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New year, new rhythms...

Happy New Year everyone!

Christmas and New Year’s is always a busy time. I thought with the restrictions in place across Ontario that this Christmas would be pretty chill, and for the most part, it was. The church gatherings we look forward to each year didn’t happen and big family gatherings weren’t possible either. On one hand, with all that 2020 entailed for myself and my family, the downtime was more than welcome and needed, on the other, we were really missing being with our friends and family, as many many people were. For us, this holiday season brought with it much to reflect on.

The way events unfolded with our move north brought with it a lot of excitement! Things moved very quickly, we got caught up in the momentum of these big changes and the evidence of a Godly dream taking shape. And of course, we did! Any time we see God working in big ways, it’s definitely something to get excited about! I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. This momentum, or perhaps it’s more accurate to call it adrenaline, provided us with the energy to do all the things we needed to do to get here and to finish up my semester at Mac. But once we were past Christmas and my daughter's birthday on Boxing Day, I realized, without surprise, I was really tired. Like bone tired. The stress had subsided. The (immediate) crisis has ended. I am just starting to feel less like a giant sack of potatoes. My resting heart rate in the last week has dropped from being 75+ beats per minute to a healthier 67 beats.

When people have experienced a crisis (not all crises are negative, a major move or changing jobs, is a form of crisis too) they, as I did, experience an increase in cortisol and adrenaline. In brief, in times of heightened stress or crisis, adrenaline comes and goes quickly which helps people to respond immediately to a (perceived) “threat”, while cortisol has large momentum and works in the long term. I think it’s fair to say the majority of people living through Covid-19 have been functioning with heightened levels of cortisol and spikes in adrenaline. When this stress response is prolonged, it has the potential to have long-term negative effects on our health. We need to be keenly aware of this in our own lives and the lives of those we care for.

How we care for ourselves in times of high stress, and through the recovery period when the stress has subsided, is of utmost importance. For myself and my family, we have taken these first few weeks of January to simply rest and not require too much from ourselves or each other. One of the positive sides to this second lockdown here in Ontario is that we have been able to reconnect with old friends. My husband helped me set up my old printing press again and get my art supplies unpacked - painting and printing are both really important spiritual disciplines of mine. We’ve been getting outside as much as possible, reading some fiction (I’m just about finished The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis).

And we are slowly building back into our disrupted routines the things that bring us life. As I’ve focused on rest, I can feel the creativity beginning to sprout within me like the lettuce seeds I planted in a pot the other day.

I wonder if this season of rejuvenation will become part of my rhythm of life in the future? In the past, at this point in winter, I would be looking for some relief, perhaps dreaming about a trip to Mexico or Cuba, but this year is very different. I am full of anticipation and want to be well prepared for what will be revealed when the snow melts. Spring is really just around the corner!

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