Do Not Worry

The events of my life yesterday are such that I could not write them as fiction if I tried.  Here’s how my Wednesday unfolded:

I had a 10:15 AM appointment with a cardiologist.  The back story:  I finally heard back from my doctor on Monday evening about the heart palpitations I’ve been having; she was unsure what was going on with my heart and referred me to a cardiologist.  Also Monday, my Wednesday morning staff meeting was cancelled.  On Tuesday morning I called the cardiologist to make an appointment.  While checking for openings, the receptionist said, “Wow, this never happens. Is there any chance you can come in tomorrow (Wednesday) morning?  Our next available appointment is in about a month.”  Why, yes…yes I can!

So yesterday morning I  got ready for the day and left the house with enough time to stop for gas on the way to my appointment.  As I was driving out of my neighborhood I realized I’d accidentally left about 15 minutes before I intended. (Who does that?)  I felt a little annoyed with myself, knowing I’d just be waiting an extra long time in the waiting room.  I stopped at the gas station, filled up the tank, sat back in the car, turned the key in the ignition, and… nothing.  Well, nothing except a gritty clicking noise.  Dang it.

The gas station attendant did not have jumper cables or a car (he’d walked from home) but was so kind and started walking around asking other customers if they could help.  One woman had the cables and was willing to help start my car.  Over the course of the next few minutes, I discovered that the gas station attendant was the father-in-law of a friend from church, and the woman with the jumper cables sends her kids to the camp where I worked in college, and we have mutual friends here in town.  My car started, I thanked the folks who were willing to help me on a rainy morning, and I was headed toward the cardiologist with the exact amount of time I’d intended to give myself.

I started laughing and thanked God as I drove–there’s no way that series of events was anything short of divine intervention.  My schedule that morning had cleared, there was a random, rare opening with the cardiologist, I accidentally gave myself extra time, and when my car broke down, there were kind folks to whom I was already connected willing to help.  I was meant to be at that appointment.

When I pulled up at the doctor’s office, I turned off my car, then attempted to start it again–just to see what I was going to be dealing with post-appointment.  Nothing but that lovely dead-battery noise.  Excellent.  I texted my friend and coworker Evan, who lives around the corner (and was home because our staff meeting had been cancelled), and he said he could jump my car after the appointment.

When I was finally in the examination room, the nurse took my blood pressure.

“114/55… looks good.”

“I’m surprised it isn’t higher; my car died on the way here this morning, and I’m a little worked up!”

“Oh no!  Then you’re doing REALLY good!”

😀

I spent the most time with the nurse practitioner, who was great and explained everything so well to me–basically I’m having a few extra heartbeats throughout the day, but because my heart rhythm looks normal, I’m at a healthy weight, active, and have no risk factors, I have nothing to worry about.  Stress, rather than a problem with my heart, is causing the palpitations.  Bottom line:  I just need to learn to relax.

No problem.  Now let me go jump start my car for the second time today.  😉  Evan graciously drove over to help (thanks, Evan!), and I headed for my regular car shop.

I left the car running and walked inside.

“Hey, as soon as I turn off my car, it’s going to die.  You guys do battery stuff, right?”

“We do.  You can pull it into the garage!”

I pulled it in and walked back inside the office to give the man my car key.

“What’s your plan–are you going to wait or is someone picking you up?”

“Umm… I didn’t really have a plan.  My plan was to jump start the car and immediately take it somewhere it could be fixed.  This is as far as the plan went.  How long do you think it will take?”

“Well, we are all about to go to lunch, so we can’t look at it right now.  I can call you when it’s ready though.”

Learn to relax.  Learn to relax.  Learn to relax.

I thanked him, then walked out the door and down the street to Barnes & Noble, where I bought a magazine and a sandwich and settled in for an indefinite amount of time.  Within an hour they called to tell me I needed a new battery, and they could have it done in twenty minutes.

The hilarious irony of the situation is not lost on me–that my car breaks down on both ends of an appointment where I’m told that I am so stressed that I’m giving myself heart palpitations.  And yet, in what is a notoriously stressful situation, God provided richly before I even knew to ask.  Everything worked out, no thanks to me worrying about how it might be resolved.

It brings to mind a passage from the book of Matthew (chapter 6), which I’ll share for anyone who’s interested or needs the same reminder today:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the the birds of the air;  they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?…So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’…your heavenly Father knows that you need these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I will be meditating on this passage daily for a while (until my heart chills outs, and then probably a bit longer :)) as part of my plan to de-stress, which I’ll outline tomorrow.

In the meantime, do not worry, my friends!

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Impromptu College Reunion

I am currently experiencing a post-exhausting-week cold.  My throat began itching on the drive home Friday, and now I am in full blown green snot mode.  (You’re welcome.)  Andrew woke me up in the middle of the night and said, “Catherine… roll over.  You’re making funny noises….and you’re right in my face.”  😀  I consider myself to have a strong immune system, but I know I am highly susceptible to getting sick when I am stressed and/or overly tired.  Oy.

I spent most of Saturday recuperating, and on Sunday I met up with with my college housemates for an impromptu reunion.  We met at Kate’s apartment in the Fan and walked to Garnett’s Cafe for lunch.  I’d never been, but it was delicious, and they have gluten-free bread, so I will have to go back with Andrew very soon!  From there we walked to Kuba Kuba for their iced cafes con leche (by the way, I have been far too lax about the amount of dairy I’m eating…)  By the time we arrived back at Kate’s after two hours of talking, eating, talking, and walking, I was exhausted and had a bad case of medicine-head.  I drove home to take a nap, and the girls went to the river, with the plan to come over to our house later for dinner, prepared by Chef Andrew.

The meal included a salad with lots of fresh veggies from our garden, plus spinach and arugula from the store.  I was thrilled to be able to share the harvest with our friends 🙂

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In addition to salad, we had baked chicken with a roasted red pepper and artichoke tapenade (the tapenade was from Trader Joe’s) and a lemon-basil quinoa.

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It was all pretty delicious. 🙂

The girls were concerned that I was taking this picture because they’d come straight from the river/being out in the sun all afternoon, but I think they all look beautiful:

dollhouseI love these people 🙂 

We ate and talked and reminisced about things we did in college.  Andrew informed us that the more he hears about our college experience (mostly the pranks we pulled and the weird things we did that we thought were hilarious), the less he wonders why none of us dated very much 😀

We ended the day with a trip to Ray’s for ice cream and Italian water ice.  As always, it’s so good for my soul to spend time with this crew, even when I’m not feeling well!

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Independence Day, Yoga, and Laughter

Thanks to everyone–in real life and the blog world–for your kind words about my grandmother the last few days.  It’s been great to have what I know reaffirmed through so many: Grandma Tudor was a hell of a woman.  For those who didn’t know her, you’ll get to hear more about her in the coming weeks; don’t worry. 🙂

It has been a stressful week.  I leave tomorrow for a mission trip with the middle school youth at church, which I am so looking forward to, but there has been a lot to do related to the trip this week.  On Wednesday morning, hospice let us know that my grandmother was in her final 24-48 hours.  I think the anticipation of her death was, in some ways, worse than her actual passing.  I felt like, I am sad, but I can’t start grieving yet because I have too many other things that I need to do that will be much harder to do when I am actually grieving!

As Andrew walked through the door Wednesday evening, he made a playful jab about an email I’d sent him earlier in the day.  I immediately burst into tears and said, “I’m stressed, and I’m sad… can you not pick on me??”  (What can I say?  I am good at articulating how I feel and what I need… even if I word it the way a 6-year old might.  ;-))

After dinner that night we went to our yoga class.  I’d been looking forward to it as a stress reliever, but I didn’t anticipate all the ways in which it would help.  We set up our mats in the middle of the room; some people were already sitting or lying down, meditating.  The instructor entered the room and began setting up at the front of the class, but had not started the music yet, so the room was very quiet.  As I walked to the closet in the back of the room to get straps and blocks for Andrew and me, I heard a strange noise through the quiet of the room:

fsshh fsshh fsshh fsshh…

I turned around to scan the room.  Everyone was perfectly still… except my dear husband, who looked like he was trying to make snow angels on the floor, his socks making the fsshh noise as they moved back and forth.  I think from his position, he couldn’t tell how loud or obvious the motion was.

I hurried back over  to our mats and whispered,

Andrew!  Stop!  What are you doing?

The floor is so slippery!  They just redid it, and it’s SO slippery!

That’s great… but stop…you’re being a lot louder than you think!

Then we did our best to stifle our laughter.  What is it about laughing when you aren’t supposed to that makes it so hard to stop laughing?  The harder we tried to stop, the harder we laughed, and laughing is great stress relief. 🙂

(But seriously, we are the worst yogis.  Let me apologize now if you ever happen to be in the same class as us.)

On Thursday, after the news about my grandmother arrived and I spent some time crying and talking to family, we decided it would be nice to get out of the house rather than spend the day moping.

We harvested some veggies:

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…ate lunch at Burger Bach, by which neither of us were wildly impressed.  We were lured in by the gluten-free bun option and grass-fed beef.  The burgers come with side salads, which is nice, and you purchase fries and dipping sauces separately.  We were turned off by the fact that a small fry comes with one sauce, and if you wanted to try multiple sauces, you have to pay extra–that includes ketchup.  Come on… just put the bottle of ketchup on the table; people will still try the other kinds.  Also, the cooking options were “pink or no pink.”  Well, I don’t want it to be pink, but I also don’t want it charred, which is how my burger arrived.  To be fair, I was having a bad day, but don’t be lazy;  a “medium-well” option won’t kill you.

burgerbach<End Burger Bach rant.>

After lunch we went to Maymont to see the goats (I’ve mentioned this before, but I really love goats.  I regularly petition Andrew to let us get one as a pet.)

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Because it was so hot, they had all the animals inside, so unfortunately, I didn’t get to pet them.  Still cute. 🙂

That night we had dinner on the river and watched fireworks with our good friends Amanda and Diron.

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We love these guys. 🙂

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While waiting for fireworks, we laughed about the insane flash on the iphone camera:

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😀

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It was a great end to a tough day. 🙂

What did you do for Independence Day?

Stress Relievers + The Day Nothing Went Quite Right

You know how everyone loves Friday because it’s the beginning of the weekend, you can forget about work, kick back, and relax?  Well, this week when I saw posts on Facebook saying, “I’m so glad it’s Friday!”  all I could think was, “Why?!  How is it already Friday?!  I have so much to do before the weekend!”

Yesterday.  Yesterday was one of those days in which nothing went quite according to plan.  I have two fairly large work events on Sunday, one of which is a year-end banquet to celebrate the past year in the youth ministry and honor our graduating seniors.  The celebration includes a slide show, and while this is always a highlight of the night, it is a tremendous undertaking for the person putting it together (me.)  Roughly 200 slides plus music, timed as well as possible.  By the time I’ve completed it and run through it a few times with the music, I never want to see it again.

Yesterday afternoon, after finishing and rehearsing the slide show (<–not as seamless as it sounds;  more on that in a moment,) I received a text message from my good friend and coworker, Forrest.  A little background: Forrest was the youth director before me and is now our Director of Serve Ministries.  When we made the switch last summer, I created a new gmail account for the youth group, but Forrest occasionally receives emails to the old account (which is rarely checked anymore because everyone has the new address.)  So yesterday, Forrest sent me a text that said, “Uh you better check the other email address. [Someone] sent 15 pictures of [her child] last week for the slide show.  Just happened to check it for someone’s email address.”

I felt the blood rushing to my head.  Sweat beads were starting to form on my face.  The knot in my stomach became tighter.

I opened the old email account and saw one unopened email at the very top:

Stress

 

Wrong.  So wrong.  Forrest, you got me good!  😀

Prior to this, the projector in our fellowship hall refused to work properly during the test run of the slide show.  When I restarted my laptop (this fixes many technology issues at work,) all my documents disappeared.  Of course, at this point I had not backed up the slide show.  Delightful. 😉

Everything was resolved by the end of the day–my documents folder reappeared, my friend and coworker, Evan, helped me figure out the projector issue, and I didn’t have to alter the slide show.  However, the events of the week have inspired a post (okay, a few posts) about stress:

Negative Effects of Stress

Upset stomach

Headache

Elevated blood pressure

Trouble sleeping

Skin breakouts

More susceptible to colds

There are plenty more–and more serious conditions if stress is chronic.  No, thanks!  So how can we deal with stress so it does the least damage to our health?  Here are just a few options:

Stress Relievers

Exercise

Laugh

Yoga

Hugs

Take deep breaths

Listen to music

Talk to a friend

Pray

Take a bath

Drink lavender/chamomile tea

So, take a deep breath, go for a walk, and don’t let the stress get to you.  As Forrest told me yesterday, “The sun comes up Monday!!!”

Sleepy, Stressed, and Snotty

 

(No, Snow White did not discover two new dwarfs ;-))

If we spoke yesterday, you likely said something to me along the lines of, “You sound exhausted!” or “You sound a bit snotty!” or “You’re too young to sound this worn out!”  After a crazy-busy weekend I was met with a hectic week at work (which, admittedly, was at least 65% my fault,) which meant I did not take my usual post-retreat rest day to let myself recover physically.  This is the cycle I’ve been in the last few days:  complete as much as possible at work while feeling especially tired (having not caught up from the weekend,) blow my nose about once every 15 minutes due to allergies, have trouble falling asleep that night because I need to blow my nose and am thinking about everything I need to do at work, wake up at 2:31 a.m., blow my nose, toss and turn until 3:17 a.m. because I am thinking about everything I need to do at work, wake up to my alarm feeling more tired and more snotty, skip working out due to tiredness, and repeat.

Generally when I feel less than 100%, medicine is not my first choice of remedies.  When I feel sickness coming on, before I do anything else, I rest.  I sleep in, skip a workout, and allow my body to heal itself.  More often than not, this is effective.  My second step is to see if Traditional Medicinals has a tea for my ailment.  Usually, they do.  (As a side note, their “Throat Coat” tea is pure magic. )   When rest and herbal teas fail, I’ll take medicine.

Rest has been an issue for me this week–I have too much to do to take a day off, and I am not sleeping well at night, which is making me more tired.  TM’s relaxation teas are great, but don’t get the work done, and their “Gypsy Cold Care” eases symptoms, but does not remove the pollen from my surroundings.  Last night, therefore, I called for backup.

8:45 p.m.–I took Benadryl.  I know some people take the stuff regularly to sleep, but I do not!  The last time I took it was about six years ago when some allergen made its way into my eye, which started swelling like crazy.

8:55 pm.–Dreamland.  I vaguely remember Andrew getting in bed, and the next time I woke it was 7:01, and my alarm was sounding.

Over 10 hours of mostly uninterrupted sleep.  My sinuses are a bit clearer.  Amazing.  I feel a little more equipped to take on the day!

I would like to give a quick shout-out to Andrew, who made an awesome dinner by himself last night so I could do nothing, AND brought me some just-because flowers.

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Swordfish and Swiss chard + brown rice (what, you don’t eat swordfish on a Tuesday night? ;-))

 

flowers

 

 

 

When you start feeling sick, do you take medicine, rest, or both?  Do you workout when you aren’t feeling well?