Tuesday, June 19, 2018

When We Take "Keeping it Local" Too Far

In the past few years, I've noticed a big push from friends, neighbors, and small businesses to "keep it local." In an effort to bolster the local economy and support our communities, people and businesses encourage us to keep our dollars in our area. This makes a sense to me. It also leads me to think about a principle that I, as a Catholic, try to uphold-that of subsidiarity, in which a state should not substitute itself for the responsibility of individual men and women in a community (see CCC 1883-1894 for more on this). Although I love-and use-Amazon, I really love supporting my local community in various ways: buying from the farmer's market, getting coffee from a small, locally-owned shop, and spending loads of time at the local library. 

Yet, even though "keeping it local" can be a really good endeavor, we can take our enthusiasm too far. There have been many occasions when I've found myself directing my mindset and vision solely to my local area, focusing on my immediate realm of existence. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

On the Bookshelf: The Summer Reading Program has Begun

There have been a couple days lately where my toddler will only nap while cuddled in my lap (I'm not complaining completely, though, because these days are numbered as both my belly gets bigger and as we prepare for having a newborn in the house), so it's been a good excuse to read books. Plus, there are tons of Summer Reading Lists across the internet, so naturally, I need to read.Also, the library's Summer Reading Program is in full swing, giving me more of an excuse to read as well.  Can I complete the program in the first month? Maybe-I'm almost there! Anyways, I've been reading lots of fascinating books lately. And I have a ton of books on hold that will eventually come to me through the library, so expect more book reviews in the near future ;) 

Monday, June 11, 2018

How to Use Coffee Beans and Recycle the Grounds (when you have kids)

It's no secret that I love coffee. When I was a young girl, my favorite aisle in the grocery store was the coffee aisle, where I would scamper by all of the beans and breath in the aroma of coffee beans. I'm currently drinking a steaming cup of coffee in a locally-owned coffee shop as I write this. I make coffee in my French Press several times a month, and I relish the process of grinding the beans and tasting that delicious cup of strong flavors. 

I love coffee, but I don't love waste. And while I could toss my used coffee grounds into the garbage can, satisfied that they fulfilled their purpose in making my mug of deliciousness, I like finding further life and uses for my coffee. The internet is full of lists that detail the numerous ways in which we can recycle coffee grounds. However, as easy as it would be to compost or fertilize or deter pests with used coffee, I just never get around to actually doing any of these things. After making coffee, I toss the grounds on a piece of foil to dry on the counter and promptly forget about them until the next time I make coffee. 

A few months ago, I finally found a practical way in which I can put these oft-neglected coffee grounds to work: I can use them to entertain children. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

What does it mean to represent the Catholic Church?

About a month ago, I was perusing a rather heated discussion on social media. In this conversation, someone referenced a particular well-known priest, and immediately someone else jumped in, indignant, proclaiming: He's not a good representation of our Church. My eyes widened, and I grew disturbed at the angry declaration that was made. Just a few days ago, I saw a similar disparaging comment regarding a famous celebrity who is Catholic. 

We seem so quick to accuse others, to say that they are "poor representations of the Catholic Church," and in doing so we forget an important reality: that the Catholic Church, from the very beginning, has been a motley crew of redeemed sinners who are striving to be saints. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Life Without Privacy Fences

When I was growing up, I lived in a few different neighborhoods. Each neighborhood seemed to uphold a particular standard, possessing certain attributes: spacious yards, quiet streets, and tall fences. When we were house-hunting last year, I noticed a similar trend in many neighborhoods. At one point, I remember our realtor noting that if a house we were looking at didn't have a "privacy fence," we could always put one in. 

We like secluded areas in our homes, don't we? We like space to be ourselves, places to roam around and do as we wish. We like our privacy. 

And yet, we complain about how disconnected people are from each other. We bemoan the fact that we feel so alone, despite living in populated neighborhoods. We wistfully glance at our neighbors as we see them coming and going in their cars, wishing that we lived in "the good old days" when people actually knew each other. 

 But still, we hide behind our phones, schedules, and fences. We don't necessarily like the way things are, but we're reluctant to rock the boat. We prefer to see ourselves as the victim of circumstances (our disconnected age) instead of realizing that we have the power to change ourselves and our communities. We don't want to experience discomfort or awkwardness, so we hide in comfort behind our tall fences. 

For nearly five years, I have been living without privacy fences. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

On the Bookshelf: Jumping into Summertime

We basically skipped over springtime over here because we went from some cold temperatures in April to a hot May. As in, the high for nearly every single day this week is in the 90s. So, I've been spending lots of time in air-conditioning while reading! Over the past few months, I read an assortment of fiction and non-fiction books, and I really loved some of them. So let's talk literature!  

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Plogging, Pregnancy, & Pill Bugs

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I've passed the halfway mark of this pregnancy, and I thought it'd be a good time to update y'all about how things are going over here. 

In short: I've taken up (occasional) plogging, I feel huge, and sometimes I want to be like a pill bug and curl up into a ball under a shell. 

For further details and a bit of early morning, caffeinated rambled, do read on ;) 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Bollywood, Easter Eggs, and What I Never Expected to See at 6:30 a.m. (7QT)

Happy Friday, everyone! It's been a long time since I joined Kelly for some quick takes, and since things have been on the heavy/deep side lately here on the ol' blog with my discussion of therapy, I figured it would be fun to lighten things up! 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Why (and how) I began therapy for my mental health

Therapy? That's for people with serious problems, right? People who are having suicidal thoughts or have divorced parents or went through an intensely traumatic event. Isn't mental health therapy for these people? If none of these criteria apply to you, there's no need to ever see a counselor, correct? 

Why am I even thinking about this right now? I mean, words like "therapy," "counseling" "depression" or "anxiety" are NOT to be mentioned, since it's a fairly taboo topic. 

Has this monologue ever occupied your thoughts? 
Sadly, these words have not just run through my mind-I have wholeheartedly believed them for years. 

Therapy is for people like them. But me? I'm fine. I'm happy-joyful, even-and I don't need help. Yes, there are things I struggle with. But isn't struggle just part of the Christian life? And if I keep encountering the same problems for years on end, don't I just need to pray harder, love better, and become holier for it to all calm down? If things haven't improved-even when I pray and pray some more-it's my cross. Evidently, I'm to be enslaved to these problems for an undetermined time. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Value of the "Home Day"

I love people, and I love discovering new and exciting places. I love attending events and getting to meet random people and strike up completely random conversations with them. I love getting out to see the world, and if I stay at home for a huge amount of time, I grow antsy.

However, I still make "home days" a priority. Our world is just too busy, and I hate how this has become not just socially acceptable, but normal. We seem to constantly need something that keeps us dashing from one place to another. The "lazy day at home" is becoming a bit of a rarity as activities, work, and outings take precedence. You'd think that stay-at-home moms would be an exception to this trend, but I've found that this is not the case. I cannot count how many conversations I've had in the past several months where another mom has said to me, We just have to get out because my kid can't stay at home. 

As someone with a very active toddler, I can somewhat feel this sentiment. When we had several days of bitterly cold and icy weather last winter, I didn't feel like leaving the warmth of the house and my son became a bit fidgety. I've found that we need to physically leave the house for a change of scenery (and to let out his energy) daily. However, I refuse to let us get swept up in the current of our busy culture. How do I try to find a peaceful middle ground? Through the "home day." 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Does the Liturgical Year Overwhelm You? Approach it like NFP.

The liturgical year-the rhythm of seasons that draw our focus onto the life and mystery of Christ-is profoundly beautiful. Rich with celebrations, traditions and stories, the liturgical year is pretty amazing...and also overwhelming at times. When people start intentionally observing the liturgical year-or decide to dive deeper into it-all of the practices and traditions can seem like a lot. There's tons of depth, a massive amount of saints, a lot of traditions (both mainstream and obscure), and it can be daunting. The Catholic Church has been around for nearly 2000 years, so it should be no surprise that there is such a rich heritage to draw from! Tyler Blanski ponders the significance of the liturgical year in his stellar book on Christianity, When Donkeys Talk
"I wondered, If we are going to reorder our lives around Jesus, perhaps one of the most practical ways we could start would be to do what the medieval Christians did as they went about the serious living of the faith. They reordered their calendars differently. In Christendom we celebrate the feast days of the saints, the holidays that retell the biblical narrative. Good Friday is our Memorial Day. Pentecost is our Independence Day. When we believe that Christ is the unity of knowledge and the coherency of creation, we keep our stories in God's story. We begin to enter God's time zone. We become so much more than observers. We become participants." 
I've been thinking that I'd like to dig my hands deeper into the liturgical year and start revolving my life even more around this continual meditation on Christ's life. As I've deliberated on how to even begin integrating more traditions, prayers, and celebrations into each year, I realized that I should just approach the liturgical year like Natural Family Planning, or NFP.

NFP is, quite simply, fertility awareness. It takes an in-depth look at a woman's fertility cycle and how that affects her whole person. NFP is important for single women to learn so that they can know their bodies and take care of their reproductive health, and NFP is important for married women to learn so that they-in addition to knowing themselves-can utilize this information as they prayerfully discern whether or not God wants them to try to conceive children.

If you love NFP but are scared to dip your toes into the liturgical year, if you love the liturgical year but are hesitant to attempt NFP, OR if both NFP and the liturgical year seem out of reach-well, let's talk about all this, shall we?