Monthly Archives: February, 2016

What I Wore Sunday: It’s Purple Today, Not Red

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We’re still having really nice weather. I miss my sweaters for the 9–10 months per year that I can’t wear them, but I can get over that because it means I have no idea how long it takes my windshield to defrost. I haven’t even touched an ice scraper in at least eight years! Perspective.

So I wore fall-ish clothes to church on Sunday:

What I Wore Sunday, February 14

Top and skirt: Target
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: Charming Charlie
Earrings: graduation pearls

As I walked up to the church doors, the greeter complimented my color coordination. I wore a total of two purple items, but I’m glad she noticed. I didn’t actually see much purple around the church, although I did see some red. Maybe they’ll bring those outfits back for Palm Sunday.

I wore purple because it’s Lent. I wasn’t intentionally wearing my favorite color to celebrate myself while single on Valentine’s Day. I was lectoring, and I like liturgical dressing in general but especially when I lector. I have zero desire to become a priest, nor do I think women ought to be priests, but I can have a little fun with my own outfit.

The logistics of lectoring were much trickier than usual. I had the first reading, so I didn’t have to be part of the liturgical procession coming from its new direction, but the designated lector seats have also changed, and that was tricky. They are usually marked, but they weren’t this time, so I literally had no idea where to sit. I did what I always do when I’m confused: try not to look panicked and just go with it.

Fr. Associate Pastor started his homily by saying that Lent is a commemoration of Moses’ leading his people out of the wilderness of temptation. That helped me a lot. I hadn’t made the connection between the Gospel and first reading despite having proclaimed the latter mere minutes earlier. Jesus resists temptation, going into the wilderness and coming out unharmed. The temptations Satan gives him are ways to break some of the most basic of God’s laws: those concerning our relationships with food (natural law), with power over our fellow man (the last seven commandments), and our relationship with God (the first three commandments).

I was on board with all that. I was less on board with the story he used to close his homily. In it, a little boy stood under his neighbor’s apple tree, staring at it intently. He stood there for a while until the owner of the house came outside.

“Are you trying to steal my apples, little boy?” the owner said.

“No,” answered the little boy, “I’m trying not to steal them.”

Thus, Fr. AP concluded, all we have to do when faced with temptation is try not to give in. Sure. That sounds a little elementary. If resisting temptation were as easy as “just don’t do it,” we wouldn’t fall to it so readily. Even Jesus needed more than sheer willpower. He fought back with Scripture.

My Valentine’s Day was quite nice. Apparently Fr. AP had a different experience. I was at the last Mass of the day (as usual), so I guess he’d had enough after previous Masses and decided to make an announcement. “Lent is a season of abstinence,” he said. “Please abstain from wishing your priest a happy Valentine’s Day.” Noted.


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

Opening My Mind to Cardinal Avery Dulles’s “Catholicism and Capital Punishment”

I like to read, and I don’t like the death penalty. Thus, I like to read things that are about abolishing the death penalty. (I’m so unpredictable.) As I mentioned in my review of the remarkable book Change of Heart, by Jeanne Bishop, I acknowledge that Catholics are allowed to support capital punishment without considering themselves in opposition to the Church. I just don’t think they should.

Catholicism and Capital Punishment at ATXCatholic.com

I will admit, though, that I didn’t have a whole lot of reasons to back up my preference. There’s the famous paragraph 2267 from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, of course:

Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent” (St. John Paul II, Evangelium vitae).

But that’s not enough. And as much as I enjoyed Change of Heart, it’s not written by a Catholic. I thought things might be a little more complex than I’d considered. I was therefore delighted to read the essay adaptation of an address by Cardinal Avery Dulles, simply titled “Catholicism and Capital Punishment.” It was just the foundation I was looking for.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

7 Quick Takes on Lent, Productivityist, and Harry Potter

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— 1 —

Oh, hi there, Lent. We meet again. It was eleven years ago this week that you were the reset button on my spiritual life. (I count liturgically. Feels more appropriate.) I’m lousy at fasting, but I’m so glad you were my gateway to the joy and peace I have now. So, thanks for coming around again.

Those of you who are not Lent may know that it was campus ministry at Maryland that enabled my personal conversion. I hopped over to the Catholic Terps website today and found this beautiful image of Ash Wednesday Mass and Confession times:

2-10  Ash Wednesday Mass and Confession Times

The text along the bottom caught my eye. “Remember. Repent. Return.” If I could describe my experience of that first Ash Wednesday (my first ever, I think) in three words, that would do it. I remembered the joy I’d felt when I was a regular churchgoer. I repented at having been away for so long and all the sins I’d committed in the meantime. And I returned with a commitment to really give “living like a Catholic” a chance.

My past life has nothing on this one.

— 2 —

So what am I doing for Lent? Not failing, hopefully. I don’t have six kids like Kathryn, but I will also be easing my way through Lent. As I’ve mentioned recently, my day-to-day spiritual life is actually pretty good right now, but my long-term, higher-level life is a hot mess.

I think I’m in the minority when I say that I like to take the slow and steady approach to Lent instead of the cold turkey approach. I used to go hard at it, and it was good. Some years were really good, like the year I took up vegetables. (You read that right. I don’t know how I survived, either.) Some years, at least one of my Lenten sacrifices felt empty. I don’t want that for this year.

Approaching each Lent anew takes a similar path of reasoning as the 3-year Sunday lectionary cycle. Each time the same readings come around again, you’re in a different place than you were before: spiritually, emotionally, relationally, maybe even geographically. (I wore the same Halloween costume for 3 years—2 of them back-to-back—because I was in a different city each time.) So I’m taking a different approach than usual this year.

— 3 —

For Lent, I will be:

  1. Reading Bishop Barron’s Lent reflections each day by email
  2. Reading my Henri Nouwen reflection booklet each day, just like every year since I first got it from my best friend’s mom
  3. Finishing the last post-session review for my Bible study on the Book of Revelation
  4. Working on the same secret goal from last Lent (I fail, but I’m not a quitter)
  5. Creating a life plan

When I mentioned #5 to Mr. Man, he said that if you want to make God laugh, you should tell him your plans. Mr. Man, I like. Woody Allen, to whom that quotation is generally attributed, not so much. I have experienced that when I make and carry out a plan, it works. Worked with God, worked with my budget, worked with GTD. So I’m giving it a try anyway.

I also usually give up alcohol for Lent, but I don’t drink much these days anyway, so I don’t think that would make a difference. I abstain from meat every Friday of the year (except solemnities), and I’ve decided not to add any additional penance on Fridays this Lent. I might change my mind. We’ll see.

— 4 —

I do not like this new form of Lent bullying that tries to make people feel bad for giving up chocolate—or giving up anything at all! You have no idea what’s going on in someone else’s life and heart. Maybe giving up chocolate is actually going to be difficult for the people who do it. Maybe this is the first time this person will ever have a specific, daily reason to sacrifice. You don’t know.

Yes, chocolate can be the lazy man’s approach to Lent, but everyone starts somewhere. I gave up chocolate one Lent and soda another when I was in high school. I wasn’t going to church at all, but I was praying and sacrificing, even if it was kind of a lame, teeny-tiny sacrifice. Sometimes the spirit of sacrifice begins to grow from a tiny seed.

— 5 —

I had a quiet week. I’m usually at church on Wednesdays for Bible study, so even Ash Wednesday wasn’t super unusual. I liked it. I enjoyed the quiet. I liked the head space. I even took some significant time on Sunday evening for prayer. It was glorious, and it has me even further convinced that I need to dedicate some time to slowing down and thinking beyond the day-to-day.

— 6 —

It wouldn’t be 7QT at Lindsay Loves without a productivity item. I get Mike Vardy’s newsletter, The Productivityist Weekly and definitely recommend that, but I was reluctant to add any more blogs to my life, so I wasn’t reading that. (I’m still working out my thoughts on the “blog versus email list” debate.) I went over to the Productivityist blog to look up something from the newsletter and wound up glancing at the most recent posts.

I was surprised to see Mike’s post about why he stopped doing GTD. Even before I read it, I had an idea of what he might say. I was right. He welcomed comments on the blog, but the comments section isn’t shown, so I am doing what any good blogger would do and posting it here instead.

I agree with his main point. GTD is complex. I disagree, however, with his summary of “the lists in GTD” and his reference to “GTD in its purest sense.”

I follow as many GTD resources as I can (which is how I rediscovered Productivityist in the first place), so I hear David Allen speak about GTD a lot, and I eventually read The Book. Therefore, I am convinced that there is no single way to do GTD. There are required parts without which you can’t really say that you’re doing GTD, but everything else is flexible and adaptable. I think DA would agree with that.

I have enough ideas for a whole post about creating your own GTD implementation, but here’s one example: I don’t have a Next Actions list (which Mike calls “the Action Items list”). I use Wunderlist, which has the option of showing one giant list of every task/item I’ve entered. Yet I don’t even let that be displayed because I can’t imagine how I’d use it. Maybe if I wanted to shudder or run away screaming, as Mike notes that many people do. I’m still doing GTD, though, because I have a defined Next Action for each Project, and I have lists of one-off actions grouped by Areas of Focus. That works for me, and I think that’s more important than a mythical “pure GTD.”

— 7 —

I was initially very, very skeptical about the film adaptation of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Then I read the Entertainment Weekly spread and saw the first teaser trailer, and I was totally converted. Now there’s a brand new clip, and I’m getting goosebumps.

Similarly, I was skeptical about the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It’s not really Harry Potter without the magic and the creatures. How do you do that on stage? I was satisfied with the epilogue. I didn’t need any more. Then I found out that they’ll be releasing the script as a book worldwide, and I got way more into it. I have a soft spot for reading play scripts. I have two English degrees. I prefer Shakespeare on the page versus on the stage. I was never going to go to London to see a two-part play, and I don’t completely understand how that works, anyway. A script book will work.

My Harry Potter-loving heart is happy again.


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

What I Wore Sunday: In Which My Shoe Shots Fail

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We got a little winter again this weekend. Texas weather is really more a day-by-day adventure than any kind of seasonal pattern. I appreciate the opportunity for a little bit of winter style before “spring” arrives. Those darn groundhogs don’t understand my style woes.

What I Wore Sunday, February 7

Dress: Marshall’s, I think
Shirt and tights: Target
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: holy medals
Earrings: high school graduation pearls

This is one of my favorite dresses. I can wear it all year if I go for long sleeves or a sweater when it’s really cold. Neither were necessary this week. Although I didn’t intend to, I managed to lose weight since I’ve been dancing so much, giving my regular levels of physical activity a basically infinite increase. All I really wanted was to learn how to dance and to get out of the house a little more; the weight loss is a bonus. It also allows me to wear this dress again, because I have to be having a thin day to make it work. #realtalk

My thin-day self barely made it to Mass on time. I realized on the way to church that I’d lost the pen I usually keep in my purse, so I had to sneak into the sacristy to borrow the pen from the lector sign-in sheet to sign my check. I still know how to work the system a little bit even though I don’t work for the system full-time anymore.

Mass was lightly attended, as I expected, because I go at 5 p.m. and everyone else was watching the Super Bowl. That worked out because we got out a little bit early. The choir pulled out all the stops (perhaps literally) for this last Sunday before Lent, but they also sang every cheesy song they could manage from the “discipleship” section of our hymnal. Jesus came, though, so it was a win.

In his homily, Fr. Associate Pastor began by noting that we can keep an eye on and predict natural disasters using modern technology, in many cases saving thousands of lives, but we can do nothing to stop them. You can move to high ground to avoid a flood, but you can’t hold back the waters forever. We saw that with Hurricane Katrina. Natural power will win out in the end.

All of Sunday’s readings contain someone who doubts his own worthiness in the presence of such a powerful God, a God who can work miracles, receives praise from the angels, and turns the worst sinner into the most zealous of apostles. My takeaway was that we should rejoice in the mercy of such a powerful God rather than fear his majesty and power. That’s where the “fear of the Lord” we hear about as one of the gifts of the Spirit should direct our minds. God is all-powerful, and it’s a good thing he is, because none of us puny self-interested humans could be trusted with that kind of power. What a blessing that the One who loves perfectly has all the power of the universe. What a blessing that he is powerful, loving, and forgiving.


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

Not Alone Series: Habits and Virtues

notaloneseries

Virtue is a habit of choosing good over evil. How do you cultivate virtue in your life as a single? How do you grow in faith, hope, and love? How do you promote justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude? How do you spread kindness and champion chastity? On a practical level, what are some good habits you’ve developed for your single life? And on the flip side, what bad habits and vices have you overcome? (It’s okay if you’re still working on some of them!)

I know you probably didn’t even realize it, since it’s always such a secret, but Lent is coming. Now is a great time to take stock of your spiritual life and your pursuit of holiness. What needs to be whipped into shape? Where are you just coasting along instead of striving for excellence? What bad habits have you been avoiding that you need to confront?

Clearly, due to my state in life, I hear a lot of chastity messages. That’s kind of a thing. It’s a thing I enjoy. Sometimes I even blog about it. Jason Evert’s If You Really Loved Me was my gateway drug, and I’ve stayed hooked as he’s grown older, wiser, and a little more mellow. (He just talks so fast!) Arleen Spenceley is in the trenches with us single girls. It’s always a little frustrating when my favorite single speakers get married, because then they can’t identify anymore. I’m happy for them, really, but it still stings. I even discovered More Than Don’t Have Sex, a blog by Justin M. Campbell, who has the most Catholic-friendly Christian angle on chastity that I’ve ever seen. It’s a good time to be single, Christian, chaste, and a blog reader. There are so many people who have my back.

I also hear (and talk) a lot about growing in holiness. I can’t see the future, so I don’t know if I will ever actually get married despite my desire to do so. I do, however, know without a doubt that God wants me to grow in holiness and closeness to him. (He wants that for you, too. FYI.) That gives me something I don’t have to wait before I can do. I can get holy now.

Get holy or die tryin'.

Word.
(Button and other items available from Catholic to the Max.

I hear rather less about growing in virtue, which is a shame. Virtues are much more concrete than “holiness.” I helped run a retreat back in undergrad that had “Faith, Hope, and Love” as the theme, so I’ve had a soft spot for virtues since then. I even remember the general area the Catechism starts talking about them; it’s around paragraph 1810. I don’t know about you, but that was the first time I had ever really thought about what hope meant as a virtue and not just literal wishful thinking.

Now, my favorite virtue is hope. Faith and love are much more straightforward. Hope takes some work; I like a challenge. In a nutshell, hope is about trust. It’s trusting that God is in charge and that he will fulfill his promises, which include our salvation and his constant care for us. Hope is what fends off the despair that says God has forgotten about me, that he doesn’t really care about me personally and individually, or that I’m not good enough to be blessed. Do I always remember that? Nope. But do I know that hope is a virtue that I, personally, need to intentionally strive for? Absolutely.

I also have a soft spot for the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. They have my back when I’m tempted to just throw this whole life away and do whatever I want. Chastity is hard. It seems like a life free of the chains of virtue would be easier. It would probably be more fun. However, I chose these chains. I have staked my claim upon the Lord. My life was okay before, but I don’t want to go back to okay. I want to be a saint. That means living with heroic virtue. Conveniently, life in the Spirit means I don’t have to do it alone.


Next week’s topic: Parish and Community Involvement

As a single lady, how do you find your niche in your parish, church, and community? How do you hope to expand your community this year? What are some suggestions for those of us looking for a way to find a community? Lent might just be the perfect time to try something new—what do you recommend?

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

Link up by clicking the blue button below!

Currently: February 2016

I loved posting my tl;dr last year, but I’ve been craving more actual link-ups in my blogging life (and Booking Through Thursday was letting me down). As I was catching up on my friend Christina’s blog, I decided to give Currently a try for the rest of 2016. I will combine it with my tl;dr, because this is my blog, so I do what I want. Each month has specific topics. You share what you are currently reading, wishing, etc. I will also be recapping each month of my life, both on and off the blog (which is what I did with tl;dr).

The "Currently" Hostesses

Thus, I bring you what I am currently…

Sending: No more Epiphany cards, finally. I need a better plan for next year. I did receive what is hopefully the last reply card. It’s from a dear Nicaraguan friend. I met him here in Austin. He moved to California last year. He knows I read Spanish, though, and that I love mail, so he sent me what is technically una tarjeta para la Navidad, and he mailed it from Nica! So sweet.

Eating: The same things over and over. As I wrote in my NAS post about cooking for one, I have a standard rotation of meals that I cycle through. In previous months, I would sneak in enough variety to keep the cycle from getting too boring, but these last few months have not been effective. I enjoy all the things I regularly eat, but I need a little spice again. I have a little bit of breathing room scheduled for March, so that should help my culinary creativity.

Dreaming: Of finally getting my higher-level life goals together. I curated a bunch of tools to help, but they can’t give me the minutes and hours I need to actually use them. I have to carve that out soon. The year is already one month gone!

Smelling: The scent of clean, finally! I shirked my house cleaning for a while, and it showed. Helpfully, I have a high threshold for smell (meaning things have to smell really bad before I notice), and the house wasn’t actually smelly. I was just tired of looking at it. My Saturday was wide open, so I finally got back to neutral then.

Hearting: Mr. Man. I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted to mention him here on the blog at all, so I’m easing into it. I’m talking about it with him, and he liked the idea of a nickname, so I’m trying that.

Recapping: January

  • My former roommate’s baby turned a year old, so she had a Winter One-derland party. There were so many babies! It was ridiculously cute. I am still getting used to afternoon birthday parties.
  • I finally published my 2015 year in review.
  • I started a new health journey. It’s not contagious, and I’m not dying, but I’m finally ready to figure out what’s wrong and get it resolved. Then I’ll work on the other health issues that I’ve been managing instead of fixing. (I know some things can only be managed, but I’m pretty sure these can be fixed.)
  • I went to the Texas Rally for Life.
  • I took the Jeopardy! test. Again.
  • I took a beginner class in Argentine tango. It was not quite as awesome as West Coast Swing, but I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway.

So what’s new with you? What are you “hearting” currently?


Currently is a link-up hosted on the first Wednesday of each month by Anne of In Residence and Jenna of Gold & Bloom. Link up at Anne’s this week!

7 Quick Takes on ATX Catholic, Pocket, and Productivity

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— 1 —

I read this in Friday’s Augustine Day by Day. This is why I can’t switch to Dominican spirituality, although that’s my #2. Augustinian spirituality is just so me.

The peace, then, of the body lies in the ordered equilibrium of all of its parts; the peace of the irrational soul, in the balanced adjustment of its appetites; the peace of the reasoning soul, in the harmonious correspondence of conduct and conviction; the peace of the body and soul, taken together, in the well-ordered life and health of the living whole. Peace between a mortal man and his Maker consists in ordered obedience, guided by faith, under God’s eternal law; peace between man and man consists of regulated fellowship. Peace, in its final sense, is the calm that comes of order. Order is an arrangement of like and unlike things whereby each of them is disposed in its proper place.

—St. Augustine, City of God, Chapter 13

I love it.

— 2 —

ATX Catholic

I rebranded my blog several years ago, when I bought this domain name, and now my beloved Austin CNM has rebranded to ATX Catholic. Cris has a great explanation for the rebranding, as well as the refreshed logo, and I am totally behind it. The organization still owns austincnm.com, so all the links will redirect, and the Twitter handle has been updated (#21stcenturyproblems). My site will follow suit shortly. My role isn’t changing, but I, for one, am very glad to not have to explain anymore why we didn’t spell out the “Catholic” part and what “new media” is.

— 3 —

Speaking of scheduling, I got another report of my Pocket stats, just like I did last year. I’m now in the top 1%, which makes me wonder how much data Pocket is holding for people who have stuffed and then completely abandoned their accounts. (Another #21stcenturyproblem.)

my Pocket stats for 2016

I give kudos to Pocket for finally convincing me to (and giving me a great tool to) read “What ISIS Really Wants.” I saw that on Facebook a lot before I finally actually read it. You can never be sure about info that doesn’t come straight from the source, but I love The Atlantic, and I love magazine features, and I am praying that someone stops the atrocities soon.

— 4 —

My greatest takeaway from Your Money or Your Life was that when we work, we sacrifice some of our life in exchange for money. We then trade the money for stuff: food, clothes, tech, “intangible benefits” from donations to charity, etc. Transitively, we trade our lives for stuff. One question that guides you toward financial integrity is whether you are happy with the stuff you’re trading your life for.

Many people are familiar with the concept “hours to earn.” Is a new smartphone worth the hours and effort you had to put in to earn that much money?

Fewer people are familiar with the concept “actual wage.” How much do you really make when you factor in:

  • benefits you’re using (vacation time and health insurance),
  • benefits you’re not using (matching funds for your retirement plan deferrals), and
  • what it costs you to work (commute time, work clothes, and stress relief)?

Deep, I know.

I thought about that when I listened to Get-It-Done Guy describe how to assign a monetary value to your time in his podcast. I had to read the transcript later because I was so lost in thought that I was only half paying attention to the audio. It was an eerie synchronicity with my recent introspection about how I spend my time, year-end/year-beginning thoughts about what I’m doing with my life, two separate productivity e-newsletters, and the impending beginning of the spring soul-cleaning we call Lent. Maybe God is trying to tell me something. Can you give up “not having a life plan” for Lent?

— 5 —

Sometimes I have trouble staying focused. I have noticed, though, that I tend to go on productive tangents. When I was doing my monthly review this week (it’s not GTD, but I find it helpful), I got distracted with some of that higher-level life thinking and organization I’ve been working on. I organized my password manager, my Google Drive account, Dropbox, and my feeds in Feedly into folders that match my Areas of Focus. I was fine acknowledging that I don’t have many passwords connected to Health & Beauty. It was harder to see how full and unfinished my Personal Growth stuff is getting.

— 6 —

In case you missed it in this week’s NAS post, I stumbled across the most amazing list of tips to stop avoiding conflict. That’s some of the best advice I’ve seen in a really long time.

— 7 —

Lent starts Wednesday. Yes, people will come piling in like a clown car unloading to take your seat and your parking space. Pray that they will come back on Sunday, and the Sunday after that, and the one after that, forever, and pray for mercy upon yourself for your uncharitable thoughts. I will be doing that, too.

Abp. Sheen on Lent as eradicating evil or cultivating virtue


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

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