Friday, October 30, 2009

Life at Home

Well my long term job ended which let me open up my schedule a bit. I took today off for fear of halloween party disaster. I have about a million (or ten) things on my to do list, but seeing as I have two done already I though I deserved a writing break ;-)

One thing on my to do list was go to Mass. It was so nice to get up as my husband was leaving instead of the other way around, watch some news and go to Church. The homily was Halloween related about how we wear masks to hide the truth from others and sometimes from God. I'm sure we all do that sometimes and it's a good reminder to be aware of it; however, it made me think mostly about all the different aspects of myself and roles I am playing. I have been so happy to take some extra time to play housewife this week. I cooked Shepard's Pie from scratch yesterday - no easy feet with about 20 ingredients and I didn't even have to exaggerate that! I have cleaned and done laundry and generally gotten the house back how I prefer to keep it. I'm cooking a nice meal again for company tonight and I'm so happy to have the time.

I've also been blessed with the opportunity this week to spend time with a number of friends who have little ones. I got to see two young brothers play in their yard on Monday while holding the youngest boy who is just 2 months! I played with my 2 year old neighbor while her mother made dinner and finally talked on the phone with my friend who gave birth at the end of September. I'm excited to visit her in three weeks and learn more about new motherhood before I embark on that same journey (no time frame on that yet). All in all, it has been a great week and I am looking forward to enjoying the rest of my day and to do list at home.

p.s. update on the halloween candy post - yes I got chocolate and no the bags did not make it into the house without being "tested" for quality. Well they are hidden now until tomorrow - have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Holistic Living

The term holistic seems to be most used in the medical field these days. I go to a holistic doctor and my primary care physician and I love that massage therapy is part of holistic treatments. Who else has a doctor that has prescribed massage therapy? I think that is pretty neat and was the only excuse needed to schedule one regularly (as in every couple of months).

However, the term has so much more depth to it. It simply means to emphasize the whole instead of its parts and is a philosophy I was taught while going to Hope College and getting a liberal arts degree. I had to take everything from health to music to philosophy to statistics in order to graduate. This made getting out in 4 years difficult but worth it. Health dynamics was the class that really changed my thinking. Since then I have worked out on a fairly consistent basis but, beyond that, it was the class that really converted me to be a liberal arts, holistic learner. I realized how connected body, mind and spirit are and I think that comes out in my posts now.

So often in the past I have gotten tunnel vision - I need to focus on this test, this project, this upcoming at a time! Now everything is connected. It is not enough to fight for the unborn if I don't help their caretakers with resources and information or appreciate the life once it is here - that goes for every life, including mine. So I blame/credit my college for making me think in a way that connects everything to respecting the sanctity of life. From dancing to pregnancy centers, special education to the death penalty - everything deals with life. If I don't value what is there in front of me - am I setting a good example? Probably not. So thank you to Hope College - I guess I'm still using many of the skills I have learned even if I do not have a full time job.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Waiting vs. Avoiding

I have to admit that I have gotten to the point in my marriage when people have declared we are past the "newlywed" phase and with that comes questions about children. I don't know if I was deaf to it in my first year of marriage, but the topic seems to come up a lot more than it used to - even with strangers. I was guest teaching in a classroom last week and the teacher said "avoid as long as possible" which made me stop and think.

If children are such a blessing, why must we avoid? Doesn't that word just sound wrong? I'm starting to realize how much wording can affect attitude and perception. If something needs to be avoided - it must be bad somehow. People want to avoid children so they can go on trips and live their lives because once the kids are here its over right? It's all about them. Now, I don't have personal experience with this dilemma but it just doesn't sound right. It paints the picture that I will be a servant to my children, not in a Christian love kind of way but in a "do as you're told" scenario. I'm just not sure if two year olds can handle that kind of power, but I'm getting away from my initial point.

Waiting vs. Avoiding

Esentially it looks like the same thing, but is totally different in my mind. Right now my husband and I are waiting to have children for a number of reasons that give us concern about our ability to provide all the needs of our child. My life doesn't look any different than someone is avoiding children. I hope my mindset is a bit different, but it is hard to know for sure. Question of the day: are we giving/getting bad advice to avoid pregnancy/children? And to follow that up: How do we prepare for kids if mentally we have to go from avoiding to accepting and loving children?

I'd really like some feedback and answers if anyone has some. The best I can say is that NFP has helped me contemplate the whole "openess to life" idea and how far that extends. I know it is part of my life and something that will hopefully help me ease into parenthood a little easier. I look forward to children being part of my family life and enjoying that time not "getting it over with." I can't predict the future or know that everything will be perfect, but I know that my family (husband and I) are planning and anticipating the day when we can lovingly bring a child into our home.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pregnancy Center Banquet

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to be on time and early. Last Thursday was a crisis pregnancy center's banquet and I was a table host. I wanted to arrive close to when the doors opened at 6:15 so I could greet my guests. Unfortunately I did not make it until after 6:30 and walked straight to my husband to say "I'm in a bad mood." He had come straight from work and was able to greet his parents who arrived before me. Even though I was thankful my husband had come early to the event, my initial thoughts of the evening were along the lines of: I've had a bad day, there was a stain on the shirt I planned to wear, I don't feel good and on top of all of this I let my guests beat me to this event! This is going to be a long night!

Much to my surprise, for I can be a bit grumpy a times, I put a smile right on and went around to greet my guests. I had rounded up 14 people so I really had about a table in a half to greet. I started with the half table since I wouldn't be sitting with them during the meal. We joked about some meeting stuff (whether or not we would have a musical guest at our next meeting) and talked about a future fundraiser. I went back to my table, said hello to my other guests and missed the salad course due to all my talking.

During dinner, I enjoyed some fellowship and music - they didn't start with the speaker right away so I got a chance to talk with some people I hadn't said hello to before dinner was served. By the time the program started, I realized that the night was going much better than I had originally anticipated. My smile was more genuine and I was truly joyful to be there. I felt like I was in my element and it became one of those aha! moments. I must be doing what I have been called to do because my awful day turned into a splendid one. As an introvert, any time a social event with lots of people brings me energy it is very exciting - especially at the end of a bad day. The only question now is once again: Where do I go from here? It is energizing to hear personal testimonies of the good works being done - but how can I help? I haven't figured that one out yet.

I've never been the one who needed the advice that you can't say yes to everything. I've always chosen my activities carefully because I want my introvert time to recharge. Somehow I am having a hard time of doing that lately - officer of a pro-life group, setting up NFP classes, just joined the choir at my church, hosted the table at this banquet and I've actually worked 5 days a week since mid-Sept. What commitment can I make to this wonderful resource without saying yes too many times? I guess I'm still waiting for my next aha! moment.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ballroom Dancing

I have to admit that a show I enjoy watching is Dancing with the Stars. I personally love to dance and sing and most anything that involves good music. The pros also did a great tribute to Michael Jackson on Tuesday night with amazing dancing to some of his most loved songs.

I don't know if anyone else watches but, if you do, the following comment will probably make sense. I was pretty excited when Edyta was voted off soon after the start of this season. For some reason a waltz, tango, and foxtrot all call for dancing costumes that resemble bikinis. I love the dances - it motivated me to take more than a few lessons - but sometimes it is hard for me to watch with my husband. I wouldn't say I'm the most modest person out there.
If I was, I probably wouldn't watch the show. I just wonder if it would get the same ratings if they toned down the outfits - maybe something closer to this picture for waltz and foxtrot if nothing else. I also am starting to wonder what message the show is actually conveying: dancing is a great workout that has helped many contestants reach a healthier weight vs. dancing is an excuse to wear as little clothes as possible.

How does this fit into the subject matter of my blog? The more I get involved in helping fight for the sanctity of life, the more I find myself thinking about how I am living that out on a daily basis. How am I respecting the sanctity of my own life and of those around me. Somehow this week it did not seem respectful or enjoyable to be watching a dance where I could see all the way down one side of the dancer's body. Did they run out of fabric? In any case, I changed the channel before that song was over - I did not like the view my husband was getting.

Big question of the week: does it make a difference if I watch or don't watch shows like that? I don't know and I obviously can't answer for my husband. The follow up question would be any new relaxation/activity ideas for those nights when you both come home tired and want to do something that doesn't involve a lot of energy? I would appreciate some insight because I seem to be forming the habit of turning on the tv at night be default - it's too early to go to bed but too late and too tired to doing something productive.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Health Care

Just in case you have been hiding under a rug for a couple of months, I thought I would bring this topic back to the spotlight. I have gotten a little annoyed at news shows etc. because they keep repeating the same thing. You get to the point where you don't want to hear it anymore. It's like a broken record - and I don't want to sound like that all the time.

There is a crucial point to make though so I will say it again: Health Care, how I define it, is something that helps your body function properly. If you are sick, medicine might help you get better. If you twist something in your back, a chiropractor could help you get better. If you have something serious like appendicitis, surgery may be needed to help your body get better. Notice a trend? If you are pregnant, an abortion does not help your body get better - there are many health risks for you that usually are not associated with the actual pregnancy. As a result, abortion does not fit my definition and here is an article that explains the current events pretty well if anyone is interested.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Right to Choose?

Yesterday I was reading a blogpost on feminism. I'm not going to try to dissect that term, but I did want to talk about one theme. In the 1920s women's movement we were given the right to vote and it became more acceptable to work outside the home. I'm glad women have the option to go to school, work and marry for love instead of economic necessity. In that area we are all truly lucky and should be thankful of the women that came before us for paving the way.

However, when did that choice become mandatory? I have received a lot of unsolicited advice from family, friends and strangers about how I can advance my career. Honestly, it would not be that difficult to advance from substitute teacher - any full-time job would be a step up - but most people are saying I should go back to school for a year (standards changed and my certification is already out of date). Most of the time, I go along with it because that is the path of least resistance. Yes, it is easier to go back to school when you are young and yes that would make my individual financial future a bit brighter.

On the other hand, no one has asked what I want to do. I don't want to be a full-time teacher. I would get a full time job if I needed one but, truth be told, it's not necessary. With mainly my husband's income, we have been able to save a good deal of money for trips and future expenses. When did the freedom to choose life outside the home become a mandatory life goal? I'd rather have a loving family that I have time to nurture and support. So here is a shout out to all the stay at home moms. I think you have a fabulous job that is so crucial to the benefit of society.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A beautiful fall day

Yesterday was a great day for me. I went to work, came home, worked out, and then told myself I would not do any chores before sitting down and relaxing a bit. Of course, the workhorse that I am would not accept that and put in a load of laundry anyway. oh one is perfect.

I sat down in a reading chair to open the book Here and Now by Henri Nouwen. The book is all about living in the present. I looked outside and was amazed at how beautiful the fall leaves are right now.
I sat there content to just look outside (it's a bit chilly) and enjoy the beauty of God's creation. I'm excited for fall and all that brings - walks around the neighborhood to admire all the trees, homemade applesauce and pumpkin pie. More than that, I have been waiting for acorn squash to arrive in the stores. My husband bakes sausage and pasta in it and the result is delicious! Maybe I can get him to make it for me for Sweetest Day. In case you are like me and don't know when that is - it's this Saturday. I have a local flower shop to thank for informing me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Highest Compliment

This weekend I went to Cleveland with my husband to present some research I had done a couple years ago. I was required to do this as part of my training to become a certified NFP teacher. It went much better than expected and the group seemed generally impressed by my findings. The best compliment I received? That I presented a compassionate report of each side.

Our presentation was historical: The 1920s Debate on Birth Control

I compared and contrasted the National Council of Catholic Women with Margaret Sanger. After looking through archives of primary sources and reading many books my whole paper comes down to one main point, which was basically the only point I had time to discuss in the 10 minutes I was given.

Freedom v. Control
The point isn't as straightforward as it may seem since the two movements defined them in drastically different ways. I always find it amazing how one word can mean so many things. Life is certainly confusing and we are all just trying to do our best with what we have and what we know. I think that is still the case today and why there is so much compassion that is needed.

In the 1920s up to present day I believe everyone on both sides have been looking for the same solution - happy and healthy family life We want the freedom to make intimate family decisions so that we can create the best life possible. The problem doesn't arise until we look at the means of getting there. What is right - the freedom to take a pill every day or the freedom to work with a woman's cycle to space the birth of children? In the end, we have to remember that no matter what side, we all have the same goal.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Becoming a Woman

This phrase has so many meanings. I remember being embarrassed about some milestones and enjoying others. I bring up the phrase because I recently stumbled across a blog that I truly enjoy and her post on this subject sparked my interest. The post and comments people have left on her site are definitely worth reading.

I thought it would be a great time to highlight a fresh and somewhat different perspective from my own.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

NFP and Romance

I am getting close to being a trained NFP teacher and it is definitely crunch time! In the next two weeks I have to present research and teach a sample lesson so that my teaching skills can be assessed - I'm not too worried on that end.

I was catching up on some reading about NFP and found one letter quite interesting. The man who wrote it had been practicing NFP for 18 years and absolutely hated it. He believed it killed the romance in his marriage and led to unreasonable and harmful amounts of abstinence since his wife wasn't interested during the infertile times.

That is truly a painful story to read about and I hope my teaching will help students realize the true, and sometimes hidden, potential of NFP. And, before I go any further, I have to give a shout out to my wonderful husband who took me out to dinner last night. He always finds great new places for us to try. I must say I have an amazing marriage and an even more amazing husband. He has embraced the blessings of NFP and takes time to make it work. I'm not ignored when I'm fertile - I am romanced and supported.
Taking the time to send a sweet email, bring home flowers, watch (*ahem* nap) to Sunday football games together, go out to dinner, and so many other activities we enjoy together keeps our relationship strong at all times. It comes back to a popular marriage tip: never stop dating each other.

It is humbling to know how much my husband serves me and how I need to do that in return. He takes care of me when I'm not feeling well, humors me when I am craving three different things at once (with only minimal jokes about what I might be like when I'm actually pregnant), and shows love in numerous ways every day. To leave on a positive note, a different articule pointed out something that I find to be true. On days that are fertile, the acts of kindness and love mean a whole lot more. They are truly meant to show deep love and not to move things along to an expected end. I think NFP has brought me to a deeper understanding of my husband's love for me and I thank God for that.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Loving Others

Right now is just one of those times in my life when I feel like the same message is being presented to me over and over. It's like when you learn a new word or topic you suddenly notice it everywhere. The message of my morning reading, Sunday's sermon and many other random comments etc have been talking about love.

It's something that is so common - of course I'm going to be hearing about it right? Well I guess it is more specific - love your enemies, love those who are different than you, love those who don't have the same blessings as you. Loving people like you is easy, it is a little harder to go out of your way and love those that you don't necessarily think about all the time.

If you fight for the right to life and then don't love the life that is created - are you being helpful? If you want all life to have the chance to see the world and then don't educate yourself on resources or help those who provide - are you being helpful? If you criticize those who are forced to make tough decisions and don't show compassion and support - are you being helpful? I'm not sure.

On that note, I am so looking forward to learning more about resources in my area by attending the banquet of a local crisis pregnancy center. I'm excited that my pro-life group was able to host and fill a table for this wonderful event. It will be a beautiful evening and a powerful message that my group not only wants to speak about life issues but really support a resource that puts into practice what we preach. Thank you to all the pregnancy centers who work so hard to educate and support women that are faced with a life changing situation that can be so scary.