What to do for advent??

Advent and Lent have often been important times of growth for me. Actually, every few years it appears that Lent and Easter bring some changes or shifts in my life. And there are habits that I have developed during these times that have shaped my journey in faith – for example, reading the Bible almost every night, which I did for years after committing to it one advent. During a particularly difficult time in the relationship between DH and I, I went to at least one mass during the week and often stations of the cross, all without ‘feeling’ anything – just emptiness and dryness – and then after Easter we had our crisis hit and had to decide if our future involved us staying together or parting company. (I’m really glad we stayed together! But it was very difficult at the time).

This Advent, I’ve been thinking of different things that keep me from living in love with God that I desire to do. There are so many of them – I don’t know what to ‘choose.’ I am trying to just stay open to guidance about this, to a push in some direction or another. I have decided to not have my daily glass of red wine during this time, just to live a bit more simply. Here are some things I think would help:

getting to bed at a regular, early hour every night so that I can have the energy to fulfil all the responsibilities I have with good humour, patience and love. (getting to bed on time is VERY difficult for me – I am a night owl by nature. But with a fairly early start, a full day of teaching 8-11 year olds, then home to take care of the kids on my own as hubby is away for work – I really need that sleep).

set aside a regular time every day to do my marking. I have SO much marking to do, and I never seem to get it done. My effort goes into basic survival for myself and the kids (lunches, brushing teeth etc) and planning for my day at school so that I can keep the students moving along – but it is also important that they get their work back with some idea of their progress, achievement, and what they need to focus on next. This is one of those things that becomes paralyzing to me, and then it only gets worse!

add some routines that will help keep my house more tidy (I am not naturally a tidy person, and being rather overwhelmed with daily life, plus the marking that is hanging over me, and still having boxes to unpack in a smaller space to live in … well, I can tolerate living in a cluttered space but it is much more peaceful when everything has a home and is put away.

One trap I often fall into, is wanting to do things because *I* am strong, because *I* can make commitments and keep them, because I am disciplined. In some of the reading I have been doing lately, it is resonating with me that it is not *me* that has this strength, but God. So I think that what really needs to happen here is that I need to pray for the grace to love God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and all my body(strength), and to love myself and everyone around me too. If I commit to this, then perhaps the choice for growth this Advent will become clear. I hope so because I am not feeling very clear at the moment!

One benefit from my terribly stressful year last year, is a kind of regular prayer time – not exactly like Benedictine monks (boy I would love to have a holiday or retreat in a monastary and participate in all of the prayers) – but something like that. For my morning commute, I have some prayer and meditation that I do always. On the way home, there is another theme to my prayers – this one I don’t always remember because I tend to turn on the radio to ramp down from my day. In the evenings I do a bit of reading right before bed time. This regular prayer routine is so important for me and a real blessing.

I hope to soon find out what I am being called to do this Advent, even as I continue to pray in my regular routine.

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Home made shampoo and lice advice

I am going to take CM’s generous permission in the comment section and just go ahead and blog 🙂 A few of my students recently had head lice, so we had a public health nurse in to check several classes at our school – and teachers too. I chatted with the nurse as she checked my hair. (Thank goodness, I was clear – no evidence of lice). She told me that some good preventative measures are (1) to put a dab of tea tree oil behind your ears, where lice apparently like to breed and (2) to add 8-10 drops of tea tree oil to your normal shampoo. She advised not to waste money on buying ‘tea tree oil infused’ shampoo as you can’t be sure how much actually is in there.

Anyway I decided over the weekend that, despite overwhelming piles of marking, paper, and other things that need immediate attention, I was going to make my own shampoo and add tea tree oil. I pulled out my trusty copy of ‘Bet.ter Ba.sics for the Home – Sim.ple Sol.utions for less tox.ic liv.ing’ by An.nie Berth.old-Bond. I did tinker with the recipe a bit and ended up mixing: 6 ounces of very liquidy aloe vera extract, 4 oz of apple cider vinegar, 1 oz castile soap, 1 tsp of glycerin, and about 10 drops of tea tree oil. Because soap can dull your hair, I did an apple cider vinegar rinse on my hair after using this concoction.

I’m still not sure what I think of it, but it smells strongly of the tea tree oil. Hopefully any lice in my environs won’t like it and won’t try to move in.

Advent prayer buddies 2011

I am happy to be participating in the Advent prayer buddies again this year. It will also spur me on to update my blog more often (I hope, anyway).

The truth is that I am in a bit of a quandary about this blog.

When dh and I were faced with IF, it was before the days of blogs (or before they were widespread) and a yahoo group was a precious source of support. I fell out of the internet world for awhile after my son was born, but got back into it when a dear friend and her DH confided their struggles with IF – perhaps around 2005 or so. They have since pursued the treatment they felt comfortable with, without getting pg – and they also feel that adoption is the not the route for them – thus living childfree (while being very open to a miracle should it occur, but not really hoping for the miracle now – moving on with finding joy where they are), is their current status. At this time blogland became such a resource for me to try and understand this decision. DH and I had discussed adoption as we both really wanted to be parents and we were open to looking at different avenues. But who knows – you never know until or unless you are in a situation – what is right for you. Pamela Jeanne and Lori are two wise women of the CF after IF world, and have really helped to understand how it can be that you long for a child yet find that adoption is not your path.

While getting to know bloggers at various stages of IF, CF after IF, single and praying to find their soulmate, I also stumbled into the IF religious and Catholic community. Throughout the years, my spiritual life has become more and more important to me, and the Catholic faith is the place I feel most at home. (my Dad does not believe in God at all, my mom thinks there probably is something out there but has found that organized religion does more harm than good – so my grandparents brought my brother and I up in the Catholic faith – but I did ‘look around’ for awhile before committing). Now I read many blogs for the food for the thought in the spiritual realm, whether I disagree with them or not. And I still love many blogs by bloggers of other faiths or of no particular faith.

So, what occupies my thoughts lately? Well, various religious stuff. How things are for my friends who are CF, or single. What it means to have strong desires and to either wait for so long, or perhaps not see them fulfilled. How to rejoice in the life one has instead of only seeing what one doesn’t have. How to find a way to live with the challenges I face, counting the many lovely things about my life, with the many challenges and stresses of this past year. And there are many – from the financial hit of DH being downsized 4 years ago, and having spotty work until recently – to selling our larger house, buying an older home (which I love) – renovating it to rent out half (great tenants) – meaning we have a lot less space than we did before, which is good, but I am overwhelmed with stuff PLUS we are still paying for a storage locker – to a terribly stressful year work-wise for me last year – including needing medical help to get through it and a leave of absence even – to DH’s work now involving absences from home that mean I am operating as a single parent for good stretches of time, and now I am in a new work role that still has a heck of a learning curve for me (first time as a home room teacher in elementary school, 2 different grades).

I am not sure how to write about all of this on a blog that basically is connected in with the IF (Catholic-Christian) world and IF (not-Christian and not-religious world). It seems to lack focus, and may not have the ‘thing in common’ with the groups that I follow. I hope a purpose and approach will become clear to me soon, because I do miss contact with you – anyone who is still out there, I mean.