Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Daily 5 Revisited - Day 9

Today's Daily 5:

  1. waking up feeling somewhat rested
  2. a cup of David's Tea "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
  3. the gorgeous hoar frost this morning
  4. walking through Fish Creek Park, taking photos of said hoar frost
  5. texting with a  couple different dear friends who just get me
  6. a surprising moment in the course of prayer and reflection this evening
  7. some conversation that made me feel just a bit less alone in the midst of some big stuff I'm facing
  8. planning for the new year
  9. picking my One Word for the new year
  10. a bottle of Grower's Cider (peach)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Daily 5 Revisited - Day 8

Today's Daily 5:

  1. getting in and out of costco (with everything on my list) in 20 minutes
  2. getting a massage
  3. macdonald's for lunch (a once in a blue moon guilty pleasure)
  4. hanging out with a friend and her kids for the afternoon
  5. little boy goodbye kisses
  6. a bath
  7. watching some episodes of the show "Suits" on Netflix
  8. the movie Philomena - so incredibly good
  9. conversation and laughter (and even a few tears) with a good friend
  10. sinking into bed and realizing that though I'm tired and a bit peopled out, it was a lovely sort of day

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Daily 5 Revisited - Day 7

Today's Daily 5:

  1. sleeping in
  2. starting a new show on Netflix
  3. moments of laughter with my family
  4. feeding my Emily her lunch
  5. an awesome autocorrect slip-up in a text from a friend
  6. chinese takeout for dinner
  7. making lists (yes, including this one)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Daily 5 Revisited - Day 6

Today's Daily 5:

  1. Steve Bell's carefully crafted lyrics
  2. a relatively smooth and fast work shift
  3. sunshine, even if it's crazy cold
  4. good winter boots paired with merino wool socks
  5. hugs from a good friend
  6. my friend Alex's homemade lentil soup
  7. a simple dinner with mom and dad
  8. watching children enjoy a piƱata
  9. sitting with a new friend at mass
  10. sipping a cup of David's Tea "A Midsummer Night's Dream"

Friday, December 27, 2013

Daily 5 Revisited - Day 5

Today's Daily 5:

  1. leftover Christmas day hashbrowns for breakfast
  2. sleeping late and starting the morning slowly
  3. sneaking out to do a couple errands
  4. found a cheap but seemingly sturdy blender to use for a thirty day green smoothie challenge I joined
  5. a bubble bath
  6. lazy afternoon
  7. turkey on toasted french bread with sweet pickles
  8. mom's peanut butter squares
  9. reading a trashy novel as a sort of brain break
  10. heading to bed early(ish) knowing I will have an easier time at work in the morning if I am sufficiently rested

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Daily 5 Revisited - Day 4

Today's Daily 5:

  1. sleeping late at mom and dad's place - not feeling stressed the instant I woke up like I often do at home at Grandma's
  2. the feeling of freshly brushed teeth
  3. the first sip of water when you wake up with a dry mouth in the morning
  4. recognizing financial limits right now, and being able to say no to some amazing deals online for products and restaurant gift cards that I'd very much like to have
  5. playing Stampede Run on my iPhone
  6. simple snacks and leftovers from the last few days as meals
  7. puttering on my laptop, reading and catching up on some personal work stuff
  8. beginning to dream and plan for 2014
  9. browsing a number of healthy eating websites and finding some inspiration for ongoing health goals
  10. a lazy afternoon
  11. magic bags to keep me warm
  12. episodes of Castle on DVD
  13. laughing at some Steve Bell anecdotes from his "Story and Song" album
  14. introducing my dad to a couple of Jimmy Fallon youtube favorites. This video and this one.
  15. re-watching Elf with my parents

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Daily 5 Revisited - Day 3

Today's daily 5:
  1. the beauty and intricacy of the inside of a pomegranate
  2. texting with a friend who gets me
  3. the dance of sharing a kitchen while working with my dad to make the annual Christmas day brunch
  4. the smile on my niece's face as she revelled in being loved on by the whole family all day
  5. the fun of Christmas with a baby around
  6. a gift of travel points that mean I'm going to have a chance to escape winter sometime soon here
  7. baby cuddles
  8. a mostly laid-back, not too much stress or triggers for anxiety kind of family day
  9. a hot shower to wake me up early this morning
  10. a few minutes alone at the end of the day to decompress, before needing to go to sleep

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Daily 5 Revisited - Day 2

Today's Daily 5:

  1. some funny pinterest finds
  2. knowing I'm leaving my house clean as I head to my folks for the next few days
  3. instagram loveliness
  4. packaging up the baking I worked hard on to give as gifts
  5. working to prep our annual Christmas Eve appetizer feast with my mom
  6. bubble bath while watching old episodes of Castle on my laptop
  7. the chaos of a "children's mass" for Christmas eve
  8. walking to mass as the skies glowed with sunset and dusk
  9. sharing my favorite meal of the year - the Christmas eve appetizer feast - with family and friends
  10. this post on Stuff Christians Like

Monday, December 23, 2013

Daily 5 Revisited - Day 1

Today's Daily 5:

  1. a very unexpected scholarship cheque in the mail
  2. Glancing up to notice the Christmas cards that I've been received, displayed on a string
  3. pictures of friends that arrive in Christmas cards - my wall of smiles is getting an update!
  4. that it was actually sunny
  5. episodes of M*A*S*H*
  6. the slowly growing ability to recognize shifts and changes in mood and address them with grace
  7. marking things off a to do list
  8. Steve Bell's "Keening for the Dawn" Advent album
  9. 4 lit advent candles
  10. texting and photos from a faraway dear friend
  11. the satisfaction of wrapping carefully purchased or handmade Christmas gifts
  12. my tiny Christmas tree with its bright decorations
  13. ferrero rocher
  14. Pink Lemonade Tea from David's Tea
  15. the process of starting to dream and plan for 2014

Resurrecting the Daily 5

For a long time (more than 3 years) each night I sat down in this space and counted the things in the day that made me smile - the blessings, the things I was thankful for, the ridiculous that incited laughter.  It was a practice that began with a need to find joy in some really hard spaces of life, and lasted as those hard spaces receded into better times.

And now, I find myself struggling again with some of the same things that incited the first practice of counting blessings, and so I'm resurrecting the Daily 5 posts.  Each evening I'll show up in this space and count smiles - at least 5 - from that day.

I'll see you tonight for the first post in this starting all over again practice!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Reasons to Smile

So, after a day that kind of sucked, I need to make a Daily 5 list:

  1. earplugs that work (eliminate mouse skritching sounds, but let me hear netflix)
  2. that it was sunny when I needed to escape the house and go for a walk
  3. laughing at Gilmore Girls
  4. seeing the fruits of therapy as I worked to manage an anxiety attack
  5. fresh cantaloupe
  6. a gift card for the local bookstore chain that let me engage in a bit of bookstore therapy today
  7. spending time starting on crocheting a blanket for a friend who is having a baby soon
  8. curling up in a comfortable chair to rest
  9. friends who pray
  10. my "panic" box

Of mice and broken things

I cried about mouse poison this morning.  Well, more exactly, about the need to purchase mouse poison.

I heard it in the ceiling last night - that horrible skittering sound - and I talked myself out of believing it. I convinced myself it was grandma's dog upstairs.  I popped in earplugs to block out ambient noise, and turned up the Grey's Anatomy re-run I was watching on Netflix, and I convinced myself it was okay to sleep, and there wasn't something skittering around in the ceiling above my head, and that it wouldn't come through the pop-out ceiling tiles that my grandpa shoddily put in place decades ago, and land on me while I was sleeping.

It worked, too, until this morning when I heard it again, just before heading upstairs and discovering that the dog was outside.

And then I called my mom and I cried.  Because I needed to go out and buy mouse poison.

More exactly, I cried because this seemed like the last straw in a week that had been filled with hard stuff.

Two different good friends are facing major illnesses in parents right now.

Others are facing major illnesses of their own.

My nursing semester hasn't started off anything like what I was hoping, and I'm playing a waiting game, getting more and more stressed about getting in the hours that I need before the deadline in early December.

It just seems like the last week has been full of hard things in my life, and in the lives of people I love.

And now there's a mouse in my ceiling, making my already ridiculous living situation just that much crazier.

The mouse was the last straw.  I ended up leaving the house, walking to a local bookstore, and browsing until I'd managed to calm myself out of an anxiety attack.

Then I walked home and put mouse poison in my ceiling, and convinced myself that earplugs are a great invention.

I'm drained - so drained that I couldn't even make a decision about what to make for dinner.  I let a friend on facebook do it for me. (I'm going to make a turkey burger and some steamed veggies).

I'm drained, and I'm sad, but I did manage to fight off an anxiety attack today.  And I'm going to have a healthy meal, and then maybe go for another quick walk in the sun, just to gear up for bed.

So I cried over mouse poison, but really, I cried over broken things - a broken world, broken bodies, broken organizations, and a broken house.  And then I got up and did something about the one of those things I could tangibly manage.  And that made me feel just a little bit better as I walked home from the bookstore, and from buying mouse poison and tried to pray.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

My Body and Physical Health

I woke up from a short nap a little while ago.  I'd been reading, and started to drift, and rather than fighting that feeling, decided to go with it today, within limits.  I slept for about an hour, not super deeply, but it was lovely.

When I woke up, I was feeling a little foggy and lethargic (that's what napping often does to me), so I decided I'd finish off my planned exercise for the day by doing one six minute circuit from Jillian Michael's Banish Fat Boost Metabolism DVD.  That's done and now I'm sitting down to write.

Wait!  Before I lose you (because a blog post where the first two paragraphs read like that would probably lose me), let me explain.  I've spent the last week and a half thinking, reading, researching, pondering and praying about the idea of health. I've read voices that range from an auyervedic yogi to Dr. Oz.  From diet books to women's health.  I even did a two-day cleanse last week with the unfortunate name of "Look Better Naked Two-Day Cleanse".  (Full confession - I totally picked this cleanse because it was the easiest one I came across, where I didn't have to eat anything really gross!  I could care less at this point what I look like naked!)

Health and I, at least physical health and my body, have not exactly got the best relationship track record.  In fact, we kind of ignore if not downright dislike each other.  And yet, as I settled in last week to do some of that reading and research, I was pretty aware of the need for that to start changing.

I weigh more than I ever have (a number that is creeping scarily close to the "obese" range on the BMI charts for my height). I'm also in a position to start changing some things.  I start my final practicum next week, the second last hurdle for me to cross before I'm officially a registered nurse.  I'm within six-eight weeks of being fully weaned off of the medication that I've been on for the last two years to manage moods and anxiety.  It's been a great medication, but I don't feel like I need the support at this point in my life, and it has contributed significantly to the weight gain challenges I've had in those two years. My schedule is about to be more consistent, and I'm removing a major obstacle.  I'm very aware that with coming off medication, I need to have a mentally and physically healthy lifestyle in place to hopefully stay off the pills.  And plus, in terms of a lot of other things in my life, I'm in a healthier place than I've been in a long time, so it's time to make some changes with my body and physical health.

So I did a lot of reading and research, because half the battle for me is convincing myself this is actually worth it.  I historically hate almost all forms of exercise, and when I get hungry I crave sweets.  You can see the problem.  I watched shows on neflix and on veria living to motivate and inform me.  I began to accumulate viewpoints and opinions that would work for me, and discard others.  For example, I watched a whole series with an auyervedic practitioner and discovered that I can definitely get on board with the holistic idea that all parts of my lifestyle (even how much stuff I own) impacts my health.  But I hated his method of talking about food, which treated food as utilitarian, not something to be done really for enjoyment or to be done in a social setting, but just as energy.  I can't get on board with that - it contradicts deeply held beliefs rooted in my faith that say that sharing a meal with people is a sacred and connecting practice - a form of communion that is beyond the body.

And all that reading and research ultimately led me to a few doable ideas to start making changes.  I can't get on board with spending twenty minutes a day focused on exercises for my abs, but I can use Dr. Oz's 7 Day Belly Workout Cheat Sheet, where I need to spend 2-5 minutes doing a different exercise each day.  I can't at this point commit to doing a whole 45 minute Jillian Michael's video, but I can commit to doing one (or sometimes two) six minute circuits 4-5 times a week.  I can't (and won't) go on a major diet, but I can use tools like the My Fitness Pal website to track what I'm eating, and set a doable calorie goal (usually the 0.5lb weight loss a week range). I can drink a glass of water with lime (I hate lemon in water and most other things) every day to help my body detox.  I can stick to a basic regimen of vitamins and probiotics. I can't always make it to the reccomended 10000 steps a day using my Fitbit tracker, but I can shoot realistically for greater that 6000 a day, and go from there. I can eat lots of fruits and veggies and limit gluten and starch in my diet.

And the reason that I think I can make these changes is that most of them are already somewhat in place in my life, while the others fit into a window of time and activity that doesn't feel like it will overwhelm me. For me, that's the key - to figure out what is doable for me, what I won't hate and immediately quit - and then build from there.  I'm working on that figuring out what's doable thing in the whole of my life right now, and it seems to be helping.

Here's hoping that figuring out doable in the realm of my body and physical health is going to improve for it!

(and p.s. also in the realm of doable - I'm going to look at an elliptical machine off of Kijiji with my dad tonight! I'm thinking my neflix sessions are going to require a bit more physical activity in the near future if all goes as planned!)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reasons to Smile

Counting off a daily 5 of sorts today as I revel in a housesitting gig that got me out of my grandma's basement and into a home with natural light, a normal bathroom, and a full kitchen for a week or so.

Today's reasons to smile:

  1. a car to run errands at my ready disposal
  2. ceiling fans (and other fans) that have kept me comfortable on a hot day
  3. a quick Jillian Michael's circuit workout
  4. a giant fruit salad
  5. the gluten-free pancake mix that I really like being on sale when I went to the store to pick some up
  6. making greek quinoa salad for lunch
  7. gluten free pasta with organic tomato sauce that I added ground turkey, mushrooms, peppers, green onions, and spinach to.
  8. having a kitchen at my ready disposal
  9. knowing that after a hot day that included a workout, I can hop in a shower without traveling to my folk's house, or wondering if grandma is timing how long I'm in there
  10. the Matt Maher station on pandora that I've been listening to off and on today
  11. sitting and reading on a comfy couch, in natural light
  12. quiet space to think and pray
  13. texting with friends
  14. the anticipation of a couple skype dates in the next few days
  15. a chance to enjoy a break from normal life by watching a family member's house and simply resting - a bit of a personal retreat that couldn't have come at a better time.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Rest. Busy. Rest.

Midway through last week all of the events of the last month and a half caught up to me and my introverted self put its foot down.

Turns out that several major family medical emergencies, exploring and wrestling with whole new faith convictions while visiting friends in another country, starting a new semester of nursing school in a brand new area of practice with a steep learning curve, starting to wean off my antianxiety meds, working part time, making changes in diet and exercise practices, and just generally trying to maintain a personal, social, and spiritual life can be exhausting.

I know I'm overwhelmed when I sit in a nursing class before the lecture begins, and the voices of all those women (and a very few men) talking and talking and talking grates on my nerves to the point where I kind of want to scream at everybody to shut up, or I might lose it!

With all that in mind, I set this weekend aside for rest.  (Mostly.)

I am thankful that this semester I have three day weekends in which to actually manage rest a bit more fully.

I slept late on Saturday morning, got up and did a bit of housework, took a long nap, did a bit more housework, and then went to bed.  It was pretty much divine.  I think I only saw one other human being the whole day, and talked to one on the phone.  Perfect for my tapped out self.

Sunday was kind of the opposite.  I had breakfast with a long time friend (stuffed french toast - not the best ever, but not bad). Then we did a couple errands together.  I followed that up by going wedding dress shopping with one of my oldest friends.  She's getting married in February, and I'm her maid of honor, so I joined her and her mom to start the process of finding "the dress". And then I followed that up with a family dinner of sorts with a few extra people, which is pretty much the norm for our family.  Lately family dinners have sometimes been hard - they emphasize that even though I'm the oldest sibling, I'm the only one who is single, without any current prospects, and that goes to a different church than the rest of the family.  Those dinners sort of emphasize the ways in which I often struggle to fit within my family, and if I'm honest, I was kind of dreading this one when my mom called to set it up.  That said, it was lovely!  The addition of the extra bodies this time served to keep it from being quite so awkward feeling, and even though I was tired, it felt good to laugh with my family. I rounded off the day by borrowing mom's car so I could tackle my grocery shopping for the week, then caught a ride home and pretty much crashed.  (Though I enjoyed every bit of the day individually, the sum total of all that people time was still a bit much for my exhausted introvert self.)

And then there's today.  I pretty much slept until 11.  I know, I know, lazy, right?  I justify it by reminding myself that for the next four mornings this week my alarm will go off at 4:15, 4:15, 6:30, and 6:30 to kick off very full days.  I laid in bed for a while catching up on email, and then planned to kick off my day with the last of my pre-made smoothies.  Alas, the smoothie was off, so I tackled the first recipe on my list of cooking for the week - pina colada quinoa.  As I'm sitting to write this, I have a bowl of it in front of me, and it's not too bad!  I'm cooking a lot of quinoa these days in the midst of the effort to eat less starch, and mostly eliminate gluten from my diet, and this is definitely not the best of the quinoa recipes I've tried, but it's edible, and hey, I get to add another recipe to my list of new recipes I've tried this year.  I'm planning to round off this day with a few errands, and a coffee date with a friend, and then some homework.  The first quiz of the semester is happening this week, and I have some policy and procedure documents for neonatal care that I need to work my way through.  Oh, and I'm finally going to hopefully make some progress on the baby blanket I'm making for my future niece or nephew, since, you know, he or she is now two days overdue and likely to show up any time!

Rest. Busy. Rest.  That's my weekend, and while I could use maybe one more day of lying low, the fact that I'm now aware of just how drained I'm feeling is a good thing, and will let me manage my energy and schedule a bit more carefully for the next couple weeks while I work to recover some equilibrium.  Sweet deal.

And with that, I'm off to finish off my breakfast quinoa and get started on some of the little things that I want to do while I'm puttering around and resting today!  Happy Monday!

Monday, May 20, 2013


I feel like every post I start these days needs an apology.  A "I'm still processing internally and not really writing" sort of thing.  And that's mostly true. It's also true that I'm busy with school, and that I've been making some big life and faith decisions that are taking a lot of time and energy that I used to spend blogging.

So, I'm letting myself off the hook.  No more starting posts with apologies.  I'm just going to show up here when I have the time and motivation to show up here.  And today, I do.

So allow me to present a list of random thoughts for your perusal:

  • Yesterday I purchased two lawn chairs.  It was sort of one of those "I feel like a grown-up" moments.  I mean, adults own lawnchairs, right?  Non-adults use blankets, or sit on the grass, or sponge a chair off a friend who has more grown-up cred than them.  So I get some grown-up points for buying a pair of lawn chairs for use at all future summer/outdoor parties!
  • I'm pretty peopled out at the moment.  I always feel like that after the first week of a new semester, and this semester would appear to be following right along the same trend as usual.
  • I have Mondays off this semester.  This is going to help immensely with the trend of getting overtired and peopled out so quickly.
  • Also, I'm spending the semester in a perinatal placement.  That means I'm spending my summer doing two days a week in placements that include labor and delivery, NICU, and postpartum.  Mommies and babies all summer long! I'm pretty much ecstatic.
  • Because I'm peopled out, I'm spend the day alone, enjoying quiet and getting ready for the week ahead.  That means I'm cleaning, organizing, doing laundry, making lists, and just chilling out.  It's kind of perfect.
  • This morning I tried a gluten free pancake mix that I'd purchased with the hope that it would actually taste good.  It did!!!  Hallelujah.
  • On that note, I should add that I've recently begun trying to seriously limit the gluten and starches that I consume.  I've noticed that if I eat a diet higher in protein and fruit and veggies, and lower in starch, I feel a lot better.  Also, I have less mood swings.  I find that slightly annoying, since most of my favorite foods are sweet and starchy and full of gluten.  However, these days I'm placing a pretty high premium on feeling healthier, so it's a toss up.  Also, I find that not being militant about it helps - it makes me thankful that my food sensitivities are just that - sensitivities - and not allergies.
  • In other random food related news, I'm currently having a love affair with green smoothies. And quinoa.  But not together.
  • Also, I've discovered that exercise really can reverse a low mood.  This discovery truly annoys me, since I hate exercising with a passion!  That said, it's hard to argue with results, and since I really am working on ways to be a healthier person, and to manage my anxiety and moods more naturally, I'm annoyed to admit that I have several times put on a Jillian Michaels video to kick a bad mood in the butt.
  • In the area of managing anxiety and mood, after two years on my medication, I'm at a place where I'm starting to work towards weaning the dosage, and hopefully going off the medications. That said, I don't recommend the first week of a new semester as the time to start the weaning process.  Clearly I didn't think that one through.  Thus the need for those dates with Jillian Michaels videos!
  • And finally, I woke up this morning thinking about loneliness and community.  Yesterday was a day where I got some rare in person time with a very trusted friend, and it was lovely.  It also highlighted the ongoing challenge of having my closest friends in other countries and continents, and the need to continue to build a supportive community here at home.
And with that, I'm going back to cleaning. And laundry. And organizing. And maybe baking.  And well, I might leave my introverted haven to go eat some frozen yogurt at some point today.  Because I kind of got hooked on the stuff while I was in Florida. And I'm craving it. A lot.  But I might just bake something tasty and gluten free instead, and stay in my quiet haven.  It's hard to predict!  See you soon!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

I'm Going to Miss...

Things I'm going to miss like crazy after spending two lovely weeks in Florida (I head home tonight):

  • playing peek-a-boo with A.
  • waking up to baby giggles, cries, and babbling
  • faces that break into a smile when I appear
  • K's various quinoa concoctions
  • listening to theology lectures any time we drive anywhere
  • frozen yogurt
  • sunshine
  • warm temperatures even when it rains
  • long conversations with K & J
  • taking our cameras with us, and always taking the time to capture the shots
  • lazy days with netflix while the baby sleeps
  • grouchily responding to Jillian Michaels while we do her Yoga Meltdown workouts
  • Target
  • long conversations about life, abortion, and all sorts of other hot topics
  • safe friends for venting
  • glasses of wine on the harder days
  • hugs from good friends

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday Ten

I have almost zero blogging mojo these days.  Most days it's pretty much all I can do to get from point A to point B and home again without forgetting something important.  Case in point: on Sunday I entirely forgot a skype date with my best friend, one that I'd been looking forward to for a couple of weeks.  It was only when I glanced at my phone screen and noticed a facebook message to the effect of "are we still on to chat" flash across the screen that I realized that there was in fact something on my schedule for the day.

That said, somewhere in the interweb realms today, I noticed a point form post that was basically a list of ten random things going on in the person's life right now, and I thought, "I can probably manage that!".  So, here I am, and here are ten things on a Tuesday night:

  1. I'm trying to eat less starch in my diet.  I was inspired by a good friend.  I'm pretty much terrible at this.  What's worse is that I did well for a couple weeks after I got home from spending some time with my friend, and I felt really good.  So, now I'm doing terrible at the whole less starch thing, and I don't even feel good.  Sigh.  How depressing is it when bread ceases to solve all problems???
  2. My reading list these days is eclectic.  A Brene Brown book.  A midwifery memoir.  Some Catholic theology.  A few cookbooks. Nursing textbooks. A random collection of novels.  All are contributing to various things I'm thinking, praying and pondering.  But definitely it's an eclectic list
  3. I'm currently in love with anything teal or turquoise or any shade in between.  Basically anything in that greeny blue range.  I daydream about finally having a house one day, with lovely white walls, lots of windows, and accessories in these shades of bluish green.  (and some of the peacock images I've been collecting!)
  4. Since google reader will be extinct (tears!) this summer, I've recently adopted Feedly as my RSS reader, and I'm actually really loving it.  (Mostly because, once I worked some of the kinks out, I can basically get it to look like and do what Google Reader did, but against a lovely minty green background).
  5. Today I made chicken, lentil and potato curry in the crockpot, and it actually turned out great.  Only problem is that the recipe made WAY more than I thought it would.  I may now be eating nothing but curry for the next week.
  6. While I still love the idea of real books, I've kind of been converted to ebooks since buying my ipad mini.  I mean, seriously, I can read bits of each of my eclectic reading list, all on the same bus trip, and I only have to carry the light weight ipad, not all ten books.  Plus, I'm kind of into the instant gratification of downloading books to my kindle app immediately, and not having to wait out the process of shipping.
  7. Which brings me to Lent, and the fact that I gave up book buying for Lent.  Which is challenging when I such an addiction to the cheaper kindle prices and it's instant gratification.  But which has been good for my highly limited budget. and a good reminder on a daily basis that I'm supposed to be sacrificing, studying, and remembering Christ in this season.
  8. I'm going back to Florida in 22 days.  I pretty much can't wait.  Sunshine, friends, cute baby, flip flops, and great conversations.  And just a chance to settle into really feeling like myself and moving more slowly for a couple of weeks.
  9. Not so long after that I'm going to become an Aunt.  My brother and his wife are expecting in early June, and though they've stubbornly resisted finding out what they're having, it really doesn't matter to me.  I will officially be "Auntie Lisa" and that is a role that I know I will excel at.
  10. Plus hey, I get to spend my summer clinical rotation dealing with mamas and babies in one form or another.  Don't know the exact details yet, but I know I got assigned to a perinatal rotation and that that pretty much has me jumping for joy!
And just like that, I made it to ten!  Maybe I'll have to make this a weekly feature?  At least it gave me a bit of blogging mojo for the day!

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Few Smiles

Just a few things as a reminder of joys in my life right now:

  • adding some images to my wall of smiles tonight
  • the color turquoise
  • Martha Stewart organizational products from Staples
  • my Curly Girl calendar
  • trying a new recipe
  • slow paced but productive evening (the best kind!)
  • pictures of honorary nieces and nephews that make me smile (or cry, or both!)
  • reading, reading, reading theology these days, and praying and processing
  • texting with dear friends who are far away
  • a clean desk
  • thinking and working through thoughts on health and my body
  • netflix
  • books and more books
  • Call the Midwife (book and show)
  • friends who keep me accountable
  • being finished my psych rotation
  • bus commutes with podcasts and audio books
  • reading on the kindle app on my ipad
  • anticipating the arrival of spring (even if in Calgary it won't be here for quite some time still)
  • looking forward to a summer placement full of babies and mamas
  • Words with Friends on my phone

Saturday, February 16, 2013


I went to bed and woke this morning feeling blessed.

It's not been the most common feeling over the last year, but this last week or so, I've been basking in it.

I feel held. Known and seen and loved.  By the people around me, and by Jesus.

There are things in my spiritual life that I can't quite describe that are contributing to this feeling.  A knowing calm and peace that I don't always have.  But right now, right now it's present, and I'm basking in it.

I feel blessed to have friends who are praying and holding me in the midst of some challenging new directions of life and faith.

I feel blessed to have sat in St. Mary's Cathedral on Wednesday, and worn ashes on my forehead for the first time since I received them at the Vatican five years ago.  I feel blessed to have been joined in that evening by two good friends.

I feel blessed by the way this most challenging of clinical rotations turned out.  It went well, and my eyes have been opened (both physically and spiritually) to new things.  I passed my psych rotation - the rotation that seemed like it would be my undoing as it triggered my own mental illness symptoms.  Not only that, but I passed with flying colors!

I feel blessed to have shared dinner with good friends and two adorable little boys on Valentines Day.  To have spent the evening laughing and talking, teasing and being teased.  To have elbow bumped my favorite date (in lieu of a kiss or hug) as I was dropped off at home.

I feel blessed to have spent last evening resting and packing and eating chocolate mousse cake.

And today I feel blessed because I had the means to buy a plane ticket, and in a few short hours I'll be boarding a plane and winging my way to spend a week with several dear friends, and enjoying palm trees while soaking up some natural vitamin D.

This is a good place to be living, this place of knowing blessings, and I wanted to stop for a minute today and celebrate that.  I'm blessed.  Thanks Jesus.

Monday, February 11, 2013


In the tradition of the Daily 5, today I'm thankful for:

  • a weekend that was so encouraging to my heart
  • that though I overslept my alarm, I still made it to school on time
  • dear sweet friends
  • big mugs of green tea
  • berry white chocolate scones
  • a reason to laugh
  • worship music from Matt Redman, Kim Walker-Smith, and John Mark McMillan
  • tears that flowed freely
  • open sharing of stories
  • the anticipation of time with dear friends and warm weather

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Thankful List (Daily 5)

Today I'm thankful for:

  • a far away best friend who promises she's cheerleading for me
  • the fact that in two and a half weeks I'll be getting on an airplane to spend a week in a spot where palm trees grow outdoors
  • a long phone conversation tonight with a dear friend
  • that even though the weather today was terrible (-35C with the windchill), at least it was bright and sunny
  • my ipad mini that lets me read on the bus
  • baking banana bread in my toaster oven (even though I burnt it a bit)
  • that when I burned my hand on the toaster oven door, it wasn't serious
  • good friends in my nursing program
  • that I only have 6 shifts left in acute inpatient psychiatric nursing
  • a super cozy throw blanket
  • the sense of being surrounded and upheld
  • vitamins

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Review of "Right Where I Belong" by Krista McGee

This was a free ebook read, provided to me by Booksneeze for the purposes of review.

There was nothing too extraordinary in this novel, but it was enjoyable none the less. My only quarrel would be that it comes across as a bit preachy and not particularly nuanced, but the story (while predictable) was a fun read, and the characters were well developed and yet left you wanting more. The characters were likeable, though I at times felt like this novel was the middle one in a series, and that I was missing pieces that would have helped me to understand the story and characters more fully.  I appreciated the emphasis on calling rather than on income as the major guiding factor in choosing one's career path.  It was a simple novel, but all in all not a bad read!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Surprised by Oxford: A Review

Surprised by Oxford (by Carolyn Weber) has been on my read and review list for over a year.  I attempted to make my way through this lengthy title several times over, and ultimately never managed to succeed in finishing the read.

If I'm honest, this was a great disappointment to me.  Since the book had been highly recommended by several favorite bloggers, I eagerly requested a copy when it was made available on Booksneeze.com for review.  The copy on the book jacket (and the recommendations of others) suggested exactly the sort of memoir that I usually prefer - a coming to faith story complimented by time in a somewhat different culture, and much intellectual and literary discussion.  Unfortunately, I felt that this book bogged down in exactly this - the literary and intellectual discussion.  I wanted so badly to find the text appealing, and instead found that I struggled to enjoy the writing style and that I longed for a bit more emotionalism and a few less literary references.  I plan to eventually re-approach this book, to give it a final try, but I think I'll wait until I have time to devote a larger amount of mental energy to understanding, absorbing and completing this read, rather than struggling to force interest at a time when I find myself in need of lighter reading fare.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

First Day Lessons

My clinical placement for the semester started today.  Unlike other semesters, with one consistent placement, this one will change half-way through, and the two placements couldn't be more different.  For the first six weeks I'm placed on an acute inpatient psychiatric unit.  For the last seven weeks I'll be on cardiac care unit.  Like I said, quite the difference in approach.

I made breakfast for dinner, put on my pajamas, and was in bed to crash and veg by 6:00 tonight.  Eight students and one instructor spent an intense four hours in a tiny conference room on the psych unit today.  I can't remember the last time I had that much information thrown at me at once.  It was overwhelming.  Add to that a 2 hour commute home by bus in a blizzard, and I was pretty done in by the time I managed to get here.

I wasn't expecting to feel overwhelmed by a psych placement.  I've dealt with my own struggles with anxiety and depression for close to half my life, and continue to take medication and meet with my therapist to manage that.  I have close family members and friends who have gone through severe and ongoing mental illness challenges for decades.  I've worked with the homeless population in our city in the past.  Unlike most of the students in my group, this was not the first time I've seen the inside of a psych unit.  I really thought I was prepared for this.  I don't feel anxiety when I discuss mental illness.  I don't struggle to have conversations with people who also battle those illnesses.  But something about all that information being thrown at me in a concentrated manner drowned out my usual calm and invited anxiety out to play.

I knew that working on psych could trigger some of my own struggles, and so I was mentally somewhat prepared for that, but just the four hours of orientation left me feeling a bit like I was drowning.  It was easy to lose all the positives in the face of thinking about nursing on a unit where wearing a stethoscope is a risk to your health because having it around your neck could be a choking hazard if a patient became aggressive.

I sat on the bus home feeling overwhelmed and alone.

The creeping feeling of anxiety still scares me.  The little ways it manages to sneak up and become BIG still surprise me, and as I sat on the bus, it was BIG.

Quite frankly, I spent a large portion of that bus journey throwing myself a pity party.  I was overwhelmed, and that made it easy to fall into old patterns, to believe old lies.  I sat there feeling miserable, telling myself that I was alone, that I didn't have anyone to talk to about how I was feeling, how overwhelmed I felt, the creeping anxiety that was threatening me.

And it was there, on the bus, that the first day lessons merged with the lessons I've spent the last couple years of therapy working on.  Coping strategies kicked in.  I remembered that four dear friends had promised to hold me in prayer before the day ever began, because I'd been wise enough to anticipate the potential for anxiety and share that with them in advance.  I sent strategic text messages to friends who I knew would not only hold me in prayer, but would help to draw me out of my pity party. I rearranged my evening plans to accomodate the need for increased self-care.  I was able to recognize that several things that depress my mood were in play today - I was in a new and overwhelming situation, I hadn't had breaks for appropriate nutrition, it was blizzarding (Seasonal Affective Disorder anyone?), I didn't get enough sleep last night,  and I'm dealing with hormonal health issues this week that always make my mood that much more labile.

And in that is where the lesson lies.  It's continually a revelation to me when certain things emerge.

After a decade of wrestling with poor boundaries and not great relationships, I had no less than nine friends who I could easily text to ask for prayer and support.  Friends who I can trust to know and love me even on the icky days.  I'm NOT alone!

I can recognize when I need to do better at self-care.  I can remind myself just how important it will be for me to eat appropriate meals and snacks over the next six weeks, and be diligent about getting to bed.  I can plan to pull out my SAD lamp and use it more regularly.

I can recognize the things that I can't change immediately (hormones, weather) and acknowledge that I don't need to be afraid of my mood, because I understand what's making it labile.

I can recognize that though I haven't needed to see my therapist as regularly lately, I might need to be a little more proactive with that in the next six weeks, and that I should book an appointment to talk through some of this experience.

And I can say no.  I can change plans because I need to honor my introversion or need for rest.  I don't have to force something that isn't me.

And with those revelations, I feel just a tiny bit more confident heading back to the unit tomorrow. Because in those revelations I see healing, I see growth, and I even see my word for the year, honor.  I am learning what it is to honor the space I'm in, even while I'm continuing to grow into new spaces.

It's going to be a challenging six weeks.  I'm going to see and experience new things - some of them very hard things.  Some of those are probably going to trigger afternoons like the one I had today.  All of them are going to teach me.  They're going to instill greater compassion and understanding in me.  They're going to inform my practice as a nurse.  And I can choose to focus on the fact that they might be triggering, or I can choose to focus on the fact that even the triggering moments are ones for growth, for learning, and for recognizing how far I've come.  And I can choose to be grateful for that.  (Remind me of that, would you, if you catch me having any sort of extended pity party?  I might vent, but I want to choose to honor this season, too, and to honor it with thanksgiving.)

Friday, January 04, 2013

One Word 2013

My new year started off busy, and it wasn't until today that I really sat down to plan and pray and write and dream about the year ahead.

I was once again surprised by the word that came to me, and yet not at all surprised when I considered the directions my life has been taking, and the things that God has been whispering to my heart.

My word for 2013 is HONOR.

I had to smile as it emerged.  It was a word that had been on my heart for a couple specific things in my life - the need to honor the journey in those areas - but I wasn't expecting it to be the word that would set the stage for the year ahead.

For me, honor carries tones of respect, of discipline, of sacrifice, of commitment.  It carries the pull to conformity in certain areas, and validation and worship in others.  It's a big word.

And yet, I'm looking forward to it.

I feel like honor is a good place for me to base this year.

This is my last year of nursing school.  I feel the pull to honor the ways that my school commitments impact my life, and my schedule.  I feel the need to honor the things Jesus is teaching me in the midst of the process of becoming a nurse.  I feel the need to honor myself by working to excel in this last year of school.

I continue to journey with my body.  I stopped writing about it here because it was a mostly negative journey for much of the last year.  But this year I feel the pull to honor my body by exercising a greater degree of discipline and commitment in what I eat, and how often I exercise.

I feel the pull to honor my mind, too.  Not just in school, but in what I feed it.  I want to honor it by putting limits in place for the amount of television I consume, and spending more time reading and writing.  I want to honor the part of me that is a writer by making a commitment to show up in a few different spaces where I write and to contribute something to those spaces on a regular basis.

And most importantly, I want to continue to honor the journey of faith that Jesus has been taking me on.  I want to honor it by taking the time to read, and pray and write and research as I move into new places of faith.  I want to honor it with deep conversations with soul friends.  I want to honor it with daily time in scripture and devotional readings that open my heart to listen.

I'm a person who excels with goals, and so I still set some for the year, but each year they stem from the word I chose.  This year those goals include things to do with healthy eating, with trying new things (in life, and a couple new recipes a month).  They have to do with instituting discipline in some areas of my life (areas like exercise and finances).  And they have to do with feeding into the relationships that honor who God has made me (like cuddling babies, and investing in time with soul friends).

I'm looking forward to 2013, and seeing what comes from a year of honor.  I expect it to be challenging, and just as much of an adventure as always!