Happy Christmas!

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Christ is born! Alleluia!

I’m so very thankful that I’m having a very peaceful and restful Christmas, my first married to HusBen. Looking back on other Christmases, it would be all too easy to let the past get me down and spoil this special day of our Lord’s birth, but going to Mass last night and deliberately taking things easy today has really helped me relax more and allow myself to rest. So far today we’ve opened our presents for each other, played games, lounged around in our pajamas, cooked a duck and generally been quiet and relaxed.

As I sit and think now of other Christmases I am reminded of how long it takes to prepare for this day. Gearing up for Christmas takes over a month, both in the Church year and in the secular world, and I was getting ready to face my own anxieties and memories connected with this holiday. However, the original Christmas was the culmination of God’s plan of salvation in the Son becoming incarnate and living here on earth over 2,000 years ago. This is a day that is connected to the past of human history and salvation history, not just my own history. I did dread the memories Christmas brings up for me, but now I, along with Christians all over the world, rejoice in the reminder that there is a bigger plan at work here as well as rejoicing in the memory of the day Christ came to earth.

 

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Introvert’s Guide To Surviving Christmas Parties

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Wine. Lots of it.

Hehehehehe…. just kidding! It helps though.

Anyway, Christmas. Definitely not my favourite time of year. There are so many stresses and social occasions involved that it just gets to be too much. However, fear not, o introverts, I have some advice that might help. Might help, mind you.

  1. Definitely leave any gift shopping until the last minute. DO NOT for any reason make a list of presents and stick to it and any budget you may have.
  2. Accept invitations to multiple parties night after night so that you get sufficiently socialized during this time of year. You wouldn’t want to miss out on any dismal and eye-stabbingly boring exciting office parties, would you?
  3. Agree to bring food to every single one of these parties so that you are up until 2 AM the night each one before making 2000 teeny sausages on sticks.
  4. Leave absolutely NO time to yourself for recharging in between any  holiday events and shopping trips.
  5. DO NOT for any reason bring a book, knitting or other handiwork to a party so that you have something to talk about, keep yourself occupied with or hide behind if need be. People hate this at parties and will pointedly NOT start conversations about what you have with you if you persist in doing this.
  6. Do go to lots of parties where you know no one and cannot bring a friend. This is a great way to relax and meet new people.
  7. Always refuse to play board games at parties. You will only end up regretting joining in a group activity such as this and actually interacting with people during a shared experience.
  8. Drink a lot so that you will be socially lubricated enough to talk to everyone at the party. Better yet, drink enough to have a go on the karaoke machine while everyone and their uptight granny watches.
  9. Hang around the food table, not to help (no one likes a person who offers to assist the host – it comes across too goody-goody), but to catch people off-guard as they awkwardly attempt to refill their plate and balance a drink all at the same time.
  10. Always show up to a party stressed, hungry and exhausted after a long day. You’ll be able to relax while you are there and then feel great when you go home.

Anyone else got any good advice for surviving Christmas parties?

I’m Back!

OK, a few days turned into a fair bit longer, but I’m doing better now and feeling ready to get back on track until I take a break for Christmas. A few rough days can really take away all the energy and I still feel like I haven’t caught back up, but there’s no more exams and only two days of work left, so there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!

Anyway, I thought I’d say a few words about The Friday Of Doom…

That Friday I was feeling really down and couldn’t stop crying or settle down. I tried all my usual self-soothing stuff, but things got very bad and I ended up calling an ambulance for myself. I was in a pretty bad state and it turns out that calling for help was a lot less scary than I thought! It can be very difficult to ask for help when you feel like you aren’t worth caring about, but it was the right thing to do at that time. What is more, the people who came were really good and then the people I saw at the hospital once they transferred me there were great and helped a lot. It was scary at first, but I got to talk to a good social worker and a doctor who helped me figure out some options and make a plan for going home and getting some more help and support over the next few weeks.

It was rather surprising to find all this happening after a fairly quiet week, but I’m glad for the support that was there when I needed it and I’m also glad I know it is there if I need it again.

The other really good thing that came out of this was that I took a few days off and just tried to rest. It was really hard and I did cry a lot, but, as my counselor said, sometimes the body needs to work through things as much as the mind does, and crying is a way of releasing toxins and helping the brain to change, so I’m not too worried about that. I guess I wish my mind and body would hurry up and work things out, but I know that it is all part of the (very slow) process of getting better.

The last week of work has had its ups and downs too which have prevented me from getting back to business as usual around here. Exam stress has never been easy to navigate for me and has recently caused plenty of tears on its own, but I’m through the worst now, thankfully! There are big changes ahead, but I’m looking forward to the future and to what it brings on the blog…

 

 

Update

Just checking in quickly to say sorry for going AWOL for a few days. I have not been doing very well and needed to take things slow and easy for a little. Thankfully, I’m doing better now and will hopefully be back as usual soon! I will also probably do a post focusing on the last few days as they have been both difficult and very helpful. Stay tuned for an extra part in the Feeling Well series and probably some poetry too!

Poem: Icons

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Icons sit on my bookshelf,

Christ, His Mother and St. John,

The golden-tongued preacher,

Mary, Mother of our God.

Their eyes are always watching,

Their faces hold no fear.

Their bodies are unflinching,

Their holiness is here.

I see Christ-likeness in them,

Aspire to understand.

Aspire to know and follow

The Way they steadfast trod.

Christ is present through them

Though I know they are not real.

But real-ness of the holy

Is represented well.

I cannot see it truly,

My heart is yet unformed

But on my bookshelf sitting are

Holy Mary, John, and our Lord.


Icons are an interesting topic to tackle and I’m going to do a proper post on them sometime, however, for now here’s a little background to put Icons into context.

Traditionally, an icon is seen as a depiction of a saint as a true person, someone through whom we can see Christ. It has also been said that icons are ‘windows into heaven’ because they show people as they are supposed to be – filled with the Spirit and following Christ. They are venerated and respected (not worshipped) due to the way in which they show the presence of Christ in human beings and because they remind us how we ought to live. People have them in their homes as a way to remember how they ought to live in Christ as children of God.

Poem: Participles

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For something good my soul is pining,

But I know not what I should be finding

For the way is dark and winding

Though far off some light is shining.

Someone for me is God anointing

To keep this child of earth from dying,

For the easement of my sighing.

To the cross His way is pointing.

Of that grace I’ve made a sighting,

To gain its cover I am trying

Though no good works this gift is buying,

To be His child this heart is fighting.

Then my grasp on grace I’m leaving,

For myself my heart is mourning,

No escape from human borning

And for my soul I am now grieving.

Then His presence I am knowing,

In to His power I am giving

Choosing, through His body, living,

In love of Him to then be growing.

Father, Son and Ghost most Holy,

O’er to you I give self lowly,

Wishing now to be Yours solely.

 

 

What Is Theology, Anyway?

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I’m putting together a quick post today, as Part 6¬†of my Feeling Well series isn’t quite ready and I have piles of homework due. So, I thought I might define theology before I write loads of posts about it, just to be clear and concise, (and also because ‘clear and concise’ is pretty much my middle name when it comes to writing).

Anyway, theology…

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary says theology is: “the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; the study of God and God’s relation to the world.” This is a very basic definition, but it is also very true.

Theology is about God (literally, theos – God and logos – word, so ‘words about God’) and it is the study of the way we think of God, the attributes we ascribe to Him, His works and the relation between Him and us. The term tends to cover a lot of other topics too, from philosophical or logical proofs for the existence of God to the historicity of Christ, to Church teaching, sacraments and practical Christianity as well as much more. In a more practical sense, however, theology is often focused on figuring out who God is and who we are as Christians and human beings in light of what we learn about Him.

As a theology major I study things ranging from exegesis of Scripture to Christology and logic, to the sacraments, Catholic Church teaching and liturgy, and everything in between. All the subjects and areas I am studying, and will study these next few years, teach me more and more about God, the world and about myself and where I fit into all of this as a Christian.

Join me and, hopefully, enjoy with me learning about theology, thus (I hope) getting to know God and the self better, as well as what its role in the world is.