Sunday, December 30, 2012

On stress and coming up with a plan to start dealing with it

As awful as this is to look at, it completely explains how
I've been feeling lately.  Image from here.
Do you ever have those times when you keep going and going and going thinking that if you can just make it to the end of the week or month or semester or whatever then it will all be better?  I've been having one of those times for about a month now.  And I FINALLY made it to the end of the semester at school and, while I told myself over and over and over again that everything would be better and I would be happier and less tired and less stressed when I got there, it turns out I'm not.

I think when you keep going nonstop, sometimes you simply don't take the time to figure out what's causing all of that stress.  Instead, you simply feel the stress instead of dealing with the cause (or causes), which means you deal with the same stress over and over and over.  

So last night, Andrew and I sat down and talked through some of the things that have been bothering me and I finally started to deal with the stress and the things that are causing it.  And while it's not going to go away overnight, at least now 1) Andrew and I are working on it together, which automatically makes me feel less overwhelmed, 2) I've identified what's causing most of the stress instead of simply feeling the stress, and 3) I have a plan (at least the beginning of a plan) in place for dealing with both the causes and the stress.

So here's the beginning of the plan.  
  • Take care of myself - get enough sleep, drink water, exercise on a regular basis.
  • Spend more time actually talking to Andrew.  We're going to eat dinner together at least once a week, which has been difficult because of our different work schedules, and sit down and talk about the things we need to talk about.
  • Plan things out so that my schedule doesn't seem so overwhelming.
  • Stop letting myself feel like I'm not good enough.
  • Make sure that I'm doing what I need to do for my students at school, but setting some limits so that I'm not completely stressed out the way I've been this semester.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Whatever happened to snail mail?

You know what one of my favorite things about the holidays is?  Getting Christmas cards in the mail.  It's probably the only time all year that I get more personal mail than any other kind of mail.  And it makes me so happy.  Isn't everyone happy to get something that's someone's actually taken the time to address to them by hand?

So this year I'm going to work on sending more personal mail.  I'm starting it off by sending thank you cards to the people who took the time to give me Christmas gifts and then I might move on to sending letters (yes actual handwritten letters) to some of those people I care most about or simply those that I think could use a little spontaneously written note.

In college, I started volunteering for an organization called Barnabas Ministries where you are paired with a child who is incarcerated and you write them a letter once a week.  It's that simple.  Sometimes I get letters back from the child; sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I feel like I get to know them really well because they tell me so much about themselves and sometimes I struggle to find something to write about each week because I have no idea if they're even reading the letters I send them, let alone if they find them at all interesting.  The hardest thing about it is when I have a child who I've exchanged letters with regularly and then you find out that they are no longer incarcerated.  That's wonderful for them, but it means that I loose contact with that child because of the way the ministry works (we're not allowed to exchange any personal information such as our last name or address for safety reasons).

I know that simply sitting down to write a letter once a week has helped me to focus on what is really important in life and to express some thoughts that I don't express in conversations or email.  That's why I'm going to try to make it a more regular part of my routine.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I got a new planner from my husband for Christmas and have been enjoying planning things out for the days/weeks/months ahead.  Whenever I think about what I'm planning on doing, I think about changes I want to make in my life.  With that said, I ran across a post at Zen Habits that offered four steps to change.  I thought they were so wonderfully simple and applicable that I thought I'd share them.

1. Start very small.
2. Do only one change at a time.
3. Be present and enjoy the activity (don’t focus on results).
4. Be grateful for every step you take.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Joseph's Lullaby

If you haven't heard this song, it's one of my new favorite Christmas songs.  I especially like the focus it puts on peace and calm and slowing down.  My favorite line is "the world can wait for one more moment" because it reminds me that almost everything I think is important can wait for one more moment.

Image from the movie The Nativity Story.
I also like the emphasis it puts on Joseph because he seems to get left out of the Christmas story so often, and he's such an important part of it.  Joseph is an amazing example of trust in God.  Joseph has to trust that God knows what He's doing and that Joseph is meant to be a part of it, no matter how hard or confusing his role in that plan seems to be.  Not only that, he also has to take on the role of protecting and caring for Mary during her pregnancy and birth, which is a huge undertaking because of the questions and comments from others about their expecting a baby and also because of their travel to Bethlehem and their not having a place to stay while they are there.  Joseph is an integral part of the Christmas story.

Joseph's Lullaby
by Mercy Me
Go to sleep my Son
This manger for your bed
You have a long road before You
Rest Your little head

Can You feel the weight of Your glory?
Do You understand the price?
Or does the Father guard Your heart for now
So You can sleep tonight?

Go to sleep my Son
Go and chase Your dreams
This world can wait for one more moment
Go and sleep in peace

I believe the glory of Heaven
Is lying in my arms tonight
Lord, I ask that He for just this moment
Simply be my child

Go to sleep my Son
Baby, close Your eyes
Soon enough You'll save the day
But for now, dear Child of mine
Oh my Jesus, Sleep tight

Sunday, December 2, 2012

First Sunday in Advent

These words from the advent devotional at Following the Star stood out to me this morning.

"Perhaps peace in our world begins with peace in our own lives. We each have places of unrest, and perhaps if we work for peace here, inside our lives, we might be able to know more of God’s peace in the world."

It reminds me of the Sara Groves song "Peace Peace"

Peace, peace, it's hard to find
Trouble comes like wrecking ball
To your peace of mind
And all that worry you can't leave behind you

All your hopes and fears
All your hopes and fears, oh
All your hopes and fears
Are met in Him tonight

Peace, peace, it's hard to find
Doubt comes like a tiny voice that's so unkind
And all your fears
They conspire to unwind you

And all your hopes and fears
All your hopes and fears, oh
All your hopes and fears
Are met in Him

And in your dark street shines
An everlasting light
And all your hopes and fears
Are met in Him tonight

And all your hopes and fears
All your hopes and fears, oh
All your hopes and fears
Are met in Him tonight

Peace, peace
Peace, peace
Peace, peace

Image found here.

Peace is definitely something most of us need to find in the midst of our much to busy and stressful lives.  I think advent is the perfect time to focus on peace and connecting with God.  Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas wrote a beautiful post about the importance of the liturgical year and the gift that it gives each of us "to make his life our own."  She explains it beautifully and made me think about my view of advent and the liturgical year.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Celebrating Christmas

I didn't do so well with thankful November, but I am going to try to post more during December, mostly as a way to keep me focused on the importance of Christmas in the midst of all of the craziness it can bring.

Here are the ways we've celebrated so far:
Presents under our tree

  • Our tree and Christmas decorations are up, both inside and out.  
  • Most of our presents are bought and wrapped because I LOVE wrapping presents.  
  • Our Christmas cards are still in the works, but will hopefully be ordered soon.  
  • I've already watched the majority of It's a Wonderful Life with my Books to Movies class at school.  (Next up is The Muppet Christmas Carol because the only way I like to watch anything based on Dickens is when the Muppets are involved.)
  • Christmas music has been playing non-stop in my car.  I've made it through Blake Shelton's Cheers It's Christmas, Colbie Caillat's Christmas in the Sand, and one of my favorites 'N Sync's Home for Christmas.