May The Choice Be With You

I’m finding out that the older I get there’s so much more to learn than I ever thought there would be. I’ve often told my dad that, the older I get the dumber I feel, and most days I mean every word. Surviving Sandy was no exception.

I’ve lived through hurricanes before. This wasn’t my first evacuation either (and if I never have to do it again that’s fine with me). But there’s always room for another first.

I’ve always considered myself a tough person, kind of, when a lot of people tell you something, you start to believe it.

Up until recently my dad was an engineer for a major power company; I grew up knowing that having electricity is a right as well as a privilege.

I learned at an early age that there’s no master switch at your power company that someone uses to turn your power back on.

Going to work with dad often meant hanging out with a crew of linemen and bringing them coffee.

During major outages when it’s “all hands-on deck” my dad even worked as a lineman.

My parents (although largely my dad) have always stressed being prepared. Although a situation may not always be ideal do everything in your power to make sure you can in fact survive.

During my service orientation the concept of “no energy days” was brought up. I thought it was an interesting idea, but I was already giving up internet, cable, and who knew what else at that time. I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon before I actually moved into the house or talked to my housemates.

Sometime later and over dinner we discussed bills. It was suggested that one person in the house handled the bills. We agreed, but also wanted to be kept in the loop. I for one didn’t want one person telling me what I could or couldn’t do just because they paid the bills.

“No energy days” were appealing. We were all curious as to how far we could stretch ourselves in certain areas. The volunteers from the year before had “no energy days” regularly; I figured we could do it too, and better (although it wasn’t a competition, my brain often made one between the two groups).

I don’t remember many of the details of our “no energy day,” or how many we had. But when it came down to it it didn’t make much of a difference to us as a community, we were already unplugging things when they weren’t being used, we embraced, the fireplace, wearing layers and blankets before turning to the thermostat.

I also lived with a Montanan. For those of you who have never lived with a Montanan let me explain to you just how this impacts your life. They’re like the boy scouts on steroids, at least from what I’ve experienced.

And repercussions of such never leave you; like deciding to stay home in freezing temperatures because you have a mummy bag, plenty of stored up water, reading to catch up on, and a headlamp to read by.

Fast forward to Sandy. Honestly, I should’ve been able to handle it better. I have the skills and the know-how. Living without power, for example, for an extended period of time isn’t ideal but its doable, people survived without phones and TVs and such for hundreds of years after all.

Somehow in the personal debriefing of the situation, and unpacking, and organizing, a thought crosses my mind.

Choosing to go without has a purpose behind it, like self-discovery or solidarity or simplicity.

Going without do to circumstances beyond your control requires more out of a person. It requires just one more thing for you to do without, but it’s the biggest thing most people don’t want to give up.

Control.

Next time you find yourself going without, in whatever form that takes, may the choice be with you.

One More Thing: Next time you have a power outage & you see a crew of linemen out there working to restore your power bring them some coffee (or a thank you card). They not only work hard but long hours (12-16 during major outages) & many of them wouldn’t dream of doing anything else.

*A similar version of this post was written on November 13, 2012

Advertisements

10 Tidbits: A Guest Post

I asked my friend Mary to guest post today. I “met” Mary after the death of Jack Morris when I had the idea to look up tributes people may have put together. Mary’s blog, Finding Joy In All Things, was the first one on the list.

Mary and I were in the same volunteer program in the same year. However, we were in different regions, so our first meeting had to be delayed a while. Each region has an orientation so while I flew off to the great Northwest, Mary was in New York. We probably passed each other at 36,000ft if the dates line up right.

I asked Mary to do a “response of sorts” to something I wrote last year on advice in long term service. It’s pretty awesome. Enjoy.

  1. Be gentle with yourself.  This was the best piece of advice I received at orientation.  You will face many challenges this year, and it helps to remember in these situations that you’re doing the best you can.  You don’t have to be perfect to be exactly what’s needed.
  2. Your experience is your own.  You’ll hear lots of stories from former Jesuit Volunteers, coworkers, and folks in your city about previous JV communities.  Remember that everybody has a different JV experience, and everybody brings a unique set of gifts.  Let your experience be your own and know it won’t resemble anyone else’s.

3. The four values are yours too.  There’s no JVC police enforcing a specific way of living the values of simply living, social justice, spirituality, and community.  You’re a grown up now, and you can choose how to live your life – including how you (or how you don’t) live out the four values.  They will be much more meaningful if you make them your own.

  1. Practice indifference. This is a fancy Ignatian way of saying “be open.”  It’s impossible not to have any expectations or preferences about what your year will hold, but try to be open to whatever your year has in store.
  2. Journal. I went through about four journals in my JV year, but I also write too much.  These journals are some of my favorite keepsakes from my year.  I love rereading them and remembering the moments and people that made my year special.   If you’re not a writer, consider taking pictures or drawing or whatever it is you do to remember things down the road.
  3. Consider making a house journal. My roommates and I got this idea from an FJV who had a traveling journal that was sent from roommate to roommate after their year ended.  We started our own mid-way through the year, and five years later the journal is still making its rounds.  It’s a nice way to stay in touch with community members after you go your separate ways.
  4. Find creative ways to amuse yourself. An $85 a month stipend doesn’t go very far.  To amuse ourselves in an isolated city (Syracuse, New York), my housemates and I played a lot of “full contact” spoons, sardines, telephone Pictionary and spent a lot of time outside.  We learned to find joy and entertainment in simple things like baking, preparing meals, writing letters to other communities, and planning get-togethers with friends in our city.  Even though we were broke, we managed to entertain ourselves.
  5. Travel. Especially if you are on the East Coast or have other communities within driving distance.  My community members and I took trips to Georgia, Portland, Newark, New York City, Pennsylvania, Hartford, Ottawa, Watertown, and DC all on $85 a month (see find creative ways to amuse yourself).  Tip: bring food for the car from home and accept hospitality from other communities.
  6. Update the folks back home.  When your year ends, it will make a big difference if your friends and family back home know what happened during JVC.  You will meet people and have experiences this year that will potentially change your life, and your transition to post-JVC life will be easier if the folks back home can talk to you about them.
  7. JVC doesn’t end at the end of your year. Even though it may not seem like it at certain points in the year, the year of service will not last forever.  Much more of your life will be spent out of JVC than in.  JVC is really just the prep year, the year that will “ruin” you for life, the year that will color the way you see many things for a long time.  Remember that you don’t have to figure everything out this year and that the journey is just beginning.

Bonus: JVC is the “real world.”  I got a lot of flack and heard a lot of jokes about doing JVC to postpone entering the real world; as if JVC was just playing pretend for a year.  I think people equate real with having more than $85 in expendable income every month.  From my experience, JVC was just as real as any other part of my life, and I saw and experienced things I never would have if I had just gone straight into a “real job.”   I’m a better professional and better person because of my year serving in JVC

*Sorry about the formatting. I have no idea how it happened, or how to fix it.

*A similar version of this post was written on August 8, 2013

Things New Volunteers Should Know/Remember

For most of the summer I received emails from the organization I was a volunteer of. Most of them were pretty standard, even the “we still need 3 volunteers, spread the word” email. I was sent the email with orientation information, since all former volunteers are invited, and asked one more thing.

“Do you have a sentiment to share with the new volunteers?”

Yes!

The trouble is it’s hard to put on paper, especially for people just leaving orientation. Your brain is swimming with anything and everything. I knew the chances of something I said sticking are slim. Now had they asked for notes for a volunteer’s first few days/weeks at placement, that’s another story.

Dear newly missioned volunteers,

You’ve probably been at your placements just a few days, even so here are Thirteen Things New Volunteers Should Know/Remember

  1. Orientation was like boot camp, but you’re not done, there’s still more to learn. Each. And.  Every. Single. Day.
  2. You aren’t there as a fill in or a substitute. You are there because they wanted you.
  3. There’s a reason for every workshop you sit though, take it from someone whose housemates are now married (indeed to each other).
  4. You’ll have at least one moment during the year that is screaming at you to turn around and go home. Don’t.
  5. Find a mentor, at your placement, in your larger faith community, in your neighborhood, it doesn’t matter, just find one.
  6. No matter how you decided to handle the holidays you’ll end up homesick, and probably crying at some point.
  7. Focus on community; the one in your house was given to you but build one outside of the house as well. Both will make you a better person, and help the other community thrive. You’re in individual who is part of a community, don’t forget.
  8. Be open to things you never considered. Say yes when you always thought you’d say no, but know that it’s O.K. to say “No thanks.”
  9. Very little will turn out “like you thought it would.” That’s a big part of the beauty of what you’re doing.
  10. You will love. You will hate. You will fight. You will be confused. Sometimes all at the same time, and more than likely never over what you thought you would, dishes in the sink, what’s for dinner, who makes dinner, sharing of items, and toilet paper.
  11. At least one or you will end up in the emergency room at least once. Consider it a right of passage.
  12. Contrary to what you may be thinking (or what other people are telling you), you aren’t there to change the world. You are however going to make the world a better place and that’s just as important.
  13. Just when you think can handle your position it’ll be time to leave. It’s O.K.

Bonus 14. For communities where men are a minority, which will be most of them, be respectful of their boundaries, especially when it comes to the purchasing of ladies only items. If they don’t want to buy them on their run to the store DO NOT push the issue.

*A similar version of this post was written on August 16, 2012

When Calls The Vocation

I’m not a big fan of cheesy TV shows, unless I want something to make fun of or watch mindlessly. I’ve rarely watched “The Waltons” and “Little House On The Prairie” has never been my cup of tea but if it’s from Jenette Oke than I’m all over it, at least until the 5th season finale of “When Calls The Heart.”

The main character Mountie Jack Thornton, played by actor Daniel Lissing, was killed in a mudslide leaving his young widow, and longtime love interest, Elizabeth.

The death of “Mountie Jack” came at the end of a season packed with major life events, so it wasn’t in an effort to “liven up” the series. Daniel Lissing chose to not renew his contract with the series, from what I understand.

While I was upset that a character I loved would no longer be part of the show, I can understand an actor’s desire to move on to other things. It happens. It’s one of the best parts of being an actor for many who choose the profession.

What I have trouble making peace with was the choice to kill off the character of Jack Thornton.

From what I understand the production team felt they had a few options:
1) Recast the character with a different actor.
2) Have Jack go to Elizabeth and tell her that his call to duty was so strong that he thought it best to break off their engagement.
3) Have Jack die.
4) End the show.

I agree that recasting would have been a bad choice and if I’m being honest I’m torn over the other options, even though the decision has already been made, because of the reasons given for choosing one over the other.

Their reason for having Jack die was because Elizabeth and Jack loved each other so much that they only way he could ever leave her was through death.

This does not sit well with me, not because it doesn’t happen and not because I wish they would have found another solution.

Because it doesn’t sound like they gave enough thought into what saying “yes” to a vocation over love. Saying “yes” to something bigger than yourself when society says, “you have a great love, you can’t mess that up.”

I would have preferred that the show ended after five seasons, in all honesty.

I may sound like I’m speaking from my “Catholic high horse” on this one but people do break off engagements to enter a religious order, enter the seminary, embark on a career, or anything else that they feel is more than a job (usually meaning that romantic relationships have to end).

What upsets me most about how production decided to handle this particular situation, the show is called “When Calls The Heart,” but it didn’t give enough credit, in my opinion, to a heart’s call to a vocation. The heart can receive more than one type of “call”, and sometimes more than one call at the same time, every situation is different.

I get that everyone tends to fall on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum in terms of storylines, wanting them to end “happily ever after” or “in complete destruction & unhappiness” but more stories should be portrayed in the media, like someone choosing a vocation of service over their own feelings for one person.

Someone once said that once you know someone who became a priest it becomes easier for more people you know to be or become a priest. I think that’s true no matter what the “job” or in this case vocation. Once you know it’s possible for one person you realize it could be a possibility for you too.

Why couldn’t Jack go to Elizabeth and tell her that his call to serve as a Mountie was so strong that he felt it best to break off their engagement? It could have been possible, because it is a reality that should be imitated more often in art.

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

Inspiration & The Saints

Finding inspiration in the Saints can be great, but it can be a real downer.

For a long time I was turned off to the Saints, mainly because people kept comparing me to people I knew I had nothing in common with.

Example: Persons with disabilities are not always frail and plagued with poor health (as so many of the Saints were, for some reason) so in that context its apples and oranges.

And lest we forget the seemingly endless questions about whether I’ve been to Lourdes and do I ever plan on going to receive healing.

(No & HELL NO, in case you were wondering)

I’m not saying that it’s impossible for people to find inspiration from the saints. If I said that I’d be pretty naïve. What I am saying is that people tend to think others look to the Saints more than they actually do, in my opinion. Or for different reasons than others may think.

One of the biggest issues I have with “Saintly comparisons” is during hospital stays and/or bouts of extreme pain. I understand the need for comfort but you need to look at it from another angle, when you’re that miserable being compared to other people doesn’t help matters. It makes you feel like you’re not being a good person just because you’re not handling your hardships as well as someone else.

Comparisons like that don’t really validate a person’s situation in the moment, which means so much more.

Can it help some people? Yes. But from my experience those instances are few and far between.

Plus you’re talking to a person who is alive (and possibly wishing they were dead) telling them about someone who died probably hundreds of years ago; two completely different contexts that you’re trying to compare in an effort to inspire.

It doesn’t work more often than it does work.

Where am I going with this potentially senseless rambling? It’s OK to find inspiration in the Saints; in fact I’d encourage it, for you. But tread lightly when it comes to finding saintly inspiration for others.

Remembering Jack

From a school in Copper Valley, to a legacy of thousands.

As the story goes a group of Jesuits and some of their Sister friends went to Copper Valley to open a school for Native Alaskan children.

Almost 60 years later the legacy continues to make a world of difference.

One of the Jesuits from that Copper Valley School decided to walk to Bethlehem in the name of peace.

He and his fellow pilgrims arrived in Jesus’ birthplace on Christmas Eve, or so the legend goes.

(Did you think I meant the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania? So do most people when they hear this story)

That same Jesuit joined me in a buffet line one spring in Seattle and invited me (and my community) to a meal at the local Jesuit residence.

Just like people do every day, except this was only the 2nd time I’ve crossed paths with this Jesuit. Typically this kind of gesture, although nice, would seem odd to me.

Except for the fact that this Jesuit seemed to possess a level of generosity and kindness of spirit that I hadn’t encountered before, and haven’t since. I knew he meant it.

This kind Jesuit with a boundless spirit and unforgettable sense of humor has touched many, a goal many reach for but very few achieve.

People thought he was nuts. I’m sure there were times he though his own ideas were nuts too. But he went for them anyway.

I laugh to myself whenever I wonder if I’m about to embark on something people think is nuts. Jack would probably be one of those people too, the only difference is, He’d tell you you’re nuts with a smile on his face, then tell you to go for it.

What the Lord can do with a restless spirit is truly amazing, and only something the Lord can do.

I have been truly blessed by his example.

Father Jack Morris S.J.
1927-2012

“Our human task, if you like, is to not flee from the ill-being but to transform it.”
–Jack Morris, June 2012

*A similar version of this post was written on October 8, 2012 & October 22, 2014

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.

 

Years In The Making

10 days ago 2 dear friends professed their perpetual vows.

I knew it was a big day but it took a few days before the enormity of it set in, to the tune of,

“I have friends married to God, Whoa!”

Then I cried for a long time.

I remember the phone call telling me that it would be the last phone call because day to day life in a convent doesn’t involve regular cross-country hour long phone calls about anything.

I remember the 1st letter filling me in about what it’s like to enter religious life with the hand written “PS” at the bottom that I read over and over again.

I remember my first retreat and saying “my best friend is a Sister” to anyone who asked me what brought me to the retreat, and hoping I’d get to see her. I remember how shocking (and equally amazing) it was to see her in her habit.

I remember leaving that retreat with more one friend who happens to be a Sister and nurturing those friendships.

I remember trekking to visiting day, when every obstacle you could imagine (and some you couldn’t) was telling me it wasn’t worth the effort. And it was SO worth it on so many levels.

I remember witnessing their profession of 1st vows in the sweltering heat thinking that there’s no place I’d rather be that day.

I’ll always remember the day they professed their perpetual vows, and wishing I could change things and keep things the same at the exact same time.

I’ll remember the end of the day when we all gathered for a picture. Only a small portion of our group of friends from college we able to attend but we were one of the biggest groups there, I think.

The children helped our smallish group practically double in size; there were SEVEN of them after all. I kept having flashbacks from my days in early childhood education, but then I realized I didn’t have to be “Miss Sarah” I could be “mom and dad’s cool friend.”

It’s been almost 10 years since I graduated from college (Lord, I feel old). We used to talk about what we all wanted to do after college and while I’m not sure all of us are exactly where they thought they’d be at this point in life (I know I’m not); we are all where we’re meant to be.

#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).