My COVID-19 Boundaries

just a great pic from my trip last month

I’ve been consuming news and social media at a higher rate than normal, much like others and more than I typically do. I’m happy to be part of many online communities that were just additions to my daily life before now … but now are my community and interactions. Not every state is in the same place regarding social distancing and self-quarantining at this moment, but we are in the beginning of a global pandemic. It’s not an exaggeration or an over blown thing the government is ‘spouting off this week.’

So after scrolling Facebook and seeing someone (who is officially employed by the Church) saying things like the “government can’t force us to not have Mass, it’s a violation of our rights” and then continuing to spout off a lot of stuff that’s not helpful, nor scientific. Everyone believes they’re an expert, but the only thing I’m actually an expert in is me and the boundaries I need right now. So these are my boundaries right now to keep myself sane.

Limiting Who I’m Informed By: I’ve got to limit my news sources. I’ve chosen a few for coverage like the New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR. The 1st and 3rd are my regular news sources, but I don’t need all-day coverage. I also don’t need sensationalized coverage.

With this I need to stay off Facebook because my news feed is just a cease-pool of humanity (also composed of my friends and family … but they are not at their best on that platform). I’m staying on Instagram, but muting and un-following people who are negatively contributing to my mental health and emotional stability.

Social Media Usage: And following people who are providing hope and light right now. My favorite new follow is: Good Good Good. Kristen Bell and Rachel Hollis area also great follows for joy and goodness. There are lots of amazing spiritual life posts that I can’t help but share in my stories, so if you want to get them too, just follow me! I’m also participating in Blessed is She’s VBS (Virtual Bible Study) on Luke that started today. Which leads to my next area.

Being Intentional About Spiritual Life: It would be easy to stay home from Mass and do nothing. We’ve been excused of our obligation and some might take that to mean they can begin sleeping in on Sunday. I found a Mass that I could watch at a specific time for Sunday Mass and prayed the Rosary beforehand like I typically do at the parish. Looking for a new Mass though that’s live streamed and not previously recorded or even “produced” in any way. I just want to attend Mass with a community, with a moment of prayer during Communion. I think this is the one I’m going to attend from home next Sunday: Mass from America’s Catholic Church. I’ve also really appreciated this live stream of Eucharistic Adoration.

Staying Active: I made a commitment months ago that I was going to work out for 30 minutes every day, and I still am. Morning yoga has been my jam for the past few weeks while recovering from a cold I got while traveling (I’m better now), but later this week I’m going to add my cardio/strength routine back in. I’m not letting this be a time of staying up late and then sleeping in late … my alarm’s still set for 6:20 am. Walking outside when possible, while also social distancing.

Cleaning All the Things: I’ve been needing to clean my shower and bathroom and bedroom and whole house really for a while. So I started with a deep clean of my bedroom and bathroom on Saturday. Curtains, sheets, vacuuming behind things, etc. I even cleaned my shower, which does not regularly get cleaned while I’m getting cleaned. Then my office, guest bath, and hallway the next day. Next step is downstairs!

Reading All the Things: I’m also reading more (I know, more?! How?!). I gave up TV for Lent, so I’m trying not to watch movies and shows and instead pick up a book. I wish I’d grabbed a whole shelf when I was at the library last week, but alas I’ve got many books that are unread on my bookshelves. Probably enough books to last 26 weeks of quarantining instead of the 2-6 that we’re going to have to do. So if you need a book, let me know! Also the library does eBook lending via Libby and Hoopla, so there’s an unending supply should I run out of reads. I do have a favorite books I might re-read like Kara Isaac’s Christian Rom-Com’s. I also could dive deep into Anne of Green Gables, the antidote to a global pandemic since she’s just so delightful!

It’s really only day 3, the 3rd day of being 35 and I’m so grateful I was able to celebrate my birthday last week. Never before has a birthday brought in “such a new day” right afterward. Here’s to a few weeks of quarantining and social distancing to hopefully be back to normal by Mid-April? May? The summer? Soon!

35 Years Worth of Adventure

I was so disappointed to turn 25 and feel like I’d accomplished nothing. So disappointed that I put together a list of 25 things to do in the next 25 years. I’ve accomplished some, but it’s become less important to even look at in the past few years.

Then when I turned 30 I prepared by writing down all of the lies and expectations I and the world had told me I was “supposed to have done” and burned them. I couldn’t take the pressure to “be someone specific” any more.

Now at 35, I’m just thinking about all of the amazing things I did or learned or experience last year. What a fruitful year this 35th trip around the sun has been. So here goes, a list of them, 13 to celebrate a fantastic Friday the 13th birthday!

1. I learned that Florida Targets have a better selection of jeans than North Carolina Targets … ones that fit me perfectly!

2. I feel better about myself when I have clothes that fit, even if that means buying a bigger size when I’d prefer not to or spending more money to get something of better quality.

3. Going after my dream just because I want to is a valid reason to pursue something new. I don’t need to apologize for dreaming of something different today than I did ten years ago.

4. I completed a certification in Conversational Intelligence and now count myself as a certified coach (among thousands). I also got certified in Change Management Style and Navigating Change. And Emotional Intelligence. It’s been quite a year of growth!

5. Speaking of personal growth, I found a counselor who’s taught me how to see my worth for what it is, not what the world tells me.

6. I learned how to name my emotions, figure out what I need, and live in my Adult Chair (there’s an amazing podcast about that)!

7. I’ve also done some serious “thought-work” inspired by Kara Loewentheil’s podcast, which is amazing. Just because we find ourselves thinking a negative, limiting, or anxious thought doesn’t mean we have to continue to think that.

8. I spent 2 weeks in Italy and Portugal, two places I’ve wanted to visit for a long time and I purchased a ticket and went. It was as delightful as I imagined it would be.

9. I’ve worked for the past 6 months trying to clear up my acne in a natural way to take care of my skin better! I’ve also been working out every day for the last 6 months, which has been amazing for changing my perspective on the world and my mood. Also, drinking all the water!

10. I love to read. I’ve always loved to read, but in the past few years I’ve taken control over my reading life and been more intentional. I’ve always got a book going and find that I read an average of 200 books a year. And I love it!

11. I have a type, regarding genre. I know the books I like and it’s okay that that’s what I read most often!

12. I’m capable of doing amazing things … like coaching parishes to transformation or helping to transform an entire diocese!

13. I have amazing friends who let me love on their kiddos as often as I want. My godson and his brother have brought me some of my greatest joys these past years. I’ve always dreamed of a boy smiling and running to great me whenever I walk in the door, and I’ve got it in both of them.

My life isn’t what I thought it would be at 35. That I’d know more about the world or have a husband and kids. I do know more about the world. I’ve been given a family here in North Carolina better than I ever imagined. What will the next five years bring? I don’t know. Could be anything?

When I turned 30 and burnt all my expectations, I had a new job less than 2 weeks later that brought me to where I am today as a parish coach. I couldn’t’ have ever dreamed it would happen, but it did. So here’s to a year of adventure!

Some Quick Takes about Me

I discovered a new podcast and then thought, “I haven’t actually written about me and my life on my blog in a while, these people must be clambering for an update.”

So here goes … quick takes style.

1. I discovered a brand new to me podcast and I’m half-way through the 3rd episode (it’s 7:27pm and I started at 5:30pm). It’s called A Single Serving Podcast by one of my favorite writers on the internet regarding single life.

Shani has such a delightful outlook on the single life and today’s favorite was about Being Single and Shame … stop shaming single women because their single – I know you aren’t doing it on purpose, but you’re doing it.

2. Even sharing about this with other single people is hard because they come back and say “well I don’t experience that.” It’s fine that you don’t experience it, but it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with me because I’m feeling it. It’s not something that I have to work through before I magically met a man and he decides I’m now worthy to get married.

3. I making a tomato pie for dinner from a recipe I found in a magazine, and it’s making me super happy. I think it even looks like the cover – except my top is all tomatoes and theirs includes onions on top – they’re there, I promise!

4. I haven’t done much reading at all this week because I’ve been binge watching Poldark. It’s A-MAZ-ING … I might have texted the friend who introduced me to the series “I AM SO MAD AT ROSS RIGHT NOW!!!” Even with that anger, I think you should all start watching! Ross, the main man, comes home to Britain from the American Revolution after being missing for 2 years to his girl 2 weeks away from marrying his cousin and his father is dead. Now we see how he adapts to the new life that he never expected.

5. My tomato pie is done and it’s a little ‘explosive’! But it still looks and smells amazing!

6. I think I’m going to paint the inside of my front door this pink/fuchsia color just because.

I’m not allowed to paint the outside, but there are no rules about the inside, so I’m just going to live it up.

7. I also might ask Lowe’s if they have a kitchen sink installation person who can come give me a new kitchen sink because my garbage disposal can get a little gross and the back of the sink is coming apart a little bit.

Seriously y’all, that’s a little gross … and it’s as ‘clean’ as it gets!

Well, that’s about it y’all. Off to watch the series 2 finale of Poldark and then read the book I’m still only 75 pages into called The Farm which is excellent, just not more exciting that Poldark. I tell you about it when I finish!

Oh Sounds in Public Places

I’ll admit that I’m someone who has a fair amount of pet peeves. I’m trying to control my need for control, but being a recovering control freak is a bit of a difficult personality. I’ve been able to lessen my annoyment of things like drivers not “continuing when getting on the on-ramp or off-ramp when they have their own lane” … okay – the need to bold that last part might be evidence that I haven’t curbed this particular annoyance.

Let’s try another one … give me a second … I’m thinking. Alright, there are a lot of things that annoy me, but I’m not annoyed if you do them when I’m not around – which doesn’t seem like much, but that’s some serious growth.

The event that precipitated this post happened on a small plane from Pittsburgh to Charlotte today. There’s a older couple in the seats in the row in front of me to my right who are watching a movie … not annoying in and of itself … without headphones.

What?

I mean, WHAT?

If you’re a little kid and having a screen in front of you during a flight keeps you from being upset and crying – ok, parents, please, hand over the device. Did you forget the headphones? Okay. Does your two-year old not know how to used headphones? Okay. Your child is not a rational human being yet and we are all for here for anything that keeps them a happy flyer.

But anyone over the age of, let’s say, 10 who isn’t using headphones in a public space to watch a movie, listen to music, or have a telephone call. I’m not asking you to be perfectly quiet in a public space … but noise coming from your device does not need to enter into my ears. This isn’t a group event.

I was just sitting here trying to read – unsuccessfully because I’m tired and also all I can hear is your movie. Planes aren’t the only places where this happens, I think of the subway in New York.

I’m reminding of something my brother and SIL always say when that happens, “I’m jealous of their confidence in their musical style choices that they’d think we’d also all enjoy it.”

Spoiler Alert: we’re not all enjoying your music, movie, phone call, YouTube video, etc.

Letter to My Younger Self

Someone shared this article with me a few weeks back, and I loved it!

It got me thinking about what I would tell my younger self, or even my current self if I had a chance to go back. What would I tell this little girl?

That’s me and my grandparents when I was just a wee babe!

or this one:

me, my brother, and my baby doll at my aunt’s log cabin

or this one:

I mean, I was a cute kid! Look at that hair: amazing bangs & super cute pig tails!

So what would I tell my younger self? (or even remind my today self):

Just be who you are, that person is enough, is lovable, and is needed in the world. Without you the world wouldn’t be the same, so love big, laugh a lot, pray deeply, and find joy in the little things. Being able to see the small joys of a new frame to hang up or seeing a random hallmark of American life on the road or the funny twist in the midst of a hardship isn’t some ‘substitute for living a super interesting life’ … it’s a perspective that many people don’t have and it makes you unique. All of those things are the things to make you who you are … an unrepeatable, daughter of the King of the Universe … don’t hide it, share it with the world!

Questions I Don’t Like Being Asked

Are you seeing anybody?

How’s your love life?

Have you tried Online Dating?

So, what do you think about the Church Scandal?

Are you a pet person?

That last one is one of the worst ones for me. People think that’s going to be their common ground when they’re trying to find some … but for me, the answer is “no, I don’t even have a pet fish.”

I stayed at my aunt’s in Connecticut this past week and she has three cats (one is hers, two are my cousin’s who are hanging out there for a while). So after I stayed two nights and I was putting on my coat to leave she asked “are you a pet person?”

I felt a little guilty to say “no, actually I’m allergic and I don’t really like them either,” but to say anything else would be a lie that I’d have to live with the consequences for the rest of my life.

The thing about not being a pet person is that people don’t understand why you aren’t. Now I love a cute cat video or a puppy as much as anyone else, but videos and pictures are quite enough for me.

It’s true that I am allergic. My parents sent me to get allergy shots twice a week for years because it came out that I was allergic to dogs (a lot) and we had one they weren’t willing to get rid of (and honestly, I wasn’t willing to send it away either). Then when I was a freshman in high school I was holding our new puppy over in my neighbor’s yard and my neighbor’s big dog jumped up and went after the dog but he got my forearm.

With dogs I don’t know I can be a little scared of what they might do. I also, for certain, don’t want a strange or familiar dog running toward me. When people say “oh, don’t worry he’s friendly.” Is he? My neighbor’s dog was too, and he still bit me so hard I had to go to the emergency room.

I haven nothing against pets or people having pets. I do have an issue with the ‘therapy pet phenomenon’ that’s happening right now. I’m also not a fan of your dog sitting next to me on a plane.

And pets have no problem with me. Every dog or cat at a home I visit or stay in loves me, they can’t get enough of me, and they want to make me love them. Even cats … which isn’t really a thing that cats do very often. It’s like they can tell that I’m not their best friend and they just cannot let me leave without converting me.

Does this really matter in the end? Probably not. If I marry a man who loves dogs, will there be one in my house in the future? Probably so. Will I be the one who cleans up the yard? Definitely not. Am I still allergic? Yes, but because I’m allergic to the outside world including the flowers, pollen, and trees as well as dust and mold inside, I’m on all the allergy medicine anyway, so no worries there.

Living a Paradox

escharian_stairs_fb

I really appreciated this post from my friend Laura last year – “I am a political orphan.”

I’ve been thinking about that and also working through how I would classify myself in the current political climate. I feel like a paradox.

I want equal rights for woman so that makes me a bit of a feminist.

I believe every child has a right to life so that makes me part of the Pro-Life movement.

I don’t want big government which makes me a Republican.

I think our current administration is off their rocker when it comes to immigration which  makes me a Democrat.

Politically I think that puts me right in the Independent camp, which is where I’m registered. I can’t be all in on a party that includes abortion as part of it’s platform (ie: Democrats) nor can I call myself part of a party that would say “Donald J Trump is our best choice” (ie: Republicans).

Ideologically the feminists won’t claim me because I don’t subscribe to on-demand abortion for everyone all the time. Many in the pro-life movement won’t claim me because I believe in incremental laws.

I listen to Clare over at The Catholic Feminist Podcast and am on board 100%. I also listen to the guys at Pod Save America and think “you’ve got some amazing points.”

I believe we need some sort of boarder control (hello Republicans) but do not for a hot second think we should be arresting people as they cross and separating children from their parents (hello Democrats).

I didn’t want Hillary Clinton to be president (hello Republicans), but could not believe people thought Donald J Trump was the right move (hello Democrats).

Isn’t there supposed to be something in between all of these things? I wonder if that something is Catholic. We are both feminist and pro-life. We believe both Democrats and Republics have some valid points. We are both the left and the right. We believe Jesus was both God and Man. We know the Eucharist is both bread and His Body, Blood, Soul, & Divinity.

Maybe I just need to take a step back and not try to fit myself into any of these boxes.