Sunday, May 20, 2018

you realize that i just don't have the words, don't you? that i'm not being an ass when i shut down and stare at you blankly when you ask me what's wrong or what i'm thinking? i don't know that there are words to describe this illogical darkness that i carry around with me. trust me, i've searched for them.

i do know that it's not welcome and that i have prayed it away - pleaded it away - every single time it decided to rear its ugly head and every time it still does. i pray with my whole heart, wondering why on earth i've been given this demon to fight. it's ruining my life, and frankly, i'm exhausted from fighting it.

that's what depression does; it exhausts you.

it also blindsides you.

mind you, there are triggers at times, too. for me they come in the way of not feeling like i belong somewhere or that i'm being overlooked. it peaks its head when i'm feeling really lonely (especially the 'no one understands me' kind, which surfaced when i lost my mom) or spend too much time alone. and it surfaces when i'm feeling deeply insecure or inadequate.

recognizing the triggers is half the battle, right?

but then what? (this is not something i am looking for you to answer, nor do i want you to.)

i have the tools i need to make it through. i force myself to get out of bed and get outside where i am now, eat (relatively) right, exercise, do things that bring me life etc. i have a counsellor on hand when i need her and a job that enables me to pay for her. i try and reach out to friends. i worship and pray and muster up enough energy to remember scripture that will help, and does help, me through.

i tell myself i am good enough and loved. smart. gifted. kind. compassionate. full of joy. all of which i am proud to be.

but then i look around and feel left out. people are car pooling without me, or planning vacations without me, or sharing meals together (damn you social media) and my birthday comes and i have no plans two days before and i am sitting at my computer trying to muster enough courage to buy one ticket to a musical i am dying to see.

one ticket.
table for one, please.

that's it, isn't it? the fact i feel so alone? but how does one fix that without the co-operation of other people? without people seeing your need?

solitude is one thing. i need alone time to reflect and be quiet. (yes, even me). but too much of it is really, really hard. and suffocating.

my parents are gone, my family lives hours away, my housemate is rarely home (i don't blame her), my desk is at the back of the office where people rarely are, and the church i go to is great, but 1) i'm a leader there and people look to me accordingly (ministry is lonely in and of itself) and 2) i can't attend the service at the moment because of my role.

so ... i shut down and give up. what else is there to do? i've tried everything and i'm getting really tired of these deep and intense mood swings (and the deep rooted anger behind it all) and want more than anything to be healthy and whole. (as whole as i can be on this side of the world, that is.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

i was in love once. for seven years, actually.

his name was api and he made me 'hapi'; he was tall, dark, and handsome, just the way i like 'em, but his heart? even more beautiful! it was bigger than he was, steadfast, full of compassion and dedicated to serving the God he put all of his faith in.

the only 'downfall?' he lived in fiji (we met in hong kong), and at the time, i didn't want to leave everything i knew and move to his beautiful white sand-filled island (this sounds even more appealing to me now that i type this) so we tried everything we could to get him here. a while later, he stopped talking to me out of the blue. nine months later, thanks to Facebook, i found out why; he had a baby with some woman who loves white sand more than i do, and they are currently (i suspect), making sand castles on the beach together as api serenades them with his beautiful voice and wooden guitar. on a beach. (you got that part, right?)

i miss this particular fijian hunk even more every time i open an email on christian cafe (stay away from that site, ladies - the only way men and coffee mix is in the book of he-brews). the 'someone emailed you' email has become quite the dreadful experience (or, at the very least, a humourous one). i have one stalker from india who has emailed me creepy emails in the past and continues to view my profile at least once a day, another from close by who does the same (and emails me at least once a month forgetting that he already has), and, as i believe i've mentioned before, really old men who like to show me that their eyelids still work at that age by winking at me. repeatedly.

all kidding aside, i haven't really opened myself up to the idea of dating (or marriage) since. partially because of the selection (api raised the bar), but mostly because i am petrified of commitment of any kind (especially the relational kind) and have told myself (and believed) that it will never happen for me.

BUT in time, we grow (at least we should), and i have been working on my trust and commitment issues by ways of my current jobs (i am about to renew my contract with one of them) and through relationships with friends who have proven to be safe. the man thing will come. in fact, i have a lady in regent park who fervently prays for one to come along (and reminds me of this each and every week) and an adorable six year old boy who likes to remind me of the same. God hears their prayers. and he hears the ones that i have started to pray for myself this week, too.

'awaken this part of my life, Oh Lord. help me to trust love and trust you and your timing. and please, for the love of God (the love of you?), please don't let me be a cat lady. i hate cats (which you know because you created me.)' amen.

ps. this post was written with the intent to share my life with you and make you smile; no need to fill my comment section with things like "you should try this dating site - so and so met her husband there" (i know, i've been on most of them) or "God has the perfect guy for you" ones. He does, but i may have missed the boat. literally; fiji is an island ... a beautiful island filled with white sand, gorgeous hunks who play guitar and the bongos, beautiful palm trees, and never ending sun and piƱa coladas ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

i've changed my eating habits and have been doing a workout program for the past few weeks. i'm down four pounds, multiple inches and a few chins (the latter being of utmost importance obviously), and feel like a million bucks.

today's (yoga) workout video (which i sucked at, by the way) reminded me of something much more important, though: the importance of balance.

is physical self-care important? absolutely. eating healthy does wonders and exercise has been proven to strengthen your body, help you get a six pack (though i seem to have more of a 40 ounce at the moment), and increase your mental stamina. exercise is good.

and so are clothes (please wear clothes); there's nothing wrong with wearing an outfit that makes you feel good. in fact, i would encourage it. confidence is life-changing.

but an inner confidence is better, and more sustainable. after all, there's a lot more to you than what meets the eye.

and so as much as i have been working on my physical health lately, i've been just as intentional about working on the rest of me, too.

i've been reading books to challenge my intellect and keep my brain sharp, processing my feelings through journaling and counselling to keep my emotions in check, and reading my Bible and attending conferences to keep my heart right and my life centred in Christ (which, i would easily argue, is the most important one of all.)

at the end of the day, there's no sense in working on your physique if your heart and soul aren't being worked on, too. truth be told, your looks will eventually fade, your boobs will sag, and your image will catch up with you one day. will you be happy with who you are then? work on balance now and i bet you you will!

"what matters is not your outer appearance — the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes — but your inner disposition. cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in" [1 peter 3:3-4 MSG]

AMEN.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

i learned (re-learned) a few valuable lessons as i faced my scary thing today.

1. the stuff i wrote in yesterday's blog post (see below) really works. not that i doubted that, obviously, as these are tools i have compiled and used along the way, but it feels pretty darn good to be able to take your own advice and benefit from it.

2. anxiety (almost always) lies. things don't turn out as half as bad as they feel like they will the night before.

3. i can "do hard things" (thanks, jenn khan) and endure anything, and so can YOU.

4. courage is empowering.

and lastly, so is a thoughtful text from a friend.

(and now we await the results.)

in the meantime, i am working on a workshop that my colleague and i are teaching this week in markham, getting ready for 'ladies night out' in regent park and our women's conference this weekend, and feeling really happy that i get to watch my favourite biagini pitch in today's double header against the royals. what more could one ask for, really?

until next time, friends.

Monday, April 16, 2018

sometimes, you have to face scary, uncomfortable things.

it could be in the form of of a hard conversation. or the need to get on an airplane even though they petrify you, or the need to visit someone really sick in a hospital room or show up to a funeral without knowing what to say. (who does, really?)

other times, it can come in the form of a doctor's appointment. like the one i have scheduled for tomorrow morning.

i've been having problems with my uterus (sorry, fellas), or right kidney (they're not sure) the past few months. sharp pains and jabs, to be exact. and frankly, it scares me. why? because i play the 'what if?' game a lot and because my mom died of uterine cancer. (worst case scenerio.)

of course, it could be a cyst, or something not life-altering, but it also could be the complete opposite, and it's going to take a really uncomfortable test to figure it out. (just writing that makes me cringe.)

but like i said, sometimes, you have to face scary, uncomfortable things.

but how?

here are three things that have helped me face scary things in the past (and will help me do the same tomorrow morning):

1. remind yourself that others have endured the very thing you fear.

i am not the first woman to have to go through with this dumb test (or the last), and i am certainly not the only one who has faced internal complications. if someone else can get through it, so can i. (and so can you.)

2. tell someone your fears and bring them to the light.

we all need people in our lives that we're comfortable enough to share our fears with. no need for over sharing (though some of you think i went there already with this blog lol), but bringing your fears into the light can make you feel less alone in it/them. more often than not, the person you're sharing with can help you process and help you shed some perspective on that which has the ability to paralyze you. don't let it paralyze you - share your fears with someone you trust.

and lastly, and most importantly,

3. train your brain to stop dwelling on the worst case scenerio and the 'what ifs?'.

listen, i am a huge fan of feeling and processing and i think both are important, but nobody gains anything by sitting at home and picturing your plane hitting the ground at rapid speed or your test results coming back negative. are both a possibility? sure. but we don't have control over such things, so why dwell on things that we can't control?

my counsellor back in the day taught me a valuable lesson; he told me that not only do our brains naturally pull towards the negative, but that in order to conquer those thoughts (which i have since learned is possible), we have to replace them with something positive.

i have a few incredible memories on hand: the time i checked the last remaining thing off of my original bucket list and jumped out of a fully functioning airplane, the time i saw a dream of mine come true when i brought a group of teenagers with me to africa and how we watched a whole village of people dance and praise God FOR HOURS when they saw that someone back home had donated a bunch of brand new cups and bowls for them to use for their porridge, or the day when i found out my good friend had bought me tickets to a jays' playoff game and how we couldn't stop screaming (and crying) when we waved our white flags in victory.

any time i find myself dwelling on something negative, i automatically re-live one of the above memories, and it works every single time.

but even still, sometimes (a lot of the time), you need to dwell on something far more powerful, too. like scripture.

verses like 1 Peter 5:7 that remind me to 'cast all of my anxiety on Him because He cares for me (you)'. or isaiah 41:10 that tells me (us) that i (we) don't have to fear because the Lord is with me (us). or, one of my favourites (today especially), philippians 4:6-7, do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation (including doctors appointments), by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. and - get this - the peace that passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus".

feeling fearful? choose peace.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

this.

i’ve been reading (and re-reading) this ever since jen hatmaker posted it a few weeks ago:

"Going to church is saving my life right now. Now mind you, ours is a specific kind of church. Really simple and inclusion-y and Methodist-y (< that will make sense to the Methodists). Yesterday, two women led worship, a female assistant Superintendent preached, two women led the prayer team, and a woman gave communion. A young gay man came to church alone because after being an atheist, he found Jesus two weeks ago in the pages of our friend Colby Martin's book, Unclobbered, and can't believe how radically his soul is changing. (Being loved by Jesus and His people will rearrange your spiritual DNA, that's a fact.) Another woman came for the first time in years and told me, "I thought I was no longer a Christian because I departed from my fundamentalist upbringing, and they told me I wasn't. But I am. I think I just haven't found the right room." So she bravely came to church alone. Our whole lobby was filled with shoes and supplies you sent from all over the US for our homeless friends on Easter...we literally got another UPS shipment during church. Listen, church is the most imperfect thing I can think of. It is. It can wound as much as it heals, and it sometimes shuts its doors when Jesus bid us "go to the street corners and invite anyone you can find." It gets much wrong because people lead it and we are a historic mess. But if we can take the idea of "church" out of its weird, fancy, western context, out of the realm of entertainment, off the pedestal of perfect leaders and shiny living, away from the barely disguised goal of self-help, apart from the evil of protected hierarchy and exclusionary doctrines, and bring it all down to the ground, into the streets, around the table, and to its knees, church can be the most healing, life transformative place to meet the real Jesus...the one who loves us all and upended power structures and valued every outcasted person made in His image. Church and Christians can so strangely keep us from Jesus, but if you find a faith community that feels like the gospels and prioritizes our neighbors and sticks together even though their leaders are just medium and stuff goes sideways, hang on for dear life. That messy, kind of lame, rag-tag bunch of folks just might save your life too".

the truth is, i get it. church in regent park ‘saved my life’. and so did youth unlimited. the truth is, i’m surrounded by wonderful, loving, safe people. imperfect people, but safe people. people who want the best for me. people who love me well.

love takes on different forms, you know. sometimes it looks like giving me a ride or lending me a couch. other times, it looks like correcting me and restoring me gently.

if you don’t have people like this in your life, please find some. and if you’re tired of looking for them or too scared to trust people again (i was there), let me introduce you to my regent park/YU fam. you’ll love them, i swear. and they’ll love YOU, too.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

he was my tray guy.

you see, one week we were short volunteers (which rarely happens) and allen was eager to help.

"sure, man", i said. "it would be a great help if you could be my tray guy and make sure that all of these trays get wiped and put away." he nodded and smiled.

let me tell you, HE WAS THE BEST TRAY GUY EVER.

he not only cleaned the ones i pointed out, but he took it upon himself to track down every other used tray, and didn't leave until there wasn't an unclean one in sight.

so when he approached me after dinner the following week asking if i needed some help, it was no a brainer. i pointed him to the trays.

let me tell you, allen faithfully wiped every single tray for me for the next few months.

that is, until he passed away last week. at age 37. because of a blood clot, making him the first person i personally know from regent park to pass away. and frankly, it stings.

but it also wakes me up. and sets a fire under my butt. and reminds me of the important role that my church and i have there. to reflect christ. extend grace and love. help people feel part of something and let our friends clean trays.

i couldn't walk by the tray rack last week without thinking about my friend allen and i have a feeling that i won't be able to this week, either. or next - or ever - and i hope that every time i do, i remember how important he was to us and how much he belonged, and that i never lose the urgency to do what i can to ensure that the rest of my regent park family knows that they're important and that they belong, too.