Friday, January 16, 2015

Catholics: Experts on Eating

I have a history of struggling with food and body image, like many women in America.

I'm grateful that I recognize the joy I get from exercise and glorifying God with my body through running. However, I still go up and down with my relationship with food.

I've given up sugar ( to the extent where I checked ingredients lists), I've gone vegan for a little while (knowingly temporarily. Bacon.), I've done Weight Watchers, I've tracked every morsel I put into my mouth, I've deprived myself of one thing or another, and I usually end up exasperated and disappointed.

The most success that I've had came when I gave up sugar, and I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I was enjoying God's blessing of vegetables and fruits with a smiling heart. However, as soon as I got through (hmmm) Christmas this year I lost sight of why I was choosing foods the way I had been choosing them. I realized I didn't have the right mindset, and it really was all about me trying to control.

Yesterday I was listening to my free treat, a surprise Sirius XM subscription in my car (when there had not been one since we bought the car) and I heard part of Jen Fulwiler's radio show. She had Emily Stimpson on air with her, talking about her new blog The Catholic Table. They discussed how their relationship with food and eating changed for the better when they fully explored their Catholic faith.

That's why the Vatican is in Italy. Think about the way they treat food over there! Imagine if the Vatican was in Germany, or in England. The Italian culture stresses a total appreciation for every morsel, combined with an expression of love for those gathered by sitting down and savoring time at the table.

God provided the Eucharist for us commune with Him and His other children while we are on Earth. I need to go to Him more often and to try to control less often. I don't want to find myself using terms like "got through," as in: survived the dessert table, to discuss time with my family at Christmas ever again.

A nice intro post on Emily's blog: What is The Catholic Table?


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Monday, January 12, 2015

Gesture of Peace

Here we go again. Couple in front of me, couple beside me, family behind me. Great. I picked my seat perfectly, AGAIN. Why can't some old widow sit next to me ONE of these days. Great. Here he goes, ready to spin everyone off into the arms of their spouses, girlfriends, fiances, moms/dads/people-who-love-them-enough-to-join-them-at-Mass. Great. Another reminder that I'm single and here alone. I love this.

This may or may not have been an inner dialogue of my own several years ago. Going to Mass by yourself can hurt. Often, it can hurt so much that you A) stop going to Mass all together, B) stop going to one parish and "church hop," therefore preventing yourself from becoming established in one place, or C) get mad at God for keeping you in this state of limbo.

My compassionate, wonderful husband has always made it his mission to include people. So many of his friends are those who he met because he was reaching out to them when they were the new kid or were in need of someone to reach out to them. It's one of my favorite things about my BFF/husband.

This holy husband of mine introduced me to this practice with which I'm about to challenge you: if you are lucky enough to go to Mass with someone (spouse, significant other, friend, family, anyone), don't offer them the gesture of peace until after you've offered it to all of those around you. There is bound to be someone near you who is dreading the gesture of peace because they know they'll have those 24 seconds alone, watching everyone else remind them that they came alone. 

We are a community. Build it and reach out to those who came to gather. Your Mass partner isn't going anywhere. This is one small way I believe we can strengthen the Church.
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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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