxes unpacked in the office.  The boxes are all unpacked.  My desk drawers have things in them and there is the residual “stuff” on the top of the desk that will be relocated soon.  The box of files and CD’s has been found.  My service books are located and easily accessible.  There’s still 8 boxes coming that wouldn’t fit in the car the day of the move…they should be here this week (or so).

I’m scheduling meetings, meeting my Regional Dean next week and preparing for my first Sunday in the pulpit (figuratively speaking…I’m more of a “in the midst” kind of preacher) and behind the table.  I’m nervous.  And I’m tired.

I think the reality of where I am and what I’m doing is hitting home.  I’m going to finish up a few things in the office, then call it a day here…make some lunch and venture out to the post office and for some groceries.

Tonight I have a music planning meeting, that’s exciting! I’ve not been involved in Music Selection in many years…so this will be a treat!

And tomorrow is my first official day off since arrival.  And yes, I’m going to take it.

Life, as they say, is grand!

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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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That’s the name of the season of the Church – Advent.  We await the birth of the Christ Child, the one who will set us free.

This time of year it’s supposed to be about slowing down.  Of anticipating – dare I say, savouring the season.  And yet, every year I find myself overwhelmed with duties.  Parishioners I must visit.  Reports I must write.  Meetings I must attend.  Social engagements at which I must make an appearance.  It’s crazy.

I preach about slowing down and taking thing slowly.  The reality is decidedly different.  And it irritates me.  Why don’t I slow down and savour the time I have?  Why can’t I say no to events that beg to exercise excess?

Because I consider it my “duty” as priest and sometimes, yes, my duty as a friend.

There is a tradition in my family of giving pajamas for Christmas.  In fact, my grandchildren call them “Nanajams” and ever since they were born they have received a pair of pjs from me, for Christmas.  I look forward to finding pjs that are similar for C for D and for their Mom and my best friend L.  This years colour combination is shades of blue and white. My Mam also gets new pjs for Christmas.

This year I have no desire to bake, or cook, or do the things I traditionally like to do.  I have no desire to write Christmas cards.  All I want to do is sleep, eat, write homilies (no really) and walk.

Most likely it’s because of the busy-ness of the past few weeks.  Long days, late nights, restless sleep and a busy brain.  Not a great combination for restful sleep.

So, I think today, I will jettison my agenda and do what I want to do.  Right now there is laundry in the dryer.  My beds needs to be changed, laundry put away, housework done and files waiting at the Church.  And I’ll get to it all, but maybe not this morning.  And that’s okay.

If this is the season of anticipation, I can anticipate a nap, right?

 

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