Category: 5 ways

5 ways to carry Lent into Easter

Yes, you read that headline right. Carry LENT into EASTER.

But why? It’s a celebration! A Feast! Our Savior is Resurrected!
All true…
BUT.
Check out the Code of Canon Law for a second.
(OK, more than a second.)
Canon 1250: All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.
Canon 1251: Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
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So here are the strategies I use to keep Fridays penitential.

1. Avoid meat and going out on Fridays.

This used to be SO EASY when I was dating. Friday nights are now date nights (typically). Going out, regardless of what I’m eating, just doesn’t seem penitential at all. I mean, someone brings the food to me!

     If I do end up going out on a Friday night (or for lunch), I try to get a simple, cheap meal. A salad. No soda or drink. Just water.
     It’s nice to enjoy the company, instead of the meal (not that salads are bad!).
     And of course, no meat. I really got into the no-meat Fridays last year, and I love it. It’s nice to know that I just don’t eat meat on Fridays, and I don’t have to think of something to abstain from instead.
     If I stay home, I like to make a simple meal, and eat it without distractions… meaning, no reading, no cell phone while I’m eating. Just a simple meal at my dining room table.

2. Spend some extra time in prayer on Fridays, particularly at 3 p.m.

     After Divine Mercy Sunday (the Sunday after Resurrection Sunday), I like to re-add a chaplet to my day around 3 p.m. I can’t do it every day, and I can’t even do it every Friday… but I try extra hard on Fridays to at least say the Divine Mercy prayer at 3 p.m. This helps me remember, every Friday, that Christ died for MY sins.
     If you don’t have time for the prayer, don’t have it memorized, just say “Jesus, I trust in you!” Go for three times. 🙂

3. Go to daily Mass.

   I already try to go as often as possible. I’m lucky that my work schedule and the Mass schedule at my local parish works out.
     Starting a Friday morning with a Mass just makes the whole day go better (and really this works for any day).

4. Can’t make it to Mass? Liturgy of the Hours!

     Yes, the Divine Office. Say it. Say the morning prayers, say the vespers. Say them all. Say what you can.
     They’re online, I think there are apps for smartphones. I don’t know. This is something I want to start doing this Easter season (and ordinary time!).
     I don’t go to  Mass on Thursday mornings… my parish only has Liturgy of the Word with Communion. So I usually sleep in (if I can), and spend some time enjoying a cup of coffee before I go to work.
     So I plan to start saying the Divine Office on Thursdays. Well, I want to try.

5. Examination of conscience.

     I do the examen from the Jesuits every night, but Fridays are a great day to review the past week and see what keeps popping up.
     Lust? Greed? Worry? Fear? Am I getting hit with the same sins? Have I done what I planned to do to avoid those sins? To work on them? Fridays are a great review day, and new plans can start on Saturday.
     For example, I’ve been feeling very fearful about my financial situation the past few weeks. I got hit with double electric bills after moving, and the money was just a little bit short.
     But of course, God provided… through my mom. She gave me some cash when I helped her with her taxes, and I was able to buy some groceries. Praise God.
     So while I know I still need to budget my money, I know that God isn’t going to leave me starving. It will work out, if I use my money wisely.
     I recently started tithing a full 10 percent, and the first paycheck, it really hit me, but I can already see the blessings coming back to me. God provides.
Those are just some of the ways I do… or plan to make sure every Friday is a penitential Friday.
God bless.
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5 ways to go on a trip by your lonesome

In case you missed it, I spent last weekend at Eagle Appreciation Days in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. I took a ton of photos, had a great time and ate great food.

By myself.
It was scary at first, but exciting, too.
Here are five tips to do the same thing.

1. Pick something you love.

     Do not go online and search for the best places to travel in your state or area then pick one. Nooooooo. That’s not the way to go.
     Find something you’re interested in. Really interested in.
     For me, it’s always been the eagles (that’s why it came up so fast on my 28 by 28 list). That was a no-brainer for me.
     Love beer? Maybe you should tour a brewery!
     Like sports? Maybe you should go to the hall of fame or something. A game might be not great alone, but if you’re brave enough, do it.
     Like reading? Head to some author readings or a writing convention.
     Do I need to go on? Find something that you’re interested in before you start planning.
     Then you’ll be excited about the planning process and you won’t be irritated with the trip before you even go.

2. Pick a good weekend to go.

     There are eagles all over the place in Prairie du Chien all winter.
     But I went on the weekend when the city holds the Eagle Appreciation Days. So check out cities/places/towns that hold an event related to what you’re interested in. Then you won’t be bored. There will be plenty to do all over the place.
     There are author write ins in college towns, kite fly days (those are cool), movie screenings. You can find something. If you’re interested in something, chances are really good that there are a bunch of other people that love that thing too.
     If your work schedule and budget allows, go for an overnight. If it doesn’t, don’t sweat it. Just try and spend a whole day in the place. Take your time.
     Take your time and spend your time.
     Work on the weekends? Go on a day off. Easy. You might not find as many things to do, but you can make it work.

3. Get sleep and eat well.

     The whole week before, make sure you get good sleep at night. This isn’t the time to be too excited to sleep!
     I know I spent a few hours lying in bed thinking about it. I had to talk myself into sleep.
     And I tried to eat well on the way out to Prairie du Chien (about three hours) and on the day of. It’s not time to eat a ton of candy or junk food. Try to find at least a good breakfast to get your started.
     If you stomach isn’t feeling great, you’re going to remember what else isn’t right… like the fact that you’re alone.

4. Talk to people.

     You may be by yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can’t strike up a conversation.
     When I was in Prairie du Chien, I saw a guy wearing a sweatshirt from where I live. I went over and talked to him about the drive and how we found the event. It was only a few minute conversation,  but it helped me remember I didn’t have to be lonely on a trip by myself.
     I almost didn’t go talk to him. But I did. And who cares?! I’m an adult, he and his friend were adults. It was fine! I wasn’t hitting on him, jeez.
     It took some courage. I didn’t talk to everyone that I could have talked to… but I talked to that one guy. And it helped.

5. Take your time.

     You’re alone. You can dictate your schedule. Want to sleep in? GREAT!
     Want to get started so early the hotel breakfast isn’t even ready yet? Even better. The choice is yours.
     Want to sit in a local cafe and drink coffee while people walk by the windows? Awesome.
     The day is yours.
     It was really chilly while I was in Prairie du Chien. I spent more time inside at the exhibits than I would have if it had been warmer. There would have been more eagles to see outside.
     I could choose that. I was by myself. I do what I want.
     I thought about going to a cafe, but it looked pretty crowded.
     I ended up in a little diner in Marquette, Iowa. It was awesome. The coffee was strong and hot, the BLT was delicious and the waitress didn’t charge me for dessert. What a sweatheart.
     The point is, I could have gone anywhere that day. After I saw the eagles, I could check it off my list and do anything. So I did. I went to Pike’s Peak, I went to the Effigy Mounds.
     The day is yours.
Another thing I would have liked to do was go to Mass out there, but I couldn’t stay Saturday night and the only Mass was at 8 a.m. Sunday.
I usually try to schedule those things better.
Be brave!
In the fear of the Lord, one has strong confidence. Proverbs 14:26
God bless.

5 ways to move on

I haven’t been the best at moving on.

I was with my ex-boyfriend for nearly six years. It was hard to leave, even when I knew it was the right thing, the thing that God had been calling me to do for a long time.
I’m still hurting, still lonely, still clawing my own heart out, and I want to share more personal things on this blog, but while the pain is so fresh and new, I just wanted to post this list.
These are five things that have somewhat, kind of, barely, a little bit helped me “move on.”

1. “Jesus, I trust in you.”

     One of my first nights alone, I was washing some dishes and I started crying. I remember just nearly-kneeling (my knees were bent, and my head was down and my hand was holding on to the counter), and just saying “Jesus, I trust in you, Jesus, I trust in you, Jesus, I trust in you.”
     There’s something calming about the repetition, something calming about Christ holding my hand, something calming about being able to trust someone.

2. Fill your life with people and experiences.

     Not food! Not things! This is not the time to eat yourself into a food coma or drain your savings.
     If you do that, you’re only going to feel worse about yourself.
     Things (or food) can not bring you happiness. Remind yourself of that.
     Instead, invite your friends over for game night or drinks or coffee. Go for walks. Start a 10K running program (this is what I did).
     Set a goal of something, anything.
     Go on a road trip. Just a few miles. To a lake or a hiking path. Go somewhere.
     These don’t have to be new experiences. You just have to go and do without the other person that used to be in every part of your life.

3. Go to Mass!

     Mass will bring you peace. Enjoy it.
     Talk to people while you’re there. Sing the songs. Hold hands, if your parish does that during the Our Father.
     Smile at everyone. “Fake it until you make it,” in the happiness department.
     If you can go to daily Mass, do it. There is something great about a pious, beautiful quiet Mass during the week. It’s a refresher.
     Better yet, spend some  time in Adoration. Bring your Bible. Bring your Rosary. Talk to God about your pain.
     He cares. “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you. He will Never allow the righteous to be shaken.” -Psalms 55:22
 

4. Avoid thinking about the break up and trying to figure out what went wrong.

     In my case, I sort of knew the break up was coming. I was growing more and more orthodox in my beliefs, and I wasn’t communicating that. My Ex-boyfriend wasn’t talking to me about his goals, either. My heart of hearts knew.
     After the break up, I tried to figure out, for a while, how I could have changed things.
     But no, it isn’t going to help. We weren’t meant to be together, and that’s OK. I learned a lot, I loved a lot, and it hurts a lot.
     Pain and sacrifice are a part of life. I know that God will provide.
     It doesn’t make sense to dwell on the past. As soon as you can, start planning something for the future, something to look forward to.

5. Don’t jump back into the dating game.

     Again, I did this wrong. I signed up for a free online dating site and started talking to two guys.
     What a mistake. MISTAKE.
     I wasn’t ready. My heart is still hurting. My soul is still healing. My head is still reeling. It’s not the time to try to find someone else.
     It may never be the time.
     I don’t have a magic formula for when is the right time to start looking. My mom, my friends, everyone, says you’ll find someone when you aren’t expecting.
     Except, when you think your vocation is married life, you are always expecting. (Right?)
     So take some time to be yourself, by yourself. Take some time with the Lord, as often as you can, and just enjoy life.
     It isn’t too late, regardless of how old you are. Honestly. It’s not to late. God has a plan. God knows. Just trust in his ways.
Just some things to think about while you’re in pain.
God bless!

5 ways to tell if a relationship is ‘unprofessional’

I struggled with how to title this post.

It’s hard to see if a line has been crossed or not. We want our co-workers to respect us and value our opinions, but we don’t want to flirt with them. Or them with us.

Unrelated photo of a kid on a bench at a store.

Unrelated photo of a kid on a bench at a store.

Here are five signs that your relationship has crossed the line:

1. You have long talks alone with this person.

If you’re the only two people in your office or workplace, OK. But, if you hold off on having conversations until everyone else is out of the office, you may be crossing the line.

Workplace conversations are touchy. Some of them are just with your boss, some are just with your “peers.”

Some should be open for everyone.

Try to figure out which conversations are which, and don’t spend hours talking to the same person every day.

2. You get excited when you see this person’s car in the parking lot.

This is weird. Don’t change your mood because someone is at work or not. You should like your co-workers and your boss, but you shouldn’t be excited to see them at work.

You’re professionals working together. You aren’t friends visiting a frat house, excited to see a guy’s motorcycle parked outside.

3. You ask for advice from this person.

It’s OK to get advice from people, but you shouldn’t be sharing personal things with someone in a professional relationship with you.

You have girl friends and guy friends and parents to bounce relationship questions off of, not your co-workers, especially not in a one-on-one session.

If your boss is much older than you, that might be the place to go if you don’t have someone else.

Don’t solicit advice from someone who isn’t appropriate to give it. (Ever think of asking your priest instead?)

4. You text.

Don’t, please don’t text.

Don’t text. Texting is for friends. Call instead. Just call. Or send an email from your phone. Don’t text.

Texting is for friends (like I just said!). Texting language is informal, casual language and that’s not how you speak to your co-workers.

5. You don’t feel comfortable around this person.

You would think it would be the opposite, right? That you’re too comfortable? Both are true, but being uncomfortable when you really think about how the relationship is progressing is a sign.

Listen to your gut. It’s saying, don’t hang out with this guy. Don’t walk over to his car and talk.

It’s saying, keep professional relationships professional.

Don’t push those signs away. It could be your guardian angel trying to pull you away from a bad situation.

Pray about it. If you have any thought, any  thought at all, that this relationship might not be professional, pray about it. Ask a priest for guidance. Talk to your boss about it.

God bless.

5 ways to actually say ‘peace be with you’

If I had to choose just one part of the Mass that really irritates me (it’d be really hard), but I’d pick the sign of peace.
So many times, I reach out to shake hands with someone, and the person doesn’t make eye contact with me because he or she is looking at the next person to shake hands with.
Really? I always think to myself. You’re supposed to be sharing peace with this person.
It’s supposed to be symbolic of asking for forgiveness and giving forgiveness to those in your (personal) life.
It bothers me a lot.
Here are some ideas to make the whole process go more smoothly.
1. Relax. You’re not going to get a deadly disease from shaking hands.
     Last time I checked, those horrible diseases aren’t spread by hand-to-hand contact. I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure a few seconds of sweaty palm action won’t kill you.
     Stop trying to avoid the person who coughed a little bit ago. He probably just has a dry throat because he woke up late and didn’t drink anything before leaving for Mass (he can not wait for Communion, let me tell you).
     Seriously, can you stop with the hand sanitizer after shaking hands? Please, stop.
     Jesus was among the lepers. You can shake hands with the girl who has a runny nose (it’s allergies, I swear).
flower photo

A not-related photo of flowers.

2. Stop trying to make a strategy.
     This is not the game of Risk. Just turn one way. No hands open? Turn the other way.
     The just shake hands in succession one way or the other.
3. That would be the point where you make EYE CONTACT.
     Actually give peace.
     Goodness. Smile, say it audibly and shake the hand like you just made a closing deal on a house.
     You’ll feel good. He’ll feel good. Life will go on.
     “Peace be with you.”
4. Shake hands with the kids.
     They’re probably shy and don’t want you to look at them.
     Just offer your hand anyway. If they don’t respond, it’s OK.
     Offer them peace anyway. I mean, they’re kids. C’mon.
     If you do it sincerely, the parents will smile, too.
5. Mention it after the dismissal.
I mean, was that hard? See, you just gave peace again.     “I noticed your scarf when we shook hands. I love it.”
     Then, she might be happier, not snap at her kid in the parking lot and the world goes on.
     If you’re too shy, try to say something nice to the greeter handing out bulletins.
     Not just, thanks, have a good day. How about: “nice tie” or something similar.
It’s not difficult to just be nice.
Once you’re pretending to be nice, it’s not too far until you’re actually nice.
It’s kind of a vicious circle.
God bless.