Mid-January Health Catch-up

I’ve been so occupied and self-absorbed and plain busy since our Christmas season began. I was looking forward to getting back to writing, but couldn’t find the time.   It is lovely to be here again, my poor, neglected, processing place of peace.

Thyroid Health: I finished my first titration with Synthroid (7 weeks) and had my doctor’s appointment follow-up. It was frustrating. A little good. Mostly just frustrating though. My TSH when I was first diagnosed Hypothyroid was 5.26. (The lab stat for normal is .20 – 4.00) After my first titration, my TSH is 3.47. Even though it is below 4, I still have symptoms. Every hormonal peak results in me thinking I’m going crazy and I end up talking myself through it to the other side. When I explained this to my GP, he suggested trying a herbal treatment for PMS, (which I have no problem trying, it’s just that it is more likely due to the synthetic T4 or not getting enough or something thyroid / hormone related). The crazier-than-usual PMS is just one symptom of many.

I mentioned to him that there are 3 American organizations who have made changes to the TSH recommended numbers, with them agreeing on 2.5 being the maximum TSH (and best practice from some professionals as well as the American Thyroid Association suggest being between .05 – 2.0 mU/L when being treated ), but he was determined to stick with the lab recommended levels. I was surprised, as he practiced in the USA for 20 years, I thought that he would be more open to their research and recommendations. But no.

So, I am continuing on the lowest Synthroid dose possible (25 mcg).

I found one medical information website (Drugs.com) that mentioned how to calculate the amount of TSH for a patient according to body weight. (not that this wouldn’t be without its problems as it does need to be calculated with blood work and paying attention to patient symptoms and whatever else is necessary that I know nothing of yet.) Based on the formula, I would be getting 187.2 mcg/day; a far cry from the 25 mcg I am at now.

I requested my lab results and he printed them off for me right away and went over my TSH results. I so appreciated that this was easy as the first time I had requested results from him, he seemed a bit put-off, as if it wasn’t my right. I also appreciated that he *thinks* he is doing his best for me. He truly wants to help me. It’s just that he is ‘old-school’ about sticking with the lab recommendations rather than researching and working with me.  I should have known that he would be… the first time I saw him, I wondered if I was hypothyroid; he sent me for bloodwork to check, but as it came back within the ‘normal’ levels (despite my symptoms), he dismissed it as a possibility. I wonder what my TSH was then. A few years later, when I saw a different doctor at the clinic and she sent me for bloodwork, something was triggered in my bloodwork related to the thyroid and she sent me for a further test, but nothing came of it. I wish that I had the opportunity to see her again, but she has moved on from our area clinic.

In addition to my TSH level frustration, my ALT (liver enzymes) are still classified as high; as they have been since at least the first labs I had with my doctor several years ago. Back then, he said, “Your labs are showing that you have liver damage. How much alcohol do you drink?”  I told him that I drink about 6-12 times a year – not very often at all, and only 1-2 drinks max./time. He said that this level of damage was often seen with alcoholics; so then he asked me about my use of Tylenol. I told him that I had developed extremely painful periods as a teen and had taken lots of Tylenol from 14-18. That made perfect sense to him as to the reason why I had liver damage. He told me that if I needed to take something, “No moreTylenol – take Advil instead”.

After that appointment, I began researching more about the liver and its connection to the thyroid, and thought that if I could heal my liver, perhaps my thyroid would also recover. I began to take some health supplements for the liver but had no way of knowing if they were doing anything helpful.

The liver is responsible for transforming the T4 into T3, which is what your body uses. Synthroid is T4, so my permanently damaged liver still has to convert it into T3. (This medical jargon packed article is full of good information. If you like that sort of thing. And this link takes you to a brief, much easier to understand, bit of info about the vital relationship between thyroid and liver.

I hate leaving this unfinished but am going to post it anyway and try to get back to talk about what I’m doing with all of this information and research…. next time. 

 

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Unknown but not Anonymous

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I can remember when I first saw “Fire & Ice” roses. They captured my attention because of the contrast of the creamy white and coral red, and quickly became my favorite rose. A friend asked me why I liked them, and I said, “Because they are a contradiction and I think of myself as a contradiction.”

“Passionate love and childlike innocence”… yes, that would be one way to describe me, those long years ago.

I didn’t know as much about my personality type then as I do know, and truthfully, I am still learning how it affects how I think and what I do. Of course, it isn’t a perfect description of who I am entirely, but it is a beginning point of sorts.

One of the social media groups I follow refers to our shared personality as, “The Extroverted Introverts”… so you see, this feeling as though I am a contradiction is a shared one among us.

I received an interesting note from a lady in my church who was trying to connect with me by telling me how she was interpreting my recent social media post. In my response to her, I began with, “Yes, we all interpret posts {read: words} through the lense of our relationship with the author.” Then I felt the need to clarify for her what I had plainly written – there wasn’t any cloaked message about ministry to interpret – it was a personal post about me. I rarely post about ministry on social media as it is inappropriate and unhelpful. (I suppose it could be argued that this blog may be crossing those lines, but I need an outlet somewhere, so here we all are.)

What I found frustrating about her note was not only was she mis-interpreting what I was saying, but that she implied that she knew me more than she actually does. I find that so interesting and sad and funny. Most of the people at church see me how they want to see me. Some, because they actually take the time to get to know me a little; and some who are more interested in telling me about themselves and then making assumptions about me from those one-sided interactions. Either way, very few people actually get to hear my heart on most things.

I am Unknown but not Anonymous.

Our Lives are Precious

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(“My life is precious and you’re not allowed to hurt me.” I’m not saying that suffering doesn’t happen; or that we shouldn’t expect it – but the ongoing toxicity with family, as well as toxic people in my ministry life, must end. I just don’t want to keep on the way things have been. I want to be free. I want to be free of those people who are unwilling to change, but who want my life to change for their self-centered means. Ministry life is expected to contain difficulties, but I don’t want to be stepped on or used or taken for granted… I want to heal and be whole and be able to be strong enough to handle the difficulties (read: difficult people) well. I realize that my personal health struggles are related to my not handling stress well. It’s time for that to change.)

Such were my thoughts earlier today. But to end on this alone would be a touch too raw and negative.

Our little family getaway last week was wonderful. We enjoyed ourselves and I found myself wondering if we could manage to do this again in the spring. Soon.

Right after we left the camp, we went for supper at the home of a couple in our church.  They are lovely, supportive people and it was good. Even though the proximity and timing and all made this easy and we had a good visit, I do wish that I had had the wisdom to leave it for another time. We were still fresh from our retreat and then stepping back into ministry right away was a bit too quick of a turn-around.

As our Christmas season barrels through, I have been pacing myself with the necessary and traditions and trying to eliminate the extras. I declined to have one of my dearest friends come for my birthday at the end of the month; I did invite a couple to join us on Christmas Eve for the evening and to be prepared to stay for Christmas Day (which is a bit too much for me but I keep forgetting to pace myself in the moment. Hopefully I figure out how to do that more consistently soon.) I have no clue if they will spend the night, but it is best that they are prepared just in case of weather/road conditions. So we shall see what transpires.

My Christmas baking is nearly done and I’ve been procrastinating making Lemon Squares today. I think it will be my very last baking, though there is a Cranberry Loaf that I’m thinking would be really nice to have ready… maybe I could make it a Lemon-Cranberry Loaf.

In contrast to the baking theme, there is my continued battle with weightloss and how my thyroid is driving me crazy. Or the Synthroid is? Something is and it is tied to my hormones and I can’t wait to get my bloodwork done. I’ve got a fear that my very old-school doctor will not want to work with me and will simply go by the bloodwork. I’m going to have to wait and see and not borrow trouble. Anyway, as frustrated as I have been with how much my weightloss slowed down to a turtle pace after starting Synthroid, it is still going down. Just very s.l.o.w.l.y.

I’m going to start writing down key health happenings that I can remember through my life and try to connect the dots as I research more about autoimmune diseases.

So there we have it in the lull that are these brief moments before Christmas. 🙂 Introspective and focused. Self-absorbed. Trying. Trying to do and be and rest and pace. Enjoying the peace. Enjoying the break from routine. Enjoying these precious moments of my life.

An important step of progress: I am letting go of handling the church bulletin. I took it over in Sept. 2016 and feel good about the changes I was able to make since then, but am really looking forward to not having the responsibility or stress of it weighing on me anymore.

I’ve been trying to figure out what else I can let go of that causes extra, unnecessary, stress, and with that, I’ve been saying ‘no’ a lot more. I’m pretty proud of myself for that, though I still get anxious about the reactions of those whom I’ve declined. Hopefully that changes as I get more comfortable making my health (mental & physical) a priority.

Life is precious and I don’t want to lose my sensitivity towards others nor do I want to be crushed by others. It feels like a very thin tight-rope to walk.

Mid-December Health Update

I find myself working through emotional baggage at the same time that I am losing weight and learning about being newly diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and continuing to work through the anxiety and depression cycle. It’s been good for me as a release to get ‘the uglies out’ and use my voice, but its almost like throwing up in public. Not something that you really want to do, but you just can’t help yourself. Or something like that. (sorry for the yuck factor of that example. I feel rushed and just can’t think of anything better just now.)

Weight Loss: This is going really well for me now and adding in the Infrared Light therapy (for my thyroid) seems to have made a huge difference. I am still researching how much infrared light I am exposing myself to, but whatever I’m doing, it seems to be working. I can’t imagine doing this in summer, so I’m going to have to think that through further. I am using a clear, infrared heat lamp (spending time directly facing the light so that my thyroid is getting ‘the rays’; but also moving around so that more of my body is getting ‘treated’, for 1-2 hrs 2x a day); and I am using a hand-held, infrared, massage device that we’ve had for years (directly on my thyroid for as long as I can stand it as it heats up as well; about 10 mins, 2x a day).

As we approach Christmas, I am struggling to know what cookies or treats to make, and to figure out what I’ll be able to eat and what I can make with fewer calories. As long as I make a good pot of vegetable soup, I should be able to keep my calories in check well enough with all of the treats around.

Hypothyroidism: this research is taking a long time to work through.  There are so many sites and finding information that is properly documented, and reading through articles, takes time.

I go for my first titration bloodwork result right after Christmas.

Anxiety & Depression: I don’t know where this is at. It has been difficult to assess myself. I can’t stop the stress from entering into my life. For instance, today, before I ate breakfast, I called my retired pastor-wife friend who is dying from stomach cancer. She is having a really rough time right now. I took time to listen and pray for her. After breakfast, I got my children started on their homeschooling lessons for the day. Then, I went to pick up my pastor-husband to attend a ministry couples Christmas luncheon for the pastors and spouses in our area. It was wonderful. We met some our newest pastor-couples to our area and spent time visiting with and praying for each other. It was truly wonderful. One of our vehicles went to the shop to get fixed today, so I had to return to town shortly after arriving home to pick up my husband. On all of the trips back and forth, I spent time praying for my sick, pastor-wife, friend. By the time we were making supper together, I felt like I had hit a wall. No more energy for anything. All the good and difficult stress of relationships and activities and such had drained me completely. Added to this was the on-going stress of a particular ministry situation that has been picking away at our ‘extras’ for the past year. My pastor-husband finally forced the issue a bit more today and we are waiting to see what happens next with it. I just know that I have to walk away more and more from it and pray.

Any additional stress or expectation outside of my children and husband, is just too much.

I have one of my dearest and oldest friends (friends since we were 6 years old!) who wants to come and spend my birthday with me at the end of this month. We so rarely see each other, it would be such a treat, but all I can think of is the extra… extra stress, demands, expectations, time, energy, responsibilities… and it is overwhelming me.

I don’t want to say no, but I’m afraid of how I might get set back if I say yes.

If I had to choose one word to sum up what God has been speaking to me lately, it would be “rest”. There are stories to go with that, but suffice to say that for now, it is to be my focus. Anything that takes away from ‘rest’ must be let go. I have to measure my ‘yes’s’ against ‘rest’.

As I am so easily overwhelmed, my anxiety levels are still high. The depression… that I don’t know. There is too much going on with the hypothyroid stuff to figure out what is related to that and what is related to other things.

~~~

I am excited to be packing tomorrow in preparation for our little getaway! Hopefully I come back more refreshed and relaxed and rested. Especially rested.

Irreplaceable

My mother was terrified of the water. As the first of eleven children born to a poor, prairie farmer and his wife, there either wasn’t the time or opportunity to learn how to swim.  After she was married and had us kids, she made certain that my younger brother and myself took swimming lessons as soon as possible.  I was 4, my brother was 2.  We both became confident and strong swimmers, not that we went beyond the basic lessons, but we took lessons every year until age 14 and regularly went swimming. We had no fear of the water.

The summer that I was 10, my mother was forced to confront her fear.

My father was a philanderer. May still be — I’d rather not know. But that summer, while on our family vacation, he cut my heart deeply. We were camping by a small lake and had gone to spend the day at the beach. While there, my dad took an air mattress and floated his way across the lake to spend time flirting with another woman.  I was disgusted. I was angry. I blamed my mother for not ‘making’ him stay with us. I blamed my father for being so selfish and stupid and sinful. I couldn’t just sit on that beach or play in the lake, while my adulterous dad was plainly in view – willfully ignoring us. So, I pulled on orange flippers, my brother put on blue, and I decided that we would swim across that lake and bring dad back where he belonged.

As we swam away from shore, my mother began to call to us, pleading for us to come back.  We didn’t really hear her until we were about halfway across and we knew that we could easily make it the rest of the way. My determination and my brother’s adventurous spirit kept us focused on our reconnaissance duty. Boy, was my dad surprised by our interruption. After a brief, uncomfortable rest while he said his reluctant goodbye, the three of us headed back across the lake.

By this time, my mother was surrounded with a small group of concerned people, mostly other parents, anxiously awaiting our return. Everyone was relieved as we made our way to the shore.  I felt triumphant. We had successfully completed our mission: dad was back with us. My mother was a bundle of emotions: angry, frustrated, scared, embarrassed… and it was that terrifying experience of being utterly helpless to swim after my brother and I, that propelled her to face her fear of the water and learn to swim.

Sometimes we think that by providing our children with everything that we didn’t have, we will make their lives better. We substitute extra-curricular activities for extra family time and money, trusting that we are setting them up for greater success in life. And perhaps, with some of the most common-sense things, like learning to swim, we are. There are lots of good things to be gained from new experiences,  mastering new skills, meeting new people, learning and growing with others in so many different ways. But at the heart of those good-intentioned ways, there is the irreplaceable sacrifice of time and (unless purposefully planned as a shared activity) the benefits of spending that time together.

Though my father returned to our family that day, it was only two years later that he began a succession of separations and reunions with our family that lasted for a hellish three years. My learning to swim didn’t save my family.

Insisting that I learn to swim when I was a four year old with separation anxiety, was in my future best interests, but it didn’t subsitute for a confident mother who could take me swimming herself.

Piano lessons. Voice lessons. Dancing lessons. Jazz choir. Chamber choir. My mother was not accomplished in any of these areas. Her opportunities, growing up, were much more limited than mine. She is so proud of my accomplishments. So proud of my talents and gifts.

From my most tender years, all I ever wanted to be, was a wife and mother. I had no dreams of anything grander. I wasn’t a straight-A student; had no clue as to the variety of different job opportunities for women; and had no real desire to go on to college or university. My dream was to get married at 18 and have 4 kids by the time I was 24. Happily ever after. The end.

My mother had been swept off her insecure, 18 year old, feet by my charming (yet mentally disturbed) father; despite the warning signs and her trepidations, she married him at 19; had me at 21 and my brother at 23. She had been in college when she got pregant with me, so had to drop out and go to work when I was 3 months old. After my brother was born, she stayed at home with us. She tried to go back to university the Autumn I was 10 (yes, after that memorable summer lake experience), but she lasted one day and quit. Two years later, when my Dad left for the first time, she knew that she had to go back, earn her teaching degree, and work to support herself and us kids. She graduated from university the same year that her divorce was finalized; a year before I graduated from high school at 17.

She began telling me when I was 14 that I needed to go to college or university to get an education so that I could have a career to support myself and my family, if ever something happened to my future husband. She was trying to save me with fear. It wasn’t a life-preserver but a death-grip: ‘Don’t end up like me.’ ‘Don’t put all your eggs in that deceptively-beautiful, basket of marriage and kids because it might be rotten or get broken.’

So I went to two colleges and two universities and have Dip.S.W., B.A., B.Ed with distinction following my name and had the student loans to prove it. And while I was thankfully able to work for a time in my professions, it wasn’t what I was called to do for all of my life.

I was called to be a wife and a mother. Specifically, a pastor’s wife. A mother of four, with one in heaven.

I don’t regret my post-secondary education. I don’t regret the many confidence-building experiences that I was blessed to have in developing my talents and abilities in many different things. I don’t regret taking swimming lessons. But in order for me to succeed at my life, I have had to let God use the fulfillment of my mother’s dreams and expectations for me that were rooted in her fears as well as in her knowing my strengths, and then forge my own path to do exactly what God created and prepared for me to do in this season of my life: partner and parent. Taking on anyone else’s expectations just weighs me mercilessly down.

This is feminism with a Christian slant. Choosing to be a wife and mother is not something that can be substituted with other activities, relationships, or education. It isn’t taking away from the fight for women’s rights to want to be at home rather than work outside of the home. Women’s rights must protect all women and provide the choice for them to do either or both.

In the movie, ‘Mona Lisa Smile’ (2003), there is a scene that I drew such strength from as an educated, new-ish wife and mother, who stayed at home:

Joan Brandwyn: It was my choice… not to go. He would have supported it.
Katherine Watson: But you don’t have to choose.
Joan Brandwyn: No, I have to. I want a home; I want a family, that’s not something I’ll sacrifice.
Katherine Watson: No-one’s asking you to sacrifice that, Joan, I just want you to understand you can do both.
Joan Brandwyn: Do you think I’ll wake up one morning and regret not being a lawyer?
Katherine Watson: Yes, I’m afraid that you will.
Joan Brandwyn: Not as much as I’d regret not having a family, not being there to raise them. I know exactly what I’m doing and it doesn’t make me any less smart.
[Katherine looks down]
Joan Brandwyn: This must seem terrible to you.
Katherine Watson: I didn’t say that.
Joan Brandwyn: Sure you did. You always do. You stand in class and tell us to look beyond the image, but you don’t. To you a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You’re the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I want.
Katherine Watson: [hugs Joan] Congratulations. Be happy.

Happiness, as a parent, hopefully involves spending time with your family and building their confidence up thoughtfully, with more faith in who God has created them to be, than in fear of the unknowns and may-nevers. Parents and children and their time spent together are irreplaceable.

~~~

One gift God has given me in my years spent with my husband, has been to redeem these sad memories in really special ways. I’ve been blessed to be able to take my own family to this same lake on 3 summer vacations, creating wonderful new memories that far outshine the bad one. ❤

Suffering vs. Sacrifice

It’s just skin cancer and not mine — these cells with a destructive mind of their own belong to my husband. He first noticed the small, red mark (much like a sunburned circle of a bruise) on his arm in the summer. He wasn’t sure what it was and thought perhaps it was just a bruise, but when it didn’t go away and then started to get larger, he became concerned.  His mother has had skin and breast cancers, and 3/4 grandparents died from various cancers, so he is very aware of his predisposition towards the big C. After a recent physical with our family doctor, it was quickly determined that a biopsy was required, and completed. A follow-up appointment let him know that it was indeed Basal Cell Carcinoma. He was referred to a specialist for further treatment as there was some concern that the biopsy did not remove all of the cancer cells. A phone call today has relieved us as it appears that our fast-acting and very capable GP did remove all of the cancer. My husband’s appointment with the specialist will still be held  – but not until May, 2018. (Welcome to free but wait-listed health care in Canada. Slight sarcasm intended, but truly, we are so very thankful for the ability to see doctors and specialists and have our tax dollars provide for us as needed.) We’ve been avoiding talking much about it, but have been trusting that God would take care of everything.

In ministry, all of these sufferings of life, big and small, help to soften our hearts towards others. We know very intimately the grief of losing a child; health scares and diagnoses; moving across the country; being fired unfairly; the demands of children – some of whom have their own learning disabilities and/or health issues; being children of divorces; being a child of a parent with mental illness; having a parent leave the family b/c they were gay and couldn’t live the lie anymore; having parents who committed adultry – both gay and straight; being poor; parents who remarry – one of them, multiple times; having step-siblings; having relationship issues with siblings and step-siblings; having lots of post-secondary education with college and university degrees; my mental illness and its effects on our marriage and children; body changes from model skinny to obese; pregnancy and infertility challenges; sleep deprivation; … I’m rambling here but I just know that someone is going to relate to something in that long list of woes. Our hearts have a tendency to seek others out who understand our pain, even if it’s slightly different from each other. We can find the similiarities and journey together for a season.

I’ve written a lot about wearing masks. Christians often rely on their masks and the masks of others, rather than being honest about how imperfect we all are.

I can’t wear much of a mask anymore. At least, not comfortably. There is a balance for me between being real and being reserved.  Some of it is my personality, my culture, and some of it is as a person with high-functioning anxiety and depression. They all work together underneath the umbrella of my faith in God and His love for me.

I don’t know the answers for why Mankind struggles, but I do know that it draws me closer to God –  and that is my prayer for those who suffer. Needing intervention of either divine or human nature, does not make us weak, it allows for our connections to grow and for others to use their gifts to heal us. Whether that healing or treatment comes from God’s hand or the doctor’s, it is a blessing and a gift to us. It’s like gift wrap – do you really care if your amazing present is wrapped in newspaper or gold-leaf? It is the gift inside that counts.

This is also why it is so amazing that Jesus was born in a stable, the child of poor newlyweds… humble beginnings that belied His Kingship. All of those trappings of what one sees on the outside, often keep us from seeing what’s going on in the inside… where the beauty is to be found.

Suffering can produce such beauty in our souls.

It cuts away at the outer appearance and exposes the essence of who we are.

Sometimes though, we feel too deeply cut, raw and real, naked, and we need others to cover us with their love, warmth and acceptance, placing their abundance upon our depletion.

I’m not sure where I fit just now, in that balance between soul/mind/body/spirit famine and feast. I certainly am seeking healing and treatment for myself and have been resisting giving my extra crumbs to those who have not stopped with satisfaction at my few extras but who want my portion as well. I can’t do it anymore. At least, not right now. So I want to emphasize that providing for others must be out of our abundance.  Sacrifice is only such when it is a choice, not when choice is removed. When sacrifice ceases to be a choice, it is relegated to the state of suffering.

Perhaps that is partly what has led me to my current cycle of depression: I have felt that I didn’t have a choice in relationships with people who were/are taking too much of my portion, so my sacrifices were reduced to sufferings of my mind and body. I became the sacrifice in my suffering rather than choosing to sacrifice the toxic relationships for my wholeness and health.

As I begin to choose what I will sacrifice for, I hope to no longer suffer for my choices.

Little Bits

I went for a contact lense fitting yesterday. I’ve had a couple of frustrating experiences over the past several years with the staff who work in eye glass/contact lense places. This has led to my mostly buying those items online, but as my prescription changed at my last appointment, and as I really need to buy new contacts, I thought I’d be better off looking at the prices at Costco, and getting fitted there.

My anxiety was a bit heightened before I went in for  my appointment. “Joanne”, my lense fitting person, sat down with me to take my history and such. Once she found out that I was taking medication for anxiety and depression, I saw a subtle yet distinctive change in her. It seemed to  me that she softened slightly more in her approach and went out of her way to make my experience much less anxiety-ridden and enjoyable. I so appreciated that and was so surprised by it.

I don’t think of myself as a pessimist, but I wasn’t thinking that this appointment would be positive at all – and it ended up being such a blessing of a time.

I need to return this Friday and I hope that ‘Joanne’ is there to help me again.

~~~

In other health-related updates, I have been researching the use of infrared light in treating hypothyroidism. Not taking the place of medication, although apparently some studies have shown that that can happen, but as a supplement of sorts with a potentially curative effect. I remembered that my mom had a lamp and she brought it up with her during her recent visit. I picked up a bulb this past weekend, and began using it right away. I’m averaging 2 hours or so per day. Just the pain relief for  my aching joints and warming me up before bed, make it a worth-while investment. I look forward to my newest morning and evening ritual.

I have no clue if the use of the lamp is helping with my weight loss, or if it is related to something else, like maybe my synthroid finally kicking in, or maybe just my horror-moans deciding to be friendly for a change, but I had mostly stalled in my weightloss efforts, since beginning Synthroid, prior to using the lamp. For the past 3 days, my weight has been decreasing nicely. One of the benefits is supposed to be increased metabolism, which hopefully I continue to see progress in.

~~~

For my husband’s birthday, I booked our family into a ‘bluebird cottage’ at a nearby camp/retreat center for one night in the middle of December. I am so looking forward to that little break. We have done this early-mid December break there before, and found it to be a pause in the busy-ness of the Christmas Season that forces us to reflect on the beauty, peace, and rest to be found in Christ.

This particular place has a lodge with an indoor pool and hot tub; as well as a dining room where we will take 2 of our meals while there; and is beautifully decorated up for Christmas. Even the cottages have little Christmas decorating touches in them. Those little bits of beauty help me to re-focus and reflect.

We can check in anytime after 10am and leave the next day at 4pm – so we’ll have a good long time there to enjoy the pool and the solitude in our cottage. I’m looking forward to making memories with my family. ❤

 

Things Better Left Unsaid: Christmas Edition

I have been working on our (my) Christmas letter, family photo, and cards this week.  It has been challenging as even though we have snow on the ground, none has been falling from the sky.  I struggle to get into the Christmas spirit without  snowflakes falling at the same time.

Tonight’s work includes going over my envelope labels, updating the addresses and trying to figure out if I need to remove or add anyone.

This becomes extra-challenging when I’m seeing the names of family members and my first, most honest reaction, is to want to address their Christmas card: “To Jackass and family”.

I know, I know, I know better. But honestly, why do I bother to spend my $.85Cdn on people who don’t want to have a reciprocal relationship of any kind with me? I’m not talking about sending me a Christmas card (which they don’t do anyway), but I mean just in general, attempting contact and conversation. These relationships are not even attempting a superficial, social media connection. Nothing.  Unless we see each other face-to-face, there isn’t any contact with each other. Ever.

Sigh.

So, I’m sitting at my computer, reading the names of family members, getting angrier and more frustrated, and all the joy of this seasonal ritual is being burned up in a bonfire of ugly emotions.

I know that I have a choice.

I can delete the names of the asses. Or I can power through and “do the right thing”, thereby stuffing down my anger and possibly taking it out on my dear ones who live with me and whom I love so much more than the jackasses.

This is why I have to write and get it all out. Perhaps not publicly, but I wholly believe in keeping transparent in order not to give some false impression that I have it all together.

I know what to do now. Thanks for listening. ❤

Winter Butterflies

A small bit of colour speedily swoops past my window

flying on the tempermental winds of the changing seasons

and rests for a moment on the snow-capped roof next door;

then,

carries on, as if frantically searching for something sweet to eat or a warm place to rest, and finding none,

it flutters, dips, swirls and twirls —

blowing Autumn kisses as it dances with Winter’s icy breath.

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