Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Living with a phone from the Stone Age

From time to time, I've noticed conversations on social media where people lament how dependent they are on smartphones. These people ask for advice as they wonder if it's possible to ditch the smartphone and use a plain ol' no-frills cell phone to call and text.

I really want to do this, but is it even possible? How do I live without a smarphone? is a common refrain I've seen.

As someone who has never owned a smartphone, I'd like to offer a little insight into the world of "dumb phones." If you've ever considered ditching the smartphone, I think it'd be good for you to know what you are getting yourself into.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Fighting for peace (Or: A view of my chaotic mind)

I sat in front of the brightly lit screen, the words in front of me colliding with various thoughts in my mind. Yet another millennial, another mother of young children ,had written a book. I was so excited to see a young woman-and a mother of little kids at that-pursuing her dreams and bringing her voice into the literary realm. However, even though I know that "comparison is the thief of joy," as they say, the old questions and doubts began firing away in my mind and heart. 

Why haven't I written as many freelance articles as I clearly could have by this point? 
Why haven't I written a book-or at the very least, written more than a page or two? (let's not count how many 1-2 page "books in progress" I have laying around...)
Why do I put most of my writing time towards my blog-which is "for fun," and a creative outlet-instead of working on "professional projects," earning money, and getting my name out there? 

But why can't I just let go of the urge to write professionally and be satisfied with scribbling on my blog while being a stay-at-home-mom? After all, kids grow quickly, and I will never get this time back with my little ones. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

It's easy to act like Roy, but that doesn't make it OK

Pam Beesly is having a challenging time at the office. It's Valentine's Day at Dunder-Mifflin, and she has to watch her coworker, Phyllis, receive gifts all day long. But Pam hears no word from her fiancĂ©, Roy. She doesn't receive any flowers, cards, or notes. She certainly doesn't receive an obnoxiously huge teddy bear. Nothing. Sure, they had agreed to not buy each other any big gifts, but Valentine's Day gifts-as Pam points out to Dwight-are about "doing something so that the person knows you really care about her." 

When Roy comes to meet Pam at the end of the workday, she tells him that she's upset about not receiving anything from him. Roy, in response, says: 
"Well, Valentine's Day isn't over. Let's get you home, and you are gonna get the best sex of your life."

At these words, Pam does not look thrilled. I think I can understand Pam's feelings in this episode of The Office. Roy pretty much ignores her all day, and when he does come up to talk with her, the one thing on his mind is sex; he has no thought or concern about what she actually wants or needs. His words and actions (and lack of action) portray an attitude of selfishness, of self-gratification. The way he approaches their entire relationship is pretty much summed up in this scene, and it's disgusting to see Pam treated in this way. Do you know what else is disgusting? All of the times that I act like Roy in my relationships with other people and God. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

An Open Book/On the Bookshelf: Books to start off the new year

We've moved into February (how???) and I'd like to take a minute to let y'all know what books I read to begin the year 2019. Somehow, I found myself reading entirely non-fiction (which I guess is a great way to inspire myself for the coming months ahead?), so I'm going to pull out some fiction in the next few weeks ;) 

Additionally, make sure to jump on over to Carolyn Astfalk's "Open Book" link-up to find more discussions about books! 

Monday, February 4, 2019

Hello, 2019

It feels like we're finally, finally settled back into our post-holiday routine. As much as I love the excitement of different events and visits, these past two weeks of normalcy have been really rejuvenating! I think that today would be a nice chance for a good old-fashioned update and let y'all know what exactly I've been up to since the year began, what I've been watching on Netflix, and some articles I've enjoyed around the web (a post on what books I've been reading will come later this week).

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Dear Fellow Moms: Changing your library visits may transform your life

By some people's standards, I visit the library a lot. Two or three times a week, I'll find myself walking through those familiar doors, greeting the librarians, and guiding my kids back to the Children's Area. I'll see the sweet elderly woman in her all-blue or all-red outfit as she works through sudoku puzzles. I'll see "virtual school" students huddled at tables with their teachers. I'll see a few people lounging in the back, trying to find warmth and respite from the cold winter days. And I'll see other moms as they walk from shelf to shelf, piling books in their arms for their children to peruse later.  

None of these sights seem too out-of-the-ordinary. In fact, at every library, there are probably individuals doing similar things to what I regularly witness. And yet, despite the normalcy of these sights, I find myself wondering what would happen if these loving mothers I see slightly altered something about their library visits. I think it's wonderful that so many women bring their children to the library, and that they see a need for their kids to read books. However, time and time again, I see women walk into the library for a toddler program, spend the entire time after the program finding books for their children, and then leave under the weight of Berenstain Bears and Fancy Nancy-without anything for themselves. Yes, there are exceptions to this trend, but honestly, I see it happen all the time. And so I wonder-what if we changed this? 

What if we made time to look for books for ourselves while visiting the library? 

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Conversion of St. Paul

I know the story; I've both read it myself, heard it at Mass, and even seen it portrayed on that animated VHS tape I watched as a little kid. The story of Saul-turned-Paul; the persecutor-turned-disciple. Yet as I sat in the wooden pew with my kids on Friday morning, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, the words struck me in a new way. 

In Acts 22, Paul recounts the story of his conversion. He was travelling to Damascus to capture Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. But then, on the journey to Damascus, he fell to the ground when Jesus spoke to him and completely turned his life upside-down (Acts 22:6-10). So, the now-blinded Saul went on with his companions to Damascus, where the devout Ananias told him to seek Baptism and become a witness to God's work. We all know the story, and St. Paul is famous and well-loved. Verses from his epistles adorn many a decorative wall hanging or pillow. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

My Breastfeeding-Friendly Exodus 90 Plan

When I first heard about Exodus 90, a program in which men practice asceticism, pray, and grow in community for ninety whole days to experience greater freedom and dependence on God, my reaction was not very supportive. It was something like: 

Wow, that sounds really great...for single men. But I CANNOT see a married man doing this, because what if his wife wants to watch a movie with him? SHE CAN'T.

Yes, I'll admit it: my hesitance to anything resembling Exodus 90 came from a desire that my husband would not do it, because I didn't want to be watching movies and eating ice cream all by myself. 

Well, here we are one year later, and...several men in our church are about to begin Exodus 90.
Not only that, but I will also be participating (to an extent). The program is designed for men, so I'm modifying it a bit since I'm a stay-at-home mom who currently breastfeeds a baby. To be completely honest with you, though, I am not excited about this. Just thinking about it fills me with dread and makes me feel a bit miserable. Yet, I'm still planning to do this, because I need it.

I need more silence in my life.
I need to get my prayer life back on track.
I want to love my husband better, and sacrifice for him more.
I want to get in a better routine of exercise (exercise has been practically non-existent since summertime).
I want to focus on writing more, because I have so many halfheartedly begun projects or ideas that are still percolating in my mind and want to see the light of day.

From October until now, life has involved lots of visits with family, holidays, and sickness. So, I've become rather undisciplined in many areas of my life, and I've gotten really comfortable with laziness. With my modified Exodus 90, I am motivated to kick myself into action. It won't magically achieve these goals for me, but it will help me to create an environment (both external and internal) to strive for them, I think. I hope. Who knows?

All that said, what will I be doing in my "modified" Exodus 90? (you can read the full list of ascetical practices that I'm drawing from here)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Ladies, it's time to Lead

My flip-flops smacked the floor of the store as I briskly walked-that is, as rapidly as my watermelon-shaped belly would allow. As one child swam in my womb, the other scampered ahead of me. My eyes were focused on the two-year-old who darted towards the alluring gleam of the produce section, but suddenly, as I passed displays of makeup and summertime decorations, a greeting card caught my eye. Script swirled across the front, stating: Some Women Were Made to Lead.

Since my toddler was moving further into the distance, I couldn't pick up the card and I continued to speed-waddle across the floor. Yet, as I took step after step, the phrase from  that greeting card ricocheted through my mind. Some Women Were Made to Lead.

This card may have given an uplifting context on the inside, a positive view for this sentiment. However, the longer this phrase volleyed back and forth in my head, the more uncomfortable I grew.

Are only "some women" made to lead? I wondered. For, whether or not the creator intended it, I could immediately come to this conclusion with one glance at the card. "Some women" designates one group. One specific sector of women who are the leaders, the movers, the people who shake things up. "Some women" does not seem to indicate or include "all women." 

Quite frankly, I believe that this idea-the idea that "some (and not all) women were made to lead"-can be harmful. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

What are you going to do about abortion this year?

My entire life, I've fought against abortion in some way. I have dim memories from my childhood of holding an electric candle, standing outside of a building in prayer; I presume it was some kind of pro-life vigil outside of a clinic. Long before I knew what abortion was, I'd join my prayers with others who would pray "for an end to abortion." At some point, I learned what abortion is-a procedure that ends the life of an unborn child. In middle school, I participated in a pro-life speech contest, and, I chose to speak about abortion. In high school and college, I was in pro-life clubs, occasionally prayed at the abortion clinic, and attended the March for Life. I even did a little bit of volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center. These are all great ways to pray for an end to abortion-but I did these all in the past.

I recently read Abby Johnson's book, Unplanned, and it felt like a slap to my face. As Johnson recounts her journey from being a director of Planned Parenthood to her work in the pro-life movement, I started to ask myself, What am I doing? Right here, right now, what am I actively doing to serve and help women and to fight against the monstrous killer of abortion? 


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

2018: A Year in Review

Now that life is starting to slip back into a quieter routine, I'm taking a few moments to sit and look back over 2018. It's always hard to predict what a year will look like, because so many unexpected things happen-and last year was no exception.