Monday, April 30, 2012

Bikini or Biki-no? Part 1

Two months ago, the #CathSorority girls got in a semi-heated discussion about beach attire.

Darn Twitter doesn't have it archived. #FirstWorldProblems

Hot, right? (Too much)
It started with me asking what #CathSorority thought about bikinis, one way or another.

I remember Trista erred on the side of modesty and I voiced that I didn't like the idea that pictures of me practically naked could end up on Facebook. A few others landed on the tankini/one-piece side of the aisle, suggesting that we should "help out" our brothers in Christ by not "showing everything you've got" (hat tip, Gramma).

Katie asked something akin to, "What is the difference between skin-tight fabric covering your stomach and just having your stomach exposed?" There were other girls who agreed with her and fell on the "wear a bikini if you want to" because it's not our responsibility to control what men think about us.

There were a lot of varied opinions When we arrived at a conversational crossroads, I sent out a bat call to @Marleyblakedog (aka @ckcathcart), @Palaminko, @nomoblues, and @CallAllWitness. I asked, "how much responsibility lies on women and how much lies on men when it comes to swimsuit (et al) modesty?"

For this first part, Palaminko (of The Apostasy Method) responded via email:

Hmm, tricky question.

If we're specifically talking bikinis, I would say it's a bad idea because--bikinis being cut the way they are, especially the last several years--women are pretty close to naked wearing them. There isn't much left to the imagination...and male imaginations will have no problem with the rest. A few guys will be fine and manage to still view the women in them as women, but why make the situation more difficult? I don't go swimsuit shopping with women on a regular basis, but I hear tell that there are some amazing (and still very feminine and modest) one-pieces available nowadays.

This guy knows a thing or two about double standards.
In general, here's what I overheard one girl say to another: if your grandmother (it used to be "mother", but I've since realized that quite a few moms from our parents' generation have very lax standards) would be scandalized seeing you in that outfit, chances are it's immodest. 
Put more philosophically, if the outfit draws attention to what physical parts a woman is made of--as opposed to who she is in totality--it's probably  immodest and the wearer bears some responsibility.

If, on the other hand, the outfit passes those modesty criteria, I would say any immodest thoughts are the sole responsibility of the viewer.

Hope that helps the conversation!

PS--Back when I was in competitive shape, I used to get catcalls while running around town without a shirt on hot days. Modesty works both ways. I'm now in the habit of covering up, though I still haven't figured out the beach thing. (emphasis added by me, Elizabeth)
Full disclosure: Because Katie's words kept circulating in my head, I have since bought a bikini top, but I will do my best to only wear it around people I trust and to avoid landing in photos while wearing it. I have yet to figure out how to do that.

What do YOU think?
Stay tuned for the next in this series where we hear from Chase.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Marx Sisters

Marx Sisters by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The "Bright Maidens" were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

I have the typical, boring opinion on the question of "Should moms stay at home or work outside of the home?" Just like some women are called to a single vocation, some are called to the religious life, and some are called to married life, I believe we are called to contribute to our families in different ways.

Of course, I still believe we are biologically better-equipped for some duties within a marital household, namely those related to bearing and raising children, but men have a great importance in that area as well.

La dee dah, see? Boring and very politically correct.

So let's talk about Marxist Feminist theory instead.

Bigger, more skirt, please.
I've watched six episodes of "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" in the last two weeks. These people fascinate me and before I write you a dissertation about them, I'll to focus on their strict adherence to traditional family roles. Women marry quite young, some as young as sixteen, and enter a life similar to every "traveller" wife: one centered on taking care of the husband, cooking, child-rearing, and extensive cleaning.

Seriously, these women put sponge to every surface of their homes, everyday. I've never seen anything like it.

Their husbands earn the money, have a lot of fun at pubs, and, in their words, "own" their wives. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and anthropologically point out that we do not have a full understanding of their culture in order to call this regressive or stunted. It's vital we also point out how extremely rare divorce is in their culture.

Marxist Feminist theory feels responsible for sticking up for women after centuries of what its troubadours believe to be wrongful oppression based on societal structure (rather than any relation to biology). This theory holds that a patriarchal, capitalist society demeans women because it enslaves them in the home to perform duties for free that men would otherwise have to hire employees to complete.

Old-timey headache
Marxist Feminists believe women are not properly compensated for the traditional roles they hold, so its supporters believe that as many inequalities between men and women should be flattened out as possible. In other words, it seems these theorists would be at least partially happy to see women receive salaries from their husbands, appropriate for the work they do in the home.

Call me crazy, but that sounds like capitalism more than Marxism.

Here, Marxists try to explain, in capitalist vocabulary, their belief that a lower value is placed on a woman's day than a man's and the translation is muddled.

The lasting issue with this theory is that it discourages women from entering a lifestyle Marxist Feminists define as the poorly-valued role, a stay at home mother. Marxist Feminist theory states that, no, it was the  patriarchal, capitalist society that shaped the role to be lower.

However, because the Marxist theory presents no alternative, they shame women away from being stay at home mothers, lest these women accept a shameful label of settling for a regressive lifestyle.

If a card-carrying Marxist Feminist could get their hands on one of these gypsy girls before walking down the aisle in her teens, he or she would try to convince the bride that her life can have more meaning in the eyes of the men of this world. If she could just NOT perform the slave duties thrust upon her as a wife and stay at home, cleaning, cooking mother, she could be much happier and more highly-valued.

Apart from the point that some of these women really do want to live their vocation in the traditional way, perhaps the young bride would have sense enough to point out the unspoken enslavement of the crazed person trying to shake her into the 21st century.

If you're doing something to spite someone else or to be seen as more valuable in the eyes of a society, who's the real slave?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Crabcakes and Football

Go to for more!


Slow and steady wins back their blogging brain.

I have exciting news and I'm going to continue writing quick takes until I decide whether or not to tell you....go ahead and guess.


Have you listened to the Bright Maidens' interview with Pat Gohn yet?

Click to listen to Part 2
In the first one we discussed a myriad of topics that we believe are important to Catholic young adults. In this, the second one, we spent a great deal of time talking about... sex. And virginity, and recycled virginity, and our identity as such.

It really turns into honest girl talk, so men, if you've ever wanted to be a fly on the wall of a sleepover, this is your chance.


Exciting news hint: it is one reason why I have been posting infrequently/not posting. Seriously, try to guess! #CathSorority girls aren't allowed to guess.


Click to buy it on Amazon
In the last week, I have listened to my church's 1997 recording of our Song of Mark production at least 20 times. It's a stellar musical and I highly recommend buying the CD and/or asking your music minister if they'd consider producing this play at your parish.

I know all of the people with lead roles, so I'm tempted to go to Mass on Monday and embarrass them with compliments about how I have their voices stuck in my head.

One of the children in the production who had a solo is one of my oldest friends and was 10 years old when her beautiful little voice sang the Good News. She now has a three-year-old girl and a month-old baby boy.

Time flies.


My cousin and her awesome boyfriend had a fun idea for a wedding present with a personal touch. Cousin's-Awesome-Boyfriend salvaged and split a beautiful piece of wood, so that it has a flat surface for painting.

Selfishly, I'm eager to help them because it will help me get back into painting and creating art. They want me to paint a big crab on this, similar to the picture, and insert the words "Crabcakes and football: That's what Maryland DOES!"

My canvas. Wood, I'm turning you into a crab.

What a creative wedding gift! I'm sure they'll get a kick out of it. I'll post some pictures of my progress later.


My exciting news will compel me to move to a different city. Bittersweet.

I decided I'd reveal my exciting news in its own post. So guess, guess, guess!


Don't forget to join the Bright Maidens for this week's topic on stay-at-home-moms and working-out-of-the-home moms.

In case you were wondering, we had this one planned before Lent began, so it's a coincidence that the whole Ann Romney/Hilary Rosen thing blew up recently. You're welcome to reflect on that, if you haven't already, but that wasn't our aim.

Trista's post, "On Motherhood"
Lynsey's post, "WOHM vs. SAHM"
Mandi's post, "Stay at Home Mom vs. Working Mom"
Lisa's post, "The Best Job in the World"

Thursday, April 26, 2012

OMG[osh], What did she say?!

The Bright Maidens are back and this time we're talking about ... SEX. We discuss sex, virginity, recycled virginity, women, the value of sexuality the value of being a child of God and a brother and sister in Christ, and TOB in terms of respecting life and pro-life issues.

I haven't listened to this week's Among Women podcast all the way through yet, so I'm a little nervous about what Pat Gohn edited in and out. Our conversation for Part 2 was about an hour long, but it's much shorter in the podcast version.

I'm more than a little nervous.

UPDATE: "It's really hard out there. It's really hard. To be a virgin in the 21st century takes heroic courage. It takes the grace of a saint to live the life that we're talking about here." -Pat Gohn

Let me know what you think!! LISTEN HERE. Our part of the interview is about one-third of the way through the podcast.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A fresh, easy DIY gift for a confirmand

I have three books about my patron saint filed in between a prayer book and a biography of JPII. Unfortunately, I've only skimmed through all five of those books on my shelf. I am so grateful to those who gave them to me at my Confirmation, but I wanted to make sure my gift for my confirmand/spons-ee was different.

Here's an idea that came to me in the craft store as I was starting to stress about what to make for my spons-ee (we'll call her Catherine, for her patron, St. Catherine of Bologna): a prayer and letter box. Perhaps you want to put your Pinteresting skills to the test and try this out. Even if you're attending a Confirmation this week, I guarantee you can complete this in only a few hours.
Step 1: What the heck is a prayer and letter box?

I write letters to my future husband. I started a few years ago when my mom suggested it and I have a collection of them in a battered envelope, waiting to be distributed on my wedding night. I also write letters and journal entries to God.

When I passed by those naked wood boxes in the craft store, I immediately decided I would create a box for Catherine to begin a similar tradition. Of course, no pressure Catherine, you can store your earrings in the box I gave you, but I was hoping it might be a spot for any little treasures you might award your husband, your future self, or some of your future sisters (should God call you to the religious life).

It's like a life map in a box!

Unfortunately, I had a brain fart and didn't take a picture of the final product before wrapping it. If Catherine is willing to snap a photo, I will post it.

Step 2: Supply gathering
  • Glaze medium for acrylic paint (a color for the box and a color for text)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Rag
  • Thin paint brush
  • Fancy schmancy paper
  • White school glue
  • Confidence that YOU CAHN DOOOO EEEEET!
Step 3: Decoration

Before I did anything with paint, I cut out the fancy schmancy paper so it would fit as a lining in the top and bottom of the inside of the box. It will give it a finished look and prevent you from having to paint the inside!

I chose to mix the glaze medium with the acrylic paint and rub it on with the rag because A) It's more forgiving and faster than painting several coats of a solid color and B) I know Catherine loves the beach and the turquoise color with the wood grain showing through made it appear to belong in a seaside house.

Painter's tip: Wax paper makes for a great palette 

Remember wood shop: Go with the grain. If the grain is running from left to right, rub from left to right. Keep a steady hand and concentrate on avoiding blotchy movements.

I left the inside wood untouched.
Next, patience. See? This project is a prayer journey for you, too! It won't take long to dry if you've used my glaze method.

After it has dried, spread a LITTLE, glue onto the wood where you will place the fancy schmancy paper. We remembered wood shop and now we're remembering preschool: too much glue warps paper. This box doesn't need to stand up to high winds, so a little dab'll do ya.

A little glue around the edge of the paper is wise
Carefully lay the paper onto the wood and smooth. Let that dry and VOILA! You're done with the majority of the box!

Step 4: Inspiration

I grabbed a quote from St. Catherine of Bologna (which I have now forgotten) and chose to run it along the bottom of the box. Note: there aren't many pulled quotes of this particular saint, as I'm sure is the case with other saints. I had to read a few of the letters she wrote to other nuns and brothers, which was spiritually enlightening for me. Oh God, You're a tricky one!

This is the most time-consuming part of the process. If you don't trust your hand with a paint brush and lettering, use a paint pen. If you do try your hand with the paint brush technique, use a fine brush and wash the paint off of it every three to five minutes.

The project before the quote addition.

It seems over the top to wash it that often, but otherwise your brush will clog up and you will get frustrated at your preschooler handwriting (I speak from experience).

Finally, when writing your letter to your confirmand, explain to them why you think it's important to keep prayer in his or her daily life. Tell him or her that many of the saints wrote letters to each other because (SHOCK, AWE) texting was, for the most part, unavailable.

Maybe some teens will actually give this a try. I wish I had one of these filled with letters from a 15-year-old Elizabeth!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Don't step on the crack, you'll break your mother's back

How to convince someone to be pro-choice. Or better yet, how to convince someone to be pro-abortion:

Get them addicted to crack.

Consequently, crack numbs their value of life over death by making fuzzy that line between reality and their next high. This allows them to see murder in a justified light, if the chips fall in your favor.

No, not all abortion advocates rode the train to Pro-Choice Town by smoking a rock. But their mindsets are similar and they both reached the not-so-equilibrium of murder on their terms. This is the crux of the pro-choice argument. If someone feels it's okay to murder their baby, then it should be okay.

I watched "The Fighter" the other day and was blown away by the performances. Producer Mark Wahlberg is a daily Mass, Latin Mass Catholic who generously funds the Church and programs in his hometown. Though many of you know that, it's a surprise to others considering the number of F-bombs dropped in each of his productions. He knows what he's doing, you'll see.

Christian Bale's performance, in particular, really drove home the character of a crack-addicted, family man who selfishly fools his mother into believing he's still her little boy even after he spends two weeks in a crack house, high as a kite.

Click to watch the documentary, "High on Crack Street." Viewer discretion advised.
I was so fascinated by the idea of gangs of people who do nothing but work toward their next fix, either by stealing, prostitution, or get-rich-quick schemes, that I found the documentary portrayed in the Hollywood version of this true life story. The Wahlberg film showed an HBO film crew following around the older brother of Mark Wahlberg's boxer character. It turns out this HBO flick was a special on the effect of crack cocaine on a small town and its inhabitants on a community and an individual level.

I couldn't resist finding and watching the documentary that same night. It was like watching a turtle take the first few steps toward a busy highway. I could follow the patterns, see the monotonous progression, and witness the determination of these folks to spend their lives getting high, but I could also see where they were headed. These addicts couldn't hear the oncoming cars over the call of the pipe.

Three of the most conversely pro-life moments I have ever witnessed in my life stood out (minute 10:25 through 13:55; and 34:22 through 36:31; and 37:11 through 39:25).

One woman, Brenda, who speaks as if she's a sociologist explaining the habitat of the addicts seconds before taking a drag on her homemade crack pipe, turned to prostitution to pay for her habit. Her strange, sexual business partners opt for "safe sex," but the man who loves her (and his crack pipe and dirty needles) doesn't like condoms. She gets pregnant and states that it is time for an abortion.

How do you convince someone to be pro-life?

Let them watch a 20-year-addicted, toothless woman breakdown her confidence in her "right-to-choose" as a trigger for the memory of her first abortion. Her mother forced her to have an abortion as  a 15-year-old and Brenda sobbed about her intense emotional pain, dealing with the fact that she "murdered her baby." Continue reading at IGNITUM TODAY.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Back to blogging basics for me. The reason I began blogging a year and a half ago was because I needed a creative outlet in my life. I lost sight of that somewhere along the way and I let it translate to "burden" in my head. I'm going back to basics because I need to keep creativity in my life.

The burden came when I kept trying to analyze my life for my blog instead of ... uh, living.

My eyes were too big for my stomach
Acceptable basics: God, family, food, water, shelter.

This weekend God made Himself clear through a whispering wind. My (not-feeling-well-because-this-year's-cold/flu-is-a-beeyatch-and-sticks-around-for-three-weeks) beau and I spent an entire day doing NOTHING like a pair of 5-year-olds.
Sloth-y squirrel
Sloth? Maybe, but we also shook off all of the poop that we allow our daily lives to accumulate. We prayed, we napped, we watched TV shows we haven't seen since the 90s, consequently giggled and shook our heads at 90s humor (Did I do that?), and READ BOOKS. It was a much-needed, extremely lazy Saturday. God helped us get our individual inner-children back into the picture.

I spent Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday with my wonderful family at the beach. Hmmm maybe I didn't really need a lazy Saturday, after all. We goofed around, pretended we were all younger again, and walked on the beach. It was another back-to-basics weekend and perfectly timed to help me focus on God's great sacrifice and Jesus' resurrection.
My dad is always the photographer. YTBDITWWW

During our lazy Saturday, my beau and I made THE MOST DELICIOUS lasagna that has ever existed. God had something to do with that, as well.

Mid-construction. Those are lasagna genius hands.
Email me, I'll send you a piece.
Christ in the Eucharist is the Lamb of God. Food that prevents us from hungering for eternity. His blood is the drink that saves us and quenches our thirst forever. Music, sometimes, can be like water for our soul, relieving a spiritual dry spell or a least cutting a path to God so that He may work in us. One of my very talented (I have two of 'em) sisters is a fantastic singer. She gives me chills and when I hear her, I'm transported back to a time when I would watch her determined face grab her way across the monkey bars, four feet off the ground, swinging her three foot body with every successful move forward.

This Sunday, I was the proud sister again as she quenched a Mass-full of worshipers with her beautiful voice as a cantor. I'm so grateful to God for giving her a talent that will always be a witness for others.

Much of the time, I prefer being outside to being just about anywhere. Not all of the time. I'm not Annie Oakley, but I do love a good hike and some serotonin. 
I had to bring in some nature to calm me in my room/office. Also, some Jesus.
So, in honor of our actual anniversary (instead of the monthaversaries we've been celebrating), my beau and I will be enjoying a hike this week! I hope the weather cooperates by raining down like Niagra the day before our hike so the pollen loses this battle.
Give me this view, anyday

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bright Maidens on Among Women, Part 1

Friends, the Bright Maidens have an exciting announcement! The lovely Pat Gohn of Among Women kindly invited the three Bright Maidens (Julie, Trista, and Elizabeth) to sit down with her for the podcast!

As you may know, St. Hildegard of Bingen is the Bright Maidens patron saint, so Pat Gohn shares a great deal of wonderful insight on this powerful saint!

We had so much to discuss that we will be in TWO (count 'em: one, two) podcasts. We get into girl talk, a few points that we believe affect young Catholic women today, and a few... surprises. Check it out! Here is the first installment.
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