7QT, Vol. 66: Jury duty, summer, and adulting

Time for some quick takes on this Friday afternoon! Head over to Kelly’s place for more.

1. This week I served jury duty. I was on standby the night before. Then when I checked back, I had 1:30 to report downtown. We all sat in a giant room (at least 200 people), and then I was one of 84 people called into a courtroom to start the jury selection process. The charge was read to us, and we filled out a questionnaire about related past experiences of ours. The next day, I was one of 24 called up to the jury box to begin questioning. It was a loooooong day. And I was SHOCKED at the number of people who had difficulty following instructions. I had to come in for a third day, and was thankful to be excused then. It was fascinating to see part of the process, but I have a trip coming up and it would have been too much time away from work.

2. Speaking of, I’ve officially been at my job for a year! It was quite the experience ending up where I am, but it’s good to be here. It’s not what I expected, and who knows what the future holds. But I’m thankful to be gainfully employed.

3. In other adulting news, my sister and I have been thinking of starting an Etsy shop with greeting cards and prints. We’re experimenting with watercolor and calligraphy. Anyone have a favorite quote or type of card you’d like but can’t find?

4. Have any favorite summer recipes? This salad is the bomb diggity. This lemon ice is refreshing and light and originally from an American Girl cookbook.

5. Did you see that video preview yesterday from The Center for Medical Progress? Well, a judge ordered it to be removed from YouTube. Ask me more about it if you want to hear a rant/rage. I have no patience or tolerance for killing babies, profiting off of it, and then people trying to cover their butts. NOT. GONNA. HAPPEN.

6. In better news, this is an interesting article about the boom in young Catholic women starting initiatives and organizations. I’ve noticed this trend, and am grateful for so many fellow young Catholic women living out their faith and fulfilling needs of our world hungering for our authentic witness. I do honestly wonder if guys have the same wealth of resources, though. Hmm. Any thoughts on that?

7. Lastly, Happy Memorial Day. Let’s give special thanks this weekend for those who have given their lives for our country.

That’s it for now! What have you been up to lately? Have any thoughts on my takes?

To Life,

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Judging people vs ideas

We hear it in the media, our cultural sensitivity training, and even from the Pope: who am I to judge?

Tolerance, open-mindedness, and understanding of people with different beliefs is the anthem of the correct, the battle cry of those fighting for the love and acceptance we all long for (right?).

But there’s something about this 100% acceptance rate that bothers me: we forget to differentiate between people and ideas.

We can probably agree that the appropriate attitude toward people is love. Sometimes love challenges and confronts, because it cares for the good of the other, right? It can call people out and change us. Love doesn’t stay the same. Think about a marriage or good friendship. Do you stay on the same level forever? No. The relationship grows and stretches with highs and lows. And that’s beautiful. We sacrifice and do hard things when we love people. We accept and love people because they are people, whether or not we agree with what they think and believe.

Now, we might disagree on how to handle ideas. I think we have a major problem when we treat ideas the same way as people. Ideas are concepts that we should examine, not accept because of what they are. We need to think deeply about and ask ourselves if it is true. Ideas can be wrong or disordered or stupid, and it’s okay to recognize that. Many people, I think, have lost this distinction, and assume that if you hold a disagreeing belief you must be the thing that is stupid, not your idea.

I recently made the mistake of entering a comment box regarding the redirection of funds away from Planned Parenthood. I replied to some (false and stupid) ideas in the comment section with facts and sources, explaining my belief and backing it up. I had to laugh at some point about the replies, because they were absurd.

For example, people assumed I was a mean-spirited Republican who voted for Trump, just trying to defend my stupid political affiliation. I am not a Republican and did not vote for Trump. But even if I did, that wouldn’t make me stupid. It’s the same concept about how we tell kids nowadays “that was a bad choice” and not “you are bad”. There’s a difference.

According to those people, I am an “embarrassment to intelligent women” because I have a belief different than theirs. But that thought out position of mine is on an issue I have researched and continue to read about extensively. I’m happy to talk about it. And I understand why people think differently. So let’s talk about and see what’s right.

When we put up walls between us and people we disagree with, we can’t talk about the issue we’re facing. We’re not going to get anywhere except our own heads, which are already filled with ideas we think are right. But what if we’re not right? If our idea is wrong, and we believe things that aren’t true, we’re never going to realize that if we stay stuck in a bubble. And doesn’t that matter?

I will listen to you and your story. I will love you and try to understand you. I might call you out if you have a stupid idea too. And you know what? I hate being told I’m wrong, but I’d want to know. It’s important to judge whether or not our ideas are right, or we’ll be stuck in our own heads forever.

Who am I to judge?

I’m a person who wants to know the truth.

So I’m going to keep researching and judging ideas in order to reach the truth.

Recognizing truth and providing evidence to support your belief isn’t an accusation of your being stupid. It’s an invitation into debate and truth-seeking that is only possible if we admit we might be wrong.

May we all increase our ability to admit that.

To Life,

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P. P.S. Have you been judged to be a stupid person because of a belief? Did you do that to someone else? Please share in the comments and let’s chat! Even if we disagree 😉

A year after graduation

A year ago I was paining over finals for the last time. My future was so uncertain. But then all of a sudden, I had a job, graduated, and roadtripped home. Now it’s been just about a year since graduating college.

Work started 4 days later, and though it was a lot to adjust to, I’ve learned. Most of my prior job experience was summer internships, so it’s an odd and nice thing to be committed to a long term job. I moved closer to work in October. And since then life has just been plugging along.

I heard lots of people talk about how hard the transition into real adulthood can be. But honestly, I was already living in an apartment before graduating, paying for groceries, and taking care of myself. Being self sufficient isn’t hard for me.

What I have found extremely strange is how boring this season of life can be.

Since college was halfway across the country, friends and organizations didn’t come back with me. I loved living with four other people (and some honorary roommates who frequented our place). I was constantly busy doing something. At first it was going to ALL the things freshman year. Then I led the campus pro-life group for the next two years. Senior year I’d passed on the head role and participated by receiving requests for baby items I then delivered to families around town. I taught CCD and helped a mom out once a week, more than occasionally got up at 4:30am on Saturdays to be on the sidewalk outside the nearest abortion facility, and always had an assignment or project to work on. There was always something.

Now I go to work and come home.

For the first time in my life, I’ve had huge amounts of time where there’s absolutely nothing I’m expected to complete and no one to report to. It is weird and wonderful. Mostly weird.

I feel a certain sense of responsibility to spend my time well. But oh my goodness is that HARD. I can’t just walk across campus to adoration. I don’t know families near me I can go help. Places don’t respond when I ask about volunteering. Church doesn’t have much for young adults. Life isn’t what it used to be, and I have to rebuild with new people, places, and things.

Even though I’m somewhat of an introvert, it is incredibly tiresome to have so much time to myself. Who knows how long this season of life with so much stillness and quiet will last. While it does, I want to give my time away. It’s too boring keeping it to myself.

So what am I going to do about it?

My sister and I hosted a Blessed Brunch, and have had people over. I joined a gym recently and rediscovered my love of group exercise classes. Perhaps the Etsy store I’ve thought of for months will finally launch. The sky’s the limit. So one awkward get together at a time and attempt at building life all over again, it’ll happen. It takes a lot of patience and wow-I’ve-tried-that-and-will-never-do-it-again, but it’ll happen.

And just like other times in life, I’ll look back and smile, realizing life was happening, all of a sudden and all along.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people in this season of life? I’d love to hear from you!

To Life,

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7 Steps to Become a True California Driver (and a giveaway!!) – 7QT, Vol. 65

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It’s been forever since I blogged joined in the festive 7 Quick Takes with Kelly and lots of other fun people. So here goes!

Growing up in the Bay Area, I knew drivers around here were a little cray cray. But I did not come to fully appreciate the true depth of the California driver brand until I went to college in Kansas and realized some people actually kind of follow the rules of the road. These people may move out of the right hand lane when cars are pulled over and sometimes wave at you just because (I know, what?!). Anyone who visits this great state (or big cities in general) might be a bit shocked upon witnessing our driving. So I thought I’d throw together a little how-to in case you ever need this vital information.

Here are 7 commandments to follow if you want to become a true California driver (or more specifically, Bay Area, because every area has their special brand of crazy):

1. Thou shalt lose thy s#!% at the sign of any type of inclement weather.

Which in California includes rain and . . . yeah, rain. Maybe fog if you live close to the coast? Let’s be real, guys. It can ruin your hair, AND HAVE YOU HEARD OF HYDROPLANING?! You need to go at LEAST 33mph under the speed limit for a drizzle, and slow to a crawl for anything heavier. It’s basically this, except in cars:

2. Thou shalt chillax in the left-most lane at 29 mph under the speed limit to teach those entitled speed limit breakers a lesson.

This is especially advisable if you’re driving a Prius or electric vehicle. Oh! And while you’re at it- don’t pay attention to the carpool lane rules.

3. Thou shalt significantly reduce speed and gawk at any unusual sights near the road.

This includes accidents, tow trucks, fallen branches, and rabbits. The best technique is to brake abruptly so you’re going slow enough to get the low-down on the situation. As soon as it’s out of sight and you’ve backed up traffic enough so evvvveryone can stop and see, resume normal highway speeds.

4. Thou shalt work thyself into road rage when traffic is slow and let others know about it by revving your engine and speeding in a zig-zag through said traffic, slamming your brakes only occasionally enough to narrowly avoid an accident.

When in doubt, resort to lightsabers.

Bonus points if you’re driving an expensive car because then everyone know you mean BUSINESS. There’s also the option of flashing your brights to shine some light into the souls of people who annoy you. Weaving in and out of cars on the road is an art. So release your inner Bob Ross.

5. Thou shalt not learn how to merge.

How does it work? One car from their lane to every two in mine? Big spaces between each other? Who knows! Who cares! Go when you want and don’t look.

6. Thou shalt catch up on social media and texts while driving.

Seriously, when was the last time you texted your Grandma? She is overdue for some love from you! Driving is the perfect time to check your notifications. Bonus points if you can do Facebook live or an Insta-story about the latest political upheaval without rear ending the person in front of you. And if you do hit ’em? You will get tons of responses and shares and followers so yay!

7. Thou shalt basically do whatever you want on the road. It’s about getting from point A to point B, not what happens in between.

So let your hair down and get there! Drive on the shoulder if there are too many people in your way. You got places to BE for crying out loud! And if the people turning in front of you weren’t fast enough during a green light, just go during the red one. People will avoid a collision. Most of the time. Talking and yelling at other drivers is also awesome, especially if you use the universal Italian hand signal.

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Okay, but in all seriousness, I’m glad to have only been involved in one real accident in my life (plus a recent person who rear ended me with no damage). I’ve come very close to increasing that number more times than I care to count, but thankfully haven’t yet. And no, I’m not claiming innocence from doing some of these crazy things myself. This is a crazy area to drive in, but it’s kind of nice that this is where I learned. I just expect people to be crazy and un-courteous.

I also pray the rosary going to work each morning, so that helps me take deep breaths and enjoy the scenery instead of swearing. And I’m giving away an identical rosary CD! Because I have two. Would you like it? I prefer a CD over an app so that I’m not messing with my phone. It’s a simple version (just the prayers, no meditations), and their voices are thankfully not annoying or too slow.

To enter, leave me a comment about driving! Do you have a lovely commute? What crazy things do people do while driving in your area? Have a pro tip for other drivers? A funny story? One comment/entry per person. I’ll choose a winner at random on Sunday, so leave your comment by noon pacific.

To Life,

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#WomenWork and Strike for Justice

 

I don’t usually post about work, but I am today because it’s a #DayWithoutWomen at some workplaces. This campaign was created to encourage women to go on strike from both paid and unpaid work today to “demand justice” in honor of International Women’s Day. But I’m not going on strike today. I commuted in just like normal, and will leave just like normal right before the sun sets.

There are lots of interesting things I do in my work for the Catholic publisher #Iworkfor. I get to bring my faith to countless people while earning a living. This is #whyiwork

I am so grateful for the stay at home and work from home women and moms out there who do the valuable work of raising families in loving homes. Maybe I’ll do that one day. I’m also grateful for the women in workplaces making a difference in that way. I’m grateful that I have a full time job to support myself. And I wouldn’t disrespect the women who came before me by sticking it to the people who gave me a job.

On this #DayWithoutAWoman, I just wanted to encourage you to show up. Like Edith Stein said,

“’The world doesn’t need what women have. It needs what women are.”

It needs us, and whatever our unique personality brings to the world. It needs our compassion, our creativity, our knowledge, our passion, our empathy, and our perspectives. The world needs us to be there in the office, in homes, hospitals, schools, laboratories, studios, and wherever we are.

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

So wherever that is right now, give it your all. Show up. Work hard. Be a strong and brave example. Demand change when necessary, of course.

And know that you are needed for who you are, not what you do. Going on strike to make people miss you takes away the unique and unrepeatable gift you have to offer. Give. Love. Show up.

[I posted this on Instagram earlier, but it was so long I thought I’d put it here too.]

To Life,

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Protecting our sanity in a media saturated world

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I don’t know about you, but my head has felt on the verge of exploding lately. Like many millennials, I’m on social media and enjoy the interaction. But scrolling through Facebook makes me feel restless, and often frustrated with the world (especially lately). I know I’m not the only one who feels like that, because many acquaintances have recently decided to delete various accounts.

But don’t freak out! I’m not suggesting we all up and leave social media and form a compound where we can create a perfect world. In fact, I think we should keep our social media accounts. Here’s why.

We’re called to be artisans of culture. 

Now I can’t for the life of me remember who said that. I think it was JPII, but can’t find a reference. Anyway, how are we supposed to promote the good parts of our culture and challenge the bad parts if we run away from it? We have to be in the world, just not of the world. Unless your vocation is to join a cloistered religious community, chances are we’re going to have to continue dealing with whatever the world throws at us. So we might as well be smart and informed about it.

BUT, being informed doesn’t mean we have to know everything about everything.

We’re plugged into news 24/7. It’s easy to get sucked into that and scroll through Facebook or Instagram until 1am (*AHEM* ask me how I know). I think we have to remember that’s not a requirement. We can put our phones down. And it’s okay to not know every single pop culture reference. Trying to stay up on everything is just too much. Has there ever been a time before this when people knew about every single world event within minutes? No! It’s a recent development with the internet.

Trying to stay on top of every single thing makes me feel insane. So here are a few specific things I find helpful to maintaining sanity:

1. Create a morning routine where checking your notifications isn’t first.

Have you noticed how much this sets the tone for your day? I find that if I ignore my phone before work and make intentional time to pray in the morning, life is just better. If you struggle with this too, you could try using an old fashioned alarm clock instead of your phone so that it’s not the first thing you reach for. Or you could disable wifi and data until later in the day.

2. Pick and choose who you follow and what you click when you’re digesting your newsfeeds.

I sorted my Facebook friends into three lists: family, school friends, and then other people I care about seeing things from. Instead of just scrolling my newsfeed, I click on the friend list and only see things from that group of people. This means I don’t see updates from a lot of my “friends”. When I’m being smart and actually follow my own rule here, I don’t see updates from pages on Facebook either. I don’t really care about many pages I liked in the past, so it’s a win for my sanity.

On Instagram, I don’t automatically follow people who follow me. I’m following a little over 100 people right now, and have been needing to narrow that down.

One feature that helps with this is the “save” option on Facebook. When I see something interesting during the day, I usually save it for later instead of clicking and reading it then. When I have time to look at it later, it often isn’t interesting enough to read. Win for my sanity! Be ruthless about what you choose to click. If there are people or pages that ruin your sanity, just unfollow them. #SorryNotSorry

3. When something makes you mad on social media, stop and think before you respond.

Did your distant relative just post something stupid about Trump? How about vaccines and global warming and religion and politics and all the other things that make people mad. It’s okay to not engage, especially when we know the person isn’t interested in actual dialogue. Will this conversation bring both of you to a deeper understanding of each other or the issue? Think before you type. And I’m telling myself that too (LOL so much). I’ve participated in my share of Facebook debates and know how they can go…

4. Find things offline that refresh you and bring you joy.

I enjoy cooking and reading and have been loving local trails for hiking. I met some new friends at a brunch recently, and have been learning calligraphy. So fun! Things like this always refresh me and restore my hope in the world. Find what does that for you.

5. Whatever you do right before bed, make sure it’s offline.

. . . to which we all cackle, because who doesn’t check their phone before trying to sleep. Guilty as charged. But I have to say: putting away my phone, laptop, and tv for a while before bed makes me feel so much more refreshed than scrolling till my eyes droop. Try journaling, praying, reading, or something creative.

Our culture has some major problems, but I don’t think the solution is to run away. Please stay on social media to the degree that you can keep you sanity! The world needs your reasonable voice to challenge it. And we need to protect our sanity so we can be those reasonable voices. Let’s transform our culture together.

[But first, coffee. We gotta stay sane, right? 😉 ]

How do you keep your peace in the age of social media? Have any tips or tricks?

To Life,

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My 2016 in review

Have you seen all the memes about finally waving adieu to 2016? Most people seem to be counting down to saying goodbye to an eventful year. It’s certainly been quite a year for me, with lots of changes and things I haven’t blogged about. So for posterity’s sake, and because I miss this place, here’s what 2016 looked like for me.

January

The end of Christmas break saw me going back to Kansas for my final semester of college. I was beyond excited to be done with formal schooling. But at the same time, there’s so much to say goodbye to when college ends. I can now tell you that it’s quite possible to be crazy excited and terrified at the same time.

For the fourth time in college, we packed up a ginormous group of people to head to the March for Life in D.C.

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Buuuuuut then the morning of the March we turned around and headed back to Kansas early in order to beat a crazy huge storm. It was a hard call to make for our bus company and group leaders. Ultimately, though, I think it was a good decision. The road we had to take heading west was the road many buses got stranded on just hours after us.

February

I treasured many “lasts” of college as the semester went on. At the same time (late Feb/early March??), I discovered that the job I had expected to step into after college was not going to happen. It hadn’t been for sure, but this made the next couple months crunch time to find a job. I was not keen on the idea of graduating without a next step. Anyway, you can imagine what that’s like for someone who likes to plan.

My role in the campus pro-life group senior year was receiving calls from families in need in our town and then delivering items directly to those moms and babies. That was such an enriching experience. I got to literally meet people where they were at and help them through more materially difficult times than I’ve ever experienced. I am so glad that I stepped back from being President that school year to work hands-on with people who needed us. I spent many Saturday mornings outside the closest abortion facility too.

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March

I had a lovely spring break trip with some of my college girlfriends in snowy Colorado mountains. We went inner tubing and just had a blast. The job search continued. And I passed my senior comprehensive exam. Thank you, sweet Baby Jesus.

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April

Things started to get REAL at this point with impending graduation. Applying for jobs got old fast. I do not envy anyone who is job searching, because at least in my experience, it was horrible. There’s the hope of seeing new opportunities and then after submitting your application you never hear back. I actually really appreciated the rejections I received, because at least it was an answer.

Part of the reason this was such a struggle for me is because with my Business Management degree, I was going to be qualified for any number of jobs in the business world. I know I am capable of doing much in the business world. And going home to Silicon Valley you might think that was my ambition. But I didn’t want to work in the corporate business world. To me it felt cold and impersonal and basically purgatory on earth. In my opinion it’s driven too much by money and other things I don’t care about. I wanted to work with non profits that were either related to my faith or the pro-life cause.

Though I didn’t have a next step yet, I started throwing away paperwork and notes from classes that I didn’t need anymore. Sweet freedom was on the horizon.

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On campus our Memorial of the Unborn was unveiled. This was such a wonderful moment for the campus pro-life group, because students had been working on the project and raising money for it for many years. There had been many setbacks, and I was so proud to see it finally installed after much hard work.

It’s in a memorial garden in a nice spot on campus. Here’s what the statue looks like (with some rain on it). The rock wall behind it is a great height to sit and think, and it’s right off of a walkway with a bench directly across from it.

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We hosted a baby item drive where all proceeds go to the ministry I was managing of helping local families. It was wonderfully successful and made me happy to leave the ministry in good hands with resources to work with.

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May

Toward the end of April (I think – sometime around here), I started facing the reality that it didn’t look like I was going to be working in the fields I was most interested in. And I was like “FINE, GOD, IF YOU SAY SO”. Letting go looks much more like that sometimes than a feel-good Hallmark movie. It felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff and had no idea what was coming. I applied for many jobs that in my opinion looked lame because it was time to be an adult even if what happened wasn’t ideal.

Then all of a sudden, life worked out.

In the couple weeks leading up to graduation, I had interviews with both a prominent pro-life organization and Ignatius Press where I work now. It’s funny because I had sent my resume to IP about 6 weeks prior to this, I think. They didn’t have any job listings up, but I figured it didn’t hurt to send my resume around and see what happened. Since one of their staff members was moving on at the end of May, they contacted me. And two days before graduation (I kid you not), it was official. My goal all along was to have a job before graduation. Of course it would have been nice for things to work out a couple months prior. But I just had to laugh at the way it turned out. God is good. And I had a next step after graduating.

I graduated a said bittersweet goodbye’s. At some point I’ll have to write more about college. My cap said “Believe there is good in the world“.

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Then I moved home to California, started training for work 4 days later, bought a car and BAM. I am officially a real adult.

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There’s a lot that goes into big transitions like this, and I felt that. Work was a steep learning curve at first. Taking public transportation was a nightmare the first few days before I got the car. But I have a job and I was thankful.

June – September

I adjusted to my new normal, which included a commute of about 1:40 or so each way. Fortunately driving the hills of San Francisco was just fine. After school started (for OTHER people, mwahahaha), it took over 2 hours to get to work in the morning. I listened to Catholic radio, said the rosary, sometimes jammed to music, and avoided accidents in crazy Bay Area traffic.

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My first nephew was born and I visited him (and my sister and brother in law) and summer was great. My other older sister and I began looking for an apartment together once both of us had things in order. That was an interesting process!

October

We found a place, were accepted, and moved at the beginning of the month. It really had only taken a couple weeks of intense looking, visiting, and applying to find the right place, but it felt super long. The hardest part was finding something affordable, because local market price is about $3,500/mo for rent. Thankfully we found something under that and have enjoyed it ever since. One of my favorite walls is this gallery wall I’ve been slowly adding to:

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Craigslist has come in handy for many furniture pieces, including that awesome chair and bookshelf 🙂 The crucifix is one of my favorite parts, and this phrase from Mama T.

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November – December

Since then life has been moving along as per usual. We had a pretty crazy election. If you’re wondering how I voted, you can read this. Oh yeah, my transmission failed right before Thanksgiving (THANKS semi-new car). That was fun! Thankfully it was under warranty.

It’s nice to have my own place and a job to learn from. But I definitely miss the hustle and bustle of everything I did in college. It was so easy to pop across campus for this or that activity and go to events and volunteer my time. The world is so much bigger and takes being much more intentional now. I’m still looking for volunteer opportunities and social groups and figuring out good ways to spend my time. Oh! One awesome way I’ve spent some time is exploring trails around here. There are so many and I love them.

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Can you believe this has no filter? It’s sooo beautiful in the hills where I live.

It’s been a year of figuring things out, making lots of decisions, and taking big steps into the world.  I am thankful for much and looking forward to whatever the new year brings.

Did you make it this far? Congratulations, that was was long. Cheers to 2016! How was yours?

To Life,

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P.P.S. Check out more people’s years over at Bobbi’s link up!

7 Quick Takes, Vol. 61: New place, fall, and not the election

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Hello world! There have been so many thoughts going through my head lately and posts I’ve wanted to write. But obviously that hasn’t happened. I’d like to spend more time writing deeper things, but you know what? You gotta start somewhere. Here are 7 random things about life lately. Join in with all the fun people today.

1. Life has both been a whirlwind and super slow since graduating in May. Being back here blogging reminded me of this scene in Mulan:

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On the one hand, I had my first day of work 4 days after getting home and jumped right into real adult life. That felt crazy fast. On the other hand, that’s mostly what I’ve done since May: drive to work, work, go home, eat, sleep, repeat. Compared to college life and everything I was doing, real life can actually be quite boring. I’m working on finding ways to spice it up and do new fun things . . .

2. Speaking of finding new things, now that I’ve moved (as of almost 2 weeks ago), I feel like I can finally do that. My sister and I found a place between our workplaces and are close to feeling mostly moved in. It’s both weird and super awesome to have our own place. And SO nice to have a commute of about 40 minutes compared to over 2 hours.

3. One of my favorite parts of the apartment? My bed. It’s probably the single thing I spent the most $$ on, which I think is worth it. Here’s a little sneak peak complete with my messy Craig’s listed corner desk, $7 Ikea lamp, and wrinkled pillowcases for a little extra pizzazz:img_0276

4. Another fun thing about being an adult is cooking. Tonight I’m going to make a polenta + veggie + cheese casserole. I’ve never made polenta before, so we’ll see how that goes. Anyone have fun squash recipes or others appropriate for fall?

5. We all know how crazy the world is, so I’m taking this opportunity to remind you there’s still good stuff out there. Remember that. Just take a look at the sunset! I took this the other night stopped at a red light after picking up a tree from Craig’s List, which is pretty awesome if you ask me. We can choose to focus on the bad stuff or look for the good. Focusing on good stuff (even though we do have to deal with crap too) really makes life better. Also, who wouldn’t be happy with an awesome new tree in your car?

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6. I don’t know if this quote is legit or not, but I found it recently, and love it: “Teach us to give and not count the cost” Words to ponder from St. Ignatius.

7. On an interesting note, I really like this article from earlier this week: The New Culture of Life. It’s about the growing trend of people who are feminist and/or non-religious within the pro-life movement. I find the reaction to this quite interesting. What do you think? I’m a big fan of a consistent life ethic, regardless of other beliefs we might disagree on, and am looking forward to doing more with that soon.

What have you been up to lately? Are you proud of me for not mentioning the election or politics here? That was hard! I have much to say on the topic, but will save it for later 😉

To Life,

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Mother Teresa beyond the poor

What if I told you that there was so much more to be learned from Mother Teresa’s life than helping the poor? 

As a Catholic, there are thousands of people we recognize as possessing heroic virtue, so it might be hard to pick a favorite saint. But Mother Teresa, whom I affectionately call Mama T, is hands down one of my favorites. Let me tell you why.

At first I admired her for giving up everything to help the poor. Who wants to walk the streets helping people who kind of (really!) don’t like you (at first)? Probably most of us wouldn’t jump on that opportunity. 

It’s admirable and beautiful what Mama T did to help the poor, and I think most of us could make a greater effort to alleviate the suffering of those living in material poverty. That’s the easy to agree with message that so many people fell in love with Mama T for.

But there’s so much more to her. Here are some of the reasons (beyond helping the poor) Mama T is my homegirl:

She teaches us to trust God with absolutely reckless abandon. 

I use those words literally because to most people, how the Missionaries of Charity live is totally reckless. When I spent a spring break with them, I learned that they never ask for what they need or want. Instead, they’ll pray for God to provide. And guess what? He always does – even if it’s not how we imagined. The soup kitchen I helped them run for a week was overflowing with food to share. And they had never put donation bins in churches or asked for people to contribute. They got up around 4am, didn’t have furniture in their chapel, hand washed their sari’s, got through each day helping others tirelessly, traveled around their city to help all sorts of people, AND were able to stay awake for an hour of adoration. We can’t all do this, obviously. But it was a good example of what can happen when we lean on God. 

This story is another illustration of how Mama T trusted God (and shows us to!), which I try to remember. I’ve gone back to that story so many times. Her example is such a good reminder that God will never lead us to such deep waters that he can’t carry us across. 

She showed me that being Catholic doesn’t mean you have a perfect relationship with God.

It might be scandalizing to some people to know that Mama T felt unloved by God for the majority of her adult life. To me, it’s comforting. It’s proof that being a good person doesn’t come from special spiritual super powers. Yes, she had to have a lot of grace to do what she did. But just like her, I can choose to do what is good and contribute something beautiful to the world even if it stinks sometimes. People we admire have struggles and feel alone sometimes. How awesome to know what we’re all capable of.

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Never heard of her struggles? READ THIS BOOK.

She helped me understand that loving is about giving.

Much like the quotable Fulton Sheen, Mama T had some mic drop moments talking about giving. Reading her words have been part of my understanding of Theology of the Body – that life isn’t about getting and having. It’s about being and giving.

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.

During my mission trip, one of the sisters was experiencing severe pain in her foot. It apparently was getting worse as she was getting older. But we didn’t find out until well into the week, when it came up in conversation. Her response? “You don’t get old until you stop loving Jesus!” She just kept on giving.

She taught me that feeling unloved is a crisis unparalleled by material want.

To much of the Western world, being without a house and food sounds like one of the most horrible things that could happen to you. It is surely a sad thing. At some point, I thought how nice it would be to go to places like the slums of Calcutta and alleviate the suffering there. But having a bit more life behind me now (ha!), I get this. Material want can be fixed. And it should be, by people who have things. Want for love is so different. Whether it’s a broken relationship, a rough upbringing, or something else that’s cause for a feeling of alienation, there’s not as easy a fix. It’s complicated and messy and I hope that throughout my life I can help some people feel a little more cared for.

The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.

She showed me that you don’t have to go to Calcutta to change the world.

If you love Mama T, you probably thought about going to India for a hot second. Am I right? I did. Would it be awesome to see and experience her work? Of course. Yes. It would! I’ve found mission trips to be enriching and wonderful experiences. They’re great. But I think they also run the risk of us failing to see the people around us right here in our neighborhoods who need a helping hand. Mama T issues a challenge to us, which I hope to spend my life working on:

It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.

Are we up for the challenge?

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“I Thirst” written beside every crucifix in their buildings serves as a reminder to spend our lives satiating God’s thirst for souls by bringing his love to the world.

You can find Calcutta anywhere in the world. You only need two eyes to see. Everywhere in the world there are people that are not loved, people that are not wanted nor desired, people that no one will help, people that are pushed away or forgotten. And this is the greatest poverty.

We’ve heard her words. We love her. Now let’s find our Calcuttas. Where is yours?

To Life,

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Why I’m not voting for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton

What’s more lighthearted and joyful to talk about than politics nowadays?

Lots of things, Laura. LOTS of things.

But talk about it we shall. It’s been hard to figure out this election cycle, so here’s how I’m approaching it.

Why I'm not voting for Hilary or Trump at A Drorp in the Ocean

The first thing I consider when voting for a candidate for any position is whether or not they respect the dignity of the human person. If the person in question supports direct attacks on human life, they automatically don’t get my vote. I don’t care if they have a stellar economic vision if they can’t respect everyone’s right to life. #SorryNotSorry

If the candidate passes that basic test, I will look at their stance on a variety on social issues. Then I will move to economic strategies, foreign policy, and the list goes on. But let’s be real. Most politicians don’t get that far in my process.

Because this is my process, Hillary Clinton never was and never will be someone I vote for (barring a major conversion). She is in favor of abortion on demand and shares Planned Parenthood’s worldview that some people are not as important as others. She’s also a criminal, so there’s that. Not voting for her was an easy decision.

Now the harder part. Long before the candidates were official, I seriously wondered if Trump running for president was a joke. I mean, what filthy rich business honcho runs for president? Apparently he does.

When I realized he would be the republican nominee, I lost what little faith I had in our political system. And I decided to eventually drop my affiliation with the republican party. The two party system doesn’t make sense to me at this point in history, because I think it divides us against each other when we need to work on electing people who will unite as many people as possible. Even though this means I won’t be able to vote for republican candidates in future primaries as a Californian, I’m just not willing to be affiliated with a group of people I don’t belong with.

Anyway.

The obvious decision would be to vote for Trump then, right?

Not for me.

I understand the reasoning some people are using to justify voting for Trump:

  • they’re sticking it to the establishment (by voting for the establishment…wut? I’m really not sure how someone like Trump isn’t part of this alleged establishment.)
  • they like that he’s not a career politician (which makes him a great politician. How is this a good qualification for being President?)
  • they hate Hillary so much they’d vote for the other person regardless of who it is because the republican is going to be more moral than the democrat (This is just bad logic because being republican doesn’t make you a saint.)
  • he is unabashedly not politically correct (Have you noticed this was more before he had advisers? His changing his voice makes me think he’s too easily manipulated.)
  • they think he will follow through on his promise to elect good people to SCOTUS (Good luck with that)
  • they agree with his stances (in which case, let’s talk about those)
  • or he’s the “lesser” of two evils in this case (debatable)

I just don’t buy it. So I’m not voting for Trump. I’m not voting for Trump because it’s never okay to do something bad for a good result. Ever. It’s not because I’m naive enough to think a perfect candidate exists. But I cannot in good conscience violate my conscience by voting for either of our major candidates.

I will not endorse deporting people who allegedly don’t belong here.

I will not endorse building a wall to keep people out.

I will not endorse nuking people nonchalantly.

I will not endorse killing the innocent wives and families of terrorists.

I will not endorse flipflopping on the issues most important to me.

Even if endorsing these things meant changing SCOTUS to be more in favor of my moral beliefs, I won’t vote for someone so reprehensibly against what I stand for to get one good thing.

It’s hard. I get it.

Many people I know are deciding what to do. Some will not vote. And some, like me, will write in a candidate as a protest vote. I’m not sure who yet (feel free to recommend people in the comments), but that’s what I’m doing.

Agree or disagree, I’d love to hear how you vote. Tell me I’m wrong, tell me who you’re voting for, let me hear it!

To Life,

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