Friday, November 30, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 193)

1) I will admit that I find it ironic that I wrote a blog post entitled "Waiting Well".  I'm probably the worst waiter in the history of waiting.  Let's discuss bargain shopping.  If I'm looking for a particular item and decide that now is the time to get it, I go get it. If I find it on sale at all, I'm happy I didn't pay full price.  For example, I finally order a kin.dle on Thanksgiving weekend, but didn't wait two days more until it was $30 off on Monday. I had been thinking about it off and on for over a year, but once I was ready to buy, I was ready to buy. My sister, on the other hand, has the patience to watch and wait until things go down, then buy.  This is why I might say something like, "Look at the bargain I got! I got $2 off!" Whereas my sister is more likely to say, "Look at the bargain I got! I paid $2!"

2) By the way, after having the kin.dle for a day, I realize that it's going to get me into all kinds of trouble to be able to instantly buy books.  I haven't gotten books in ages because I didn't have the space for them.  But now, I don't need space!  I added over 60 titles in less than 24 hours.  I know that's a little crazy, but good crazy, because it's book crazy.  I should explain that all but about 4 or 5 of them were public domain, and therefore free. Dickens! L.M. Montgomery!  Gene Stratton Porter!  Belloc! Chesterton! Free!  Of course, not all their works were free, but plenty of them were.  The few things I actually paid for were less than $20. Still excessive, of course, but I'm so happy to have books that I'm looking forward to reading. I am a reader by nature and for a number of reasons I have read comparatively little for the last couple of years. New books at my fingertips means I found a piece of myself that was missing. I know it sounds overly dramatic, but it is true.

3) Although, let's be honest. The chances of me reading all of these titles is somewhere between slim and none.  So that brings up an important question. Does the mere fact that I have these authors on my kin.dle make me smarter, or do I have to actually read what they say? I'd like to think it makes me smarter.  And even if it doesn't, it sure makes am.azon think I'm smarter.  You know the reading list they give you? ("Based on your past purchases you might enjoy...") Yeah. That list is currently suggesting things like War and Peace, the works of Plato, and Summa Theologica.

Moving on...

4) So far, I have not managed to join the craze that is pinterest. First it was complete lack of interest.  Everyone was talking about snazzy decorating ideas and cutesy craft projects.  My friends that are crafty and have decorated? I think it's awesome and I am so impressed.  It's not my thing.  However, I do appreciate the people that I know that are on pinterest and find things like recipes and awesome cleaning ideas.  My friend made these amazing apple tarts with brie cheese for Thanksgiving. Yum!  And she also told me about this shower cleaning idea where you fill one of those dish scrubber things (is my domesticity oozing off the screen at you?) with half vinegar and half dish soap.  Then you can just clean the shower as you go.  How brilliant is that? I'm trying to get away from using so many of the disinfectant wipes, and I also love that I can just do a little here and there as needed.  I'd love it more if it didn't make me almost late for work those first couple of days.  I'd be showering and I'd see some discoloration on the tile and lunge for it while yelling, "Out, damn spot!"

5) Not really.  Because:
             A) I don't really yell.
             B) Lunging in a wet, slippery shower might be dangerous. I've already had staples in my head once in the last 12 months. I wouldn't want to have to go to urgent care again and cite "overzealous cleaning" as the cause of my injury. (Which would be especially ridiculous if you knew the state of my house outside of my shower walls.)
             C) Who quotes Shakespeare in the shower? (But if you do quote Shakespeare in the shower, please let me know, because I will think you are the coolest.  No guarantees about what the rest of the world might say.)

But I really did take too long showering because of being distracted by cleaning my shower.

6) My computer is giving me some moments of not working right.  I don't blame it. I've given it four years of abuse and done nothing for it in return. I should take it into the repair shop, but I don't want to because:
           A) That means I would have to look up where to find a repair shop, look up how to get there, set up a time to go, and drop off my computer hoping that they were trustworthy.  Those may not seem like big things to you, but to a perpetual procrastinator, that's a lot of inertia to overcome.
           B) I don't really know much about computers.  I'm going to be the one that they roll their eyes and laugh at because I'm the stupid customer that didn't try the most basic, easy, obvious fixes on their own. (My idea of fixing a computer is rebooting it.)
           C) Most importantly, I'D BE WITHOUT MY COMPUTER FOR AN UNDETERMINED AMOUNT OF TIME. You can see how this repair thing is clearly for the birds. No one should have to go through life computer-less.

7) Last week, I figured that there would be fewer people than usual participating in QT's.  I was right, and since I had a laid back weekend, I made it a goal of mine to read through every last submission. Whew! There were still a lot of people on there!  It took me until Wednesday to get through them all, but it was fun to read.  I normally don't do that, so I got to see some new blogs... And I may have added an obscene number of new blogs to my reading list in the process (please refer to the ki.ndle incident above).

So, have a great weekend, and head over to Jen's to find a whole lot of awesome Quick Takers!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waiting Well

My countdown to Advent continues. That'd be a little over three days, in case you were wondering. (Sign up for prayer buddies now if you're interested!) I'm not really sure what the fascination is for me, because this is a season that I have more or less ignored all my life.  But I think it has a lot to do with reading these posts in October. Some stuck with me, others maybe not quite as much, but I think what stuck with me the most was the phrase, "waiting well".

God is all about making us wait at various times of our lives.  This is not because He doesn't like us, but because He wants even more for us than we want for ourselves. We can often only see the pain of the now, but He sees that "for the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)

Want to or not, I get to wait in my life.  I am not waiting for my life to begin, but I am waiting for the fulfillment of my vocation in life. It has been a much crazier and longer journey than I ever expected. More painful and more beautiful than I ever would have thought possible. I don't pretend to know what's at the end of the journey, or when the next stage might happen, whatever that stage may be.  I do not get to choose whether I wait, but only how I wait.  I want to wait well. I may not know much, but there are a couple of things that I have learned.  One is that waiting is going to change me.  I want it to be for the better, so that I can praise God for the wait, like my friend Rebecca. But I guarantee that if it does not change me for good, it will change me to a shell of bitterness.  The only reason that I haven't gotten to that point is because I don't wait alone.  God is with me, as are many friends who are praying for me (thank you guys more than I can say!!)

I read the above verse in Hebrews during morning prayer last week, but when I went to look it up, I found that there was a lot more to chapter 12 that I wanted to think about.  Here is the way that chapter is speaking to me tonight (not to be taken for an authoritative interpretation of the text, just the way it is challenging me).

Note: Just read the block quotes if you only want to look at the Scripture without my copious amounts of prattling in between.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
We are not alone.  In the blog world alone, many of us know what it is to find that there are others going through many of the things that we ourselves are experiencing.  Not only that, but the saints who have run before us truly are our older brothers and sisters in Christ, cheering us on and letting us know that we can make it through the trials as well.  "Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely."  I know many of my readers are Catholic and thus a little straight-laced, but seriously, can I get an amen? I can't tell you the number of times that when the weight of the wait has left me with nothing but rawness and facing something that I didn't know was even a problem.  And through that has come healing and leaving some of those weights and sins behind (of course this is a process and won't end until death, but I see some sort of progress through this.)  Oh, man, and the exhortation to "run with perseverance the race that is set before us"!  I mean, most of us can't and wouldn't choose the course we get.  It's not about it being what we did or didn't want. It's about running it anyway and sticking with it.

looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Can I just say that the only times that I have ever felt that I was halfway on the right path with waiting are the times that my eyes are on Him.  I love that He is the perfect example.  He knew the cross would be horrific and painful, but He counted that as nothing with the joy of the salvation that it would bring us when He was again seated at the right hand of God. I honestly can't see it many days, but I do know that not only will the pain be worth it, but that it will make the joy that much deeper, not only in the here and now, but also when we stand before the throne at the end of the race.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you might not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. Have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons?--
            "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
            nor lose courage when you are punished by him.
            For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves,
            and chastises every son whom he receives." 
I don't see this as being "discipline and punishment" in terms of what is happening to us is a punishment for what we have done in our lives, or for the fact that we are sinful.  I see it more as discipline like when an athlete has to be disciplined about what he is doing in order to reach a greater goal (there's a reason that high level athletes sometimes refer to hard workouts as a "punishing workout").  I see this in terms of God loving us as we are, but pushing us beyond our limits to something greater. In working out, you have to push beyond your limits to go to the next level. I think the same thing applies here.  And I love that He loves us too much to leave us where we are.

It is for discipline that you have to endure... [H]e disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight the path for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed... See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" spring up and cause trouble.
That's really the crux of it. Waiting well means peaceful fruit from training in righteousness, it means healing. Without God, and without grace and being trained by the wait, we're looking at bitterness and injury.

My prayer is for anyone waiting, whatever it is that you are waiting for, whether it is physical or spiritual or emotional healing, or waiting for a job, or waiting for the fulfillment your vocation, or waiting to get through whatever it is that is tough right now. I am praying that you reap the many fruits of your waiting.  Know that you are not alone!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My Method

Oh lucky, lucky you, fair blog reader. I had thought to spare you details of my charting, but I changed my mind.  I have learned so much from people willing to share their experiences, and in case I can pass that on to someone else, I am going to share my thoughts with you. Yes, it's high on the TMI scale.  For the love of all that is good and decent in this world, skip these posts if you can't handle the TMI. The rest of you, just call me Catholic "Over Share" Mutt, and take what you will from them.

Here, in my usual highly organized fashion (i.e. take the thoughts as they come and throw them at the page to fall where they will), are my thoughts from my first week of charting and taking some time to learn about my cycle.

First of all, I have mixed feelings about the way Creighton is taught for two reasons.  1) It assumes that you are a couple. 2) It assumes that you are a Catholic following the teachings of the Catholic Church.  It makes complete sense that it is taught this way.  This is a system that started from scientific research trying to find more effective natural family planning that was within Church teachings. That would place you squarely in the Catholic couple range.  However, because they did such a good job with the scientific research, it has led to so much more.  It has become a very effective method of natural family planning (effective rates of 96.8), and therefore more couples are interested in using it (and other NFP methods) as a healthier and more environmentally sound method of family planning.  They may not be at all interested in the religious implications that mean so much to me as a Catholic.

The other thing that has come out of this research is that it is helping to pick up and treat abnormalities in reproductive and gynecological health. This means that it can be very effective in helping to treat subfertility, particularly in that it can address some of the underlying problems.  In many cases, even when pregnancy is not achieved, there is still improvement in a woman's health. So, still related to couples in this case, but I wish it were not only Catholic couples because there are so many suffering from IF* that only know of things like IVF** that are not always as effective and that are generally not fixing any of the underlying health problems. This also means that it is very beneficial for me as a woman (no matter what my state in life) to learn about charting, because it can help me to learn more about my health and what is and is not normal.  Therefore, I would say that it can and should be addressed to all women.

As I said, I have mixed feelings.  Because women learning about their cycle is such a great benefit on so many levels, I want the doors to be open for all to feel comfortable coming to learn it, from Catholics wanting to live faithfully according to their beliefs to nonreligious couples who simply want another effective option that doesn't require taking hormones, to single women who want to be aware of what is going on. On the other hand, that Catholic background is essential in where it came from, and I know of more than one Catholic couple that has come to a much deeper understanding of their faith in general because of learning about NFP*** with that religious background included.  I think trying to figure out how to be sensitive to all of these things in education about NFP is a growing pain that needs to be addressed, but what a fantastic thing to have to think about!

As far as charting itself is concerned, I find it both fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating in that I am actually getting to see what my body is doing.  This is also frustrating, because there are a couple of things that don't look completely normal (though not too far off- I hope!) Also frustrating is trying to figure out exactly where my observations belong.  There was at least one day that everything seemed so borderline that I just wanted to chart two or three numbers and three or four letters, just to have my bases covered.**** Okay, it wasn't quite that bad, and I didn't have to chart that, but I wanted to, because I was tired of trying to figure out what was what. I suppose it would probably help if I would finish reading the study materials that I was given.  The fact that my chart doesn't look quite right obviously has a lot to do with my ignorance and inexperience.  In fact, I'd almost blame all of it on that, if it weren't for the fact that some of the things seem different than they did a few months ago (but I don't know for sure because I wasn't charting then.)

I will say that what I have learned in the last week has made me jump squarely into the middle of the bandwagon. Yes, learning about your cycle is (or can be) about NFP, and what a great way to do it, because it can be used both in avoiding and in achieving pregnancy.  But it is also about knowing and respecting your body.  Working with it, rather than against it.  It can help find and treat specific underlying problems.  So, yeah, I would love to get all women on the bandwagon.***** My plan is to make that my mission******, right after I go out and buy stock in toilet paper- the good kind.

To learn more about NFP in general, go here or here.
To learn more about Creighton, go here or to find an instructor in your area, go here.
If you are interested in learning more about some reasons to think about avoiding contraception, go to this awesome website.

**In vitro fertilization
***Natural family planning
****I would so love to explain, if only I had the faintest clue of what the heck I was talking about. For anyone not familiar, it's part of the standardized descriptors of "biological markers" (aka, cervical mucus).
*****And for the point of this post, I would say that I would love all women to chart whether or not they want to continue to use contraception during fertile times or not.  Yeah, I have feelings about contraception in general, but at the moment I'm thinking of the health benefits that come from charting and not all the benefits that come from avoiding contraception. My thinking is that I would love to have people stop using synthetic hormones (when it is simply interfering with actual healthy function of the body; still think there are times and places where it is needed as treatment for bodies that are not working as they should be) and know more about their health. Better for women's health, better for the environment. We can tackle the rest another day.
******Not really. I'm too lazy, unfortunately, but I will at least discuss it when and where I can.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Two Weeks to Advent

Two weeks from today, Advent starts.  I may have mixed feelings about the holidays in general, but I'm starting to look forward to Advent. Here's the thing about waiting.  I may have been waiting a long time, but I feel like the amount of time that I have waited well is a lot shorter, and much more sporadic.  I look forward to Advent because it is a time to remind myself to wait well, and not simply to wait impatiently. I know more about waiting than I ever wanted to know, and I know much less than I should.  And I live it even less well than I know it.

The thing is, I feel stuck in an endless season of waiting.  I get so tired of it, and it's hard to deal with the ups and downs or even just the monotony. I forget that there is so much opportunity in waiting.  Advent is the season to work on waiting well.  It has a lot to teach us about waiting with expectant hope.

First of all, it is a season of penance. That can feel a little out of place sometimes given what a joyous event Christmas is.  But Advent is not Christmas.  Advent is preparation for Christmas, and a reminder that waiting should be much more than sitting on our hind ends until the calendar rolls around to December 25th. We should be preparing. Waiting should not passive. Waiting for a husband, or a child, or the Savior of the world and many other things that people wait for all of these things require us to set aside our selfishness and give of ourselves.  What better way to prepare for this than through the self denial of voluntary penance? I'll be honest, I rarely do this, but it could be very helpful, is what I'm saying.

Another thing about Advent that I love is Gaudete Sunday.  It is the second to last Sunday before Christmas, and it is all about rejoicing.  We don't praise God only when we get what we want. We don't praise Him so that He will give us what we want. We praise Him because He is worthy of praise, in the midst of the wait.

You know what I love about Advent that I didn't even know until I started writing this?  I knew it was a season of expectant waiting. We not only wait but we wait for God to work in ways that are beyond what we could have imagined. Because He is God and that's how He rolls. But what I didn't think about is what the word "advent" means.  Do you know?

"Advent" means "coming". I do not know what His answer is in your life or mine.  But He is coming. Not just to Bethlehem, but to our lives and in the midst of our problems. We may not know when or where or how, but we do know that it will happen.

Friday, November 16, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 193)
1) Yesterday was my day off. I didn't get my workout in like I'd planned, I didn't get a single thing picked up in my house, I didn't do any of the paperwork stuff I needed to work on, I didn't get grocery shopping done or even so much as a grocery list made up, and I didn't make it very much farther in studying the Creighton stuff that I need to be going over. But, it was still a great day off, and let me tell you several reasons why.

2) Hello! It was a day off!

3) I didn't get my workout in, but I did get to sleep in.

4) I still got up in time to make it to Mass.

5) I went to a physical therapy clinic for the first time ever as an actual patient.  Luckily, because I am a physical therapist, I know who some of the good therapists are and who is going to treat the way that's going to work well for me (because there are really good therapists and some pretty mediocre ones).  It was fascinating to be on the other end of things!  I didn't go to my own clinic for a couple of reasons, but one is because I think it's too easy to get distracted by other things when you're at your own work place.  The other is because one of the types of treatment that I knew I really needed you have to be certified to do.  The only therapist certified for this treatment at my clinic? Me. And it's not something I can treat on myself. It's a little humbling to realize how much work I need to do myself when I preach it all day to other people, but it's absolutely awesome to have someone take a look at it so that I can now know what I was doing wrong and how to fix it. It was great to leave and be able to turn my head to check my blind spot without that nagging pain. I have some work to do, but now I have something specific to do to help fix it. Now I love physical therapy as a PT and as a patient!

Whew! That was long, but because of 2-4, I think I can still qualify for QT's.

6) I got to have a skype date with 3 of my favorite little guys and between looking at the toy gun, toy car and yo-yo they had to show me, I even got to chat a little with their mother. :)  Also, just so you know, jedi's use blue light sabers, and the storm troopers are the bad guys and use red light sabers. These are very important points.

7) I got to climb!!  It was only easy stuff, and I didn't do too much, but I got to climb and it felt amazing to be on the wall again. These silly nagging injuries have kept me out for about 3 weeks and I didn't know how much I missed it.  The climbs I did weren't even a challenge, but I didn't care. (I was trying to take it easy.  Too many patients overdo and aggravate their injuries; I'm trying not to be the stereotypical PT that makes the worst patient!)

That's all I have. Have a fantastic weekend and head over to Jen's for more QT's!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I Made a Choice about my Reproductive Health

There is a lot of talk right now about women making their own choices for their own reproductive health. I figured that instead of discussing all of that, I would just discuss me. This is a blog about me, so why not, right?  The choice I made was a long time in coming, a bit awkward to begin with, and I'm sure will involve some more fun awkward moments to come.  It could have been worse on the awkward scale, but it should have been better.

The road to my choice started a couple of years ago, when all my friends were getting married, and I got to listen to endless discussions of all things wedding and marriage prep.  One thing that was consistent in that was that the couples were choosing some form of natural family planning (NFP).  It was not uncommon to have a friend say, "I thought my cycle was normal, but I realized some things were not exactly where they should be."  I wondered what, if anything, might be abnormal about my own cycle.  I was curious to find out some elusive day when I finally might be preparing for marriage.

Then I got started with this whole blogging thing, and before long found this whole group of Catholic IF bloggers (that would be "infertile", and if you think my use of initials is bad, try following their blogs!) If you don't want to learn lots about cycles, whether they be normal or abnormal or somewhere in between, don't go read those blogs.  While I have never envied what my friends are going through, I did notice that there were certain things that they were finding that were affecting overall health, not just their ability to have children.  One common one is thyroid problems.  I have a history of thyroid problems and something still seems a little off to me in that regard, so I kind of wished I could know how charting helps to figure all of that out.

Then I was noticing some things that I thought might be changes in my cycle, but I had no way of knowing for sure, because I'm single and don't chart.  Why would I chart if I'm single?

Finally I decided that there is no reason that I can't learn a few things as a single person. Yeah, sure, the class is billed as a way to learn how to achieve or avoid pregnancy, and any health benefits are sort of listed as secondary, but that's okay.  And, yes, it's fun when they tell you what the cost is "per couple" (also the cost per single person, in case you were wondering). However, when I emailed the local instructor, she was kind enough to treat me as normal.  Apparently I am not the only female out there who has no current prospects of marriage, but just wants to know more about her health.

There really wasn't any point (in my mind) for me to learn anything other than the Creighton model. Many other NFP models are good for the signs of fertility, but typically people that need to learn more about their health end up having to learn Creighton anyway. Actual fertile and infertile times are a moot point for me right now, but reproductive health and the way that connects with my overall health are very relevant. So, Creighton it is.

There you have it. My choice for my reproductive health is to learn something about it. And to chart it for a while. That way I can see if things are as normal as they seem, or if something is off.  I want a good 6 cycles or so to get a baseline for me so that I know what is or is not normal in my own cycle.  Then if I decide to stop charting for a while, I will at least have a better handle on where I am.

Also, the awkwardness came in the form of the group introductory session, in which I felt like a weirdo, even though there was only one couple there.  Particularly in the part where we were waiting for the talk to begin. I did not feel at all awkward during the actual session and discussion.  I guess after reading all kinds of IF blogs for so long, they didn't even come close to anything that seemed awkward or out of the ordinary! I just think that it shouldn't be awkward to be a single female at that class. There really is a lot about reproductive and gynecological health, and it should not be billed as being just for couples. (Again, the instructor was great about making it about all of the above, but all of the printed info for the class assumed that you were a couple only wanting to learn about when to have sex based on whether you want to achieve or avoid pregnancy.)

Thanks to all that have been willing to openly discuss things about their cycles (both in person and those that blog), so I could realize that there was more for me to know right now, as well as making so that it does not seem weird to me to discuss these things!

Brief update: I wrote this quickly last night to blurt out my immediate thoughts after taking the class. But the point in sharing it (besides that it's a blog and oversharing is part of the standard template) is that there may be others out there that have thought about learning more, and I want them to know they aren't the only ones. I also figured I should probably add a link or two so you could actually learn something if you are so inclined! To learn more about Creighton specifically, you can go here. To find a teacher in your area, go here (left side of the page).

Friday, November 9, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 193)
1) I keep trying to jump on the political bandwagon, because I have many things that I want to say, but then I find that I can't quite figure out how to say them.  Maybe later.

2) In the meantime, why don't I follow up with more perfectly meaningless nonsense? Because I can easily bore you to death with that.  Speaking of boring people (I mean, causing them to be bored, not people that are boring), I think I must have gotten one person really bored. I have few followers, so I notice when one drops out.  Not that I blame you!  But I miss you nonetheless.  Since I haven't yet gotten around to any sort of a political post, I'll have to assume boredom rather than that I offended someone.

3) I finally got some clothes shopping done this week! I noticed that many of my pants are wearing out, my shoes have no tread, and I am so bored of all my tops that I can hardly make myself get dressed for work in the morning.  So I went shopping and got some new stuff.  I think I did okay. Everywhere was having a sale. Most were less than 25% off (but they called it buy one, get one 50% off), but still. Some sale is better than no sale! And I found a stash of socks that was buy one, get one free.  That's good, because I have a lot of threadbare socks!

4) There is one thing that I bought that I question whether I will wear.  It's a skinny animal-ish print belt (though the actual color and pattern mix matches no animal that I know of). We shall see.

5) The one thing that I wanted to get and didn't was some more make up. Make up makes me miserable. I need to try some more brands and see if that helps, but I dread the headaches and red, burn-y eyes for the make ups that don't work. 

6) I don't really want to work today.  It sounds like it's going to be busy.  I can just skip it, right?  Right?

7) So the next few days should be interesting. I have two things to go to in the next 3 or 4 days that I shall name Awkward and More Awkward.  There is a chance that they will both be equally awkward, but there is no chance that there will not be awkwardness involved. Can't wait.  But there's a good chance that it'll make for good blog post material, so we can always hope for that at least!

Have a great weekend and head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's That Time of Year Again.... Holiday Preparation

This is the time of year that I have to start preparing for the holidays.  There is no waiting until after Thanksgiving, or until Gaudete Sunday or anything else.  It starts now.

I am not talking about putting up decorations.  'Tis the season to get my defenses in place.  I'm actually behind this year, because Halloween caught me by surprise (with all the really cute photos of friends' kids in their costumes).

This is the time of year that everyone starts talking about getting family photos for the Christmas cards, maybe starts thinking about some of the baking, or shopping for Christmas presents. It is the time of year that everyone has to figure out how to make it to 2 or 3 (or 4 or 5!) family gatherings.  It's the time where everyone commiserates about how. frickin'. busy. everything is. Bloggers and fb statuses are full of thanksgiving, the majority of which are about husbands and children. Later we can get into favorite Christmas traditions, right before everyone cuts out because they are too busy to blog.

All good and wonderful stuff. Please understand that these things should happen and they are good.  But they are very isolating for someone like me.  Family photos? N/A.  I suppose I could send out cards with mountain pics, and there is certainly plenty to write a Christmas letter about this year, but it's hard to make myself care enough. I both look forward to and dread seeing all my friends' family pictures.  Often with a new child in the photo, always with the kids looking huge. And me, still just me, looking older (and hopefully not bigger ;).

Baking? I used to dream of baking Christmas treats for a husband and children.  I love some Christmas baking (but only one or two batches, because I get bored after that.) I can't bake for myself because I will eat everything I bake. No good.  Baking is really best for the big family get togethers with aunts and uncles and cousins.  We don't get to do that right now in my family. So far, we are a smaller gathering than before, not the larger one that I dreamed of being.  And, yes, only one family gathering to go to. My parents are going to the bigger one for Thanksgiving.  Since I don't get to go to that, it'll be just my parents and siblings (minus one sibling who can't make it).  And Thanksgiving? Can't wait until it's over this year.  I don't have time off besides Thursday, so I'll be hanging out here.

Being busy? Yeah, not so much. I don't have concerts to go to. I don't have tons of Christmas shopping or baking to do.  Everyone else's schedules fill up to such a degree that mine ends up being emptier than usual.

Yes, this is the time of year that I begin to tense up for the emotional beating that is coming. The time of year that I thank God that He saw fit to create Netflix. Every year, I hope and pray the next year will be different, and every year my dreams seem farther away, not closer.

Some of the defenses are that I may have to give up facebook for Advent. We can call it an Advent sacrifice, but that'd be a lie. In reality, I'll keep checking it if it's not bothering me and stop checking it if it is.  I will avoid much shopping. The list of things that I have to pick up is minimal, so Amazon can keep me out of the stores with all the Christmas stuff and reminders of all the perfect gifts "for him" or all the cute stocking stuffers for kids, etc. And I'll try to go to Mass often and probably should make a real effort to get to confession a time or two before Christmas.

I think I may have to try to go on offense this year, too. Maybe I could figure out what the baking supplies would cost me for things that I would think about making if I had a family, and give that to a food bank.  And maybe prayer buddies would be another good way. When I'm sad about not having a family photo to take, I could offer it up for my brother and SIL, who have had 2 miscarriages this year.  Or for others who have had losses that leave an empty spot in the family photo and a gaping hole in their hearts.

And for those somedays that might eventually happen?  There are things about my holidays now that really stink, but would be awesome in other scenarios.  Currently I've been forced to take a step back from the crazy whirlwind that is the holidays.  But from back here, I can see that I would like to minimize some of that so that we have more family time. Ideally.  I know that isn't always possible.

And for this year? So I can't create magic and memories for little ones, I'll still put up decorations for me (though they really will wait until at least the first weekend of December). I still haven't watched Downton Abbey, so I think I'll save that for later on as the nights have less to fill them up. I will make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, even if I'll be eating leftovers all weekend. And Elf will be a must see, because it is.

I really hate to be the pathetic complainer about the holidays, but I hate even more trying to keep it in and putting on my happy face the whole time. There are many genuinely happy moments, but it's a struggle, too. Feel free to post a comment about what you may be struggling with over the holidays.  I'll be praying for you AND I won't feel like the only Grinch in town since I can't be 100% happy about the holidays.  Win, win!

Friday, November 2, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 193)
1) So, I joined a novena to pray for the election.  The very first day I saw an odd line at the end of the prayer:

"Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a whiner."

And then I realized that I had (of course) read it wrong.  The last word was really "sinner". Freudian slip of reading comprehension, perhaps?

2) I promise I'll try to keep the whining to a minimum, but I do have one whiny take.  Because... This weekend is the time change.  We gain an hour, which I guess is nice.  Ish. But I hate losing the light in the evening. It's bad enough with the days getting shorter anyway. But I hate getting of work and having it be pitch black out. Somehow it makes me feel like my whole life is at work.  And, it seems like it keeps getting more difficult to get adjusted to a different time.  Blerg.

3) The other day I was watching a reality show set in Australia.  First of all, I love that I forget how big Australia actually is. I mean, I knew it was big, but I apparently kept picturing big like Texas.  Yeah, I know better, but obviously I still have a problem with how I picture things sometimes.  Anyway, my favorite part (besides the accents) was that when they met someone new, they'd ask "How're you going?"  I don't know, maybe because it was both similar and different than here, but it made me smile.

4) Love pomegranates, hate how much work it takes to get the fruit.

5) Hart of Dixie is the new show I've been watching recently.  I get on kicks sometimes, and there's been a couple of things going on recently, so I watch TV. I like to get lost in other peoples' over the tp problems. It really is amazing how one small town can have so many good looking people in it.

6) I'm out, so you get two pictures from the sand dunes from last month.


Have a great weekend and head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!