Why I: Joined A Discernment Group

Ten years ago I was looking to make a fresh start after a near crash and burn of my academic career & a list of personal issues. (Side note: The fact that I started college more than a decade ago makes me feel kind of old.)

Here’s what’s awesome about going to a university with an active campus ministry:

There’s always something going on.

It’s almost kind of ridiculous how much stuff you can be involved in (or not).

At the time I wasn’t a practicing Catholic, in fact I was still in the recovery from Atheism phase of things, because that kind of journey practically requires a recovery period. I called myself a Christian but I wasn’t ready to “drink the Catholic k00l aid” just yet.

I steered clear of any organized group outside of the theatre department my freshman year and I was reconsidering that plan for sophomore year. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, so I didn’t want to do the same thing.

There are always plenty of things to do in a theatre/drama department as well. There are always “other duties as assigned” (to put it one way) or a friend is working on some sort of project at all hours so if you want to see them it’s best to go to them (and then you end up helping on the same project, somehow). But I didn’t want to be a “drama kid,” at least not exclusively.

At some point during orientation, sometime after neighborhood orientation, I huddled into the campus ministry office with other new students to hear their “sales pitch”. This was some place I wanted to be involved. I knew that from visiting a friend earlier in the year. The how was the part that needed to be determined.

I’m not a try everything once type of girl but that’s pretty much what ended up happening. The first few weeks the only thing I had second thoughts on was solemn adoration; anything labeled solemn or somber means I’ll laugh uncontrollably. I needed to be better versed at adoration before the sound was turned off.

The first group I showed up for (I think) was women’s group. I loved that group. In fact many of the ladies I met thanks to that group I’m still friends with today (maybe I’ll tell you about that someday).

The next night discernment group would be meeting. I had no idea what “discernment” was but I figured it would be similar to women’s group so I showed up.

I probably should’ve looked up what discernment was before I decided to go to the group. But if I did I probably wouldn’t have gone.

Instead of sitting in the lounge area we met in the prayer room. And instead of one of the campus ministers facilitating there were two nuns, from The Little Sisters of the Poor (an order I knew nothing about, but have come to love dearly).

At some point during the hour I realized I was in a room full of ladies who were considering becoming nuns. I was in the wrong place, but I didn’t want to get up and leave (for fear of embarrassment only).

I may have countless sisters these days, but back then I had only known two, and the impression they left wasn’t one of full warm & fuzzy memories.

I left that night thinking I probably wouldn’t go back (because I wasn’t even in the same hemisphere of that life path) but when Thursday rolled around again I did. I’m still not sure why. The funny thing is I kept going. I think I only missed a few meetings during the year, when being a drama kid had to take a front seat.

I even went the night when we’d be saying the Rosary most of the time. When I grasped even less of it than I do now & I had to borrow a Rosary from the spares that someone always seemed to have on hand.

For me it wasn’t about discernment, at least not at first, it was about meeting people who just might be like minded. When that didn’t work out so well it was about having concrete examples of what I might aspire to. Not to mention meeting some religious sisters who were not only nice, but they went out of their way to invest in others.

I will never ever forget that Sister Mary David told me it was perfectly fine to fall asleep during adoration “because the Lord knows you need your rest.”

Never mind that I had agreed to sit up with the blessed sacrament only to fall asleep face down on a futon that was in our makeshift retreat chapel.

My original intent couldn’t have been any more off. However I think I got a lot more out of it than I realize (yes, even now). I made a mistake in judgment but it was one of the best mistakes I could’ve ever made (especially given my history with mistakes).

Even if I have come to have a love/hate relationship with the discernment process.

*A similar version of this post was written on September 4, 2013

Do You Want To Know A Secret?

So where was I?
Oh yeah, no one knows everything there is to know about me……

Shockingly I’m not shocked by this. You don’t accumulate close to (or over) 40 filled journals if you don’t have things you feel that you need to keep to yourself. I’ve never gone back and reread anything I’ve written in a journal. I have no desire to do so either. I’m almost positive there’s very little worth saving in any of them. I might have one journal’s worth of insights worth saving to reflect on at a later date. So why don’t I just throw them all out? Good question. The answer is I just can’t throw them out. It would free up a whole area in my already small closet but I just can’t throw them out. I feel sorry for the person who has to deal with all of them when I die. Out of respect for whoever that person might end up being I’ve come close to throwing a few of them out. But then I have a thought, throwing them out would be like ditching a friend.

When I can’t say it at least I can write it.
I can’t let that go that easily.

Most people would consider me a talker. O.K. EVERYONE who’s ever known me would call me a talker. It’s not something I’m really proud of believe it our not. Especially when someone says, “WOW you can talk a lot.” (By the way thanks to Bill for being the last person to point that out. I hate you and your stupid chicken hearts.) There’s a good reason why I’m “such a talker.”

It’s a major defense mechanism for me.
I’m sure you’ve heard, at least once, that talkers really have a lot to hide, although I prefer to say keep to myself. This is extremely true for me; especially with people I don’t know or feel I don’t know well. If I talk first, and keep talking you won’t have the chance to ask me anything too personal. You’d think it would be a good plan if you were the one doing the talking but honestly, I get to a point where I wish I would shut up. Yet I rarely will.

During my week in Portland I was mistaken as a major extravert, by several people. I had to laugh, to myself of course, when I heard this. No one knew that I sat in silence for almost a week before hand to prep myself for orientation. Very few people noticed that by Wednesday I keep finding ways to go back to my cabin just to have some quiet time. No one knows that I spent most of the trip to Spokane, which included a rather long detour, sleeping, or rather recovering from such a taxing week.

My “extroversion” is just covering up how introverted I am.

I come from a big family. (S)he who yells loudest might be heard. We have 6 different conversations with 6 people sitting at the table. Everyone easily goes into their own world while becoming part of other people’s worlds. We can have 6 conversations while playing a board game together, with one of us talking on the phone to someone else, while eating lunch, while swapping goods and discussing the remodeled bathroom. It really is a fun family dynamic, even if it does make an outsider want to run for the hills.
I have so much fun with my family sometimes that I do wish I could do it every day. Then I remember….
They exhaust the hell out of me.

I didn’t want to go to my prom. I wouldn’t have if certain people didn’t drag me. I did have a good time but I would’ve been just as happy sitting at home.

I went to the charity ball once in college, for all of the same reasons as my one middle school dance. I had a much better time than I did at the prom. Of course, appointing myself event photographer for my group certainly helped. It was one of the only times in recent memory that I didn’t think, “I could have just as much fun by myself.”

I went to only one dance in middle school. I only want because I thought I might regret not trying it at least once. I hated it. Going to the diner after was fun but I could’ve had the same meal any other day at the same diner. In fact, I have and had a much better time than I did after the dance.

Yes, I realize I just gave 3 very similar examples but not much differs in different situations. My point is I prefer to be around people I know. A small group of people I know. I knew most of the people at the charity ball and would call them friends (unlike the other 2 examples) but I still stayed with the group I arrived with. Small groups work best for me with people I know.

What about group projects you ask? No matter if I know my group members or not my philosophy is pretty much as follows, get out of my way, leave me alone, when I want or need any other input I’ll ask. Most importantly let me do the work I need to do,

I’m pretty sure if I didn’t think about the possibility of regretting something later on I’d never leave the house. I know if my desire to see different places wasn’t as strong as it is I would never leave.
But I wasn’t always this way.
So what changed?
I’m not really sure however the fact hadn’t changed that I’ve gone from being O.K. socially, maybe not perfect but I could get by, to being one step away from desiring to be a hermit.

Yes, the life of a hermit does have a certain appeal to me.

Everyone has secrets and things they want to keep to themselves. But there’s a group of people who let their secrets become bigger things. They let them grow into walls.

I’m one of those people that let their secrets become walls.
The walls became a fortress.
The fortress became the only place I can really be me.
But the fortress has a moat.
The moat doesn’t allow anyone else in, as reinforcement.
But here’s the thing about my fortress……
I want other people to know who I really am.
Too many people have let me down for me to do that easily.
If you hang in there you’ll see who I really am.
Hang around long enough to prove to me my walls can crumble.
You just might like who I really am, even more than you like who you think I am.

*A similar version of this post first appeared on an old blog on October 28, 2008

Do You Want To Know A Secret?

I took part in a 9 month SEEL program (Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life). I wasn’t too sure about it at first. It sounded like a good idea but a commitment I doubted I could or would keep up. My roommates had committed to it so I did to, going against my many reservations.

One of the SEEL requirements was to meet with a spiritual director once a week. As much as I’d been interested in spiritual direction and had come close to organizing it on a few occasions, this was the part of the program I was the weariest about. What would I talk about? Would I be comfortable in such a situation? Would I be able to keep the commitment? Would I be forced to keep it up even when I couldn’t? Would I be able to have a director who I didn’t already have a relationship with? The last question was the biggest one for me. It almost kept me from the retreat.

Almost.

Towards the end of the year I sat down with something on my mind that I didn’t know I had even been thinking about. As I often did after I got comfortable with the process and it’s just one of the things that just speaks to how great of a director I had.

I told her about an outing I had with my housemates and how angry it had left me. It wasn’t a huge event, in fact now I don’t even remember what it even was, it was just an activity that had quickly turned into community time, not hard to do with 4 people really. Whatever it was I do remember having fun at whatever it was, so did everyone else. But feelings of anger overrode the fun, especially after the fun was over. Don’t you just love how life works like that?

As I kept talking I started to realize how angry I really was about the whole situation. In fact the outing wasn’t very fun for me at all just stressful. I just pretended to be happy so I wouldn’t be the downer in the group. And true to form I got louder and louder, most people cry during spiritual direction, I get angry and talk through gritted teeth, yes, I did leave her office with a sore jaw on many occasions.

I realized I was angry because I had been living with these people for almost a year, yet I still had to explain to them what needed to happen so I could be part of the fun. I felt that I should have to explain myself to people I was supposed to be so close with after being together for so long. And, I thought, at that point, I didn’t need to anymore. That was a point of my anger, but it certainly didn’t end there

The truth is this wasn’t the first time, nor do I expect it to be the last, for something like this to happen. But there was one very distinct difference about this time.

My best friend wasn’t there.

Now I’m not saying she’s always been there when I’ve been in a tough spot and needed help. We do have our own lives. When I say, she wasn’t there I mean I couldn’t talk to her. Every time I’ve gotten angry about this before I’ve vented to her, immediately after, and she’d provide common sense to my mania. I was mad because no one seemed to care that I was “left behind” in some capacity. I know now, thanks to my director expecting the same results from my housemates, or just one of them was unfair. My best friend has watched (and helped me) adapt to my surroundings for years. So much so that it’s become second nature for her to make adaptations as well. The extra thoughts and explaining doesn’t have to be there. It’s one of the gifts of having begun your friendship at 5 years old. No matter how close I felt to my housemate’s time was not on our side. Expecting less than 12 months of friendship to have the equivalency of a friendship of almost 20 years was more than unfair. Naturally I see that now, given the time to reflect.

During a pause in my rant one sentence blows a hole in my brain. “They don’t get it and they never will.”

As much as I knew this was true I must’ve been in lifelong denial, until that day. Maybe I thought that I could change things, because I’M different. I can make people know things that others can’t. I’M ME.

Can’t I do the impossible?
No.
I’m not God.
I can not do the impossible.
At least not on my own.

I have to take a moment here and say that my spiritual director can speak to my hidden aggravation. She herself has a neurological disorder; she might say condition or even blessing, which people just don’t understand unless they have it themselves.

Once I shut up, with her assistance, she went to work. The grand sum of her wisdom was this,
“Stop trying to get people to understand what they aren’t going to. It’s not within their capabilities to understand anything. They have no idea what it’s like to be you for a day and how much more work it actually is. If they knew they’d be exhausted and wonder how you do it every day. Stop trying to get them to understand, because they just aren’t, and that’s just going to leave you angry, and you have no time for that.”

It wasn’t a long walk home after my session but I certainly did walk a little slower. I was also thankful for the fact that I had to walk home rather than drive. The walk had become so routine that I could get home with big things on my mind and have everything somewhat processed before I walked into the kitchen, depending on the speed I chose to talk of course.

I wouldn’t say that my session was some kind of breakthrough, although it did feel like it at the time, and somewhat heartbreaking as well. The shock and revelation was that someone, other than me, was able to put into words, and tell me, what I’ve felt to some degree for my entire life. Several family and friends will tell you I’ve always been articulate. However there are still lifelong thoughts I am still learning to articulate.
I’m pretty sure without that session I’d still be trying to articulate that particular thought.

Among friends I’ve been known for my boundaries, among other things too, I hope. Among family I’m known for my lack of. This I am more certain about than the previous statement since I get reprimanded for it often. As I’ve gotten older the word “boundaries” is being replaced with “walls” more often.

So, I start to think.
Is there a connection between my “walls” and my desire for people to just “get it?”
YES!

If that wasn’t a self-question to lead myself into denial than I need some help of the mental variety. Being that I was fresh of a spiritual awakening session I did myself a favor and cut the bull, or caught myself before I got too far into it.

I have so many “walls” which I will now refer to as a secret because in the most primitive parts in my brain I know people won’t understand. I keep secrets from everyone, friends, family, coworkers, my parents, even my best friend. Why? Because I know they just won’t get it. I know I won’t be able to stand explaining all the details so I keep most of them to myself. Life can get hard enough as is I don’t need to invite more mental stress into my life, which letting everything out will do.

Everyone feels the need to belong to something somewhere, and often with someone by their side. My reality is I need to make a place for myself to belong rather than put myself into an established group. I don’t belong (strictly speaking) in normal society because I have to deal with more than they do. I don’t belong with people “in my situation” because they do understand (to an extent) what I have to go through on a daily basis. The problem with my being with people “in my situation” (for me personally) is that things quickly become a one up contest. I express a problem. They relate and give it a twist. I try to make things clearer. Their interpretation with a twist follows that. The conversation can continue on like that for days. The problem with the little twists are that more often than not it’s “I have that too, but worse, listen to this….” It leaves me feeling guiltier for not making the best of the situation than feeling like I’ve been helped, supported, and more importantly, listened to.

There was a night in college that will always stick out to me. I had a rough day, for whatever reason, whatever it was it just pushed me over the edge. I’m a bottle it up and then explode kind of girl, in case you haven’t already picked that up. I was lying in bed crying when my roommate came home. Seeing me in obvious distress she dropped her stuff and got on the bed next to me. The end of the conversation came when she told me that maybe if I let people knew how I felt more often I wouldn’t end up feeling like I did at that moment (or any other moment like it before or after this one). I looked at her like she was clueless, because to me, in that moment she couldn’t be more so. “If you only knew…..” I thought. She meant well, and did help me out somewhat, but that didn’t lessen my urge to want to slam my head into the wall so hard that I’d end up in the apartment next to ours.

There have been times that I’ve let people know everything going through my head.
Not one of those people is my friend today. The minute I tell them everything, that they asked to know, I’d like to point out they turn tail and run. I can’t say I blame them but they did ask. You’d think they’d make an effort to hang around for a while. But if people did that divorce rates for people with disabilities or parents of children with disabilities wouldn’t be so high. It really does take a certain kind of person to hang around and they don’t hang around every street corner waiting for some who might need them.

I do try and make small efforts to let people in but the response it never what I thought it would be, even from people who said they’d like to just know what’s going on in my life. Typically, if I get anything in response to my “letting in” its anger or accusations of trying to get people’s attention or pity; in fact, I’ve gotten that so many times that it doesn’t even bother me anymore. If someone feels that way about my honesty than that’s their business not mine, all I have to do is live my life. The other most popular response I get from people is “I’m sorry.” More often than not it’s worse than getting people’s pity, although they have been known to walk hand in hand as well. However, “I’m sorry,” is worse than having to deal with people’s accusations.

What people don’t get is I don’t want “Sorry.” I don’t need “Sorry.” What I really need is your help. That’s what I really want to. If you can’t turn to your friends for help, then who are you supposed to turn to?

I was determined to think of one person who knew everything about me, not including myself of course, by the time I got back to the house. As I got closer I would walk slower and slower. It was taking me longer to think of someone than I thought it would.

There isn’t a single person on the planet who knows everything about me.

To be continued………

*A similar version of this post first appeared on an old blog on October 17, 2008

 

Sarah Leaves

I used to have a fairly regimented holiday season, and then things changed.

Taking the advice of a former coworker, when things changed that I couldn’t control I changed what I could control.

I leave.

As my mother keeps telling people “around the holidays Sarah leaves”.

As in claw around the holidays throw my stuff in a suitcase and hit the road, or sky, whatever fits.

In fact, I happen to be typing this while sitting in the back of an RV which sounds far more romantic than it actually is. Being a nomad, even temporally, isn’t for wimps.

Why do I hit the road? Because left to my own devices the holidays are filled with memories of traditions that lasted for decades.  I get out of my long time comfort zone of traditions by not acknowledging any, if I can help it.

Where do I go? Well that depends, it helps that my family has spread out in the last few years. It’s not nearly as expensive and much more relaxed.

If I can get a reasonably priced ticket and a place to crash I’m gone.

This new tradition of non-tradition helps in some ways but other aspects are more difficult.

There’s always lack of sleep to contend with but at the same time it allows me a better chance to think about other things rather than what’s still lodged in my brain. For example, it’s hard to get lost in grief when you’re trying to catch your next flight located across the terminal that’s scheduled to leave in less than an hour.

I don’t travel as much as I used to and truth be told I find it to be increasingly stressful but I do make these “pilgrimages” every year I’m able to.

I still get criticism from people for it but I don’t care.

My sanity must come first when I feel depleted or else I just spin within myself and it just gets ugly.

I don’t really leave. I retreat and recharge by changing my surroundings. I get out of my own head and in some cases out of my own way.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to take a break of some kind, before, after, or even during, the holidays. It’s overwhelming and overstimulating for a lot of people, self-included, naturally. However, it’s much more common to criticize those who acknowledge that they need a break. Someday it’ll be the other way around, as it should be.

Being 25 Years Old

25 years is a quarter of a century, which makes it seem like a long time.

In reality 25 years isn’t really that long of a time span.

I thought 25 would mean being an adult, until I was 25 and then I waited to feel like an adult. Now that I’m a few years past 25 I realize how far from being an adult 25 really is, for most people.

Within the context of organized religion 25 years is basically infantile.

Within the smaller context of religious orders 25 years is nearly unheard of.

I still remember when one of my closest friends told me she was entering a convent. I was still in shock when I started to tell people myself, which was probably spurred on by the shocked look I had on my face for God only knows how long.

People mainly wanted to know two things, how old she was and what order she was going to be a part of.

Naturally skepticism followed, because how many women in their early 20s join virtually unknown religious order?

sistersoflifeprofession

I, in a desperate attempt to be a good friend, felt the need to defend her choice, even while agreeing with everyone else.

Almost 10 years later I’ve gained more prospective on the situation.

I get “it” now, or at least as much as I can without joining the Sisters myself.

I especially have a greater appreciation for what it takes to create and more importantly sustain a ministry.

Happy 25th Birthday Sisters. May God continue to bless you all & those you serve for many more years to come.

vow-019

Why I: Don’t Suggest Giving Up Social Media For Lent

There are certain things I can count on as Lent approaches. Without a doubt, “What are you giving up for Lent?” is the most popular question to ask and/or be asked.

Now that social media has become such an important part of our lives it’s natural to consider whether or not to give it up for 40 days. I have several friends who engage in this practice, problem is most of them don’t use social media that much anyway. So is it really that sacrificial or are they really getting any benefit from it?

A point worth considering, but not the one I wanted to make right now.

As I write this there’s a snowstorm outside (I’m a write ahead & schedule blogging type). In fact at one point it was snowing so hard that it was snowing sideways. Thus my plans for the day have been canceled and I’m attempting to stay occupied indoors. In a way it’s going to make the point of this post much more poignant, at least I hope so.

The internet, and social media, has opened up everyone’s world. What I don’t think a lot of people realize is just how much it’s opened up the world for those with disabilities.

I wouldn’t be friends with many people if it weren’t for the internet, or at least I wouldn’t be as good of friends with people if things didn’t start on the internet. Let’s just say as an introvert with a disability it’s nice to get the “getting to know you” stuff out of the way when you only get to see people in person a few times in your entire life.

I can’t forget to mention Sara. If there’s anyone who taught me that just because you have physical limits doesn’t mean you can’t create solid friendships and an intentional community. Our friendship may have been short but it left me forever changed.

I don’t suggest giving up social media for Lent for one quasi-simple reason:

You may be part of someone’s community, and it may be the only community they have access to (especially in the winter months).

Giving up your social media routine for 40 days may seem like a good idea and in some ways it can be beneficial but if you do consider who you’ll be leaving behind for 40 days.

Here are some thoughts to consider:

How much can happen in 40 days?

Also consider your group of friends, do they also give something(s) up for Lent?

Do you all give up the same thing for Lent? If so, do you still have that same sense of community because you have other ways of keeping in contact or are you able to see each other in person?

Do you have one friend (or maybe more) that seems uncomfortable with your plan for a 40 day social media fast?

Have you ever stopped and really considered why someone is resistant to give up social media (especially if you “only” know them virtually)?

Lenten sacrifices are meant to make you a better person, but not at the expense of other people. If your sacrifice is harmful to someone else than are you really working towards a greater communion with the Body of Christ?

Alternatives to consider:

Cut back on your social media practices. Check in once a day or once a week.

Post the same thing on all of your social media accounts (idea borrowed from Pat Padley FYI).

Keep community connected through email or text, or an old fashioned phone call.

Make your intentions known early on, as in before today, so if any of your friends have reservations or objections you can engage in thoughtful conversation.

Have a way to contact you on your social media profiles and make it easy to find. Have you ever received an “out of office reply” with a contact email or number included? Like that.

I’m not saying that you absolutely shouldn’t give up social media for Lent.

I’m not God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit so I can’t say such things with absolute conviction. But I wish people wouldn’t make the decision as easily as they seem to. Virtual community isn’t the same as in person community but it’s still a community that needs nurturing, attention, and people to take part in it.

Grad School: The Second Summer

This was my 2nd summer as a grad student.

I was looking forward to this summer because last summer was so amazing. I’ve never been a school person but the idea of spending 3 weeks immersed in school was so exciting. I wished there was a fourth week.

By the time I actually started the third week I was more than ready to go home (it was my 3rd locale in a week, who could blame me).

Truthfully I had a minor meltdown when I got to my room and realized how quiet it was. My brain just couldn’t take it, CNMC just shoved my brain into overdrive and it stayed there, I guess. I begged friends to stop by for a quick visit but they were too entrenched in coursework (as I should have been) to oblige.

Have you ever seen an introvert in desperate need of alone time when they finally get it? It’s not always pretty. I think I spent 10 minutes trying to decide what to put in the bathroom and what to leave on the dresser (and trying not to cry about it).

I also missed the blessing dinner for the graduates. This year it was a lunch which I just couldn’t fit in with my over packed schedule. The blessing of the graduates was a highlight for me last year so I was disappointed to be missing it this year. I also have a lot of friends graduating this year so I wanted to say good-bye to them. Luckily I ran into the ones leaving the next day later that night so I got my wish, just not in the way I pictured it.

I knew the 2nd week of classes was going to be the most challenging. Not only was I taking 2 classes but I was registered to fulfill the 2nd part of my formation requirements for the year.

It basically boiled down to 12+ hour days Monday & Tuesday. I wasn’t running on steam before the week was half over, but let me just take a second to publically thank God for great friends and equally great study groups.

I was feeling better about Wednesday. I think because the first two days were so packed and stressful I just let things go. I did what I could the best I could and left it at that. I didn’t worry about not getting to read Humanae vitae or whatever. If I needed to read it, I’d get around to it.

Also after living through my 1st ever tornado warning, complete with sirens and please take cover in the hall, my nerves needed a break.

Funny story behind my history with Humanae vitae, I’ve read it twice previously for fun none the less but I couldn’t remember a single thing about its contents. (Please tell me you find that funny, and not incredibly sad.)

I was also down a highlighter and a pen in spite of bringing more supplies with me this year. I’m thinking this might just become par for the course during the summer.

Wednesday night I ventured downtown with a small group of friends for Symphony Night in the park. Who wouldn’t want to be able to say they’ve heard the Chicago Symphony live, and for free?

I was feeling much better about Thursday and Friday because it meant I had survived the roughest part school wise. At the same time I was getting closer to having to say good-bye to more friends.

One of my classes many graduating friends in it, more than I realized actually, in fact when we were heading to class the first day one said, “oh we’re in the big room.” Not only were we in the biggest classroom available but we filled to maximum capacity, at least comfort wise.

I knew most people don’t stick around for the 3rd week but I was hoping to be surprised, in a good way, by the number of people who did. In the end I think 5 distance learners, my self-included, stayed for the 3rd week (one of whom I never saw so I have no idea if she was even there).

A group of us went out Friday night for one last gathering before departures began first thing the next morning. It was a wonderful time of relaxation and fellowship, and I discovered I do in fact like Thai food and it does like me (although I’m not sure it would ever be my 1st choice).

Basically week two ended with a lot of good-byes followed by self-imposed seclusion over the weekend. Not only was I tired but I needed to take the time to allow a new reality to set in. I was basically alone on campus for two days. It gave me time to reflect, which I needed in order to fulfill my retreat requirement, but it was also very lonely.

I greeted week three with guarded optimism. I was looking forward to class because I’d wanted to learn from this particular professor since I heard him speak at a conference 2 years before. (And people claim I can’t be a patient person?) But I was preparing to spend much of my free time living as a hermit (and finishing Burn N0tice), which I basically did.

The environment of week 3 was so different compared to the first two weeks it took some time to acclimate to; although I’m not sure I can say I ever fully adjusted to it. There was much less socialization between students so I spent time with the girls in the recruitment since we share some important interests.

Halfway through the week I had had my fill of the same theologians and then I realized my classes had some overlapping qualities. You’d think this would be a good thing, but when you’re not 100% of anything you’re learning it can create some worry.

I joked, although not really, that I was going to end up writing my papers all wrong, or I was going to come up with some brilliant insights that were going to change the study of Theology as we know it.

I’m not sure where I ended up with that one; maybe a little of both?

I can hope, right?

Week 3 ended with another good-bye dinner, which I coordinated. Thus making it my 3rd good-bye dinner in 3 weeks (too much, way too much) but I’m glad I got the chance to have time with such good friends, no matter how exhausted I had become.

With that my summer classes ended, but as someone said (and I happen to agree) the work was just beginning.

 

#CNMC15

The 1st stop of my trip was The Catholic New Media Celebration in Atlanta. Which was well over a month ago and as much as I wanted to write about it sooner but whenever I had the words I didn’t have the time and when I didn’t have the words I had the time.

At the last CNMC my recap consisted mostly of pictures. This time is different though, because I didn’t take any pictures (or tweet a thing) thankfully I’m not alone.

And if it works for Greg Willits than its good with me too, at least that what I’ve been telling people when they ask to see pictures (and then I have to explain who Greg Willits is).

Tiffany was generous enough to agree to be my roommate and companion during the weekend. We met in the airport and went to check in at the hotel (after my attempts at the damsel in distress routine to gain assistance from Billy Newton failed miserably).

You should probably read Tiffany’s account of the experience since her post was fresh in her mind when she wrote hers, unlike this one.

Our room wasn’t ready for us so we headed over to the Eucharistic Congress while we waited for a phone call from our hotel. We decided pretty quickly against attending any of the talks, mainly because we were both sleep deprived. Instead we strolled around to see if we could find anyone we knew.

One of our first stops was the SQPN booth, after a quick detour to my school’s booth) but more on that later), where we met Fr. Cory & Fr. Darryl and took our now pretty famous extreme selfie.

Once we realized it was past check in time and we still hadn’t gotten a call about our room we headed back to the hotel to check in & finally decompress for 5 minutes.

While Tiffany was at the Jubilee Dinner I did homework. And by did homework I mean I went to the gym, ate dinner, took a shower, and kept tabs on the Jubilee Dinner thanks to the #CNMC15 Tagboard Lyn Francisco created. Basically I should’ve gone to the dinner because I wasn’t I wasn’t helping myself out in any way, at all.

The next day was when all the real fun happened. Tiffany & I sat at the same table with Sr. Anne which was total Providence, in my opinion, so it was nice to talk to her in person since I’m been telling people in my life about her for a while now.

Greg Willits’ keynote was amazing and just what I needed to hear, without knowing it’s what I needed. Don’t you just love when that happens?

The rest of the day was pretty much a blur of workshops and networking, and most importantly genuine community.

I had a list of goals in my head of things I wanted to accomplish and a list of things I’d like to accomplish but it would be OK if I didn’t. I was able to cross off everything on both lists and then some. 🙂

Like cornering Capt. Jeff, The Airline Pilot Guy, at lunch and asking him all kinds of air travel type questions; such as why “closing the bridge” due to lightning means people can still get off an aircraft but anything gate checked needs to stay put. Thanks Capt. Jeff & sorry about the inquisition.

Other highlights of the day were meeting Lisa Hendy of Catholic Mom and talking to her more about how she got started as well as talking to Maria Johnson in person since I’ve been bugging her for her feedback on various things for at least the last year.

After the conference was over I headed back to the hotel with Mac & Katherine Barron, of Catholic in a Small Town, who happen to be two of the nicest people ever. I had a great time talking with them and I hope to have the chance again in the future.

Once back at the hotel I met up with Tiffany and a few friends to go to dinner, except those few friends had turned into a group of 17 (?). I’m not even sure how many of us there were but it was one of the best group dinners I’ve ever been to, and I know there are a few pictures of it floating around F@cebook. During dinner I sat next to the older sister of a college classmate which is pretty unbelievable, even considering our alma mater).

Lisa, from Of Sound Mind and Spirit, was also at my end of the table with her kids. She was great to have dinner with and now I want to visit Houston!

After dinner I had every intention of packing and going to bed but Tiffany invited me to go with her to meet a few people in the hotel bar. So we headed back out the door and downstairs (I blame my severe FOMO, in spite of my introverted-ness) where we enjoyed more socializing and met (all too briefly) Jennifer Willits.

After such a great day with everyone I really didn’t want to go to bed but one can only hold off reality for so long. Thankfully Allison, of Reconciled To You, and Tiffany had made plans for breakfast so the next morning we said our good byes to Steph (TV Rewind Podcast) & Marika (@oneeyedsmiley) in the lobby before heading to the airport for breakfast.

My CNMC experience ended, at least for now, with a final good bye to Dee, of Catholic Vitamins, before heading off on the second leg of my trip. Now that home I have one final thing to say, well Steve Nelson said it first, but I agree.

And if you want another good review of CNMC15 you should read Steve’s thoughts (and/or Maria’s link up).

Hit The Road Jack

One of the most common questions I get asked by parents of disabled kids is how do I make friends when you have CP (or other disability). The question has always puzzled me. I could ask able-bodied people the same question since I don’t have experience in that department.

I’m a big believer in quality over quantity when it comes to relationships.

I’m like this for a few reasons:

*My family is so big I have little head space for other people.

*I’m an introvert when it comes to friendships, too many and my brain just freezes up.

*When you have a disability you get a fair number of “pity friends,” that is people who want to be your friend because of the credit they get from it “you’re such a good friend” etc

*When you have a disability or other health issues people tend to run off when things aren’t the greatest and then come back as if nothing ever happened.

Recently Sarah put similar feelings into a tweet

So what do I do when people get hurtful and misunderstanding of my situation.

I let them go.

I used to get bothered when people would promise things and then not follow through. Through the years I’ve learned that not every friend is meant to be the type of friend to show up in your hospital room just to be there, even if you’re sleeping. Not every friend is meant to call the surgical waiting room from another country just to find out how things are going during a daylong surgery. Those types of friends are rare. Hold onto those friends, although it probably won’t be that big of an issue.

There are those well-meaning friends who promise they’ll call and/or stop by and then don’t. These are the friends who bother me the most, yet I still have some. Whenever they promise something I know they won’t follow through on I call them out on it, as nicely as possible. Most get upset for telling them to not bother because I know they’ll be too busy (and you think they’d want to prove me wrong) but they never follow through. If it wasn’t for those few shining moments of their friendships I’d kick them to the curb with the rest of them.

I don’t feel the need to say anything to anyone anymore about their actions. If they don’t realize the damage they’re causing to others than they’re not going to understand what you’re talking about when you bring it to their attention (and most will be offended which will only piss you off more).

Are their times when I want to say something? Of course, but I rarely do. It’s only caused me more stress and aggravation when I do (because people are stupid) and I have too much on my plate to have pointless arguments. I just the friendship fizzle out if it’s meant to.

Although there are times when I tell people to take a hike, and it works out for the best in the long run, whether people realize it or not.

I’m taking part in The Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge this month (also known as #HAWMC).

Comfort Foods

I should be really good at this one since I’m forced to watch the food channels at PT as everyone “pre-game” for dinner, even if it does drive me nuts.

Also, I don’t cook, probably for a few reasons, but one of the biggest is CP. It’s hard to balance and cook and I’ve had to catch myself very close to stoves and ovens so I just try and avoid them.

Plus I hate cooking, as anyone I’ve ever lived with. I do much better with assistance from someone else. I do even better when I’m someone else’s assistant.

I will tell you though many of my favorite memories involve food. I’m not fan of eating at parties (like holiday parties) because I feel like I’m being judged for everything I do or don’t put in my mouth by people I may or may not know. Anytime that happens it involved “uncomfortable foods” no matter how much I may like the food being served.

However I do enjoy meals with people, especially people I enjoy spending time with people I love over a meal. I love going to my great aunt’s house for Sunday (or Saturday) dinner especially.

The act of cooking brings me nothing but stress and aggravation.

It’s a 50/50 split when it comes to the actual eating, but that’s dependent on situation.

I like food the most because it’s a way to bring people together, whether you’re eating it or not. It’s also the best way to find out information about people without seeming nosey 🙂

I’m taking part in The Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge this month (also known as #HAWMC).