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: How is it this late?

It’s the second link-up in two days!  But it’s also the second blog post in two days, so I know at least one of my relatives is probably happy.  Check out Jen at the Conversion Diary for the rest of the Quick Takes.  It’s her party and I’m just happy to be invited.

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I know I promised a picture of the barn in my backyard.  It’ll come.  But I completely forgot that when I get off work at midnight, it is too dark to take photos of my backyard.  I really want you to see the piles of snow that have been there since December, so I’m going to take a picture in the morning.

UPDATE: Here is a barn, a backyard and a bunch of snow.

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Why am I even typing this up at all tonight?  Why don’t I wait until it’s Friday morning and light outside and everybody else is typing up their quick takes?  Because I have in my brain right now the things I want to say.  I know myself to know that when I get up in the morning, I will probably not be this mentally organized.  One of the big massive down sides to my current employment situation is that some days I work until midnight… and some days I start work at 8:00am.  It makes a sleep schedule difficult to maintain, especially considering how wound up I am whenever I get off my shift.

So I’m sleeping in tomorrow.  Maybe expect the barn picture in the early afternoon.

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Speaking of work and unfortunate aspects, the schedule comes out once a week (a week that starts Friday and ends the next Thursday), and if all goes according to the proper plan, it becomes available on Tuesday evening.  Very rarely does the plan come to perfect fruition.  This was an especially bad week due to weather, technology and other intangibles, and the schedule was not finished until about 1:30 this afternoon.  Another technological snafu followed, whereby every employee logged on to see his or her schedule online… only to find that he or she did not have any hours this week at all.  It turns out that the “let everybody see the schedule” button hadn’t quite been pressed.  I eventually heard the whole story.

But for an hour there this afternoon, I was pretty darn freaked out.  I cannot afford to take an unexpected week off work.  I don’t make a whole lot of money, and so the money I do make goes pretty quickly to cover some pretty specific things.

In order to calm myself down, I started thinking about what I would do with my time if, in fact, I really was being presented with a whole week without any work shifts at all.

I knew almost instantly… I would work on creative projects.  I have this notion that I am a creative person, that I am a seeker of originality, that I have gifts and talents that lend themselves to actually forming a Thing of Beauty with my brain and my hands.  An idea spun itself together in my mind, a way to keep myself inspired and involve my blog readers and social media buddies.  I was actually a little disappointed when the schedule came through properly.

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So I decided to go ahead with my plan anyway.

I am therefore announcing my first Creative Week.

What is a Creative Week?  It is when I undertake and complete one creative project every day of the week.  The media I use will vary.  I may write something, I may draw or paint, I may take a photo… who knows?  I may even sew.  The important part is one day will equal one project; each day will bring a new stretch for my creative powers.

How do you help?  You nominate a theme.  You inspire me.  What makes a good theme?  One word, or one short phrase, that is broad enough that I can interpret it, make it my own, and run with it.  Or maybe something that is even a little more specific, maybe a quote or an image you have in your head… but remember that you have no idea what kind of project I will create in response.

The results will be shared on this blog… maybe once a day, maybe in groups, maybe just at the end of the week.  I don’t know.  We’ll see how well I keep on schedule and make that call as it needs to be made.

So comment below with an idea or inspiration for me.  I can’t wait!

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This is a song I have been listening to a lot for the past few days.  Not sure why, but gosh darn does it stick in my head!

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So, Valentine’s Day is next week.  I really like Valentine’s Day.  I think it is a good excuse to show the people in your life that you love them, whether these people are your family, your friends or your significant other.  I will probably be working on the day itself, which is fine, I guess.  Yay movie theater.  It’s not like I have plans with my boyfriend, because at this point in time we happen to live in separate states.

Which brings me to the question: do you guys have any ideas on how to celebrate Valentine’s Day long distance?  I’m still brainstorming a bit here.

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I am so ready for winter to be over.  I have not seen the grass since before Christmas.  There has literally been snow on the ground for that long.  There’s not much point here… just some complaining.  I saved it for last so it wouldn’t take over the whole post.

So that’s something, at least.

Happy weekend, friends!

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!

7 Quick Takes: QUICK

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I’m linking up with Conversion Diary again for 7 Quick Takes, and this week the emphasis is on quick.  Let’s see if I can get them all done before the pizza is out of the oven!

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It’s been a lovely, music-filled week.  My favorite band, Carbon Leaf, released their new album on Tuesday, and I love it.  I have been playing it on repeat.  One song flows into another and before you know it, the album is halfway through.  It’s been the soundtrack to my running, and you really should go give it a listen.

Really, you should give anything Carbon Leaf a listen.  And, right now, they are giving away an 18 song sampler album at Noise Trade.  Go check it out!  It’s free music!  And then if you like them, you can go buy more.

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I mentioned that I was running this week, yes?  Well, I’m going to be part of a marathon relay team in May.  This will merit its own post a bit later in the week, but for now, click this link and see a bit more about it.

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It snowed today, significantly.  As a result, I am thankful about two aspects of apartment life: the indoor workout room with multiple treadmills, and whichever neighbor it was who cleared most of the snow off of my car.  Thank you!

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While digging through some of my Pittsburgh albums for yesterday’s Theme Thursday post, I found one of my favorites.  This didn’t fit the architecture theme, but I wanted to share it anyway.  So here it is today.

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The three ladies are friends of mine.  The gentleman is the security guard we met about 30 seconds after this picture was taken.

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I heard this song for the first time yesterday, and I have already determined that I’m going to be playing it out for all that it’s worth.

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And now it’s time for pizza!  Happy Friday, everyone.