Thursday, February 28, 2013

7 Quick Takes

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

1) I've decided to make a run for it and try for a 7QT's.  I haven't been working on these throughout the week, however, so I'm not sure if I will come up with 7 in the short time that I have.

2) So... You may have heard that Catholics are currently without a pope.  In all seriousness, I have no words to express my love and thanks to Papa Benedict.  My prayers are with him.

3) I just started reading a blog that perhaps many of you are already familiar with, but they had a unique experience with saying goodbye to the pope!

4) To anyone who is feeling a little fatherless tonight... We are, a little, but remember that the pope is a servant of God.  One beautiful, humble servant stepped down since he did not feel fully able to perform his duties well, but we are not without a head.  The head of the Church is Christ.  It is always Him, but in some ways, a brief period without an earthly head is a good reminder of who the true leader of the Church is.

5) Definitely joined the novena for Pope Benedict in his last days as pope, and will now be praying for the conclave and the next pope. There is another novena coming up for that (and I love having the daily prayers delivered to my inbox; I get them prayed that way!).  I have also adopted a cardinal to pray for specifically, and while I will be praying for all of them, Cardinal Vinko Puljic will have a special place in my prayers through the conclave.  I think it's a great way to support our cardinals during this time, for anyone that's interested!

6)  No, not ALL of my QT's will be about the pope... How about one about Lent? As I mentioned, my Lent has not been exactly perfect, shall we say.  One of the biggest reasons that I struggle with this is that I usually go whole hog.  If I give something up, I give it all the way up. Whereas this Lent has been more about moderation (or the lack thereof).  One of the things that I think I need to realize is that my Lenten experience should not be about my perfect following of Lenten resolutions.  If I follow them perfectly and feel like I had a "good Lent", does that matter?  Really, I think I need to remember that Lent is about clearing away the obstacles so that I can stand closer to God.  So maybe this Lent needs to be about not letting my lack of perfection in my Lenten observances stand in the way.  While, of course, still striving to do better.

7) Whew! Made it!  Even if I won't be able to officially link up with Jen this week, head over to her place for more QT's. Have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Failing at Fasting

A week in, and the fasting is getting a little rough.  I was trying to minimize some snacks, but that kind of went out the door this week.  When I got frustrated by it, you know what bothered me most?  The fact that I've gained a several pounds in the last 6-8 months, and that I'm not going to get them off if I keep eating like I have the last couple of days.  Also, there is the screen time thing.  I'm decreasing some of my internet and TV time, because they have been taking over and I have been ignoring other things that I should get done. So you know what the last couple of days have looked like?  I've been reading almost nonstop and ignoring other things that I should get done.

Fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, fail.

It started to occur to me that I should therefore not worry too much about fasting, since I'm so bad at it anyway, and my intentions are all off.  Just let it go, you know.  Maybe just add some more prayer or something holy like that.


The devil would just looove that, I'm sure.  For the love of all that is good and holy, since when is being bad at something a good reason not to do it?  If I'm in school and I'm bad at math, I should work harder, not give it up altogether!  If I'm too weak to work out like I would like to, maybe I should start working out and build up some strength.  If I can't hike a mountain that I want to hike, I don't sit on a couch, I get up and work on it until I can climb it.  When we're not good at something, we shouldn't therefore do nothing, but rather try harder. As I tell my patients all the time, if an exercise were easy, you wouldn't need to do it.  If I had all the self control in the world, how would fasting be needed?

So instead of quitting, here's my plan.  I'm not going to worry about the rest of these 40 days.  Nor am I going to worry about the last couple of days of failure that I can't change. I'm going to work on today.  And then tomorrow, I'll work on tomorrow.  I'll still try to minimize snacks, but not to the point of being too hungry, because I've been too active for that and hopefully it will also help me be less concerned about what the scale says. And I'll try to be more intentional about spending some time doing the things that need to be done.  While I am, I'll try to use that time to pray for the intentions of anyone reading this particular post.

I can't be the only one that messes this up.  What do you find that helps you?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

More About the Charting

Back to the series about more than you ever wanted to know about my experience with charting (consider this your major TMI warning). I don't really know what to call it in my case.  NFP doesn't quite fit.  Whatever.

I'm back to being happier with charting again.  I think it's starting to get a little more natural. I feel bad for my irritation with my FCP last month.  She really is awesome, and I didn't get any lectures at this follow up (despite a couple of missed observations).  I do appreciate the fact that she is a stickler in that that is the best way to get the most out of what you're doing.

Things that I am learning this month:

1) WHY the rhythm method is so bad.  I mean, I knew why, and I knew that NFP is nothing close to the same thing as that, but now I really see it in black and white, if you will. (Or green and white... Sorry, lame charting joke.)  So far in 2.5 completed cycles, I have seen an early ovulation and a fairly late one. Clearly if I was trying to avoid pregnancy and simply following the rhythm method, this would not have worked well at all.

2) It does get easier.  Again, I state the obvious, but sometimes it's easier to purposely forget the obvious so that I can be as grumpy as possible about the frustrating aspects of things.

3) My cycles, though a little varied, are normal enough and fairly regular with an easy to identify peak day.  There are some signs of possible low progesterone.  Not completely surprising.  I have read enough IF blogs to make me wonder, and the charting seems to be agreeing with that hypothesis.  Of course, it would take blood draws to confirm it.  In this stage of my life, that probably won't happen.  My PMS symptoms are just bad enough to let me know that I have symptoms, but nothing remotely close to affecting function.  Since I am neither trying to get pregnant, nor trying to stay pregnant, I see no other reason to worry too much about it (unless someone knows something that they want to clue me in on).  However, I do find it extremely helpful to know.  If I do meet someone, and we do start to get serious about a possible marriage, I would definitely be looking into that ASAP. Better to know now so I can start to get it regulated before marriage rather than wondering afterwards why it is difficult to get pregnant, or simply write it off as not being 20 anymore.

4) I am curious to see what happens this month with the mucous cycle.  It has seemed prolonged and increased in the last two months and coincided with my traveling and taking echinacea because of all the germs on all the airplanes. My FCP has never heard of echinacea affecting that, but she was the first to bring up the possibility in looking at my chart.  Then again, the only cycle we have to compare it to is the first cycle I started to chart.  It is very likely that I missed a few things that time around, so who knows?  I'm curious to see what happens.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

7 Quick Takes, LATE Edition

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

1) Happy weekend, everyone!  I hope your weekend is going well, I know I'm enjoying mine.  Yesterday was more cross country skiing with friends.  We skied under a gondola at one point and we watched the people riding up the slope for downhill.  We figured they were probably thinking we were nuts for skiing where we have to do all the work ourselves and you don't go nearly as fast. Whereas, we were very happy to not be them because we like our workout, the fact that it's cheaper than downhill, and that it's safer than downhill.

2) I was out with two friends who were in my ski class last year.  We're a lot better than we were, but when we watch the experienced skiers fly by us, we know we still have a lot of work to do.  We determined that we are no longer rank beginners, and have advanced to being just beginners.  It's pretty funny sometimes the way we creep down hills and then get all excited if we make it to the bottom still upright.  One way that you know I still have a few issues with speed is that sometimes I'll be going a little too slow down a hill, so I start poling, but I don't reduce my snowplow.  Don't want too much speed!

3) Then today I had a yummy breakfast and it was good to have a relaxing morning to get ready for Mass.  Then I was talking to my friend in Germany via  Here's the best part of that conversation.  She's going to be in town in a couple of weeks, and I had planned on being out of town that weekend.  I'm disappointed that my travel plans didn't work out, but I'm very excited to get a chance to see her.  Only, we decided not to tell her that I'll be around. So there were interesting moments when she's telling me that she misses me and really wants to see me, and I'm trying not to bust out and tell her that I will be seeing her soon.  I'm really hoping that she will text me on her way to the restaurant where everyone's meeting up.  Where I will either be waiting for her or about to join her.  Should be fun.  I get to finish the weekend with a birthday dinner for another friend.

4) Obviously, I am not giving up the internet for Lent, but I've limited it.  (Part of the reason that this post is not so much on a Friday.) It's a little tough, but kind of great.  By having to be smart about how I spend my internet time, I am still getting to most of the things that are important to me, but I have more time to be structured about other things in my life.  I'm not getting sucked down all sorts of little rabbit holes.  Sometimes the rabbit holes are fun, but they can take a lot of time. I had one very productive morning without the distraction of the internet and found myself thinking, "Look what all I can get done!  I can't wait to blog about this!"  Yeah, I'd say it was definitely time for some limits. :)  Although I will be less limited about it after Lent, I can already see some ways that I could be more balanced even after Lent is over.

5) I know that we're not supposed to "brag" about what we're giving up for Lent, but I do like to see other peoples' posts of what they're giving up.  It gives me more ideas and I also love to see how things differ from one person to the other.  It's interesting to see because every person is different, their spiritual needs are different, where they are in their journey is different.  So it's great to see the number of ways that all these things fit together for each person. Like when it comes to food, for example.  Some people, some sort of fasting from food is extremely beneficial and can break some of the bonds food has.  Other people for health reasons cannot or should not be giving up food. Other people know that it is best for them not to give up food so they don't get too caught up in image.  I love that there is no right or wrong answer; simply that everyone should do what's best for them in that stage of their life.  I know what I've done for some Lents is not right for others.  It seems like if I spend some time being thoughtful about it and praying about it, it usually leads me to things that end up being surprisingly beneficial.

6) I was just thinking the other day about some of the differences between Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.  Both have faced increasing health problems and both have addressed it different ways.  I was trying to figure out how to put my feelings about it into words, but then I found an article that did it for me.  I consider both of these men to be fathers, pastors and servants of God in the best way possible, and I love what they said about the lessons that both of these men teach us in different ways.  I also really liked the video that Leila posted here.  Listening to people like Cardinal Arinze, having had a chance to go to a Mass and talk by Cardinal Schonborn, being in the diocese where Cardinal DiNardo first became bishop and seeing what kind of a man he was there, and, of course, thinking of men like Cardinal Dolan, these men are shepherds.  Even while we are briefly without a pope, we will have strong leadership.  When you are picking from a pool like these men, I am confident we will have another pope that will leave faithful Catholics rejoicing and mainstream media wailing and gnashing their teeth.

Of course, plenty of prayers are needed, for Pope Benedict, for the conclave, and for the new pope, whoever he will be.  Many of you already know about the novena you can sign up for here that will start this week to pray for Pope Benedict in his last 9 days in office, and I believe there will be a follow up novena for the new pope as well.  I have prayed novenas from this site before, and it is so helpful for me to remember to pray them when the prayer gets delivered to my in box each morning.

7) Sorry about the not at all quick takes!  Head over to Jen's for quicker takes, and to make up for it, I'll shut up now and leave you with a photo instead. It's a couple years old, but somehow I don't think I've ever posted it before.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Desert 2013

A few days ago, I was not ready for Lent and all that entails.  I had many half-baked ideas, but nothing fully formed and ready.  I have gone through entire Lents before with lots and lots of things going on, but no focus.  Focus is key.

I realized a couple of days ago what it is that I'm looking for, and it's all summed up in one word that I've heard from several people: quiet.

I'm looking forward to it.  What a great time to pray for this pope, the conclave, and the next pope. In lieu of a prayer buddy, I'm going to spend one week each on praying for my siblings' and my vocations.  And, of course, I'll be praying for all of you as well. (I'll still be around here, too, though maybe a little more limited, we'll see.)

May you all have a blessed and fruitful 2013 Desert Experience!

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Few More Thoughts

Waking up to the news that Pope Benedict was stepping down was a shocker.  I love and respect Papa Ben, but I think the thing that surprises me as much as anything is my reaction to it. In that I am fundamentally okay with it.  I cannot overstate how much I respect him for this difficult decision.  (I thought this article did a great job of discussing the whole issue.)  And I am completely at peace about the whole thing.  It does not upset me.  I'll miss him, and it's surreal that it'll be a different pope by Easter, but it's okay.  I saw this quote from Christopher West on the Book of the Face yesterday, and I realized that I agreed 100% (except I don't remember 1978, and I don't know for sure if CW was saying it himself or quoting someone else):
I remember when Pope John Paul I died in 1978. There was a sense that God was taking extraordinary measures to do something amazing, which he did with the election of a Polish Pope. Today, with the news of Benedict XVI abdicating the chair of Peter, I have a similar sense that God is up to something extraordinary. Our beloved Pope Benedict has carried the torch for the JP II generation. He's been a true father to us all. Thank you, Holy Father! We love you and, with you, we place all our confidence and hope in God's providence at this remarkable moment of the Church's journey.

As Kaitlin said so well, things like these help us remember the bond we all have as Catholics.  I love that across the world we can come together to pray for Papa Ben in the last days of his papacy, pray for the conclave as it convenes, pray for the new pope as he takes office.

I love the reminder that for all the authority that the pope has, it's not about him.  When he needs to, he can give two weeks' notice and step down from the office, allowing someone else to succeed him.  Things will not fall to pieces, but will continue on. Because the true head of the Church is Christ, and He's not going anywhere.

Just as a little perspective about how long it's been since a pope resigned, the last time it happened was before there were any Protestants.

Now if we could just get people to understand that electing a pope is not a popularity contest, nor is it a political power move, nor will the new pope have the authority to change many of the teachings that they want changed, and that the pope really is simply feeling his age at 85 (86?) and there is not a more sinister underlying issue.  Give it up, folks!

One Way to Wake Up on a Monday!

So, I usually don't check the news, but today I did, and what do I find?

Papa Ben is resigning?!?!?!

I don't really know what to think.  I have so much respect for him, and I am sure that he would not do so if he did not feel after much prayer and consideration that this was best for the Church.  In the last few months he has apparently been feeling much more infirm.  He is 85, although I think he looks great for 85, but obviously there are a lot of demands and looking great is not the same as being able to appropriately take care of all the duties of the papacy.

That being said, I texted a couple of my friends this morning and mentioned that I felt like my dad just said he was too old to be my dad anymore and was stepping down from the position.

There are a lot of great candidates out there, so I'm not so worried about the future, just shocked and blown away at the moment. I can't believe we'll have a different pope by Easter! Crazy!

I will definitely be praying for Papa Ben in the last few days of his papacy and for the Cardinals and they face the task of electing a new pope, and for the new pope and the challenges he will face.  I guess Lent is a good time for all this to happen, since we're all more focused on prayer already!

I do almost feel sorry for all of those that will think that this is the time to elect a new pope that will be ready "change with the times", since they don't realize that many of the things that they want changed about the Catholic Church are not things that the pope has the authority to change.  No, sorry. STILL not going to happen.

Friday, February 8, 2013

How Can It Possibly Be Lent Next Week?!

I am both ready and not ready for Lent.  I can't wait, and I'm dreading it.

Part of my problem is that I have something specific that I want from Lent.  I want to be challenged just enough, but not too much.  I want to come out with my mind clear and focused.  I want to be less attached to certain things and more attached to God.  I want to truly soak in the solemnity and quiet of Lent without all the extra noise, and then have the joy of Easter burst out in glorious contrast.

The thing is, it doesn't always work that way.  Sometimes instead of soaking in what Lent is, I am distracted by anything and everything around me.  Sometimes I try and try to feel Lent the way it should be felt, and I don't feel a thing.  Sometimes I want to grow closer to God, and nothing happens. Sometimes my sacrifices lead me to become more attached to something else other than God.  Sometimes it's my fault and I can see why and how it happened.  Other times, it just is.  Life is like that.

I have to give up something food related.  I do.  I know that sometimes (like everyone else) my motives aren't perfect.  But even with my imperfect motives, I think God does something amazing with any kind of austerity in what we think are our most basic needs.  I think there are good reasons not to fast from food (like if you already have an unhealthy relationship with food, or you already have few options on what to eat).  But in my case, though I have some mixed motives, I love what a little physical hunger can do to remind me of what is even more important to me than food.

Let's just pretend that that last paragraph is not a grammatical disaster, okay?  Great.

I also think that I will find some ways to be more quiet this Lent.  I need to do that.  I'm still praying about the specifics, but I think that it needs to happen.  I think that if I want to find God, I am more likely to find Him in the silence. Not complete silence, but more silence.

In the end, it's not about whether I feel appropriately solemn and then appropriately joyful.  Nor is it about whether I feel any closer to God or not.  It's about being there, living the 40 days in the desert with Jesus, whether it feels good, bad, or indifferent.  Anything else is just a bonus.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Few More Photos

I'm not really sure what my deal is, but I feel like posting something.  Only, every time I sit down to write something, I got nothing.  So, how about a couple more photos?

Yes, I know there were already a couple of sunset photos, but here are a couple more.  Why? Did you want palm trees instead?

Friday, February 1, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 193)
1) Thanks so much for all your prayers and suggestions for my friend! I'm really excited for her to be starting this journey.

2)  There has been a lot of talk this week on all the things that are wrong, wrong, wrong about the so-called "purity movement". I agree with many of the points.  I also think that some are getting into a dangerous place with regards to throwing out what is good while they are busily throwing out the bad (which I am glad they are doing!)  I suppose that I have some things to say about that.  But then, that leads to cans of worms opening up.  I greatly dislike worms.

3) Less than two weeks until Lent!  I felt like Advent was pretty nice this year, and I've barely adjusted to Ordinary Time, so I'm not totally ready.  On the other hand, I feel like it will give me a push to scale back on some things, which may in turn lead to some much needed perspective.

4) I'm watching The Good Wife.  It just started getting really good, and I'm only on the pilot.  I guess it could start to get bad just as fast, but we'll see.  The problem is that I swear, I really was going to start Downton Abbey, but I still have not gotten there.  I don't know why this is so difficult! (Now that is what I call a FWP. Feel free to tell me to get over it. ;)

5) Speaking of TV (see where this moderation thing needs to happen?!), someone convinced me that I need to watch a clip of the Bachelor.  I used to watch that show back in college, but not for a long time.  The part I was to watch was when he took one of the girls rock climbing.  I go to watch it, and here's this girl that's never been rock climbing, and she just walked right up it.  Are you kidding me?  Not fair!  Granted most of the holds look pretty easy, but I would have been shaking in my boots for the mere height factor if that had been my first climb ever.  And it wasn't completely vertical, which helps, but there were a couple of spots that looked a little tricky.  So, you're telling me that she can rock the 6" heels and the rock?  Not. Fair.

But good for her.  She really did to a good job.

6) Totally blew off my follow up for charting this week!  I feel bad, though I'm not really excited to go back.  It would be nice to have this one done and over with.  I seriously had no idea that it was supposed to be this week.  I thought it was in early February (and even that was in another couple of weeks, though the calendar clearly states that it's next week... What does the calendar know?)  I'm dreading this one, because I've missed some observations.  I really do try (except for the day or so after getting lectured the last time), but with traveling I got a little behind, so some of that's off.  Is it bad to tell her not to lecture me? Because I get defeatist when that happens (the whole mature, "well, if it's impossible to do right, why bother?")  I am committed to doing this and doing it right to the best of my ability. I do understand that every observation is important, and I am trying.  Mark me whatever you have to mark me, but don't lecture.  If I wasn't committed, I wouldn't be attempting to chart as a single person.

7) Told you I took a lot of pictures of palm trees, even there are only a couple of them here.  So I decided to post another one. This one's in the dawn instead of sunset.  You know, because it's totally different that way.

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