Monthly Archives: March, 2017

7 Quick Takes on Reading, Planning, and Dating

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

— 1 —

As evidenced by the “old news” in last week’s 7QT and my ridiculously overdue 2016 year in review post, I am still clearing out my backlog of things I wanted to share here. Will you humor me with just a few more oldies?

For the third year in a row, I was among Pocket’s top 5% of readers. Or maybe it was the opt 1%. I can’t remember! I neglected to clip the email properly to share a screenshot, so just trust me; I read a lot in Pocket.

If you like to read articles online (or watch videos), but find yourself wandering down the rabbit hole of links or worrying about wasting data loading ads on your phone, you’ll enjoy Pocket. It’s been revolutionary for my reading habits. Why scroll through Facebook aimlessly looking for something to read on the go when I can read articles I have already curated?

— 2 —

I don’t have the link to my Pocket Year in Review anymore, but I do have my Goodreads 2016 Year in Books. I was pleased with last year’s reading. I read plenty of nonfiction early in the year and slipped in some awesome fiction towards the end, and I met my overall book goal. Goodreads has been excellent for my book-reading in much the same way Pocket has for articles.

Read ALL the books!

— 3 —

I was much less pleased with my life planning. I still have the plan, but I haven’t reviewed it for at least six months. I’m pretty sure it still shows calling my grandmother once a month as an action item, and she died in August.

I am expecting to have some time in the near future for some extensive revisions, though, so I was glad to pick up a free life plan review tool from Building Champions back at the turn of the year. The video is no longer available, but the review tool (and the free tool for writing your first draft of a life plan) are still there.

We plan vacations, and we plan weddings, but have you ever planned your life?

— 4 —

I am still reading and loving Verily magazine. I especially like their “Gentlemen Speak” feature, which consists of articles written by real men or roundups from interviews with the same. Before I met Mr. Man, I often wondered why the nice, smart, charming, churchgoing men I met were never interested in me. We clicked so well! Wasn’t there something more than just “not feeling it” or the standard-but-infuriating “intimidation” factor? Andrew Mentock offers a few novel ideas why a great conversation doesn’t always lead to a date invitation.

Fun fact: I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Mentock (not to be confused with Mr. Man) in person. The Internet is maybe not such a huge place after all.

— 5 —

Related to the dating theme, I was fascinated by an essay posted in ZENIT about the effect that promoting chastity has had on slowing the spread of AIDS in Uganda. Americans in particular seem to think of Africa as one homogenous zone that needs saving, where AIDS spreads like wildfire. That’s not true any more than it’s true of the U.S. The A-B-C method really can work.

— 6 —

I manage my email really well, so I tend to stay subscribed to email lists for a long time and actually read what they send (or unsubscribe properly). I was not, however, expecting to hear from Small World of Words. I participated in their word association study online so long ago that I have absolutely no memory or record of it.

It was neat to see the results, of course, but getting that random email was also a reminder of just how long scientific research takes. We tend to just hear about results—especially when they are sensational—but I always forget that it might have taken years of data collection and analysis to get to those conclusions.

— 7 —

My life as a YNABer is still going well. I am currently casually mentoring a recent convert to budgeting. It took some encouraging to get past the idea of waiting for a “normal month” before committing to building that first budget. There’s just no such thing as a normal month!

There will always be something unexpected. Your car will need repairs. Your child will get sick. A bill will arrive. There’s a reason I built my first budget with a category called “Stuff I Forgot to Budget For.”

Budgeting is not about being able to predict the future or relying on historical spending data. It’s about using the money you have now to pay for the things you need now, some things you just want, and things that you’ll need later. Budgeting is about facing reality.

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

Year in Review 2016

I didn’t even plan on publishing this before 2016 was over. I was too busy vacationing with Mr. Man for that. I did, however, plan to post this before the end of January. Trying to follow that plan turned into a lesson about priorities!

My 2016 Best Nine

My “best nine” photos from Instagram, based on likes.

So yes, I’m reaching back really far at this point. One of the benefits of focusing so much on personal productivity is that I keep detailed records in order to back up my terrible, terrible memory. Those help me with my GTD Weekly Review, and they also help me publish Currently each month.

I made my first pass through my year in an attempt to order and send Christmas cards “on time.” I don’t have a family to take a photo of, and I like to celebrate as much of the Christmas season as possible, so I started sending Epiphany cards a few years ago. You can get a good discount for ordering later in the card-sending season, and they seem more like New Year cards for my secular friends.

This year, I decided to forgo the “Christmas letter” style and go for bullet points. If you didn’t get your card, here it is!

Find Your Joy in the New Year

I had the back printed with just text (and space for signing!), so here’s that part:

2016 By the Numbers

Weeks of Bible study: 22
Appliances repaired or replaced: 3
Cities visited: 2 (Chicago and Houston)
Months I have been dating my boyfriend, Mr. Man: 14
Times I auditioned for Jeopardy!: 1
Hours on retreat: 9.5
Funerals attended: 2
West Coast Swing classes: 40
West Coast Swing workshops: 2
Books read: 22
Student loans paid off: 2
Blog posts published: over 130

I was also diagnosed with morphea (MOR-fee-uh) this year. It is a rare and incurable autoimmune skin condition, but I’ll be fine. Follow me at, and share what’s new with you! Make 2017 a great year!

I always sign and address them by hand. It breaks my heart a little when I get a card that doesn’t bear any personal signs of the sender: sender and recipient addresses on plain white labels, pre-printed cards, no signatures. Yes, customizing them takes time, but that time is part of the gift.

Here are my “most posts” of 2016, in the style of Sarah Mackenzie of Read Aloud Revival:

  • Post with the most clicks: My most popular post published last year was a review of a video about discernment by Fr. Mike Schmitz and an article about discernment by Peter Kreeft. Believe it or not, the popularity was actually due to Twitter. I tweet a link to new blog posts automatically, and for that one, I used Fr. Mike’s handle to tag him. He retweeted it, and my poor little blog never knew what hit it!

  • Post with the most comments: I try to reply to every comment I receive, so the count is undoubtedly inflated, but my essay post about making friends as an adult got the most posts of any last year.

  • Post with the best picture: I really enjoyed my illustrations last year. So many online Jeopardy! screencaps. So many tweets. Several photos with Mr. Man. A couple of household organization wins. I really like the “demons are spiritual, too” meme from one of my 7QT posts, though, so that wins for 2016.

  • Post that was hardest to write: I sat on my morphea awareness post for a long time. I spent a long time hiding the visible signs. I struggled with how much I wanted to share here on the blog, and when, and what exactly to say. Finally, I just decided to do what I’ve always done here—share my heart. The compassionate responses I’ve received have brought me so much joy.

  • Post that was your personal favorite: I was very happy to introduce everyone to Mr. Man. We dated for so long before we met in person! Facebook technically still does not know we’re dating (I prefer it that way), but I’m sure that mysterious algorithm noticed the surge of traffic to my blog when I shared my post there. I’m very grateful that he’s in my life and that he allows me to talk about him here.

Finally, my recurring themes of 2016 were:

  • West Coast Swing: A returning character from last year. I continued the passive weight loss I’d started by getting any exercise at all (as opposed to my previous zero). I made it through enough of the Level 3 syllabus to start repeating months, so I got to experience learning from a new angle. I took a workshop with Jordan & Tatiana. I didn’t participate in the annual West Coast Swing flash mob, but there’s always 2017!

  • Endings: My grandmother died. Spirit & Truth disbanded. The Not Alone Series faded away. I went to the summer shows at Zilker for the last time, missing the literal ending of Macbeth due to a storm. I stopped hiding the morphea patches on my legs.

  • Marriage: Of course. Also a returning character. It has been an enlightening experience to put more of my dating preparation, so to speak, to practical use. I attended a retreat that was focused on relationships (not just marriage), and it was excellent. I have also had an adventure navigating a long-distance relationship. I always knew that a God-centered romantic relationship would take work. I am very grateful to be working with such a wonderful partner.

What were your recurring characters of 2016? How has 2017 been going? What are your goals for the rest of the year? Every day is a good day to resolve to change your life—and then do it!

Sunday Style: Why Five Husbands?

I have no special guests this time, but I do have a special purple outfit. We seem to be back on our usual weather schedule, so summer it is.

Sunday Style for March 19

Dress and shirt: Old Navy
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: National Shrine gift shop
Earrings: I forgot, and you can’t see them anyway

I had a tiny bit more time than usual to consider this week’s outfit, so I went for an old standby. I like to wear this one even when it is not a purple season.

I was back at my regular parish this week, so I decided to try my idea from last week. A friend gave me a Christian Inspirations Journal a few birthdays ago, but I could never find the right use for it. After some recent difficult episodes in attempting to remember the homily, not fall asleep during it, or both, I thought it might be time to treat that like any other presentation I attend, and take notes. I have always found notetaking really useful for focusing my attention, but I’ve never thought to try it during Mass. I take notes at other churchy presentations and when I’m physically in the church for a non-Mass event, but homily notetaking always seemed weird.

Well, it still seems weird. Many things feel weird the first time, and this was no exception. I persevered, and I plan to do it again next week, so we’ll see how it goes.

Msgr. Old Pastor preached the homily. He focused mostly on the Gospel, which felt a little odd because the Sundays of Lent do such a great job of getting all the readings to align. I’ve never given a homily, but it seems like that would make the homilist’s job a little easier. The theme is built right in.

He pointed out that the Jews hated the Samaritans so much that they would usually travel around Samaria instead of through it, taking an extra day or two just to prove their point. He didn’t explain why, though; I learned that from the Bible Timeline. The Samaritans were the descendants of Israelites (from the northern kingdom), who had intermarried with non-Israelites after the Babylonian exile. The southern Judeans had never intermarried, so they considered themselves purer and better than the Samaritans. That’s why the woman at the well has had five husbands. It’s not just a random large number; five other nations had mixed with the Israelites. I’m grateful to my Bible study for opening up Mass like that!

He did, however, note that the woman speaks to Jesus in a way that demonstrates her rapidly increasing faith. At first, she treats him like any strange man. Then she calls him her teacher, and then a prophet. Finally, she runs off to tell the people that he is the Messiah. As probably every priest who preached this weekend said, this is evangelization in a nutshell.

Msgr. Old Pastor’s parting words were to let God fill up the hole inside our hearts that longs for something more. We might try to fill it with other things, but only God belongs there. Curiously, the monsignor himself had some opportunities for that right during Mass. His lapel mic went out, so he had to preach his homily from the ambo. Since our church is built for amplified sound, he chanted the entire Eucharistic Prayer, in order to be as loud as naturally possible. He has an excellent voice, so it felt special and solemn. And we sang “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” during Communion, which is one of my very favorites.

Mass is always good when Jesus comes, but those little touches made this one extra nice for me.

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 because I am back in action!

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

Heeeeeeeey there, 7QT! It’s been a long time. I have kept up with Sunday Style and Currently, but this happy little link-up was tossed by the wayside. I have far more than seven things to share, but I will keep it to seven anyway. You’re welcome.

— 1 —

One of my life’s ambitions is to compete on Jeopardy! I auditioned last April and am still in the contestant pool. Here’s hoping!

My hopes aside, the show was recently in the news for a unique contestant story: Cindy Stowell, an Austin resident like me, died of colon cancer just a few days before she appeared on Jeopardy!

She won six games. If she were still alive, she would be a contender for the Tournament of Champions.

She took the test in the same round that I did, and if I had not gone back to DC to audition (because my parents live in the area, so I could stay with them for free), I would have auditioned in the same city that she did. She even played trivia at the same place I do; her boyfriend Jason has a regular team that always plays well.

Cindy’s Jeopardy! story shows the compassion that can still be found in what is ultimately the entertainment business. It also brings a new level of challenge to the armchair champion. If she could play like that while dying from cancer, what’s stopping you from fighting for your dreams?

— 2 —

This is kind of an intermediate tech tip. If you don’t know what two-factor authentication is, just go ahead and skip this take—but look into it! This Google landing page is a simple intro, and this TFA site will show you which popular sites you can enable it on.

If you are using TFA, and you use an Apple device of any kind, you might have been asked by your device if you wanted to turn on “two-factor authentication.” This is not the same thing as normal TFA. Owen Williams at The Next Web explains the situation in detail, but the short version is that you want to have “two-step verification” enabled for your Apple ID, not “two-factor authentication.”

I am smarter than your average bear when it comes to computers and technology (and specific terms, for that matter), but I was confused by that one. I managed to fix it, but it was a close call. I hope this tip helps someone the way my Sitemeter hijacking story does.

— 3 —

Those were some pretty intense takes. Here’s some tweets to lighten the mood. This one won the National Grammar Day haiku contest just a few weeks ago:

— 4 —

Also in Twitter news, a bishop is following me! This seems like a role reversal if there ever was one:

"Bishop Guy Sansaricq followed you."

He’s retired from the Diocese of Brooklyn. Can we take a moment to think about how awesome retirement must be if it means you just get to play on Twitter all day?

— 5 —

I recently finished the Bible study I started back in September, on salvation history. When we got to the period when David became king of Israel, I finally, finally understood why it’s so important that David is the son of Jesse.

Jesse was no one important. He wasn’t the previous king; he was just a shepherd.

In that time (and in some professions like teaching or law enforcement today), a son had the same job as his father. The king’s son became the next king; the shepherd’s son became a shepherd.

But the king before David was Saul. None of Saul’s sons became king. David was the son of Jesse. David became the king.

It’s important that David is the son of Jesse because David is not the son of Saul. God chose the king he wanted, not the king anyone was expecting. He chose David, and later he chose Jesus.

And that’s why we have Jesse trees, not David trees, and why it’s so important that Jesus is “the son of David.” My mind was blown.

— 6 —

Mr. Man teases me for declaring that more than one song is my jam. I like to jam! So I guess one of my jams is this super-catchy song (and awesome video) from a Target commercial: “Diggy,” by Spencer Ludwig.

— 7 —

Finally, to round out the randomness, one of my favorite Shakespearean webcomics posted a brilliant take on the “wherefore” problem. (And yes, I do have another favorite.)

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

Sunday Style: My Favorite Recurring Character

Hello, friends! One of those not-quite-yet-bloggable things took me to visit Mr. Man again last weekend, in his city. He’s my special guest star.

Sunday Style for March 12: My Outfit

Sunday Style for March 12: me with Mr. Man

Sweater and skirt: Old Navy
Top and tights: Target
Shoes: Payless
Earrings: ancient gift
Pendant: brand-new gift from Mr. Man’s mom

So, winter came back. Mr. Man kindly sent me weather forecast updates as the days to my trip counted down. Of course I double-checked with my favorite weather app, Accuweather, as I was packing the night before I left. Life in Austin has taught me to check the hourly forecasts rather than the high for the day, so I scrolled through and was puzzled by a tiny icon of a snowflake on Saturday around 2 p.m.

Then I realized that meant it might snow. I have not seen snow fall from the sky in over six years. Thankfully, I didn’t see it last weekend, either, but it was so very cold. I’m perfectly happy to leave March snow as a long-ago memory (once in Germany when I was in middle school, I think), and I’m now officially ready for spring.

We went to Mass at Mr. Man’s parish. He lectored, and he did a very good job. Fr. J (I think) started by pointing out that Abraham’s story is very encouraging to those of us who might think we’re too old to go on an adventure or do something great. Abraham was 70 years old when God called him out of Ur, so we are never too old to do what God is calling us to do.

Then he turned to another Old Testament passage entirely. In 2 Kings 6, enemies from Syria approach the prophet Elisha. His servant panics, thinking that the approaching army will destroy the Israelites, and asks Elisha to pray for God’s help. Elisha instead tells him to pray that the Lord will open his eyes to see the heavenly army surrounding them, against which their enemies are no match. God didn’t need to do anything more. He was already doing something; the servant just needed to see what God was already doing.

Afterwards, I thought about this in terms of the Gospel. Peter could see that Jesus was speaking with Moses and Elijah, but he didn’t know what God was doing at that moment. He was worse off than Elisha, and even worse off than the servant! Abraham did what God told him to, despite not seeing or understanding. Peter didn’t know what to do, even though he could see. Sometimes, I can’t see and I don’t know. Do I have the faith to keep moving towards God anyway?

Thanks are due to Mr. Man for helping with my full-length photo this week, and to his mother for the beautiful natural amethyst pendant. It was just the right thing to complete my outfit!

I would also like to give my memory kudos for stepping up this week. It held onto “2 Kings 6” long enough to write that down after Mass. I had to figure out whether Fr. J was saying “Elijah” or “Elisha.” They are correctly pronounced so similarly (same long “I” in the middle) that I knew I’d need to look it up after Mass to clarify. But I could only do that because I remembered, so thanks, brain!

And thanks to you for reading!

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: So Lit(urgical)

Surprise! A mid-week Sunday Style! I had to start this outfit from the feet due to my poorly-timed laundry schedule, but it worked out in the end.

Sunday Style for March 5

Dress: Kohl’s
Blouse: Target
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: holy medals

It’s liturgical dressing season again, friends! This year is tricky because one of my staple purple items is a sweater, and it’s always a toss-up whether the weather will be cold enough (a) that day and (b) during the correct hours. I didn’t discover hour-by-hour wardrobe planning until I moved to Austin.

I’ve worn this combo before, but with the buttons done, so it looked more like a skirt. I can’t decide which version I like more, but I appreciate the opportunity to keep this dress around.

Well before Mass, when I was reading my Evangelio del dia reflection, Isaac the Syrian suggested that the concept of fasting comes from Genesis: don’t eat the fruit of this one tree. That sounds a little more like abstinence to me, but I’ve never thought about where fasting comes from, so that was an interesting point to ponder.

At Mass, I discovered that I was unfocused because I was unusually exhausted. I don’t get enough sleep in general, so when I am particularly deprived, it hits me even worse. Fr. Visitor gave a very long, very good, very comprehensive homily, but I was so tired that I knew I wasn’t going to remember it all. I have an as-yet-unused paper journal that would be very useful for this purpose: taking notes during the homily instead of right after Mass. Perhaps that was my sign from the Holy Spirit that I should go with that idea now.

From what I remembered, Fr. Visitor started with an overview of Lent, saying that we should strive to grow closer to God and love him more in this time in particular. That is a message that can easily be lost among the Lent dieter, bullying, and too-extreme aspirational goals.

Then, he went through each of the three temptations of Christ and what they represented. The first is a call to overcome our desire for intemperance. Adam and Eve failed to trust that God would provide them with food. Jesus trusted.

The second and third temptations were likewise linked to our lives and to the Fall. Sadly and embarrassingly, I don’t remember the details. I did note that, having studied salvation history all year long (my Bible study ended this week!), I now have a new appreciation for the Book of Deuteronomy. Did you know that all three of the Scripture quotations Jesus makes in response to Satan’s temptations are from Deuteronomy? Jesus knew and loved the Old Testament. We shouldn’t just cast it aside; he didn’t.

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

Currently: March 2017

Currently at Lindsay Loves

The scant few days of February cause March to sneak up on many people. I have a couple of birthdays in my circle in February, though, so it always feels like just the right length to me. Non-bloggable matters have kept me moving through new projects, travel, and events. This year is moving right along!

Here’s what I am currently…

Watching: The final season of Bones! It didn’t start until January, and episodes have been moving right along. I was disappointed at the resolution to the cliffhanger. They built up another good arc, but it seems to be done again. It feels strange to be starting and ending a season in just a few months. I hope the series comes to a satisfying end. The almost-series finale a few seasons ago would have been really good. Can they top it?

I’m also up to Season 4 of Merlin. Both of the leading ladies got huge appearance changes this season. I’m not a fan, but I am excited to see how Arthur’s reign, Lancelot’s return, and Guinevere’s doomed romances all play out in just two seasons.

Eating: A ton of Mexican food. I know; I live in Texas, but still! I had a chimichanga for the first time last week. It’s basically a burrito, lightly toasted and covered with queso. It was worth trying, but so decadent. I should probably stick to enchiladas and flautas.

Saying: Many things to Mr. Man, as usual. I got to see him again last weekend! I also find myself saying more often than usual around the office that you have to make the machines work for you. Technology can be a huge time waster, but it also saves time like crazy. Auto-pay bills, the Dropbox mobile app’s document scanner, anything with voice recognition: use these tools! At least use them until the machines take over.

Wearing: Summer clothes! A few weekends ago, it was legitimately too hot for jeans in the afternoon. I felt ridiculous wearing shorts in February, but the weather was appropriate! I honestly don’t know what to wear most days. I just mentally prepare for being too warm or too cold at some point every day, and I try to remember whether my ceiling fan is still on when my bedroom light is off. I hate the light switch fake-out.

Posting: Not much at all, besides sharing my Sunday Style. My aforementioned non-bloggable matters are taking up time that I might otherwise use to blog. Some of my hobbies and activities are gone, but then there is Twitter. I struggle.

Recapping: February

  • I rear-ended a minivan on Valentine’s Day. No injuries. I blame the drizzle and the stop-and-go traffic. Insurance settled everything, so I’m all set now.
  • Yesterday was Rare Disease Day, so I shared my morphea awareness post on Twitter and Facebook.
  • My delightful optometrist prescribed me some antihistamine eye drops, and my eye started watering again, so now I have figured out how to use eye drops successfully. And no one had to tackle me like on Friends!
  • A dear friend hosted her annual tea party. I enjoyed blueberry jasmine tea, a butterbeer cupcake (it was Harry Potter themed), and much girl talk.
  • I went up to Ft. Worth to see Mr. Man. Due to my car repairs, I got to drive a rental, which was good and bad.

So what’s new with you? What are you saying currently?

Currently is hosted on the first Wednesday of each month by Anne of In Residence. This month’s guest co-host is Carrie of A Stylish Fit. Won’t you join us?

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