Faith from the Edges

Faith and life from the perspective of me.

Let’s Talk about Mental Health #bellletstalk

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In Canada it’s Bell Let’s Talk day to talk about mental health. I am not here promoting a particular communications network, what I am here to do is to share my own personal experience of living with a spouse who lives with depression, of living with depression myself for the past 2 years, and of knowing many others who daily struggle with PTSD, anxiety, mood disorders and so much more.

Two years ago I was diagnosed with a situational depression related to my diagnosis and subsequent treatment for ovarian cancer. I was in tears all the time, I had lost my appetite, sleep was not happening and work was impossible. Fortunately I have a very good family doctor, a good oncology team, a listening therapist and so much support from my family and friends and my boss. However, if you had told me that I would still be dealing with a depression at this point I would have not believed you. I thought I was going to get over this, but it turns out that sometimes your brain gets changed in such a way that you don’t get over what has happened to you.

Each day I wake up and I do an assessment of how I am doing – are my feet hurting from neuropathy and arthritis or just neuropathy? are my hands achy? have I got a headache? did I get enough sleep? Every morning I wake up and do the same thing. I also check in with my feelings – am I feeling positive? am I dreading the day? That’s because, it turns out, that living with depression is like living with my other chronic conditions – it doesn’t go away, it abates sometimes, it comes on strong others, but it never goes away. I am learning how to live with it. I am learning that it is another part of myself that I have to take care of. I can’t ignore my mental health anymore than I can ignore my physical health. If I did I would not be the functional person that I am.

My dear one has lived with depression for most of his adult life and for most of our marriage. It is his chronic condition. I am not going to talk about how he deals with it but how I deal with it. I have learned to read his signals, to check in with him regularly, to make sure he eats well and to give him the space he needs to cope. It has affected our marriage, in the same way that my cancer diagnosis has, by making us more aware of the other and looking out for them. In fact both our conditions have brought us closer as a couple, which helped our family and has encouraged our friends.

Today and everyday I am going to be open about how I am doing with both my physical and my mental health. There are days when I just need to stop and rest and sometimes do nothing and then there are days when I know I will get things done. I live with both these realities.

Here’s what I also need to say. I work for a part of the church that takes care of it employees. I have access to mental health counselors. I don’t have to tell anyone that I am doing it and no one asks me either. I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I know that there are many Canadians who don’t have the same benefits. We need to make mental health care be part of our overall health care. Most family doctors know that taking care of your mental health means that your physical health will be better. I think as Canadians we can and should do better to look after this as well. Mental health, mental wellness, matters for all of us. It is not just an individual responsibility, it is the responsibility of the whole community.

If you need help ask a family member or a trusted friend to assist you. Talk to your family doctor. Talk to your priest or your pastor. Reach out, help is there. I am glad I did, you will be as well.

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Reconciliation Goals for 2018

What are your Reconciliation Goals for 2018?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. What are my reconciliation goals for 2018 and what are the parish’s reconciliation goals for 2018? I am hoping that readers out there are thinking and wondering the same thing for themselves and for their parishes. If you haven’t then here is a good place to start.

One of my reconciliation goals for this upcoming year is to have more rural and semi-rural parishes fully engage in neighbourly reconciliation work in their communities. Below is a list I have come up to help you think about what you and/or your parish can engage in this next year to further the ministry of reconciliation between Indigenous, settler and newcomer here in our communities.

  1. Read over the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action – take note of those which effect you directly, either the church or in your professional life. Find one that you can take action on with others in your parish.

  2. Read some books by Indigenous authors. There are a lot of them out there. Ask your local librarian for some recommendations if you can’t think of any. Why not start a parish book club that commits to reading together and having discussion time?

  3. Ask your parish priest to start Sunday worship by honouring the treaty that we are part of each week. We live on Treaty 6 land which we share with the Cree, the Nakoda, the Metis and the Inuit peoples.

  4. Participate in a Kairos Blanket Exercise – a meaningful way to learn more about the shared history of Indigenous and settlers on this land. Or how about hosting one in your parish? I know there are facilitators out there who would be willing to assist with this.

  5. Find out who your neighbouring First Nations communities are. Invite someone from the leadership to come and talk to your parish about the life of the community.

  6. Learn about white privilege if you are of European descent and how it affects your decision making without you even realizing it. Make steps to live consciously and name the privilege when you see it in yourself and if you can in others.

  7. Learn about Treaty 6 and the impact that it has had and is having on relationships between Indigenous, settlers and newcomers. What from the treaty can help move forward reconciliation between all of us?

  8. Take time to search the Bible for teachings about reconciliation. What do our Scriptures teach us about living a reconciled life? How will that deepen our commitment to reconciliation in our communities?

All of our reconciliation goals should be about deepening our relationships with our Indigenous neighbours, those who live in our communities and those whose communities are neighbouring ours. I am excited by how much our diocese and the parishes that make it up are committed to reconciliation in our communities. I hope that you are as well.

Happy New Year everyone and let’s all commit to being part of God’s reconciling work in the world with everyone we interact with.

P.S. I first published this in the January issue of The Messenger of the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton. You can find it here.

#AdventWord #Greeting

#AdventWord #Greeting

Here they are the dear one and our son at the airport this morning. Greeting each other and remembering how much they love each other, not that they forget but seeing each other helps. Today has been all the greeting and welcoming our lovelies home for a long weekend of Christmas festivities. I really can’t tell you how happy I am about this family time. Our adult children live in different provinces than we do and we don’t see them nearly as often as we would both like. So we are going to be grateful for these days.

I will greet each moment of the next few days with love and gratefulness and here we are at the almost at the end of Advent and the coming of the Christ Child and the welcoming of my family come together. Here’s to the wonderful season to come and greeting the love that comes with it.

 

#AdventWord #Renew

#AdventWord #Renew

Do you ever just need to stop and breathe? Taking in some deep breaths and then sitting down with a good cup of tea (and today a homemade mince tart) was a chance for me to renew my soul. I don’t know about the rest of you but life is bit busy here at the moment. We are still in the midst of our bathroom renovation, our lovelies all arrive tomorrow and the dear one is busy preparing for all the church services that need to happen this weekend. So yep busy.

Advent is supposed to be a time for the spirit to reconnect and slow down. I always struggle with the need to get things done and the need to just sit and listen to what God is trying to say to me today. So this afternoon, I took my tea and my mince tart and just sat. I didn’t do anything but sit, drink and eat for 10 minutes. It was lovely and it allowed me to have the needed energy to get done the next task for the day. I felt renewed in both my body and my spirit.

We are almost done Advent and I am so grateful that I have had this space to reflect with you dear readers and for all of you who have read these posts. This has been renewing for me as well. How have you felt renewed this Advent season?

#AdventWord #Embrace

#AdventWord #Embrace

I took this photo a few weeks ago when the weather was just lovely outside, I felt really good that day. I’m wearing a lovely scarf that my daughter gave me for my birthday, it’s from Sri Lanka and have it pinned with a favourite reindeer pin. I love how content I am looking here. The word embrace usually inspires an image with a hug in it and that’s good but I want to write today about something more personal for me.

I am embracing who I am – an older woman, a woman who has lived with cancer, a woman, who lost her mother at too young an age, a woman who has lived with joy and sorrow, a woman who has things to share, a woman who is living into her own wisdom, a woman who loves well and openly. To embrace who I am is to love the person God has made me to be. A person committed to living a life of reconciliation, a person who embraces the unknown, a person who walks in this world with love and I hope gentleness.

I am embracing this next stage of life and am so grateful that I get to do so. How about you what are you embracing that is healthy and life giving for you and for others?

 

#AdventWord #Open

#AdventWord #Open

Six days until Christmas, three days until all my lovelies are here and my living room looks like this. Laundry in the basket, decoration boxes waiting to go back downstairs, so much stuff on the dining room table and you can’t see it but the kitchen was a paint centre for a couple of pieces of drywall that have to be painted before they can go on the bathroom wall. Yep, we are also in the midst of a bathroom renovation.

Today I am working on being open to the hope that by the end of Thursday we will have a working bathroom on the main floor, beds will be made for everyone arriving the next day, and that I will be able to relax and enjoy the time with my lovelies and not feel super stressed.

Here I am keeping it real and not trying to glitz over all the stuff that is the chaos that is my house at the moment. I am hoping to get the chaos more to order. I also know that my lovelies will just enjoy being with the dear one and I and will take all of it in hand and not get too fussed. Here’s to being open to the spirit of this lovely season and not letting the chaos get too much of my attention.

#AdventWord #Dazzle

#AdventWord #Dazzle

I will admit, I love the dazzle of this season, I love the lights, the decorations, all the good food, the Christmas music – especially the slightly cheesy stuff – the people rushing about in generally good moods. I love the dazzle. I am aware that we have added a lot of cultural bits and pieces onto the season and mostly I am okay with that. I don’t get upset when I hear Christmas carols before the big day, I am not sure why it’s so important to get that upset about it. I love the Advent carols in church and sing them heartily.

Here is what I know, when I place our decorations out, cook particular foods, sing carols, I am reminded of so many people both alive and dead. I cook Gaspe meat pies and my thoughts go back to Nanny Ethel and her love for our family. I put out my Christmas snowmen and I put the ones my mother collected out with love. I place each decoration on our tree with love as I think of where they came from. I am surrounded with the love of these saints, I am surrounded with by the communion saints.

I will continue to love the dazzle of Advent and Christmas and I will continue to celebrate this season with as much gusto as I can. I hope you will as well.

#AdventWord #Light

#AdventWord #Light

I live in the northern hemisphere – in fact I almost live in the north, at the 53rd latitude north. We have really long nights and short days here at this time of the year. By the time of the winter solstice we will only have about 7 1/2 hours of daylight, not as short as some further north of us, but short enough.

So every year when Advent starts one of the first places in our home I decorate is our mantel and I always put a string of lights across it. This room faces east and in the photo you can just see the sky lightening up in the windows with that lovely blue you can only see in the sky at this time of the year. I love placing lights all over the house and outside the house. In fact we keep the outside lights on until the Feast of the Presentation (Candlemas) – February 2nd.

We wait for the light to return but most importantly we wait for the light of God’s love in the form of the Incarnate Christ to be come again to our world. Holy light that shines through so many people in our world. Let the Light come!

#AdventWord #Among

#AdventWord #Among

Yesterday’s Advent word was among  – it took me almost the whole day to come up with an image for that word. I realized that I needed to take a photo of the dear one and I – not the best we have ever taken but it is us at the end of a fairly long day. I said with that photo that among all the stuff of life I am grateful to be sharing it with my beloved.

We have lived among people in different communities across Canada – we have had quite the journey of ministry – it is so much of what makes us, us. We have been through some really rough times and we have had an immense number of really good times as well. We are 31 years of married life and let me tell you that God has been among all of that with us.

Here we are among people that have called us to be in this place, here we are among all that life throws at you, here we are among the joys and sorrows of life. I wouldn’t change any of it. It has made us better people and better partners.

 

#AdventWord #Trust

#AdventWord #Trust

Today has been a hard day – we had a fast low pressure system move through with some rain. Drop in pressure and humidity just set my joints to flare up. They started getting puffy, red and achy last night. I must admit I get so down with these kinds of days. It is hard for me to concentrate, plan and do any kind of serious work. It is one of those days that means rejoicing in small, doable tasks and resting as much as needed. Rheumatoid arthritis just sucks!

Then came today’s Advent Word – trust. Oh my goodness,  God – trust??!! Trust what? Trust who? Trust that I will make through the day without ending up in the fetal position – I have so far. Trust that my extra pain medication will do it’s job – it has, somewhat. Trust that I will get taken care of by the dear one, in this one of his busiest church times – he has and that’s lovely. There we go, trust – letting God and others do what is needed for me. Trusting my body to know what I need – rest – and doing just that. Trust that this flare up will not last forever – it won’t, I know that from experience.

Tonight – it is evening here – I am going to give thanks that I can trust and feel hopeful, because I need to do that. I need to trust that God knows what is going on with me and that I am being held in God’s love, always.

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