Grateful Day 8

Today I am grateful for:

1) Puppies. My brother-in-law and his fiancee are in town visiting from Chattanooga and they brought their great dane puppy Duke. He’s already 25 pounds and is finally gaining a sense of balance that he hasn’t had the past few times they’ve visited. He’s still ridiculously lanky and wobbly and it makes me laugh. He’s a trip.

2) Self-care days. See my previous post. Yesterday was a fantastic day full of doing whatever I wanted and loving myself. Not everyone can have a full day’s worth of self-care, and I don’t come by it that often. But I am a proponent of finding time throughout the day to focus on taking care of yourself and doing things that are good for your mind, body, and spirit. Enjoy the small things that make you happy. (Caveat: For it to qualify as self-care, it has to actually be good for you. It can’t be eating a pint of ice cream and watching TV all day. I fall into that trap sometimes.)

3) Dreaming/visioning/planning vacations. A group of our close friends and Stephan and I are planning a summer friends-cation. We haven’t decided where we’ll go yet. But there’s something so life-giving about getting online and imagining a trip to New Orleans, or Myrtle Beach, or Charleston and exploring a new part of the world I’ve never been to with people I love. I do have a bad habit of setting high expectations for my adventures, and when those expectations are not met, I can get gloomy. But even if this trip never happens, for whatever reason, at least the process of dreaming has been fun. (It will happen.)

Something good that has happened in the last 24 hours: This morning I prayed with the family around the bed of a dying patient. That’s always hard but strangely amazing to have a family gathered around a loved one as that person prepares to die. I can’t explain what it feels like to be invited into that sacred circle, but it’s a good feeling. Not saying death is good or fun or easy. It sucks. But when there’s a chance for a community to gather and say goodbye, it can be holy too.


Self-Care Day

Today is Friday, and I’m off from work because of this crazy schedule where every single week looks different from the week before. So I have decided to make it a mental health/ self-care day.

I slept in until a little after 8. That’s almost a full hour more than usual. I remember the days when I could sleep until 1 or 2 in the afternoon, but those days are no more. I’m not sad about it. I find myself kind of starting to like morning-time. It’s bright, but quiet. The rising sun shines through the bare trees bordering my back fence. I got out of bed and wrapped myself in my pink fluffy robe, the one Stephan hates because he thinks it makes me look like a granny, and sat out on the back deck while the dogs took care of their morning business. Then I decided to make tea.

I used one of my pretty Anthropologie mugs that’s usually just a kitchen decoration because why not? I put the kettle on and prepared my English breakfast tea with some organic honey from a farmer’s market in Memphis. Then I put some canned biscuits in the oven. I briefly contemplated the idea of making my own biscuits, but decided it wasn’t worth the mess this time around. Then I enjoyed a biscuit slathered in raspberry jam and some fresh strawberries with my tea. The joy of eating can be an incredibly holy experience when you’re mindful of each bite as providing you with life-giving sustenance.

Now I’m sitting at the dining room table, my beautiful antique table with the sqeaky but newly reupholstered chairs, covered in a fiesta-inspired table cloth with bright reds, yellows, greens, and oranges. There is a gorgeous piece of handmade pottery from Mexico we received as a wedding gift sitting in the middle of the table, filled with candy from a special invitation I received from my brother-in-law’s fiancee to be a bridesmaid in their upcoming wedding. The house around me is a little disheveled, or “lived-in” as I say when I’m trying to be kind to myself. And today is a day all about kindness to myself. So the house is lived-in and homey.

Today is full of opportunities for mindfulness and intentional living. I plan on meeting Stephan this afternoon at his new job for lunch. We don’t get to enjoy lunch together very often now that we are both working full-time. After that I might spend some time working on my novel, go for a jog as I start training for my next race, practice some yoga in the backyard with the dogs licking my face, and/or give myself a nice mani-pedi. I’m also going to spend time this evening reading scripture and praying in preparation for my steadily approaching commissioning interviews.

Today is a day I will practice loving myself, knowing that the more practice I put into it, the more natural it becomes. You should try it!

Grateful Day 7

Today I am thankful for:

1) Tea. It makes me feel all introverty and hipstery and clever and soft.

2) Stairs. For stretching me and getting blood flowing to deadened limbs.

3) Happy Hours. For obvious reasons.

My good memory from past 24 hours is me sobbing uncontrollably while watching the movie Stepmom last night. That movie came out when I was in elementary school, and I remember crying in the theater. It’s a tear-jerker that has no other purpose than to jerk my tears. But it felt good to cry. And Stephan watched it with me and hugged and comforted me like a boss. Like. A. Boss.

I love you all.

Grateful Day 6

Presenting today’s three things I am thankful for:

1) Yoga. This morning a friend gave me some special one-on-one time, guiding me through poses and helping me to breathe. She gave me space to find my body, something I haven’t done in far too long. Then she anointed my head with oil, a citrusy oil that was the first thing I’ve smelled in many days due to this constant head cold. And I felt renewed.

2) Story-telling. We’ve been sharing our autobiographies in CPE, and they have been impactful and meaningful to me in so many ways. Receiving someone’s story is a blessing. To hear and to hold the vulnerable parts of a person’s truth in tension with the brave and tender and strong parts of them as they share with you is an opportunity for intimacy and connection that we don’t often allow ourselves with other human beings. I feel broken open in a lot of ways by their stories. But I also feel more whole than before.

3) Letter-writing. It takes more time and intention than sending a quick email or a facebook message. It means sitting down and being still for long enough to translate thoughts onto paper. I believe it’s an art-form to be able to send a piece of yourself across a great distance and have someone hold that part of you in their hands. I try to save most all of the handwritten letters I get in hopes that one day I will have this amazing collection of thoughts that I can hold and feel and share with my children or grandchildren.

Last night, as Stephan and I were getting ready to read our devotional and turn out the lights, a knock came at the side door and the dogs went wild. This was around 9:30 in the evening, so I immediately became very startled. Stephan threw on a shirt and went to answer the door, and I thought, “If this is a murderer, I will need to have a weapon ready to disable him if he tries to hurt Stephan.” (This is how my brain works. We call it “catastrophization.”) So I grab an 8lb free weight from the closet and tiptoe after Stephan, thoroughly prepared to whack someone in the head if need be. But of course, murderers don’t typically knock politely. It was two police officers. But this fact didn’t settle me, because why are police officers at my door at 9:30 at night? Apparently, they had gotten a 911 call from our roommates phone, and had traced the number to our house. Again, my catastrophic brain thought, “He’s dead in the house with a murderer and we’ve been here all night and we didn’t know it!!!” No. He butt-dialed 911 while out downtown. He came home. He was fine. Everything’s fine.

I’m very glad everything’s fine, so that’s my good memory from the past 24 hours.

Love yourself.

Meditations on a Sick Day

I’m home sick today with a cold when I would ordinarily be at work. As a hospital chaplain, sickness is something you have to take seriously, because you can’t risk either a) passing along your seemingly insignificant cold to someone with already lowered immune system defenses or b) allowing yourself to come into contact with hospital germs when your own immune system is down. So, I’m home sick today.

After the instant gratification of being able to go back to sleep once alerting my boss at 7am, I awoke two hours later to find that the cold persists and that I am bored. It’s one thing to be home from work when you have a raging fever, or when you are experiencing flu-like symptoms. But a cold? Come on! I’m sick enough not to risk exposing others, but not so sick that I’m bed-bound. My head is foggy and my hearing is unbalanced. My sinuses are clogged and my nose won’t stop running. My throat aches and I can’t stop coughing or sneezing. It’s admittedly not fun. But I am very bored.

So I watched an episode of Parenthood on Netflix while eating a bowl of cereal in bed. And then I made some tea. And I journaled for a little while. And I’m sitting here at my dining room table, looking out at the beautiful day that is existing outside my window right in this very moment, and I’m thinking about things. I’m thinking about the things I want to do and the person I want to be. I’m thinking about my hopes and dreams, traveling the world, writing, living, loving, experiencing. I’m turning 28 this year, and I’ve lived a host worthwhile experiences. And there are so many more just waiting to be had. It’s quite thrilling (and tiring) to think about all of these things.

As I prepare for the rapidly approaching commissioning interviews, I find myself thinking more and more about what kind of ministry I’m being called to at this point in my journey. My Clinical Pastoral Education residency will be ending in August. Where will I be then? Will I be serving a local church in Nashville as an associate pastor? Will I be continuing on the chaplaincy path toward endorsement and certification? Will I be appointed somewhere entirely new to serve in a rural town of which I know nothing? Will I be considering campus ministry positions? All of these rich possibilities provide me with some level of excitement and worry. I guess that’s life, isn’t it? Throwing yourself into the unknown. Trusting God to lead you where you are needed. I’m trying to trust in the process, but it’s really getting in the way of my control issues.

One thing I do know is that it’s moments like this, moments when I am still and pensive, when I consciously turn off the television, and stretch my body, and pause to reflect on existence, these are the moments that string together all the other moments of this beautifully complex life I’m living. These are the moments I never want to take for granted. These are the moments I listen for God, and God smiles with me, and we share tea together in the quiet and I know I am loved.

Grateful Day 5

Today’s three things I’m thankful for:

1) Advil Cold and Sinus. Woke up this morning with a head full of snot and leaking facial orifices. For those of you really interested, my snot is green, and I don’t think that’s a very normal color for snot. If it weren’t for this miracle pill, I would not be at work today. I still can’t hear well, so my “solo piano” Pandora station is perhaps a touch too loud, but I’m alone in the office today, so I’m cool with it.

2) Family-in-law. I married into an incredible family! They are kind and generous and affectionate. They make me feel loved and included. They offer support when Stephan and I feel like we might be drowning as we try to figure out weird adult marriage stuff that we’ve never had to worry about, like combined debt, and taxes, and refinancing. BLARG. I’m glad we have them to help us figure it all out.

3) Beautiful weather in January. Yesterday was mid-fifties and gorgeous. Stephan and I went for a walk around the neighborhood with the dogs, who desperately needed exercise (and to be fair, so did we). To breathe in clean air, and to stretch our winter-logged legs, and to hold hands as we navigated the hills together was a beautiful taste of kingdom life.

A good memory from the past 24 hours comes from this morning’s pillow talk as I snuggled ever closer to S for warmth in my daily attempt to stay in bed forever. I leaned into him and said, “I want to get married again.” He replied, “Why on earth do you want to do that?” And I said, “Because I just love you so much and I can’t think of how else to express it to you but to marry you again!” And he said the following: “Shelby, you are the most beautiful and amazing woman in the world. You are so smart, and funny, and compassionate, and kind and I love you more than anyone. You are my favorite. Even when you are dibbling me, you’re my favorite. Even when I’m mad at you, you are my favorite. And I say this with love, but get out of bed.”

I want to cherish that speech for the rest of my life.

On a related side-note, Stephan discovered that I have clinomania, or an obsession with bedrest. It’s a real thing. It’s in the dictionary. So in addition to my misophonia, I now have clinomania. The list of my weird (but charming?) character flaws grows ever longer.

Happy Sunday.

Grateful Day 4

1) Hands. My own and others. For the authentic intimacy that occurs when I bless another’s hands with anointing oil. For all the work that hands do to bring the Kingdom of God closer.

2) Coconut scented lotion. For a thank you gift for teaching a patient care class on spirituality this afternoon, I received Bath and Body Works’ “Oahu Coconut Sunset” lotion and it makes me feel like I’m on a tropical island.

3) New relationships. I’m beginning a new relationship with a new CPE supervisor for the second unit. We met for the first time today and I think we continue to learn about ourselves and about who we are in the world, which makes it a pretty good relationship in my book.

My good memory from the last 24 hours is actually from the last 2 hours. I led the patient care technician students in an hour long didactic in spirituality in the workplace. I ended by doing a short blessing of hands service. One woman was so touched she cried. It helped me to remember that something that may seem everyday and mundane to me can connect with someone else in ways I cannot even begin to know. I’m thankful that God works through us to reach each other.

Grateful Day 3

Today I am grateful for:

1) Rain. The soft patter in the morning that makes it oh-so-hard to get out of bed. The hard pounding on the tin roof of the car port as I make my way to my car. The soft haze of fog and mist as I look out the window of the hospital, making everything seem gentle today.

2) Hands. I’m teaching a class on spirituality in the workplace this afternoon with the new patient care technician students. I plan on leading a blessing of hands with them. The work of hands in the hospital is so life-giving and beautiful it makes my heart hurt.

3) Nurses. All of them, but especially today the ones that take the time to look me in the  eye and have a conversation in a busy hallway when there are a thousand other things they could be doing.

Yesterday I took a shower and I shaved. I know I’m supposed to be all “smash the patriarchy” and “hair rules.” And I am if that’s your gig. Yay armpit hair and extra points for wacky colors! But when that razor glides over my legs and under my arms, the relief of smoothness is so relaxing. After showering I slathered myself in aloe lotion, covered my face in expensive clinique products I got for Christmas, put on a new pair of soft pajamas I got at TJMaxx for $7, and slid into a newly made bed with fresh clean sheets. It was my self-care and it was glorious.

Grateful Day 2

Today I am grateful for:

1) Coffee.

2) My dog Lola. What a lovable weirdo.

3) Creativity.

One good thing that happened in the past 24 hours is that yesterday for lunch I got to eat a plate full of yummy vegetarian leftovers from the last few days. Even when my fridge is close to empty, I can always find enough to eat! Love my vegetarian lifestyle!

Happy Friday.

I am grateful.

A CPE colleague of mine recently shared in our small group that she has begun a certain spiritual practice to begin her days and help her transition into the new year. This practice is to write down three things she is thankful for, and one good memory from the past 24 hours. I thought to myself, “I should do that.” So I’m doing that.

Today I am very thankful for many things, but these three top the list right now.

1) Heat/Housing. With the temps being in the single digits in Nashville, I am incredibly grateful for the roof I have over my head and the heat I have coming out of the vents at home, in the car, and at work. So many people do not have such simple luxuries and are fighting for their lives on these cold winter nights. But I recognize that in order to be a responsible person of faith, I must do more than be grateful and strive for all human beings to have their basic needs met. I’m especially reminded of this when I remember that cold can kill.

2) My husband. He’s just the best thing ever. He’s like my own personal ongoing miracle that just keeps happening every day.

3) Parenthood. (The show. I hope one day to be thankful for parenthood the occupation, but today is not that day.) It returns tonight for the last 4 episodes of the series. Maybe it’s stupid to be thankful for a network television show, but this show has fostered untold wonders for me over the past few years. It imitates my life, or my life imitates it. It reveals truths about my experience as an individual, as a daughter/sister/cousin/granddaughter/family member, as a complex person just trying to live life fully in this world of joy and pain. So I’m thankful for Parenthood. And for crying ever. single. episode.

Last night I heated up a frozen pizza. S and I each started out with 3 slices. When I finished, I was still hungry, and S let me have the last 2 slices. That’s a good memory from the last 24 hours.