Thursday, August 21, 2014

Whelmed?

"I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?" -Chastity from "10 Things I Hate About You"

I don't know, Chastity, but I know I'm not whelmed right now. I'm one of the others.  And I know this because I've been basically silent for the last two weeks.

Until yesterday. I had this misconception that I was a talented stress-curtailer. I thought I was Mrs. Pluck and that I was getting better at relying on God.

Long story short: I threw a temper tantrum yesterday when I realized I might have messed up my new teacher orientation schedule. As if I was watching from above I saw a crazy woman completely fall of her rocker in frustration with herself over something that I know is probably minor.

How do we fool ourselves like this? We think we are handling things efficiently and effectively. Look at me go! I am fully relying on God.

CRASH!

There are NO SOLUTIONS TO MY PROBLEMS!
Courtesy of Master isolated images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It turns out that it wasn't the biggest deal in the world that I missed it.  In the middle of my tantrum I realized that my frustration was based on my feelings of what other people thought.  You'd imagine that fact would help calm me: nope.  I kept choosing anger and frustration at myself.

I offer no profound solutions for dealing with stress, what to do to rid yourself of stress, or how to recognize you're suffering from the overwhelming feeling in the background, except to say that the only thing that kept me from completely breaking down (though, whether or not I did is debatable) was the steadiness of my husband.  He listened, he was patient, he did everything he could help calm me down until last night he just said, "That's enough. You are not allowed to talk badly about yourself anymore. No more beating up on yourself. None. You're not allowed."

I know it was frustrating for him to see this woman he didn't know occupying his wife's body.  He stayed calm. He stayed supportive. He didn't blow it off or somehow tell me my concerns were invalid. He didn't call me silly and he didn't yell back at me.

Please be that person for someone the next time you are around a two-year-old adult. I really needed him (all the time) last night.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Sisters, Sisters - 7QT


When your baby sister goes off and makes you feel old, you get to call her your baby sister. So there.

My youngest sister is flying off to her FOCUS missionary assignment in Boston, MA on Monday.  I've seen her go through financial, personal, and professional struggles since she returned from FOCUS training.  What a woman!  I know she will let God use her gifts to introduce others to the faith and I invite you to join me in praying for her!

If you want to join the mission, you may do so by praying, by reading her blog here, follow her on Twitter here, or consider reading her story on the FOCUS blog here. Thanks! God Bless you!

Raise your hand if you agree that we could use some more appreciation of the arts in our lives.  The arts and the Catholic Church have had a long and intimate relationship in the history of the world. 

If it didn't, this wouldn't have been such a big deal. You know how many frescos we have. Please.

As the city on the hill, the ever-visible Church that Christ founded, we have a responsibility to uphold this tradition and enrich the arts.

This is where my (other; next in line) sister comes in. Christine just graduated with her masters in theatre history and it is her passionate mission in life to revitalize our base through Catholic theatre.  She directed and produced Karol Wojtyla's play, "The Jeweler's Shop," in her senior year of college We went to a secular college, by the way, and yes, she got just as much flack from her professors as you can imagine.

The arts world spends a lot of time spouting their own teachings from their pulpits.  I'm proud of my sister for seeing the beauty in everyday life and wanting to express it through movement, good writing, and profound thought provocation in Catholic theatre.  I promise, this is one movement and one gal you want to keep an eye on: her blog, "Over the Moon, Torino," and her Twitterdom.


Do you think we can reach those we have not yet reached through the stage and through the arts? Tell me what you think!

Speaking of Catholic arts: Spirit Juice Studios.

This Catholic media company is high class and full of talent. They are using God's gifts to glorify him and the STUFF IS GOOD! Read: not cheesy. We needed this.

Calling all ye who have heard of the Daniel Fast!

I am the WORST faster. I easily convince myself, "Oh, just that little bit more food. This isn't a small meal yet, it's just a snack. Oh, that bite didn't count. Hmm. The bag is empty."

I am focused so much on ME when I fast: how great thou art, Elizabeth, for depriving yourself. Reward yourself a little; God wouldn't want you to feel like this.  

Short story: I need to reflect carefully on this weakness of mine because it has led me to sin many times. Christ died for me on the cross. I should be focused more on him in these times of fasting.

I see a lot of these in my future.

So, it begins Monday.  Christ, let me focus more on YOU.

The lovely Sarah wrote a thought-provoking post this week (one that includes God in a sarcastic mood) and I invite you to check it out: Of Museums, Monsters, and Men.

I will have three classrooms this year as an ESOL teacher. Eek! This is the before picture of the first one:



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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dear College Students, Part 3

It's that time again.  To distract myself from the nervous twitch developing in my right cheek in anticipation of my own first day of school approaching, I will share with you a great post that I wish I wrote!

Young and Catholic is a blog I've read for a while and now that I'm slowly getting back on the blogging horse, I have returned to loving it!

She writes:

Dear Students,
Another school year is beginning, and I remember those first day of school jitters I used to get without fail every year—the ones you might be experiencing now.  The excitement over picking out that first day of school outfit, getting super organized with back-to-school supply shopping, and of course day-dreaming that this could be the year I’d meet “the one.” 
If there’s one thing I want for you to know as you begin this new school year, it’s that nothing within those four walls of your school has the power to define who you are. 
In school you may find that there are a lot of things competing for your attention; so many things begging you to invest your whole identity in.  “I am an ‘A Student,’” or, “I am a ‘student council member,’” or, “I belong to this group.”
Finish reading it at Young and Catholic.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Joining Bloglovin'

Follow my blog with Bloglovin!

I'm trying desperately hard to get back into my #CathSorority community!

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

In the Quiet

I am addicted to background noise.

If there is silence in the house, my first objective it to give it some rhythm. Thank you, Spotify.

When I got my first computer before leaving for college, I developed the habit of falling asleep to a movie or TV show whispering from my laptop from my bedside table.  Since then until May 25, 2013, I estimate at least 60% of the nights included the white noise of some TV show, book on tape, or movie buzzing in my room during the sleeping hours.

Image courtesy of jannoon028. And FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Here's the thing with bad habits (run away screaming whenever anyone tells you they know "THE thing" with a bad connoted reality): we all know well when something is a bad habit versus a good or neutral one.  We know, but what does that matter if we choose to ignore that?

It's less that we know this action is a bad one as it is that we acknowledge there are some untoward consequences. Yeah, those. We'd like those to halt, please.

I knew I wasn't getting enough sleep. I knew I was addicted to the extent that forcing (yes, forcing) myself to leave my computer on the desk in the corner of my room was eventually accepted as futile after an hour or two of laying in silence that hit the volume of a five-piece brass band.  Of course, after such a loud nothing I would pop up, grab the powerful computer and huff back into my familiar viewing spot.

I knew I was watching people who would otherwise not be role models every night, letting them talk their way into my subconsciousness. It was a retreat and I was eager to give in to it.

The other thing with bad habits (run!) is: the first few days of giving up the rotten routine are the hardest and after that, it can be a brave new world.  Watching videos on my computer to fall asleep deprived me of time to be in silence.  It's no coincidence that I felt a foggy wall grow between God and me at this time.

So what happened May 25, 2013?  I married a man who treasures the virtues of silence (read: no screens in the bedroom).  Cold turkey, my friends.

Then I relapsed when I got my first smart phone about six months into our marriage.  I brought my phone in the room "just in case" I needed to remember something in preparation for student teaching the next morning or "just in case" Jack the Ripper charged into our room.  That silence got louder and louder and I grabbed the screen next to my head every. Single. Night.

It is still a temptation to bring up my phone at bedtime, you know, just in case.  But the bad mood and fogginess I felt with my husband on the mornings after staying up two hours too late, flicking through my phone, are too rich for my blood.  I choose good consequences over bad ones, one day at a time.  I find God does arrive in the silence and the consequences are more sleep and more joy.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

What's your mammon?

"They had donuts at the meeting this morning."

My husband is a fit man: he hits the treadmill four or five times a week, runs 5ks and 10ks races regularly, and avoid sodas, fried foods, and other junk.  He can afford to pluck a donut out of that white rectangle holding delicious rows of glazed sweetness.  However, today he chose not to spend the 15 seconds it would take to chew on a donut and held a micro-celebration for it!

One of the readings during last week's morning prayer was from Matthew 6:22-24.


Having the donut would have been fine.  Like I said, he's fit and would have burned it off later this afternoon.  But there was another reason he refused himself the treat:

"It's almost like sin. You make the choice not to indulge in the pleasure for a minute and emerge on the other side knowing the benefits of making the good choice," he told me after the micro-celebration.

It's a bit dramatic to call a donut "mammon," but it's a microcosm of a larger addiction to quick fixes and right-now pleasures.  What are we spending our days thinking about?  By not grabbing the allegorical donut and purposefully deciding to choose what is spiritually better for us, be that taking a walk with someone we love, cracking open the scriptures, driving to sit with Christ in the adoration chapel, tasting blood when you really want to twist the knife in the ribs of that person who is WRONG AND NEEDS TO HEAR IT from you, or deciding to get off your rump to serve your spouse/sister/brother/mother/father/enemy.
Image from artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Money is always neutral. Food is always neutral. Power is neutral. It's our attitude toward it that can be sinful. Worshiping money, over-indulging in food (or worshiping abstinence of food), desiring more than we need is what makes it an unrighteous place to put our attention.  

Consider keeping your hands occupied with something else when the top comes off "the donut box" and recognize that you A) aren't in an all-day state of lethargy afterward and B) can thank yourself for purposefully choosing what is right for you at that time.
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Checking in and two recipes

Accountability partners!

How is it going?!  So far, so good for me and I hope you're finding success in your hard work, as well.  I'm down in poundage and up in spirits!

My number one weapon in this endeavor is my ultimate accountability partner and support system, my loving husband.  He listens to me rail on about the next recipe I want to try, how many grams of lettuce I've eaten in twenty-four hours, and how much I'm loving feeling so empowered in these last few weeks.  He's the best.

I know, puke. But God blessed me; what can I say?

Two cool things I'm trying today (the school system where I usually volunteer has spring break this week and I'm just about done with my homework...hence: free time): Roasted Chipotle Chickpeas and Kidney Bean Relish

Roasted Chipotle Chickpeas

1 cup of dry chickpeas
eyeball a few drops of EVOO
A few dashes of Mrs. Dash Southwestern Chipotle seasoning

Soak the chickpeas in water over night, covering the dry beans with at least two inches of water.  By morning, they will expand quite a bit.

Cook the chickpeas in a saucepan for at least 20 minutes at a boil (I'm an estimator when it comes to cooking).  Stir them and know that they're done when you try one and it tastes edible and not too crunchy/chalky. Drain.

Stir in a few drops of EVOO, enough to get them "wet," and throw in enough Mrs. Dash to make sure each chickpea has some on it.  I like spice, so I was generous.

Spread it out on a cookie tin and broil it in the oven (or toaster oven, as I did) for about twenty minutes.  You want them to be crunchy, as these are your salty-craving squasher! And they are good for you! Yay, legumes!

Nutrition info (calculated on MyFitnessPal):
4 servings of about 1/6 cup (ha, obscure enough?) each (19 g, .68 oz)

62 calories per serving
Fat: 1.9 g
Sodium: 5 mg
Potassium: 157.5 mg
Carbs: 10.5 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sugars: 2 g
Protein: 3.5 g

Kidney Bean Relish

1 cup dry kidney beans
3 stalks of celery
1/4 white onion
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
spices to taste

(A lot of this is repeat. Pete and Repeat get in a boat, Pete falls out...)

Soak the kidney beans in water over night, covering the dry beans with at least two inches of water.  By morning, they will expand quite a bit.

Cook the kidney beans in a saucepan for at least 20 minutes at a boil (I'm an estimator when it comes to cooking).  Stir them and know that they're done when you try one and it tastes edible and not too crunchy/chalky. Drain.

Cook the corn as directed on the package.  In the meantime, dice up the celery and onion into little pieces.  Picture putting this relish on your salad, chicken, or rice (maybe?) and picture what size of veggies you would want to scoop up with your fork.  That's how small they should be (again, I'm an estimator, married to an engineer).

Pour all ingredients (beans and corn at room temperature) into a bowl, mixing the apple cider vinegar and spice (to taste) in with the lot.  If you have a container with a top or you want to put this mixture in a zipper bag, do so, because this is a great, healthy alternative to dressing on your salad that should last all week.  I think it would also be good as an alternative to chili on a sausage or hot dog in the summer.  I also think this could be tasty with some sauerkraut mixed in.

It's a clean, refreshing, crunchy addition to the day!

Nutrition info (calculated on MyFitnessPal):
10 servings, 63 g each

38 calories per serving
Fat: 0 g
Sodium: 11.7 mg
Potassium: 132.1 mg
Carbs: 7.6 g
Fiber: 1.1 g
Sugars: 0.7 g
Protein: 1.9 g

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

My View - Cathedral of the Sacred Heart




My husband and I had the opportunity to be at the deaconate ordination of a friend of ours at the Richmond Diocese's Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.  The Mass was beautiful and it was transcending to watch a faithful guy I've known since childhood receive Holy Orders, one year before he (God willing) becomes a priest.  Sitting in this beautiful cathedral, I'm also reminded that I will soon sit in these pews again to watch two other friends enter the Sacrament of Matrimony!

Visit Julie at The Corner with a View for more "My View" posts!
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