Monday, August 29, 2011

Compared to What?

If someone figures out why we have such a desperate need to compare ourselves all the time, please let me know.  Then maybe I can figure out how to stop doing it.

I have to really be careful how often I get on facebook, because facebook is a great place to get a comparison blow to the gut (especially depending on how my emotional outlook is at that moment).

"Look, here I am single, and there's my old roomie in her birthday pic (turning the same age as me), surrounded by her five beautiful smiling children."

Facebook: 1,354
Me: 0

I should know better than to get on there.

Or I go to the pool to try to take care of some of my crazy hiking tan lines.  And become immediately insecure as I am surrounded by bikini babes with way fewer tan lines, not to mention fewer bulges.

Or this blogger writes so much better or has so many more followers or whatever.

Or I look at how beautifully some people decorate their houses and think about how my apartment is barely thrown together.

It goes on and on, this tiresome list.

Maybe I should remember the wise words that this blogger posted.

Why should I let comparison steal my joy?  So maybe I live in an apartment that's not all that grand.  I have a roof over my head, and the lack of decoration is something that I could easily do something about if I put my mind to it.  If I'd rather spend my time doing other things, then I guess I'd better not worry too much about it.

My blog is a place for me to write what I want.  I don't always worry about my grammar.  I'm not trying to launch a writing career.  I'm just hanging out, and I enjoy anyone that wants to hang out with me.  That's really all that matters.  Why should I worry about how much better someone else writes?  Thank goodness they're writing and I get to read it.

And the bikini babes!  I do compare myself to them, but why?  I don't even want to be like them.  There is such a thing as too skinny, and I'm okay with the fact that I don't have time for the perfect tan.  Why should I worry about something that wouldn't even matter to me if I wasn't looking at them? (Hello, we will never be satisfied on this count.  I actually am in good shape, but it's amazing how the insecurity can remain sometimes.)

As for the former roomie and her beautiful family?  That's a tough one.  That's much tougher than all the other ones put together, but the fact of the matter is that it's her family.  I don't want her family and whatever part of me that I will have to bring to a family will be shaped in part by this time in my life, and that's not all bad either.  I also need to remember that she could just as easily look at my pictures and wish for a free weekend to wander around in the mountains and take pictures.  We can always think someone else has it better than we do.

In the end, I don't want to live life trying to get that one thing that will finally make me happy.  No matter what that "one thing" (marriage, children, a house, the perfect job, the perfect body, whatever) is, it can change.  When you get something you want, there is always something you still don't have. Joy is not in all of those things.  I think joy can only be found in the here and now.  I'm not saying I can always find it, or that I always even want to find it, but I'm at least trying to recognize that it's not in a far off place at the end of a rainbow of happiness.  It's in the here and now.

A little thing that brings me joy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

You Want Me to Do What?

It was one of those weekends.  Nothing happened.  Therein lies the problem.

Every day that passes, I am absolutely sure that I cannot last one more day without something changing.  I don't know what, but I as I've complained off and on the last several months, my life has never felt more devoid of meaning or purpose than in this last year.  No matter what, I can't quite seem to connect with God.  I draw a complete blank on ways to get out more or be more involved or something.  Anything.

So my prayer goes something like this, "Okay, God. So I'm here, stuck in this state in life.  What do You want me to do?" ("Do" is two syllables and very high-pitched.  Just so you have a proper feel for the whine that goes with this prayer.)

Because, of course, the assumption is that if I am still single, there must be something that I should be doing.  Some way that I should be making the most of being single.  Something that would help me to meet someone. Perhaps some way that I should be serving.  Some prayers I should be saying. Something that I should do to change myself and/or the world. Something that would give me meaning and purpose, or something to help unstick myself from this stuck place.  Maybe something that would move me forward in my relationship with God. Something. Anything.  I just haven't had a clue what it should be.  Which means that I fail both at getting married, and at being single.  Sweet.  I rock.

Anyway, I think I got an answer to that prayer.  I'm always a little scared to say that, because there are so many people that say that and then make some outrageous claim that no otherwise sane person would make unless they were cloaking it as some sort of a "word from God."  But this passed the crazy test. It didn't require me to do anything that went against my religion or common sense.  It was the kind of answer that you get in the stillness and in the quiet.  It was also the kind of answer that I certainly didn't want.


For. Real?!  That's Your answer?  Don't You know how much I hate waiting?  (Oh, yeah, You probably do.) Well, how long are we talking here?  And remember that I hate waiting?  And that I've been waiting forever already? Really? Wait? Do I have to?

As you can see, I have the most gracious response to answers such as these. However, immediately after my little panic attack/frustrated whining and crying, there was a weight that lifted.  The last thing that I wanted to hear was something that brought peace.  I don't have to frantically search for the answer to my current situation and figure out what I've been doing wrong, or what I haven't been doing that I should be doing.  All I have to do is wait. I guess that's doable. (But I still really want to know how long we're talking...)

Friday, August 19, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 123)

1) I've posted almost every day this week... So why not one more, eh?  Here are some random things for the end of the week. Friday's such a perfect day for Quick Takes in my book.  Easy to write and easy to read at the end of a week.

2) I've been reading some fb statuses of friends at a state fair.  It's all about food on a stick and fried food.  I don't know who first deep fat fried a snickers, but that's a popular one.  Or the deep fat fried twinkie. I thought those were as low as it goes.  Nope.  Apparently this year, someone came up with deep fat fried butter on a stick!! Absolutely unbelievable.  I'm breaking into a cold sweat and my arteries are clogging at the mere thought of eating deep fried butter. (Okay, not going to lie, I might have been a tiny bit jealous of those that were talking about eating the fried cheese curds.)

3) Thursday I worked on cleaning a rock route (making sure all the gear is off the route) and rappelling down.  Any new rock climbing thing and my mouth is dry and I'm fumbling, but I did it.  Thank goodness for willing and knowledgeable people there to show the way!  It's been a month since I climbed, so it was really good to get out, even if I only climbed two routes.  It's also fun to keep learning and pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone.

4) I got to hang out with a good friend today, and she had a great, simple recipe for this sandwich.  Just tomato, basil, spinach, onion and feta.  We heated it on a sandwich maker and ate it with guacamole.   Yum!

5) I have been very shocked and disturbed by what happened to a friend of mine.  Apparently they hired a "moving company" to help them move across the country... And apparently they were scammers that took off with their stuff! Can you imagine?  It's unbelievable to me that someone would do that.

6) Well, I'm going to take another try at helping with RCIA, but this time I'll be in a role that will actually have some meaning.  The only thing is, our class is very small this year, so there's no guarantee we'll even have a full year of it. There's even a possibility that we may only have a class or two, or maybe even none at all.  At least I should be able to manage not flaking out on them this year!

7) Head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes, and have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Photo Giveaway Winner!

Okay, I don't have a winner yet, but I will before this post is over.  Can I just say that I realized that I kind of hate giveaways?  I'm excited about this one, and I can't wait to send a picture to the winner... But then I realized that I can only do one winner and I'll be disappointed that everyone else didn't win.

On to business.  Excuse me while I go generate a random number...

And the winner is....

#14!  That would be Maggie, who said she never wins anything.  Lucky you, for once you're wrong!

Thanks everyone for entering, and I really wish I could give you all a picture!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mountain Mornings

If you are not a morning person, or you have never been to the mountains, or you have never experienced the mountains in the morning, then I am sorry.

On mornings when I have to get up for work, sometimes I have to drag myself out of bed.  There's the alarm, then the snooze for a few rounds.  But on mornings that I'm going to be in the mountains, I can get up at ridiculous times of the morning because it's worth it.  I don't know which is the best part.  The light. The air.  The fact that the animals are active and few humans are stirring.   Maybe it's cool freshness, with the scent of pine hanging around.

And the sunrise!  I love to watch the mountains wake up.  In the first light, they are just dark lumps against the horizon.  As the sky gets lighter, they take on definition and shape.  When the first light hits them, they begin to come alive.  First a deep rose, then pink, then gold.  The light doesn't hit the valleys right away, so the light will highlight various points that are ever changing as the sun continues to rise.  I swear the morning is when the mountains are itching to tell their secrets, but the rest of the day they are as solid and silent as the soldiers at Buckingham.

Maybe there's fairy dust.  It's as good an explanation as any.

(I'm pretty sure I've posted about mornings before, but I can't help it.  They're just that amazing.) 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Neighbor Jackpot!

I don't know what the deal is with the neighbors here.  First there was my friend the smoker.  Thankfully, he moved out a couple of weeks ago and my place no longer reeks.  The last couple of days, someone's been banging around until the whole place shakes.  I hope this isn't the new neighbor, but I don't think so.  This seems to be coming from upstairs rather than downstairs.  There has also been a yappy dog the last couple of days.  Finally, they just decided to have a shouting match (which thankfully was very brief).

Sweet.  I'm holding out that maybe the upstairs neighbors just have company and that it's not the new downstairs neighbors.  I haven't heard too much before, so it should go away soon, right?  Right??

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Goal for August

Just a quick reminder that the photo giveaway is still going on for anyone that's interested.

Last month I had a goal of an average of three posts a week on the blog, and I exceeded that. This month I had a little different goal, and I kind of don't want to admit what it is.  Of course I will, because I wouldn't tease you like that and then leave it.  I just have to work up the nerve first.

Okay, here goes.

I'mtryingnottoeatmeatforthemonthofAugust.  Whew! Sorry, I had to get it all out at once. I do realize that that shouldn't be such a hard thing to admit, but you have to understand my background a little bit.  I'm from the Midwest.  That should about explain it right there, shouldn't it?  We raise pork and beef and we eat pork and beef.  Those "vegetarian" types are always viewed with a tolerant skepticism (is that an oxymoron?).  They're allowed, but they're a little odd.  There's a restaurant in one town that's some sort of a steak joint.  It proudly advertises that "It's a vegetarian's worst nightmare!"  And that's considered a selling point.

My grandpa doesn't believe that it is a real meal unless it includes both meat and potatoes. Once, when I was mixing together a boxed cake at their house, it called for an egg white.  I asked Grandpa where I should put the yolk (garbage or compost).  He looked at me funny, then said that I should put it in the cake where it belongs.  Yeah, he really doesn't get the whole "healthy eating" thing.  Which is not to say he is unhealthy.  He eats like a horse, but he's still as skinny as ever.  My grandma, who tries to cut down on their cholesterol intake, has her work cut out for her.

Yes, the Midwest.  My parents don't think that it is a meal without meat.  In fact, you decide the meat you're going to eat and the rest of the meal revolves around that.  Even when abstaining from meat, there has to be something as a substitute, whether eggs, cheese, or seafood.

If I were doing it for religious reasons, abstaining from meat, that would be acceptable.  Laudable, even, because you're voluntarily giving up meat. But I'm not.  I'm doing it for health reasons.  Not because I'm unhealthy, but because I don't eat enough fruits and vegetables.  I thought maybe it force me to go outside my Midwestern box and come up with some different meals.  And if those meals included more vegetables, then maybe I would learn to eat more vegetables.

It's actually going quite well.  I'm looking at meal options that I would not have considered before, but I'm liking them.  I haven't tried a lot of new recipes, but there's still a couple of weeks left.  Come September, I will eat meat again (and I had it on one of my road trips this month).  However, I may eat it less because some of the vegetarian meals are pretty tasty.  I like them on a work day, because I don't have a heavy meal sitting in my stomach all afternoon while I try to work.

I don't think I'm losing any weight, though.  Why would I?  Cheesecake is still on the menu.

(Maybe may goal next month should be to cut sugar... Hmm... Healthy, but that would be the really hard one for me!)

Friday, August 12, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 123)

It's Friday!  That's means it's time for Quick Takes, so head on over to Jen's for more fun.

1) Speaking of heading over to Jen's, many of you follow her, so you've probably seen this, but I really liked a recent post of hers over at the NCR.  She's talking about how the sins of Catholics, and in particular some of the scandals of the hierarchy (both recent and past) actually helped to solidify her faith as a Catholic, not drive her away.  My favorite part was when she mentioned historical accounts that "...gave the impression that every bishop who ever lived had a personal harem that he only left long enough to steal from the poor and kick puppies."  As a Catholic, I've often faced those types of accounts, so that made me laugh.  Overall, some good things to think about if you've ever had to answer why you're Catholic when there's so much wrong with the hierarchy.

2) A patient thoughtfully shared some sort of virus with me this last week.  I'm really kind of annoyed about it, because she coughed in my face without attempting to cover her mouth.  At any rate, I am a pansy about being sick.  I haven't been sick in close to 2 years, and let me tell you that I have not gotten any better at it.  In addition, being sick also leads me to a lovely guilt trip.  Either I feel guilty because I'm at work and possibly spreading germs, or I feel guilty because I'm at home and I feel like I should be working.  However, that second part's only true if I feel mostly okay.  When I really feel bad, I don't feel guilty at all about staying home.  So, yeah.  I've been mostly okay, but just a little whiny.

3) Last week, I went on the most awkward date I've ever been on.  The stops and starts in the conversation, the lack of connection, all of it was so over the top bad it was hilarious.  We just went for coffee, (which, since I hate coffee, means that I went for a sugary drink at a coffee shop) and thank goodness it was something short.  When I was about halfway through my drink, he abruptly looks at his watch and says "Well, I think I'm going to go home and watch a movie."  I was so relieved to leave that I didn't even care how rude it was.  (He did invite me to join him.  I declined.) Gotta love dating!

4) I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago, and I have to admit that it's definitely left some fallout. I wish I didn't feel that way, but that's the way it goes sometimes.  Last weekend, I even made a road trip (even though I'd just gotten back from vacation), just to distract myself.  It didn't entirely work, but it helped a little.  I only wish I could have gotten pictures of half the things I saw.  The wildflowers were unbelievable, but most of the places that I saw them were on the side of the road with no good pullouts close by.  (There was the one spot, but it had some kind of creepy looking sorts hanging out there, so I skipped it.)  I always like a good sky with some clouds, though.

5) I drove far enough that I went ahead and got a hotel room.  This meant that I had cable for the night.  Now there's a good distraction for you.  I was especially intrigued by parts of a show about people who had won the lotto and how it had changed their lives.  I was fascinated by the way that the increase in money did not lead to a similar increase in good taste.  It's amazing how much money you can spend decorating and still have things look ridiculous!

6)  I now have a new plan: get cable.  I'll keep the noise box on constantly and never think again.  Hmm, sounds sort of unhealthy.  Luckily someone already came up with a better plan for me: prayer buddies!  Can I just say how much I love prayer buddies?  I know I say it every time that it comes around, but I really do.  It is wonderful to take the focus off myself for a change and pray for someone else.  Love it.  And I've had some amazingly wonderful people praying for me in the past as well.

7)  I forgot to give the deadline for the giveaway the other day, so I choose next Thursday, whenever I happen to get around to it.  As long as you enter by midnight Wednesday, you'll be in it for sure. Actually, since I go to bed really early, as long as you enter before 6 am (CST) on Thursday, you'll be good. After that, I reserve the right to close it whenever the heck I feel like it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Just for the Halibut...

Something happened today.  Something, well, inconsequential to tell you the truth.  I was getting some enlargements of photos for my parents, and they're cheaper than I thought they'd be.  It made me decide that I'd like to do a giveaway.  I searched for a good reason for a giveaway, but couldn't come up with one, so...

In honor of the mundane...

In order to break up the day to day a little bit...

Because you guys are awesome...

Because, frankly, I'm proud of these...

Because I want to...

Here is the giveaway:

Lower Falls
Bear Lake (horizontal)

Bear Lake (vertical)

Old Faithful

Storm Clouds

Maroon Bells

Alpine Flowers

Spouting Rock

Hanging Lake

Glenwood Canyon

Miner's Cabin*

Rancher's Cabin**

Dam Wall


The winner will get to pick between:

One 11x14
Two 8x10's
Three 5x7's

Now, there are some terribly complex rules for entering, and I'm only going to say them once, so pay attention!

1) You have to want at least one of these pictures.
2) You have to leave a comment.

ALMOST everyone is eligible.  The only people that are not eligible are those that read this blog who are also related to me.  If you are one of those relative-type people and want a picture, let me know and make my Christmas shopping easier!

The only caveat that I have is that I haven't blown any of these up past 5x7 yet, so I can't guarantee there won't be an imperfection or two. (Someone, whose name we won't mention, may have gotten some water spots on her lens and not realized that it was on there until after taking some pictures.  They don't show up on a 5x7, and I don't think any of these have any on them, but I don't know that for sure.)

I'm sorry, but the halibut is not part of the giveaway.  As much as I know you'd all love to hang a photo of a dead fish on your wall, the resolution of that particular photo is just too poor.

*I don't really know if a miner lived here, but mining was done in the area, so let's go with it, shall we?
**I do know that a rancher lived here.
***There may be something wrong with me.  It bothers me that all the other pictures have two word names, and this only has one. Welcome to my blog home and my little neuroses! 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My blogging lately has seemed to follow a very distinct pattern.


Rinse and repeat.

Nothing in life feels quite right, and consequently nothing I write seems quite right.  I schedule something to publish, but then I go back and delete it before publishes.

I miss that feeling where things just feel right.  The feeling of being where you should be, doing what you should do.  I miss the feeling of having a place in the world that's meaningful.  It doesn't mean that things are easy.  Two years ago, I definitely had the feeling of being where I should be.  It was a hard year in a lot of ways, but I had a purpose.

Now? Not so much.

I don't know how to fix it and make things "right" again.  In thinking about where I live and where I work, those seem to be good.  I try to go to Mass, try to make it to confession.  That doesn't seem to make much of a difference.  My efforts to get involved with various things have not all worked out the best, but I have tried.

The only way I can think to describe it is that it's a little like this bug that I caught this last week.  One day I felt pretty bad, but now I just feel a little "off".  I don't feel dizzy, exactly, but I also won't be climbing up on any chairs right at the moment.  I don't feel bad, exactly, but then neither do I feel good.  That is the state of my life for the last 10 months.  I can only hope it will change sooner rather than later.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Power and Authority

Is there really much difference between these two words?  I'm thinking there's not.  I won't bore you with the definitions, but when I looked them up (in a dictionary, of all things) they were used to define each other.  Therefore, it doesn't do us much good to try to separate them too much because they are very much alike.

Then why bring it up in the first place?  I'm glad you asked.  There is certainly a fine difference in how I see the concept of these two things, even though there are so many similarities.  For example, you easily think of someone "grasping at power", or being "power-hungry".  You usually don't think of someone "grasping at authority" or being "authority-hungry."  The subtle difference, in my opinion, is that power is something that one person has over other people, where authority is more of a responsibility given to a person.  The person in authority still has to answer to whomever has given them the responsibility.

Authority is more like something given, and power is more like something taken.  I don't want to make too much of an artificial difference between the two, because they are very similar, but there you have it as I see it.

The reason that I was thinking of this was that a priest brought it up in his homily today.  The gospel was about Peter receiving the keys.  Something clicked as he talked.  So many people have a problem with the pope because of the power that he has.  They resent one man having that much power over all the people in the Catholic Church.  As for me, I love the pope.  I love having that authority to rely on, an authority that was given by Christ.  I know that many popes have abused their power/authority, but I don't spend too much time worrying about them because they will have to answer to the One that entrusted that authority and power to them.  However, my primary experience with popes has been with those popes that are truly aware and deeply humbled by the huge responsibility in the authority that they have been given.  They know that they do not answer to themselves.  Ultimately the authority of the pope comes back to Christ, and even Christ answers to the Father that sent Him.

This concludes my impromptu pope post of the day.  In honor of St. John Vianney, the saint of the day and the patron saint of priests, don't forget to pray for all priests!

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Survived Yellowstone

I should get the t-shirt that says that.  Is there such a t-shirt?  There should be.  Yellowstone is awesome, by the way.  It's just that when you do it in just a few days, it's also exhausting.  But that's how my sisters and I roll.  Go on a trip, jam pack everything in.  Is there another way? This time we even dragged along my parents and youngest two siblings.  The trip was full, and so this post might get a little long.  Consider yourself forewarned!

First of all, to all that requested that I not get eaten by a bear... I didn't!  We never even managed to find one, though there were some trails warning of bear activity.  We also didn't manage to find any moose.  I'm disappointed on both counts, but probably more about the moose.  ('Cause with the bear, there's more of a concern of getting eaten.) My only other minor disappointment was that we didn't really get any hiking done. It was a minor disappointment because the bear warnings were disconcerting, but also because we did a lot of walking and saw most of the major attractions, so I don't know where we could have thought of fitting it in.

After my family all met up, we headed for Old Faithful.  Now, my family had been to Yellowstone before, and I know we were at Old Faithful.  I vaguely remember being in the Inn. Somehow, I do not remember watching the geyser itself, so I was excited to see it.  I was also excited because there happened to be another blogger in Yellowstone at the same time, and we were going to try to meet briefly. (Note that she did get to see a bear. Safely. I might be jealous.) Our highly coordinated plan to meet consisted of, "Well, we'll be around Old Faithful at this time; hopefully we'll run into each other."  Because, really, how else can you plan a meeting when you're on vacation and you don't know quite how long it's going to take you to get somewhere?  It seemed workable to me until I got there and saw the crowd.

I thought that there was no way, but in the end it all worked out.  I swear we only got a chance to talk for two minutes, but it clearly must've been longer because my family watched some movie about the park at the Visitor's Center and proceeded to spew random facts about Yellowstone for the rest of the trip. ("Is this still part of the caldera?"  "You know that Old Faithful is going to stop erupting at some point, right?" "Oh, I think this is the pool that will eat your flesh if you stick your hand in!")  Anyway, JBTC is as awesome as you would expect, and while I wish we could have met longer, I'm glad we met for a few minutes.

I guess I should include a picture of Old Faithful, huh?

Old Faithful

We also walked around the geyser basin near Old Faithful and saw some other geysers and pools.  I especially liked the river with steam coming up from the hot spots on the edges.

Castle Geyser

Grotto Geyser

Steaming Stream

Following that, we went to a couple of other geyser basins and saw one of the prettiest blue pools I've ever seen, followed by some bubbling mud, followed by Gibbons Falls.
Sapphire Pool
A random geyser, doing its thing

Bubbly Mud
Gibbons Falls

The next day we went to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and saw the Upper and Lower Falls.  We went to the Sulphur Cauldron (I'll skip the pictures, it was just smelly yellow, bubbly water) and the Mud Volcano area.  The Mud Volcano itself wasn't much, but I love the Dragon's Mouth (though I would have named it the Dragon's Lair).  I remembered it from the last time and always wanted to go back.  I didn't remember why I liked it so much, but it's just this cave that has steam coming out, and it makes this weird gurgling sound like there's a dragon wallowing in it.  And the steam comes and goes like it's breathing or something.  Awesome.

Also in that area was a small lake.  It was boiling.  See why Yellowstone's not like any other place?
Upper Falls

Lower Falls
Mud Volcano
Dragon's Mouth
Sour Lake (you can barely make out the boiling in the middle)

We finished up the day at Mammoth Hot Springs, which was also pretty impressive.

Canary Springs

Palatte Springs

Okay, that's it for now.  I'm getting tired all over again just thinking about it!  There're just a couple of other things to wrap up, but I'll leave that for another post if I get around to it.