Saturday, October 22, 2016

Being Creative in My Home

When I bought my townhouse, I was most excited about being able to decorate it the way I wanted, paint the walls the colors I like, and have an opportunity to explore my creative side.

On Wednesday, Mer and I went to IKEA to get me a full length mirror. We came up with so many great things, not including a mirror. I decided to buy a bedside night stand instead from the as-is bin that was more than 50% off. An excellent choice.

I also purchased a bunch (15) of white frames to decorate my office. I've filled three and ordered 12 other prints to be picked up at Target today to get hanging. I think that all but three will be great in my office and I'm going to use those ones to redo how my bedroom looks.

I've also decided to (finally) paint my kitchen cabinets. I'm going to an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint tutorial class tomorrow to get my technique down.

They had some curtains that are a beautiful blue fabric that I'm going to try to make into two roman shades for my dining room to complement my new dining room center piece. Of all of the great new decorating things I got, I'm most excited about this. It makes my dining room table so happy looking!!

How cute! Oh, I love my decorating style ... not many do, but I think it's so happy and fun! All I need to do is paint the wooden box with a white wash. Being a homeowner is so much fun!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Being an Alpha Female

I am a terrible person to plan a party with when you don't know what you want to do. One of my least favorite things is indecisiveness. I'm sure my friends can tell some tales about planning events, gatherings, dinners, coffees, or advice sessions with me. Although there are some things that I'm not decisive about, my future career for instance, most things I have an opinion about and know what I like.

That's usually the problem. Once when I was still working at the parish, Fr. C asked if I had a thought about something. I replied with, "Of course, I have an opinion about everything - that's the problem."

And it's true. I know what I like, and I've usually made a decision about something before I even begin speaking about it. I can brainstorm, but I have to tell myself that's what I'm doing before I begin so I don't get married to a particular thought, idea, plan, or way of doing things.

A few weekends ago I was with my family at my godmother's 50th Anniversary party. I spent some time with my grandmother's sister, Aunt Betty. I was sitting in one of the most beautiful places on earth, my godmother's porch.

I asked Aunt Betty, who I hadn't seen in more than a decade, to tell me stories of my grandmother. There was so much I never knew about her childhood. This isn't something my mother talks about much. Maybe it's because she misses her mom a lot, maybe she just has never seen it as something that people are interested in knowing regularly. We never sit and tell stories of childhood, her mom, etc... My aunt does this a lot and so I wanted to learn more about my grandmother. I wish so much that she was still alive, or at least had lived past my freshman year in high school.

I want to know her and my grandfather better - but he passed when I was just in kindergarten. Anyway, Aunt Betty told me about how their mother passed when she was three, grandma was 9 - after about 3 or 4 years, their father wasn't able to care for them so they went to live with their sister Martha. Life was very difficult for my gram and Aunt Betty. Gram dropped out of school in 8th grade and started housekeeping with another family and moved out. She was finally able to get another job to earn real money and met my grandfather when she was in her early twenties. He was 18 years older than her and she fell in love. They were married soon after and ended up having seven children, even though she swore she wouldn't have any at all. 

It was very hard for my grandmother when she was with her sister and she had no control over any aspect of her life, why she wanted to move out so quickly. From then on, she would not be manipulated. She was her own woman and was the alpha female (as the article below describes her).

I read this article on the Catholic Match Institute earlier this week. About true alpha males and females, not people who are just big-headed and think highly of themselves.

Alpha Theory 2.0
The alpha theory 2.0, when it is applied to the human species, applies to both men and women, single and married. In my opinion anyone can be an alpha. What are some of the qualities of a true alpha and how do we go about becoming a true alpha? 
True alphas are in possession of themselves and do not let their passions rule their lives. The alphas will be moderate in their consumption of food and alcohol. They will get enough sleep and sufficient exercise. 
They will be attentive to their physical appearance, and will order their homes. 
Alphas bring light beyond the physical realm, the alphas will have a well-ordered spiritual life. They will be diligent with their prayer life, spending a few moments at least each day in silent conversation with the Lord. 
They will strive to know the Lord better by reading the scriptures, and they will call upon the saints to help them practice virtue. 
The true alpha will avail themselves of the sacraments by making a holy Confession often (the church recommends at least once a month) and attending Mass every Sunday. (source)
As I read that it reminds me of my grandmother. Some aspects bring me to mind - but there is so many areas where I need to grow, so many virtues I need to practice. My 'decision making' is what brought the idea to the front of my mind. I know what I want and I strive to do whatever I can to make that happen. But it also means that I get an idea in my head and can't let it go until it's fulfilled. This is great for things like "do yoga everyday" or "repaint your kitchen cabinets" or "be a loyal friend" or "commit to praying the Rosary everyday." It's not good when it's "So&So at work is annoying" or "Just do it my way" or "Your way is ridiculous" or "I'm not in control."

So taking one small step today, determined and decisively, to be more like these two amazing souls who make up my grit and hustle and are looking down on me from Heaven either shaking their heads with my ridiculousness or, more likely, cheering me on and supporting me.

Oh and that's Baby ME with grandma & grandpa!
I was pretty cute!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I Think You're Just Saying That

I was talking with a woman at Church on Sunday about the busyness of my life and how things are going. Her life is way crazier than mine with the recent loss of her mother and the responsibility she's been given of her siblings who are dependent on others for everything they need in life. The busy travel schedule and hardship of being single seems like such an inconsequential issue in life.

I felt silly for even sharing what I perceive as my problems. That I'm still sleeping alone in my big girl bed, in the middle, and can't seem to find someone to share my life with - or even a hot meal or a cup of tea at bare minimum.

Although our conversation ended with a phrase I'm coming to dislike.

"He's Out There."

I used to say "I know, it's just not time yet" or "I can't wait until he gets here" or "Maybe his lost his GPS" or "His directions must not have printed out clearly" ... those last two are just my sarcastic comments back when I'm feeling a little punchy.

My response lately is "You don't know that, maybe he's not."

I think this is indicative of some other feelings going on in my life. I've started sleeping in the middle of the bed, rather than keeping the habit of sleeping on the left or the right (it's the right btw). I have also dived deeper into my career to advance what's happening there. I've always been pretty indifferent about work thinking I would leave in short order to stay at home with my kids, not any more. I'm even considering now what I would want to do in the next five to ten years. Is a digital rep my long-term future? Not sure. If I was seeing someone, would I be traveling as much for work? Being away for weeks/days at a time? Probably not, I'd like to spend some time with that man.

I'm also trying to foster friendships with more single ladies. In my inner circle, they're all gone. Either married or mamas or both. I need more single ladies in my life to keep me feeling sane and not entirely worthless or damaged.

I'm not sure that this man is really out there though. I don't even know what dating someone would look like to be perfectly honest.

Although this seems like an inconsequential issue to many others, it's a big deal in my life. This frustration is creeping itself into other areas of my life. This week's prayer request for the impossible nature of St. Jude's requests might be this very topic.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Enjoy It While You Can

People say this to me a lot when I tell then about how much I travel for my job. "Enjoy it now while you still can."

I'm away a lot for work, but I also add time on to those trips to visit with family and friends in the area. Since Labor Day I've been somewhere almost every week and have been out of town every weekend for work or pleasure. I thought the rest of my year was going to be travel free but the next four weeks are already booked with trips.

One of my recent trips came through from American in my email like this, "Trip to United States of America":

Charlotte to New York to New Orleans to Cleveland to New York to Charlotte over 11 days. I came home for 4 days before leaving again for another 9 days.

I was hoping the rest of the year wouldn't include much travel, but in the last three days I planned 4 more trips, two of them include a lot of driving because flying would take so much longer and be incredibly inconvenient. That's probably not the end of the travel either.

However, back to my point. The phrase, "enjoy this while you can." Of course, I've thought it too. The travel is great, I love it - but if I had a family I wouldn't work like this. I've thought that for a long time, that I wouldn't work when I got married and started a family. But I'm half way through my 31st year, and I know that's not old, that my life isn't over yet, etc... All of the things I know you're thinking that you want to say to me and that I have even said to myself.

This weekend I spent it with my family in Texas for my godmother's 50th Wedding Anniversary. It was a fantastic celebration filled with tons of family time, which was long overdue. I love visiting my family in Texas and could seriously move there to be closer to them. I loved being at the party, but I couldn't help but think I'll never have a party like this. I'll never be married for 50 years. 

I know that it is technically still possible, if I get married and live into my 80s - not a lot of evidence that either of those two things are going to happen. My family doesn't live into their 80s and marriage isn't anywhere close to my horizon right now. Maybe that's my doing, maybe it isn't - I'm not really sure anymore.

Going back to the beginning, the "enjoy it while you can" stuff people keep telling me. I wonder if people just don't know what to say about my singleness. Maybe they also want to travel but can't because their husbands wouldn't like it or they need to be home with their kiddos. 

For me, I'm going to just "enjoy it" because it's my life, and it might be my life forever. Maybe I'll spend the next 50 years being away more than I'm here because that's the life that I've been given. And maybe I'll look back at this post in a year and think "what did you know?"

Friday, August 5, 2016

Thoughts after Walking 150,000 steps to see Pope Francis

While I was in Poland for World Youth Day a friend shared this article which I thought was very good, until I read the comments, which (as per usual) infuriated me. This is a really bad habit of mine (reading comments) and I have been thinking about it ever since.

The article is a great piece about the English speaking event on Wednesday evening of World Youth Day at the Touren Arena, renamed "Mercy Center" for the week. The author commented how people came to adoration there to meet Jesus and experience Heaven. I was there, not even inside the building, and had this feeling. I have it whenever I attend World Youth Day - I've been four times now (Toronto, Cologne, Rio, Krakow). This is an amazing gathering of Catholics who are coming for the same reason. We all want to be close to our Holy Father, experience the Church, and meet people like us.

Now, not everyone who goes to WYD is SUPER CATHOLIC, that's true of any church event. Some people go to travel and see the world on a cheap pilgrimage - what many European youth do. Sleeping outside, being wet and sweaty, walking miles every day, being crammed into public transportation, waiting in extremely long lines, sleeping on floors or cots in a school in the middle of a country you don't know. WYD is not a vacation, no one is living like a king - not even the Bishops and Cardinals who are given a lot of extra treatment.

I was prompted to write again about WYD after a talk I had with a pastor today in Memphis. I told him he was speaking with a colleague of mine last week because I was away in Poland for WYD. He said he had lunch with a couple of priests from his diocese that went and they said it was amazing. I was tired, hungry, and sweaty - but it was amazing! This is my general sentiment of the experience most of the time.

The commenters said that he was promoting a purely emotive reality and that WYD is filled with bad liturgy, kids who don't follow church teaching back home, and there isn't a lasting effect.

1. Bad Liturgy - well, there were 2 million people at the Mass on Sunday morning. Not everyone was sitting, standing, and kneeling as they would in a church (although there isn't a building that holds 2 million people, that I know of. The filed was 2 square kilometers. It was also one of the hottest days of our pilgrimage with the sun shining very brightly the entire time. We had to keep our heads covered (men and women alike) to prevent ourselves (as best we could) from passing out. Was it the best? Probably not. Was it valid and licit? Yes. Is that enough? Yes.

2. They don't follow church teaching at home - is there a good reason for this? I don't know. Are we doing enough in our youth programs to help our youth and young adults develop a relationship with Jesus Christ to want to follow His teachings? We do things backwards sometimes. The root of "love the sinner, hate the sin" (which is a phrase I dislike) is that the person comes first. They have inherit dignity because they were created by God, not because of what they do. We need to remember that even the ten commandments weren't given to the Israelites until after they had an experience of the Love of God and they wanted to know how to follow him. We will not will souls by making people follow the rules of a Church they have no connection with. They must first encounter the Lord (the event of WYD) and then learn how to follow him one step at a time.

3. There isn't a lasting effect - just look at the young adult scene in the Archdiocese of Denver and the number of priests who say they attended a WYD, you'll have an answer.

Is WYD an expense for the Church? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Anytime 2 million young people come together to celebrate the Lord, the time is worth it. This is our Church, let's celebrate it!

Friday, July 15, 2016

When People are Complaining about the Life you Want

It's not the first time, and I'm certain it won't be the last. Friends, acquaintances, random strangers on the internet are complaining or claiming something is the end of the world. Well, that happens all the time, probably the reason why Al Gore invented the internet (hahah, just a little political joke there). Then all you can think is "if only my life included just one of those things you don't seem to want..."

When I turned 30 I had some issues with expectations (on my actual BDay). I thought I would be a mother with some cute kiddos by then, or at least a wife. Not that I would be living alone, single, still long-term relationship-less. I had those same issues when I turned 31 this year. So much so I told my friends I didn't want to actually celebrate my birthday - especially not on the day. Which, if you're thinking "that's a bad idea" - then you'd be right. It was really hard the actual day of when the one day of the year when it can be all about me, wasn't. And I was still single, living along, long-term relationship-less, AND newly heartbroken by a jerk - that was rough.

I've got friends turning 30 this year who are freaked out by not being in their twenties any longer for the exact opposite reasons and I'm striving to be compassionate, sympathetic, and supportive. It's hard to do. But it's completely necessary to do.

I have to remember that everyone's concerns and issues in their life is relative to their living situation. I have to know that there are things that I have (gainful employment, job I love, own a home, car paid off, great friends, two parents married to each other) that others done and think that if they did, life would be amazing. But I still complain about my co-workers, my HOA, issues with my car, my parents, etc... AND I expect people to have compassion, be sympathetic, and supportive of me when I'm struggling.

Sometimes we refer to these issues as "first world problems" but I think they might just be "general people problems" and we all need to be less 'complainy' AND more 'compassionate' with our friends. Working on this each and every day!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Am I Inadequate?

This is a question that I ask myself all of the time. It's the default question when I'm asked to "talk" by my manager at work, when there's a guy who I might be interested in, and when a friend doesn't answer a voicemail or a text for a long time. It comes up a lot. It's also the devil's number one button to push. I know that, but I cannot refrain from asking it over and over again.

Just last week my managers asked to have dinner with just me before a big event, and all I could think all afternoon was "what did I do wrong now?" and "how will I recover from this?" It wasn't that at all. It was them offering me a promotion and additional duties at work because they think I'm great at my job.

How can I have such a different view of myself than other people do? Some might say that this is humility, not being boastful and proud about your accomplishments. However, I don't think it's that because if I was being humble, I wouldn't feel so inadequate. I'd recognize the gifts that God has provided to me and embrace them. I don't think I'm doing that.

Two weeks ago I was speaking to someone at work about a concern they were having with management. She said she could talk to me about it because she knows "I don't care what others thing of me" and "I'm super confident in my abilities." Really? That was my response - "you think I'm super confident and don't care what others think of me?" WOW! I wish that was true.

I cannot decide if it's easier or harder to be confident in my position as a remote worker. It can be difficult since I don't see the people that I work with on a regular basis. Only a select few do I see often, and those relationships seem to be something completely different than I thought they were. A recent event changed my opinion of these women and how I relate to them. It's hard when you think one thing is true and something completely different ends up occurring. Like I did something incredibly wrong and am inadequate.

There it is again. It seems to be my default when something goes wrong or is out of place.

There are so many things that bring this thought to the forefront of my mind. Being single - am I not enough for someone? Being 'not a size 6 or even an 8 or a 10' - is my un-ideal body shape holding me back from a relationship, certain activities, or even sales at work? Being boisterous - does this make people not interested in being friends with me? Being a sinner - does that make me inadequate for heavenly blessings?

These are all questions that should be answered with NO. We are more than the sum of our parts, we are more than what society tells us we should be. We are more than our sins. We are beloved creations of God.

Why can't I get that thought to be my default?