Oh hey. I'm back.
These last couple weeks have been extremely busy for me... for the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I was non-stop writing papers and catechetical curriculums. (curricula? curriculae?) Over break, I did next-to-no homework, and instead spent my time with family and friends. I had some great conversations and was able to catch my breath from all the work I'd been doing at school. Once I stepped back onto campus, though, I hit the ground running and was back into crazy amounts of school work.
Yesterday I attended my last classes of the semester and am currently trying to motivate myself to start studying for finals. It's so hard for me to believe that the semester is 6 days from being over. Before then, I have 4 graphic design projects to turn in, 3 exams, a large Mass to prepare for and help with, a Household Christmas party, decorating the chapel for Christmas, and plenty of packing. 7 days from today I'll be home, attempting to wade through everything I brought home and put it away in a timely manner. And then, let the Christmassy preparations begin!
I'm a firm believer in letting the Christmas season begin on Christmas Eve. The mall decorations and Christmas music starting in October grate on my nerves and make me cringe.
But I love advent. The gift-planning, food-making, tree-decorating, and Advent-song-singing are just all little reminders of what we're really preparing for. I think this is the only time when our house changes a lot. Some families decorate for every holiday, but usually we stick to the small table-top pumpkins and moderate bouquets of flowers.
At Christmas, though, the house transforms. Holly garlands on the banisters and in the chandeleir, wreaths on the door and over the fireplace, wooden signs made by my uncle on the bookshelf, lights on the front bushes, and of course, the advent wreath on the table and the tree in the family room. Then the baking and cooking start. Nannie's cranberry bread, and cheese balls and spinach and artichoke dip. Mom and Dad and I run around the house, trailing ribbons and scraps of paper, hiding plastic bags of presents from each other in places no one else thinks the other will look.
Essentially, I can't wait to enter into this preparation.
And maybe listen to a little Piano Guys while I'm at it...
The short discussion hung in the air, heavy with unanswered questions that should have been asked. Sitting awkward in the deafening silence, where neither person wanted to speak.
That was all, and for one, it was enough. But for the other, it was simply the beginning of searching.
For what, she did not know. She only knew that there was More. That there was Something Else that she needed, and she longed for it desperately.
And so she began searching, high and low, in the lowest of the low, in all the places she shouldn't have gone, but no one had ever warned her otherwise. She found what she thought was the perfect answer, and she gobbled it up hungrily. Ravenous, she took all, because she didn't know that it wasn't meant for her, yet.
Somehow, it overtook her. Consumed her life and became her everything. She gloried in this newfound knowledge, thinking it was the end-all and be-all of what she had sought.
Finally, much too late, the real answers began to come. The answers that would fulfill her longings.
And then, a conversation. A question was asked and a conversation followed. And another. And another. Until she learned that maybe, this whole trust thing was ok. That people cared.
She found out that there were Others Like Her. People who had questioned, and sought, and found that-which-wasn't-the-right-answer. She laughed and cried with them, as they shared the pain they had experienced at the hands of The Lie. All it took was one just like herself, to say "yes, I have been to That Place too", and she broke down. Not outwardly, of course. (To do so would be to show weakness.) But inside, little by little, the parts of her that had been dead for so long went away and were gone, and she felt such beautiful relief.
There was acceptance and Love.
The Love overwhelmed her, and made her want more. But this time, she would search in the Right Places. She would journey with those who she could lean on. And together they would investigate the Truth, wherever they could find it.
Really, it all just boiled down to vulnerability. To the openness and willingness to say "You are telling me my own story". To faith in the future.
Ultimately, to Hope.
Hope that even though she couldn't see it right then, Something Better was coming in the future.
And she clung to that Hope with her whole heart.
If it wasn't apparent by some of my previous posts, I had a beautiful and wonderful fall break. There was lots of laughter and many good talks, with a little dash of studying thrown in there for good measure. Best fall break to date!
Let's just talk for a moment about how gorgeous this basilica is!! Yeah. I know.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame
Notre Dame was playing Navy at home while I was there, so our Saturday was taken up by tailgates and the game. It rained cats and dogs during the tailgate, but thankfully stopped before the game.
The Blue Angels did a fly-over, and Notre Dame won the game, so I'd say it was a great day!
My semester in Europe has made me completely OK with travel, and so I took a solo bus ride to South Bend. A 12-hour bus ride. I had plenty to keep me busy (like reading the Catechism ... and reading Rapunzel Let Down ...). I also quite enjoyed people-watching. There are some gems to be found in buses. Like this guy:
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In case you can't quite make this out, this man is wearing a skinned coyote on his head.
a whole coyote.
But really. This man was on my bus.
Yes, welcome to Toledo, OH, everybody.
I get to make another bus trip next weekend, as I'm going home for a couple days to attend my elementary school's big fundraiser dunner / gala / auction. The event is always a lot of fun, and I really enjoy seeing my former teachers and some former classmates. I wasn't planning on going this year, but after I decided not to, I realized how much I really wanted to. And so I am. Megabus = the way to go!
I have had an intense desire to do crafts lately. Unfortunately I have no resources with which to do crafts here at school, but I'll be home for 2 1/2 days next weekend and then for 6 days over Thanksgiving... I feel like that'll give me plenty of time to do crafty things!
So I'm scouring my Pinterest boards for simple, fun things to do. I'm thinking this
. (The last one is probably what I'll start with; there's an unfinished set of drawers in our basement that would fit perfectly in my room. We'll see!)
I honestly don't remember if I shared this already, but even if I did, it's worth sharing again!
My Crossroads team is having a reunion!
2 days after Christmas, some number of them (5 + me as of right now) will be coming to my house from all over the country! We've started to come up with a calendar and activities... one of them involving cameras and RVs and the Crossroads office. Yes, it should be a good time.
I'm been pondering social media. The role it currently plays and should
play in our lives. Last year I read "The Life I Discovered Inside 13 Days Without Social Media
" and it sparked my interest. How did she do it? How impossible ... no online interaction for almost 2 weeks?! But all that interaction just gone; that's can't work in the 21st century!
I tossed the idea aside with the thought Well, I could never do it , so no point in even considering it.
And then I realized how depended I was on the internet.
There's no intrinsic problem with the internet. There is so much good that it achieves, whether for information or entertainment. I have friendships with so many people today that I wouldn't know half as well without emails, Facebook, or blogs. But over the last couple months, I've discovered how media - Facebook especially - can distract from simply living in the moment
I became obsessed with posting pictures, "liking" other people's statuses, subscribing to hundreds of blogs and seeking a "following" on my own. Cut back? Never! This is the age of technology, so I must be involved. I go online to "stay in touch", and often only succeed in isolating myself.
Recently, one of my good friends decided to quit Facebook, for many excellent reasons. Upon hearing this, my first thought was "Oh no! How are we going to stay in touch? I won't know how he's doing! We'll lose all contact and won't be friends anymore.." I wish I could say I'm exaggerating, but this was literally my thought process at the time.
Well, over the last three weeks of this friend being Facebook-less, I'm happy to say that we've been in contact and, surprise! we're still friends. Our contact has shifted from Facebook messages to emails and texts, and honestly? I think it's better this way. Somehow, those emails and texts seem more personal. As pathetic and childish as it seems, I've learned a much-needed lesson that Facebook isn't necessary for true friendship.
Just yesterday, an acquaintance announced (on Facebook) that she'd be deleting her account. I wasn't phased, and, unlike with my other friend last month, didn't worry that our (basically non-existent) relationship would suffer because of this decision. This has led me to another thought: Who am I friends with on Facebook who I have no relationship with?
Intentionality has been creeping into my thoughts and conversations as of late, and it's time for me to become more intentional with my online interactions. Will I be deleting my Facebook account? Not at this point, but I will be "de-friending" people with whom my only interaction is an occasional "like". Will I stop reading blogs? No, but I'll be limiting those I read to the blogs that have value to my own life. Will I stop 'pinning' or 'tweeting'? No, but I won't let my time with these take away from quality time with those who I love.
As smart phones get smarter and people become more technologically-savvy, being in the present moment seems to have gone by the wayside. But it's by living in the here and now that we can truly discover God's will and bring His life to those around us.
My heart grows bigger when I travel.
I’ll never forget the first time I took a “big” trip with my family. We went to Belgium and Paris, to see where my parents had lived before I was born. The experience of other cultures and lands left me hungry for more, desiring to seek out the ends of these new horizons I had just begun to explore.
Crossroads was a different kind of trip. Weaving my way by foot through the back roads of 14 northern US states, I discovered that with each new sunrise, each campsite, each new church community, each friendship formed, my heart wanted to know these things more deeply. The wonder of my breath being taken away every single morning with the dawn of a new morning kept me asking, Why haven’t I felt like this before?
When I journeyed overseas last January, this time for 4 months in a study abroad program, I figured it would be my last chance to fulfill my wanderlust. So I soaked in every moment, traveling everywhere I could and taking each opportunity to learn something new. As I went to castles, concentration camps, and churches, I was filled to the brim in places I didn’t know held a void.
I arrived back to the states, brushed off my hands, and thought Well, that was fun while it lasted. But what I didn’t realize right then was that there were still places and lands that I hadn’t yet explored. Places that were accessible to me within my own country. My possibilities were limitless.
Last Thursday began fall break of Junior year, and I made the decision that I would travel somewhere other than home for my time off. I have two wonderful friends at Notre Dame, so emails were sent, schedules compared, tickets purchased, and off I went.
Once again, my heart and soul were filled.
I attended candlelit night prayer, spoke with seminarians and priests for hours, attended Mass with 25 people and with 1700 people, did homework in an architecture library, went to a party, experienced Notre Dame tailgating and football, and listened to concerts. We walked around campus, exploring libraries and chapels, our feet crunching on the leaf-sprinkled pavement as we delved deeper and deeper into every aspect of our lives. Conversations never faltered, and questions were answered that I didn’t know I asked.
I didn’t go somewhere where I had to know a new language or exchange my currency, but I learned the language of a large school and used the currency of openness. In the best way possible, my eyes were opened to a different way of living and I was astounded at the blessings of this knowledge. Since Thursday, I have gained an appreciation for what I know and what I have yet to learn, of the experiences I’ve already had and those coming in my future.
Traveling gives me the opportunity to explore, not only different parts of the world, but areas within myself, as I interact with others and continue my journey towards self-awareness.
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Don’t run; stop holding your tongue. Show me how big your brave is.
I've realized that I am way too perfectionistic in the communication part of my life. This actually ties in with something that I mentioned in my last post, where I mentioned my lack of keeping in touch. It plays out in so many ways: I'm afraid of wording things incorrectly, saying something I don't mean when I'm in conversation, or making a mistake in my "fun" writing. I go so far as to draft letters to friends 3-5 times before writing the final version, and I type many letters up before mailing them in case I “need” to refer back to them later. It keeps me from putting my words out there all too often.
I’ve come to discover that I am very easy to interrupt. I don’t know why this is. (If you are friends with me and know why this happens, please inform me, via text, blog comment, email, phone call, letter, or any other form of communication. I’m serious.) I am tempted to think it’s because I just hesitate a lot when I speak, because I want to make absolutely
sure that I say what I mean to say. It’s also tied into the fact that I’m extreme introvert, and my Myers-Briggs personality report tells me that I “always think before I speak”. Why yes, that’s true. But why the perfectionism in speaking
Interestingly, I don’t think half as much with my very close friends. Once I start to become more comfortable with someone, I think less and less before speaking to them. They will probably tell you otherwise, but I like to think that I have better un-planned conversations than the planned ones. If I have a casual yet deep conversation with someone, it’s generally a good indicator that I think highly of them and feel comfortable enough around them to not feel it necessary to plan out my next sentence. Why this perfectionism with words?
I remember realizing that not everyone plans their next sentence. I wondered why not; what if they say something that’s taken the wrong way?
It’s a vicious circle: I feel it necessary to plan my words out, so I take at least 5-10 minutes memorizing the exact phrasing, and by the time I’ve prepared myself for what I’m going to say, the opportunity has passed and there’s another subject. So I succeed in convincing myself that I’m 1000% introverted (no, that extra ‘0’ wasn’t a typo) and that planning those words is absolutely necessary for me to be coherent. Surprise!
friends, it’s not.I wonder what would happen if youSay what you want to say, and let the words fall out. Honestly I want to see you be brave.
This little corner of the internet is a place that I feel like I am both very free to say whatever, and at the same time, feel trapped. I don’t have fear of saying things like “I don’t think the Sadie Hawkins is a great idea” or “I had a hard time in relationships with my siblings when I was younger, but now it’s great!” What those reading don’t realize is the hours
it takes me to write, edit, re-edit, think about the consequences of posting x, y, or z, and edit once again. Usually my posts take days to write, simply because I never feel like it’s good enough or that one person will take it the wrong way. It's draining to feel incompetent in this area that I feel like I should be a part of.
I’m attempting to do a better job of just letting my words flow. Of trusting myself enough to know I’m not going to say something idiotic every single time I open my mouth. To know those around me well enough to recognize my words won’t be mocked or criticized when I speak or write them. To not edit the words I write to oblivion. Because ultimately, it destroys the sentiment and obliterates the original feeling and meaning I give them.
Know what I’ve realized? it’s ok if people misunderstand
. And since your history of silence won’t do you any good Let your words be anything but empty. Why don’t you tell them the Truth?
I wonder what would happen if you
Say what you want to say, and let the words fall out.
Honestly I want to see you be brave.
Time and Place: 4:21, LaFortune Student Center at Notre Dame University (aah!)
What I can hear... a Romanian dance song and people talking around me
This past week... *happy sigh* Praise God for this past week. Reasons: 1) I made the bus from Pittsburgh; 2) I made it to Notre Dame's campus after being an late on the bus; 3) friendship; 4) late-night and early-morning talks; 5) Notre Dame Football and everything surrounding that experience; 6) concerts
I've been reading... Rapunzel Let Down and True Devotion to Mary. I've been attempting to balance schoolwork with fun reading, and this week I did a pretty good job at it!
Recent realization... I do a horrible job of keeping up with people while I'm at school. I'm making a commitment over these next couple months to do significantly better at this. If a relationship is important to me, then I need to actively engage in it!
I'm oh-so-grateful for... I am blown away by the beautiful friendships that I've been blessed with. I have done absolutely nothing to deserve them, but they daily bring me closer to God
Next week... It's back to the books. Even though it's November (Yikes! When did that happen?!?), we're still in the "middle of the semester" and the work-load reflects it!
I'm looking forward to... comparing Fall Break stories with people back on campus! I love hearing about other people's adventures!
Time and Place: 3:44 pm, in a little alcove in my dorm building
What I can hear...
This past week... will I ever say anything other than "busy"? It was a good week; Yesterday was "Fall Fun Day" with liturgy committee, and Elyse was here from Thursday 'til this morning!
I've been reading... nothing except class books.
Recent realization... Elyse really made my time in Austria special. If it wasn't for her, I know that my European experience would have been drastically different.
I'm oh-so-grateful for... Friends, and talking until 3:45 am, then getting up at 6:50 to go be with more friends!
Next week... Well, last week I had a catechesis on Jesus due, and Tuesday I have a catechesis on Creation due. It's interesting to start to think in "teaching mode", and be able to put those abstract things I've learned into concrete form.
I'm looking forward to... Fall break. *Fall break.* I really need a break from campus and from school work ... even though I'll have to do a little work on break. It'll still be fun and relaxing.
(hosted by Hallie at Moxie Wife
I guess you could call this a "product review"... Bear with me, men!
| || |1. Bumble and Bumble Curl Conscious Defining Cream
There are very few things that I am willing to spend extra money on. If there's a cheaper imitation that works, I guarantee that I'll get the imitation. But this hair cream is worth every penny of the $29 I hand over every 5-7 months or so. I have very
curly hair that easily gets transformed into a mess of frizz, but this cream holds the curls even on the most humid of days. (I'm sure if I used the shampoo and conditioner, my hair would appreciate it, but unfortunately, my wallet would not. When I'm a millionaire....)
| |2. Cicabiafine "Baume Douche" (face wash)
Best 12 Euro I spent in Europe: buying Cicabiafine. I had run out of face wash and it was impossible to figure out what on earth the German packaging was saying, so I waited until I got to France. I could make out enough words to read "face", "wash" and "body", so I figured I was good to go. I was right!
It runs $27 on Amazon, but let me tell you, it's worth it. When I win the lottery, I'm buying myself a lifetime supply.
| || |3. E.L.F. makeup brushes
I am by no means a beauty wizard. I know very little about makeup (except that I should always buy the lightest shade of foundation...). But I do
know that E.L.F. has some amazing quality brushes for a really good price. I don't need to win the lottery or marry a millionaire to buy these brushes, and they last a really long time, too.
| |4. EOS Lip Balm
Hello, best chapstick I've ever tried (and I've tried many). This stuff actually makes a difference. With a name like Evolution of Smooth (EOS), I guess it'd better, huh? I'm currently using the Summer Fruit one, and I've also tried Lemon Drop. In the future, I'm interested in trying their lotion!
| || |5. L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara
This mascara is one of those things that I keep coming back to after trying a dozen other brands, figuring that of course, there's something better. Nope. This is it. Yesterday I opened a new tube of this (after pushing through and finishing what I now have dubbed "the mascara from hell") and L'Oreal came through again. It doesn't clump, it doesn't look fake, and it's just simply the best mascara I've found.
**all opinions are my own, and I was not paid for anything I have written. I'm just sharing what I like!!**
Time and Place: 10:14 pm, my dorm room
What I can hear... Princess of China
This past week... projects and papers and quizzes, oh my!
I've been reading... "A Concise History of the Catholic Church", for one of my classes. I don't recommend it. Parts are borderline heretical, but I'm 99% sure that the professor knows that and is exposing us to what we'll hear in the "real world"
Recent realization... 3 am bedtimes don't work well with 8 am classes
I'm oh-so-grateful for... having 2 visitors stay with me this week! Both were high school girls visiting the school, and they were both wonderful to host :)
Next week... I'm just plugging along on my projects and papers and trying to stay sane in the midst of all the craziness
of classes. Speaking of which, I register for next semester's classes in 10 days. 10 days
. So much for this semester. Before I know it I'll be graduated. Or married. Or ...... anyway. you get the idea. Time is flying.
I'm looking forward to... ELYSE'S VISIT NEXT WEEKEND!! You may remember me mentioning her in my Austria posts. She goes to school in the south, and is coming to visit us on Thursday. Needless to say, we're going nuts in anticipation and excitement.