Monthly Archives: April, 2015

Not Alone Series: Physical Affection

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Everyone has different ideas on physical affection and where their personal boundaries lie. What boundaries do you draw or expectations do you have for physical affection in [unmarried] romantic relationships? Have specific experiences led you to draw these lines?

Well, I picked a nice juicy day to get back in the swing of things for NAS, didn’t I? Today is one of the days I am glad that I have a public blog. Anyone can read this. My future husband will probably read it. My mother can read it (although I don’t think she actually does). If my grandma knew how to use a computer, she could read it. Discretion is key!

It is also one of the days I am glad that I believe you shouldn’t generally tell stories about things you took to Confession (or need to take there).

I’ve been honest here that it’s been a while since I was in a romantic relationship. My previous boundaries need revisions to suit my current living situation, age, and marriage-mindedness.

For example, I used to have the rule of “no boys in my bedroom with the door closed.” Initially, I created that rule to keep myself out of the near occasion of sin, as I pray in my Act of Contrition every day. These days, I can imagine needing to have a private conversation with my boyfriend and just stepping into my room to make that happen because one of my roommates is in the common areas of our house. I am in more of a “no unmarried coed sleepovers” kind of phase right now. A night on the couch because the weather is bad or after a party is not going to kill anyone.

Some of my old rules still apply, though. Jason Evert writes and speaks mostly for high school and college students, but I still find his advice relevant to my life. He does a great job of teasing out the deeper questions yet still laying out practical guidelines. Here’s one of my favorite videos of his, on “how far is too far” (pardon the retro huge computer monitors and 50 Cent reference):

Beyond my baseline commitment to abstinence before marriage, my practical rules regarding physical affection in dating relationships are:

  • Regular hugs are okay. Kissing is okay. Making out is probably a bad idea.
  • Foot massages are okay. Any other massages are probably a bad idea.
  • Don’t touch what you don’t got.
  • Don’t take any clothes off.
  • Don’t lie down together.
  • If you’re wondering whether you should be doing something, stop. Stop now. It will probably be awkward. That’s okay.

The last rule is the most important. We have brains and consciences for a reason. When is the last time you regretted not doing something immoral (or potentially immoral)? You don’t confess sins you didn’t commit.

I’m not really inviting comments on this post, but I encourage you to think about and set your own boundaries. Carefully consider any you want to make more lax, but don’t be shy about being stricter.


Thanks to Jen and Morgan for hosting! Check out other responses on their blogs.

What I Wore Sunday: Travelogue

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Oh, hello, Wednesday. You come way after Sunday, but you will contain my post about what I wore way back then.

I was out of town over the weekend, so, although I remembered to take outfit photos, there was no way I was going to get this post up on Sunday. I didn’t even get my hair straightened until Monday night, and that is a priority displaced only by work, sleep, and Jesus. Blogging is much lower on the list. Here’s what I wore, with a guest-starring background:

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Different city, same blurry full-length.

Dress: Marshall’s
Shirt: Target
Shoes: Payless
Earrings: high school graduation gift
Necklace: holy medals
Watch: Timex

I went to the wedding of one of my best friends from college on Saturday. It was lovely. I knew Boston would be much cooler than Austin, but I underestimated how much. Saturday’s high was 91 in Austin and 58 in Boston. I remembered not to pack shorts, but I could have used some tights!

The dress pictured above was my pick for Sunday. It’s one of my absolute favorites, and it sort of travels well. It’s cotton; hotel rooms have irons. The real problem was the weather. Not even thinking to pack tights was a mistake, because I forgot that mid-morning weather is more like 40-something when the high for the day is 50-something. My coping strategy was to think warm thoughts and pretend as though I was dressed in a meteorologically appropriate manner.

Since I was out of town, I planned my Mass attendance based solely on start time and distance from my hotel. (Thanks, MassTimes!) I greatly enjoyed the homily. The priest focused less on the “Jesus as shepherd, leading us sheep” imagery and more on the “shepherd is the gate” image.

On previous Good Shepherd Sundays, I have learned that sheepfolds in biblical times didn’t have physical gates; the shepherd would lie down in the gap to keep the sheep inside and safe at night. I usually hear this explained as Jesus’ sacrificing for our sake. This priest challenged us to take a closer look at Jesus as the gate. The only way for the sheep to get into or out of the pen is through the shepherd. There are a million ways to die. There is only one way to live. The way is Jesus. The sheepfold only has one gate, so it’s not a question of which gate we will be going through. The only question is when. When will you go through the gate?

I appreciated hearing a new spin on a familiar Gospel reading. How are you doing, halfway through this week and Easter season?


For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Fine Linen and Purple.

What I Wore Sunday: Hazards of Easter Lectoring

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It is not even close to Sunday, but I had such a jam-packed weekend that there was no way this post was going to be written on Sunday night. Monday is always busy, I picked up a substitute dance class last night, and I’m a little panicked thinking about how much I need to do tomorrow night. On to perhaps the briefest WIWS ever!

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I’ve accidentally worn pink three Sundays in a row. Two were actually Saturdays. Does that count?

Dress and shirt: Target
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: gift

I chose this dress because I wanted something long and it’s not quite hot enough for most of my summer outfits. I don’t know what happened to spring. It’s bouncing between summer and fall these days (although we don’t really have a fall in Austin, so I guess it would be early winter).

Right at the beginning of Mass, I discovered a new hazard of life in my current parish.

I swear that deacon was aiming for me. I had so much holy water doused upon me that I had to wipe it off! Mind you, this was during the Gloria, so I was also trying to sing and pray and not cause a scene in the front row. It was a challenge.

Later, I also reflected on how that moment was connected with my single-lady life. I only sit in the very first row when I lector. At my parish, it’s a very short row; you can only fit about 3 adults in it. I usually sit alone, so I fit there, alone. Apart from the holy water incident, I felt like I was in the way during Communion (because one of the lines forms right next to the front of the front pew) and while the altar servers processed in and out (because they walk three abreast with candles and the processional cross). I was only there because I was alone, and I felt like I was in the way because I was there. I can’t win for losing.

I must give a nameless shout-out to one particular couple, friends of mine who married each other during the Year of Many Weddings. They always sit next to me when I’m in my typical not-front row. They’ll be leaving the state soon, so I guess I either need to get used to being alone again or change parishes. Is not wanting to be alone a good enough reason to change parishes?

Fr. Pastor was at Mass, and he spoke about the dual character of Easter as a time of tragedy and triumph. (Bonus points for the alliteration.) The death of Jesus was a tragedy, but it was the only path to the triumph of our redemption. It was the only way he could triumph over death, by succumbing to it and overcoming it. Even the Lord’s glorified body bears the marks of his crucifixion. They go hand in hand. Aside from some remarks about cohabitation that upset me and that I will not repeat here, it was a fantastic homily.

I have a surprise in store for next week’s post. (The surprise is not that it will be on Sunday. It will probably be on Monday. Maybe Tuesday. Stay tuned.)


For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Fine Linen and Purple.

7 Quick Takes on My Life, Poetry, and Love

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— 1 —

Well, hello there, friends! I missed writing these quick takes last week, which made me feel sad and unaccomplished. I try to keep those feelings separated a little bit when I can. Here is a summary of all the things I was doing besides blogging:

  • going to Pinthouse Pizza for the first time
  • Theology on Tap
  • taking two weekly dance classes
  • going to a baptism
  • working behind the scenes at the Pure Fashion Show
  • attending our quarterly company meeting
  • taking the Jeopardy! test (again)
  • going to Hopdoddy for the first time

— 2 —

Here is a summary of my thoughts of the aforementioned activities:

  • yummy pizza, although I need to remember that I don’t like cooked spinach (raw is good)
  • slow service, pretty good speaker, couple of new people
  • the tiny new Christian is my former roommate’s baby!
  • so tiring, but so worth it
  • I was on time, and it ended on time #winning
  • someday
  • great fries, okay burger, and not at all worth standing in line that long

All that social time has me craving some hunkering down at home, but instead I have a leadership meeting, a birthday dinner, more dancing, and a wedding coming at me. I realized Sunday I wanted to make an appointment that will have to wait until May. Yikes.

— 3 —

Moving on. Lent is finally over, and it felt really good this year. I realized last week that one of the reasons for that is that I didn’t let Lent slip away. I was on top of every day and every week. I can attribute that to three factors: grace, the daily Gospel readings from Evangelio del Dia (DailyGospel.org in English), and using the GTD methodology. When you have to review, preview, and plan for every day, you stay on top of things. Maybe I’ll run a “Lent with GTD” series next year.

— 4 —

I get the Goodreads newsletter, and I am a big fan of the Love Languages. This month’s poetry contest winner sounds like the perfect portrayal of Acts of Service. Do you agree?

— 5 —

I haven’t been following Auntie Seraphic’s new blog as closely as I did when she was mainly blogging about the single life, but since she still advises us single ladies occasionally at her new home, I’m still reading. I also just really enjoy her style and tone.

She is one of the few people I actually know (as much as anyone can “actually know” a blogger) who is married but has also been previously married, divorced, and annulled before even meeting her (current) husband. Therefore, I take her opinions about that whole process very seriously. I was so glad to read her post about whether divorced people should date. She’s been there. As it turns out, we share the same opinion.

That post also gets the award for Best Ever Admonishment to Not Settle:

Do not settle. I do not care how old you are, or how plain-Jane, or how much you want children. Unless you are so in love with this guy that you will do anything for him except commit mortal sins, and he would do anything for you, don’t think about marriage.

— 6 —

Also regarding love and poetry, I have been reading the Grammarly blog (which is not nearly as funny as the Facebook page I hope you are already following), and I thus encountered a delightful love poem to grammar. Yes, grammar love goes above and beyond. It’s a parallel poem: it can be read from top to bottom or from bottom to top with slightly different meanings. It’s not as drastic a meaning shift as that atheist/believer poem, but it’s still neat.

— 7 —

Just before Easter, I found basically the clearest and funniest guide to the Mass ever. It has just the right amount of humor to make it enjoyable to read, yet it is totally authentic and accurate. See? Catholicism can be fun!


That’s all for my quickest Quick Takes ever (I think)! For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Booking Through Thursday: Unread

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What proportion of the books you own are unread?

Ooh, that’s interesting. I bought two other books when I ordered Getting Things Done, so I know those are still unread right now. I have one book in Spanish that I haven’t read any of (it was a gift) and two that I read parts of for class. The rest is a toss-up.

Goodreads is excellent for keeping track of books I own. By virtue of keeping a list of every book I’ve read since the tenth grade, I know a solid chunk of the books I’ve read even if I don’t have them all shelved as “read” in Goodreads. A quick estimate based on the position and length of the scroll bar on my Goodreads iPhone app (which is where I’m writing this post) puts me at about 70% read out of what I own. Not half bad. Being a reviewer means that I don’t have to buy all the books I own, and I still use the library to supplement what I can’t (or just don’t) get as review copies. Some of those are e-books. I’m avoiding a stockpile at the moment. This is good.

How about you? Are you sitting on a secret mother lode of unread books?

*My apologies to anyone who saw the earlier, mangled version of this post. I should never start a post in the app, apparently.


For more short queries about books and the reading life, visit Booking Through Thursday.

Learning to Follow (A Reflection on “The Three Parts of Dance & the Trinity”)

I’m learning to dance. I’ve always loved to dance, even since I was the little girl in shiny gold shoes tearing it up at my uncle’s wedding. True story. I did tap and ballet for about a year when I was four. Since then, it’s been all about freestyle. I have rhythm, which helps a lot, and I make it up as I go. Even when I had a partner, dance never united us.

When I was in college, I had a great group of Catholic friends. One Saturday night, we took the Metro to the Adams Morgan neighborhood of D.C. for free salsa lessons at a nightclub. That was my first real experience of social/ballroom dance, and it was glorious. My moves finally had a purpose. I had a plan. Everything started to click.

A couple on the dance floor. The Theology of Dance connects a hobby with the union of the Holy Trinity.

Photo by Luke Addison at flickr.

Last fall, I participated in dance lessons hosted by Single Catholics Serving Central Texas. I’ve lived in Texas for almost five years, but that was my first introduction to two-step, believe it or not! I was also able to reignite the smoldering embers of my collegiate salsa fire and learn a few new salsa patterns. It was a particularly special experience though, because, now that I have several more years of an active Catholic life under my belt, I can see the connection between God and dance much more clearly.

Read the rest at Austin CNM.

What I Wore Sunday: Technically What I Wore Saturday

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I am exhausted and in pain from the Pure Fashion show this afternoon. The pain comes from having stood and walked in heels for four hours. The exhaustion started Saturday morning, when I got up early for a baptism and kept moving all day long. Then I stayed up late and got up early again to run around behind the scenes with Pure Fashion.

Every minute was worth it. The outfit I wore for the show (just to say hello, not to walk the runway) is already in the hamper, but I remembered to take photos of yesterday’s ensemble.

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Dress, shirt, sweater, and shoes: Old Navy
Leggings: Target
Necklace: holy medals
Earrings: craft fair over 15 years ago

Yes, those earrings are really that old. I take good care of my things. Ear piercings don’t change size, after all. I tried to take some photos of my hair. I usually wear it down on Sundays because I wash it that day. Saturday is a “hair up” kind of day, so up it went. This is a very simple style: braided pigtails laid against the base of my head. When I get it neater than this, it looks much more complicated than it is.

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I went to Mass yesterday evening because I knew there would not be time today. In the interest of prioritizing, I chose an outfit that would work for the baptism in the morning and Mass in the evening. It wound up also working for two-step class in the evening. (I’m taking a professional one this time. Last time was with an amateur, and that was not regular two-step.) I usually wear this with a black undershirt, but I liked the pop of pink a lot. If I had pink shoes, I would have worn them, too.

I have not been to the Saturday vigil Mass (besides Easter Vigil; that’s two Saturdays in a row for me, actually) since Fr. Pastor arrived, so I was pleasantly surprised to see him celebrating. Maybe that is why we almost never see him on Sunday evenings. Although I found myself yawning during Mass, that was due to lethargy and not boredom. Fr. Pastor’s homily began by pointing out that Jesus comes to the disciples after his Resurrection with a message of peace and power. Most of us ordinary humans would have led with the power. “Where were you?” we might ask. “Didn’t you remember what I told you about rising from the dead in three days?” Thanks be to God we’re not God, so Jesus leads with peace. He then gives power to the apostles: the power to forgive sins. He evens gives Thomas the power to touch his glorified body because Thomas says that is the only way he’ll believe. Those two gifts, peace and power, will stay with the apostles as they carry out the work of evangelizing in post-Resurrection times.

If I can pay that much attention even when I’m tired, I guess I really have no excuse for not paying attention. I also need to take notes. Notes help a lot.


For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Fine Linen and Purple.

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