7 Quick Takes: Welcome to Lent

Once again, kind readers, we join Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes.

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Welcome to Lent!  I started off the season like a true millenial by taking a Buzzfeed quiz that asked what I should give up for Lent.  I got meat, which is what I had already decided to give up.  I promise I wasn’t aiming for that specific answer.  If anything, I was aiming for Coke, which is what I decided to give up as well, in case the marathon training and meatlessness don’t mix well and I start eating meat again.

The Coke is probably going to be harder for me to avoid than the meat.  So much for a secondary fast.

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Another Lenten discipline I am tackling is the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge hosted over at White House Black Shutters.

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I took part in this last year, but I never really had much organization or focus, and what little I had went out the window when I knew I was moving partway through Lent.  Packing has usually been the death of purging for me.  I hit a point when shoveling stuff into boxes and bins becomes far more important (and urgent) than sorting through and deciding what I actually need.  As I have lived in four dorm rooms, two houses and two apartments since 2006, I have done a lot of moving.  The boxes of unsorted junk have piled up.  Since I’m back at my parents’ house regrouping, it is definitely time to get rid of a lot of things and simplify my life.

There’s not enough room here for all my crap, anyway.

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I joined a Living the Eucharist Lenten study group at my parish.  We had our first group meeting yesterday.  It’s early, but I think it’s going to be a good thing.  I’ve been missing having a solid faith-sharing group in my life.

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I’m about a week into the #100HappyDays challenge.  I am posting a picture of something that makes me happy for 100 straight days on my Instagram account.  I was looking at my collection last night, and I realized that 5 out of 6 photos so far feature food.  This is all on a spectrum from coffee (which barely counts as food) to the Blessed Sacrament (the best, most nourishing food of all).  I have never considered myself much of a food person, but apparently, eating well (or eating in good company, or feeding myself spiritually, etc.) brings me happiness.

To be fair, who WOULDN'T be happy with a paczek and hot chocolate?

To be fair, who WOULDN’T be happy with a paczek and hot chocolate?

Still, I am determined that today’s post not involve food of any variety.

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I went to see Winter’s Tale last night.  I almost didn’t go, because so many people said the movie was so awful.  Still, it sounded like the sort of thing I’d like, so I went to the very last showtime it had in our theater.

And I loved it.  Sure, it was a flawed movie, and I could tell that the source material was broader and deeper than the film could cope with, but it was exactly the right tone and it inspired me to come home and write.  I now have the beginnings of a story idea, and I’m excited about it.

The moral of the story?  I know what I like in films and literature, even if it’s not objectively well done, and I shouldn’t listen to other people instead of myself.

Also, I really need to read the book by Mark Helprin now.

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I’m starting to get into marathon training.  I had a really rough start, and I’m behind, but I’m fighting to catch up.  I’ll be ready by May 4 (so God help me)!  It is so much easier to train when the weather is nice and I can run on the paths by my house.  In the meantime, I joined a local recreation center so I can use the track.  I have new running shoes that help my knees.  My legs are changing shape and I’m definitely getting into shape.

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It’s definitely the time of year for Irish music.  This is one I heard for the first time just the other day.  Enjoy!

7 Quick Takes: seven is the number

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This is the song that I’ve been grooving to this week.  It’s “Faust, Midas and Myself” by Switchfoot. I’m putting it at the top so you can listen as you read, if that’s your thing.

Life begins at the intersection.

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I’m really glad I committed to this seven posts in seven days challenge with Jennifer Fulwiler’s Conversion Diary.  I’m glad I do a lot of things that Jennifer Fulwiler suggests, including this here 7 Quick Takes on Friday thing.  I’m glad about this posting every day thing, because I’m getting my reflecting mojo back.  Reflecting on why I am so indignant about winter in general at this point, reflecting on what feeds me… there’s a difference between thinking and reflecting.  I can think myself in circles, but when I write, I have a record.  I don’t need to rehash everything.  I’m accountable to whatever insights I stumble across.

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I happened across this thing today, and I’m really considering signing up.  I’ve been complaining lately that my life is boring and I’m unhappy.  I’ve been getting restless.  So how do I fix this?  Maybe it starts best with a perspective readjustment.  So, if I spend 100 days posting pictures of things that make me happy, will that help me see happiness more effectively?  It’s probably worth a chance.

Plus, taking and posting pictures makes me happy, right?

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I have a new instagram account!  This one matches my new blog.  Check it out & follow me.

Also, did you know you can find all of my various social media accounts by clicking on that heart icon up at the top of the page?  I like all that info neatly tucked away, but I wonder if you friends can find it.

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This is a fantastic graphic showing every dress worn by a Best Actress Oscar winner since 1929.  It is lovely and beautiful and I am now wasting time looking up vintage photos.

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I’m a literature nerd and a tiny little bit of a grammar nerd, so this collection of famous first sentences properly diagrammed rocks my socks.

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I was going to post a picture for Throwback Thursday this week, but then I didn’t.  As I was browsing, though, I came across this picture, which is full of things that make me so goshdarn happy.  I thought I’d share it with you all.

fresh food, a fresh project and a warm mug of tea... not to mention the boyfriend who took the photo. :)

fresh food, a fresh project and a warm mug of tea… not to mention the boyfriend who took the photo. 🙂

Happy Friday, everyone!

7 Quick Takes: Pitches, Pictures and a Birthday

This week on 7 Quick Takes (hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler), I’m asking for your support.  It’s a big weekend for me: I’m celebrating my 25th birthday and I’m running in a marathon relay on behalf of my favorite service organization, PULSE.  Read on & hear (see?) all about it.

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The Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Organization (or PULSE for short) is the volunteer service organization that was my home for the year after I graduated college.  I cannot speak enthusiastically enough about what a wonderful organization it is.

Founded by a Mennonite pastor in the early 90s, PULSE’s mission is to cultivate a community of young servant leaders to transform Pittsburgh.  What does that mean?  It means bringing a group of recent college graduates into a struggling urban community and putting them into a house together to form a community that lives, prays and plays together.  It means pairing each young person with a different nonprofit organization, based not just on the needs of the Pittsburgh nonprofit community, but also on the specific interests and abilities of the individual PULSErs.  It means weekly sessions of personal & professional development and city exploration.  It means cultural funds given to participants for personal projects, classes or tickets to performances, because art is a service to the community.

Read all about PULSE on their website.  It is such a fantastic organization for so many reasons.  Know any college students?  Send them to PULSE!

 

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For me specifically, PULSE means 7 wonderful women that I lived with for a year.  Between them, they taught me how to cook using spices, how to knit, how to resolve conflicts, how to train for distance running and how to play guitar.  They are immensely talented, loving people.  When I need someone to pray for me, they are the first I turn to.  Moving away from them & the city of Pittsburgh was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

the most recent picture of the 8 of us

the most recent picture of the 8 of us

I take any excuse to go back.  Hence, the marathon!

 

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The Pittsburgh Marathon is on Sunday.  Several current and former PULSErs are running in its various events in order to raise money.   I’m running a 6.1 mile leg in a relay with four others.  Will you sponsor me in my running?

To donate to me, or to one of my fellow PULSErs who are running even more impressive distances, please check out the PULSE marathon page.  My donation page is right here.  If you can even spare $5, it would be so helpful to PULSE’s mission of leading through service and spreading peace through relationships, hard work and art.

Think of it as a birthday present for me.

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I meant to post a photo yesterday so that I could link up with Cari for Clan Donaldson’s Theme Thursday.  This week’s theme is “Play” and I was considering either the sort of picture I’m actually posting here, or taking a picture from my dad’s softball game.  I ended up keeping score instead, since the team was a few guys down.  My dad plays softball in a men’s over 50 church league.  The main reason I bring this up is that the team he plays for call themselves the Relics, and I think that’s just about the best team name they could have come up with.

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So here’s the real picture a day late for Theme Thursday.  Since race preparation is pretty much what I do these days for play, I figured my running shoes would make a great image.  It does feel like playing, now that I’m not desperately straining for breath and now that the weather is pleasant and the flowers are out.  It’s especially nice now to plop down in my backyard after a run.

running shoes in spring

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Also, when did neon become a part of absolutely every athletic item for women?  This would be a problem if I didn’t like bright colors so much.

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One last photo from my evening in Detroit last weekend.  Our tri-parish young adult group went in for a Tigers game.  Thanks to my friend Michael who snapped this picture of me downtown.

Detroit City

7 Quick Takes: The Irish Catholic Sports Fan Edition

Jennifer Fulwiler hosts the 7 Quick Takes, and once again, I join everybody else on the Internet.

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So I’ve been trying to get myself onto a sleep schedule that is more amenable to family life, and more amenable to jobs that make you show up to work before noon.  I have been doing this with reasonable success this week, but for whatever reason, today I feel like I’ve been hit with a truck.  Bring. On. The coffee.

And don’t talk to me if you see me online after 11:30pm EST.  Make me go to bed.

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One of the positive parts about moving back to Michigan is HOCKEY!  I’m a big hockey fan in a region that loves it, and the last championship tournament of the CCHA is this weekend in downtown Detroit.  I had paragraphs of information I could present about the situation, but I’ll save that for tomorrow’s post.  Suffice to say, Notre Dame is playing Ohio State in the conference semi-finals tomorrow, and I get to go.  If they win, I get to go to the championship on Sunday.

Go Irish!

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Speaking of the Fighting Irish,  the men’s basketball team plays their round of 64 game tonight.  I really hope they win, because they’re my team, and because my bracket says they will.  Granted, my bracket does not say they will win very many games, but if I get to choose between winning my bracket pools and Notre Dame winning its first ever Final Four championship, it would not be a difficult decision.  I’m only playing for bragging rights either way; might as well end up with the good ones.

Addendum: The Notre Dame WOMEN’S basketball team is probably going to win it all.  They’re consistently awesome like that.

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One more take of Notre Dame fanclubiness and then I’m moving on I PROMISE.  This is a goofy one, and an opportunity to vote, so all of you Twitter-happy ND folk, might enjoy it.

Her Loyal Sons, my favorite ND football (and occasionally other sports) fan blog did a recap of the Twitter reactions for each football game of the season.  Now, they’re pitting the 64 “best” tweets against each other, tournament style.  Winners in each match-up are determined by popular vote, so get on over there and help out.

Trust me… there’s nothing like ND men’s basketball to make you miss ND football.

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YES.  This is the part where we move on.

This is SUCH an exciting time to be Catholic.  Pope Francis is breathing life into everything he does.  Did you hear that he accepted an invitation to visit Iraq?  The head of the Chaldean church, His Beatitude Mar Louis Raphael I Sako, asked Francis to come visit Iraqi Christians, and speak as well to Iraqi Muslims about interfaith dialogue.  Apparently, Francis said he would. 

I just keep encountering so many warm and loving descriptions of the Holy Father, so many joyous stories, so many hopeful Christians!  It’s as though his elevation to Pope has Catholics the world over taking a good deal of pride in their association with him as head of the Church.  I pray that Francis may really be the source of good that he seems to be in these early days.

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Living with my parents means I have access to all kinds of retro pictures!  Here’s one of my favorites.

potatoes for fb

I’m helping my great-grandfather dig up potatoes.  I remembered this photo last weekend, because one of the pearls of wisdom Grandpa made sure to leave behind was that you should always get your potatoes in the ground by St. Patrick’s Day.

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I’m running in a marathon relay!  And you can help support me, and even better, one of my favorite nonprofit organizations!  This will get its own full post later today, but for now check out the PULSE marathon page.

7 Quick Takes: D-Day

Thanks as always to Jennifer Fulwiler for hosting the Friday classic, 7 Quick Takes.

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So, I’m moving today.  Yay?

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Because of the craziness of a week packed with my boyfriend’s 2-day long MA exam, packing up everything I own, and saying goodbye to a few people, I never quite got a post up for yesterday’s Theme Thursday with Cari over at Clan Donaldson.  So, here is a photo on the theme of green (and that all important pop of red!), taken on my recent trip to Kansas.

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Perhaps there will be some more green pictures after I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this weekend.

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I’ve been participating in the 40 Bags in 40 Days decluttering challenge over at White House Black Shutters.  Does moving count as decluttering?  Because my whole apartment will be totally decluttered 12 hours from now when I don’t live here anymore.

In all seriousness, though, moving back in with my parents does require a certain amount of downsizing.  While I have rented a storage unit for some of the larger pieces of furniture, I have also thrown out about a dozen bags of trash and donated or sold a similar amount of still-usable stuff.  That’s just from my ginormous apartment.  I’ve also deep-cleaned my bedroom at my parents’ place for the first time since I moved into it back in middle school.  We won’t get into how many bags that took.

Of course I’m not done yet.  But it’s good enough for moving day.

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One more photo, because I went to the Oz Museum without any Whovians, and there was no one to appreciate my horror when I saw this and went “UGH, it’s a Smiler!”

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Somebody who reads my blog must also love Doctor Who, right?

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This video is funny and depressing all at once, kind of like my week.  It’s a little inappropriate (only a little), but so well done.  I hope you’ve already seen it, but if not:

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AHHHHH NEW POPE NEW POPE NEW POPE!

I had to wait until the last take, because I can’t write about this without becoming a gibbering mess of incoherent excitement.  Our first Pope Francis!  And I got alerted by texts and watched the live stream and I am determined to find some way to be at the Vatican for a future conclave.

All the Catholic love that day was AMAZING and it’s totally buoying me up on this difficult week.

And on that note, back to the packing.  If any of you find yourselves in Metro Detroit, come say hi. 🙂

7 Quick Takes: here be dragons

I’m joining Jen at Conversion Diary for the Friday special, because nothing helps my blogging more than structure.  Read ahead, as long as you are not scared at the thought of mythical beasts and sacred music.

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You know the old stories about mapmakers who would sketch to the edges of the world they knew and then label the lands or seas beyond with the warning “Here Be Dragons”?  And how that mention of dragons came to represent all unknown territory awaiting discovery?

Well, I’m living my life in a very “here be dragons” sort of way these days.  Thanks to those of you who read my lengthy post yesterday about the two resignations that rocked my February. If you haven’t read it, please do.  I promise never to post anything that long in one piece ever again.

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I ended up not being the only one in Church keeping vigil while the papacy of Benedict XVI came to a close yesterday.  There were four other people who remained after Mass, and it seemed as though they do so regularly.  Without preamble, one gentleman began to pray the rosary aloud.  All of the others who stayed were older, past what I would consider a reasonable age of retirement.  They gathered, as seemed to be their custom, in and around the pew where I happened to be sitting, right in the back.

I was so grateful for their presence, and for their routine.  I had remembered during Mass that the church is usually closed when Mass or confession are not being offered.  I prayed aloud with others, in a true community, and I felt the whole time like we were just stubborning it out, dragging every extra prayer we could into the moment so we could linger until 1:00pm CST.  We prayed the rosary, with the Memorare and Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.  We prayed the Litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Around the time we started to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, the security guard began loitering in the back of the chapel, locking up.

We finished our prayers just as the bells began to ring.  The gentleman who had begun the rosary thanked me for praying with them.  I thanked him for including me.

And then the security guard chased us outside, into the wintry, bell-filled air.

I may or may not have driven through the city with my windows down until all the bells stopped ringing.

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Probably most of the people who would read this blog have already discovered it, but you can spiritually adopt a Cardinal for the next few weeks.  If you’re looking for a way to be more involved, volunteer to pray for a Cardinal through the Conclave and the first three days of the new papacy.  I thought it seemed kind of hokey at first, but the more I thought about it, the cooler it seemed.  I have something concrete to pray for, which adds a focus to my prayers.  I have learned more about a Cardinal I was not very familiar with and I feel more connected to the Universal Church.

I’m praying for Cardinal João Braz de Aviz.  Who did you get?

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Did you know that Spotify went out and got a playlist put together for the Conclave?  Spotify reached out to Dr. Tim O’Malley and the result is fantastic.  I’m listening to it right now.

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It’s been a very snowy week here in Wisconsin.  Over 6 inches fell where I live.  On the night of the big snow, my boyfriend took his recycling out and then called me to say goodnight because he was rushing right out again in the middle of the night to make a snow sculpture.  We discussed his ideas briefly, he promised to send me pictures before he went to bed and then he went out into the night for an adventure.

And campus went nuts the next morning.  The picture of his snow dragon posted to Marquette University’s official Facebook page has 1300 likes.

But here is one of the pictures he emailed to me in the middle of the night.  My guy is a very talented person.

snow dragon at night

snow dragon at night

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In other dragon-related news, after years of kind of sort of hoping it would happen, I get to play a Dungeons & Dragons game today!  Specifically, we’re playing a campaign in Eberron.  I rolled for my character last week.  My character is a female human knight.  She doesn’t have a name yet.  Feel free to suggest one in the comments.

To commemorate the experience, my boyfriend bought me my own set of dice.

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red & black, just like the colors of my soccer teams, dating back to foreve

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There is so much I could share in this last take, but I’m going to go out with a boast.  My Thursday trivia team may not have won the whole competition, but we won the beer round, and thus got a free pitcher.  Here’s to further victory for all!