Category Archives: Memes & Link-ups

7 Quick Takes on Tacos, “Constructive Criticism,” and Life Alignment

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Mr. Man and I met some friends of his for dinner last week at Migo. It was tasty. I always struggle with eating tacos because the filling falls out so easily. It makes me want more tortilla. But I’m not eating the taco because I wanted a tortilla; I’m eating it for the stuff in the middle. It feels silly to have to eat some of the filling off the shell with a fork, but that feels less silly than just making a huge mess while the good stuff falls onto my plate. Maybe that’s why I enjoy quesadillas, enchiladas, and pico de gallo more than tacos, tostadas, or salsa: my favorites stay put.

And you thought there was nothing to say about tacos besides “yum.”

— 2 —

Against all odds, Mr. Man and I won trivia again last week! Two first place finishes in a row (adding on to the week before) is unreal. The same friends we went to Migo with came to round out our team. It helps a lot that the “name that tune”-style round is one of my specialties, and he fills in a lot of the science things I don’t know. We’re both humanities nerds, but our nerdery appears to be complementary instead of overlapping, so that’s good.

— 3 —

Kyle Benson at the Gottman Institute blog shared a post recently about how to fruitfully respond to criticism in relationships. The institute focuses on married couples, but this advice totally applies to work relationships, too:

Despite what some people say, there is no such thing as constructive criticism. Criticism triggers a person to become defensive and protect themselves from an attack, which blocks the resolution of a conflict.

Yes, yes, yes! Think about it: no one ever asks to receive “constructive criticism.” It is almost always the criticizer who asks-but-isn’t-really-asking to criticize someone. If Mr. Coworker says, “Can I give you some constructive criticism?” and I say “no,” suddenly I’m in the wrong. It shouldn’t be that way.

The Gottmans rightly call criticism one of the “four horsemen” of the relationship apocalypse. It destroys people’s confidence and makes them respond aggressively and negatively. The asker, in turn, was aggressive and negative. Criticism is never constructive; it’s always destructive.

— 4 —

I had the honor of attending a local wedding last weekend as Mr. Man’s guest. He doesn’t dress up as much as I do for church, but he will for weddings. It was among the smaller weddings I have attended, so there wasn’t quite as much dancing as I usually experience. I realized, though, that I have spent so many weddings of friends entirely on the dance floor mainly to assuage my sadness at being so very single for so very long. It’s hard to feel like you’re alone when you’re busting moves surrounded by your friends. It was a very different experience to be there with mostly people I didn’t know but also with a date.

— 5 —

I participated in the Asian Efficiency Focus Challenge this week. I’m not sure I was the ideal audience, but I appreciated the experience all the same. The key exercise was evaluating my life for alignment. The process is simple: Make a list of the five things that are most important to you. Then make a list of the top five things you spend your time on. Are those lists the same? If not, what can you do to make them match?

— 6 —

I happen to have known this bishop when he was Vicar General of Austin, but it’s solid episcopal advice regardless:

— 7 —

The Pentecost novena starts today! I like to pray the version hosted by EWTN. Your mileage may vary.


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

Sunday Style: Feels Like Home?

Mr. Man and I attended Mass at yet another parish than the ones we have been to. I am happy to be able to accommodate his registered parish and his heavy travel schedule; don’t get me wrong. It still feels strange to not have found a parish I can call “mine” yet. I’ve never been a fan of church shopping, but here we are.

I remain a fan of shopping my closet for outfits, though, so here I am:

Sunday Style for May 21

Shirt and tank top: Target
Skirt and shoes: Old Navy
Necklace: holy medals
Earrings: old, old gift
Headband (it’s on there): also Target, I think

We went to a wedding on Saturday afternoon, and I did my laundry before and after the wedding, so I was not in the mood to fuss around with clothes any more than strictly necessary. I like this outfit because it doesn’t need ironing and it “fixes” a tank top cut in a way I wouldn’t usually wear otherwise.

This week’s parish felt the most like the majority of parishes I’ve belonged to. I’m eager to just pick a parish already. Joining Mr. Man’s parish would be the simplest, but it has the fewest and least convenient Mass times. Fr. C’s parish is a good “backup” parish; I usually had a regular backup for times in the past when I couldn’t go to my usual parish at my usual time. This new parish has the most Mass times by far, but it’s the furthest drive. Then again, this is such a small city compared to Austin that very few things actually feel like they are far away.

I just want to have decided. The “deciding” part is no fun. I exchanged a few words with the groom at the wedding (initiated by him) about how dating is fun, sure, but no one wants to do it forever. Eventually, you want to settle down. I’m tired of dating parishes; I just want to lock it down.

Fr. E made several slick references to the Easter season’s continuing still. They felt genuine. I’ve found that plenty of people will talk a big game about how Easter goes on for 50 days, but they don’t do anything. I pray the Angelus and Night Prayer year-round, so the switch to the Regina Caeli and a ton of alleluias feels obvious in my life, but that doesn’t spill out into public and shared celebrations the way Lent (and even Christmas) does.

He went on to connect the gospel reading to the earlier scene in which Jesus receives a warning not to enter Samaria with his disciples. James and John, eager beavers, ask if Jesus will call down fire upon Samaria to destroy it. He declines and says he’ll find another way. At the moment, he meant that he would choose another travel route, but from the vantage point of the Resurrection, we discover that he also meant he’d find another way to bring down fire upon Samaria. His “other way” is demonstrated in the first reading, when Philip, Peter, and John visit Samaria once again, this time bringing down the fire of the Holy Spirit. That was an awesome connection.

He also explained that the two sacraments of communion (matrimony and holy orders, which I’ve also heard called the sacraments of service) explicitly contain a calling down of the Holy Spirit. In the new Rite of Celebrating Matrimony, the Litany of the Saints is optional; it’s required for ordinations. In each sacrament, the ones receiving it must lay down their lives for the sake of another.

To my great delight, I took enough notes during the homily that I have some extras that didn’t make it to this post! It’s been a while since I’ve experienced that. I like it. If I can summarize a homily in just one paragraph, I feel like something went wrong.

I’ll end with a quick PSA: Regardless of whether you live in one of the few U.S. dioceses that observes Ascension Thursday, the Original Novena starts this Friday. Join in!


For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Rosie at A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best.

My Sunday Best, hosted at A Blog for My Mom

Recommended Reads: 19/2017 (in 7 Quick Takes)

pile of books

I was going to publish a regular 7 Quick Takes tonight, but I don’t have enough material! Life has just been rolling along pretty quietly. I have, however, been plowing through articles in Pocket, so it’s time for another installment of Recommended Reads to clear out my backlog. There are 7, so that counts, right?

7 Quick Takes, hosted by This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Title: Busyness Is Not a Virtue
Source: iDoneThis

I love the first part of this article for its descriptions of why we are so easily primed to say that we’re “busy.” As I like to say, of course you’re busy. Everyone feels busy. When is the last time you said, “Man, I just have nothing to do?” I love the second part for its quotation of Laura Vanderkam and her suggestion for a language shift. I’ve done this in my actual life. It has the effect of making me see my time differently and appreciate it more, but it also makes me extra annoyed when other people say they’re busy. It’s a tough game.

— 2 —

Title: An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media
Source: The Message

I’m never a big fan of the concept that non-white people have to express themselves in non-white ways (whatever that means); I’m too big a fan of code-switching for that. I did appreciate that this writer points out that there’s more to a culture than mere age. One millennial’s opinion is definitely useful, but one person can rarely speak for a group of millions.

— 3 —

Title: God of the Depressed
Source: First Things

More and more writers are offering angles on the tricky space between “God-help,” self-help, and professional help.

— 4 —

Title: I Thought There Was a Simple Solution to an Unwanted Pregnancy, But I Was Wrong
Source: Verily

I’ve never read anything quite like this woman’s personal account of her experience. Abortion, adoption, parenting: it’s one of the few I’ve seen where every option was truly before her. She found that her simple, easy solutions weren’t as easy as they seemed.

— 5 —

Title: How lack of reverence for the Eucharist puts people off Catholicism
Source: The Catholic Herald (UK)

The title says pretty much everything you need to know, but read it anyway. Then reconsider your demeanor in the presence of the Real Presence.

— 6 —

Title: How to Obey Like an Adult
Source: National Catholic Register

I know about what went down between Simcha and the Register, but her posts are still archived there, and they’re still good.

Any time the Church gives us clear guidelines for how we are to behave, it’s an act of mercy: She gives us a chance to put the responsibility on someone else, and just relax and be obedient children again. I don’t have to figure out if I’m personally being called to pray, fast, and give alms. Just do it, because your mother told you to!

— 7 —

Title: Envy—The Adversary of Mercy
Source: Catholic Education Resource Center

I struggle with properly defining mercy and with remembering the difference between envy and jealousy, so this feels like it was written just for me!


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

Sunday Style: Mother’s Day Makes a Lot of Us Unhappy

Mr. Man and I squeaked into church a tiny bit late this week, but we made it! Mass feels kind of different from the back of the house. I wonder if people who say they don’t get anything out of Mass might find things different if they sat up front.

Here’s what I wore:

Sunday Style for May 4

No shoe shot; I didn’t do my toes!

All my clothes: Target
Necklace: holy medals
Headband: Goody, but also from Target
Earrings: You can’t see them in these photos, and I don’t remember anyway!

Two Sundays ago, it was unseasonably cold, so this week felt like full-on summer. I guess it’s nice that I now have a closet big enough to hold all my clothes at once; I didn’t have to drag this dress in from my “out of season” storage. On the one hand, it’s interesting to switch seasons from week to week. On the other hand, I don’t want to get used to having a ton of space and thereby accidentally fill up my closet with things I didn’t (and don’t) need.

On to church. We visited Fr. C’s parish again. My only experience of the parish so far is Mass on non-consecutive Sunday evenings, so I can’t decide whether I want to join it. (Mr. Man is already registered elsewhere.) I miss being part of a parish. I want to join one again. I just can’t figure out which one. Mr. Man’s parish is tiny, but Fr. C’s homilies rub me the wrong way. I’ve never been into parish shopping, but is it a bad sign that I’m feeling awkward everywhere so far?

Case in point: Fr. C’s homily was much too short, and he literally used the phrase “hell no.” It’s church! You’re a priest! You shouldn’t be using that kind of language at all, especially in church, and definitely not during the homily!

Fr. C spoke about his preference for smaller parishes to avoid megachurch scenarios, wherein pastors are less likely to be able to take Pope Francis’s advice that pastors, as shepherds, should “smell like their sheep.” He tied that back to the first reading’s description of the early church growing so large that the apostles couldn’t handle everything. He did not, however, make any reference to the existence of deacons to help with community work. That seemed like a missed opportunity.

It was also Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is guaranteed to be a tough day because there’s no way to satisfy everyone. Some women are mothers, but all of their children have died. Some women have many children and feel great about it; some have many children and are struggling. Some women can’t conceive. Some women won’t even try because they don’t believe in sex outside of marriage, and they’re not married despite wanting to be. Some children are in pain because their mothers have died; some never got along with their mothers anyway. Some people don’t want secular holidays anywhere near church. No matter what a church does or doesn’t do, someone will be unhappy.

Fr. C asked us to consider who we might be neglecting this Mother’s Day, whether that is a mother we know or anyone else. I kind of liked that idea, because it connected to the responsibility we all have as Christians to love and nurture the people God sends into our lives.

But I made that connection myself. There wasn’t much to learn, but there was Jesus, and he is always enough.


For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Rosie at A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best.

My Sunday Best, hosted at A Blog for My Mom

7 Quick Takes Potpourri

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

I can’t remember if potpourri has actually been a category on Jeopardy! since I’ve been watching as of late, but it’s fun when it is, and it seems very appropriate for 7QT, so I’m going with it.

— 1 —

The Apostleship of Prayer publishes a daily two-minute reflection to YouTube (and I think to Catholic radio, but I don’t actually listen to Catholic radio, so I can’t confirm or deny). I don’t watch them every day, but I marathon all the videos in chunks. They’re great for watching on my phone when I’m standing in the kitchen waiting for something to cook.

I thought this recent one on why/how we are supposed to (or not supposed to) judge people was especially good:

— 2 —

As I mentioned the last time I did 7QT, I did revise my life plan. It did not have my grandmother in it, although it now has a reminder to call my grandfather (on the other side). It was useful to do a really big sweep through since so much has changed in my life. It also encouraged me to pick up two daily habits I’d tossed by the wayside: reading through the Bible and practicing my Spanish vocabulary with Duolingo. I feel productive.

— 3 —

There’s a Friday solemnity during the Easter octave every year. Simcha Fisher hilariously called it “Meatster Friday,” and I think I have to call it that from now on.

— 4 —

Before Currently, I did tl;dr. Jenna came up with the latter, short-lived link-up before she mostly stopped blogging. I swing by very occasionally to see if she’s posted anything, and on my most recent pass-through, I noticed a lovely post about short prayers to keep ready at a moment’s notice; she calls them “arrow prayers.”

Somehow, I found a similar set of very short prayers compiled by a priest. He has some great ideas in particular for how to pray for people you don’t like very much and how to seek forgiveness in awkward situations. Even tiny prayers are better than no prayer at all.

— 5 —

I ate kind of a lot of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream this past week. It was Peanut Butter Fudge Core, and I completely underestimated how decadent (and fast-melting) it was going to be. I also ate about half of the pint in one sitting. I should stick to the extra-cheap, simple flavors from now on, and I should eat just a little bit from the pint, like I like to. Feeling too full is never great; feeling too full of ice cream is… ugh.

— 6 —

jenfulwilerloveswunderlist

Whenever someone shows their computer desktop, I always peek at what’s on the periphery: how much phone battery do they have, what apps are running in the background, etc. I can’t help it! Jen Fulwiler did not mean to share that she uses the Wunderlist desktop app on her Mac, but I spotted that cute red star banner immediately. Now I’m sad again. I miss Wunderlist.

— 7 —

Mr. Man and I won trivia last week! There were only about a dozen teams, but we somehow had an amazing run and took first place with just the two of us. It was bewildering and awesome, and it is unlikely to ever happen again… but we’ll try.


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

Sunday Style: Stay Warm

If you listened to any of the weather chatter around the Kentucky Derby, you’ll know that it was cold and rainy right up until the big race. I was up extra early for non-Derby reasons, and it was even colder before the sun had properly risen. I don’t think I’ve ever had to bundle up in May before!

Sunday Style for May 6

Dress, sweater, and shoes: Old Navy
Tights: Target
Necklace: gift
Earrings: Renaissance festival

This is usually a winter outfit (and I guess it still is), but no one can say that winter in May is “just how the weather is here.” They said that the whole time I lived in Texas; I didn’t buy it there, and I’m not buying it here. I did appreciate the opportunity to leave my A/C off, though.

Fr. J said he would be giving a very short “Derby special” homily. I laughed, but since Ive heard the back story, I wish I hadn’t. Apparently, this parish normally cancels the Saturday vigil Mass entirely on Derby day. That makes no sense. The race is around 6:30 p.m. local time. Mass begins at 4:30. If you’re hosting a Derby party, why on Earth would you also try to go to Mass that day? If you’re going to one, you’ll get there before the race. Or just go to Mass on Sunday!

This rankles me the same way that canceling Mass on Easter Sunday evening does. If that time slot works for enough people all other weeks that you have a separate Mass, why would you cancel Mass at that time on the one day it matters most? Jesus is risen—no Mass for you. Why would you cancel Mass to accommodate a social event? That represents a serious failure to identify the real priority.

Before I got upset, I enjoyed the homily overall. Fr. J mentioned what I’ve heard elsewhere: that sheep are a metaphor for disciples because, left to their/our own devices, they/we are pretty dumb. Sheep are as slow to recognize danger as we are to resist sin. Sheep eat whatever they find, even if it makes them sick; we give in to temptation and do what is bad for us even when we know better.

Most of all, we can’t live eternally without Jesus, just as sheep can’t survive without a good shepherd. What a joy that we have the best shepherd of them all.


For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Rosie at A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best.

My Sunday Best, hosted at A Blog for My Mom

Sunday Style: Such Good Stories

It was sunny and in the 70s when we went to Mass on Saturday evening. As I type this, it’s in the low 60s and getting colder. Endless summer was much easier to manage. Here’s what I wore:

Sunday Style for April 29

Dress and shirt: Old Navy
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: gift
Earrings: Renaissance festival

This week’s Gospel was the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, which is one of my favorite stories. If Holy Thursday is the first Mass, this is the second.

Fr. J started his homily with what was also a good story. He’s from India, where the sport of cricket is extremely popular. When he was first traveling to the U.S., one of the biggest cricket matches of the season was in progress back in India. It was roughly on the level of the Super Bowl. When he landed, he excitedly asked the priest picking him up at the airport if he knew the cricket score. The American priest looked confused and said, “Oh, sure, we can stop on the way.” Imagine the confusion when they pulled up to a Cricket Wireless cell phone shop!

The connection, Fr. J explained, was that he couldn’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t know what was going on with cricket. That would be like an American not knowing what the Super Bowl even is! Similarly, the disciples walking to Emmaus were astonished that Jesus asked why they were sad. Um, because they thought they found the Messiah, but he was crucified. Surely everyone leaving Jerusalem that day would have known about what happened to Jesus, even if they weren’t disciples. It was heartbreaking to think that this “stranger” had missed out on something so important to the disciples’ lives.

Fr. J went on further to say that no one knows where Emmaus was geographically, but the consensus is that it represents a spiritual location, that of walking away from God in a time of crisis. Only Scripture and the Eucharist (which equal the Mass) can open our eyes to see Jesus in our midst. If we ever find ourselves walking away from God, we should start walking towards the Mass.

It reminds me of the advice I’ve heard about how to manage spiritual dryness. Don’t take up anything new or give up anything you were doing. Keep going. When you’re down, you’re inclined to abandon your path because it’s “not working,” but God doesn’t work on our schedules. Those disciples thought their time with Jesus was over. It had really just begun.


For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Rosie at A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best.

My Sunday Best, hosted at A Blog for My Mom

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