Saturday, December 1, 2012

Weight of Mentality

Pinterest has been invaded by spammers preying on women who pin, and pin, and pin about tips and tricks for losing weight. Women keep pinning and re-pinning these spam-laced pins because they believe they'll read them, eventually, and live up to the toned woman in the photo doing whatever exercise the spammer knew would catch the female eye.

They know how to get to us, don't they?

Over the past three years, I've been fortunate to finally find some success in this realm of my life and I want to share with you the "secrets." Not secret diet or the perfect all-over exercise regimen, but the real secrets behind the eyes of a woman struggling with her weight: the real weight lies in your mentality.

This is not a new idea. However, I know when I was unhappy with my weight, I plagued Google for every tip, trick, or motivation some stranger would share. This list is written for women, men, the overweight, the underweight, and for those who never really had to think about their weight.


  • Fear - when I was overweight, there was a constant and overwhelming fear that someone was going to yell something rude at me about my weight. I also feared that everyone around me saw nothing but the fat girl. This mental elephant sat on my shoulders for years and even after I had lost enough weight to be out of the medical "overweight" category.
  • Faking it - Though I constantly complained to my family about my weight and made a few little jokes with my friends about my weight, I tried never to verbally self-identify as the fat girl in public. I might comment about how other girls were little or compliment others on being cute and small, but I tried not to make fat jokes about myself. I think that's a slippery slope.
  • What is "enough?" - Another fear I had was that any success I had with weight loss would be quickly eclipsed by a bad snacking day or a gradual let down of my guard. I also told myself that I was worried that the success would be so great that I might get too skinny and not be able to stop. Now I see that this is really a crutch, but it is something to keep in mind. It shouldn't get in our way and if we're losing weight the healthy way, it isn't much of a possibility.
  • Boy-friendly sized? - Typical, right? I ached for years believing that no boy would date me unless A) he was 400 lbs or B) I was 100 lbs. This is like the hunger growl that creeps from your stomach during a quiet moment in class (no pun intended); an empty pain based on the untruth that I'm only as valuable as someone's first impression of me. Yes, the way I treat my body (ie. the cookie binging nights) is a reflection of how I treat my insides. Now that I am in shape again and have found my value within, I feel more like myself than ever before. Still, the poison I fed myself regarding my undesirability was the real turn-off. BONUS: it's quality of the man, not quantity or ease of "capture" ;)
  • Helpless anxiety - I once heard someone say that being addicted to food was a much harder addiction to overcome than any narcotic addiction because we can't quit food cold turkey. We have to coexist with food for the rest of our life. For those who have never needed to lose significant weight or keep any kind of restraint on your diet beyond avoiding cake, try to understand this: imagine hating how you look and knowing that the dinner (even if it's healthy) you just cooked for yourself is just another version of the food that added to your frame. For me, being overweight felt like I was wearing a rubber suit that was superglued to my skin. I knew it wasn't part of who I was (deep down, I believe I knew this), but I didn't see how I could remove it. There was a grey cloud of guilt with every single bite I took, unless it was a vengeful bite taken among several on a day I said, "Forget this! It's been a week and I haven't seen an ounce of difference!"
True cliche: Both of the above ladies are beautiful and valued. God created both and used their life trials to lead them to their true identity.

My final note here is that this is not a commentary along the lines of "bigger is beautiful" just as much as it is not a commentary stating that all women should be size 4. I believe we have a duty to our bodies as temples to work to be healthy and mental health is foremost (IMHO). 

If you have ever struggled with this identity crisis, do these resonate with you? What would you add?

If you have not struggled with this, would you share with us something that surprises you? Or challenge me! Please!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I Get To...

...marry my best friend!!

God is so good to me! A) Savior, thank You! B) Thanks for sending me a great dad! One who gave his blessing to C) My wonderful fiancé!!


In case you were wondering, I had Life for breakfast (yes, yes, I did) on the last morning before agreeing to marry my best friend! We went on a hike on, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful day in the whole wide world.

We walked up the mountain as boyfriend and girlfriend and walked down it as fiancĂ©s. Okay, so we didn't walk. I basically ran down that mountain.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wrinkled Love


Read my [first in a month] post at Ignitum Today! Here's a little to get you started:
This August, I went back to school to learn how better to teach, only partly because the smell of fresh notebooks and sharply pointed pencils fills me with satisfaction.
In my child development class, we learned that children’s brains are incapable of empathizing directly with someone else’s perspective until they reach eight-years-old. They can’t imagine what things must be like in someone else’s mind without injecting all of their own emotions.
It was at this point during the class lecture that I realized I am seven and a half years old.
My beau and I visit a Catholic Church-funded retirement home every month to celebrate the birthday men and women (boys and girls) in that community. Each month the group from our church brings cake, soda, gifts for the month’s birthday folks, and smiling conversation as we spend a little time with people who have little money and little entertainment beyond the confines of the home.
I love spending time with the people I meet there, but I didn’t noticed my lack of perspective until last month’s “birthday party.”
My beau adopted a grandmother, we’ll call her Pearl, who grew out of her sour face mood she held a few years ago and into a sarcastic, yet bubbly demeanor. Ask anyone but my beau and they will tell you it’s because of his attention to her and pushing compassion for her to turn her frown upside down. When I started visiting for these parties with him, I co-adopted her and we’re now a happy group as long as the Parkinson’s and arthritis remains at bay for the day.

Continue reading here.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Dear college students, Quick Takes 2


*1*

Wow, a whole year has gone by since my last "Dear College Students" advice spew-age and this time I have some new on-campus experience to back me up! This week was my first week of classes in three and a half years and I'm loving it all over again! It has prompted a whole new list of advice (it's a compulsion), so for those college students out there, this one is for you:

Phones - Oh my gosh. When I was in college, smartphones were extremely rare and very expensive. Few people had them. Yes, there would be a lot of texting and talking going on during the daily class commute, but good grief, nothing like I'm seeing on my campus now. PLEASE, just put your phone away. You will never have the opportunity to see as many people your age on a daily basis as you do in college and you're spoiling it for yourself by permanently positioning your head downward, flicking through Facebook, Words with Friends, and the weather (or whatever y'all are doing on there).

Headphones - I repeat: You will never have the opportunity to see as many people your age on a daily basis as you do in college. You can listen to music when you're doing your homework or when you're by yourself. Can't you just pay attention to the people around you during your walk? I understand some people are anxious and need to calm down with some tunes, but I suggest you'd be less anxious if you gave your mind some quiet time and absorbed your surroundings.

*2*
Smile - This is in-line with the prior nuggets of advice. Once you have mastered storing your phone and your iPod in your bag, notice how many people you're passing along the way. This is not high school anymore. It's OKAY to be friendly and to make people around you feel good and welcome! Smile at the passersby, say hello, wish someone a good morning, all because you CAN. I can't stress this enough: the real world doesn't often bring you into contact with as many strangers as you see in college. Revel in it!

*3*
Date dorks - I don't mean the term "dork" as an insult. It's quite the opposite! I love "dorks" and they are SO much more worthy of your time than the other (two word) phrase that begins with a D and ends with a G. In the last week, I have passed by so many potential two-words (yes, I judged them) and overheard some tales of their conquests. I've also passed by many "dorks" and I am here to tell you THOSE are the guys you want. THOSE are the ones who will respect you and be there for you (generally). Give THOSE guys a chance.


*4*
Trends - Feel free to ignore this one, as I am just about the least fashionable person on my current campus. I suggest not spending at ton of money on fashion trends. If it makes you feel better to be hip-shooby-do-hip-flip-city, by all means, spend $100 on a nice day dress you'll wear 3 times. Otherwise: no one cares if you're wearing something that is 'so last season,' at least not those who value who you really are. Treat yourself, sure! But don't go broke in the process.

*5*
Take the stairs - Plan ahead and make it a habit to take the stairs. I have walked about 20 miles in the last week, no joke. Ask me how much I walked on a weekly average during the last three years in the work force. The answer is closer to 20 meters. Enjoy this time in your life where you use your body as more than a mode of transport for your brain from the desk to the water cooler. If you make it a habit to take the stairs and walk when you can now, perhaps you'll hang onto that when you go into the workforce. 

Side note: when college students go into the workforce, they typically start gaining a few pounds, likely because they transition from walking everywhere to sitting at a desk 8 hours a day. Think ahead.


*6*
Just do it - My parents were extremely gracious to pay for my undergraduate education. I never realized the value of it, but I have a better grasp on that now. It's worth about $100 an hour in the classroom, everyday for a whole semester. Now that I'm paying for my own degree, you better believe I'm going to class with walking pneumonia. Snooze button? You're joking me. I call that the weakness button. The button for those who don't mind flushing their money and time down the toilet.

Just do your work. You have a spare hour, reread your notes. It's a rainy Saturday night and you're too tired to go out, get ahead on your paper due in two weeks. You have an awkward hour and thirty minutes between classes, spend your time looking over the syllabus and planning out when you're going to do which assignments on what day. Just do it. That's your job. It's a sign of true gratitude to your parents, if you're fortunate enough to have parents who are paying your tuition, and it's a sign of non-stupidity, if you're like me and saved up for three years just to empty your bank account for your education.

*7*
Get involved - Let me let you in on a little secret: you're not that busy.

How many hours per day are you in class? Three hours one day? Six hours on a really bad day? Ask your dad how many hours he's working his day job. Then ask him how many hours he "works" as a dad, taking care of your family. Then ask him what weekend activities he's involved in. Finally, ask him what he does in his spare time.

The majority of your time is spare time, I'm sorry to say. I know you're spending a lot of time walking, in class, studying, and fostering relationships. That's beautiful! That's what you're supposed to be doing at your age and stage of life! But don't stop there! Get involved with a club or three. Go to campus events. Meet the people in your class and ask them to join you for coffee. SPEND your time rather than letting it go by unaccounted for.

I want to offer a big plug for getting involved in your Catholic campus ministry club. Yes, it will be awkward to introduce yourself to new people and you may be intimidated by people who seem holier for you, but it's like choosing the stairs over the elevator: healthy choices beget healthy souls.

This is the time you've been waiting for and it's the first step toward a great new world! Make these habits now!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Vocation Confirmation

I had an Epiphany through Pinterest that had nothing to do with lace doilies, spray paint, low calorie cheese cake, or wedding table runners (per se...).

Last year, Sr. Lisa challenged me to examine my vocation and I did... kind of. Tony called me on my bull you-know-what, correctly so. I spent the next while asking a lot of questions I never wanted to fully explore.

Yes.
Truth be told, I didn't want to be a nun. I had just celebrated my six-monthaversary with my wonderful beau and I was looking forward to teaching my kids to swim and make perfect rice krispie treats. The best I could do in terms of openness to God's will was, "I want to want to do God's will."

So I wrote this, which almost tore me in half. My beau proved his worth to me and told me he wanted me to follow God's will, too. We've prayed, I've prayed, I've only really discussed it with him and my sisters for fear of over-thinking instead of over-praying.

I knew what I wanted (marriage) and I was 99% positive I knew God was calling me to marriage. I told God, many times (often in frustration), to just confirm it, already.

Continue reading at Ignitum Today.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A favor from YOU, please!




Hello friends! May I beg you for a favor?

A few months ago, I quietly shared that I am going back to school for a masters in elementary education. Woooohoooo!! 

So now for the favor. There is a (funny, but awesome) scholarship out there linked to how POPULAR I am and how COOL my friends are (that's you!). The more clicks, the higher my chances of getting the scholarship and the higher the chances of me sneaking Christian messages into public classrooms. 

Yes, I will have a crucifix and prayer cards on my desk. If they let me.

Please click here and then click "sponsor me" to help me become a grade school teacher! Just by clicking on "sponsor me" you essentially vote for me to get this scholarship. That's all! I appreciate your click!

I also appreciate you pinning this (click to pin), tweeting (click to tweet), Facebook posting, emailing, or ANYTHING you feel willing to do. Again, this costs NOTHING for you or your friends. It's just about clicks!

God bless you!

UPDATE:

For more scholarships: I highly recommend Fastweb to anyone who is even *considering* going to school to register and check it out.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Awkwardly Tagging Myself

In my vlog the other day, I promised to get back in the swing of things on my blog. Having been out of the swing of things for so long, I'm playing catch up on things like tag-you're-it blogging catalysts. Here's one from Katie from NFP and Me and I'm hopping on this wagon!

The idea: 
  1. The first rule is to post these rules.
  2. Post a photo of yourself then write 11 things about you/your life. 
  3. Answer the questions for your set in the original post. 
  4. Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them. 
  5. Go to their blog/twitter to tell them you have tagged them.
I'm the white girl in teal. So serious.
My facts:
  1. Boring, but way too true to skip: I have an extremely close family. My family is a collective best friend body and it freaks out anyone who sees us hold hands even after the Our Father ends.
  2. Yes, I belong to one of those hand holding parishes and I like it! Yes, I know that it's not necessary, but you know what? Sometimes it's nice to feel like a community with those kinds of things figuratively even though we are One Body in Christ literally.
  3. My mushy gushy parish provided the backdrop and method for me to meet my wonderful boyfriend. Before we dated, we had a great friendship wherein I felt a higher level of comfort than I've felt with ANYONE. Nuclear family comfort is different and they will always remain in that best friend spot in my heart, but my beau nuzzled perfectly into this huge heart cave that God made for him. How nice of him to think I'm pretty and to kiss me occasionally, too.
  4. I love IMAX movies. My dad is a teacher, so we got him to ourselves for "Daddy School" during the summers and IMAX movies remind me of fond times escaping the heat waves by dipping into the IMAX Dome for a little learnin'. I can't wait until this IMAX movie on Jerusalem comes out.
  5. I went to Disney World as a 9-year-old and then returned with my family as a 20-year-old. It still felt magical, a decade later. Even though I know it's expensive and probably a huge headache for parents of young kids, I still want to bring my kids to Disney World at some point.
  6. I laugh out loud every single time I watch an episode of Psych. More often than not, I have to pause the episode because I'm laughing so hard I can't see what's going on.
  7. I'm stealing Katie's first point and confessing that I cannot wink. I blink. I don't wink. Those muscles are very confused.
  8. My favorite book of the Old Testament is Esther and has been ever since I randomly opened to and read it as a tween. I suppose it didn't register that she had to sleep with the king when she wasn't married (which probably would have blown my mind since, at that time, I thought it was UNDERSTOOD that thou shalt not have sex before marriage). I just concentrated on how brave she was to stand up for her entire community of people when some mean guy (probably with a warty nose and parrot on his shoulder) was trying to hurt them. I am woman, hear me roar.
  9. I'm addicted to Pinterest. Need I say more?
  10. Two of my favorite TV shows are completely different than anything I have in my daily life: World's Toughest Fixes and Holmes Inspection. Gosh, I love those shows.
  11. I have wanderlust, but I'm extremely frugal. I'm also a compulsive planner without a spontaneous bone in my body. Terrible combination if you ask me, but I think this is one of God's tests.
Questions I must answer: 

  1. Weirdest class you've ever taken? I didn't stray too far from the norm with my classes, so the best I can do is a film studies class. We watched some weirdos in there and one scene from a B movie in particular still haunts my dreams.
  2. If you could only eat 2 foods ever again what would they be? Peanut butter and lasagna. Not together.
  3. What's your go-to belt it out in the car song? "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire
  4. What's the most OCD thing you do? I do a lot of OCD things, but one is that I canNOT deal with a piece of paper folded imperfectly. One little wedge of paper hanging off the end and I'm a loon.
  5. Favorite high school memory? Our class won a big traditional contest as juniors. Go Red and Gold!
  6. Won't you share your opinion on camping? Love it or hate it? Like it! I haven't done it in a long time. My only hang up on it right now would be fear of snakes. Once I'm in the tent, I'm having a great time.
  7. Weirdest thing you've ever eaten? This is relative, but I'm sure I've had some questionable meats at a few Chinese restaurants. 
  8. E-reader or real book reader and why? I prefer real books, but I read most of my books with my e-reader because it's portable and I spent a lot of money on it...
  9. Favorite TV show currently on? I think Holmes Inspection is still on and I just can't get enough of that show. Many of the "dates" I spend with my boyfriend involve that cheeky Canadian handyman.
  10. What's your favorite award you've won? I won a leadership award from my summer swimming league team and the coach who awarded it to me said it was because I "lead by example with [my] quiet confidence." Can't do better than that!
  11. What's your claim to fame? I invented Post-it notes.

Questions YOU must answer:

  1. Dream job? Forget your practical side. What would you really want to do?
  2. Bikini or Biki-no? ;)
  3. What is a secret weird habit you have?
  4. What is your guilty pleasure movie?
  5. What is your guilty pleasure television show?
  6. What's your favorite music genre? Be specific, don't cop out.
  7. If you're a Pinterestaholic, which kinds of things do you pin most of all?
  8. If you could change your middle name, what would you pick?
  9. Have you ever called in to a radio show and gotten through?
  10. Have you ever won a contest or giveaway? What did you win?
  11. What is your number one travel destination?
I laughed when I saw Katie tagged Pope Benedict and I'm looking forward to reading his contribution. For now I'm going to tag Christine (my sister), Hanna, Trista, Julie, Liesl, Melissa, and also the rest of #CathSorority.

Well, that was fun :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bodies and Bikinis


This week, Katie shared with us her post (after passing her big test, YAY!) defending bikinis. I would really love to hear more from the bikini defenders, so if you're willing to add your voice, please email me!

Elizabeth, who blogs with her husband at The Spark and The Flame, has a contribution for the Bikini or Biki-no series. Please enjoy!

At times, when the topic of modesty comes up in discussion, it quickly becomes a debate over which gender bears the most responsibility. Should the most modest women walk around completely covered? Or, should the most honorable men walk around blind-folded? What about modesty for men? Should they be covered too? I think that this “responsibility debate” both dodges and underplays the real issue at hand, which is the intrinsic value of our bodies. 

Our bodies are intrinsically valuable because we are human persons. The value of our bodies does not come from ourselves or from others. The value of our bodies comes from our creator, in whose own image we are made. To deny the dignity of our body is to deny God. Our dignity is directly derived from God, and without God, there is no source for human dignity.


It is appropriate to consider the proper treatment of our bodies in light of this very fact. Because our bodies have such value, Karol Wojtyla tells us, “the role of ... the means to an end determined by a different subject is contrary to the nature of a person.”


This means that the use of one person’s body by another for the purpose of pleasure or gain is contrary to the dignity of the person. We are told in Theology of the Body that the opposite of love is, in fact, not hate, but use. It is our responsibility not to encourage the use of our own body or that of another as a mere object. To do so is a profanation of the human body. Lust is the common name of that act of using the human body as an object.


What does it mean to use the body as an object? “Objectification” is defined (dictionary.com) as “to present as an object, especially of sight, touch, or other physical sense.” In this definition, the first emphasized sense is that of sight. I think one of the easiest and most clear means of presenting one's body as an object occurs in situations in which that body is scantily clad. Scant clothing automatically sexualizes the body, and invites others, people you don't even know, to use your body for pleasure. It makes the body into a tool for a purpose, a means to an end. Use is still use, even if it is visual rather than physical. Our bodies are too inherently dignified to be subjected to such a purpose. 
I love how deliciously cheesy this poster is.


Modesty is not about shame. It is not about being ashamed of our bodies, as if they should not be admirable. Modesty is about dignity and reverence. We are created in the image and likeness of God. Our bodies are so very admirable, that they cannot and should not be reduced to common usage as objects. When we clothe our bodies, we need to take this fact into consideration. Are we presenting our bodies in a way that conveys as well as engenders respect, or are we presenting our bodies as objects for use? 


Modesty is not about whose responsibility it is to cover up or not to look. Modesty is a recognition and a declaration of one's own dignity; the sanctity of one's own body.  The holiest part of the Jewish temple was always veiled, not because of shame, but because of reverence.  Likewise with our bodies, which we cover, not by reason of shame, but by reason of reverence.  Fulton Sheen called it "reverence for the mystery" and lamented its loss in the modern world.  To present the body in a bikini may risk unveiling what should be hidden and inviting for use and profanation that which should be reverenced.  

So what do you think? Has your position changed on the topic of bikinis?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Holmes is Home!

Katie Holmes is a Bright Maiden once again!

Barring any creeping skepticism about who signed her up to her new parish in New York City, her publicist or herself, we Bright Maidens are glad to once again see a sister in Christ return to His Church!

When I posted this article about Katie's return to the Church, a few people spoke up and seemed to focus on the description of St. Francis Xavier in NYC, noting that the article mentioned it is "known for inclusive thinking and its welcoming of many gay and lesbian Catholics."
St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, NYC

The folks commenting on the Bright Maidens post had good intentions, I'm sure, as the Church teaches against people practicing gay and lesbian lifestyles. The Church does not, however, teach that same sex attraction is a myth. The Church teaches that there may be people with same sex attraction, but just as single people without same sex attraction should practice celibate, chaste lifestyles, so should those with same sex attraction.

As you can probably tell, I was slightly upset by some of the "too bad she picked the wrong church" comments because another BIG FAT teaching of the Church is to be loving and welcoming. If we look at the mission statement from St. Francis Xavier's website instead of the interpretation from the HuffPo author, we read that the parish “strives to be a prophetic, welcoming community, inclusive witness to the presence of Christ Jesus in our midst.”

Uh, that sounds right to me. Of course, we could choose to read into this and believe the church also affirms same sex attraction-indulging lifestyles, which isn't beneficial to the whole person trying to follow Christ. That would be wrong. However, it is correct to welcome everyone.

And I argue that jumping to the "well, yes, she joined the Church again, but she picked a liberal one," is the exact wrong way to welcome anyone back.

Rant over. Carry on.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Charting for Beginners

Does NFP jargon make your head spin? Are you single and curious about how your body works?

There's a vid for that.

Check out my newest vlog at Ignitum Today!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Glue Gun Ingenuity

I'm cheap.

I have a pair of shoes that fit me perfectly, don't hurt my feet, and look great with almost anything. I am not a shoe girl, so when I find a pair like that, I have to hang onto them until they're unsuitable for public use (often times, my mom or sisters have to tell me when this time comes).

Over the last year or so, I've noticed the heel of this gem pair of shoes has worn down at an angle due to my funny walking stride and it made me sad to think I might have to toss them. GLUE GUN TO THE RESCUE!!

This idea came to me while I was in line at the craft store, buying my very own glue gun. I have great plans for this glue gun, the first of which was a wreath for my beau's front door. The Great Shoe Repair of 2012 is project number two.


It may be hard to see, but the dots in the middle of those heels are really the metal filling of the heel structure. Yikes!


It's difficult to find an angle that adequately shows the worn down rubber (stuff) on the heel. But it's about to get Elizafixed.


Squirt-ity-squirt squirt squirt the glue on the side with the most wear. Be careful of the heat!


I used an index card that turned out to be accidentally wise. I used the index card to flatten out the glue and hold it in place while it cooled, making sure to keep it level with the sole. The happy accident showed itself when I peeled off the index card (after cooling) and it left a little paper residue. I decided that was a GOOD thing because it gave it a little more friction for walking around.


A little black paint to match the original rubber (stuff) and some scissor trimming of the excess and it's good as new! It makes SUCH a difference when I stand in these heels now. Before, I would have to concentrate on not letting my heels wobble, but now they stay planted.


Once again, it's hard to see the difference explicitly, but "before" is on the right and "after is on the left. TA-DA!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bikini or Biki-no, Door-to-Door


I wish this was my door
DING DONG

I have never liked door-to-door salesmen, evangelists, or folks pandering for donations. It's not that I don't want the product, the religion (but really, you can keep it. I have the Church, thanks), or to help the cause. I just don't want my hyper-sensitive, people-pleasing, over-active empathizing gland to force me to do whatever it is they need me to buy, convert, or donate.

Today, I finally got something back after years of anxiety. One of these brave few taught me a lesson.

A nice guy came by my apartment on his way through my neighborhood, saying he worked to help inner-city, in-trouble kids train for and find jobs. The gentleman was well-dressed and amiable and my roommate and I enjoyed chatting with him, as we all found something in common (ah, gotta love the human condition!).

He threw me off when, after a few fun jovial exchanges between me and my roommate, he pointed down at my leg and said, "Is that real?!"

That was my reaction, too. Do people have fake leg muscles they glue to their quad bone like the chicken cutlets some women put in their bras? Not that I know of.

Is that real? Yes, of course it's real!

"I run a lot," I laughed. He spent at least a minute more talking about how I could probably kick his butt, how I should go to the Olympics, how I probably make boys cry, etc.

Strong woman... oh, never mind.
Throughout the rest of our chat with this man, he kept referencing my legs and let me tell you, I was regretting answering the door in my running shorts. They are about an inch above my fingertip length and, yes, they show off my growing runner legs.

I look like a strong woman in my new runner legs and it reminds me of when I was in competition shape. I love the way that feels.

Until some guy I don't know points them out, continues to look at them, and talking about how I could crush inanimate objects between them.

While I can't control his thoughts and it's not my responsibility to control them, it brought my attention back to the Great Bikini Debate of 2012. Most people don't voice thoughts like his out loud, in fact it was quite uncomfortable when I realized a self-identified 45-year-old man was studying my legs.

I think he had innocent intentions. The man wanted us to donate to his cause, so he needed something about which he could laugh with us. However, he made an awkward decision when he decided to talk about my legs.

We can presume (not EVERY man thinks this way, but there is evidence that most do -- Jason Evert video and Young and Catholic's anecdotal evidence) that men have thoughts about what is under the clothing we wear. Yes, it's their responsibility to stop those thoughts from progressing.

This is a popular topic these days
However, had I chosen a pair of jeans, or even a pair of yoga pants (to address the tankini-covered belly vs. skin-covered belly issue), he would not have seen the distinction in my leg muscle. He would have seen that I was a strong, probable athlete, but not in such obvious detail.

Yoga covered legs wouldn't have been as "in his face" as my bare legs. I doubt it would have occurred to him to mention them as a topic of awkward conversation with the young lady who answered the door on his door-to-door day.

I'd post pictures of my legs in shorts vs. yoga pants, but that would explicitly ignore my point (while potentially proving it).

In conclusion, yes, wear whatever you want to wear. But maybe we could consider what we'd hear if men spoke their thoughts instead of keeping them private. Perhaps we'd sooner want to wear more fabric.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday after Mass, Vol 1

Two little blurbs about my Sabbath Day happenings from yesterday:

I got to go back with the kids during Children's Liturgy of the Word and a girl (who looks EXACTLY like I did as a child) from the CCD class I taught last year ran up to me, put her hand in mine, looked up to me, and said, "I missed you!"
Not my hand, but very sweet
PLUS I went to a second Mass on Sunday afternoon to honor a very *mature* priest who was the campus minister when my parents were in college. He pointed out that everyone needs to stop complaining about the state of their parish and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. I LOVE that he was holding all of us accountable.

Resurrection of Our Lord Catholic Church, Saint Louis, MO
I just like that altar backdrop... What cool things did you witness at Mass yesterday?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Follow the Breadcrumbs to the Exciting News


Click to visit Conversion Diary.
*1*
I'm going to give you some clues for the exciting news I introduced a little while ago.

This is the Internet, of course you can just scroll down to the bottom to see the surprise, but what's the fun in that? Pretend you just received this in a ridiculously long chain email that tells you to avoid scrolling down to the bottom for risk of erasing your happy destiny.

I'll alternate between clues and non-clues.

*2*
Non-related, non-clue:

A friend posted this great collection of 15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy. Among the are some of my worst vices, including: Give up your need to always be right, give up your need for control, give up your self-defeating self-talk, give up the luxury of criticism, and give up living your life to other people’s expectations.

Okay, now to implement...

*3*
Clue:


*4*
Non-related, non-clue:

Andrew and Cristina may be my favorite heroes-whom-I've-never-met. They allow the Holy Spirit to RADIATE from them, and all I have to judge that is their blog and a few emails we have exchanged. It is just so clear that God has placed them on an incredible path and they are so willing to let Him guide them through it.

They need our help! Read about it here. All it takes is a few clicks of your mouse and a vote.

Considering they're spending a lot more money than the young couple expected to spend in their first year of marriage due to an intense surgery to correct their in utero daughter's spina bifida, they could also use your donations. If you are able to donate and/or you feel called to donate, please visit here.

*5*
Clue:


Can you guess?

*6*
Non-related, non-clue:

The Bikini or Biki-no discussion is heating up. I'm hoping to read a full post or two from the folks who take a more pro-bikini (more accurately, but less succinctly described as "not against bikinis/raising the issue that the modesty talks don't seem to apply to men/to each her own") folks. If you haven't read the contributions thus far, here's your chance to catch up:


Bikini or Biki-no? Part 1 - The intro. Here you learn how the whole discussion began and we get @Palaminko's voice on why he would request (if he could) that women avoid wearing bikinis.




Bikini or Biki-no? Part 2 - Chase chimes in and points out protecting the feminine genius doesn't mean dressing like a nun.




Bikini or Biki-no? Part 3 - I take a whack at it. My opinion shifts often on this topic. Here I take a look at why the bikini option seem so appealing, yet why that also shows me why I should probably avoid them.




Bikini or Biki-no? Part 4 - A Father and Husband's POV - Val wrote an email to me (just as you are welcome to do) and explained his aversion to bikinis on the women in his life, namely his wife and daughters. As my dad said, "He makes good points!"

So far, the non-bikini-wearers have the loudest voice, measured by number of people commenting for this "camp" of opinions. I would really love to hear from someone who sees a lot of good in bikinis or would like to explain, in a post, why bikinis are a good option.

This has been a great discussion thus far. If you're game, I'd like to continue it.

*7*
Did you guess?

Will they have nap time in grad school? You know. For practice.
Drum roll...I'm going to grad school! I got accepted into a masters program for elementary education!

In about a year and a half I will be certified to teach elementary schoolers! (note, schooler is not a real word. I suppose I'll have to stop being so colloquial so I can put sum guud learnin' on da kids)

I'm so grateful to my family, my wonderful boyfriend, my elementary school teachers, the first graders I taught last year, and GOD for helping me discover this calling! I can't wait to begin this journey!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Baby Family Needs Our Help!

If you haven't been following the brave saga of Cristina and Andrew (and Maria Isabella), please go catch up. I'll wait...

Savvy? Aren't they incredible?! (While you're thinking about them, notice the "donate" tab at the top of their blog. Please.)

Well right now, this Christ-focused family is staying in a Ronald McDonald House while they await Maria Isabella's birthday after an intense surgery. The Ronald McDonald House is a finalist for Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good Program. They need our help to win! See instructions below, from the house: 
On JUNE 21st Ronald McDonald House of SNJ needs your VOTE!! We are one of 500 finalist in Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good Program.
We ask you NOW to go to 100carsforgood.com, search for Ronald McDonald House of SNJ, click on our name, click on REMIND ME, click CONFIRM.
That way you will be automatically sent a reminder to VOTE for us on our day, JUNE 21st! Watch our video below to see why our kids need your help….every single vote counts!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bikini or Biki-no? Part 4 - A Father and Husband's POV

I'm so intrigued by the fact that so many faithful men are asking for women to avoid bikinis. As a refresher, read Palaminko's post and Chase's post (and if you want my first attempt, read mine). Val wrote to me after the 3rd post and offered his perspective as a father, husband, and grandfather.
Hello Elizabeth,

I have come to your post to your post simply because I follow Stacy Trasancos, whom I offer as a character reference.

I make no habit of frequenting women’s sites, or bikini posts, however, for what it is worth, I have a beautiful wife and three lovely adult daughters, all young mothers, so needless to say I have engaged in this debate for many years. My wife, at 56, is a size 6 and frankly would still look great in a bikini. She is a water athlete who loves the ocean, so be advised her decision to avoid bikinis and has nothing to do with being bashful about her figure.

Val's lovely family
The first question I would ask is, is there any functional advantage to wearing a bikini for normal swimming activities? Can’t answer that, never wore one, but based on swimwear for competitive water events the answer is basically inarguable.

The second question I would ask is whether any truly Christian woman believes that she has no culpability for provoking lustful thoughts in a man, or if perhaps she may believe more skin does not equal more potential for provoking the very transparent and predictable (in this area) male mind?

The third question, I am prepared to provide an answer for, and that is, why are men so visual in this area? It seems completely unfair that God would create us with this inherent flaw. Well, I’ve thought a lot about it and prayed a lot about it and here, based on scripture, is what I have come up with. Read Genesis 2:18 – 2:25. God made man in His image and likeness. After creating all of the other creatures, He could not find a suitable partner for man so He made woman, from and for man. And therein lies the difference. Everything about a woman’s body has been tailor made by Almighty God SPECIFICALLY to those specifications that the Father knew would please man. A woman’s hair, her eyes, the shape of her face and body, her voice, the way she moves, the way she thinks and reasons, all of these things have been created to please man.

Consequently, a woman’s body to a man is more than just attractive, it is literally awesome. Like a beautiful sunset or a majestic mountain, woman is God’s gift to man. Now, naturally, this inclination, like all other aspects of human nature has been wounded by original sin. Remember, lust, like every other capital vice is the product of a distorted amplification of things that come naturally to us. God created woman to please man. In return, He intends us to be faithful and loving to the extent that we are to be willing to die for our wives.

Satan, as he always does, has ingeniously twisted the phrase, “to please man” into “for man’s pleasure”. Radically different concepts. Man’s natural preoccupation with the fairer sex is his great Achilles' heel for both Satan AND woman to exploit. Unfortunately society has degenerated to the point where, frankly, most men are lustful.
So let’s cut to the chase here, Elizabeth. A woman’s body is a loaded gun for a lustful man and she can slay most with it any time she wants. ALL women know and understand this. God gave your gender that power over ours to make us better men, not animals. It is a power that you should wield prudently as a Godly woman.

Finally, I speak as a man. The mystery of an attractive, fit, woman in a stylish one piece is MUCH more alluring (not lust provoking) than blatant advertising, because a bikini isn’t about what a woman looks like its about what she THINKS like. A little restraint says to a prospective suitor, “Yep, I’m all that you think I am, fit, healthy, desirable, but unless you are that lucky man that will share life with me, “til death do us part”...you don’t get to find out.

Sincerely, Val (Happily married man saved by the Blood of Christ, 56-year-old father of 10 grandfather of 7 and genuine respectful admirer of the feminine mystique)

PS: If you really want to know what I think of women, read Stacy’s Mother’s Day piece, “We Know
Emphasis added by me, Elizabeth. Again, this discussion will probably never end, but if you'd like to add your voice (either in response to one post, to the whole discussion or anything), email me.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bikini or Biki-no? Part 3

It should be a red flag that when reading the afore-posted bikini posts (one and two), our first reaction is:
"Hey! What about the men?!

That was my first reaction when reading this piece on Marcel Lejune's Aggie Catholics blog. I thought, "Wow, I'm annoyed that this girl is hearing men say that they can't help thinking about women in their bras, just because they wore a white shirt. What about men?! What are they doing for us?!"

Oh. Christianity. It doesn't work that way, does it?

When I was swimming year-round, I was at my teenage, hormonal peak, surrounded by perfectly-toned, strong teenage boys in Speedos. Yes, it was nice. But I also got used to it to a point where I could go to the beach and look around as if everyone was walking around in sweatshirts instead of bare skin.

Today, however, after years of being around fully-clothed men, I notice when men are shirtless. I notice and I get a little sheepish about it, I can't lie.

When I considered what Paige and Katie were saying on Twitter a few days ago about how no one is calling for men to be more modest, I thought, "Yeah! Why do the guys get to tell us what to wear when they get to go shirtless and that's not considered immodest?"

I stewed over it and thought about other things that men could change in exchange for me not wearing a bikini.

They could stop looking so darn cute all of the time when they hang out with little kids! Seriously, stop it. Hey, beau! You could stop being so wonderful to me, please. It's ruining my emotional chastity because I want to pin wedding details all day, m'kay?

Then I remembered, again, that I'm a Christian during the annoying times, too.

I'm so drawn to the desire to wear a bikini, partially because I've lost weight in the last few years. In these last two months, I've been convinced by both camps (pro and anti-bikini) over and over again. Some of the pro-bikini points have actually convinced me to be anti-bikini and vice versa.

Why do I want the pro-bikini arguments to win over my mind? Because I want to be desired. It's so easy to say that we're in a different time and it's not a big deal to wear an appropriate bikini in an appropriate setting (i.e., pool or beach). It's so easy to wonder what "the other side" will do for ME if they are expecting me to avoid wearing something that makes me feel beautiful for them.

This isn't marriage, but it's all Pinterest can find.
It's easy to ignore the fact that men are more visually aroused and that yes, what I wear plays a roll in that initial thought of lust that pops into their heads.

True, I can't control if they continue to entertain those lustful thoughts, no matter what I wear. Men, that's on you.

Similarly, and this is something I will expand upon in a future post, there has been a call for men to be more manly. Men, be MEN, we say! We want to expect more of you. We want you to avoid teasing our emotionally-queued brains by flitting around with emotionally-charged language with no consideration for our hearts.

We can't do a virtue exchange.

It's not possible because no woman can truly know what it's like for a man to look up on a scantily-clad women (or for him to hear her speaking romantic to him). Likewise, it's not possible for a man to know what it's like for a woman to hear romantic words from a charming man (or for her to look upon a shirtless male chest). But we can err on the side of visual and emotional modesty, right?

This discussion isn't over. I still don't think my opinion has fully-formed and I may write from a more pro-bikini stance tomorrow. If you wish to formally participate and write a response, I'll post it. Email me here.

Color Your World

Considering some spring cleaning? Maybe you want to paint your home while you're at it!

Did you know green was the color for fertility?

Psychology of Color [Infographic]
Courtesy of NowSourcing, Inc

Friday, May 4, 2012

Crabsolutely crabulous


*1*

About two weeks ago, my cousin and her boyfriend (call him Xavier) proposed a commission project that helped me touch paint brush to surface for the first time in months (rag to surface "painting" didn't count).

They wanted to get Xavier's friend a unique wedding gift with an inside joke running through it. When they saw this in a store, they had a goal. When my cousin remembered I enjoy getting my hands dirty with paint, they had a plan.


UPDATE: Apparently, according to the groom, this won the "best gift award." Holler city.


*2*

Step by step, let's find out how we went from this:


To Fred, the lucky couple's new home decoration crab mascot.

*3*
First step:

Confidence. I spent the entire week planning out the crabtastic process ahead of me. I let the devil slip in a few times, intimidating me and reminding me that I haven't done anything remotely artistic in several months.

Smite you, Devil! Get the crab out of here! You're not welcome here.

*4*

Second step:

Commandere boyfriend's coffee table and ask him to put on an educational program about Air Force One and Marine One. Then smile (and thank God) when he sits and watches some of it with me because you've found someone who loves these dorky, fascinating, educational specials.

*5*

Pencil it out and just do it. Don't let the devil pinch your confidence again. One bit at a time.


*6*

Name him. He doesn't have eyes yet, but he deserves a name.


Crabs have freckles, right?


Now, words.


*7*

Perfect it and go all OCD on that block of wood. Fred needs you to make him look good.


AH HA! THERE you are, Fred. Welcome to the world. We knew you were there the whole time, didn't we, readers?


Final step:

Hope you can smile because your readers will stick it out through the crab puns and personification of wooden crustaceans. Savvy? 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bikini or Biki-no? Part 2

Much like the one I packed.
This week I traveled to Austin for work and knew my hotel had a pool. This discussion popped up in my head as I was packing my bag because there have been so many great comments thus far.

I packed a swimming practice suit, like the ones I wore when I was competitive swimming, because I knew a bikini would be inappropriate around my co-workers and I didn't want to have to worry about any kind of top-half skin exposure. Does that mean I should wear the same kind of suit every time?

Let's recap:

What responsibility should women have in modesty? Are men just going to imagine our bodies, no matter how much we cover up? Is part of our feminine genius inherent in the beauty of our figures?

Chase chimes in:
I think the important things to remember in modesty are that man and woman are made in the image and likeness of God, and that the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. The body is beautiful because it's made in God's image. This also means we're attuned to each other's natural beauty and dressing in a way that reveals our natural beauty (bikinis cover little more than the FCC-objectionable parts, after all) seems like a way to make use of our God-given gifts.  
But wait! Doesn't that mean dressing down is a good thing? Well, maybe in a perfect world. We face this little problem called lust, though. Guys especially (though ladies, we see when you oggle stud muffins too) are inclined to see this beauty, then see past that whole "image and likeness of God" bit and allow beauty to be just a pleasure. Whether or not you think objectification is a problem that guys just need to get over is inconsequential to the fact that it is a problem, and widespread at that. Noodle on this: if you enable someone to lust over you, either out of indifference (it's not my problem guys lust over my nice body) or willfully (i.e., a person who uses their looks to "control" someone else), you're becoming his(her) god! Pornography does this; the pornography itself becomes the source of beauty and "nourishment" of unsatisfied feelings for its victim, the viewer. To summarize in a sentence: the God-given gift of beauty comes with great power, and with great power comes great responsibility.  
The other angle I mentioned was the notion that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19-20). Temples are special places; remember that in Judaic law, the temple was so sacred that only the High Priest could enter its inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies. Thus, the body is sacred and valuable, immeasurably so. If you owned a Lamborghini (yes, a car analogy, forgive me I'm a guy), would you keep it garaged? Let just anyone drive it? Invite a passenger who would leave Frito crumbs all over? The answers to these questions seem "duh" obvious, because Lamborghinis are very valuable. But human life is infinitely more so. Dressing revealingly poses the same problem as our Lamborghini left outside, unlocked, with keys in the ignition: a temptation to those that see it (you) that could be easily avoided. The tragedy today is young girls who don't know their self-worth, who look to the very things that demean them in search of attention and meaning. All should seek to dress in a way that reflects their self-worth.  
I'm worth infinitely more than a garaged Lamborghini...I suppose you want oppress me into wearing burqas tankinis? Would you put a Lamborghini in a climate-controlled chamber and never drive it to preserve its value and protect it from bad things happening? As I already said, beauty is good because it comes from God, so it isn't necessary to cover ourselves into unattractive blobs. Modesty requires a fair amount of judgment based on your circumstances. For instance, a bikini might be better suited to a private backyard pool than the beach, but it also depends on who is around. And on whether you might end up in photos as Elizabeth pointed out (who knows who'll end up looking at them). Unfortunately, like most things in life, I can't give a straight answer, but I hope you might look at that next outfit critically and ask yourself if those who pass your way will see the immeasurable treasure of God that you are.
Has your opinion changed? Has your opinion become firmer?

Men, if you have been waiting for a forum to share with us your opinion, this is it. Comment and we'll get in touch to add to this series.
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