27 February 2013

Random Wednesday Blog: Squirrel!

Hi faithful readers of five!

Just though I would toss out some random stuff today, as my brain cannot seem to formulate a complete blog post. Such is the way of the squirrel.

Brace yourself for a silly blog post.

1) Pope Benedict XVI gave his last general audience today. If the thought of him leaving makes you sad, then you can drink your sorrows away with Pope Beer!

Warning: consumers of this product may start seeing apparitions of Mary.
2) The odds of U2's Bono being elected pope are 1000/1. I'd put my money on squirrel pope personally.
Pope Squirrelus XVIII

3) Week two of my social media Lent fast, and I'm starting to feel like I'm stranded in the desert. The temptation to give up is strong.
Tempt me not Lucifer Squirrel!
4) But alas, I will persevere...
5) To be honest, February has been filled with the meh's. Sigh. I want winter to be over. I am trying to cheer myself up. Just yesterday, I did an epic air-guitar solo to Phil Collin's Something in the Air Tonight.

But were you as good as Phil Squirrlen's?

But I swear it was an epic air guitar set!
6) So, wearing a pink t-shirt will stop bullying you say? Hmm. Interesting. While I get why things like these can help spread the message, let's stop and ask:
  • Am I, the pink t-shirt wearer, a bully myself? 
  • Does wearing a t-shirt make the victim feel better about themselves, knowing that tomorrow, the pink t-shirts will be stained with bullshit brown, as bullies resume their bullying, and sheeple resume their silence?
  • Does standing up for a certain group of people to defend them or promote their rights (sexual orientation, race, gender, political ideology, religious (or lack there of) belief) while spreading hatred against others (sexual orientation, race, gender, political ideology, religious (or lack there of) belief) make you a warrior or a bully? 
  • Is this just another hashtag campaign? (Click the hyperlink to read my thoughts on those).
 I don't know if a t-shirt will really have a lasting change beyond the hyper-attention to the day. Do we we need to wear a t-shirt to be respectful of others? Can't that just happen in your everyday life, regardless of what t-shirt you wear?

Soldier squirrel knows how to stop bullies.
Well that's it for today. Until later...oooh..shiny thing! Squirrel!

21 February 2013

How I Inadvertently Gave Up Sloth For Lent.

Curse you chowder head! Tempt me not!

My friend Theresa is telling all about these cute sloth pics she puts on her Facebook wall. And I can't see them. Such a fiend. Who knew I would be giving up (looking at) sloth for Lent? 

Gah! So cute.

13 February 2013

Ash Wednesday: Frailties

Source: CNS via saltandlighttv.org
Today was the first day of my giving up Facebook and Twitter for Lent. So far, so good. My morning habit took some adjustment. Salt & Light Catholic TV has a great app that I downloaded, for free, that is filled with many great spiritual reflections and programs. I'll give the full update tomorrow of day one.
"Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return." ~ Genesis 3:19
Ash Wednesday (and by extension, Lent) can be a time of great human frailty. It's easy to point out the people in the community who have frailties and vulnerabilities (homeless, elderly, etc...). It's a lot harder for us (the strong, the independent) to admit our vulnerabilities and needs, especially to God. We are reminded that we are built by God's dust...and will return to that state through the will of God alone.

Today I had the opportunity to watch the final Mass of Pope Benedict XVI. I was struck by his frailty ... and of his strength.

In light of what I watched, I pondered my own frailties before God.

Am I strong enough to withstand a social-media fast? Am I strong enough to be a mother? Am I the best wife I can be? Am I healthy enough? Will my Sarcoid ever come back? My memory is getting shaky - should I be worried? Have I been the kind of friend that my friends deserve? Am I good enough at what I do in my job? Will I be able to take care of my mother? Am I truly taking care of myself? Am I a good enough Catholic? Have I been faithful in word and deed to my faith? Am I worthy enough to untie the sandals of Jesus, or enter the Kingdom of God? Am I good enough?

Pope Benedict XVI reminded me of three basic and simple things:
  1. Believe in God
  2. Pray to God
  3. Trust in God
Like him, I am simply a humble worker in vineyard of the Lord. If I live my life as authentically as I can, God will nourish me through the Eucharist. The defeat of spiritual frailty is in the Eucharist. The defeat of the Eucharist is sin. The choice of how I want to live in my earthly body is mine alone. I can choose to accept that I will simply turn into dust. Or I can boldy accept that my soul, if nurtured, has a better place to go upon death.

 The clouds say I am nothing, but my humility says I am nothing without you.
Litanty of the Saints (in Latin).


12 February 2013

Lent and the social media experiment.

Hello faithful readers of six!

Lent has always been something I have struggled with when I started my journey to become a Catholic in 2008.  For a number of reasons, the idea of giving something up to be closer to God has never really...well...resonated with me. 

One reason, as I blogged about in 2010, I have to a certain extent felt like every year was Lent; my whole life the last few years has felt like sacrifice. Between lay offs, poverty (in money and spirit), unfulfilled dreams, or major illness, I have always felt like I have had to make sacrifices. Things improved a lot more when I did become a Catholic, and when I did meet (and eventually marry) my husband. But the feelings of resentment about Lent lingers. Why do I have to give up the few good vices I have just to be closer to God?

My other major complaint was that I never really understood how giving up coffee or sweets made me closer to God. Other than a few extra pounds on my belly, it's not like having a morning java or a piece of chocolate changes my connection to Him, or other people, in any major way. 

This year though, I realised that I've been doing Lent wrong. Three things led me to this conclusion:
  1. I wasn't being honest with what is disconnecting me from God or others
  2. I wasn't giving up anything meaningful, nor was I replacing the sacrifice with an action to lead me closer to God
  3. I wasn't recognizing the opportunity to learn, grow, and be a better, authentic, Catholic by breaking out of my comfort-level

 Lent in many ways is like how some people approach confession - confess/give up the minor stuff...but let's just shush now about the major things shall we...after all, we wouldn't want the priest/world to know just how sinful/selfish we are.

If we are not entirely honest with ourselves and our failings,
then how can we live an authentic life made for greatness?

To prepare for Lent this year, I took a look at my life and examined what what good, and what was not good, and what had yet to be achieved.

The recurring theme was that I am way too connected to social media, but I am not connecting in a meaningful way. My addiction to social media, made worse by my IPhone purchase, has impacted my life in many negative ways:
  1. It takes away important time from my husband, my friends, and my family
  2. It is so time-consuming that my gym and outdoor activity time has decreased, dramatically, which impacts my efforts to lose weight, which in turns impacts my goals (baby, fitness, clothing etc...)
  3. I have no idea what is going on in my friends life unless I read about it on Facebook. That's not good.
  4. It cuts into my other enjoyable hobbies (such as reading a book)
  5. There is too much negativity that just riles me up (especially about my faith). In turn, it's made me snarky too
  6. I am not sure if my connections are meaningful (especially on Twitter). With some, I feel like I always have to engage in battle to defend a view, but most of the time, the other person isn't interested in hearing your view as much as promoting their own bullsh*t
  7. I have dramatically changed my views on some issues (for the better or worse), but I haven't had a chance to really reflect on those changes and what that means
  8. My hatred of people has grown - there is way too much stupid
  9. My own engagement is quantity-filled, not quality-filled
  10. I am missing balance in my life
The most telling reason though?

Social media has become a bigger priority then it is worth. Jennifer at Conversion Diary, after reflecting on her own computer fast, posted this reflection:

Your priorities are the things you plan for. This was actually what sparked it all. My husband made this comment week before last, noting that you can tell what people’s actual priorities are by looking at what they plan for. I looked at my life to see that I had intricate plans for when I was going to spend time on my computer, but was always winging it when it came to the more boring/humble tasks related to my primary vocation.
That my friends is truth. I wake up and the first thing I do, before I even eat breakfast, is reach for my IPad and check out Twitter and Facebook. I think about what things I will post, and who I will read,and what I will blog about before I think of any other aspect of my day.

Most importantly, I don't connect to God when I worship Facebook and Twitter above Him.

I truly hope that this becomes a lasting change and that somehow, someway, I can find that happy medium. I might check-in on Sundays (the one allowable day) just to see how everyone is doing. But then again, I might not. I will spend this time to reflect, pray, be, and build meaningful connections.
I will continue to blog.

Note: Yesterday, Pope Benedict announced his retirement. This is the only Pope that I have ever known as a Catholic (I was baptized under his papacy). I will pray for him and his health. Thank you Papa for all that you have done to guide me under your wisdom. You are a brilliant, wise, humble man. You were good for the Church and your teachings will always be valued.


1 February 2013

Friday's Top Five: Books I Want to Read This Year

Hello faithful readers of five!

I love to read. I was the kid in school whose nose was always in a book. I was the kid growing up who spent every free moment of her time reading. But with deep shame, I admit that I haven't read many books these last few years. In fact, I read a whole total of two books in all of 2012. (I know...I hang my head in shame). You would think that having read the best book of the last decade, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, would have sparked a new reading fever. Alas....

In keeping with this rah-rah resolution theme I've got going this month, I resolve to end this literary dry spell. In 2013, I commit to reading at least 5 books this year. I renewed my library card yesterday, and purchased one book with my Chapters gift card. To add some extra public accountability, I will blog my review of each book here.

I will post the cover photo and the reasons why I am interested in reading the book. I will then link to the write up by Chapters Indigo Bookstore so you can read a synopsis yourself (hyper linked in the title).  In no particular order:

5) Sutton - J.R. Moehringer

This book has three big things going for it:

  1. It is set in New York City, which is a fabulous backdrop for most stories I find.
  2. It takes place in an era-span (early 20th century) that I love.
  3. It is a Heather's Pick at Chapters. 
Why is #3 important? She recommended Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. I am eternally grateful to Heather for that reason as it was one of the best books I have read this decade in my lifetime. I trust her judgement now, so Sutton should be fabulous.

Edward Rutherfurd is such a story-teller. I read his novel, London, and that was fabulous. Long, but fabulous. He weaves the story of various families through generations, connecting these families to important moment and people in our real-life time. Thankfully, he provides maps, family trees and historical time lines in the beginning, in case you get lost (as I do).  A big investment of time, but well worth the read. A story about New York? Sold. 

This is a book I saw on the best-seller shelves, but didn't know anything about. Well apparently, Jenny Lawson is a well-known blogger. She is author of the popular blog, The Bloggess. Who knew? Well in the short time I had to skim the blog (for research for my blog), I laughed. She certainly has a gift for story telling her life! I appreciate how hard it is to come up with a blog, so I appreciate those who put the effort to tell their life story. Plus it would be nice to read a non-fiction book, even if the subject matter is one that would raise my eyebrow in disbelief. 

I put this as a 2.5 because this is a carry over must-read from last year. It technically does not count for this year, so it will be a bonus read! LOL. Every dog and their bone seems to have read this book...and they love it. In efforts to be more grateful this year, I will use this book to inspire me. Hopefully. I tend to dislike these types of hippy novels. This does look promising though. So I will give it a shot. We shall see. In any event, I did email Joanne and tell her that we had to read this. So help me God, I will!

A baseball book? Something that maybe my husband would read? Sold! That said, I have heard nothing but good things about this novel, so I am looking forward to reading this!

There are a number of reasons why I want to read this giant in Canadian literary canon. First off, it's an important novel in Canadian History. Secondly, I sincerely want perspective on the issues of English Canadian/French Canadian, and nationalist/separatist issues, that continually affect this country I love. Beyond that, I have heard it is a fantastic novel and something I have always wanted to read. The fact that it is part of CBC's Canada Reads 2012 battle makes it a timely choice too. 


Well there is my list. What's on your list? Share with me in the comments, then mosey on over to A Warm Cup of Jo to see what Joanne wants to read!