Sunday, April 22, 2018

musings on sleep (04-22-2018 update)

In the final stretch of my coding course and I'm tired, perhaps it is all the late night coding and energy drink consumption that has been going on over here in casa d' Andrea?

How much sleep does one gal need to function in this world?

Well last week told me, at least 11 hours for a couple of nights...perhaps my attempt at "catching up" on my sleep, which apparently is not a thing but that fact doesn't seem to stop me from trying!

I'm glad the end is in sight for this course. And not that I didn't enjoy it, the problem was I enjoyed it a little too much and naturally wanted to keep doing everything else I was doing prior to the course, which naturally leads to sleep depravation.

Did you know that sleep depravation can be an effective tool in treating depression? Not really sleep depravation, like in the army where they are trying to break you down and mould you into a mean, lean, fighting machine. No, I mean like a less extreme form of sleep depravation than that. Like one night of no sleep versus a full 3 months of army basic training type sleep depravation.

It's true, apparently if you are sleeping tonnes (a symptom of depression) you should try forcing yourself to get minimal sleep for one night and apparently that will kick start your body into not feeling depressed. Disclaimer, I'm not a doctor and am no way qualified to be prescribing any cures for depression over here. However, I can tell you, in my experience (so not statistically significant I know!!) that I have deprived myself of sleep after going on a weeklong bender of over-sleeping due to depression and it works. For that day where I am sleep deprived I am generally in good spirits. Now if I go another night without sleep, the mood tends to take a turn for the unpleasant. So my advice (not really advice) is try to get back into a normal sleeping pattern after you kickstart yourself back into happy mode. Sometimes the happiness makes you think you can really have normal sleep again.

Which brings me to what is normal sleep anyways? I've always seemed to gravitate towards late night productivity sessions vs. rising early brilliant and busy tailed with a spring in my step. Although on occasion the latter has happened, typically after a period of time where I have been locked in my cave recharging my introvert batteries. That's why they refer to me as a "social introvert". My actual point here, as it has likely been lost in all these words I keep spewing out, is that I'm a night person, so that anytime I get a day off from my regular 9-5 work my "internal clock" immediately reverts back to its preferred position, which is stay up late and sleep in. It is literally like a switch, no matter how hard i try to be that morning person consistently (even on days off from work) my body says it is a no-go.  The trend is especially present when I'm taking a course. Which is actually like always. So not really a trend just how I am.

This leads me to believe that I'm simply not meant to be living in this time zone. Clearly I was meant to be living in the Middle East and working a 9-5 job there because that is what my body is telling me by refusing to adapt to these North American time zones I insist on living in.  That seems a much more logical explanation than my sleeping patterns being influenced by my incessant need to keep learning new stuff and/or drinking energy drinks in the evening.

Or we will just have to accept my sleeping patterns as one of life's many mysteries.

Looking out towards Damascus (April 2018)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sharing a prayer for peace (04-15-2018 update)

Came across this prayer for peace and wanted to share for you my fellow readers.

Sometimes I seem to get so wrapped up in my whirlwind of a life I forget there is a whole other part of the world suffering. Actually, I tend to dwell on the suffering of the world more than I don't which likely contributes to my stellar mental health record and no doubt there is enough suffering to go around here in Canada. Not to down play that or anything.

I guess what I'm trying to say is sometimes I forget about war even though it is quite literally happening all the time somewhere here on planet earth. Like the Middle East and what not. 

I used to feel so helpless about the suffering that comes from war, and now I realize my part in it. And no I'm not out there shooting people up but how many times do I tear people down with my words? My thoughts, my actions even? I know if i can just be a bit more mindful about how I interact with others maybe I can move more towards the peace love and kindness side of things. One thing that helps me with that is prayer. And yes that is why I'm sharing this prayer because I find it a nice reminder of how we too can be peacemakers.

And there is power in words, so I guess I wonder, if we all stopped what we are doing and said this prayer, would we just naturally turn towards love? Curious to what happens for you, after you say this out loud. Feel free to email me afterwards and share the experience with me.

Prayer for peace  
Lord God of peace, hear our prayer!
We have tried so many times and over so many years to resolve our conflicts by our own powers and by the force of our arms. How many moments of hostility and darkness have we experienced; how much blood has been shed; how many lives have been shattered; how many hopes have been buried… But our efforts have been in vain.
Now, Lord, come to our aid! Grant us peace, teach us peace; guide our steps in the way of peace. Open our eyes and our hearts, and give us the courage to say: “Never again war!”; “With war everything is lost”. Instill in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace.

Lord, God of Abraham, God of the Prophets, God of Love, you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters. Give us the strength daily to be instruments of peace; enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister. Make us sensitive to the plea of our citizens who entreat us to turn our weapons of war into implements of peace, our trepidation into confident trust, and our quarreling into forgiveness.
Keep alive within us the flame of hope, so that with patience and perseverance we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. In this way may peace triumph at last, and may the words “division”, “hatred” and “war” be banished from the heart of every man and woman. Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands. Renew our hearts and minds, so that the word which always brings us together will be “brother”, and our way of life will always be that of: Shalom, Peace, Salaam!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

you have been served (04-08-2018 update)

Dawn breaks on Fort Street.

This was another week that reminded me of how sticky the tension is for me to be rooted in the earth with a soul that yearns for heaven. I have displayed little self-control when it came to bible study, as in the majority of my free time has been spent reading about the tales and autobiography of Teresa of Avila and reading theology. Yes, my other earth priorities were met (exceptionally well) but only at the expense of a good night's sleep. 

Oh how I want to simply wake up meditate and pray and be in the presence of God all day long without the constant noise of the world around me.

Perhaps this simple and concise blog post can be considered me putting the world on notice, that the path before me is likely going to lead me to a convent. 2-3 years from now when I sell all my things and move to a monastery in Italy, do not be shocked because I will just direct you to this blog post and tell you "told you so."

Until next week, may we all get more sleep xo

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Musings (04-01-2018 update)

It's 10:00pm Sunday night and I'm writing this blog post because I said I would write weekly and I feel disappointed in myself when I don't live up to the high standards I set for myself. Thankfully, I did not promise to write well-written weekly blog posts, so this mediocre one will suffice.

It's been a busy week my friends. Being sick for two of the days put a serious dent in my productivity so naturally i had to overcompensate during the days I felt better, like staying at work until 7pm. Because overcompensating and overextending myself was probably what made me sick in the first place? Nonsense. I agree.

Moving on.

This week was considered holy week in the Catholic Church so I figured I should check that out, seeing as Catholicism is the next step in my faith journey. Honestly readers, it was pretty incredible. I find the ritual, the ambiance of the church very in line with my ideas of what worship should be. I love contemplative prayer, i love entering a space and knowing this is where I worship. These are the places I feel God. And this Easter I definitely had an encounter with God. Which for those of you who have been graced with this experience know how incredible that is. It is really hard to put into words. Ecstatic. There is a word we could use.

I could try writing a poem to describe the God encounter...sure let's give that a shot. Remember Andrea poems are not real poems, so just chill out you literary snobs reading this blog!

What it feels like to encounter God

When God speaks,
he doesn't use a voice as you and I understand it.
I call his dialect, more like an overcoming,
filling up your body,
impressions left in the skin,
tattoo ink of the soul.
Reverberations of the flesh. 

When God speaks,
you hear him on all sensory levels-
tingeling extremities,
gooseflesh layered forearms,
bones shake,
the stomach turns with nervous excitement,
a warmth rises with the knowing
...this presence
...this voice
understands you and loves you.

We all know there is no better feeling in the world to know you are loved,
to know your life has purpose and meaning.

And that my readers is how I would describe the God encounter.

One word: love.

Poem done.

Anyways, the God encounter kept me up all night, because when God speaks you listen and you obey. For me, that involved a lot of writing and researching.  So lots of notes I'm still sorting through and I presume I will share with you at some point, if for no other reason I have nothing else to blog about on a particular Sunday. You're welcome in advance.

Until then...good night and Happy Easter.

Easter dinner w/ kale!!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Coding, compassion, Catholicism & crying (03-25-2018 update)

Added a new "c" word this week, crying. Lots of crying for a week that wasn't influenced by monthly hormonal imbalances.

Crying isn't a bad thing, it is a feeling thing. When I cry it is because I'm allowing myself to feel. That's why we sometimes hear of the tears of joy, after all, joy is a feeling that we experience, the overwhelmingness of such an experience can cause the tear ducts to open. It's really ok, we are human, we are built this way. This week I stopped fighting it.

So we are into the final stretch of Lent and my abstinence from Netflix (no, that was not why I was crying this week, that was the reason I was wailing through week 1 of Lent) and as promised (by whom I'm not sure-the Catholic Church?) I'm feeling a closer connection to God. Lent, I believe (I'm not a theological scholar, and at this moment too lazy to actually confirm this on Google) is to remove items in your life that block your relationship with God, so in doing so we can learn again to depend on him to get us through the day, not the idols we have set up in place of him (cough...Netflix). 40 days of Lent is to symbolize the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness being tempted by the devil, the period immediately after he was baptized by John the Baptist. Not a strong case for baptism I guess.

So why do we set up idols? Not entirely sure but I know it is a problem for us because the command 'not to set up any idols in place of God' made it into the top 10 commandments. I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that I erect idols because by blocking God, and his relationship with me, I don't have to listen to the purpose he has for me. Living a life without achieving your true purpose is soul crushing (as we know). Sure if one's purpose is dying on a cross I'm not surprised we would block God. But in all seriousness, I would rather die on a cross than live a life devoid of my true purpose, which is essentially living a life without God. So better just to listen to God in the first place. Easier said than done. Obvs.

That being said. Lent is a time to get as close to a life with God as I can while I must stay grounded in this earthly prison. Maybe it is the challenge of giving something up for 40 days that motivates me because I am human and respond well to being in competition and being crowned winner. My ego and my arrogance are other idols I have erected in place of God. I am constantly tearing down idols, only to have them grow up again some place else using a stronger alloy. I find I have to keep coming up with better and better weapons to destroy these idols and I must stay on watch, day and night to fight them. They are sneaky.

Lent gives me the opportunity to create a space for this vigilance in my daily life. Now only to keep it going afterwards, that will be the next challenge...

Netflix is gone and unlikely to return until after my coding course is complete (May sometime at the earliest) and I know me and my ADHD, I will have erected a new idol in its place, so I must keep watch to ensure that nothing replaces it. Whether it's coding, work, relationships, it can manifest as anything, turning the most positive and benign items into soul crushing God removing tumours, even our churches are not free of the possibility to become an idol. After all this is what Jesus was trying to teach us, do not let the man made rules of your religion, your denominational doctrine remove you from God's laws he has given us. Do not make yourself an idol to replace the word of God. That goes to all churches because churches are full of humans and humans need to stay vigilant. Hence the 10 commandments etc.

See I am tying this together nicely, aren't I? You weren't so sure were you? You of little faith.

Just like sin begets sin, so does being vigilant in your destruction of idols. You take out one idol (like Netflix) and others start becoming more visible for the slaughter. So this week my Lent-inspired constant incessant prayer and communion with God has led to removal of even more idols in my life. Wolves in sheep clothing. Idols I thought were bringing me closer to God were revealed to me to be blocking my continued growth in a relationship with God.  So I reached into the soil of my soul and ripped out the roots of these idols and tossed them to the side of the road. Leaving them the choice to be trampled by earthly desires or turn themselves inward to God and work on their redemption. I pray the choice was the latter.

And that's another idol, the arrogance that we believe our presence in someone's life can change them. We are all guilty of this, families, friends, co-workers...No one can change another person. Only God. Finally I destroyed my idol of this form of arrogance. And I am free. As long as I stay vigilant and fix my eyes on God, I will stay free. So my friends, this week I cried tears of freedom and I pray you can experience the same freedom this season of Lent.

And now back to coding!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

a week of coding, compassion & Catholicism (03-18-2018 update)

Although the next 7 weeks are likely to involve the three areas of coding, compassion & Catholicism, this week felt particularly noteworthy, if for no other reason, then the alliteration it gives the blog title.

My building websites from scratch course is still going strong, it is all consuming, as in consumes most of my free time at the moment. Free time is defined as time I am not at work, studying the Bible, or sleeping. Yes, I do still sleep, just not enough probably.

Compassion. I've been trying to cultivate this one for years. Building a relationship with God has increased my capacity for compassion 10 fold. Yes, I still have moments of anger and disappointment and general dislike for the human race (which includes myself) but the moments are less prevalent in my life as they were before. Every time I strengthen my relationship with God, through prayer, meditation, study and works, the compassion grows inside me taking over the dark depression spots. The latest expedition into compassion has been leading a weekly non-violent communication study group with my parents. Apart from my Tuesday night bible study this is the highlight of the week. Growing closer and cultivating compassion with ones parents has got to be one of the most fulfilling things one can do. Possibly a reason one of the 10 Commandments is honour your mother and father.

And Catholicism. This may seem like an unexpected addition to the Andrea-verse but I assure you, it is a long time coming. Those who have known me through the past few years (or have kept up with this blog) know I have a thing for going all in when it comes to things I love. Well God is one of those things and to be honest, I'm almost ashamed to admit it, I don't really know anything about Catholicism, other than I grew up Protestant and that makes us different somehow save that whole loving and worshiping Jesus thing.

Since we are all in the body of Christ, I kind of feel we are on the same side despite a history of killing and pipe bombing each other. I don't get it. And I want to understand it. So picked up and read a book this week called "Rome Sweet Home" by Scott & Kimberly Hahn. The Hahns are a (now) Catholic couple, raised Protestant Evangelical who through study and trial came to believe there is something to the doctrine of Catholicism. The book records their journey to Catholicism as it happened from both of the couple's perspectives. I read the book in two days, it was a page turner for me. Mostly because I could relate to a lot of what they were searching for in the story and there has always been a part of me that craves the ritual that Catholicism seems to bring to the faith. And no I can't explain that craving but I do love solitude, prayer & meditation.  I really do not know enough about the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism and as I'm a curious gal who loves to research, this seems like the next Andrea adventure. Other than website building of course :)

So until next week, may peace, love, and blessings fill your week xo

Photo credit: The lovely Natasha :)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

a week of coding, book writing & Black Panther!! (03-11-2018 update)

Well another week has gone by and I'm not entirely sure what all the pertinent points were or if that even matters at this point. So why don't I give you the top 5 highlights of the week that just happened:

1) I received some positive feedback on the last post, even got some readers writing in to share their stories of getting things done they have been putting off. Nice to know the writing is connecting with people. So keep writing in, I love to hear from my readers and to know what you are thinking.

2) Moved into unit 3 of my 10 week intensive building websites from scratch course, I'm now dreaming in code, to the delight of computer programmers everywhere.

3) Went and saw Black Panther, can I ask why can't all movies be as good as that one? It is rare to watch a film where you feel uplifted and hopeful for the human race on a general whole. A very powerful and empowering film. I must say I was also delighted that the women portrayed in the movie were strong, smart and funny without being sexualized. Another win. So thank you Black Panther. I was not expecting that.

4) Did some research for a book my sister and I are writing together. Mostly just involves internet research right now, but I'm hoping we can organize a trip for some field research for the book. What is the book about you ask? It is about two sister detectives who solve mysteries in New Orleans. So yes, another trip to New Orleans is in our future.

5) This writing also ties in nicely with my building website course, as I'm creating us a promotional website for the book series. And yes, it will be a series, you can't have detectives that only solve one case can you?!

Cool painting of a saint and his pig!!

Victoria alleyway - photo inspiration for the book