WWRW: Link Edition

I have book reviews –  a slew of them! – but first, I need to share some online articles I’ve seen lately. Too depressing and too important for a 7QTF post, they are here. Read to know what we’re up against, and especially if you need inducement to shower, or even raise your blood pressure a few points.

The gist of this report on a limited German study on happiness is that by some particular measures, new parenthood is terrible, even more terrible on people than other tragedies. [Strike that: parenting is not a tragedy!] A former classmate level of friend shared this on Facebook.  She’s very much into the “anti-Instagram-worthy parenting” trend, chronicling both the adorable adventures with her children, as well as the reality that the challenges suck. I’ve read enough mommy blogs to “get that.” But my problem is that when it comes to defining happiness, “I do not think that word means what you think it means.” And even if it does, why is that the most important measure? And if it’s even not, why is the Washington Post making sure to tell everyone that of some 2,000 German people, a certain percentage that made a numerical majority reported that they were unhappy with the challenges that come with raising kids. Can’t journalism be GOOD anymore? You know, like maybe the reporter could have cited other studies that showed an uptick in happiness (I know they exist) after an overall child-rearing experience, not just in the throes of new parenthood? Hopefully your everyday educated reader will question it enough to know it’s not a whole picture, but in this culture that can so despise children for being “inconvenient” at times, you just know that the WP knew exactly what it was doing with this clickbait, shareable of an article with its headline. I just held my newest baby nephew (PJ’s sister’s son), and knowing what I know from reading far too many birth story blogs and hearing quite-enough-thank-you stories of new parenthood changes and challenges, all I felt was just a peaceful joy and love, a feeling generated by the even more peaceful and even more joyous-in-love parents. Happiness is related to joy, and it shouldn’t be treated as a good that you exchanged having a baby for. I ask you, what good does it serve the world to remind people “parenting is hard, and you won’t be all smiles all the time, and you’ll feel worse than at  [which it should be noted – but was glaringly not in the article – are due to likely-torture-level exhaustion and hormone imablance] other hard times in your life”? It only feeds the rabid “children are the most terrible terrible*, and let’s not have them, nor should you, person I don’t know” crowd. Instead, how about we support new parents, better connect happiness to joy.

Talk about not supporting new parents and not understanding happiness and joy AT ALL. My word. I happen to believe profit at the sake of all others is the absolute worst mentality. So it’s pretty stupid I work in retail. But more on why and how I’m changing that in a later post. Anyway. I just can’t with this company. There are so many issues with the website and how it can and has treated some authors and even publishers quite horribly. And now to see its inner workings. I know some bloggers and authors and families have had success with it and rely on it and love the little “use my link while doing your normal shopping and my children get fed” opportunity, but quite honestly. They way they treated the woman who miscarried. The one with the stillbirth! The dude whose dad was dying of cancer? I don’t care that it’s a corporation and it’s just business and workers should support the business. But DAY-UM. There are successful companies that do not encourage you to throw your co-worker under the bus or treat you like a robot or worker bee who can just answer 3:30 am texts from your spouse’s hospital bed and go to work the next morning, create a project, rat on Suzy for eating a 7-minute lunch when Joe only takes a 30-second protein shake shot because your career and your company [read that in a seething voice and imagine me spitting] are more important.  A Chik fil-A owner in Texas pays $11 an hour to start (I make less and am in a junior managerial role and live in a higher-cost-of-living state) AND paid the salaries of his people when the restaurant was closed for renovations. And guess what? They’re still open, and not broke. I am not asking you to quit Amazon cold turkey, but please read this article and then read last Sunday’s readings [Eph 4:32] and you tell me if this business and its principles are worth supporting.

I read this Vanity Fair piece while my husband was getting ready for bed. When he came to the room, I made sure to thank him for being him and that we were married, and privately thanked God that He led us together and I did not have to deal with this sh*t. That’s how disgusting it is, that I only have crass words to describe it. Plain old acceptable language is too good for this hit-it-and-quit-it mentality, this use of the human person, this objectification of an entire gender, this desecration of love. Not only my Catholic friends, but an a-religious, secular, liberal former flatmate of mine posted it. He was horrified, too. I got the sense from his post he didn’t want to be of this world any more than we do. Journalism ethics compels me to tell you that Chris Hayes of MSNBC did a segment on the article, pointing out the likelihood that the reporter probably was selective in who he interviewed, and NYC dating is likely a more a microcosm unto itself than in other regions. But still. There are people in this world, people we have to love with a Christ-like love, even though they sound like the most terrible terrible scum. And they way they treat others. They way they treat themselves! Do they not realize what this does to their very person? Their soul? I am at once thankful I don’t have to deal with it, fearful for those who do, sad for those who participate in it, and a little bit energized to try to do something about it, if not for this generation, but the next.

Now, I realize all of these pieces are quite negative. And my bile was quite raised. And other qualified writers/reporters have responses/rebuttals. And yes I realize the irony of falling victim to the very clickbait I’m railing against. But these articles give us a glimpse of the world we’re in. My intention in critiquing is to sort of brainstorm how we can possibly minister to these people/problems.

(Not a) Trophy Wife

I was never one for “advertising” through my clothes. So when it came to my engagement, I didn’t run out and buy all the t-shirts emblazoned with “bride,” “future Mrs.,” or anything like that, or buy them for my bridal party. Okay, once because it was on sale and I needed to hit a minimum for a Michael’s coupon, I bought a tank that said bride. And wore it once, on the day before my wedding. Now I see that Target has a line of tops for the engaged and bridal market. A pink “Bride” shirt (because pink is all women’s favorite color….), a gray “Mrs.” top, which I suppose I would wear, but I still like going by my first name to my peers, and, a black one with “trophy” in all caps. Oh, and these tops have been merchandised by many stores in what’s considered the “Juniors” section. Um.

I don’t want to write the problem of young teens identifying as “bride” when child marriage is a real, serious problem in the world. Or even that we’re treating it as no big deal that young women wear things to the mall and aren’t being trained to think about what they wear could signify…do they even know about the outside world? Instead, I want to join the chorus about that “trophy” shirt. A couple weeks after my wedding, it was the talk of the radio morning shows. On the first program, someone called in to say they couldn’t understand why some women were upset. To me it was quite obvious: a trophy is an object. And women are people, not objects. Even if they haven’t read Saint John Paul II’s wonderful writings on how we should not objectify people, they understand that we can’t take too casually a comparison of women to things. Dehumanizing a class of people is not good for the culture’s soul. This world and its history have seen too many examples of individuals or groups that started with small campaigns to dehumanize or use the groups of people that ballooned into full-scale evil acts against them. Now, I’m not saying a top at Target that might get phased out in six months is Step One in female suppression, but it does make me worry for society when it refuses, or worse, excuses plain examples of objectification.

The next morning, a different program, a different caller, and a different problem. A woman said that she thought the shirt was great. She was, essentially, claiming “ownership” of the word–as a wonderful wife and mother who did a lot for her family, she thought of herself as deserving a trophy. Because she used the construct of meriting the thing she was describing herself as, the male host tried to suss out the logic of what she’s saying. If she, as a trophy, is the thing that is won, then isn’t that saying her husband won her? The female host an the caller immediately jumped on him, thinking he was saying something offensive. All I could do was bang my steering wheel. No, no, no, no. They weren’t listening to him, and they certainly didn’t hear themselves. Identifying as a trophy–the lifeless, possibly plastic, object sitting on a shelf, perhaps collecting dust, perhaps sitting with a bunch of other forgotten awards in a box–is much different than earning a trophy. Do women deserve accolades for all that they are and do? Of course! Should men prize their wives, be worthy of them? Yes! But why be so proud about being a thing?

Lately it seems like everything and every word now has to be “reclaimed” or we take ownership over something. If you look at the history of trophy wife, it’s not something I or any woman should be proud to call ourselves–or to associate with our dear, sweet husbands. But why the need to take over the meanings of words? Or the need to “advertise”?  Perhaps it is because despite all the progress we’ve made in social, political, and financial equality for women, derogatory words and phrases are still around, and our protests have been ineffectual and women still feel that they are repressed, suppressed, or oppressed. That if we control the word then we can’t possibly be its victim. If women wore this shirt deliberately to provoke discussion on ingrained and cultural sexism, to demand that our social language and policies no longer denigrate the female sex because we’re successfully taking it over, I might be on board. But that’s not what’s going on. Instead, it’s meant for teens and other young women to think it’s funny (ignorant of the history and meaning) to the mall or the gym or the grocery store devoid of any context. Not only are we not thinking, we’re being told not to think to much about it, to not make a big deal. Now that is repression.

7QTF: Shout Outs to the Ladies

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Linking up with Kelly and the rest!

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Of course I’ve dropped the writing ball again, but this time only for two weeks! Progress! Like a lot of fellow bloggers recently married or about to be married hi, (Joan, Amanda, and Ciska!) I’ve been thinking about my blog and what I want it to be. And I think I want to keep it as I originally intended: reflecting on women’s issues and spirituality in the context of my own growth as a woman striving by the principles of Proverbs 31. I should probably do a content calendar, like Beth Anne has done. I’ll still write on the single life or relationships,  because as only one month married, do not think I’m in a position to write anything with authority on that subject, but if I do, to do so more from the angle of my own lived experience.

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Simcha Fisher is awesome. I don’t think there’s one thing she’s written that I’ve disliked or vehemently disagreed with. She gives me hope and an example of Awesome Catholic Lady. Her latest column for the National Catholic Register is no exception. On the topic of Netflix offering unlimited parental leave, she cheers the intention of the policy (if in her limited space is not able to delve into how such policies work) without once resorting to the mommy wars issue of women who work. And she takes a reasonable approach to breastfeeding, homeschooling or not, NFP, and women who drink. If you’re looking for funny, quality writing, and a well, real world approach to modern issues and life as a traditional Catholic, she’s your gal. Just have to give her that shout-out because she says what I want to say, just so much better. Go read her!

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Shout out To Target and Barnes and Noble, which allows women to breastfeed however they choose. We will not interfere with your practice, not even if another customer complains. You go ahead and feed your baby!

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Kathleen Eaton is awesome. She’s the founder of Obria Clinics, which sound amazing and a great service for women.

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To my sister-in-law, who’s due any day with her first child! He’s the first grandbaby for my husband’s family, so we’re all really, really excited.

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To my niece, who placed first in four events and fourth in one at the National USLA Lifeguard Association (Junior) Competition. One week after dropping time in her events at the Junior Olympics qualifier. She’s only 11. So proud to be her aunt!

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The ladies at Blessed is She. I recently joined the Facebook group, and it’s so lovely and refreshing to have their posts on my Feed.

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7QTF: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going

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Thanks to Kelly for hosting! Be sure to check out the fun!

Well, HI, y’all! It’s been, what, 4 months since I last blogged? It’s both hard to believe so much time has passed and yet so easy. Just what HAVE I been doing with myself? And now what?

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I GOT MARRIED! Oh thank Heaven for 7-11!

I have lots to say about getting married and wedding planning and the day itself, but for now, here’s a taste of such a joyous day.

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I got a promotion! I’m now a co-lead of a children’s department at a bookstore. This new job was offered on March 25, and I gave my “yes.” But now I have a lot of complicated feelings about it.

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Though it seems like the two events above are good enough reasons to have slacked on my writing, I feel they are not. I still read the amazing blogs of some amazing women who have so much more going on and yet still find the time to use their charism in the world. To be honest, in late Lent where I was spiritually was…not…good. Not in like a sin sense, but just a general torpitude. One of these days I may write about acedia.

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Where I’m going #1: Back to my old self. The one who spent her mental energies not on anxiety about issues surrounding the wedding day, but on composing blog posts in her head and setting aside an hour to work on a picture book manuscript, or even – gasp! – shirking her duties to draft pieces of a manuscript.

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#2: To a hospital sometime in early August. I’m going to be an aunt again! PJ, my husband, is going to be an uncle! His sister is due with the family’s first grandchild very soon, and we are all so excited to welcome this little guy. Of course, the timing of her pregnancy and our marriage beginning has prompted lots of questions, but PJ and I have decided not to be so open about our “plans,” intentions, etc.  The Internet can be a scary place for women, especially surrounding pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, that I felt no matter what we said, there might be unnecessary or hurtful judgy comments from the peanut gallery. Which I probably might make into a “Just Don’t Say It” post if Amanda at Worthy of Agape will take it.  Here’s our answer I that I think about covers it:

We definitely want children, and while we have a general idea, when they come is when they come, and we’ll be so very happy, and hope you will be too. 

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#3: To the World Meeting of Families! PJ and I are so excited to see the pope! And we will be excited to meet any of you who are going, too! If you are and want to try to meet up, do shoot me an email!

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#4: To where I feel God has been leading me all along. So much of the above is all interconnected, I think. I believe God is calling me to be a good Catholic woman, writer, and wife, and I will slowly start the process of integrating my whole life to express those identities in the way I think He wants me to, as opposed to me making decisions (work-wise especially) that jsut stymy progress or actually cause me to regress.

Pray for me, and I’m praying for you!

NAS: Dating Fasts

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Most of us have heard about them, but have you ever done a dating fast? If so, what was your experience? If you haven’t, would you consider doing one? Why or why not? Linking up with Jen and Morgan!

Throughout my single years, I’ve definitely had dating pauses. Some were just dry spells: no one interested me on CatholicMatch (if I was subscribing at that time), or the new people I met through young adult groups weren’t anyone God was leading me toward discerning a first date, let alone marriage with. But I do recall taking a deliberate break from dating. I suppose you could call it a fast. Unlike Lenten fasts, which so many seem to me are more about giving food or drink the power to be a torture device (I would only want what I was abstaining from more), this fast was not about giving up something good or neutral to be a sacrifice for God, but to cleanse myself of any disordered attachments, and to get some kind of clarity on what I was doing and why.

I recall the early days very vividly. I had just broken up with a guy about two months too late. After attending a Theology on Tap event (by myself) for the first time without the intention of “meeting” someone, but to learn and maybe have a pint of something tasty, a guy I’d made polite small talk with for a few minutes at my table followed me out to the bus stop outside the restaurant and asked me out. Flummoxed, I said I was going home to Florida for a bit (true), and he persisted to say “after?”, and it only took a few seconds to say no. I knew instinctively I should not go meet this guy for coffee. My bewilderment at this guy, an unspoken “what are you doing?”, was actually more a question for myself. “What are you doing?”

The past year had been fairly active for me–dating-wise. Only a couple stood out, but most ended within 5 dates. With the latest guy, I had thought more time (especially since we didn’t see each other every week), would help me feel more, but I realized after hurting him (by breaking up with him when he didn’t expect it) that we were not spending time together right, and none of the previous attempts at a relationship were spent “right”—and the only way to avoid getting myself hurt or hurting someone else was to first learn what would be “getting it right.”

For nearly two years, I didn’t date–mostly by choice. I spent the time learning about my faith, trying to develop non-romantic friendships, and be a part of a community. I learned a heck of a lot more about the beauty of chastity, the purpose of dating, what I wanted out of a relationship (not just a boyfriend–but a potential husband), and what I wanted the guy to want (not just a girlfriend–but a potential wife). It was an incredible feeling to go home after a young adult adoration night and tell my roomies about the joyous moment of growth: I had stood in a circle of people (including single guys) and did not use one iota of that time to fret over how I was coming across (dateable?), figure out how I could get them interested, or inwardly moaning that they seemed to be paying more attention to my bubbly friends than shy me. It was just a conversation, no more. I had lost the attachment. And for the most part, I was healed. My fast only lasted as long as it did because I was waiting to be sure that the reason I wanted to date again was “right”, and what’s more, finally knew what “right” should look like. My first relationship after the fast didn’t work out, but the whole process helped me be more judicious in who I did date and handle the relationship.

A dating fast–if done intentionally and for the right reasons–can be very healthy. It helps you discern not only your own motivations and desires and call, but also God’s will for you. Of course, like any fast, you can do it poorly (“I gave up men, but it’s a special occasion and I don’t want to be dateless, soooo…” or worse something like “I can’t believe I gave up dating. It’s awful. I hate it. I am miserable. I can’t wait until I can date again” every.day.). If you think something’s off about your dating life, consider doing a fast. It doesn’t have to be as long as mine–in fact, I’d argue that unlike Lenten fasts or diets, you shouldn’t start with a specific time frame, but see where the Lord leads you in this practice. If you need a guidepost for a minimum, use Jesus’s. At least 40 days in this “desert.” Or Mary’s–a 54-day novena. Or a summer or a year. Whatever is the time you discern God asks you to take.

As we all know, giving something up  may strengthen our detachment, help us be healthier, but doesn’t always lead to 100% perfect follow-through after. In other words, if starting a dating fast, don’t go into it with the assumption that the husband you’re still praying for will be there at the end, or feel that you’ve failed because you made mistakes you thought you wouldn’t repeat. And if you’re worried that maybe a dating fast at your age doesn’t seem sensible (believe me, nothing like being in your late 20s and just wanting to be married like yesterday, darnit), take whatever solace you can from knowing you’re doing something healthy and positive for you, the hope that maybe it can help clarify and purify the dating process, and the eventual joy from discovering what life gives you when you’re not busy with dude drama, but busy with your life: new hobbies, new friends, new spirit.

NAS: Travel

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How do you travel as a single lady?! Any tips or tricks you’d like to share? Do you have anything fun planned for this year?

Oh what a fun topic for such a snowy season. This post has me calling to mind all the big and little adventures I’ve had over the years. The most memorable was also the biggest trip I ever took alone all the way across the country to San Francisco to see a dear friend. I can still feel the warm sun on my face and hear the bay splashing as I hiked around Golden Gate Park before having lunch at a snazzy bar in a historic restaurant overlooking the Pacific. While D. and I had a wonderful time together (especially the wine-tasting–something so delicious about having champagne at 11 am on a Friday when everyone else you know is at work), the day I spent exploring the city alone was truly special. I don’t recall having done that before, excepting a couple hours here and there walking around Cambridge after class during a summer study abroad program. All my other trips have been with someone else (Dublin and Edinborough with my summer classmates; Paris, Switzerland, and London with my parents; Chicago with D. and our friend K. in college, the Keys with J. for a birthday) or just me flying solo to go home. These earlier experiences had me convinced that traveling with someone, and having someone to share the adventure with, was infinitely better than going somewhere alone and not knowing anyone when you got there. But after that glorious Monday in SF, I’ve softened a bit. I’m still concerned about the safety of it, and making new friends is hard for me, but now I think I’d recommend it. So, here are some tips (mainly safety!), based solely on what worked (or didn’t!) for me.

  • Research your lodging (if not at a friend’s or relative’s place) with TripAdvisor and the Bed Bug Registry (especially if traveling abroad or to large cities). I AM NOT KIDDING. Those spawns of Satan can cost you a lot of money to get rid of if they hitch-hike home with you.
  • If traveling or seeing a far-flung friend is important to you, really work at your goal to save the money and vacation time. Take every advantage and deal you can get. SF happened because I had banked enough airmiles through my credit card (took just a few months, thanks to a signing bonus and responsible management), and a work holiday, saving me a day out of the vacation bank.
  • If traveling solo and not meeting a friend you already know, do something at least once during your trip–blog, tweet, post to Facebook, Instagram, text, call–that lets someone who cares about you know not just that you’re safe, but having a good time. To put this caring person at ease, discuss beforehand what the “check-in” might be or how frequently (or not) it will be made.
  • Budget on spending more than you initially think you would like to. You don’t want to be the person fretting that the cab ride now means you can only have a salad at tomorrow night’s fancy goodbye dinner or the one on the ground while everyone else is parasailing or something. Don’t follow that advice to pack peanut butter sandwiches for your excursion (unless you’re in a theme park). Savor the city you’re in, eat their cuisine, and save the packed lunch and Ramen for after your trip.
  • If budget is an issue (no European or tropical vacations for this gal without some major assistance from others), but you still want to explore, try different locales closer buy (Montreal and Quebec City are like little pieces of France, I’ve heard); a beach is a beach, and probably cheaper in the south than an island somewhere. Or center your trips around seeing friends and relatives, and not necessarily the sights.
  • When traveling abroad, have a set, zippered pocket or spot in a wallet for your passport. Do not whip it out at the gate when you are carrying a bunch of newspapers and then dump them all in the seat pocket, sleep terribly, and forget all about it in the morning. Some embassies may not be open (or anywhere near your airport!) the day you arrive. (This horribly embarrassing story may be told in detail another time….)
  • Do whatever helps you remember the experience the best: take pictures, journal, eat!, get keepsakes or mementos, etc.
  • Ahead of your trip, buy postcard stamps. Pack a small address book (or put it in your phone). Then, while you’re away, pick some out and send some to loved ones or even yourself!

This year, I do begin the most incredible adventure of my life: marrying Mr. Sweet! I’m very excited to have a life’s companion to share my journeys. But before that, we are traveling back home for a birthday (the big 3-0!), bachelorette, bridal shower bonanza. He won’t be at the latter two, of course, but it will be so good to spend time with my favorite ladies. And speaking of spending time with ladies, events like work or hobby conferences, or the Edel Gathering leave the option out there for traveling solo (maybe with a baby in tow) when you’re married.* Until then, enjoy the world!

*Special note for anyone discerning the religious life: in some orders you do get to travel! For example, I know that the Daughters of St. Paul may send you to cities around the country–or even the globe! (London, definitely Rome.) If you’ve got the travel bug, it’s not necessarily a sacrifice you’ll be asked to make!

7QTF: Excellent Quotes about “Giving Up” for Lent

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Linking up with This Ain’t the Lyceum!

4 p.m. Pancake/Fat/Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday. I’ve just finished a homemade nutella “pocket” and still have no idea what I’m giving up for Lent. My head is full of retorts for why I didn’t give up sweets, how the “offering up” of something while good spiritual discipline, is purely voluntary, and why must Catholics spend the drudges of the year (February and March) pressuring each other to have The Best Lent Ever!!! (TM). Look, it’s not going to be TBLE!!! if it’s something forced. For some inspiration other than a vague “Maybe I might try to do daily Mass again this year,” or “what if what God is asking for me to do is get back to my writing for His glory?”, I went to the blogs. It was very easy.

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Here are some truly excellent quotes about the personal sacrifices we make. And at the end, I’ll reveal what I finally decided on.

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“A hard-core Lent that is full of penance is not necessarily a good Lent. Lent isn’t a survivor experiment. It’s a preparation for Easter. If you lose sight of Easter, your Lent is pointless.” (Taylor Marshall). So it’s okay to continue having coffee.

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“For the past decade or so, I’ve followed one simple rule when discerning my Lenten penances: Don’t take on any commitments that will lead me to commit mortal sin. It works. I drink my coffee in the morning, my “medicinal” beverages at night, and  Lent in my house today is far more peaceful, sane, and spiritually fruitful than it was 10 years ago. Which I happen to think is just dandy.” (Emily Stimpson). She gets it! And has her coffee, too.

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“I’d always heard that you should give up something good, but I didn’t really get why, so I just went with giving up cursing for Lent…Then I pictured myself rising on Easter morn’, taking a deep breath, and shouting the f-word. Umm, yeah. That’s why giving up something that’s bad anyway doesn’t quite have the same effect. So no sugar in my tea for Lent.” (Jennifer Fulwiler). Even she didn’t give up her caffeine.

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“There is no Lenten practice that will bring you closer to God unless you ask God to help it happen. If you get someone a present, you have to put the right name on the tag, or it’s wasted effort.” (Simcha Fisher) I imagine God sitting up in Heaven wondering aloud to Jesus and Mary how not having coffee is helping our relationship. Coffee brings people together!

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“Unless you’re a hermit, your decision will affect other people. The rule of thumb is that you get to choose your suffering. Not everyone else’s.” (Simcha Fisher) And for the sake of everyone, it’s really okay for me to continue having coffee.

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“Regular sacrifices can give us constant reminders of what we are supposed to be doing, but they can also become a substitute for what we’re supposed to be doing. If God is calling you to repair your marriage, going forty days without Snickers bars is probably not going to help.” (Simcha Fisher) So I’m going to have my coffee, because that will actually help with what I feel I do need to do.

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“The traditional custom of giving up something for Lent is voluntary. Consequently, if you give something up, you set the parameters. If you choose to allow yourself to have it on Sundays as to promote joy on this holy day, that is up to you.” (Jimmy Akin) So my parameters are going to be the following, with coffee allowed:

– Give up indulging laziness. No more claiming “writer’s block” and tuning into a repeat of Grey’s Anatomy or some other mindless daytime television. I will try to do anything else, and yes, maybe even writing.

– Give up not doing anything “spiritual” because it seems like I already do enough. I have Rediscover Catholicism to read, a plot bunny involving The Interior Castle to explore, and at least one hour every day (seriously) for Mass or adoration of the exposed Blessed Sacrament, or failing that, simply sitting quietly in a pew.

– Give up not writing. I can’t be honest and say that I will stick to a proscription of a certain amount of time per day or what constitutes as Lenten writing, but I can say that I can get over myself and at some point get back to what God asked me to do.

How is doing what I should be doing penitential? Well, I hate not having mind distractions, so an hour of something spiritual and quiet will be “better” reparation than skimming Simcha’s “older posts”.  How is writing, which can be very enjoyable, and maybe even profitable (if I sell the fruits of this Lenten labor), repentance? Well, think about some of the more creative penances you received in the confessional: yelled at a significant other, do a nice thing for them; missed Mass, go to more Masses. The past few months I haven’t been writing or doing anything particularly holy, so to make up for where I’ve failed, I’m going to literally make them up.

The truth is I’ve been in a spiritual funk, and I’m going to try to use this Lent to get out of it. It’s not going to be as cut and dry as 40 days of 952 words each and then total slackdom for the rest of Easter or agonize over whether my Lent is holy enough (or worse, holier than thou’s), but just the current season I have to grow in holiness. God bless you in your Lent!

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