Monday, March 19, 2012


I have a lot on my plate.  I'm working with a new company,  I'm in a long-distance relationship, and I'm working on getting healthier, both mentally and physically.  Trying to balance this while maintaining my existing friendships and familial relationships is stressful.  I feel like I'm juggling plates while on roller skates.

I've discovered through the years that while I intellectually understand "moderation", I just don't "get it".  I can't seem to put it into practice.  When I have a goal (like a half marathon) and I get into the groove, it's like nothing can get me out, BUT once I fall off the wagon it's no-holds-barred.  My diet goes to hell, I get lazy, and it takes monumental effort to get me back on track again.  I'm finding that while trying to nurture my relationships and handle my job, my diet is going to Hell.  The vending machines call my name all day long, even the candy and chips that I'm not all that fond of call my name.  I feel exhausted all the time. I don't want to get up early to workout (after all, isn't waking up at five to leave the house at six early enough, I rationalize).  I have all the good intentions.  The alarm is set for four, but then the snooze button comes into play in the morning.

I'm hoping that getting used to hearing the alarm go off at four will eventually wake me up enough that I actually get out of bed and workout.  My first goal is set it for four and get out of bed at 4:30.  Then hopefully I'll make it to 4:15 then actually get out of bed when the alarm goes off.  I know that once I'm up and working out I'll feel better, the day will start off on a good note and I'll be less likely to allow the machines to call me.

Well, there's always tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Proverbs 31: Portrait of a Modern Woman

Who can find a woman of worth? Far beyond jewels is her value.  Her husband trusts her judgment; he does not lack income.  She brings him profit, not loss, all the days of her life. She seeks out wool and flax and weaves with skillful hands.  Like a merchant fleet, she secures her provisions from afar.  She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household, a portion to her maidservants. She picks out a field and acquires it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength; she exerts her arms with vigor. She enjoys the profit from her dealings; her lamp is never extinguished at night.  She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle. She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy.  She is not concerned for her household when it snows—all her charges are doubly clothed. She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing. Her husband is prominent at the city gates as he sits with the elders of the land.  She makes garments and sells them, and stocks the merchants with belts. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and laughs at the days to come.  She opens her mouth in wisdom; kindly instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband, too, praises her: “Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all.” Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Acclaim her for the work of her hands,and let her deeds praise her at the city gates. - Proverbs 31: 10-31

This woman is a force to be reckoned with. She is a wife, mother, and business owner.  She is well respected in her community and brings respect to her husband and family.  She is resourceful.  To top it all off, she is also very modern.

People often view the Bible as antiquated.  I've heard many people ask "why do you follow a Bronze Age book of morality?".  When I read it, I find so much within: poetry, history, hyperbole, parables, allegory.  Sometimes you find gems of modern life too within the pages, modern things like this description of a good woman.  She is someone I strive to be. She isn't the doormat that many seem to think Biblical women are (though when people do say that I often wonder what Bible they are reading where they see women acting like doormats...Scripture is filled with strong female role models).  In Proverbs we have a married, working mother who is good in agriculture, math, economics, time management, communication skills, and with a work ethic that puts many to shame. She is resourceful and puts things away for a "rainy day".

I look at my life and when I compare myself to her, I see where I'm lacking, where I have to work harder, and where I have to be more disciplined.  What I wouldn't give to take this woman to lunch and pick her brain on how she does it all. She sees love as the choice that it is when she takes care of her family this way.  When I marry, I would want my husband to view me as a Proverbs 31 woman, and to be as proud of me as her husband is of her.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

It all started with a mouse -- Walt Disney

This past Friday, my mom and I came home from grocery shopping.  As we were unloading all the groceries and bringing them in the house, it was like a cartoon...all that was needed was to have my mother on the chair screeching, "Eek a mouse!"  I guess our roles are now relegated to her being the spider/bug killer and me being the mouse catcher/disposer of traps.

She points him out, and as I try to shoo him out the door he gets into the dining room.  You would think this tiny, furry, 2" long creature was 6 feet tall and 160 lbs with the way she was acting. He decides to hide out underneath a piece of furniture. I think she actually might have been afraid to go to sleep that night.

I tell my mom, "I'll go get some glue traps while you put the groceries away and start the water for dinner" (we were having pasta), and off I went.  I get back and she is still rather panic stricken that we have rodents in the house.  We've had them in the basement before, but until recently they have never been in the living areas of the first floor.

ANYWAY, so I come home with 2 boxes of glue traps.  We open one box and put three of the traps out in the dining room and family room with the fourth in the basement.

Morning comes, and two of the traps have a mouse in them. Oh yay!!!  Mice are stuck, but still alive, so you can see the muscles in their backs working as they realize the traps are going to be disposed of.  Mom holds the bag open for me while I sweep the trap into a dustpan and drop it in the bag.  OK, first mouse is disposed of.  I go to the second trap, sweep the struggling mouse into the dustpan, and drop him into the bag too.  Then the two mice start squeaking....I can only imagine one yelling at the other "you got me into said this would be a warm, safe place to raise our family....".  We quickly tie the bag shut and dispose of it in the garbage can in the shed, with the mice wiggling and squeaking with each step....  Since the other two traps are empty, we leave them where they are.

So this morning (Sunday), mom sees something wiggling out of the corner of her eye.  "Ellen," she yells, "I think we caught another mouse...come get rid of it and I'll take the bag out as I leave for church".  I get in the family room and there is not one mouse but TWO stuck to the trap (along with the spider plant).  I snip the plant branch, sweep up the trap, and get it out of the house.  I check the trap in the basement, and it isn't where I put it.  "Mom," I yell, "Did you push the trap further back?"   "No," she replies.  So I get the broom, and we pull it out, and there is a ton of dust/lint on it, and I can see where a tail may have gotten stuck, but it appears that he was able to free himself and push/pull the trap away from where I had placed it.  That is a strong freakin' mouse!  Looks like for the basement we are going to need the bigger, stronger rat-sized glue traps.

I hate glue traps because they don't kill the mouse, but they are far more effective than the snap traps. I don't find them to be humane, but I would rather get the mouse and dispose of him before he breeds any more than he already has. I'm allergic to cats, so I can't borrow someone's mouser for a week or so. 

We had hardwood floors put in about a year ago, and that is when the mice started showing up upstairs.  I wonder if a hole was created that they are getting through.  I really don't want to have to call an exterminator. *sigh*  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Amendment I (1): Freedom of religion, speech, and the press; rights of assembly and petition Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. - Bill of Rights, Constitution of the United States of America.

Recently, the New York Times ran an op-ed column that spoke about the contraception mandate.

The contraception mandate isn't just about contraception.  It fundamentally is about both the government intruding on the benefits a company must offer and about the Establishment Clause of the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution. It's about government deciding that an organization's mission is irrelevant when it comes to certain aspects of that business.

If I do not like the benefits offered by a potential employer, I am free to reject the job offer or attempt to negotiate a different package.  I'm free to pay for various things out of pocket or to purchase a rider to an existing policy to cover the things I want covered.  The Catholic Church is not really saying that "contraceptives should be illegal."  What they are saying is that Catholics who own and run businesses should not have to violate their faith's doctrines and pay for other people to use them, and for Congress to pass laws that force them to do that violates their First Amendment rights.

People liken the requirement of health insurance to the requirement of car insurance.  This isn't really a valid comparison.  No one is REQUIRED to carry car insurance unless they A) own/lease a car, and B) drive it on public roads. If you own a farm, for example, and have a truck that you ONLY drive on your property, not only do you not need car insurance, but you don't even need a driver's license or to register the truck (though if it breaks down, a mechanic would need to either tow it to his garage or do the work on your property).  In many states, if one secures enough cash in a specific account, they can even forgo buying car insurance (by self insuring) while owning/leasing a car and driving it on public roads.  I would even posit that in New York City, a city of 8+ million residents, only a very small minority of people are required to purchase car insurance because most people don't own cars.  For this to be a valid comparison, every person would need to be required to purchase car insurance simply because they are living and might ride in a car or bus someday.

In the case of EWTN, they are self-insured and they employ many non-Catholics.  Those non-Catholics know exactly who EWTN is and what they stand for prior to accepting employment, and they choose to work there anyway, even knowing that things like contraception, sterilization, and abortions will not be covered.  I doubt IVF or many other fertility treatments are covered either since those, too, violate the doctrines of the Catholic Church.  The mission of EWTN is to further the mission of the Catholic Church.  It was started by a cloistered nun, for crying out loud.  What this mandate says is that their mission and the right to practice the Catholic religion as a part of that mission is less important than providing coverage for prescription contraceptives and abortions for their employees.  If they acquiesce, then they are hypocrites (and sinners according to the doctrines). It forces them to betray the religion that they believe and are trying to promote.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Frustrations in Service

I'm early for just about everything, from work to movies, Mass to airports.  I hate being late.  When commuting I pad my commute time with an extra 30-45 minutes, when going to an airport, I'm there at least 1.5-2 hours prior to takeoff.  When going to Mass, I try to be there about 30 minutes early, particularly if I'm singing (to warm up and go over my music). I just don't understand those special people who can walk into Mass after the readings have been read, or into movies 10 minutes into the movie (not the credits or previews, but the movie).  I find these special people are the same ones who like to talk louder than a megaphone while in church or the movies.

I have a special love of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, and I'm blessed to be able to have a place to worship that way very close to home.  I'm a part of a VERY small choir (usually there are only two of us) and we sing the propers and hymns a Capella.

The propers change weekly, and since they are in Latin, they can be a bit difficult. A recent Sunday was no different.  The Gradual (which is sung between the Epistle and the Gospel) was 15 verses that particular week, and some of them were tongue twisters.  The woman I sing with showed up 10 minutes before Mass (I had already chosen the offertory and communion songs as well as the song sung during the Final Gospel).  Ten minutes!  We didn't even have enough time to go over the Gradual prior to Mass starting. I understand she has been worshipping in this form for years and is familiar with the various chant sequences so doesn't really need to go over the tune (just the words).

Is it too much to ask that when you are serving a community in this way that you show up to Mass early enough to go through ALL the music so that the worship goes smoothly and you aren't stumbling?  When we, as a choir, fumble in the music it is distracting to those who are worshipping with us.  We become a stumbling block for them instead of assisting them in their worship.

Maybe it is just me and I'm too demanding and high maintenance in this way.  I know this is my issue and not hers.  Patience is a virtue, but lately I haven't been feeling very virtuous.  I've been feeling judgmental and impatient.  OK, God, I get it.  I know I have to work on this, but do the opportunities in which to do so have to come so frequently?  Do I at least get partial credit for keeping my mouth shut instead of ripping her a new one?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

First Sunday of Lent

Psalm 25
R. Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.

Today is the First Sunday of Lent, a journey of reflection and penance preparing us for Easter and the Resurrection that began this past Wednesday with receiving our smudges on our foreheads.  As a Catholic, we are pretty well known for our rules and regulations.  You would have to have lived under a rock to not know that Catholics don't eat meat on Fridays in Lent without sinning.  We are known for our Lenten Fish Frys.

Catholics split sin into two categories: mortal and venial.  Mortal sin is called that because it kills our relationship with God (venial is still disobeying God, but it doesn't kill the relationship).  It severs our connection with him.  No one sins mortally by accident.  It requires grave matter, it has to be intentional (full consent), and you have to know it's grave matter (full knowledge).  We can kid ourselves and others, but we can't kid Him.  God knows if all three conditions are met.

I remember one Friday morning in Lent, I ordered a bacon, egg and cheese on a roll  with a LARGE coffee at a deli on my way to work.  Shortly after I ate it, someone walked by my desk saying "Happy Friday".  "Oh shit, it's Friday", I thought.  I was horrified that I had eaten meat; I was surely going to Hell.  Then I thought about it for a was early and I had forgotten it was Friday, which means I didn't have full knowledge at the time.  I didn't set out to say "Ha!  It's Friday, no one is going to tell ME what to eat!"  I didn't intend to "disobey".  God IS good.  He knows us intimately, and He knows when we are intentionally breaking the rules and when we aren't.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Finding love after 40

When I was in high school and college, once I started dating I really wasn't without a beau for very long.  Guys were coming out of the woodwork.  I think I might have been "single" for about a month, maybe two, at a time.  Of course, at that time I thought it better to be with someone, even the wrong someone, than alone.  

Somewhere in my late 20s I decided, after a particularly bad relationship, to do a little soul searching. I stopped dating or even looking for a significant period of time because I knew that I was the common denominator in all of those failed relationships and I had to figure out why.  I realized that I was terrified of being abandoned, so I developed a nasty habit of trying to predict what these guys wanted and tried to fill that mold instead of just being myself. I also realized that I was in love with the idea of being in love.  Those two things made any potential relationship a lose-lose proposition.

When I was ready to date again, the plethora of guys that I used to have dried up.  Where did they all go?  I mean, I know I was older, but so were they, weren't they?  

I tried the online dating thing. I spent several years on multiple dating sites, some more specific to a demographic than others.  I made some really good friends on one of them (it had message boards and members held various events all around the country) and even went to Ireland last year with a group of them (more on that later).   My beau and I met online through mutual friends. And we fell in love (with each other).

Dating in my 40s is very different from dating in my teens and 20s. There are more responsibilties and people to consider. I've met men from the online dating sites over the years, some I'm still friends with, others I will never see nor hear from again (thank God).  I'm always amused at people's reactions to us.  Some are happy for us. Some are not.  But their issues with my choices are theirs: I refuse to make them mine.