Taking Care of the Valuable Things

The other day I was on the phone with mom crying. Fun fact: I hate crying. It leaves me feeling vulnerable and frustrated, which is ironic because those are two feelings that often lead me to cry. Unfortunately for me, I am a crier and you’d think after 39 years I’d be used to it. I’m not. I cry when I’m happy, sad, frustrated, angry, worried, stressed, tired, caring for people, praying for people, reading, watching movies, laughing at myself, etc. I cry. A lot. Especially when I drop heavy objects on my toes. Just sayin’. Sometimes I think my feelings are directly connected to my tear ducts. When things get a little emotionally full, it comes out my eyes and leaks its way down my face.

So yes, I was crying on the phone to my mom the other day. She’s tough and can handle my tears. I was frustrated that I looked around my house and had so much to do but absolutely zero energy to do it. I’m too stubborn to ask for help. (And I’m honest enough to admit I’d probably be really short and snappy with anyone who ventured in.) I know this is just a short-term thing until my body is back on track and I’m trying to be patient and graceful. (I am neither patient nor graceful.) But I hate not having strength in myself to do it all. (None of us do.) I fall prey to the trap of comparison. (It’s a joy suck.) I feel all these negative things – yes, a bit of self-pity and woe – and I cried.

Yesterday, I went to work. I puttered a bit when I came home in the afternoon. I sat down to finish writing a review and while pondering my words, I fell asleep. Kevin worked a bit later than usual. It was dark when he got home. (It’s dark very early now but it’s nice to wake up to sunlight.) We had a time-sensitive errand to run. Dinner hadn’t been made. I looked at him in the car shortly before 7 and said “I’m done.” I was frustrated. We bought takeout for dinner and I left the dishes until this morning. I felt guilty and then realised how stupid it was to feel guilty. I didn’t cry though. Maybe I did. I was in such a fog that I honestly don’t remember. The family was cared for in a different way and did what needed to be done even if it was a shortcut. Everyone went to bed with full bellies. No one was hurt by the dishes in the sink.

Today I slept in. It was lovely. I embraced the day with a to do list. I sat down at 1:30 p.m. to write this because… guess what? I am done. Not done my to do list. Just done. My list has fallen to the wayside. (Technically it’s on my phone still waiting for me to check items off.) I started to feel frustrated at all that remains to be done. I was falling into the trap of comparison and self-pity again. But I stopped. Grabbed a cold Diet Pepsi out of the fridge. Sat down and realized what’s left on the to-do list doesn’t matter right now – the to-do list will never end. Ever. What does matter is finding pride in what I have accomplished even if that doesn’t look like what you accomplished or what she-who-shall-not-be-named-but-makes-me-look-like-a-slacker accomplished. Because we’re not the same person. We’re not in the same place.

Today I am satisfied with what I’ve already done before I ran out of steam (remember, my tank is pretty small right now – it doesn’t take a lot to hit empty.) This morning I cleaned two bathrooms, emptied and loaded the dishwasher, washed a overflowing sink full of things that aren’t dishwasher friendly by hand, I’ve washed, dried, and folded three loads of laundry, I started a new devotional, I wrote a note to a friend, I fed and watered the pets, I changed our bedsheets, I cleaned the washer and dryer (why do we have so much dusty lint?) and I have two pots of soup on the go. Soup one is a creamy tomato and white bean. (In case you think I’ve got it all together – you know, judging by my masterful command of life and emotions – I may have, most definitely, burnt the beans as I write this – we’ll hope it adds a depth of smoky flavour to the soup – my kitchen no longer smells delicious.) Soup two is a roasted butternut with maple and bacon marmalade. I’ll keep some for dinner, some for the freezer, some for a friend. And I’m done. Not fully done. I’ll still putter. But I’m going to sit down, find a snack, and realize that sitting, thinking, recharging, resting – they’re important too.

My point in all this? Don’t lose heart. Don’t get angry when you look at the unconquerable to-do list. Take stock of what you have accomplished even if it takes some reframing. Didn’t get to the laundry, but raked the leaves with your youngest? You spent time with the kids and got fresh air and exercise. Dishes are clean but your bed didn’t get made? You spent time in the kitchen. Stayed in bed with nothing more than a book? You took a day for yourself. Stripped all the wallpaper in your ugly bathroom but forgot to make dinner? Order a pizza and take a hot shower. Kept the kids alive but your hair and/or teeth haven’t been brushed? You. Kept. Kids. Alive. (Major accomplishment, right there, for some kids.)

Don’t judge your accomplishments OR YOUR WORTH by what you see on social media, your friends, your family, or how you think people are judging you. My morning? Super productive actually but if I look at what I have left to do, it’s but a tiny piece of the puzzle. My afternoon? Also productive – I’ll be taking care of some really valuable things (i.e. myself alongside my physical and mental health.) For you, those valuable things may be your health, your kids, your loved one. While I sit and pause I might just find the energy to take a shower and change out of these pajamas. There’s nothing wrong with being productive, just remember that there’s nothing wrong with ignoring the to-do list once in awhile either. You matter beyond any checkmark.

Isolation & A Book Review: Take Heart by (in)Courage

It’s midday and I’m tucked into bed, laptop on my knee. I’ve been up since 7 a.m. after a restless night. In the accomplishment column, one child made it to school without issue, I gagged down some oatmeal before 7:30 a.m. (I hate early breakfasts), I unexpectedly shuttled the other child to school because the bus didn’t show, and made it into my nuclear medicine appointment with seconds to spare. I spent time listening to a rundown on radioactive iodine and what I can expect over the next few days, weeks, months. Signed off on consent forms, and after an hour of time and a dynamic little capsule, was safely back on the road back home again. I’m in isolation with some distanced visiting for the next few days – I can’t share a bed or a couch with my husband, but I can watch TV in the same room. No kissing, sharing dishes, or using the same washroom, but we can visit a bit and otherwise I’m restricted to my room. I’m anticipating all the free time I’ll have (3 whole days of not being allowed to do things!) and I’ve been making a mental note of what I want to enjoy with this precious bundle of unspoken for minutes. I’m looking at it as an enforced vacation – books, blogging, Netflix, naps, etc. We’ll see if my outlook is as optimistic by Sunday afternoon.

Those who know me or have been following along know that not unlike others, my journey hasn’t been along the smoothest straightest path. Sometimes life really sucks. Hard things happen. Difficulties loom. Health tanks. Relationships strain. Loved ones pass. We struggle… but I am a person of faith and I believe that we are not alone, even in the darkest moments and the brightest of days. I’m not here to preach or pontificate, but wanted to preface the book review I’m sharing below as it’s not a genre I usually post about.

I was privileged enough to be a part of the Take Heart launch team and was provided with a complimentary digital copy of this devotional (through NetGalley, naturally.) For someone who has been experiencing probably the roughest two years of her life, every entry was like sitting down to have a chat with a friend – straight-shooting, honest, heartfelt, and soul-soothing. Some readings made me sit up straight and think. Others were a balm that left me feeling seen and heard. Some made me laugh or cry – or even both at the same time in that awkward snort-sob kind of way.

Written by women going through the same things you and I experience every day, the quality of the topics and the writing is spot on. Quantitively, the entries are quick and easy to read, with a short Scripture (or two or three) and each passage closes with a prayer of reflection. With titles such as “Rest and Be the Beautiful You” by Bonnie Gray, “In the Waiting” by Jen Schmidt, and “The Worthy Cost of Being an Ally” by Michelle Reyes, you’ll find relevant topics with soul-searing truth and beautiful voices sharing encouragement straight from the heart. I highly recommend this devotional for anyone who finds themselves struggling with the mundane or the not-so-ordinary hiccups that come along the path of life as a reminder that you’re not going through anything alone!

One of the most poignant readings for myself was the entry mentioned above by Bonny Gray. The whole thing struck a chord in me and even the prayer is a call of my heart. She closes with this simple statement that reinforces the importance of rest and stillness.

Be kind to yourself and find a place for your weary soul to rest in His irrevocable love for you.

– Bonnie Gray, Rest and Be the Beautiful You,
Take Heart: 100 Devotions to Seeing God When Life’s Not Okay by (in)Courage

This devotional is now available for pre-order and releases October 20, 2020. The cover is beautifully designed as all titles from (in)Courage are and it’s affordably priced. I can’t wait for my purchased copy to arrive and sit within easy reach on my bedside dresser. My thanks to the publisher and the entire launch team for including me in previewing this timely, relatable title!

Just Wondering… Why Me?

Heads up that I’ll be whining here a bit. I’m feeling a little sorry for myself. A lot frustrated. Even more angry.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I haven’t been feeling well, I’ve been exhausted, etc… I didn’t go deep into detail because I didn’t really know what was going on and brushed off many symptoms as related to known issues.

Last weekend while people were enjoying a beautiful Saturday, I was lying in emerge. Fun times. I was seriously scared I was having a heart attack and once triaged, was put into a room immediately. When it comes to emergency medicine, I’m pretty sure you want to be the patient asked to sit in the waiting room because it’s not serious.

A number of tests were ordered including ECGs, blood panels, etc. The attending E.R. doctor came in eventually and said, “The good news is your heart is fine. The bad news is your thyroid isn’t working properly.” She then called in an internist who gave me a very (brief) overview and a prescription for beta blockers that stopped the heart palpitations (yes!), but didn’t address the thyroid issues.

This week I’ve been a mess. The “not feeling well” has gone beyond not feeling well… and I still didn’t know what was going on. I booked an appointment with my endocrinologist that oversees the Type 1 treatment. She’s thorough and autoimmune disorders are her specialty. Unfortunately they couldn’t see me until today.

Yesterday I crashed my GPs office in tears. When I say I was a mess, I mean that he concurred. Emotional, pained, exhausted, worried, hot, nauseous, stubborn high blood sugar, head aches, etc. He provided a calm listening ear, reassured me that I’ve done nothing wrong, and offered encouragement saying that things will get better.

At my endo appointment, she discussed things further. Ordered additional tests to confirm or determine the cause (suspected Graves disease.) Sent me for more bloodwork and prescribed additional meds. Pretty much told me I’m unfortunately vulnerable to the very thing that’s supposed to keep me healthy.

So I’m mad. Why has MY immune system gone rogue? Why do I have to deal with not one, but two, serious autoimmune disorders? Why do they have to complicate each other? Why can’t I just make it through a week without needing naps and Tylenol and gravol and multiple medications? I’m trying to stay positive… but honestly, I’m also heart sore at the moment.

Anyone have tips for better living and eating to protect your thyroid? Please forgive my complaints – I know that there are others dealing with far worse complaints… But honestly, at the moment, I just want to feel like me again – happy, productive me. I’m indulging a little bit of wondering… why me???