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Posts Tagged ‘stress’

I have a confession to make…I don’t juggle. I used to be able to juggle two tennis balls if I concentrated really hard. But I don’t think I can do that anymore.

The new school year is upon us and the juggling game continues. My Mam has been visiting for the past week and while I enjoy having her here, she doesn’t seem to have the ability to spend more than an hour alone. It’s a litany of aches and pains, constantly checking her arms and legs, “does this look different to you?” and on and on.

My “job” is a vocation, which means on call 24/7, 365. I have to fit in other parts of my life around my job. It should be the other way around, but it’s not. Most of the time I handle all that stuff pretty well, but lately, it seems like it’s been more work and harder than it needs to be.

For example. My daughter by marriage and I had a conversation before the start of school about what she wanted for breakfasts and lunches. She’s a fussy eater and it takes some cajoling to get her to try new things. So we have a list of foods that she will eat for breakfast and/or lunch. She makes her own lunches and I usually take care of breakfast. The first day of school she left her lunch bag at school. So we had to scramble to find another one when she overslept this morning. By the time I got her lunch packed and her out the door she made it with only a couple of minutes to spare before the school bus came.

Then there was laundry. I wanted to do my laundry, and there was my husband’s work laundry in the dryer. He’s great at starting things, but seldom finishes them. I could leave it for him to finish, but I don’t because I need to get my laundry, or bedding for the house, or towels, etc., done. So I finish his before I start mine.

Then there’s my Mam who wants to go visit her friend. I told her I had to go to the office first and would take her afterwards. She gave me an hour at the office then she walked over to see when we were going to see her friend, and should we go out for breakfast first. So I stopped what I was doing and we went out for breakfast.

So now I’m hours behind in my housework, hours behind in my office work and not enough time to prepare for a meeting tonight because I still have to get dinner ready. Where’s the rest of my family? Husband is at work, daughter is doing homework and mother is sleeping.

So, I will go to a meeting tonight only partially prepared and it will bug me far more than it does anyone else. But that’s how I roll. I like things to be finished. I like things to be prepared and ready.

Juggling? I don’t think so.

BUT tomorrow is another day. I am hoping that the kitchen will be cleaned up while I am at the meeting. I am hoping I can come in from the meeting, have a long soak in a hot bath and then go to bed.

The reality may be very different. But there is always hope. I live in a little place called Hope. I like it there and they know me.

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It was a great time on vacation. I spent the best part of the first week sleeping. I knew I was exhausted, but I had little comprehension of just how exhausted I was. I look rested, I feel rested and at the same time I’m feeling quite overwhelmed.

I have had difficulty keeping focus since I got home. The house is in a perpetual state of disarray, and I’m trying to get laundry done, as well as organize the next couple of weeks. I will be very glad when school starts and swimming lessons finish so I can return to some kind of routine.

Being away I had a lot of time to think. About who I am and what I want. I have realised that I don’t have the physical strength to do many of things I really want to do. I wanted to take up running again, but I don’t think my joints will handle it. I wanted to do all kinds of things, and yet I didn’t get many of them done. And I guess, that’s okay.

So right now I’m dealing with a full-blown CFS flare. My body aches, my joints are warm (which is not good), my sleep is interrupted, not restful and I’ve got more verbal and cognitive confusion than usual.

I likely could have used one more week, but the reality of the parish means it’s not possible. I came back to a massive pastoral issue that needed to be dealt with and still needs to be dealt with. And there is the joy of an out-of-town wedding on Friday/Saturday, then another wedding the weekend after.

So it simply never ends.

I’ve had a houseful of people since I got home and I can’t find a moment’s peace. And it doesn’t seem to matter. So, I need to breathe, remove myself, and try to be gentle with myself.

After two more emails I will. Honestly.

I am glad to be back. I am.

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I have been away from posting for a while because the internet connection has been down at the Church, and with that, also comes the wireless signal going kerpluey. I have no idea if that’s how you spell kerpluey.

The past couple of months have been exhausting. My eating habits are back to awful (again). My weight has stabilized which is good in one way, but not in another. My body shape continues to shift, making me unsure of what size I am or whether a piece of clothing will fit me properly from one day to the next.

I’ve presided over too many funerals. I’ve officiated too many interment services. My focus is not where it should be. My body aches from fatigue and I can barely get through the day.

I need a vacation.

Thankfully, I have two weeks vacation starting on Sunday. After Church I only need to change the Church sign and get a ride to the train station and I’m on vacation. My cell phone is coming with me to check in with my mother and my husband, but that is it. No Facebook, no email, no internet. I don’t know if I will find the time and resources to blog.

Tonight, my husband and I need to go into the city and while we are there I am going to buy a journal. I used to journal regularly and then I stopped for a number of reasons. I think it’s time to start again. I bought a new yoga mat and that is coming with me. I intend to practice yoga every day, sometimes outside, and move my body every day.

I intend to eat well every day that I’m away and drink lots of water. I want to come back from vacation healthier than I was when I left, and with good practices in place.

Yesterday was a 12 hour day for me, and by the time I had presided over two liturgies, a Memorial Service, mediated a conversation between mother and son and had a “brief” home visit to a teenage parishioner who is about to leave home for her first full-time job; I was absolutely starving and knackered.

We heated up some left-overs, I kissed my husband good night and I went to bed.

I woke up about 10 hours later, still feeling as tired as when I went to bed. And I don’t like that.

So I wonder, what comes after exhaustion? And if you get there, can you come back to health?

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Lately I feel as though I’ve had the weight of the world on my shoulders. I’m struggling with what it is to be a person as well as a priest and IF it is possible to separate the two. I knowingly signed up for this lifestyle, this vocation, knowing that I would always be on-call and I would always be working, in one way or another.

Most days I can separate my administrative duties from my household duties as I keep regular office hours. But now that we are in summer, my daughter is home with me every other week, which makes office hours a challenge. I still get the work done, but it’s from the kitchen table as opposed to the desk at the office. And in between tasks, I take a break to get more coffee or water, and then throw in another load of laundry, sweep the floor, change the bedding, etc.

Is the multi-tasking healthy? I’d like to think there are times for it and benefits for it. Laundry, for example, mostly does itself. So I can throw in a load, work on something, take a break for fabric softener, work on something, take a break to hang it out or throw it in the dryer in inclement weather, and so on.

I have been trying to grow my hair out. And I really shouldn’t. I decided a few months back that I’d like to be able to put my hair up on really hot days. My hair is also quite thick. And so in the hottest days of the season (so far) I had my hair stuck out at all angles, because it was too short to put up but too long to lay flat. Argh.

I had a baptism on Saturday and afterwards I was feeling quite good, but also in need of a significant change, so I went to the hairdresser where I have been going since I returned to the city (about 9 years). Two of my favourite stylists were working. They had similar hairstyles and I wanted what they had, plus a hit of colour – red and I mean red. So I am now sporting what is called an “undercut” whereby I have a mop of hair on my head which is streaked with brown, blonde and red. The hair has movement and on the sides and back it is shaved close to the skin. LOTS of versatility and apparently if it show one side of the shaving, it makes me “badass”. Something I never realised I wanted to be…lol.

Last night my beloved and I went to the Pride Church service where the banners were blessed. It was quite warm in the sanctuary, but we endured and enjoyed ourselves. My beloved and I both sing in the choir and the choir presented “Climb E’vry Mountain” which was quite well received. We have a new musical director and he is awesome. The entire service was fantastic.

One of my favourite parts of attending church at MCC is how communion is done. You come forward; by yourself, with your partner, your family, or friends. A wafer is dipped in grape juice and placed in your mouth, then the Eucharistic minister blesses you and prays with you. Last night’s blessing and prayer brought tears to my eyes…hearing how much I am loved, how our union is blessed by God, how we are never alone…all things I really needed to hear. I say them often enough to other people, but it had been a long time since someone said them to me.

So now I find myself happy but weary. My two-week vacation begins in just under two weeks. I have two more Sunday services and I’m on the train to “elsewhere”. I am really, really ready to be away.

I am ready to disengage from the frenetic pace that is parish life, and really and truly be away. I have lists to make, instructions to send, pastoral visits to follow-up on and then I’m well and truly on vacation.

I am ready.

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Here in the small Southwestern Ontario community in which I reside, there have been thunderstorm warnings all week. And yet, aside from a brief 10 minute shower yesterday, we have not had one clap of thunder; one bolt of lightning; one stiff breeze.

I have been “blessed” with headaches since puberty. Most recently they were pinpointed as primarily stress-related headaches due to clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth. I wear a guard at night (which is INCREDIBLY sexy) so I don’t clench while I sleep, and yet there are times, especially when I am driving, that I catch myself clenching my teeth. Then I end up with jaw pain and headache.

Also, I was recently diagnosed with barometric pressure-related migraines. Nothing will make them stop until the storm comes. So for five days I’ve been in increasing amounts of pain and for five days I’ve been disappointed. I just stopped typing to stretch my arms and jaw and realised I’d been clenching. Again.

There is a lot of work to be done on the outside of the rectory. Two dogs have more or less killed the lawn by the front porch. The pup has decided he likes to eat flowers, so we have to be careful where, and if, they are planted. I’ve decided to move the gravel path we have in the front, which is not particularly usable, and replace the gravel with organic mulch. It will still have cement stones, sort of “stepping-stones” but there will be a softer place to walk, and it will be much better for the dogs.

Our female has decided she doesn’t like gravel, and she will do a complicated dance to step around the gravel and onto the hard packed dirt rather than step easily from the gravel to the steps. She’s also had a couple of infections in the pads of her front paws, so we need to make the path more dog friendly. The pup seems to have stopped eating the gravel, which is also good.

So the past few days, in the middle of the night, actually; while I’ve been waiting for the storm to come that doesn’t; I’ve been thinking of what I want to do to change the appearance of the outside of the rectory, using the resources we have (repurposing them) and purchasing a minimum of new resources.

It’s one of those projects that will awesome when its done, but will take some time to get there; as one thing depends on another to get finished. While I want the rain to come, I also want to get the projects started, but I don’t really have the time to start them until Friday.

SO, with my luck the rain will come as my spade hits the ground, and providing there’s no lightning, I may solider on. I’ve worked in the rain before, why not now?

I pray for the rains to come, the earth to cool and the humidity to leave. I also pray for the people of Alberta; who have had the rains come and forget to stop. We live in a world filled with oxymoron and while we may get frustrated we still soldier on.

I have had the lyrics to a song that the counsellors at the Diocesan Church Camp sing during communion. “Let it rain, let it rain, open the floodgates of heaven, and let it rain”. Its hypnotic when the song starts and often someone will rap “Jesus loves me” over top of the chorus. I am due to be there next week and am very much looking forward to hearing that song…

And in the meantime, I’ll get some more sparkling water, and draw yet another diagram of the proposed “after” picture of the side yard.

“Open the floodgates of heaven, and LET IT RAIN!!!”

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It seems that over the past year I’ve been in a process of change. It seems that everything around me is changing. And while some of the changes are difficult and some are downright awful, there are some that are uplifting in nature.

Our congregation has been in a great state of change for the past year. We have had four significant losses to the community and there’s another one that will be happening sooner, rather than later. To be completely honest, hospital visiting is not something I enjoy. I am grateful for a long walk from the parking lot to the hospital room as it gives me a chance to psych myself up for conversation. I don’t do small talk very well.

Most often I sit in silence if it’s the parishioner and me. If there is family present I will chat with them. And then turn my attention to the parishioner. There is always prayer, and the family as well as medical team are invited to participate. Sometimes there is anointing or communion. And at the very centre of it is God.

Lately there has been a great deal of pastoral care needed in the congregation. On Tuesday alone I did four pastoral calls, usually I do one or at the most two in a day. But Tuesday it ended up being four. By the end of the day I was absolutely wiped out. And I have been having difficulty sleeping since then, most likely because I’m not decompressing properly. I know I need to focus more on my yoga. And as soon as I get busy, my self-care takes a back seat. And that has to stop.

I am determined, this summer, to make healthier choices for myself. Healthier choices in what I eat, what I do, how I move my body, how I care for my body. And it will be awesome. I need to move myself up on the list, because right now, I sit on the bottom of the list.

The struggle I often have is whether or not I “deserve” to take the time for a massage, a pedicure or highlighting my hair. And while I know it’s appropriate and necessary to do those things, there are times when I think I should be spending that time caring for others.

*sigh* Just when I think I’ve got my perspective back, it changes. And it means that I need to change and be gentler with myself.

It is true that I am my own worst enemy and harshest critic. And that’s okay, I guess? I think what I need to do is to silence the criticism, and stop beating on myself. I am in a process of reinvention of myself, my home, and my life.

This afternoon I’m going to spend some time outside, doing some clearing up, moving some planters, filling them with soil and getting ready to do some planting, which I plan to do tomorrow afternoon.

I work hard and I am good at what I do. God has given me strength that I never knew existed, to care for people, to love them (even the difficult ones) and to connect with them.

There will always be one more email to send, one more phone call to make, one more floor to sweep, one more person to visit. So I need to be militant with myself, that I deserve to have this time as much as anyone else.

And I need to give myself permission to say no to things that are not life-giving or necessary. I need time for me. And that’s okay.

It’s almost time to tidy up my desk, put things away for my next office day and get ready to have lunch with a colleague. Today is going to be an easier day then the first part of the week. And that is truly awesome.

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I was away last week for five days. I left on Sunday, by train, to the eastern part of the province in which I live. I went to visit a good friend, colleague and mentor. The night I arrived we sat up, drinking tea and chatting, until the wee small hours of the morning. The next day we took a tour to the city where her daughter now lives and then continued driving to reconnect with a mutual friend who lives a couple of hours away. It was wonderful.

I spent a lot of time in silence, in prayer, in meditation. As the days were passing I kept thinking how I didn’t want the time to end, how I wanted to stay away, on retreat for just a little longer.

Reality came crashing back in the early hours of Friday morning when I received a call from a parishioner that her husband had passed away. We had been waiting for this, but it was still a shock and meant there was a great amount to do. On the train ride home I made countless phone calls and emails arranging and organising. There wasn’t much time to fully emerge from retreat time.

It was more like jumping in to the deep end of the pool. Friday night I had a wedding rehearsal which went very well, but took longer than anticipated. When I got home I tried to pull my thoughts in semblance for Sunday’s homily. But nothing has been forthcoming.

The wedding is Saturday night and then I’ll be stopping by a friend’s house for a quick chat and a cup of tea. Then it will be home and hopefully an early night to bed.

While I was away, I felt calm and relaxed, and yet now, not every 24 hours later, I’m back to the frenetic pace that led me to need the retreat in the first place.

Oh well. Now I need to plot out some time for vacation. And likely go away from here, by myself, to simply be away. Only time will tell.

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Today is the first of the three sacred days known in Churchland as the Paschal Triduum. Today is Maundy Thursday and instead of my usual anxiety and excitement about this service, I’m approaching it with a great deal of dread. The fact of the matter is, I’m exhausted. Bone weary. Spent. And we’re not even to the most difficult service of the year…Good Friday. That’s tomorrow’s service.

Today there is also a blessing of the oils or Chrism Mass at the Cathedral in the city. But I’m not going. Why? Because I don’t have it in me. There’s a group of us that meet and have lunch together. But not this year. Most of us aren’t able to go because of parish commitments. And I simply don’t fancy a drive into the City, searching for parking, etc.

So right now the washer is cleaning the second load of laundry for the day. I’ve three more to go. I’m still in my nightgown and housecoat. I’m working on my second cup of coffee and looking around at the disaster area that used to be my house. Something needs to be done and it’s up to me to do it. So, I’m going to finish this post, set the timer for an hour and work on the kitchen. Then have a rest. Set for another hour, and work on the dining room. Then have a shower and get dressed. Head out for some errands, then come home and have a rest.

This afternoon I’ll head over to the church to get it ready for worship tonight. And then I’ll come home and have a nap. My homily is stirring in my head, but I’m not able to put words to paper. So tonight I’ll take a risk and speak from the heart. It will be what it will be.

And it will be enough. Because it’s all I have to give.

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I think these things are supposed to begin like this “Hello, my name is _______ and I am an addict.
I am addicted to food. I have begun to realise that most of my issues with food are because I react emotionally to food. The daughter of a friend of mine is in recovery from an eating disorder and she blogged recently about food shaming, and body shaming.

I am overweight. I got on the scale today and it said 234 lbs. I’m 5’6” and that’s simply too much weight for my body. I live a very active lifestyle, most days I’m on the run constantly. Some days I can go all day without eating because I don’t feel hungry. And then I sit down. And all hell lets loose.

I’ve tried diets before and I don’t have the willpower or the staying power. I try to eat according to the recommendations of Canada’s Food Guide. And then I’ll bake something involving chocolate, and I’ll eat most of it. Not in one sitting, but sometimes.

The problem with being a food addict is that food is everywhere I go. A heroin addict, once clean, would not randomly come across her drug of choice at the gas station, or the supermarket, or the corner store. But everywhere I go there is food. And of course, the most appetizing stuff is close to the check out. I’m reading a book called The Hunger Fix and it talks about the necessity of detoxing from food before learning to eat better.

It talks about mouth hunger and about pleasure sensors. It speaks to me because it was written by someone who is also a food addict. I don’t know one human being who says “OMG, I’m SO craving carrot sticks”…unless they are part rabbit. Living with food addiction is a minefield. It is a form of an eating disorder and has all the shame that goes with it. A simple lunch invitation can cause fixation on what I am going to eat, and that makes me run through “the rules” of eating.

My recovery will begin with the understanding of why I overeat. And what I overeat. I need to stop several behaviours that are not good for me. Such as eating while standing up. Eating while watching a movie. Eating anywhere but the dining room table.

One of the things I’m going to do is clear off my dining room table and make it pretty. I think if I sit down to eat each meal in a beautiful setting i.e. tablecloth, place mat, charger, wine glass for sparkling water, etc, it will give me an opportunity to enjoy my food, and be aware of what I’m eating.

At first there will be many rules I impose on myself, but eventually, I hope to loosen them. I don’t want to starve myself to a size 3. My body is not made to be willow thin, but I know I need to lose a lot of weight. It will be a four-step process…detox, eat healthier making healthy choices, drinking lots of water and exercise. The though of running a marathon does not appeal to me, nor does going to a gym. I still have too many body image issues for that.

So I am going to take the dogs for a walk, at least once a day, for 30 minutes. Eventually I will take longer walks and will turn to exercise in times of stress instead of food. I will work more zealously at yoga. Being aware of my body, my breath and my well-being.

I will avoid social settings (at first) where I will slip into unhealthy eating patterns. Especially while I’m in detox. I’m in day 3 of a liver/digestive detox which is designed to last a month and clean out the liver and digestive system. I take 4 supplements a day (2 in the morning, 2 in the evening) and I have the doctor’s approval that they won’t interfere with my antidepressants.

There is no Betty Ford Centre for food addicts. Everywhere you go, there is food. I can’t go “cold turkey” from food or I’ll die. I also don’t want to fall into the place where I’ll never be able to eat out and enjoy myself again. In short, I don’t want to share one set of unhealthy behaviours for another.

Behaviour is the correct word. I reward myself with food. I comfort myself with food. There’s nothing really wrong with that, but the amount and the type of food are not appropriate. So for now, because I can’t have “just one” of something that I overeat, I will eat none until I know for certain that I can handle “just one”.

Artificial sweeteners are out of my diet for good. Pop is out of my diet. my plan is to eat as close to nature as possible. Fresh as opposed to canned. Cooked from scratch as opposed to processed foods. It’s going to take some work. My beloved is on board and has started to make healthier choices for himself as he supports me in my endeavour.

I’m hoping that once I begin to eat properly I will lose weight. Not to be supermodel thin, but to be healthier in who I am…whatever that weight may end up. Having said that, weighing below 200 lbs would be great.

So for now I’m going to take one day at a time, one meal at a time, one trip to the grocery store at a time. I’m going to talk myself through new things. I already talk to myself, only now there will be new reasons for it. I’m going to share my anxiety with those I trust if I’m in a potentially dangerous situation…such as a buffet, or a dessert bar.

I need to be friends with food, not to look at it as the enemy. Currently food and I are not on speaking terms. But with time that will change. And it will be good. Once I get the cravings under control I know things will change. The next 27 days will have their ups and downs, but I’m confident I’ll get through it. If I fall off the wagon, I’ll get back on and try again.

Why?

Because I’m worth it.

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I am a person who struggles with headaches on a regular basis. They started roughly the same time as I hit puberty and have bothered me on and off since then. I’m now approaching menopause and am actually excited about that as I’ve been told that the headaches will likely disappear. Yay!

I’ve seen three neurologists, 2 dentists, a nurse practitioner, 2 family doctors, a periodontist and a psychologist to discuss possible reasons. No two headaches are the same. I’ve been told I have three different types of headaches; from migraines (although there is no consensus on that one), to cluster headaches (of which there is no treatment).

Most of the time I can catch the headache as it’s starting and with some behaviour modification it only lasts a day or two. Sometimes they start with a thunderclap and then there’s nothing I can do. I try medication, I try relaxation, I try lying down in a dark room. And after about 4 days it goes away. For those four days I walk around in a fog, and it’s often scary.

I am going to get my eyes checked (again) and see if that helps. I know I’m now in the market for bifocals, which does bother me somewhat, but I know it’s time. And that’s okay. I’m a woman “of a certain age” and that’s okay. Age is a gift.

I send this out as a record of acknowledging the pain in which I sometimes feel trapped. The diagnosis and treatments are often contradictory, especially about things like caffeine. If it’s a migraine, caffeine is good. If it’s a tension headache, headache is a trigger. Frustrating.

So today is day 6 of a headache cluster that contains elements of tension headaches, barometric pressure related headaches and migraine. Yay me. I hope that tomorrow will be better. I will stand up straight, drink lots of water, think positive thoughts and medicate as much as I can. Oh, and I’ll breathe.

I didn’t realise until recently that I clench my jaw when I feel stress and I hold my breath. Both are not good things. But I’m working on them. I’m a work in progress. Just like you.

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