Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Yep. My little project here was nominated for a Sheenazing Award over at A Knotted Life, and I could not be more thrilled.

Some of the Cathsorority ladies were talking about how they found out they were nominated and I was really excited for them all because it is incredibly rewarding to hear that someone likes what you are doing when you put a piece of yourself out there. I went to go vote for my favorites and saw my little blog listed in the Best Underappreciated Blog and it was a great way to start the day, to say the least.

So, thank you for the nomination: you made my week!

Now, go vote for some great blogs! There is a great range of hidden gems (*cough cough* Cathofeminism) and well-knowns (Bad Catholic, Simcha, to name a few) and they are all really great reads. Bookmark them, follow them, do what you need to do!

Here is the link again. Vote for your favorites, and if I happen to be one of them... thanks!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What I Wore Sunday (01/27/13)

Click Me for more Mass fashion!

This morning as I was getting ready for Mass, I was thinking about different ways I could prepare myself. We got a bit of a late start but I decided to go ahead and actually spend some time on my hair and outfit anyway. I hummed "Lord Prepare Me" (The only P&W song I like) all morning and got to the church and prayed the Prayer to St. Joseph. Then my kids were crazy. 

Here you have it: What I Wore Sunday:

That last pose makes me feel like a pirate. Or like I have a little Captain in me. At 27 weeks, I totally feel like I need a rum and coke at least once a day, but I resist. 

The Breakdown:
black under tank: The GREATEST maternity purchase I have ever made. Be Maternity at Target. Stretchy, supportive, long and wonderful. Go get one, now.
Teal shirt: Merone for Target online
3/4 sleeve cardi: one of my first NY&Co purchases and still one of my favorite sweaters.
black pants: NY&Co (get some.)
Zebra shoes: Target clearance purchase a few years ago... and a close(r) up as promised:

I forgot about the open house scheduled for today (The start of Catholic Schools Week, WOOT! WOOT!) and I had planned on wearing this last night to Mass and then jeans today for the open house. Now I am skipping the open house. Too much for this pregnant lady. 

I came across this photo yesterday when I was writing a post for The Guiding Star Project, and wanted to share. This is me at 40 weeks on the nose the Sunday I went in to be induced when I was pregnant with my son. I still hate wearing that maternity shirt, and I hope to never post another photo of me in it!

I am not looking forward to being that gigantic again in the next few months.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Plea for Compassion

I have not yet been at this blog project for a year, but I have already discovered how overwhelming it can be to want your voice to be heard. I do not have a large following, and this means I am fortunate to be able to mostly write for myself. I do not make any ad revenue with my project or see much exposure. That is okay by me. While I was ecstatic to see the Mother Teresa photo I added a quote to have some fun making the rounds on Facebook, I have a little more freedom to write how I feel and about what I want when I am small-time.

The Facebook community is at 144 people as I write this. I am thrilled that so many men and women are interested in what I have to say. I am learning how to ensure that I respond to those that reach out or comment on my posts. I am really nervous that the day will come where I start dealing with trolls that miss the point of dialogue and conversing. Not because I will be unable to respond, but because I am overwhelmed by the ugliness that comes from those interactions.

One particular area that I am vocal about is abortion. I have always found abortion to be the ultimate betrayal of women. It deeply saddens me, and my passion for real support of women and their children has only increased in the years since I became a mother. The thought of growing a child inside of my body for any amount of time and never getting to see them or hold them or hear them laugh is heart wrenching.  I mourn for those that have lost their children in miscarriage, and I mourn for those that have lost their children to abortion.

The more I see on social media about abortion, the more my heart breaks because it is not just those that are extreme in advocating abortion on demand that make me cringe: those that vilify the pro-choice movement and condemn women who have experienced abortion (chosen or forced) and clinic workers that have participated in abortion make me cringe as well.

The reality is the abortion debate is both simple and complex. It either destroys a life or it doesn’t, but the reasons men and women are pro-choice are not so simple, just as the reasons people are pro-life are not simple.

In my last post, I spoke to what I feel the true choice is, and it is not being for or against abortion. It is crucial that those of us in the pro-life movement remember that injustice exists for women in this world. I do not believe that abortion heals this injustice; I believe that it increases it. I also must remind myself that not every person that advocates for choice is advocating for injustice. How do I know this? I know this because of civil discussions with those that see things differently and by supporting women that have been victims and survivors of sexual and physical abuse.  The abortion debate is no different than any other civil rights debate: there are extremists on either side that block the view of those that truly care about the cause, regardless of which side they stand. However, just like every other civil rights debate, there is a right answer. The right answer always is on the side of equality for all human beings.

We do no good when we condemn. We do no good when we furiously type at our keyboards and use a thesaurus to come up with the most hateful and condescending things we can think of to type at those who disagree. I desperately want to be able to articulate my stance in a way that changes perspective, but viewing all pro-choice advocates as selfish people that love abortion is not a way to do this.

If you are pro-life and you are reading this, I urge you to be informed on women’s issues. Specifically, how things like poverty, health care, sexual violence, domestic abuse, early sexualization, and even parenting affect women in our world. Be informed on these issues, because it will give perspective. It will guide you to where the true injustice begins.

If you are pro-choice and reading this, know that not all pro-life advocates condemn. Love and compassion is what truly fuels this movement. Open dialogue is still important and relevant!

We all must being to see the things that we have in common, and look past the smoke and mirrors extremists and the media put in front of us. I am not denying that extremists exist on either side, merely pointing out that it is a continuum of perspectives and it should not be as polarized as it is becoming.

Also, if I may make a suggestion: pray and think before you type. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Real Choice

40 years ago tomorrow, abortion was legalized in the United States. In that time, there have been approximately 50 million abortions performed.

There are many angles to cover when writing about this subject from a pro-life perspective: sadness, grief, anger, loss. You can speak about genocide, religion, eugenics, the souls of the unborn, feminism, women's rights, death, success or a culture of death.

You can go to any pro-life site on the internet and find all kinds of people on the abortion spectrum. You will also find the ugliness of hate and the power of love.

I could write this post and inundate you with statistics on all of the above. I can tell you my life story and the role abortion had the potential to play. I can link you to a story about how the majority of millennials have no idea what Roe V. Wade  is. I can give you the most logically sound argument against abortion that exists. I can tell you about the voice men deserve in abortion. I can link you to a powerful video that shows the powerless feeling that comes with aborting your child.

The truth is, I can do all of the above until I am blue in the face and there are some days that it just does not matter.

Realizing the truth about abortion is something that must be chosen. Each individual must be able to come to the conclusion in their minds and in their hearts that there is a better way. The choice is not to be against or for abortion. The choice is not to say "Well, I would never do it BUT someone else can."  The choice is not to condemn those that felt they had no choice and no support.

I believe the choice ultimately lies with creating a world that supports women and children. A world that does not blame rape victims. A world that does not allow women to be abused because "it is a private matter." A world that supports parenthood for men and women, and does not reduce a father's obligation to his child to child support.

If women are supported, children are no longer viewed as a burden, families encouraged, and true equality existed, it would not matter if abortion was legal: we would see less and less of it.

I am going to spend the rest of the day (and tomorrow!) celebrating my life, and the lives of my children. I will pray for mothers and fathers and their families, and the lives of the 50 million children we have needlessly lost. I believe my time with my children and my motherhood is how I will begin to choose a better world.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2013 Reading List

I will spare you all the details of my GoodReads To-Read list, because it is 30 books long. My goal this year is to finish reading the books I own and have started to read before I revise the list. I am not one for New Year's Resolutions (I prefer to make big personal changes Lent-related when I am distracted by trying to come up with recipes for fish. Yep, I am Catholic. Glad to get that off my chest.) I was reading a post by Sarah and I am completely impressed with her ambitious list! After a few failed attempts to post a comment with my planned reading list, I decided to write about my own and link to hers. Think of it as pay it forward inspiration.

First things first. I am missing one of these and it is haunting my dreams.

We moved nearly two years ago and all my books have been in storage ever since. This is why it took me so long to locate all of my 2013 reading list for a photo op!

These are the books I am determined to read:

1. Mad In America: I am 3/4 of the way through this book and I really, really love it. There are so many things to say about its awesomeness, but I want to finish it first. 

2. Beyond the Sling: As we are expecting our third child in April, I would love to have this read by then. The focus is on attachment parenting, and thought now that I have been a parent for a few years it was time to read a parenting book!

3. Concise Concordance and The Catholic Study Bible: I do not expect to have these read by the end of the year, but I would like to begin diving into it. I have not spent mush time studying scripture of my own volition, so I am looking forward to it.

4. Life In Spite of Me: Just got it for Christmas and I have to move it to the back of the list and tie up some loose ends first!

5. Van Gogh: The Life: This puts a new spin on what we know about Vincent Van Gogh's life. Did he commit suicide or was he murdered? Love it. 

A short list. I hope 5 books is doable for a soon to be mom of three!

What is on your reading list for the year?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

To Give Out of Love

When I was a freshman in college, I really wanted to do something for Spring break, but I was pretty much broke. I was not thrilled with the idea of lounging around back home for the duration, so when I saw a blurb in the Catholic student center’s bulletin about a spring break alternative trip to Washington DC, I was all in. The trip was more of a mission trip: we were all driving up in vans and serving the homeless population in our nation’s capital. A local church would be hosting us for the week, and there were several organizations that we would visit and volunteer at. It really was quite the experience. Until that trip, the farthest from home I had been was Texas, so going to DC was shattering records. I did not realize what kind of an impact it would have on me to visit a city that big.

We made and distributed sandwiches to the homeless in parks. We picked up and delivered trash bags full of day old bread from bakeries to soup kitchens and shelters. We listened to talks given both by dedicated volunteers that knew the ins and outs of the homeless population of DC and some of the homeless men and women themselves. We were faced with the stark reality that many had nowhere to sleep at night in a city that was installing park benches with arm rests in the center to deter them from sleeping in parks. It was humbling and memorable.

Perhaps the piece of information that affected my life the most came from a talk given to us as we arrived in the city by one of our group leaders. She was letting us know that it was okay to say no if we were approached by someone asking for money. Many of us were only 18, and from more rural areas where poverty is not as prevalent in the same ways that it is in the inner cities of our nation. I had never been asked for money before.  Our leader explained that there are many reasons people choose to give or not give, and that she makes a point to set aside a certain amount of money to be given to those that ask. She told us that a common worry for some people is that the money will be used for alcohol instead of food. (To show my naivety at the time, that thought had never crossed my mind.) She then told us that when we choose to give our money to those in need, the act of charity is in the gift, not what the receiver chooses to do with said gift. When we choose to help others, the help is the important action, not what others choose to make of the help.

This is a simple thought at first, but it really is rather complex when I begin to apply it to all works of charity. We give others our time, talent and treasure because it is the right thing to do, not because it allows us some control over how they live their lives. We give out of love.

I was reminded of this fact as I read my parish bulletin this weekend. I was reading about the success of the Thanksgiving and Christmas giving campaigns that our rather large parish takes on every year.  The outreach programs provide many opportunities to give, but the numbers seem to increase around the holidays in a way that brings tears to my eyes.

During holiday seasons, our parish takes donations in the form of gift cards to the local grocery stores in addition to supplies for the local food pantry. A few sentences in the bulletin write up on the subject struck me, and I wanted to share:

“This is such an overwhelming gift of personal entitlement for our recipient families. When you give this opportunity to a family in need, you give them far more than money; you give them the dignity and the freedom of choice.”

I read these words after weeks of seeing posts on the internet about the restrictions that should be put on food stamps. I am fully cognizant of the fact that our nation is not only in an economic crisis, but a spending crisis as well. This being said, I do not lose one iota of sleep over any of my tax dollars that go to food stamp programs, regardless of what the recipients are buying. Is there corruption or fraud in the system? Certainly. Do I believe restricting purchases will solve this? No. No good comes from attempting to control another's decisions in this way. People are graced with a free will. They have the capability of making decisions for themselves, and putting together a plan that restricts the “dignity and freedom of choice” to satisfy those that scream the loudest is futile.  

Instead of finding ways to force those without to be reliant on those that deem themselves capable of decision making, I would rather work towards providing educational opportunities that address these concerns. I see many distractions when people start talking about government spending and the fraud in the welfare system. I see people speak of restrictions and rules that they themselves cannot follow.

Maybe this is a limited comparison. The income taxes we pay are mandated by law if you have income to be taxed. Everyone pays for things with their tax dollars that they do not support. Some of these things are of heavier weight than others; for instance, monies that support the abortion industry, drone attacks, unjust war, the death penalty. Then there are other, less “heavy” expenses such as bank or industry bailouts. (I am equating heavy with issues of life or death, and less heavy with issues that are not life or death.) Charitable acts of time, talent and treasure are not mandated, but done out of love for others.  In one case you have no choice but to part with the money, so this does limit the comparison a bit. I still submit that the same rules apply from my perspective: the good deed is in parting with the time, talent or treasure. It is not in whether or not you get to decide what they do with the gift.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Junior Great Books and Feminism: Part Two

The story I want to share with you today is not one that I remember reading in Junior Great Books, though I may have (parts seem pretty heavy for a group of sixth graders though). I really do not remember a single story from JGB other than Harrison Bergeron and The Lottery.  In my sophomore year of college, I took a lit class that had a short stories book as the curriculum. I kept the book because it was filled with awesome. If I wasn't lazy I would dig it out and tell you to go buy it. However, we still have not purchased a bookshelf since we moved over a year and a half ago, and all our books are in a tub in a closet underneath other boxes of once important things waiting to be important again. This pregnant lady passes on that experience.

One of the first stories we read in that class was, indeed, Harrison Bergeron. I was so excited. I got to the end of the story, and I was perplexed… my edition had cut out the last third of the story for some reason. I was really disappointed, because I think everyone should read that story. It still bugs me that there are books out there being read with only 2/3 of the greatest Vonnegut piece I have ever read.
The class really only got better. It was in this class that I was introduced to the short story “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” written by Ursula K. LeGuin. This next statement might officially classify me as a lit nerd, but I really enjoyed deconstructing these stories and talking about how they apply to life as we know it and the human experience. It is just fantastic. So, JGB and this class were my inspiration for this series of posts. There are wonderful morals and ideas embedded within these stories that are of great importance to Feminism.

So, in case you did not link to the story earlier, (link, link, link!) my analysis will include a few passages that specifically impacted me.
“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can't lick 'em, join 'em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.”
At times there is a false premise that exists in the world of mainstream feminism: the premise is that happiness is directly related to success. This premise exists in other facets as well: politics, religion, etc. but here I refer only to its existence within feminism. Happiness cannot spring from family or a role that somehow ties our fate to that of a man. Without success, happiness is nonexistent so we must seek success as our only goal, no matter the cost. At times, abortion and abortafacients become a part of this process, because children (wanted or “unwanted”) limit success for women. Women are held accountable for children in a deeper, more complex way than men. Children interfere with a woman’s path to success, because children should not be considered a success. They are a hindrance.

This passage from the story now leaves me considering Rebecca Walker’s experience as the “daughter of a feminist.” (Her mother is Alice Walker.) She writes about it in an article called “How My Mother’s Fanatical Views Tore Us Apart.”  In short, she was left feeling as though she was delaying her mother’s success versus being a part of it, and she writes about her life then, and her life as a mother. I cannot accept a distorted version of feminism that tears others down, whether it be women, men or children. I cannot accept a version of feminism that uses violence against our children as a stepping stone. When violence towards another becomes acceptable or even vital to a cause, that cause has become distorted. This is not said without appreciation for what women who went before us fought for: the front-runners of our cause did not advocate violence but strength and unity.
“Let tambourines be struck above the copulations, and the gory of desire be proclaimed upon the gongs, and (a not unimportant point) let the offspring of these delightful rituals be beloved and looked after by all. One thing I know there is none of in Omelas is guilt.”

When I view this passage now, I am struck by the thought that all children are beloved, especially within the context of this story. Are they all loved only because of the unpleasant secret, or are all children created to be loved regardless of how they were conceived… say, even in an orgy?

I also marvel at the idea that this utopia is one that values children, and children do not become a source of guilt. This is not truly how we live in reality, yet the sexual description of Omelas is not so different from what is pressed on us in reality. Is it possible to have consequence-free sex and still love and care for all children? I am not so sure our culture allows this when children are viewed as the ultimate consequence.

“They all know it is there, all the people of Omelas. Some of them have come to see it, others are content merely to know it is there. They all know that it has to be there. Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child's abominable misery.”

Again, I am vividly reminded of our outlook on abortion. It is seen as a necessary evil: a woman must maintain her right to choose. This is ultimately dependent on the death of a child. While all that remain in Omelas seem to be able to accept that this child’s misery allows their lives to be otherwise complete, there are those of us in reality that would do anything to prevent abortion from being, as this writer, Kassie says, “…a divorce of women from their fertility.”

Sometimes I am truly confused at the marriage of happiness to controlling our fertility in this world, the same as I am perplexed by the marriage of destroying a human being for the sake of the many in Omelas.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Junior Great Books and Feminism: Part One

When I was in the fifth grade, I entered into something called the Extended Learning Program in school. It really was an important part of my life, but nothing made a greater impact than the few months I spent being bussed over to the public school for Junior Great Books meetings. In these meetings, we would read short stories and discuss. I was in a group with kids a year older than I was and I was the only one in a uniform: definitely the odd ball out even in a gifted program, but I loved discussing those stories. It was here that I was first introduced to Kurt Vonnegut, and his short story Harrison Bergeron.

I will not be a poser and pretend that I have read all of Vonnegut because of this story (although it is definitely something I look forward to doing someday) but I have read a few of his short stories because of Harrison Bergeron. It is such a reference point in my life that I find it incredible that more people do not know this story! In fact, the only person I have come across that knows the reference is my husband. The link above has the full text of the story, and I seriously recommend you read it.

There is much in this short story that is relevant to life as we know it in 2013: a need for equality and the struggle for balance and loss of incredible talent in tragic circumstances to name a few. In this post, I would like to discuss the correlation of this story and feminism today, but first I will give you an excerpt from the story in case you did not scurry over to the link (Link, link, link!) to read it as I suggested!

“The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.”

The first four sentences definitively set the tone for the piece. It may seem at first as though everything is finally perfect. After all, are we not currently striving for equality? Where things get tricky, is taking the uniqueness and individuality out of humanity. We are not looking for separate but equal as feminists: we are striving for unique and equal. Different but equal. Woman and man YET EQUAL. Just as we have different strengths and weaknesses as individuals, men and women together create a wholeness that would be lacking without one or the other. A woman’s contribution to this beautiful world is no less important than a man’s, and vice versa. Vonnegut may “over-simplify” the equality issue in the story, but does he? It does not seem as removed from reality to me as an adult as it did when I first read it at ten.

“The television program was suddenly interrupted for a news bulletin. It wasn’t clear at first as to what the bulletin was about, since the announcer, like all announcers, had a serious speech impediment. For about half a minute, and in a state of high excitement, the announcer tried to say, “Ladies and gentlemen——”He finally gave up, handed the bulletin to a ballerina to read.

“That’s all right——” Hazel said of the announcer, “he tried. That’s the big thing. He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for trying so hard.”“Ladies and gentlemen——” said the ballerina, reading the bulletin. She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred-pound men.And she had to apologize at once for her voice, which was a very unfair voice for a woman to use. Her voice was a warm, luminous, timeless melody. “Excuse me——” she said, and she began again, making her voice absolutely uncompetitive.”

In the story, any personal talent, beauty or achievement is met with only the warped view of equality, or what is “fair.” A ballerina can only dance as well as anyone else. An intelligent person can only offer the world as much intelligence as what is described as average: “which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts.” Every single aspect of a human being’s intelligent design is whittled down to the lowest common denominator. As a ten year old in an advanced learning program, this thought terrorized me, and to think about it today evokes the same feelings. It may seem oversimplified or exaggerated, but the “Mommy Wars” are a fine example of how we pick apart women, and rearrange the ideal to meet only certain aspects of womanhood. My last post talked about an article that worked hard to dispel the thought of children as an achievement. It was an example of how modern, mainstream feminism tells women they can only be one kind of woman: successful, childless or with no more than two children. She must be career oriented and powerful: children will not slow her down, or affect her weight and appearance. There is an ideal concept for what womanhood is with mainstream feminism. If you do not agree, you are being held captive by a patriarchal society.

Even at the age of ten, the few moments Harrison and the ballerina had of freedom were beautiful and worth it in my eyes. Here is where the comparison ends for me. I believe that women do not have to suffer Harrison’s fate: conform or die. Rather, we have a third option: change the story. We must work to change our thoughts, words and actions so that they can transform the thoughts, words and actions of others. We must seek the truest form of change: a change of the heart/mind/perspective. The battle of new feminism and mainstream feminism is not just about abortion rights: rather, it is about refusing to see the common good that could be accomplished by focusing not on temporary solutions or handicaps such as abortion, but creating a society that is truly supportive of women and men alike. We seek society that nurtures its youth and cares for its elders. We seek change that demands equality for all while still embracing our different abilities and nature, and an equality that demands a basic respect for humanity in the process. Equality does not destroy in the name of equality.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Reader's Digest and Linkups

Ready for a little soul-bearing, quintessential, stereotypical confession about womanhood? Good. Here it comes! Essentially, I have struggled with accepting my body since my first menstruation in the eighth grade. I was the second to last girl in my tiny class to start, and I was in a giant hurry to be grown up. I am sorry if that is too much information for my male readers, but think of it as important knowledge to stow away for the day you have a little girl or are trying to understand teens in youth groups if you are a priest! Many a woman can share a similar confession about adolescence.  I know, I know… if I knew then what I know now… but growing up is hard.
This subject has been on my mind as of late in part because of Reader’s Digest. (Give me a minute to get there: my train of thought jumps a bit!) I found myself entirely wound up a few weeks ago as I read the latest issue. There was a short, pot-stirring piece titled “Facebook’s Missing Moms.” The author rants for a few paragraphs about how it seems all mothers on Facebook have profile photos of their children instead of themselves, how awful it is that women consider children to be their accomplishments, and ends the piece by saying “The subliminal equation is clear: I am my children.” I was infuriated, but could not find a link to the stupid thing online, so I stewed over it for a few weeks. (Note: when I read it, it happened to be during a rare period of time that I indeed had our Christmas photo of the kids as my profile photo, and I did find it humorous that my husband’s photo was one of my daughter at the time.) Yet another way a woman should not be: proud of her children. Just as she is not allowed to be chubby, pregnant, post-pregnant, or staying home to raise her children. The list is becoming too long to recite.
The other reason why I have been thinking about women: the What I Wore Sunday link up. Participating when I can is a very empowering experience, because it reminds me to take the time to prepare myself for Mass. I thoughtfully pick out my clothing each week, and take time to think about what my children are wearing. I end up in Mass more focused because I am not tugging at something that doesn’t fit correctly, or is not entirely modest. Taking the time to think about what I wear has been positive for me, and I enjoy seeing what others love to wear and proud finds, places to buy, etc. I also find it refreshing to have photos of myself, to be honest. Moms often are hidden from photos, and it is nice to be the focal point for a moment! I see many beautiful women preparing themselves for Mass (and totally adding to my “Must Have List!”) and some women writing in such a way that is way too hard on themselves. This week, one post addressed this is a beautiful way. Great minds think alike!
I have only had appearance related meltdowns a few times in my life. I am stubborn and really hate to show weakness, so I have always worked to avoid revealing many of my insecurities, with few exceptions. As far as anyone should be concerned, I am just fine with how I look, feel, talk and think, thank you very much! My advocacy years aided me in my determination to shut out self-hating speak. I often came across articles that took note of the differences between men and women in the work place. One of these differences centered on women capturing their thoughts with negative explanations. For example, instead of saying, “What if we did this?” women are more likely to say something to the effect of “This may sound stupid, but what if we did it this way?”  You know what they say: Once you hear it, you cannot un-hear it! As soon as I became aware of this tendency, I heard it all the time and it is heart breaking.  It was another tool to throw in the Feminist Toolbox: “Never say something wrapped in negative explanations.”
I take care to dress my body appropriately as well (most days). If I am familiar with the areas I am insecure about, I put in extra effort to understand why and what I can do to improve how I am feeling. While the answer is usually “Lose weight!”, I ask myself other questions to pinpoint what I can do to help me to feel better about myself. Why does it bother me? Am I eating right? Am I being active enough? Is my health affected, or am I just comparing myself to others?
I am tall. This fact, while making shopping for clothes that fit properly a challenge, is quite forgiving. Most people do not accurately guess my weight. According to BMI charts, my pre-pregnancy weight factored in with my height gives me a BMI of 31… obese. In order to tip the scale and fall into the normal BMI range of at most 24.9, I would need to lose 42 pounds. The last time I weighed in the normal range (again, according to these charts) I was in high school, and looked like I was 12. I am confident that is not a valid weight goal for me.
Truth be told, it took becoming a mother to pull me out of most of my insecurities. I do not want my children to ever be told they are not pretty/skinny/strong/attractive enough, but I know how our world currently works. They will be told this from every angle, day in and day out. It is my job from day one to blanket their world in positive words in small, seemingly insignificant ways, and the very last way to do this, is to begin by criticizing my own looks/feelings/thoughts as though I am somehow less of a person because of my flaws or my uniqueness.
I am a woman. I am a woman that is approaching 30, and is currently pregnant for the fourth time. I am married and have really fantastic children, and my life is good. I do not need to meet the BMI guidelines to be happy with myself. My body is how it is for a reason, as long as I take care of it. I am taller, and need the extra weight to be strong. Yes, I could still stand to drop a few, but I choose to focus on eating right and staying active versus dieting. I want my children to eat healthily, and to be active so that their bodies are nourished properly and are strong and healthy. I want the same for me.
In the same way I tell my oldest to “use his words,” I use mine. When I am getting ready for the day and styling my hair and my child asks why, instead of saying “Mommy feels yucky today so I am trying to cover it up,” (Even though that may very well be how I feel!) I tell them that it is good to brush your hair and get ready for the day, and that I like the way my hair looks.  If a game of “Point to Your Body Parts” gets out of hand and one of my children starts lifting their shirt and then mine, I do not say “Stop it! My tummy is yucky!” I calmly tell them that if you are wearing a shirt, you should wear it right. (I know. This logic works on a three year old. We shall see how it works in the future!)
Long story somewhat shorter, I do not have to walk around all day talking about how awesome/beautiful/smart I am to instill positive self-awareness in my children. That is nearly as damning as telling them how I am awful/ugly/stupid. I try to be a voice that tells my children they can be in awe of how they were wonderfully made, and that they can be confident in themselves, in spite of the messages they are sent. It is funny how all this focus on what I want for them has dramatically changed my views of myself!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cathofeminism 2013 Patron Saint

I decided to join in on the fun. For the Cathofeminism project, I want 2013 to be a solid year with focus. Aside from participating in a link up here and there in an effort to gain a little more readership, I try to keep this blog on topic and thoughtfully considering the issues related to Catholicism and Feminism, as well as my own "triumphs and struggles" with the subject.

2012 was an empowering year for me. I was able to carve out a little area in the blogosphere where my voice can be heard, and found many women struggling with the same questions to which I seek answers. I am so grateful for all that 2012 brought me!

So, I am jumping in and using the Saint Name Generator to choose a patron saint for the Cathofeminism Project in 2013. Ready? Okay, here it goes...

St. Frances of Rome

Feast: March 9

Patronage: Automobile Drivers; Death of Children; Lay People; People Ridiculed for Their Piety; Taxi Drivers; Widows

To read more, click here.

An interesting pick, I must say!