Mental Health, Reflections

March 29, 2021

March Madness

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My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. Now it's my favourite place to be.

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The month of March, much like many of the 12 months previous, has felt like a complete and utter shit show. And I know I really don’t have a lot to be complaining about. But I’m mentally exhausted, frustrated, easily annoyed, very impatient, and more than once have wanted to hurl a table through the TV. (And not just because I force myself to watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette with my Mom since it’s – unfortunately – one of the shows she enjoys watching.) I feel like the finish line in this Covid-19 pandemic marathon keeps moving further away because everyone else feels this way too. They’ve genuinely got no fucks left to give and as a result, they’re just out there living life as if there isn’t a pandemic and hoping their return to pre-Covid actions can somehow will some normalcy back into the world. Since I tend to be a stress eater, it’s been a hard month to give up cheese and processed sugar.

As part of my 2021 resolutions, I wanted to go Vegan for a month. I decided to tie it into Lent, and also threw in giving up processed sugar for good measure (I kept non dairy vanilla yogurt). Normally, I don’t give anything up for Lent specifically. I have grown up not eating meat on Fridays during the season, and for Good Friday there was always fish. For my Trinidadian born parents, the Lenten season was fresh off the heels of the bacchanalian season of Carnival. Despite the religious links, they probably needed a good 40 days of detoxification anyway. So since I’ve spent the year having more conversations with God than usual, it felt right to try and make this work for Lent.

When I was young, we travelled to a church 40 minutes away every Sunday and I grew up spending time in Sunday school. My mother is much more a believer than my father. But our house was always filled with hymns and Bible stories. And both of my parents, having they themselves been a part of a religious upbringing, could quote a Psalm, or a Biblical tale with the drop of a dime. My mom would sing us lullabies every night, once we said our prayers. It’s actually something I do with her every night now. We sing a lullaby together and then we pray together. We do this every night I tuck her in, which since January 2020, has been every single night barring the nights when she is not feeling well. And if she isn’t feeling well enough to pray out loud, I say her prayers for her. And when I go to bed, I say my own prayers. I usually said a prayer every night anyway – even if I wasn’t attending church – because I have always believed in something bigger and more powerful. Now, I know this makes me seem like a lost cult member or a big hypocrite to some, since I also strongly believe in science and tend to need to see proof before I believe something. Now, in my own life I have experienced many miracles and instances of proof that cannot possibly be mere coincidence. Please don’t ask me to reconcile the world of science and religion because I can’t. I think Dan Brown tried to bring it together in some way in his Angels and Demons novel – but I don’t even try to take it that far. There is a lot in organized religion and the Bible that I rail against. So my relationship with God is complicated. But my Faith has carried me to this point in my life and I don’t feel like letting it go now. I believe in God and it’s important to me that we have a relationship. But I don’t think you need to believe in the same God I do. You don’t need to believe in any God at all, just don’t be an asshole to others. This, to me, should be the core of what everyone’s beliefs should boil down to. I pray for many people who have absolutely no belief in any higher power. I also have many people who pray for me who don’t believe in the same God I believe in. And I know I am better for it. Look, do I always get what I want? Surely, I do not. But the very act of praying provides me with some comfort, and is a more productive use of my energy than hurling a table at someone.

Anyway, that was a roundabout way of me trying to explain why I decided to mix up my resolutions with Lent. I’ve spent a lot of time chatting with God this year (though it’s been feeling a bit one-sided), so I thought it was only fair to try to do something for Him. Overall, I think I’ve managed pretty well. While I only recently learned that some view Sundays as free of sacrifice during Lent, I tried to stay the full course. (I can’t lie – had I known this was an option beforehand I would’ve worked it into my schedule.) I mean, I’ve had a few blips. The first came when a freshly baked lemon cake hot out of the oven appeared on our porch and while I was slicing a piece for my mom, I instinctively put the piece that fell onto the counter into my mouth. The second time came when I won a pizza contest from one of my favourite Italian restaurants in Toronto. I won pizza plus some sides which all contained at least cheese, or cheese and meat. I deliberately chose to break because there is no way anyone would want to skip fresh, cheesy pizza. I went a bit wild and also ate 4 pieces of chocolate. My third slip up came early last week after a long day accompanying mom for an appointment. By the time we got home I was so hungry and even though fresh Vegan options were available to me, I picked out the meat from the fried rice and chow mein and ate greedily. Then I topped that off with a chocolate Easter egg and another 3 pieces of mint milk chocolate. I also managed to eat a little non-Vegan Tzatziki sauce yesterday. At first, by accident, and then I just went for it and added a tablespoon to some rice and potatoes. I am feeling pretty good about my chances for this week. Meals have been prepped so I don’t really have an excuse.

I’m gearing up for an Easter Sunday bonanza. I would argue that Easter is a bigger deal than Christmas in the Christian calendar seeing as Jesus actually ROSE FROM THE DEAD. So I decided the cake needed to reflect the occasion. And while I’ll be having just a turkey breast and gravy plus the usual North American sides (potatoes, corn pie, Brussels sprouts, and stuffing), it’s going to be actual meat, actual meat products and sweet, sweet, white sugar. Even on Easter Monday I get to continue to eat some cake and watch the NCAA Men’s Basketball finals. And while I would gladly give up all of this food and television to have my sister join us for Easter, I’ve determined to try and make the best of it since this funk of a mood has got to lift soon. Hope springs eternal.

Amanda C.

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Hi, I'm Stacey.
Welcome to the
Willowjak Blog 

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. We chat about themes that are often ignored and voices that aren't often given a chance at the mic. Now it's my favourite place to be. 

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