Monthly Archives: September, 2015

Not Alone Series: Flirting

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Flirting is the special attention we give or receive from that special someone. Flirting is our way of showing the other person that we like him. There is verbal and non-verbal flirting, as well as appropriate vs. inappropriate flirting. What do you do or say to let your significant other/boyfriend know that you like him? What are ways that you like to be shown interest? What are the pros and cons of flirting?

I haven’t had a boyfriend in a while (much longer than I care to admit), so I can’t really speak to how to stay engaged in a particular relationship. Yet, because I have been flying solo (literally and figuratively) for so long, I’ve had many opportunities to work on my flirting skills. The jury’s still out on their effectiveness.

There’s definitely a moral aspect to indicating your romantic interest in someone. That’s how I define flirting: an expression of romantic interest. There’s a difference between being friendly and flirting. That line can be hard to draw, but it’s definitely there. I don’t approve of flirting to gain favors, which this Wall Street Journal article calls “instrumental flirting”. If you’re taken or not romantically interested, that’s a lot like lying.

On the other hand, if you’re not taken, flirting is a gamble. As that article also points out, some people flirt without implying any romantic interest. What if the object of your flirtation doesn’t realize you’re just playing a game you don’t mean to win? If you are romantically interested, you could discover that the one you’re flirting with (and who is even flirting back) is taken! I won’t name names, but that’s happened to me before. Not fun.

I also found it interesting to read in that WSJ essay that men tend to read more sexual undertones and stronger interest into a woman’s flirting than she intends. I don’t know how often that applies to actual humans I know, but I can see how that might happen. On the flip side, I’ve heard unfortunate remarks from men who are hesitant to even be “too polite” toward women for fear that they will light into them for being sexist—or immediately conclude that he’s “the one” and start planning their wedding.

He opened the door for me! How rude! Does he think I can’t open my own door? Do I seem weak? I’m not a child!

He opened the door for me! How polite! How charming! This will make a great story to tell our grandchildren. I wonder if he’s been saving for a wife.

That’s not a good world we’ve created.

Flirting definitely involves letting your guard down. The lovely Arleen Spenceley invited Bobby Angel to comment on what a woman should do when she’s interested in a man, and together they suggested that “a confidential conversation” could be flirtatious. I’m ambivalent about the rise of the “emotional virtue” movement, but that’s something to keep in mind. If you share things with him that you don’t tell anyone else, he might think you’re into him. Playing with emotional intimacy can be a dangerous game.

But some flirting ultimately comes with actual fun. It can be a good game. Relationship-maintenance flirting is the best kind (although you probably shouldn’t call it that; so dry), but potential-relationship flirting is an invigorating challenge. Catch his eye and hold his gaze just a tiny bit too long. (I worked on eye contact last NAS Challenge, remember?) Overly compliment something manly about him: his physical strength, his willingness to serve and sacrifice, his general politeness, his well-formed spiritual life, his intentionality and leadership skills. If he likes babies, dancing, or good conversation (#StuffCatholicGirlsLike), encourage that. Smile. Smile a lot. As I wrote a few weeks ago, physical touch is a big deal for me, so I think casual touching is definitely flirting.

Note that casual touching does not include dancing. A dance is not a marriage proposal, and partner dancing generally requires some physical contact. Dancing can be flirtatious, but dancing with a stranger should always be a no-strings-attached proposition. I experience this in class frequently. There comes a moment when the instructor has stopped us to say something, but my leader is still holding my hand (and maybe also my shoulder blade). It takes no more than ten seconds (which is a long time!) for a dance handhold to turn into holding hands. Then it gets weird. When I think it’s gotten weird, I let go, which is easier said than done because, technically, he’s holding my hand; I’m not holding his. (I could get into a whole dance tangent about not using your thumbs and “never hold on, never let go”, but I won’t.)

So I’m not against flirting as a whole. In general, what I like to do when flirting is what I like to get from a man who’s flirting with me (except the casual touching; still working on that; ask me to dance, but please don’t touch me otherwise). How about you?


Next week’s topic: Adulting

How are you still connected to your family of origin (that’s the one you grew up in: parents, siblings, and extended family) even as you are adulting (a.k.a. living as an independent adult, at home or on your own)? How has your relationship with your parents changed as you’ve grown up? How connected are you with your extended family? What aspects of these relationships do you think are affected by your being single? How do you think your family relationships would change after marriage or entering religious life? (Thanks for the topic suggestion, Bek!)

Check our Facebook Page for regular alerts of upcoming topics.

Link up with Rachel this week at Keeping It Real!

My Holy Spirit Moment, at FaithND

As a graduate of Notre Dame, I was invited to write for their daily Gospel reflection series, FaithND. I’m not a subscriber, so I had no idea that both my BFF Sarah and fellow blogger Kelly have written for the series before. They recommended me, though, and I accepted.

a stone angel with a garland of flowers in front of a cross

My assigned date was today. At first, I was super excited because my friendship with Sabrina has given me a greater appreciation of angels than ever before. I was all set to talk about angels and dispel some myths. I was going to drop a catechetical knowledge bomb.

But it was not to be. FaithND is a collection of Gospel reflections, so I reflected on the Gospel alone. At first, that made me sad, because I love when the all the readings match (including the psalm; don’t forget the psalm). They don’t always match outside of special feasts, such as that of the Archangels today. Taken as a unit, today’s readings are all about angels.

Taken on its own, the Gospel for the Feast of the Archangels is not really about angels. When I read the Gospel, I got happy again, because I know exactly what Nathanael was experiencing. He heard Jesus speak with wisdom and supernatural knowledge. He heard the Spirit speaking through Jesus. I experienced that once with a friend from undergrad. My email archive shows that I told him about the impact of that moment back in 2009, but the story keeps coming to mind, so I must have needed to share it again. It wouldn’t be the first time I was given an experience as well as the mission to share it.

And I did share that Holy Spirit moment at FaithND today. You can read it under the “Reflection” button. I didn’t name my friend because I didn’t ask first, but I did send him a link. It is a blessing to have so many friends from undergrad who are now priests and religious, and it was a blessing to experience such convincing evidence of his vocation.

Faith, Consumerism, and More (Review: “The Year Without a Purchase”)

Minimalist stories don’t usually contain much God-talk. Some have hints of spirituality in their suggestions that you can declutter your soul, make time for what’s important, and find peace in a life that’s not so full of stuff. On the flip side, there is plenty of writing about how to grow in your spiritual life. Not many stories combine the two. The Year Without a Purchase: One Family’s Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting takes a stab at it. Scott Dannemiller describes the year he spent trying to get back to basics and the humorous journey of those tricky twelve months.

The family’s backstory is particularly intriguing. Scott and his wife, Gabby, had been married and both working full-time for several years when they started to feel that existential pull telling them that life isn’t about dying with the most toys. They received a call (spiritual and literal) to spend a year living in Guatemala, serving in a ministry of presence with a poor community. Rather than building a school or digging a well, they mostly just spent time among the people and engaged in the sharing of lives. They had very few possessions, little clothing, no computers, simple food, and only one bath per week. It was transformative.

Review of "The Year Without a Purchase" at AustinCNM.com

This basket of veggies was okay to purchase. A fancier basket to store them in: not okay.
(Public domain image from bossfight.co)

But the transformation didn’t stick. They returned to the U.S., had a couple of kids, and resumed their lives as consumers. When that pull started pulling again, they couldn’t pack up and leave the country for a year, so they decided to try going a whole year without buying anything.

Read the rest at Austin CNM.

7 Quick Takes on Work Stress, Savings, and RCIA Recidivism

7qt_lyceum

— 1 —

My company is preparing for a major software change. It will be much more powerful than our current system (which looks and feels like DOS; white text on blue screen and all), but it has required us to hold very firm to some very short deadlines. I didn’t have any more work than usual, but I had to get it all done on a much shorter timeline. Cue a department-wide StressFest. I am very grateful to have a job, but this reminds me of why I left the high-stress non-profit life.

— 2 —

It took me a while to understand the YNAB savings philosophy. In a nutshell, my savings account is no longer where I keep my savings. There’s money in there, but I don’t make regular transfers from my checking account like I used to. I did that because I was afraid I’d spend the money.

No more. Now, I have savings categories in my budget. I am saving for specific things: Christmas travel and gifts, my domain name registration, and even hair salon visits. (We all have different priorities.) When I need to spend the money, it’s right there in my checking account. As long as I spend based on the budget, there’s no worry that I’ll spend money I meant to save.

Check out YNAB at youneedabudget.com and use my referral link for 10% off (and a bonus for me).

— 3 —

Verily magazine posted an article recently about swearing and its effect on character. I don’t swear, as a rule. I don’t like it, as a rule. But I make exceptions. I especially liked how the author made it clear that she doesn’t think swearing makes you a bad person but that you have to consider the impression it gives to others.

Only Verily could cover that topic and do it so well.

— 4 —

My friend Brandon Kraft has a couple of excellent blogs about his day-to-day life, his tech job, and beer. His post about Stephen Colbert’s comments on his father’s and brothers’ deaths is especially poignant because Kraft’s own father died when he was young. You should read it just to back in that beauty. I don’t follow many male bloggers, but I really like Kraft’s stories and his writing style. Plus, he has five daughters, so that makes for some interesting stories.

— 5 —

When I got up last Saturday morning, I heard a lawnmower running somewhere down the street. It sounded so strange, which was odd because it’s just a lawnmower. I know what lawnmowers sound like even if I can’t use one. It wasn’t until Sunday night (our designated drought-time watering period) that I realized why the sound was strange: we hadn’t had enough rain in weeks for our grass to even be green, let alone for the grass to grow long enough to necessitate mowing. #droughtproblems

— 6 —

This was one of my Evangelio del dia Gospel reflections this week:

Be watchful so that the word you have received may resonate in the depth of your heart and dwell there. Take care that the seed not fall upon the path for fear that the evil spirit might come and take the word away from your memory. Take care that the rocky soil does not receive the seed and produce good actions that are lacking the roots of perseverance. For many rejoice when they hear the word and they prepare to undertake good works. But when trials have hardly begun to assail them, they give up what they had undertaken. Thus, the rocky soil lacked water, so much so that the wheat germ could not bear the fruit of perseverance. —St. Gregory the Great

I used to all-but-direct RCIA. One of the young men I helped through that process turned up in the Bible study I’m doing this fall. I was delighted to see him there because that means he’s still Catholic and still involved in the Faith. And it made me wonder what happened to all the other people I saw enter the Church through the RCIA. The rate of recidivism, so to speak, is embarrassingly high. I don’t have any solutions to that problem other than prayer. It was between them and God to enter the Church, they can come back at any time if they’ve left, and whatever they do for the rest of their lives is still between them and God. I’m not the boss of them.

— 7 —

I miss having dinner with friends. I invited an old friend and his new wife over for dinner on Saturday, and it was delightful. It was so good to be able to cook for someone else for a change, and to enjoy each other’s company, and to just be. Grad school was good to me. I miss having that kind of community.


For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

What I Wore Sunday: It Still Feels Like Summer

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It was 92 degrees when I drove to church today. My black car felt comparatively cool when I climbed into it this afternoon. This is life in Austin, Texas.

What I Wore Sunday, September 27

Top: Target
Skirt: Old Navy
Shoes: Famous Footwear
Necklace and earrings: Charming Charlie

My work attire is pretty flexible. I’m in construction, so we don’t exactly have a dress code. This one seems a bit too casual for work, though, so I tend to wear it mostly on Sundays. It had been a while, so I brought it back into the rotation. It is so old and faded that it’s tricky to see the blue and green stripes, but they’re there, I promise. Even so, my top is technically olive, which is a neutral, so that goes with every color.

I lectored tonight. I had the smackdown second reading from the Letter of St. James. My parish has a lot of rather well-off families, so I imagine there might have been some hearts pierced by the admonition the rich get in that reading. For my decidedly non-wealthy part, I felt moved to consider the ways in which I am rich and whether I’m enjoying treasure and luxury here on earth or whether I am storing up treasure in heaven.

Chatting with the servers and clergy in the sacristy before Mass, I discovered that Fr. Associate Pastor intentionally gives short homilies. He doesn’t like it when Mass goes on a for a long time. I found that mildly amusing and chose not to comment on the opposite attitude of our pastor (who was not there). Fr. Pastor always gives a long homily. They’re always good, but they do go on for a while. He uses one of the shorter Eucharistic Prayers to compensate.

So, this evening, Fr. Associate Pastor reiterated the theme of jealousy from last week. The Israelites and the apostles are jealous of the blessings other people have received, and all this in spite of having received great graces themselves. The solution, he said, is in the psalm: “Cleanse me from my unknown faults.” We should rejoice in the joys of others and ask God to point out to us the ways we are stumbling and in need of mercy. We’re especially needy because we fail in ways we don’t even see.


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

What I Wore Sunday: Accidentally Patriotic

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I’ve definitely missed the link-up, but I won’t let that deprive me or you of reading about what I wore to and learned in church on Sunday.

What I Wore Sunday, September 20

Dress (worn as a skirt): Express
Blouse: Old Navy
Shoes: Famous Footwear
Earrings: Charming Charlie

I’ve reached the point in the season where I am tired of everything I own. I switched to summer clothes later than usual this year, but I get that feeling every year. I’m glad I was able to resolve “I have nothing to wear” syndrome with a simple mix-and-match. I learned so much from Putting Me Together even if I don’t read very often anymore. Chambray is a lighter version of denim, so, as with jeans, it goes with everything, expanding my basic color palette with a neutral.

I’ve worn this dress as a skirt twice before with another blouse (same blouse, two times), but this is the first time I’ve tried one of my other button-downs with it. You might be able to see some wrinkles around the knot. I forgot that I would need to untie it in order to try on clothes at Target on my way home from church. The original look was much less wrinkly. The shopping trip, however, was successful, so I’m calling it a win.

One of my favorite things about the lectionary readings for Sunday is that they usually match through the first reading, psalm, and Gospel. Occasionally, the second reading matches, too (it is usually straight through one letter at a time), and it did this week. It’s like the church version of a cosmic alignment. Fr. Associate Pastor spoke about the way jealousy was a theme through all the readings. Jealousy caused the thoughts of the wicked, the hierarchical jostling of the apostles, and the first murder (of Abel, by Cain). The epistle teaches us to seek peace instead of strife. In the episode of Catching Foxes I was listening to on my way to work this morning, one of the hosts said that war can arise almost in an instant, but peace always takes work. That’s a message for every day.


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

Not Alone Series: What Is a Date?

notaloneseries

What is a date? How do you define “going on a date” with a man versus “hanging out” with him or “talking” to him? This topic was inspired by Arleen Spenceley’s recent date definition post.

It’s my first time hosting! Thank you for stopping by. I like to respond to other people’s posts when I’m writing my own. Enough English classes will do that to you. As the prompt mentions, I was inspired to suggest this topic when I was catching up on Arleen Spenceley’s blog. If you aren’t reading it, you should be. Read her book, too. I did; it was great. It’s for both men and women, in case you wondered.

Arleen doesn’t actually define dating in her post (like a good counselor, she offers options instead of telling you what to do), but she raises several points about how to define a date:

  • Both parties must agree that it’s a date for it to be one. If you are uncertain, ask. (I say: If you’re too shy or scared to ask, maybe you shouldn’t go.)
  • The tone can be serious or casual.
  • Where you go or who pays does not determine whether the meeting is a date.
  • There can be mutual romantic interest or just the possibility of it.
  • Long-term dating should have the goal of discerning marriage.

I agree with all of that. But I like clear definitions, so I wasn’t quite satisfied there.

When I was in undergrad, two groups of students a few years ahead of me had group blogs: one by Catholic girls and the other by Catholic guys. They had a cross-blog mini-series about what defines a date, but the boys’ post had the best initial thoughts and comment thread.

The main idea of that throwback thread is that there must be romantic interest and some sort of dedicated activity. I think that’s my bare-bones definition. One person can cook for the other at home (or you can cook together). You can go to dinner and a movie. You can go dancing. I hear people like to go hiking. The activity is not as important and the romantic intention. And that’s usually the sticking point.

I think these days, the struggle over defining the date comes from the struggle of indicating and assessing romantic interest. That’s where the post from my college friends wound up, if you read all the comments. I have had some excellent friend dates with my male friends. I’ve never been in a steady “hanging out” kind of situation (or, although I haven’t heard anyone say it in a while, had a guy I’m “talking to”), but I think that’s what I call a friend date. They would have been dates except that we were not romantically interested in each other. Yes, I’m aware that they could have been interested in me. But, as Arleen points out, you both have to agree that it’s a date for it to be one; the (potential) interest has to be mutual.

So the tough part here is figuring out whether someone is interested in you. If you believe men should do the asking, that means women have to let them know they’re going to say yes—and yes to a date, not just to “hanging out.” And that is a discussion for another day.


Next week’s topic: Flirting

Flirting is the special attention we give or receive from that special someone. Flirting is our way of showing the other person that we like them. There is verbal and non-verbal flirting, as well as appropriate vs. inappropriate flirting. What do you do or say to let your significant other/boyfriend know that you like him? What are ways that you like to be shown interest? What are the pros and cons of flirting?

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