Monthly Archives: July, 2017

7 Quick Takes on My GTD Anniversary, Pizza Scissors, and the African American Dream

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

— 1 —

My emotions these days are a bit of a throwback: I’m eager for school to start as well as anxious. I’ve been out of the classroom for a long time, but I’m glad to be getting back into it. I’m glad to have a career again, but I’ll miss the aspects of my life that I felt like I could only have because I had just a job. It’ll be an interesting ride.

— 2 —

As of June 27 (these takes have been a long time coming), I have been using GTD for three years. It’s been amazing, and I can’t stop recommending aspects of the method to everyone. It has changed my life in so many ways, and I am so thankful.

— 3 —

I don’t generally get involved in politics, but I read a feature-length political article by Anthony Walton in an old issue of Notre Dame Magazine. It spoke to me in particular in its discussion of the Black Lives Matter movement and the legacy (positive and negative, real and perceived) of President Obama. Here’s my favorite part:

There is an irony, both tragic and celebratory, at the heart of our society: young people of color grow up hearing about the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, and they believe it. They want to hold the nation to its promises, they want to belong and be Americans, free and equal, as they understand those terms. And every generation understands the promises of our founding documents a little more intensely and insists a little more on the full implementation of those promises.

This is, I think, what lies behind Black Lives Matter and many of the other protests enacted around the nation. In another country, one which has not made such promises, there would not necessarily be such a sense of failure. Black Lives Matter protestors are expressing a belief in the system; framed this way, the question becomes: Can the system live up to that belief?

This is why looking at Obama as an individual, whatever one might think of him as a politician (and setting aside, for the moment, the irrationally partisan and race-driven attacks upon him, there are dissatisfactions a reasonable person may have with his performance), is worth our while. In my view, in many ways Obama is the most important black man in history, beyond Martin Luther King, beyond Nelson Mandela. This is not because of his celebrity, accomplishments or lack of them while in office, but rather because of the way he matter-of-factly mastered and rose through the tests and trials of U.S. society. To put it simply, he won the highest political prize of our nation through playing by the rules. He battled and prevailed in many different arenas: academia, law, publishing, politics. He learned how things worked, how achievement is accomplished in the secular world — an important point because so much previous outsize black accomplishment had been based in religious institutions. He showed a path.

Obama’s life and career is a model for blacks and people of color on how to progress to the highest reaches of our society: work hard, get educated, get qualified, learn how to contest the career and workplace circumstances you find yourself in and, with a little timing, a little luck, who knows what might happen? He mastered the politics of Harvard Law School, the politics of Chicago, the politics of the Democratic Party and the politics of national elections by learning the traditions and rules of each context. His was, for want of a better term, a “secular” triumph, the next step in African-American progress in society, following on black athletes and business executives, stating his case to the electorate and receiving their endorsement.

One would think that whites, whether they agreed with his politics or not, would see his career and achievement as something to be celebrated, something to be pointed at, not because of any “Kumbaya” racial fellow feeling but because it encouraged millions of young blacks and other folks of color to believe they had a chance in our society. That the way for them to advance their hopes and dreams was in the library and at the ballot box, not in the streets.

— 4 —

Duolingo understands religious life!

"La profesion" is illustrated as a religious profession of vows!

That picture is not helpful if you are (a) trying to learn Spanish just using Duolingo and (b) not familiar with Catholicism, but it made me laugh.

— 5 —

In other strange things spotted online, pizza scissors are apparently a thing. I know cutting a pizza at home can be tricky, but it should be done by grown-ups, and grown-ups ought to know how to use a cutting board and a knife.

— 6 —

Being a Marylander living outside her state for years now, I’ve gotten good at spotting Maryland license plates on cars. I saw one a few weeks ago with a totally new standard design, and it’s so pretty!

"MD PROUD" license plate

I never liked the lame War of 1812 plate, and the original (from my lifetime) was very plain. The new one is perfect.

— 7 —

I liked a lot of the items in a recent Verily post about dating in your thirties. Happily, I don’t relate to all of them, but some ring very true. (I also note with amusement the reader comment from someone who complains about how irrelevant Verily is to her. She’s reading it, isn’t she?)

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

Booking Through Thursday: Format


All other things (like weight, cost, and so on) being equal, what’s your favorite format for a book? Hardcover? Paperback? Old? New? First edition? Digital? Audio?

“All other things being equal”? Weight makes a big difference! I remember going on long trips as a kid and agonizing over packing CDs. My CD wallet could only fit so many discs. Did I need the booklets? (I never actually needed them, but I always felt like I would if I didn’t pack them anyway.) Would I need extra batteries? These days, I just have to remember to add my Advent, Christmas, and Winter playlists to my phone (or remove them, per the season) and to charge the thing.

On the book front, weight still matters a lot. I’m not about to carry around the later Harry Potter books. Even those paperbacks are fat. If I’m nearing the end of any book, I don’t want to take it on a flight, because I might finish it mid-trip, and then what am I supposed to do? Packing two huge library copies is asking too much, and I prefer not to read e-books on planes because I want to save my battery power for my boarding pass, GPS, and texting.

So I don’t think this is a fair question, but I kind of like that. It’s unfair because we live in a world where audiobooks can be downloaded in minutes even though hardcovers don’t fit in purses. I like that world.

For more short queries about books and the reading life, visit Booking Through Thursday.

Sunday Style: Are You Rich Soil for the Word?

We returned to Mr. Man’s parish this past weekend. This week’s homily didn’t shoot straight to my heart like last week’s, but Jesus game, so Mass was good. Here’s what I wore:

Sunday Style for July 15

Dress: Marshall’s, from forever ago
Shirt: Target
Shoes: same sandals from Target I’ve been wearing constantly this summer
Necklace: holy medals
Earrings: gift

I originally bought these sandals because they were (a) cute, (b) available in the store in my size, which is a rare occurrence since I have large feet in proportion with my height, and (c) not flip-flops. My friend Sabrina posted an Instagram photo of herself trying on some shoes several years ago now, captioning it with a comment that being an adult means less wearing of flip-flops and more wearing of real shoes. I took that to heart, so my $5 Old Navy flip-flops became inside shoes only.

Upon reflection, I’m not sure she really meant to make a jab at flip-flops. I think she was just (or also?) acknowledging that cheap shoes are best for younger feet! My grocery store job requires special shoes. Mine happen to have memory foam and be designed for food service work (i.e. standing for several hours nonstop). I can really feel the difference when I come home and change to much less supportive shoes.

It’s particularly significant because I have to wear shoes or slippers all the time (including around the house) due to chronic knee problems. I should probably put in some time in the coming months to buy better shoes.

This is supposed to be about church, though, not about adulting. Deacon P gave the homily at Mr. Man’s parish. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, his attempt to make the readings “relevant” did not pierce me the way Fr. J’s did, but I appreciated his comments on Scripture. That is to say, in discussing the parable of the sower, he reminded us not to take the Word of God for granted. We hear it proclaimed every Sunday, but do we provide God with rich soil for the seeds of his Word? Do we barely let him onto the path of our lives, or do we fill up our hearts with so many other concerns that they’re like thorns choking him out?

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: Just What I Needed

I’m still adjusting to my random work schedule, but this past weekend (and the coming one!), it allowed me to go back to Mr. Man’s parish. It was comforting to be back in a familiar parish, but I also felt awkward because I have been obviously absent for so long. It’s a tiny parish, the kind where you might actually notice someone’s not showing up. It is a welcoming parish nonetheless.

Here’s what I wore:

Sunday Style for July 9

Dress: Old Navy
Shirt: Target
Shoes: Payless
Necklace: holy medals
Earrings: I don’t even remember, and you can’t see them, so we’ll call that a wash

A friend of mine once compared this dress to fireworks. I can’t deny that such a comment and a recent national holiday were on my mind when I picked this dress for this Sunday. I also chose it because I knew it’d be comfortable for the picnic/party Mr. Man and I attended after Mass. (And it was!)

Among my homily pet peeves are attempts to make everything “relevant” or near-accusations of the emotions I must be feeling. Thanks be to God, I don’t feel broken all that often, so a homily directed at the broken, for example, specifically doesn’t reach me. Fr. J managed to subvert that annoyance by finding a perhaps perfectly broad audience for his homily: those who have labored and are burdened. I can relate to those feelings a lot, and I was physically tired from a long work week and a packed day of chores. So yes, this time, I was feeling burdened, and I could relate.

He said that our world is filled with stressors: real, perceived, our own creation (“time-saving” gadgets that go awry, like my dishwasher when I ran it full of dirty dishes and empty of detergent), and those forced upon us. However, Jesus beckons us to come to him when we are burdened. If we’re sad, he’ll be sad with us. If we just want to rest, he’ll rest with us. If we’re angry, we can let him have it. He can take it. He was crucified; he can handle some yelling and fist-shaking. Living with God doesn’t need to be another stressor. It should be a place of rest.

When was the last time a homily spoke just the words you needed to hear?

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: July 2017

Currently at Lindsay Loves

Whew! My June was a whirlwind compared to my May. This month’s Currently day is a little later than usual, though, so I think I’ve recovered enough to summarize June for you.

Here’s what I am currently…

Documenting: All of my new-employee information, because I actually got two jobs. I have a full-time job for the summer at a local grocery store. I work in the hot foods department, which is tough, but it’s better than nothing. (I had nothing for a while, remember?) The employee discount comes in handy, and it’s good to have some income again. I also lined up a full-time teaching job for the fall. All my previous experience has been with high school, but I will be switching to middle school this year. I’m excited to finally be back in my field!

Accomplishing: More in my mornings than I ever have outside of retreats. Before I started working again, I had successfully shifted to a rough 9-to-5 schedule. I got up relatively early, completed some solid personal work before lunch, and called it a day on “work” before dinner. It felt good, almost normal. On the other hand, my grocery store job has a flexible schedule, so I have lost the standard weekend (I get two days off each week, but they’re almost never on the weekends, because that’s when many people shop for groceries) and the typical workday. I did, however, manage to train myself to get things done at home in the morning when I work in the afternoon and evening. It’s weird to eat lunch at 4 p.m. and dinner at 10, but I manage. Shifting just an hour or two later each time my shift, well, shifted has helped immensely, and that’s how I plan to transition back before school starts.

Enjoying: The confidence that comes with not being unemployed anymore. This was not my first period of unemployment, but it took a big toll on my self-esteem and sense of self-worth when it was combined with my big move. Like the other times, I wish I had completed more personal projects when I wasn’t working, but I’m also more satisfied than ever with what I did accomplish. Thanks, GTD!

Reading: Shamefully, almost nothing! My current line of work is so different from my old job that my old habit of reading while eating lunch has completely fallen by the wayside. I also dove into the huge task of reading my backlog of alumni magazines. Add in the monthly newspaper from my old diocese (which I should probably stop getting now) and the weekly newspaper from my current diocese, and reading an actual book never came to the top of my list. I’ve got nothing in the queue for tomorrow morning, though, so back to my book at breakfast it is!

Spending: Not very much. Working at the grocery store doesn’t exactly pay well. I did take Mr. Man out to dinner (at IHOP; I love IHOP) for a tiny celebration of my restored self-confidence. It felt pretty great.

Recapping: June

  • I was hired as a teacher again.
  • I won a free hard copy of Deep Work from an Asian Efficiency webinar. Don’t let the name fool you; AE’s advice is for everyone and is top-notch.
  • Mr. Man and I went to Mass in Spanish.
  • I celebrated Independence Day a little early, again with Mr. Man’s family.
  • I learned how to tell the front of a rotisserie chicken from the back and a chicken breast from a thigh. I almost never eat chicken off the bones, so I struggled!

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

Currently is hosted on the first Wednesday of each month by Anne of In Residence. This month’s guest co-host is Stephanie of Wife Mommy Me. Won’t you join us?

Sunday Style: Just Like Old Times

These past few weeks and weekends have been challenging, so I’m back to a Sunday Style two-fer.

June 24 (vigil)

Sunday Style for June 24

Top: Target
Skirt: Old Navy
Sandals: Target
Jewelry: Charming Charlie

Flipping through my photos as I write this post, I’m realizing that I wore this exact same set of necklace and earrings last week. Oh, well; it looked good both times.

I let Mr. Man pick our parish for this weekend. I needed to attend a late vigil Mass to accommodate my work schedule. (Always remember that you can shop and eat out on weekends because other people work then.) We had two options, but one was in Spanish. He picked the Spanish one!

I’ve been to Mass in Spanish before, and I understand some Spanish, so I was fine with that. He is still learning, so we met in the middle. I paid attention to the Spanish the same way I would if he hadn’t been there, and I found the correct sections in the bilingual missalette to help him supplement what he was hearing. It helped immensely that the Mass was the same format we’re used to in English. I knew what the words were in English at a given point, so I knew what Spanish words to look for. It was an adventure.

I wasn’t quite confident enough in my Spanish writing skills to take my homily notes in Spanish, though, so I took them in English. In retrospect, taking English notes from spoken Spanish was probably just as difficult as taking Spanish notes from spoken Spanish would have been. Every time I wrote something down, I switched to mentally processing in English, which meant I wasn’t paying any attention to what the priest was saying because that was in Spanish. That’s why I took notes in Spanish when I took my Spanish classes in college. Code switching is tough!

The priest focused on Jesus’ admonition that the disciples not be afraid. “No temas” is that command in Spanish; he said that a lot, which confused Mr. Man. He kept hearing “no te más,” which is nonsense. As the priest said, we should fear losing the intimate relationship between God and our souls more than we fear any earthly pain. We should behave like children of God, even as people try to cause us to stumble like the mutterers did to Jeremiah, and instead worry about eternal condemnation.

He also told a brief story. I couldn’t decipher whether it was about him and his own father or a random Story Young Man and his father, but the scenario was a father giving advice to a son seeking a wife. He said to look for a woman who fears God, one who will not likely be found in bars and dance clubs. If she fears God, she will be holy and faithful to her husband. That seemed like good advice.

I don’t think we’ll be going to Mass in Spanish again anytime soon, but it was a fun diversion from our normal.

July 1 (also a vigil)

Sunday Style for July 1

Entire outfit except the earrings: Target
Earrings: craft fair

I used to wear this outfit on Thursdays. I had dance class on Thursday evenings, so all I had to do was change my top to active wear and I was ready for class. It’s built around the skirt and leggings, though, so that made it a Mass outfit, too.

My schedule clashed with Mr. Man’s, so we went to Mass separately for the first time since I moved to Louisville. I missed him. I attended yet another parish I’d never visited before (the late vigil option in English), which had a visiting priest from the Philippines. Most of his homily was his appeal for a home for aging religious in his diocese, which he connected with Jesus’ comment that anyone who gives only a cup of cold water to a disciple will receive great reward. Building the home is like drawing water. It was nice to have a mission appeal connected so well to the day’s readings.

He started his homily, though, with a comment on loving family more than Jesus. It stuck out for me because it wasn’t connected to his appeal at all (which I appreciated). We’re supposed to love God even more than we love our families. Perhaps, he suggested, couples who fall out of love with each other have really fallen out of love with God. Without their love for God at the center of their relationship, it falls apart.

I miss belonging to a parish, but I’m glad to have opportunities like these to stretch my Mass experience a little and explore the greater Church here in Louisville.

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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