Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Analyze This, Over-Analyze That

I've been meaning to write about this subject for weeks - and after four conversations this past week with this exact topic with friends, I'm even more convicted to write about it. Also Not Alone Series posts begin again next Tuesday with Rachel and Lindsay (new hosts!!), and I want to get back into the writing groove. Because I like sharing, I think I have something to say (at least to myself, future Katie, to look back on), and I'm looking for new stress relief so get ready!

I have a tendency to over-analyze things - which if you know me in real life you would never think! So over the last 18 months of being present in the online dating circle, I'm giving it up. I've also spend the last few weeks reading the beginning of this book by Aziz Ansari (it was only $3.99 so I splurged). He and this other guy Eric did a lot of research about Modern Romance and are bringing it back to the people.

The book puts in writing a lot of the things I'm experiencing in this crazy world as a 30 year old single gal trying to find herself a mate. I don't even think I'm fully immersed in to the online dating culture. For instance, none of this is happening. I don't pursue the men following Cindy's advice here - and also it not being fruitful after a few messages. I did take a leap (because I couldn't get this song out of my mind) on one guy and spent a few weeks chatting online and on the phone before an in person meeting that solidified how much I didn't ever want to talk with him again.

Another guy viewed my profile and had a little quiz in his that lead to his name and a 'find me on Facebook' hint - which I did and spent time crafting this great message to initiate a conversation in the hopes that he would respond. I was interested in what he wrote about himself and wanted to know more. Know what I got? ... ... ... You guessed it, a big fat nothing! No response at all.

All this does is confirm my extreme dislike of the whole online thing. I've always said "I don't want that to be my story" - I got over it. Meeting online isn't a bad story. It's not the first thing that people say - it won't be what we tell our grand-kids - unless this is the 'how' of our meeting.

"Grandma, how'd you and grandpa meet?" asked the cutest grand-kid ever.

"Well, you see. It was a long time ago in another era. He logged in to this online world where he could scroll through hundreds of different women that a computer matched him up with and view their carefully selected profile. He wasn't committed to the process enough to pay for the service, so he could only send Emotigrams to girls who's profile he liked. And one night he sent 20 of them, and I was one of them. (p.s. the first time we talked on the phone he told me that I wasn't the only girl he was interested in that night (p.p.s. yes a man who I talked to online said that to me the first time we talked on the phone)) So I decided I would send him a real message back and I crafted words so carefully it took me three days to even 'wink' back. Then for weeks and weeks we sent 'hello's and 'shocks' and 'welcome aboards' before he finally asked for my number to call me. Then three weeks later he called and we talked. Then we sent Facebook messages. Then he decided we should meet and 4 years later we got married. Now we live happily ever after."

In case you've never seen them, actual emoticons:

This says, I liked what I saw, but I'm too cheap to pay,
so I hope you like me enough to investigate my profile and
figure out a way to contact me outside of CM
even though you signed a contract stating
you wouldn't do that and I said I wouldn't ask you to.

Shocked at what? (no one's ever sent this to me, thank God!)

"Welcome Aboard" - what? The SS Lollipop?
Are we sailors now? WHO says this??
Anyway - back to the point. I know that there are many benefits of the online meeting (I'm going to refuse to call it online 'dating' - Dating is something people do when they are in the same space!). Expanding your circle to include people who you wouldn't otherwise know, being able to see that these people are all in it for marriage (but I've found that isn't really true), seeing from the beginning that you have common interests, etc...

I think about the men I know in real life, like one I saw again on Friday night. Having a conversation that's the beginning of friendship. Learning more about each other's lives and seeing if there's a good flow of conversation. Finding out tidbits about their life without reading their entire profile or FB history before even talking to them. Looking someone in the eye when speaking with them. Standing near someone experiencing more than just words, but body language, if they are being receptive to you. Etc...

These are the things that make a relationship. I know expanding your circle, widening the pool - I get it. I'm not putting down people who've met their spouses on CM or other sites (except Tinder, I'm not sure exactly how that creates a long term relationship - that's serious luck to find someone else in it for the long haul). That's great for you. It is. But for me, I want to live my life outside of my computer. I have a tendency to get sucked in to electronic / tech things and I don't want to pile one more thing into that lump.

I know it's a lot to ask, but I want a husband who's first encounter with me was "in the flesh" rather than a random "emoticon" after checking out 150 profiles one night when he was bored. I want mutual friends. I want shared interests. I want the same faith. I want to be pursued. It's a tall order, but I'm begging like the persistent old woman with the unjust judge. Only I'm a persistent single woman with a just Lord who loves me so much He cannot stop thinking about me - because if He does, I cease to exist (check it out, cool theology from the great Thomas Aquinas, although I can't find the reference). 

He can do anything, even the seemingly impossible. So I'm asking for everything. I see Him deliver all of the time. I'm removing my doubt that He will. I see friends who've asked for big things from the Lord and receive them in abundance. I've been there on my knees with them asking for spouses to begin fighting for their marriage rather than bailing. Cancer to be completely eradicated from their bodies. I believe it can happen, and I'm not giving up until I'm sitting at the feet of Jesus seeing how my life unfolded alone.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Cross I'm Not Carrying

Tonight I had to run to Harris Teeter for some snacks to serve my very good friend Father Emmanuel from the Congo and the family who's hosting him tomorrow evening when the come over. I've been in my PJs (ie: shorts & a t-shirt I typically wear only to bed) since I got home from the 5pm Mass. When I pulled into the parking lot I noticed Sister E's car there and texted to see if she too was at HT. She was and we got to see each other for the first time in what felt like months. It was so great to catch up.

Our really great conversation ended with me crying in the middle of the HT parking lot. Although it ended in tears, it was a really great conversation.

I've been having some trouble lately with the cross I've been given to carry. The single life with a deep desire to be married with children. It seems like everyone else has all of these things that I want. I see how I am incredibly blessed by God. I know this. He takes such good care of me. Like just the weekend when I had a water leak in my ceiling. Yes now we have the Great Leak of 2015 as a sequel to the Disgusting Leak of 2014 when the entire downstairs had to be redone. It was from some hoses on the washer that are soon going to be replaced with a brand new washer and dryer set someone is getting me for free from the factory. Taken care of! Completely!

When I was talking to Sister E she said something that I couldn't stop thinking about when I came home - and then I was watching Parenthood on Netflix (to which I am addicted - and I cry at almost every episode - so be warned if you're going to start - it gets emotional!). There's some pretty intense stuff that happens to these characters you've grown to love and feel like they are a part of your own family.

Sister E said from the outside no one would know you have this struggle - the single life struggle that leads to crying in the HT parking lot. And she's right. My friends know, they know because it's constant and they are always talking me down from it. They are probably exhausted doing that and really just want to slap me across the face so I'll finally get it - God had a bigger plan that He set in motion at the beginning of time - calm yourself! But anyway...

I have an amazing job. This new job I took is really a perfect fit for me. I love the work I'm doing. I'm good at it. I was Electronic Sales Specialist of the Month for June and am a serious contender for July as well. The first month was really just practice, getting to know the business and finding opportunities. Who knows if it will last, but it's really great right now.

I haven't had to worry about my financial situation for a long time. I am frugal, but I was able to buy a house - and decorate it how I wanted to (with a little help from my flood insurance money). I know how to do the things I want to do here, so I can DIY things.

My family is healthy and so am I. There are minor issues here and there, but we aren't battling cancer right now or being with someone through the last days of their life in hospice. I'm not struggle with infertility (well I wouldn't really know that for sure being a single gal - but I keep track of these sorts of things and there are no known issues). Even the minor health issue I struggle with (chronic and frequent sinus infections) is just that minor.

I'm always concerned about the cross I'm carrying. This crazy "I'm single and I don't want to be and what's wrong with me and why won't anyone love me and everyone else is finding someone to marry them" cross that I think is too heavy. I forget how heavy the crosses I"m not carrying are. Unemployment, Terminal Health Issues, a Job I really dislike, Infertility, Homelessness, Mental Illness, Addiction, Abuse.

I'm not great at this, but I'm going to make a conscious effort to focus on the lightness of my cross and work on my perspective. I can't really change what other people are experiencing, but I can recognize that my attitude could use an adjustment in relation to where I stand with the Lord. That is one thing I can control - and maybe the only thing I should make an effort to have complete control of on a regular basis.

p.s. I would be remiss if I didn't state how I've been away from here for a while - mostly new job stuff. But I need this outlet in order to less some stress of sometimes. Unless I just use the crying during every episode of Parenthood to take care of that! So I'll pop in from time to time to write for myself. If those posts also speak to you where you're at, I'd love for you to share with me so we can journey together. Until next time...

Friday, May 15, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday, May 15th

Wow readers it has been quite a while since I've written anything at all and the last thing I wrote was just a bunch of pictures so that hardly counts - but you seem to be coming back day after day to read what I wrote. I'm back ... for now, I can't make any serious commitments. I want to, but I can't. Instead of boring you with a first I did this, then I did that sort of quick takes, I'm going to relay the things that I've learned in the last 3 weeks. The last time I wrote was my last day on the job as Office Manager. So I've learned lots of things these past three weeks at my new job.

The most glaring thing is that I don't think I handle stress as well as I thought I did. Not that I experience it all that often, I'm very blessed that I don't really get easily stressed out (not in the past few years anyway). It usually manifests itself with being really tired, but not getting enough sleep. But these past few weeks I've had some neck pain and some issues with my tooth (which are not entirely resolved - prayers would be most appreciated). Although there are underlying issues, I think they were exacerbated by stress. I won't go into everything that happened, but a lot of personal learning experienced coupled with beginning a new job. I learned that I have to make sure that I'm doing stress relieving activities. So I took up running again. After my break up with running back in August - we are back to together. Starting slowly - just getting to know each other again. I've committed to running a 5K at the end of the summer with a friend, so now just to train. I'm three days/1 week into the Couch to 5K training app (my favorite running app).

I learned that I can actually sell things. This was a concern of mine with my new job - but I made a few sales this week and now my daily numbers no longer read 0-0-0! So that's pretty exciting!

I learned that I really enjoy living alone. I've been working from home these past two weeks and I'm loving it. I like being able to go downstairs and grab a cup of tea, using the stove to boil the water rather than the microwave. I also learned that I like tea with water that was boiled on the stove rather than made hot in the microwave - I don't understand why there's a difference, but there is. I also like being able to take a break mid morning to make breakfast. It's been quite lovely.

I learned that I have the best friends. They listen to me when I just need to 'word vomit' all over them with problems or issues that are happening. I'm so grateful for MG and her ability to be a sounding board without judgement and then provide me with good advice. All of my friends have been so great these past few weeks listening and just being 'great friends' ... I hope I am the same for them.

I learned that I love being a parishioner at a parish. This is the most fantastic thing in the world - all of you fellow parishioners don't know how great you've got it! On May 3rd - my first Sunday at the parish after leaving (the previous weekend I had been away on retreat with the teens and then the entire week I was in Indiana) - I was having a doughnut with a friend and her family when someone came up to tell me how the urinal just wouldn't stop running and that there was an issue. I politely replied with "I don't work here anymore, I'm sorry but I cannot help you with that issue. The new office manager is actually over there, you can take the issue to him." SO freeing!!!

I also learned that not all parishes have automatic answering machines that go on in the evening! When I was in Indiana I wanted to go to daily Mass and one of the parishes didn't have their Mass times on their website so I just decided I would call. Surely they had them listed on their phone message. They might, but I don't know because when I called at 11:30pm Father Drew answered! I was so embarrassed. I had to make sure I went to the parish the next day for Mass and sure enough, he recognized me. This is quite the valuable lesson: for me - be aware before you call a church at 11pm at night; for the church - make sure you're websites are accurate!

For more Quickity, Quick Takes, check out the gang with Kelly over at This Ain't the Lyceum!
See you next week, or stop by this week for more musings and antics!

I'll be back soon ... have to catch up on my blog roll too ... have over 250 unread posts!

Friday, April 24, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday ... April 24th!

Well, I promised I'd share some photos from my trip to Texas, so here we go!

This is the view from my Aunt's porch. As soon as we got to the house on Tuesday, I had to sit outside and take in the view. I remember it being amazing, but it was even more incredible than I recalled! We spent a lot of time out here on the porch! 

The fire and the View!

One day we went into San Antonio to the Aquarium (not amazing), the oldest cathedral in Texas (beautiful), the riverwalk (lovely), and dinner at the Tower of Americas (delicious)!

cute little sea horsies
Just amazing - they have confession every day
all day long! How cool!
The view at dinner - from 63 stories up!
Celebrating my birthday with Aunt Char & Uncle Joe

Another day we took a drive to see the wildflowers. It was like they bloomed just for me! They said it's been a few years since they've been so beautiful - and this year did not disappoint. It was a day of incredible views!! Here's just a quick sampling of all of the amazing flower photos - I couldn't get enough!!

We also stopped at Enchanted Rock. We were going to hike, but the morning was rainy and then we didn't have enough time. It was so amazing though. How incredible that God put this granite rock in the middle of Texas and you can climb it! Also, only about 1% of the rock is even above the ground - the rest is hidden beneath the surface!

On Saturday two of my cousins came up to the house to visit and we sat on the porch after dinner with the sunset and a drink I've been waiting my entire life to try. I have this memory of my grandmother making pink squirrels when I was a kid, but I never got to try them. My cousin made them for me that evening as an after dinner dessert (and it is sweet) drink. Quite delicious and a great memory!

vanilla ice cream, creme de almond, creme de cocao

Before we left on Sunday I made everyone take a photo with me - just in case it's another 7 years before I'm able to come back!

Blake & Joey

Stephanie & Mark

Aunt Char, my godmother

Rubi & Greg

The porch from the other side as we said goodbye to this little piece of Heaven on Sunday before heading out to the airport.

I'm so glad I was able to take a vacation and visit family who I haven't seen in a while. A great way to celebrate the Octave of Easter!

Came back to two weeks left at my old job - and today's my final day. Staring the new one on Monday!! Here we go!

For more Quickity, Quick Takes, check out the gang with Kelly over at This Ain't the Lyceum!
Also - I really want to read that book Kelly's talking about today ... need to start!
See you next week, or stop by this week for more musings and antics!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

NAS: Freebie :: All Groan Up

Topic for this week is whatever we want, so I thought I'd write a little bit about a book I'm on a launch team for :: All Groan Up.

I've been reading this guy's blog for a while now. It's full of funny, inspiring, and great content. I especially think about his explanation of OCD ... Obsessive Comparison Disorder. (not to diminish people with clinical OCD tendencies) I don't know about you, but I tend to look at someone else's life and compare and contrast to my own. However, I typically only see the ways that hers is better than mine, she has accomplished more of my goals than me, and is overall happier than I am. Objectively, I know this isn't true. The self we put on Facebook, Instagram, and even this little 'ole blog is our best self. I don't tend to write to you on the days when I'm practically having a nervous breakdown, crying my eyes out because I don't know what to do with my life, where I'm going, or if I'll ever not be single.

I have those days. We all do. However, it's how we come out of them, how we try to prevent them - that matters. Wondering how to cure OCD according to Paul? His three tricks are: Put on Blinders, Cut down on Facebook and TV, and Celebrate what you do. Celebrate the great things that are going on in your life, even if it's just that you remembered to take out the garbage before it got smelly - people that is an accomplishment sometimes! Typing of which, that should really go out this morning before I leave for work!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand ... when an opportunity came a few weeks ago to be on the launch team for his new book All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job! I signed up. I thought it was a long shot - I'm not a writer, I have about fourteen readers (if you're even there today), and I really dislike twitter (because in this regard, I am an old person and don't understand how it actually works)! But he accepted me, added me to a Facebook group to get to know others on the launch team, and sent me a copy of the book to read ahead of time.

I was in Texas two weeks ago (speaking of which, I should share photos with you, the view from my aunt's house is amazing! - maybe Friday) and couldn't stop reading the book until I was finished! It was excellent. I found myself nodding along when he was talking about figuring out what he wanted to do, living with roommates, searching for a spouse, taking a leap at a new job, and so much more.

I can't put my finger on exactly why I loved it so much. He writes like it's a friend having coffee just chatting about what's happening. He writes to the scared 20-something who just wants to figure life out so they can become transform from thinking of themselves as a child to an adult. He writes honestly without sugar coating everything.

From the title, you might think that he was searching for a job (that actually made money) for a while - and you'd be right. He was - but in the midst of it, he found it - his 'signature sauce' - "your unique mix of ingredients that brings the world a flavor that no one else can."

We all have it, we all bring something to this world that no one else does. We just need to figure out what it is and bring it! Here's hoping that mine will help me succeed in my new job - which begins Monday!!!

Check out Morgan's for more 'freebie' posts from the ladies and as always thanks to Jen and Morgan for hosting up this weekly time of amazingness!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

NAS: Christian Friendship

What does it mean to be a friend based in Christ? Do Christian friends hold each other higher? Do we hold each other accountable? How do these friendships differ from non-Christian based friendships? Do they differ? Is one better than the other?

Oh, Christian Friendship! How difficult to attain sometimes, but how necessary for life to go smoothly! In my opinion, anyway. I've been blessed to have many friends in my life, many fantastic friends in fact. I wouldn't have made it through High School with my faith intact without Stephanie, Erin, and Ashlei. We had an amazing opportunity to meet many friends from around the Diocese at a retreat called "TEC" - to encounter Christ and "JTE" Journey to Emmaus. I was blessed with some amazing experiences with these ladies and couldn't have made it without them. They were better than any other acquaintances I had during the same time in my life.

Moving on to college, I had friends who were just as great. My college roommate, Julie, was a blessing - we were placed together randomly and it was the best that could have happened to begin my freshman year out right. We met tons of other people, went to Europe and South America, and loved hanging out at Campus Ministry. These people helped to support me in my Catholic Theology degree and know that I wanted to work in the Church, or at least support the Church in my future career.

After school, life became a little more difficult to find friends. I spent 9 months living at home working at a jail and the Lord sent me Elisabeth. She was in town for just a little over a year - we ended up leaving about the same time - I went south and she went west. We are not great friends - picking up wherever we left off each time we talk and it's glorious.

When moving to Charlotte it took a little more time - well, I thought it did - but when I was celebrating my 30th birthday last month, I realized that some of my friends I've known since almost the day I moved here. Lisa (and her brood of kiddos - there were two and one in the oven when we met and now there are five) and I met at Bible Study at our parish one random morning - they had moved here just a month or two earlier. We became fast friends and good friends. She and her husband would bring their boys to Daily Mass so I got to see them a lot. Now all five little ones are so great to me whenever I come over to visit. Then in the Spring I met Devon (before she was engaged, before Shep - my godson - came along, and before the new little girl CEA was even thought of) and we also became fast friends. I was even the reader at her wedding.

I had great friends for a while - great married friends, and not only was I seeking good Catholic friends, but I was also looking for single friends. I love my married friends, and I love their kiddos. I never complain about being interrupted at their house when we're talking, stopping to read a book, waiting for dinner to begin to make their places child friendly. I love being able to text in the afternoon and say, "I need some baby time, can I come over after work?" But I needed a single girlfriend to help me keep my sanity. So after much time, the Lord sent me Mary Grace - we met within a few weeks of her moving here and became fast friends. I don't know what I would have done the last four and half years, three living situations, four jobs, and traveling to four continents. The Lord really knew what he was doing when he thought for us to be friends.

The last few years have been filled with great roommates (Meredith and Lisa), new parishioners at the parish who I made into friends (Erica and Kate), connections from Fr. W to encourage me to take a dating leap (Stephanie), nuns who are full of contagious joy (Sr. Gloria and Sr. Edeva), and many more I'm sure I'm forgetting to write - but who are amazing women of faith who support me.

Back to the prompt though - do I think that Christian friendships are important? YES! I think being a good Catholic in this world is hard enough, but without being able to have the Lord at the center of the conversation about what's going on, it's almost not worth having the conversation, in my opinion. My life tends to revolve around my faith - which I'm happy about - and without being able to speak about faith and prayer with others, I don't know what I'd do.

This does not preclude me from making friends with people who have different faiths. I don't screen people, if that's what you're thinking. I'm friends with my family and their significant others - none of who are strong Christians. I would say I have friends at work who aren't, but that's not really true right now since I'm working at a parish - most people who work for as little money as we do are there because of their faith, not because the work is great.

I've been very privileged my entire life to attend Catholic School and work in the Church. These are the places I've met my friends, the ones who have remained great friends all share a common faith, a common foundation. So I'm biased in saying that I think it's important. I'm not sure my entire life will continue in this fashion, but I do hope to always share my faith with my friends no matter the situation.

Thanks to Jen and Morgan for hosting and providing this amazing group of friends online. I'm so grateful for the entire community! The internet wouldn't be the same without y'all!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

"Come As You Are" or "Come As He Desires"

I've been thinking about this topic for a while, knowing my own journey which I wrote about at length the past few months as well as where people are. While visiting with my family in Texas last week the subject came up again and I was silent because I'm not exactly sure how to articulate what I really think. I was saying how I prefer to attend Mass in the morning rather than Saturday evening vigil. There's nothing wrong with the Vigil, but for me, I like morning Mass - which is a new development in the last year - I used to sleep in and go at 5pm on Sunday evening. Don't get me wrong, I still love sleeping, but morning Mass is different than Sunday evening Mass. Anyway, someone said they prefer the Saturday vigil because it's more casual. They can come in their jeans, sneakers, t-shirts - no judgement if it's been a few weeks or months since they've been there. Overall more casual - and that frankly the Lord doesn't care what we where, just that we're there.

Now to some extent I agree. He tells us to "Come as we are." You don't have to be perfect to be part of the Church. If that were the case, then we would all do good to get out because no one fits the bill. We all make mistakes, do the wrong things - sometimes repeatedly, if we're being honest, most of the time repeatedly. I don't know about you, but my confession list is pretty similar each time I go - if something changes it's usually because I didn't know that was actually a sin the last time. Don't get me wrong, I'm striving, but I'm still a sinner in need of mercy and forgiveness.

So He tells us to "come as we are" - come now, don't wait for this to happen or that to be perfect. Come today, come now. I don't think we are all at the same place in our faith and I'll admit I wore jeans and sweats to Mass for quite sometime in my teens and college years. Even when I was doing youth ministry. Always giving the excuse that I had to be ready to play after Mass so I should just come to Mass ready to play.

I think there's a slight danger in remaining in this way of thinking forever though. We should be challenged in our faith to grow, to go deeper. This involves changing ourselves to be like God, not changing our God to be like us. He was not created in our image. We were created in His.

Does this mean that if Jesus lived here he wouldn't wear jeans? Probably not - I mean, let's be real. However, when we go to Mass we are to bring him our best, our first fruits. I've been reading the Bible lately - a year long reading plan to go through the entire Scriptures. The last few days I was finishing up Exodus where the Lord is providing all of the rules outlining the sacrifice. I won't relate them all to you because they are many and varied. However, the main theme was "bring your first fruits" - bring from the top not the leftovers.

I think this is the same when we talk about dress for Mass. Yes, you can wear whatever you want - most parishes don't make their greeters enforce a dress code, that's absolutely true. And if you're running super late from somewhere else and you can either get to Mass on time in jeans/sweats/baseball clothes or change and not make it at all, I say get to Mass. Before that though, plan out your day to make Mass your first priority, wearing the best items in your closet for the Lord and then let the rest of the day fall into place.

I don't know if there will be a test when we get to Heaven that discusses our dress - jeans or skirts, shorts or pants, polo or suit, t-shirt or blouse, but I do know that when I'm dressed up for Mass, I'm more reverent at Mass. I'm more attentive to the differences that happen in the Church rather than outside the Church. I'm more grateful for the music that isn't my typical taste, but rather my Church taste. I don't sing along like I do when All About that Bass comes on the radio. I sing differently. I sing to the Lord, not to pass the time.

So "Come as you are" and Be "Come as He desires." Give the Lord your choicest first fruits rather than the leftovers you pulled together. He will reward you abundantly!