I’m Having Trouble Trying To Sleep

It’s three a.m. and I’m wide awake.again. I have prayed. I have cleaned my kitchen. I have spent some time in the Bible. Lights have been on. Lights have been off. I crawled back into bed only to start waxing poetic about my husband’s snoring. So now I sit in the office, a cup of warm black current and cardamom rooibos tea at the ready, wondering what it is that is keeping me awake this time.

I have theories:

  1. Some say sleep can be hard to come by when your brain is over active. I’ve been thinking about a lot of things lately and maybe my brain is processing so much right now I can’t fall asleep.
  2. My grandmother has entered the process of dying and it is likely she will die within the month. I’m torn between going to Canada to be with my mom during this time and not knowing if my presence will be a help or a hindrance.
  3. On the topic of my grandmother’s imminent passing, there is some spiritual work I am in the process of doing and I’m not getting a clear “this must be finished before she dies” message from God. I worry that timing may be critical but at the same time, I worry that I may rush through the process. It’s my process regardless of whether she is dead or alive, right?
  4. God is revealing generational work that needs to be investigated and completed. I have paternal generational ties to one of Canada’s First Nations and I believe that there is something I will learn about God the Father through these ties that I could not learn any other way, there are also bondage ties that will need to be broken in order for me to fully move forward. There is so much going on right now that this has slipped to a back corner of my mind. Is my subconscious processing what I’ve learned so far? Is my spirit trying to tell me something?
  5. Maybe I’m awake because I should be using this time to do something. Like clean my kitchen or pick apart the office. Perhaps I feel guilty and think I should be doing more right now. Using my time differently. Though why these thoughts can’t come to me during the daylight hours, I don’t know.

These are the things I carry in the wee hours of the morning. That and did I remember to pay the bills or add critical items to my task list. Which I’ve already checked five times and yes, all critical tasks are accounted for.

When I look at the list, I see a lot of worries. A lot of fretting. Little peace. And I recall to mind a verse I memorized eons ago when I was in grade school.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.    ~ John 14:27

It was Passover and Jesus had just predicted his betrayal by Judas and Peter’s denial of him. Dark, heavy stuff. I can’t imagine how Jesus was feeling. He was about to allow himself to be killed through slow torture and watch hope be replaced by disbelief and grief as these same people witness the Messiah do the unbelievable and die.

And then Jesus turns around and says to them, “I know this is hard stuff to grasp and I know the shit is going to hit the fan, but I’m not leaving you high and dry. I’m not leaving you alone, without resources. Without hope. I give you eirḗnē, I give you peace. I give you wholeness. I release to you everything needed to be complete, something you cannot possibly attain through this world alone. And because I will release this to you, your heart, your inner self, your soul does not need to be agitated and stirred up. Neither do you need to live in fearful dread. It doesn’t end here.”

There is so much more to this passage in John and when I try to put myself in the shoes of the disciples who were dining with Jesus, I can’t imagine taking these words in. I would have stopped hearing at betrayal. I mean, shit, one of us is going to turn on our rabbi and messiah? That’s not right. This man is supposed to lead us into greater things. He’s supposed to save us.

I put myself as I am into these verses and I have to say, this is a lot to take in. I know Jesus was preparing for this his entire earthly life, but these men and women weren’t. And what Jesus was laying down, there was going to be a lot of mindsets blown to hell and back. Then later, to watch Jesus die and not know the end of the story – I can only imagine the shattered hope.

Jesus was true to his word. He released this peace into the world for us.

I feel like Thomas with my worry and my doubt, asking for proof. Worrying that I’m not hearing clearly, that I’m not focusing on what I should be right now. I forget that with this peace comes wholeness. I Forget that the three days spent in the depths of Hell and the resurrection meant Jesus completed the sacrifice that was needed for us to walk in grace. I forget that with this grace is a permission to move forward until God tells me to stop. That I don’t need permission to start – it’s already been given. That if I travel down a rabbit trail, the Holy Spirit will direct me back to the main road.

What is left of my tea is now cold and I feel the light buzzing in my head that signals sleep may be just around the corner. I may never pin down exactly what was keeping me awake tonight, but something good came out of it. I was reminded that if the timing of any of the things that are worrying me matters, God will let me know. And He likely won’t be subtle about it because He knows me. He’s not going to let me wander around in the weeds for too long before He guides me back to where I need to be. So I can just choose one thing from my list and continue on. In peace.

Of Plants and Personalities

I have am the caretaker of four plants: three orchids and one geranium. It surprises me that the orchids in my care have survived this long, especially the one that I’ve had for almost four years. They have thrived when other plants have given up the ghost and they continue to delight me with gifts of new growth and periodically, of those wonderful flowers orchids are known for. All they require of me is water, some humidity, a little food once a month, and that I pay attention to the amount of direct sunlight they get per day. Orchids, I have learned, far prefer indirect sunlight.

The geranium, she is another story. This particular plant was purchased on a whim when the neighbor boy down the street came door to door selling plants to earn money for his band trip. The plant arrived in full bloom, healthy and happy in an outdoor hanging basket. She was hung on our deck where she would receive the right amount of light and, when it rained, a lovely soaking of water. I deadheaded her over the summer months, watered her when the rain was stingy, and enjoyed the riot of pink and white flowers she offered me for my trouble.

When summer came to a close and Jack Frost started drawing on the roof tops and windows and icing the trees with hoarfrost it was time to make a decision about the geranium. I could let her die, as I have for so many other annuals in the past. Or, I could bring her inside and nurture her through the winter. My husband convinced me to take door number two and I have been caring for this finicky plant ever since.

People are as diverse as plants. Perhaps even more so. In these last few months as I’ve had time to reflect and ponder (not always a good thing, let me tell you), I’ve learned a thing or two. Or perhaps it’s not that I’ve learned them, it’s that I’ve remembered them.

I have a dear friend who I love like a sister. I admire the hell out of her, I really do. She is tenacious and stubborn and sensitive and insightful and compassionate and seeks to understand. She is a warrior when it comes to her children and her marriage. She is not only willing to walk the hard road if it is the better path in the long run, she walks that path with her head high and thinks nothing of reminding God of what He has promised her.  She is beautiful inside and out and one of the strongest women I know.

It is her tenacity I have been observing in the last few months, her unwillingness to succumb to melancholy or self pity. Her drive to resolve and/or fix and issue. She is always pushing forward, always creating momentum. In this way, she is much like my husband. He’s a fixer. There is an issue, he has this internal drive to fix it. He’s not as gentle about it as my friend is, especially when the issue that has been observed is something I need to seriously address.

And this is where I differ from both of them. Yes, I want to resolve things as well, but I don’t have that strong internal drive to be tenacious. Or if I do, it’s on vacation and has been so for some time. I admire that drive while at the same time feel exhausted thinking about the energy and focus needed to stay the course. Next to my dear friend (and my husband) I feel like a sloth. I don’t attack issues. I come up to them as though they are a skittish horse, slowly and almost as though I’m not paying attention to it. I know it’s there, oh I’m constantly aware it’s there, but I tend to wind my way toward the issue, stepping toward it, acknowledging it, then stepping away to ponder what I learned in that encounter. I don’t have that singular focus, and have wondered for years if I have some form of ADD. It’s not that I’m distractible, though I am. It’s more that I need to give my subconscious time to work out parts of the issue without my conscious self getting in the way.

It seems to take forever for there to be progress when I look at myself and compare that to my friend’s journey. Sigh. I said it. Compare. I so admire my friend and her approach to life that when I look at my own I feel like something is wanting. I cry tears of frustration when I ask God why it seems to take so long for me to get to a new level of relationship with Him, why insights that appear to come to others so quickly take me forever to obtain. Why I hear Him tell me to rest when what I really want is to stop going around and around the same issue time and time again.

What has this to do with my orchids and my geranium? In addition to plants be so varied and different, with different needs and different optimal growing conditions, plants also accept what they are. My geranium doesn’t appear to want to be an orchid. My orchids seem genuinely pleased to be what they are and as long as I provide them with the right amounts of light, water, humidity and plant food, they flourish. I had to learn new ways to care for my geranium. I’m still learning it’s idiosyncrasies and needs. And am learning to not despair when leaves yellow and die. For every leaf and ever stem I need to cut back, a proliferation of new leaves appear to grow to recover the space. I’m awed with the tenacity of my geranium. It wants to thrive despite my often inadequate care.

I am not my friend. Or my husband. They have their strengths and their journeys. I can admire them. I can learn from them. But I should not try to be them. Maybe that’s why God tells me to rest, so I can give myself a break from, well, me and my desire to be someone I’m not. What I can take away from my friend’s journey is that her relationship with God is authentic and a living thing. Maybe I’m never going to have her level of tenacity or her ability to create forward momentum. Maybe what I can learn from her is to be real with God and to expect and anticipate Him being real with me. Maybe I’m asking the wrong questions when I ask God why or why not. Maybe instead I should ask what now. What does He want to give me now. Who does He want to be for me so I can grow, so I can overcome. So I can be more the person He created me to be. Maybe, instead of striving to embody what I admire in my friend, I should find those things God has placed within me so I can admire His handiwork. Just like I admire the nuances and complexities He created within the plants in my care.

Hey, Soul Sister!

I have never received an award for blogging before. Given the sporadic nature of my posts, it’s no small wonder.

Yesterday, the lovely MJ of Thrivingisthegoal.com nominated me for a lovely blogging award. A first award is always special and I am thankful to MJ for thinking of my and my little home in the blogosphere. So, thank you, MJ.

sisterhoodoftheworldbloggersawardI’ve read enough blogs to know that with blog awards there are rules, and the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award is no different. So, before I go any further, here they are:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you providing links back to their website.  (Done and done)
  • Display the logo on your blog.  (Phew! Figured that one out)
  • Answer the ten questions set for you. (Damn, but you ask some thinkers, MJ)
  • Make up ten questions for your nominees. (Got it)
  • Nominate ten people. (um…but I don’t follow 10 blogs…)

Without further ado, here are MJ of thrivingisthegoal‘s ten questions:

  1. What are your greatest strengths? I like to believe my greatest strengths are empathy, my desire to continually learn and grow and to help others also grow, and my sense of curiosity. When I want to be I am quite organized, almost to the point of obsessive so maybe that’s less of a strength. 🙂 
  2. What is your definition of happiness? Happiness is being in tune with the beauty in the world and people around me, and knowing that I add something unique to that collage of beauty. For me, happiness starts with gratitude. When I am truly grateful it is easier to see the joy and beauty in my life and in the world. As I type this I wonder why I don’t practice gratitude more often…
  3. If you could become fluent in a foreign language in one year, then which one would you choose? I would love to be fluent in Hebrew if for no other reason than to be able to read the Old Testament in the original language it was written in and to understand the nuances of the texts. That and I think Hebrew is a very interesting language. 
  4. If you had a million dollars that you had to donate to one charitable cause, then which one would you pick and why? Only one charitable cause? That’s hard. Hmm…I know a lot of people who have spouses in one branch or another of the military and the stories I hear about lack of mental health services for both those who return from tours of duty with emerging mental health issues, reintegration issues, and the lack of services for family members makes my heart break. I would love to donate money to a charity such as the National Military Family Association. 
  5. If you could master a new skill in a year by taking a class, then what skill would you most want to learn?  I am not the most creative or knowledgeable in the kitchen and would love to learn more about food science and cooking in general. 
  6. What novel have you read more than once by choice?  There are soooooo many novels I’ve read more than once by choice, goodness. The novel I have probably reread most often as an adult is This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. 
  7. If you were allowed access to a Tardis (Dr. Who’s “time machine”), where in time would you go?  If I had access to a Tardis, I would hope David Tennant would be with me. Ahem, yes, back to your question. I would love to meet Leonardo da Vinci so perhaps the Italian Renaissance. Or I would want to spend a little time in the Roaring Twenties. Then there is the time of Jesus. Or the Regency era where I might converse with Jane Austen. Or…can we talk about that Tardis? 😉
  8. If you were allowed to go back to high school and change one thing, what would you change?  When Mark C. told my friend he thought I was amazing, I would have thanked him for the compliment and asked him if he would like to go out for coffee at Tim Hortons some time instead of brushing it off as an untruth because I had such low self esteem a cute and talented boy couldn’t possibly be interested in me. 
  9. What are you presently looking forward to?  I am looking forward to starting my novel writing again. It’s been a long time since I’ve written and I’m starting to feel that electric tingle that comes with a book idea that is just too good to not play with.
  10. What food do you absolutely hate and refuse to eat no matter what?   Hands down, brussel sprouts. I don’t care if they really do taste better roasted instead of boiled, I am NOT going to eat them. 

My Ten Questions: 

  1. If you were to get a tattoo, what would be it be and why? If you already have a tattoo(s), what is the story behind one of them?
  2. Where is your favorite place to be and what makes it special to you?
  3. The world is going to end in five minutes. What is your deepest regret?
  4. If you just won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do with your new found wealth?
  5. What is a book , fiction or nonfiction, that has impacted your life?
  6. What is your favorite season?
  7. When you think of the word beauty, what comes to mind?
  8. If money was no object, what vocation or career would you pursue?
  9. What do you most hope to be remembered for?
  10. If you have some time to yourself, how would you spend that time?

Here’s the super hard part. I don’t follow 10 blogs and one of the blogs I follow nominated me for this award so I can’t very well nominate her back. A few of the blogs I follow have hundreds of followers and I am fairly sure they will not even see the nomination.  And I skipped the industry blogs I followed for work. If we’re talking industry blogs it’s safe to say I follow or followed more than 10. The blogs below I follow for my personal enjoyment and/or edification. So, in the spirit of encouragement I nominate the following:

Thank you again, MJ for your nomination! I enjoyed answering your questions and hope my answers are just as enjoyable for you and my readers.

It’s Enough To Drive You Crazy If You Let It

I woke up this morning to the sound of my dog panting in my ear, urging me to get up and start my day. Which I did. If he’s not bothering the husband and resorting to me, that means he must go outside. NOW!

I sluggishly got out of bed, threw on a robe, and escorted the wee beastie to the door, where he promptly went outside and did his business. I let him back in and returned to the bedroom, ready to fall back into bed -and hopefully more blissful slumber – when I glanced at the clock. Holy Crap, it was 9:00am. I was so late for work! Why didn’t my husband wake me before he left for his job? Why didn’t my alarm go off? Where the gods conspiring against me?

I rushed to the shower, leaving a trail of pyjamas as I went, turned the water on full heat and let the inferno burn the cobwebs from my brain. Just as I was shampooing my hair it hit me.

I am no longer employed. All this rushing around was due to a habit honed through years of holding down a job. And as of last Friday, I no longer had a job. 

This is not a bad thing. I was not fired or downsized. I tendered my resignation because I was burned out and my health was now at risk. I needed to step away from the stress and the deadlines and the stress of other people in order to let my body reset. I am not Wonder Woman, and yet for the last year, I had been ignoring the signs and pushing myself to meet expectations and deadlines at work. And it finally caught up with me. 

So I’m on a self-funded sabbatical, if you will. For the next three to six months instead of focusing on my ‘career’ and working outside the home, I will be venturing forth on a journey of healing. Whole person healing. 

What does that mean? My husband asked that question. He understands that I need time and patience and perhaps medical therapies to wrangle my health issues under some semblance of control. And I’m laughing at the word control because believing I had everything under control is part of what got me into this situation in the first place. So not control, then. My body and I need to come to an understanding and in order to accomplish this I need the time and space to allow for healing to take place. I will have good days. I will have bad days. I will continue to push my body’s boundaries and my body will continue to push back. We’ve become strangers, my body and I, and this time is necessary for us to get to know each other anew. 

That’s only part of what I envision. I also want to spend time connecting with God in a deeper, more relational way. I want to work on some toxic thinking through the use of methodologies such as DBT and the 21 Day Brain Detox. I want to clean and declutter my living space so both my husband and myself can enjoy our home in a new way. I want to eat a healthier diet and find ways to move my body that I enjoy. I want to spend time in nature. I want to reconnect with my creative side and write start writing fiction again – only this time without fear and self-judgement. 

That’s a lot to ask of 3-6 months. I look at it this way – this time where I am not employed will give me the space and time to start and to gain momentum in these areas. Momentum I hope to carry with me when/if the time comes where I need to step back into the corporate world. This time will also give me space to explore possibilities. I’ve been closed off and blind to possibilities for so long, it’s strange to think that I have permission to explore them. 

This entire venture is strange to me, which is likely why at 9:00 am this morning, day three of my sabbatical, I had a freak out and starting furiously rushing around. It hasn’t completely settled within me that the expectations and pursuit of career are on hold for a time and my focus can be on, well, me. 

 

No Expectations

Several things coalesced to form an insight bomb that exploded within me. My unmet yet unvoiced expectations have been causing me pain.

I spent the last day listening to, thanking and then dismissing the internal voice that wanted to heap on the guilt and shame and self-recriminations. What do I tell the pre-marital couples I work with? That unvoiced expectations become unmet expectations and drive wedges in relationships. How much easier it is to explain these concepts to other people than to live them out in my own life. I’m very good at teaching these concepts to others. I’m not as adept at internalizing them myself. The good news is, eventually I do internalize them. Eventually I get there. This was one of those times.

What led me to this epiphany? It started with finding out on Saturday that my MIL is coming to town and will be staying with use for a few days next week. Any time she comes to town I start to feel a certain level of dread, but I was able to put most of this aside after an insightful email exchange with Claire and a night spent in prayer and, okay, generally bitching at God.

But something was still gnawing at me. I couldn’t put my finger on what.

The weekend came and went. I have a pre-marital couple who are considering coaching so I brushed off my materials and did a quick review of expectations. Nothing new, but I haven’t coached in several months and I wanted to make sure the materials were able to be adapted for a couple who had been living together for a couple of years and were expecting their first child. That gnawing started to get louder, became more of a chewing. Still, I couldn’t identify the source.

Yesterday I read this post by a good friend and fellow blogger and boy did I relate. I was nodding my head as I read and started to see a picture of me looking down on my husband when he told me he talked to his mom and she was coming for a few days next week. I turned to myself and it was as though the conversation was put on pause and the version of me who was interacting with my husband was able to turn and look at the me who was observing. I asked conversation me, ‘Do you know why you’re so upset inside right now?’

She paused for a moment, obviously mulling things over. ‘I’m upset because he doesn’t see what I see, but I can understand that. He’s lived with her, she’s behaving in patterns that are familiar to him. I’m on the outside of that. I see things differently. I have a different relationship with her than he does.

“What’s really eating at me though is this one simple thing. He didn’t even bother to ask. Again. He didn’t bother to see if it was okay with me. Again. I don’t seem to count in the decision-making process.”

Does he know you expect to be a part of this process, rather than just be informed after the face, I asked myself.

“He should. I’ve told him this often enough over the years. How it bothers me. How we’re a team and when it comes to making a commitment or decision that impacts the other person, I want us to be involved each other in the decision-making.”

But does he KNOW this? To which I had to answer, I don’t know. Outside of having a heated discussion after the fact, I don’t know if he knows this is an expectation. Or if he even shares this as an expectation. In fact, I strongly suspect he doesn’t share this expectation at all after he told me that others make decisions that impact him without his input all the time, it’s just the way life is. And that if the situation were reversed and we lived closer to my family, I would likely be making commitments and decisions like he does with his family and tell him after the fact.

Okay, that last statement aside because I can only deal with so much insight at a time (and isn’t that last one just loaded?), I realized part of my problem in the drama with my MIL is that my husband and his mother decide when she’s coming and how long she’s staying and I am treated like I have no say. Rather, I feel like I have no say. I feel like an after thought. Maybe I am. I expect to be consulted and to be given the choice. I haven’t voiced it this way to my husband, but it’s what I expect. What I want. And when it doesn’t happen, I feel like I don’t count. I don’t matter. Does he feel that way about me? I don’t think so. Is his intent to hurt me? I don’t think that, either.

He’s operating with a different set of values and expectations. Is my expectation unreasonable? No, but…

What were to happen if I let that go? What if I just let it go and didn’t bring it up ever again? If I were to accept that right now, this expectation doesn’t align with my husband’s expectations? Can I be happy even if I’m not consulted? Does it make me walked on or less valued? Does my worth change if this one thing doesn’t happen?

When I talked it over with the Holy Spirit I ended up apologizing to my husband for holding this against him. I let him know I had an expectation and when it wasn’t met I was hurt and angry. I told him that this expectation had to do with a picture I have of what it means to partner and to ‘leave and cleave’ from our families of origin. That this picture was more about my needs than his. I asked him if he understood my expectation and he told me he didn’t. I wasn’t trying to hurt me, he just didn’t understand why he needed to ask me. He certainly didn’t expect me to ask him if it was okay for my family to visit. Just to inform him of when and how long.

At this point, I told him I was letting it go. We have different values here and I had to be responsible for my expectations, my feelings, myself talk and even my happiness. That wasn’t on him. Do I still want that picture to be reality? Sure. But it’s not. And right now I think I need to accept that. I can be happy and not be asked if my MIL can come stay. I can be happy while she visits. I can choose something different. I don’t need to control the situation. I don’t need to agree with my husband on whether a spouse should be consulted before inviting someone to stay. I can learn to see his perspective.

It’s not perfect. He’s still miffed at me for being upset with him. I’m still adjusting to the concept that I don’t need to have a say, I just want to have a say. Marriage can be messy, but at the end of the day, I’m responsible for my beliefs, my behaviors, my actions, and my happiness. This expectation, it needs examining and maybe I need to trade it in for something else.