Friday, May 20, 2011

Compassion Fatigue

"That which is to provide light must endure burning." - Victor Frankl

Me and my co-workers went to a Compassion Fatigue workshop this week - the new word for burnout.  I went because I thought it could be useful information to pass on to new No More Deaths volunteers or old ones, the ex-pats, as I call them.  The group of volunteers who committed many years and time and energy to the work only to leave it after putting everything they had into it.  But during the workshop I realized that the signs of compassion fatigue they talked about were very familiar to me and what I experienced. 

So, the workshop was pretty kooky at times, and I didn't walk away with many answers or insights.  At one point, we did an exercise where we had to sit on our hands and relax our sphincter muscles...oh god, what did I get myself into?  Apparently, sphincter relaxation helps our body during times of stress and is a suggested practice when we're having a tough day.  Okay...

I hate wasting a perfectly good opportunity for learning, so later that night I started thinking more about my own compassion fatigue over the years and was surprised that I hadn't had a meltdown sooner.  I love my work with the kids and being at the high school, but I'm not in love with it anymore.  The good news is that I can still see myself doing this for a long time, but maybe not with the passion I first had.  The kids and the family issues, non-stop crisis at home, drug addiction, suicides or attempted suicides, homelessness, dysfunction, lack of motivation...there is so much everyday.  And I still enjoy being a safety net for some of them.

More notable, is my time with No More Deaths.  Seven years ago I started with them.  I can remember the intense passion and energy I put into the work.  I remember thinking "I'm being called to do this work" and for a while my mind and body found it's own energy to work through long days, weekends, and travels to the desert, summers in the desert, vacations in the desert.  It's like my feet knew where to take me and I just followed.  It's like my mind was determined and my body had no say-so in the matter. 

I travelled to Tucson every weekend, went to meetings every weeknight, organized, coordinated, took all the phone calls, e-mails, hate mails, letters, and late-night visitors to my house.  I hiked endlessly, walking and walking and carrying big loads of water in each hand.  I bandaged blisters and listened to stories of hope and of lives left behind.  I was determined.  For years I've been doing this.  Then, something strange happened.  It seems like I woke up one day, tired.  Really, really tired.  I don't know why or how it happened.  But I stopped going to daily meetings, I stopped going to Tucson every weekend, I stopped making my summer in the desert walking the trails.  We still have meetings, but only twice a month, I still answer the phones and take the e-mails, I still welcome the occasional late-night visitor...but something had changed, shifted.  This all coincided with my Cascabel trip a few years ago and the realities and insight I gained on the mountain those days.  But, how did it happen?  It's like the candle was blown out in my soul. 

I don't think there's a quick or easy answer to how or why or what this all means.  I think it's all a part of god's plan for me.  Everything that happens is part of something bigger.  I have to believe that.  I don't believe it's god's plan for me, or any of us to be happy.  That's a pretty selfish thing to think (although it's very American, right?).  But, I read this piece by Anne Lamott where she talks just about this.  Here's a quote from a priest friend of hers which I think sums it up for me:

"God's will for each of us is to have a life. And it is up to us to go and get one. Find some work, some love, some play. Taste things. Be of service. Feed the hungry and clean the beaches and clothe the naked and work for justice. Love god, love your neighbor. Help build a world where it is safe to be a child, and where it is safe to grow old. And love cats, and the occasional dog." 

This is great!  What I was missing during my time with No More Deaths was my life...the rest of it.  It's all about balance and I had lost it for a time.  But I think I'm back on track.  My life is almost 180 degrees different from that of 2 years ago.  But it's good.  I came down the mountain with a plan I didn't recognize.  With a map with no roadsigns.  And I trust, and I walk...
It's all in the plan...

My changing waistline

I do not fit into my jeans all.  I totally love being pregnant and am constantly amazed at the way my body is growing and changing and shifting things around to fit a little bump in there.  But, I struggle with figuring out what to wear, how to continue to wear what I currently have without spending tons of money on maternity clothes.

I came across a blog that gave me a great suggestion for what to do with your jeans.  This is perfect!  At first, I could zip it up but just needed help with the buttoning.  But  now, the zipper stays down.  Thank god for my hair ties!

And I refuse to buy a belly band!  I know, I may end up getting one, but I really, really really don't want one.  Anyone else think they look medieval?

I still find myself looking in the mirror in amazement that this is my body.  Being in touch and tune with the growing, stretching, changing body is remarkable.  I am so thankful that I can experience this once in my lifetime and hope to have very few bad days when I look in the mirror and think I just look fat, really, really fat.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's a BOY!

Our little bump is a baby boy! 


Monday, May 9, 2011

First trimester...

Today I'm 18 weeks pregnant.  Well past my first trimester, so I feel that I can now write a bit about everything that went on during that time.  Maybe I'll start when I first found out we were pregnant.  My day at work started out pretty typical, when I suddenly felt faint as I was trying to stand up.  I seriously almost passed out!  I went to visit the school nurse who took my blood pressure and told me I was fine.  Clue number one.

The day of my period, it didn't all.  But I had all the pre-period signs:  bloated belly, sore breasts, moodiness.  Clue number two.

I went on-line and looked up "early signs of pregnancy"  and it read "bloated belly, sore breasts, moodiness."  Clue number three.

Those first 10 weeks were really difficult both emotionally and physically.  I was so incredibly tired all the time, ate non-stop, and had pretty severe cramping for weeks.  I was lucky enough to miss the whole "morning sickness" that most women have. So, instead of not being able to keep any food down, I was looking for food to put down!  I gained enough weight to last us through the 2nd trimester!

Everything seemed to be going relatively smoothly, besides the cramping.  Then, at 7 weeks, just two weeks before our wedding, I bled.  Alot.  From the second I found out I was pregnant I knew the chances for a miscarriage where high.  Words can't express the incredible sadness, panic, distress, and total loss of control I felt that night.  There was nothing I could do to prevent this from happening.  Mr. C and I decided to wait it out, to see if it stopped.  It didn't, so we drove to the hospital that night and waited to see the doctor. 

For 4 hours, we sat there in our own thoughts.  For me, I worried that my body wasn't capable of carrying a baby, that something was wrong with my body, that maybe god was still pissed at the way I chose to live my life.  Then I went to have my first ultrasound, there in the ER.  And the tech saw my little squid...and saw it's heart beat.  It was only 1/4 inch, but already there was blood moving in and out of the little ball of cells.  We went home that night/early morning still pregnant but was told we just had to "wait and see" what my body decided to do in the next hours.  The reason for the bleeding is complicated, and the potential for a miscarriage was still super high.  Those were seriously the most stressful days/weeks to come. 

But those days passed...quickly.  Our wedding was fast approaching, and we made some decisions then to change our honeymoon to somewhere closer to home "just in case."  I haven't miscarried yet, and the bleeding has stopped completely in the past month, but I continue to wake up feeling blessed and thankful that our little turnip has decided to stick around, for the time being.

As I've entered my 2nd trimester, my energy is back and my eating routine is now back to normal...ish.  Bump is growing and I'm loving the way my body is changing and gearing up for an incredible transformation.

Me at 14 weeks!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Circa 1980
I remember my first royal weddingI watched when I was 9 years old.  It was on super early in the morning and my sister and I got up and watched it, to see the dress, the ceremony, the whole excitement of it all. I also remember fallling asleep in the middle of it.  Somehow I was disappointed.  It wasn't all I expected it to be.  It didn't feel romantic, quaint, intimate, close.  I remember the dress being HUGE...the train flowing out for miles, it seemed.  But I was bored by it all.

Fast forward 30 years and I just finished my own wedding planning and ceremony.  Definitely was more exciting than any royal wedding I've seen so far!

I thought I'd share our ceremony, as it was so beautiful and romantic.

Someone Like You (Van Morrison) - sung by friend

Welcoming Remarks
Opening remarks on love and marriage - by pastor

Reading One:
Kahlil Gibran - On Marriage

Then Almitra spoke again and said, 'And what of Marriage, master?'
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

Reading 2:  Song of Solomon

Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like a blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.

Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of his house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.


Laura and Mr. C, the symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed- well, I meant it all, every word.” Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another- acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this - is my husband, this - is my wife.

Mr. C says his vows...
I say my vows...
Community Support
As family and friends,
You form a community of support
That surrounds Laura and Christopher
Each of you, by your presence here today
Is being called upon
To uphold them in loving each other
Always stand beside them, never between them
Offer them your love and your support
Not your judgment
Encourage them when encouragement is needed
And listen to them when they ask for advice

In these ways, you can honor this marriage
Into which they will be joined today.

Do you offer your love and support
To strengthen their marriage
And bless this family created by their union?

Please answer by saying : We do

[Guests: We do]

In My Life (Beatles) - Sung by friend
Ring Exchange
Laura and Mr. C, the promises which you have spoken to each other today are inscribed forever in your minds, in your hearts. But words are fleeting and so those who marry wear rings as visible, tangible symbols of their commitment and of their emotional and spiritual connection.
These rings announce to the world that you have been found. They are a reminder and a celebration of the promises you have made today and in exchanging these bands you knit your two lives together as one.

Closing remarks/Pronouncement of Marriage

For Once In My Life (Stevie Wonder) - Sung by friend