Tag Archives: notaloneseries

Not Alone Series: Adulting Revisited

Adulting: A Not Alone Series discussion at A Drop in the Ocean

As evidenced by the beautiful featured image, the lovely Laura is hosting once again.

Adulting is hard, sometimes. So many transitions. Making friends. Starting jobs. Building community. What are some ways that have gotten you through?

Wait, I was supposed to be adulting already? Oops. I could barely manage to publish this post in a reasonable timeframe! It’s here, though, and I will be on time to host this coming Tuesday. I’ve managed the responsibility/dependability side of adulting for a while now.

Laura was inspired to reflect on this topic because she just graduated from college this month. When I was at that stage, I had a plan, although it was a short-term, kind of crazy plan. I knew that I was in a place (in terms of finance, family commitments, and low risk-aversion) that I could take that leap.

Even when I finished ACE, I was ready to take the next big risk. The previous one had worked out so well, although it was not without its bumps and bruises. (Ask to see my car crash photos sometime.) That was how I wound up in Texas.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more risk-averse. I hear that happens. I feel a non-pregnancy-related urge to nest. I have habits and routines that keep everything going along. I want to settle into being a regular adult instead of a young adult (young is relative), but that requires being satisfied enough with my life that I can settle into it. So that’s where I am now: assessing what risks I am ready to take, deciding whether my current life can go the distance, and changing as much as possible now so that (if all goes according to plan) I’m not boxed into a place I don’t want to be.

Recently, I’ve started increasing my intentional efforts at gaining perspective so I can make those decisions. That means lots of asking questions, reflecting on the answers, and actually doing something about it.

  • Do I want to make a permanent home in Austin?
  • Am I ready to get married?
  • Is my career taking me where I want to be? Where do I even want to go? When? How do I get there?
  • Are my financial decisions making good use of my budget? Could I be earning more or spending less? Am I saving enough? Should I be giving more? Am I spending appropriately?
  • How am I using my time and energy? Do I need to ask for help? Who should be helping me? What can I outsource?
  • Am I reading enough?
  • When will I be debt-free? How can I reach that goal sooner?
  • How can I improve my health?
  • How can I live more joyfully?

That last one is right there in my tagline!

My best resources have come from all over the place:

  • the Getting Things Done productivity methodology, specifically the Areas of Focus (a.k.a. Areas of Responsibility) and Horizons of Focus
  • Living Forward, by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy, and the concept of having a Life Plan
  • prayer
  • assorted reading about productivity, efficiency, and life management
  • regular, structured reviews (currently weekly, monthly, and annually)
  • the Not Alone Series, especially topics that focus on self-improvement and discernment
  • You Need a Budget, although I can’t vouch for the current/new version just yet

My questions are all over the place, and so are the venues I’m finding answers! So, ultimately, my advice is to keep searching, keep thinking, and keep answering the questions you’re asking. “I don’t know yet, but here’s how I might figure it out” counts as an answer.


Next week’s topic: Love Languages Revisited

Love languages apply to more than just romance; they help you learn how to make people feel appreciated and cared for in all of your relationships. What is your love language? (Take the quiz at 5lovelanguages.com.) How have you learned to speak someone else’s love language? Do you find it easier to speak some languages than others; if so, which ones? How have you shown or received love in multiple languages?

View past and upcoming topics here or like our Facebook Page for regular alerts.

Link up with Laura at A Drop in the Ocean!

Not Alone Series: Communication and Problem-Solving

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We’ve talked about conflict, but that can be avoided through solid communication. What are some of your tips for becoming a better communicator? What are some strategies for healthy communication? When was a time you were completely misunderstood or completely misunderstood someone else? How does communication affect your relationships, and how does it help you prepare for your vocation?

Let me begin by admitting that not all conflict can be avoided through solid communication. That’s probably hyperbole. I do think it helps, though. Misunderstandings can cause anger to rise up in even the coolest of heads. I shared my best advice when I wrote about conflict, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be finished talking about talking, as it were.

I used to do marriage prep (for other couples, not for myself), and one point that I learned to drive home was the importance of developing good communication and problem-solving skills before marriage. Granted, I’d imagine most couples that make it all the way to marriage prep have resolved conflicts before and learned to communicate at least adequately. Yet part of my role as a facilitator was to be able to verify through my own observation that each couple could demonstrate those skills. You can make all kinds of claims without any evidence. Anecdotal evidence is still evidence.

So, to the best of my ability and based on each couple’s needs, I would guide them through healthy problem-solving by way of intentional communication. It was awkward at first, but so is walking, and that’s pretty important, too. Almost every couple agreed that it was useful to have some sort of fallback “rules” in place for fighting fair.

Problem-solving starts with defining the problem. Here’s my advice for the one who’s bringing it up (a.k.a. starting the fight):

  1. What’s wrong? Identify or clarify some situation or problem that you are not satisfied with. It can be as simple as how much TV you watch or as complicated as expressions of intimacy.
  2. What’s wrong about it? Describe the situation to your partner, focusing on your role in creating/sustaining it, avoiding blame, and identifying specific aspects that you want to change.
  3. What do you want him/her to do about it? Offer suggestions (at least two) for resolving the situation. Don’t suggest anything you don’t actually want to happen.

I think the suggestions are really important. It’s much easier and less productive to just say you’re unhappy. Sometimes, when you have to consider how to solve the problem, you might realize that (a) there’s nothing your partner can do about it, or (b) you’re responsible for the problem, so you really just need support as you solve it. I’ve been there before.

If you’re the other partner (i.e. you didn’t start the fight), there are two possibilities. If the unsatisfactory situation was mutually identified (i.e. this conversation is one you’re having to try to resolve an argument already in progress), you will probably go through the same process I outlined above.

If not, you might feel blindsided because you didn’t see it coming. Here’s my advice for that side:

  1. What’s wrong? Listen to your partner describe the situation. Ask questions to figure out or clarify what he/she is thinking or feeling.
  2. What do you think? Take some time to think or reflect. Share your point of view on the situation. What do you think is wrong, what’s wrong about it, and what are your suggestions?
  3. What do you want to do about it? Consider the suggestions your partner offers. Are you willing to try one of them?

I also have some basic communication pointers for both parties:

  • Don’t interrupt. This one is hard for me; I am kind of an interruptosaurus. I’m working on making it an act of mercy to let someone finish before I jump in with my thoughts. In serious conversations, when I think I might forget something if I don’t interrupt, I’ll write it down. Yeah, that’s awkward, too, but it works!
  • Don’t assume you know what someone else is thinking or feeling or how your conversational partner is going to respond. You can’t see the future. You can’t read minds. You can’t read hearts. Get comfortable asking, “How do you feel about that?” and “What do you think?”
  • Don’t be afraid to say, “I hear you. Now is not a good time. Can we talk about this later?” The catch is that you have to define “later.” “Later” should not be a synonym for “never.” One tip I’m picking up is that couple/family business meetings are super useful. The “date night” movement is thriving. I’m rooting for the “budget meeting” and “weekly review” movements.

Most of what I’ve learned about communication I have learned with an eye to marriage. If I can’t talk openly and honestly with the man I’ve promised to sacrifice for until one of us dies, I will be in a pretty sore spot. The handy thing is that I have plenty of relationships to practice with in the meantime: close friends, coworkers, and sometimes even family. If I never marry, the communities I’m already part of are enriched by my efforts at improving my communication skills.

This blog also helps. Thank you for reading.


Next week’s topic: Adulting Revisited

Adulting is hard, sometimes. So many transitions. Making friends. Starting jobs. Building community. What are some ways that have gotten you through?

The lovely Laura of A Drop in the Ocean will be hosting!

View past and upcoming topics here or like our Facebook Page for regular alerts.

Link up here or by clicking the blue button below!

Not Alone Series: Following God’s Will

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Seeking and attempting to follow God’s will in your life is the most essential and difficult task we are given. Whether it’s the decision to change jobs, date or marry a certain person, or pursue a “big V” Vocation, these circumstances all warrant prayer and soul searching. What is something you’ve discerned in the past or recently? How did you go about discerning God’s will? What advice would you give to someone going through a similar situation?

We are all called to holiness. We know that. Vatican II helped make that a reality. (Yes, there are non-controversial things that came out of the council!) So the most important task we have is to be holy. Avoiding sin is one part of that. Following God’s will is another. I think they go hand-in-hand.

That doesn’t make either one easy.

I have heard and read and thought so much about discernment over these eleven years I’ve been living like a Catholic. Some of my biggest decisions remain unresolved.

Deciding to go back to Church was a pretty big deal. My next big opportunity for discernment was what to do after graduation. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, so I had two options.

My first post-grad option was an integrated fifth-year master’s degree certification program. The only major I graduated with was English (my specialty is British and American literature), but I also took a bunch of secondary education classes. I intentionally did not complete an ed major. The ed school at Maryland offered a major; I just didn’t choose that path. I was on track to spend one year student teaching, taking classes, and finishing my master’s degree. It was the fastest track to full-time teaching with a master’s.

The downside? I would have had to pay tuition. I already had plenty of student loans. I still have most of those loans. The thought of adding more was not a pleasant one. I also had to figure out how to support myself since student teaching is demanding and not income-generating.

My other post-grad option was ACE, the Alliance for Catholic Education It’s like Teach for America, but in Catholic schools. I would get to go to Notre Dame tuition-free, teach in my very own classroom (with my name on people’s transcripts and everything), and finish a master’s degree in two years. I would get to try Catholic school, and my living expenses would be heavily subsidized.

The catch? I would have to move to whatever city the program picked for me. You can give your preferences, but it’s like scheduling a wedding. You can probably get the priest, church, date, or reception site you want, but almost never all of them. You have to pick one non-negotiable and be willing to compromise on the rest. For me and ACE, I wanted to teach high school English, but I would go anywhere.

ACE actually had a second catch: I would have to live with boys. It’s laughable now, but that genuinely worried me when I applied.

So I took the GRE. I got recommendations. I completed both applications. I interviewed for ACE, which required me to go to the CUA campus and get kind of lost.

Decision time came when I was accepted into the program at Maryland. ACE decisions weren’t supposed to come out for about another month. I asked for mine early, and I got it. I had two options: commit to one year, stay in Maryland, and find the money; or commit to two years, move to Alabama, and live with boys.

I chose ACE. It was the best and most difficult thing I’ve ever done. At the time, I was just doing what seemed like the best option, but eventually I figured out why God sent me there. I don’t always get that kind of clarity, but when I do, it’s a beautiful thing.


Next week’s topic: Communication

We’ve talked about conflict, but that can be avoided through solid communication. What are some of your tips for becoming a better communicator? What are some strategies for healthy communication? When was a time you were completely misunderstood or completely misunderstood someone else? How does communication affect your relationships, and how does it help you prepare for your vocation?

View past and upcoming topics here or like our Facebook Page for regular alerts.

Link up with Morgan at Follow and Believe!

Not Alone Series: Summer Plans

notaloneseries

Summer is coming and this time of year brings with it many outdoor community events and opportunities to volunteer and meet people in our neighborhoods/communities. We have lots of opportunities for self-growth, networking, and for just having fun. What are some of the community events in your area? How do you hope to volunteer or participate in these events? Let’s share ideas!

Austin Shakespeare performs a free Shakespeare play with a twist in Zilker Park every year. This year’s is Macbeth with a “modern military” setting. It runs this month, so I think that counts as summer. My father is retired from the Air Force, and popular sentiment is not exactly pro-military, so I’m hesitant. it’s also the first time they’ve done a tragedy; it’s usually a comedy. I’m still going to go, though. I’ve already created my Project Plan in Wunderlist; my Next Action is to pick which day to go and then invite some friends to go with me. Sadly, most of the friends I’ve attended Zilker shows with in the past have moved across the country or had babies, so I might go alone. The logistics are easier; the loneliness is not.

There is also a second Zilker show in July and August. This year is Shrek: The Musical. My family lived overseas for seven years, so I have a fond memory of Shrek as the first movie we saw during its regular theatrical run. (We got current-ish films overseas, but always at a delay. That was before social media and smartphones, so spoilers weren’t really an issue.) I also discovered that it has a bunch of Notre Dame inside jokes, and I haven’t seen it since learning that, so that adds an extra element of fun. Maybe I will also have more success getting people to go with me to that one. It’s outside; I hear people like going there.

That’s it, as far as my local community summer plans go. I’ll be making an effort to go to dance class in August to catch the syllabus I missed last December (it’s a 8-month syllabus). My friend Allison is in a community band that plays an Independence Day concert every year. I went last year for the first time, and it was pretty awesome. No cannons for the 1812 Overture because it is inside a church and Texas is less cannon-friendly than gun-friendly, but still.

One of the downsides of being a grown-up (and specifically not a vacation person) is that summer is kind of just another quarter of the same old, same old.


Next week’s topic: Discerning God’s Will (with Morgan)

Seeking and attempting to follow God’s will in your life is the most essential and difficult task we are given. Whether it’s the decision to change jobs, date or marry a certain person, or pursue a “big V” Vocation, these circumstances all warrant prayer and soul searching. What is something you’ve discerned in the past or recently? How did you go about discerning God’s will? What advice would you give to someone going through a similar situation?

One of our lovely co-founders, Morgan, will be hosting next week! Visit her at Follow and Believe.

View past and upcoming topics here or like our Facebook Page for regular alerts.

Link up with Rachel at Keeping It Real.

Not Alone Series: Favorite Love Stories

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What is your favorite love story? How did your favorite real-life couple meet? Which fictional love stories (from books, movies, plays, or songs) make your heart soar? What’s your favorite love story from the Bible?

I do love Jesus, so my favorite “how we met” story is my friend Sabrina’s. A coworker at a Catholic non-profit introduced her to St. Raphael. He happens to be the patron of happy meetings and of single people seeking spouses. She began praying a novena to St. Raphael in late September, leading up the Feast of the Archangels. That week, she met a nice young man at a Catholic young adult happy hour. They talked through more than one happy hour. By the next year’s novena (I think; might have been two years), they were dating, and at the end of the third (fourth?) year of Sabrina’s praying the novena, they got married. I love beautiful, holy love stories: the one between Sabrina and her husband, and the one between Sabrina and St. Raphael!

As far as fiction goes, where life gets un-messy by the last frame or last page, I am a sucker for Pride & Prejudice. I love the book, of course. I inherited the 5-hour BBC film adaptation, which is still the definitive version. I did not hate the Keira Knightley version. I mostly liked it. My college roommate had Bride and Prejudice running on repeat in our apartment. And if you have never seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, set aside some time for the YouTube black hole. It premiered just over four years ago (!), and scenes from it are still rotating as my laptop’s desktop background. It may not be the most chaste thing to have people kissing on my screen basically all day, but I can have one vice, right?

If you didn’t get distracted by that masterpiece, here’s a plug for my favorite Biblical love story: Tobias and Sarah. A perk of Catholicism is that we still have the Book of Tobit. Sabrina’s main angelic man, St. Raphael, appears in this book. The short, romance-oriented version is that young Tobias is sent to a foreign country to find a wife. He decides to marry Sarah, not worrying about her seven previous husbands, who were all killed by a demon on their wedding night. Biblical heroes have no fear. He figures out the way to avert death by demon: to take his wife out of pure love, not out of lust. He leads her in prayer before they go to bed, and they both wake up alive the next morning. And they live happily ever after, Bible-style.


Next week’s topic: Summer Plans

Summer is coming, and this time of year brings with it many outdoor community events and opportunities to volunteer and meet people in our neighborhoods/communities. We have lots of opportunities for self-growth, networking, and for just having fun. What are some of the community events in your area? How do you hope to volunteer or participate in these events? Let’s share ideas!

View past and upcoming topics here or like our Facebook Page for regular alerts.

Link up by clicking the blue button below!

Not Alone Series: Readiness

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How ready do you think you are for your vocation? Are you ready to be committed to your vocation within the next year, or two years? That means being married (and maybe with a baby), taking religious vows, or telling people you’re not interested in marriage and plan to remain single for life. What do you still need to work on or change about yourself before you’re ready? Have you thought you were ready before? How have you become better prepared over time? Married ladies can chime in, too: how did you know it was the right time to get hitched?

Am I ready for marriage and kids? Maybe.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, that might come as a surprise. I talk about how much I wish I were married already basically all the time. I help host a link-up largely for women in that very situation! But one of the best things about my relationship with Mr. Man is that I’m no longer thinking in the abstract all the time. I have an actual, separate, complex human being in the equation. Real humans don’t work quite the same as theories.

I am glad to have the opportunity to practice some of my future-wife skills, though: budgeting, planning, communication, sticking to commitments. Holding my friends’ babies is fun in and of itself and for practice, God willing. My friend Austyn’s sweet son was clinging to me like a little monkey a few weeks ago. I like to tuck away advice about family (the husband-and-kids kind I don’t have, not the parents-and-siblings kind I do have), so I’m pretty well convinced that you never have enough money and you’re never ready. Based on those qualifications, I am 100% ready. Bring on the man, and bring on the babies!

The two-year timeline I wrote in the prompt is based on some advice I’ve encountered; I can’t remember where, but it was Catholic. (Who else is going to propose having a baby two years into marriage, right?) I went on my first date in high school and hit a severe dry spell after college, so I was never able to apply the advice, which is that you shouldn’t date unless you can see yourself married with a child within two years. If you asked me that today, though—do I feel ready based on those criteria?—I would say yes. Two years is both a long time and no time at all. I’m also getting older, so the baby part is less likely until I hit that post-35 fertility explosion.

I think the qualities I most need to develop before I’m ready for marriage are community and sacrifice. I’ve worked really hard over the years to become a better communicator, and I always keep my promises (despite being naturally indecisive), so I have those going for me. ACE (my grad school program) was essential in building my appreciation for life in community. I miss that a lot. The community I’ve found here in Austin is amazing, and now, so many of those friends have moved on into marriage and family life. It’s harder to stay connected, especially as I age. It’s harder to make new friends when I don’t have motherhood as a shared bond. I also find that, since I’ve been on my own for so long, it’s hard to find ways to genuinely and consistently sacrifice for the people I care about. Love demands sacrifice. I should probably get to work on that.

These are tough considerations for me. It’s definitely something I’m still thinking through. How about you, single friends? What do you need to work on before you become Mr.-and-Mrs.?


Next week’s topic: Favorite Love Stories

What is your favorite love story? How did your favorite real-life couple meet? Which fictional love stories (from books, movies, plays, or songs) make your heart soar? What’s your favorite love story from the Bible?

We’ll be back here at Lindsay Loves next week.

View past and upcoming topics here or like our Facebook Page for regular alerts.

Link up by clicking the blue button (or here)!

Not Alone Series: Beauty

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Beauty is innate in every woman. The desire to be beautiful is at the core of our femininity. We dress and wear makeup to enhance our natural facial features and to look pretty. We all love feeling beautiful but sometimes we lack the energy to put a cute outfit together or to wear makeup. What are your go-to tips and tricks for easy and fun outfits and makeup ideas? What are your thoughts on too much or too little makeup? Is there such a thing? Does dressing with purpose and wearing makeup make you feel more beautiful? What do you do that makes you feel beautiful?

NAS had a whole link-up about makeup right before I joined. I missed that one, so I included mine in my modesty post. For the record, I have switched to Mary Kay powder foundation and a different up&up moisturizer, but my basic routine is the same. I still wear makeup almost every day; a “no makeup day” is a big deal. Mr. Man has never seen me without it.

I wear almost no makeup beyond those basics. I have switched to colored lip balm, though. MaskCara’s “baseball makeup” post turned me on to Maybelline Baby Lips. I wear Cherry Me, which appears more pink than red on me. A coworker compared my dark hair and pink lips to Silvermist. I do have a soft spot for Tinkerbell.

I was trying to learn how to put on eyeliner for a while. I have sensitive eyes. That is why I don’t wear contacts (if you wondered), and that is why I have worn eye makeup about five times ever. It turns out that trying to draw a line with what is essentially a skin-friendly colored pencil in an area that is already prone to watering is quite difficult.

I also have long eyelashes, so it’s super fun when one falls out and falls into my eye. So much fun that it hurts like crazy and I panic until I can dig it out. Yet for some reason, my mascara application skills are decent. I could probably wear that more than I do.

For clothing-based style, as I mentioned in What I Wore Sunday last week, statement necklaces have been a game-changer for me. I got the idea from the lovely Audrey Tom of Putting Me Together. She demonstrated how to turn a boring t-shirt and shorts into an outfit by adding just a cardigan and a statement necklace. It totally works, guys. Fashion scarves and statement necklaces make great gifts; that’s how I got most of mine. As Jenna of Call Her Happy noted in a guest post at Fountains of Home, that third piece is crucial. So when I want to feel pretty and look pulled-together without having to plan too much (a.k.a. every working day of my life and most weekends), that’s my go-to.

All of this is to say that I absolutely enjoy the frills and fancy that come with being a girl. I like the way I look with makeup on. It highlights all my good features and de-emphasizes the not-so-good ones. I like the way I look when I dress nicely. I feel better when I think I look better. When I feel good, I smile, and that makes me look even better. A smile goes with everything.


Next week’s topic: Readiness

How ready do you think you are for your vocation? Are you ready to be committed to your vocation within the next year, or two years? That means being married (and maybe with a baby), taking religious vows, or telling people you’re not interested in marriage and plan to remain single for life. What do you still need to work on or change about yourself before you’re ready? Have you thought you were ready before? How have you become better prepared over time? Married ladies can chime in, too: how did you know it was the right time to get hitched?

We’ll be linking up here at Lindsay Loves for the next 2 weeks.

View past and upcoming topics here or like our Facebook Page for regular alerts.

Link up with Rachel at Keeping It Real.

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