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Posts Tagged ‘pain’

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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It’s now official…the announcements have been made, emails sent and articles written.  I am leaving my current post to travel across four provinces, over 3,000 kms to a new posting in a small town in southeastern British Columbia.

I’ve never lived outside of Ontario.  I’m excited and terrified all at the same time.  Information on how to change my license plates from Ontario to British Columbia, changing my health card, registering for health insurance as well as employee benefits, payroll, etc.

As a rule, I’m not big on farewells.  I don’t like a fuss.  However, I know there will be many folks I will likely never see again.  And that makes me sad. So that means there needs to be a gathering, or two.  The local Legion is providing a beautiful Going away party at the end of the month, the Saturday before I depart West.

My friends in the LGBTQ+ community is going to throw me a Bon Voyage party in the city on the Monday before I leave.  It’s going to be lovely to see everyone, but it’s going to be hard to say goodbye.  Yeesh.

So while I’m service planning here, I’m service planning there.  While I’m scheduling visits here, I’m thinking of who I should start with once I get there.

I know I have a lot to do, a great, huge to-d0 list and there will be some things on that list that don’t get done.  Some people I don’t get to see and that has to be okay.

To top it off, I slipped and fell the other day, wrenching my shoulder.  It’s quite painful and my range of mobility is limited.  I can’t lift, I can’t carry.  I can type and write for limited amounts of time.  I should be looking at this as God’s way of telling me to slow down.  But in reality it’s a pain the ass…or shoulder as the case may be.

So I suck it up, do my best and push through the pain.  Since I announced my departure there’s been a great burden lifted.  And in reassigning things to folks so they can take them over in my absence is quite liberating as well.  Writing up a list of passwords, that sort of thing.

This transition may turn out okay after all.

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I am less than a week away from two glorious weeks of vacation. And of course, we are in the midst of a horrendous heat wave in the part of the world where I live. So instead of bustling about, I’m sitting in front of a fan, praying for the weather to break.

I’ve got most of the big things in place to be away. I have the bulletins finished, just need to pick up one set from the printer. I have the readings selected and ready to go for the weeks I’m away. I have pastoral calls prepared for this week.

What I’ve not done yet is prepare my clothes, plan the itinerary and start packing. All of these things are fun but I need to get other things done first, including cleaning my house. Ugh. If only the weather would cooperate, so I could get up and do something without dissolving into a puddle, that would be awesome. C’mon Mother Nature, help me out here.

I am looking forward to two weeks of travel, leisure, yoga, stretching, fabulous food and drink, sleep and nature…not necessarily in that order. I have a new journal that I’m taking with me. I’ve not yet started writing in it, and I’m not sure why. But I’ll get there.

So, for the next couple of weeks, blog posts will be non-existent, but I promise to share all kinds of loveliness when I get back.

Can’t wait to get off the treadmill of “busy” for awhile. To redirect my rhythm and finally start to feel better. I am excited to feel better, for what will feel like the first time in a long time. But I can do it. I know I can. I have to.

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It seems you cannot turn on social media these days without hearing about the ALS Ice Bucket challenge.  The idea, initially, was two-fold, to raise 1. money and 2. awareness about living with ALS.  It is a degenerative neurological disease in which the body slowly stops working.  It is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, the famous baseball player who was one of the first people to be diagnosed.

Sufferers of the disease lose control of their body, but never lose control of their mind.  It’s been likened to being buried alive or slowly suffocating in sand.  Not very welcoming images.

The controversy on social media is the perceived water waste for people who are taking part in the challenge.  I have seen lots of videos posted to Facebook and You Tube.  Some are dignified, some are humorous and some are disgusting.  Recently I was challenged to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  This hits very close to home for me.  One of my parishioners died from the disease last fall.  He was in his 70’s when he was diagnosed, which is “late” for diagnosis.  Another of my parishioners is currently battling the disease and she is only in her 50’s.  She has an 13 month old grandson.  Slowly, she is losing control of her body, is now full-time in a wheelchair.  

Her and her husband built a barrier-free house in the same community as her daughter and they are living with the disease. I decided, last Sunday, to take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge, on the front lawn at the Church by the Church sign.  In collecting from the folks attending church we generated $50 which I will mail to the ALS Society of London.

Folks are getting upset because water is being wasted.  And while that may be a true statement, Canadians and Americans waste an inordinate amount of water every day.  One person participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge will not make a child in Africa die of thirst.  It’s the same concept as not eating our dinner as a child would make a child in Africa go hungry.

I chose the front lawn of the church so the water could be return to the ground, sacred ground at that.  The ice was collected and used a second time for my husband and daughter to participate.  There was very little waste, in my humble opinion.

The other controversy surrounds the funds being pledged and generated.  Every non-profit charity is held to great scrutiny at times like this.  And they should be.  Administration can often make up 40% or more of funds received.  Back in the day when I had a “real job” I worked for three health-charities.  All of them worked on shoestring budgets and were not supported by United Way.  Our Administration stayed at approximately 8% which was considered high.

There will always be people who try to pull a fast one.  They will make a video and not donate.  Or collect money and not send it in.  However, the vast majority of people will send in money, will pledge to send money and follow through.  Standing on a fence built of moral high ground is not a fence that will be strong.  It will blow as the wind does and eventually you’ll be sitting flat on your butt.  A humbling experience indeed.

Do I support the ALS ice bucket challenge?  I do!  I did, and I challenged my brother and sister-in-law.  

Do I understand the cries about wasted water?  To a certain extent, I do.  And that is why we chose to be economical in the amount of water we used and in the location where the water was poured.  I do think there were some videos that were excessive, but I expect it was more about people trying to promote a greater video than to intentionally waste water.

The bottom line for me is that the challenge raises awareness about a disease that has no cure.  If 1,000 people now know about the disease, it was worth the media hype.

So everybody, please calm down.  If you don’t want to participate, then don’t.  But please stop shouting platitudes at those who choose to participate.

Every party has a pooper.

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This is my second week back to work after a four-week medical leave. I actually was back a few days before my official return, simply because there were things that needed my attention, such as the death of a parishioner.

Last Wednesday we had her Celebration of Life at the Church and it was incredible. The parish family, her friends and family gathered to say farewell. Four years prior we had gathered to say farewell to her husband. There were many references to G’s celebration of life as we honoured S. Her three grandchildren took part; the eldest wrote a eulogy and the younger two assisted with communion.

On Saturday I joined a couple together in marriage. D and A met at a bereavement support group and over the next year or so they became friends and then even closer. At the beginning of their service five candles were lit. The outer two candles represented their late spouses and were lit by the children. They then lit the next candles for their parents. The parents took their candles and lit a unity candle. All five candles burned during the service. It was a wonderful way to remember the late spouses, who really were the reason for their meeting.

Yesterday I buried a 34-year-old woman who leaves behind a 13-year-old and a 9-year-old daughter. G and E were baptised at the Church two years ago. Their mum, grandma and aunt were baptised the week after. Both were glorious celebrations. The gathering at the funeral home chapel was very somber and sad. L’s husband R wrote and delivered a eulogy, as did G and E. By the time the eulogies were finished the entire chapel was in tears, sobbing, wailing, it was awful. Open and raw grief.

I wasn’t sure what to do.

So I told the story of how I met L, through her daughters. And people laughed. And laughed some more. The readings chosen were very poignant and during my homily there were more tears, but this time they were tears of acceptance, of love, of understanding.

We know that L is gone from our sight, but she remains in our hearts. She will live on through her family. And with a family of the size it is, her legacy will last for generations.

It was, bar none, the most challenging celebration of life I have ever presided. Seeing the faces of her parents, her husband and her daughters made my heart ache. Then hearing the stories during the reception, people seeking out people they did not know, and sharing stories of L made the grief feel bearable.

It will take a while for the dust to settle. E told me she wants to come back to Church. Her father agreed, and so did her sister. It will be wonderful to welcome them home; that we may bear some of the load for them, as their parish family.

Days like these describe humble me in ways that defy description. Knowing I have had the opportunity to journey with so many families is such an incredible honour.

The phone rang recently with the news of another young person, dying unexpectedly in Halifax. Nine months ago we buried his father, and six months ago we buried his mother. I cannot imagine how his brother is feeling. But once F comes home to be laid to rest, we will do our best to keep his memory alive.

Moments like this remind me of the frailty and fleeing nature of life. We do not know what the future holds and should live each day to the fullest. But we also need to refresh and refill ourselves. That is a lesson I am learning.

During my time off I decided I would honour myself better than I have been. I would take my day off, and would not push myself too hard. I turned the page on negative thinking, and negative self-talk. I decided I would begin after my leave by starting over, loving myself and those I encounter. It will be an ongoing journey, and I am confident I can do it. One step at a time.

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I am not sure that fabulousness is a word, but from now on, I say it is.

I have struggled with my weight for many years. I would like to be thinner than I am. Recently I have questioned my motives for wanting to be thinner. It all comes down to numbers. Why? I don’t honestly know. I weigh over 200 lbs. Most people who see me would never guess that I weigh that much. But for some reason, I believe that weighing over 200 lbs makes me “fat” and unattractive.

The fact is, I’m healthier now than I’ve been in a decade. I tried juicing and it is something I will continue doing, but not every day. I like to make fruit smoothies, but again, not every day. I am realising (FINALLY) that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Life is lived in the shades of grey, in the in-between times. If I want to wear a mini-skirt, I will wear a mini-skirt. If I want to wear a figure-hugging dress, I will do so. If I want to rock a pair of heels, I will do so. Etc.

This summer I have been paring things down; simplifying them. I have already thinned down my books, knick-knacks, paper, and am still working on photographs. I have roughly a dozen boxes/containers to go through to sort things out. What do I have to keep. What can I let go of.

I bought an elliptical trainer four years ago and used it about 25 times. It’s too hard on my knees. So I gave it away to a friend who loves elliptical trainers. And I feel great about that.

I have a yoga mat that I use most days. Sometimes I do yoga stretches and movements, and other times I simply lay on it and meditate, or sit up and meditate or some combination of the two.

I live my life better with routine. I used to measure everything by a set of rules, which were quite complicated. I’ve let some of that go.

My cell phone is now just a cell phone. I cannot check email on it, plan a trip or surf the web. And I’m absolutely okay with that. I have a laptop that is second-hand, but works perfectly for my needs.

I have a desk that is not used. Not ever. So I’m debating about whether to get rid of, repurpose or simply leave it. And as I think of it, the last option is not a feasible option. Should I sell the things I no longer need? I likely could, but for what gain? Yes, the money would come in handy, but if there is someone who needs something that I have, why not give it to them?

Recently I went through my jewellery and cleared out a whole bunch that I no longer wear. In going through some boxes I found an old jewellery box that contained, among other things, my wedding ring from my last marriage. Why did I keep it? Do I still need to keep it? How will I dispose of it?

Yesterday I cleared out a bunch of purses and bags that I have had for years. I kept about a dozen…which go with shoes and outfits I currently own. Next week I am going to cruise my wardrobe and look at blazers, jackets, dresses, etc., that I no longer wear. And I will get rid.

I don’t need more stuff in my life. I need to embrace what I have that brings me joy and makes me feel good about myself. I am not a model, I have no desire to be a model. I am a human being that tends to hold on to too much stuff.

So I’m thinning out and simplifying.

I am embracing myself in all my fabulousness.

Look out world, hear me roar!

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Tonight we had our Wednesday service in Holy Week. It was a service of healing and Eucharist. There were 9 people in attendance and each of them was there for a specific reason that had nothing to do with me.

The service bulletins didn’t print in quite the correct order, so we have some fun trying to figure out what came next…but we managed through. At a certain point in the service, prayers are offered silently or aloud for folks who are in need. And there is an opportunity to pray in the silence of our hearts to invite God to hear what we cannot find the words to say.

After that there is an opportunity to come back and have a moment of prayer with myself. We sit, facing each other, often taking hands, often sitting in stillness. I will ask if there is something specific on their heart and they will answer what that is. Tonight six people came back for prayers. Five of the six had specific concerns. After the prayers there is a moment of silence and an opportunity for anointing with healing oil. One of the six came filled with gratitude for the abundance in her life. Her smile is infectious and after we prayed giving thanks she squeezed my hand and bowed her head. She then asked for God to bless me with healing and with patience…and winked at me.

We then move to the table and share communion in a different setting than usual; a setting from the Island of Iona. It is beautifully written and always moves me. Tonight it moved me to tears.

We shared communion and sat in silent contemplation for about 10 minutes after the liturgy had concluded. Then I extinguished the candles and left the worship space. The congregation followed, about 10 minutes later. The service is simple, sacred and contemplative. It is everything a Holy Week service should be.

My ankle is incredibly sore. It has ridges on it from the brace, but the pain is nothing in comparison to the feeling of peace and serenity that is building inside of me.

These are my people. We are connected to one another. We have shared many stories; both good and bad. And now we have had the opportunity to be still in the presence of the sacred.

Thanks be to God.

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My ankle that is. It’s pretty bruised, as is the big toe on my right foot. Today I bought a brace for my ankle so I can continue to be barefoot in Church.

We have had two evening services for Holy Week thus far and there is another one tonight.

The services for Monday and Tuesday I was able to sit for them, which was good. Tonight will be a different thing. The service begins in the sanctuary, moves to the back of the Church (the baptistery) then moves back to the altar. So there will be walking, but I reckon if I take my time I should be okay.

I’ve had to rethink how I preside Maundy Thursday as I used to kneel when I washed feet. This year I’ll need to sit on a stool. It will be awkward, but it should work.

I got a call today from a lady whose husband just died. She’s originally from this community and has family here, but she lives out-of-town. She’s made arrangements for cremation and his remains will be interred, on Saturday. I am meeting with her and her sister on Friday.

Holy Week is meant to be a week of reflection and preparation. And yet, every single year I have had a funeral and all the pastoral responsibilities that go with it. So even though I try not to over-plan the week or over-fill it with responsibilities, there always seems to be “one more” event.

Having a sprain this year has really taught me about pacing myself. I overdid it yesterday and had a horrible night last night. Today was supposed to be an easier day, but then the phone rang and I needed to go to the hospital to see a parishioner, as well as preside a service at a nursing home.

I have a service in an hour and a half and my left ankle is swollen and throbbing. I was going to do some work tonight after worship. Instead I am going to do that work tomorrow morning, and tonight, after worship, I will have a long soak in a warm bath with epsom salts.

I changed the bed last night, so it will be comfortable, soft, clean sheets I sink into, well before midnight tonight.

Thanks be to God.

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I’ve not been blogging much because I’ve felt mired down in crap. I was feeling good, but tired, when I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. Since learning what it is I’m feeling overwhelmed. I had to have a mammogram last week, which is an annual event for me as I have an extensive family history. The doctor’s office called to say that the screen is irregular and I need to have more investigative tests. That’s got me somewhat concerned.

It doesn’t help that I’ve not been mindful of my self-care. I’ve not eaten properly. I’ve not exercised. I’ve slept. Ate. Slept. Worked. Slept. Not good for me at all.

I was having lunch with a friend the other day who could see I was struggling and he said to me that I looked “blah”. I realised that I’ve been waiting for the bounce. I know I’m on a downward trajectory, waiting for more test results, and knowing that it’s going to get darker before it gets light again. At some point I will hit my low point and bounce back up again.

The hardest part of a depressive episode, for me, is waiting for the bounce. I recognise that now is not a good time. I recognise that there will be light again, but before that, there will be a great darkness. And that, simply, sucks.

Today I self-medicated with food. And man did it feel good. There was no guilt…only enjoyment. I think maybe I need to loosen the “rules” I have in place for my eating habits. Listen to my body and if it wants something unhealthy, then have it. At the end of the day, does it make that much of a difference, if I fall off the wagon for a little while? Who knows?

I am going to take a walk with a friend of mine. We were going to go to the mall and walk around, but decided instead to walk the local indoor track. Healthier and less expensive than going to the mall.

One small step at a time. One small decision at a time. Waiting for the phone to ring. Waiting for the test to be scheduled. And knowing that no matter what else happens, I am, and will always be, a servant of the Lord. Patience may not be my strong suit, but I can try it for a while.

Saturday will be a very interesting day. I have a memorial service at 9:30 a.m. Another one at 11:30, a marriage counselling session at 3:00 and a 50th birthday party at 7:00. I should sleep very well Saturday night.

So between now and then, I wait. For the phone to ring…for the next food craving to hit…for the bounce to indicate that things will get better. Because they always do.

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The 5th of December is a date that will remain with me forever. It has for the past 25 years. All day I’ve been irritable, uneasy, scattered, and generally miserable. Oh, and I think I have a chest cold.

On the 5th of December 1988 my husband of 99 days left me. It’s true. Twenty-five years ago I was adjusting to being newly married, only to switch to newly separated and finally to newly divorced. I had spent the day with my sister-in-law and had left feeling much better than when I arrived. She was married to my husband’s brother, so I asked her advice. She gave it and I was positive and excited about how things were going to be between K and myself.

I walked through the door to the apartment with a huge smile on my face. Then I saw two suitcases packed. “Where are we going?” I asked.

“Not we. Just me” he said.

“Pardon?” said I.

“I’ve decided this isn’t working for me, so I’m leaving”.

“Scuze me?”

“Yep, this isn’t what I thought it was going to be”.

“We’ve been married five minutes”.

“No, it’s been longer than that. But I made a mistake. I should have married you. Can I have the car keys please? I’ll be back in a couple of days to pick up the rest of my stuff. I called the landlord and you have to be out of the apartment by the end of December”.

And with that, he was gone.

At roughly 4:30 pm on the 5th of December 1988 my world was turned upside down.

Every year since, on the 5th of December, I have a physical memory of that day.

This year, 2013, just after 6:00 pm, I learned that Nelson Mandela had died.

A great man who leaves an amazing legacy. Nelson Mandela changed the world. And the majority of the planning and teaching for that change happened within the walls of his cell on Robben Island. Prisoner 46664 was initially tormented and humiliated. He rose above this and forgave. Through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (overseen by Archbishop Desmond Tutu) he was able to put a face on the inhumanity to which he had been subject.

He is a man of tremendous integrity, faith and grace. There is someone in my life that I need to forgive for abuse that was suffered from the ages of 3 – 6. I am closer now then I have ever been to forgiving him. And I believe that due to Madiba’s teaching, I may be able to actually forgive. Not this minute. Not this day. But soon. I may finally able to let go of that to which I cling. I cannot describe what “that” is, but cling to it I must. For now.

Over the past few days I’ve been cleaning and arranging rooms in the rectory. I have reclaimed a room upstairs as my Sanctuary, where I can meditate, stretch, pray, read, write, etc. It is a peaceful and lovely room.

I scoured the upstairs bathroom last night after both dogs had baths. Today I took down the curtains and washed them. I washed the curtains on all main floor windows, washed the windows and sills, and put the curtains back up. The house feels cleaner. It certainly smells cleaner. And my calm is returning.

This morning I reclaimed a small table in the dining room that had papers and other detritus strewn on it. A mess. Chaos. I don’t like that. It is now orderly. I know where everything is and most of the papers from that pile have been recycled or filed away. Order. Calm.

When I heard the news on the radio tonight I stopped what I was doing to listen carefully. Then I sat down and stayed perfectly still. Then I prayed. I gave thanks for Madiba’s life. I gave thanks to G-d for making Apartheid a memory instead of a reality. I promised to be more optimistic and to be more understanding. I prayed for guidance and strength. Then I sat, in silence and stillness for what seemed like a long while.

Then I slowly got up, made some tea and continued with what I was doing.

This week has been a physically and emotionally productive week. I’ve not slept nearly enough and I suspect that, combined with the dust and grime that’s been unearthed, is part of the reason I am having respiratory issues.

This weekend will be a very hectic weekend. And it will be draining, emotionally, spiritually and physically. But it will be worth it.

Mr. Mandela, you changed the world. You have inspired generations to learn from you and to do their part to change the world. I pray, one day, to make you proud of the changes that you have inspired in me, in my small corner of the world.

May you rest in peace and rise in glory. Well done, good and faithful servant.

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