Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day Six: Seven Posts in Seven Days

I love art. Once upon a time I had planned to be an art therapist. It was a solid excuse to take oodles of art classes but avoid majoring in art history. It is hard to draw or paint with children around the house, but maybe someday I will find the time to pick it back up again. I certainly was not a master, but I love painting and sketching. Not oil paints. I find that I'd rather it dry quicker than that, but acrylic and pencil are my mediums.

I think I love art museums more than I love to draw or paint. There are some intense emotions to be found on those hallowed grounds. Today I was missing being able to sit and sketch (unfortunately, the link above seems embarrassing to me now. I needed to keep practicing to improve. My painting has evolved a bit since that album, but not the pencil. Yikes. I am a phenom when it comes to staying in the lines of my children's coloring books. Watch out, y'all.)

Once I went to confession, and the priest hearing confessions and I really did not get along well, but fortunate for me, there was a screen between us! When it came time to give me penance, he asked me what I loved to do. I told him I loved to draw. My penance was to draw in adoration for an hour. I cried nearly the entire time, and it changed the way I thought about prayer. While I taught Totus Tuus, I often told the kids that God gave us the voices we had to praise him so good or bad, we better let him hear it. (If you have never been to daily Mass during Totus Tuus, it is the most remarkable thing to hear all of those children singing their hearts out. There may or may not be bribery involved.) It had never occurred to me to use my talents to communicate with God. So I do.

I am excited about returning to perpetual adoration, as I mentioned yesterday. I will probably go pick up a fresh notebook and some pencils, because I have some praying to do!

On a related note, I thought I would share my favorite paintings with you. They are not religious in nature, but it is truly beautiful to recognize the talent God puts in our hands.

Chuck Close
Self Portrait

If you ever want to read about overcoming adversity, read about Close. His story is just darn fascinating. I am in awe of his work. 

Ivan Albright
That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do

Trust. There are two things that I would begrudgingly live in Chicago for: this pizza place near the Art Institute and this painting. The photo does not do it justice. I got to show this and a few other paintings of his to my parents a few years ago and it was the closest thing to a pilgrimage I have ever been on. If I had an entire day to stare at it I would. His work is remarkable.

Van Gogh
Starry Night

Yep. It is cliche', but I don't care. My very first trip to an art museum was to the one in Kansas City, and they have a small Van Gogh and I stared at that thing for twenty minutes before they made me move on with the group. No one evokes emotion with the stroke of a paint brush like Van Gogh. No one. 

We all have talents and things that are a source of joy. Know what yours is and do not forget it. I am not Van Gogh, Albright or Close, but I feel a connection to God when I am using my body to do things He created me to do. Find yours. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Day Five: Seven Posts in Seven Days (and 7QT!)

Still going strong with the 7 in 7 challenge, and linking up for 7 Quick Takes! Today, I am feeling it is important to take a break from all the heavy handed talk and appreciate fun things also.


I have been working on some changes lately. I am trying to get our routine down post-move, and so now seems like the best time to do this. I joined a great, small writing workshop for added incentive to write more often, and the blogging challenge happened around the same time so this week as been very productive for me!


I am failing miserably. I finished reading Beyond the Sling, but broke my goal of not ordering more books when I got really excited about a few more. Lean In (I know too many women to discuss this with, so I had to.) and The Long Loneliness were calling to me. The bright side is at least I am reading! This one also beckoned to me, and I had to oblige...


So funny and made for parents that can only read a few pages at a time. Go add it to your list!


I am also working on ways to change how I hang with the kiddos. A new home means change, and I want it to be positive change. If you are a parent, what are some of your favorite things to do with your little ones? If you aren't a parent, what did you love to do with your parents? (Please answer! I want to hear some fresh ideas!)


We are learning prayers here, folks! Right now, my oldest can only manage to nail down about half the words in the Prayer Before Meals, (and the words to the sign of the cross are distributed throughout a few times) and the middle only says "Father, food, AMEN!" but it is beautiful all the same. 

Also in Prayer News, I am ever so grateful to live near a perpetual adoration chapel again. Once we get settled, I plan to be ambitious and sign up for a few hours. I miss it terribly! 

I am obsessed with Vat19. I want to buy many things on this site, but right now, I have my eye on the following:



Finally, because I am obsessed...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day Four: Seven Posts in Seven Days

Jen at Conversion Diary issued a bloggers challenge for this week, and I am working on completing it!

In the past, I have written about my troubles with the "pink" or "princess" culture in which we surround our girls, as well as my struggles to translate my thoughts and beliefs on the matter to parenting techniques. There have been a few things I have seen being passed around on the internet lately that relate. 

In case you have not read my thoughts, here are a few posts to get you started: (Please excuse the formatting issues. I do not know how to fix them!)

I read this a few weeks ago, and have been mulling it over. I realize that many of my thoughts might not be popular, but I keep it honest on here no matter the push back, so hear me out. 

Things are just things. Toys are toys, colors are colors, sparkles are sparkles. They have no gender. It wasn't so many centuries ago that men walked around in tights, and wore robes that were not, *GASP* pants. So it follows that fashion is fashion. 

Perhaps it is not healthy to continue to encourage items to have a gender. Maybe our interests in clothing, colors, toys, activities are not gender related, but just our interests. Maybe, JUST MAYBE, we have tricked ourselves into falling for the giant marketing conspiracy that assigns gender to things that do not have a gender. Why are we so opposed to boys liking sparkle if we think it is okay for a girl to be a "tomboy" (I hate that word.) 

Honestly, what do items have to do with who we are as a man or a woman? Our culture is telling us things and activities are gendered. That does not mean that they are. 

"But how can we tell who is a boy and who is a girl?!" Who cares? Will knowing their gender or sex or whatever word that is supposed to be PC now make us treat them any differently? If so, we have a problem folks.

I am not advocating for following Sweden's lead, just rolling my eyes at things like this:

Can the entire Bible be for everyone, please?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day Three: Seven Posts in Seven Days

I am still on board for Jen's Seven Posts in Seven Days. Follow the link for more bloggers participating. There are some great posts linked up!

As it is nearly eight months into the year and I have hardly mentioned Cathofeminism's patron saint for 2013, I thought I would talk a little bit about her.

First off, the Patron Saint Generator misspelled the name and had this saint listed as a he!

St. Frances of Rome is indeed a woman. She lived from 1384 until 1440, and was incredibly stubborn. She knew from the early age of eleven that she was being called to be a nun, but had to convince her wealthy father not to marry her off instead. She didn't succeed, and the whirlwind lifestyle her husband was accustomed to took its toll on her quickly. She collapsed, unable to move or speak. During this time she had a vision of St. Alexis that convinced her she needed to live to glorify God.

She went on to have children, but a difficult famine and hard times left her outliving two of her children. She started a lay order of women attached to the Benedictines called the Oblates of Mary. She moved in with the order and was made Superior after her husband's death. She only lived the life she had felt called to since the age of eleven for four years until her death.

Reading about her life story leaves me a bit reflective. Has there been a time in your life where you felt with all your heart you were called to something, but it was as though God was telling you "Not yet."? Admittedly, I feel a little sad that she only lived the life she dreamed of as a child for four years, but she certainly did not take her life with her husband for granted. She genuinely cared about him! I am certain I have room for improvement when it comes to being open to God's will in my life. I can see why St. Frances is a solid choice for Cathofeminism!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day Two: Seven Posts in Seven Days

Thanks to Jen at Conversion Diary!

A post I read at NFP and Me yesterday spurred this small reflection on all that happened in Austin, Texas last week.

Katie did an outstanding job rounding up all the things Pro life folks SHOULD NEVER SAY. Unfortunately, it came straight from the horses mouth. How can we be so upset over things like this...

Courtesy of New Wave Feminists

...when we say things like this?

One of Katie's examples

Ladies and gentlemen. Why don't we focus on taking the crisis out of a so called crisis pregnancy? Why don't we do more praying for and supporting women and their children? Work on getting your alma mater to provide campus housing for families, or childcare for single parents. Teach your sons how to respect women, and how to squash rape culture.

We MUST be able to provide a place of hope for those working in the abortion industry and for those that are hurting because of abortion. Exchanging nasty protest signs or typing things on the Internet that we would never say in real life (At least I never want to meet the person that would say those things out loud...) is not going to get us ANY credibility. Rise above it, for the love.

That is all.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day One: Seven Posts in Seven Days

Jen over at Conversion Diary issued a blogging challenge, and I aim to complete it! I am also stealing her meme.

I have been in a bit of a blogging rut thanks to all the fun we have been having, so I am looking at this week as a way to get back into a routine. It is also the NFP week, so Katie over at NFP and Me is also hosting a link up! (I highly recommend you check out both Jen and Katie's pages.)

I have written on NFP in the past, and I will link to those posts in a moment, but I wanted to take the time today to say again how thankful I am that it is in my life! I am continuously learning about my fertility and the changes I experience as I have children and get older. It is a blessing to be aware of what my body is trying to tell me. One of the hardest things to do each time we make a cross-country move, is say good bye to my NFP-friendly (practicing is more like it!) OBGYNs. I was directly referred this time to another fabulous practice, but once you find genuine care in a doctor, it can be difficult to see it go. So consider this my shout out to all those currently practicing and those in med school that are NFP-friendly: thank you for all your hard work!

Here are some things I have written in the past:

I also wrote a piece for Stacy over at Catholic & Crunchy a few months back on PCOS and STM.

So, that is my story, and if you need any NFP Week graphics, here are some more links! Be sure to check out the Cathofeminism page on Facebook if you haven't already!

NFP Graphics:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Catho-Economics" and Women Part Two

I have finally finished Part Two! You can read Part One here. I apologize, this is hardly a masterpiece, but it provides some concrete examples of things we can begin to advocate for that keeps the success of businesses (small, giant and everything in between) in mind. BE SURE TO COMMENT if you have questions or ideas or criticisms. I want to advocate for honest and real solutions!

No Childcare Access

If you are going to advocate for a strengthened family unit-based society (which I do) childcare access in single parent and two parent homes is an important factor.  Currently, most businesses run according to the needs of the business. How else would they make money? We have set business hours and office commutes. This all works out great when families are not involved. Once the employee is a parent, however, things can be complicated. It is more and more difficult to support a family on one income, and we have discussed what a family and a job mean for single parents already. So how can we work to make businesses more family-friendly?

I will start with a few important comments about my perspective. I am completely in support of a free market economy. I believe in small businesses and citizens that work to build profitable businesses thus being able to create jobs and help the local economy thrive. I also have some buy-in where corporate social responsibility (CSR) is concerned. (Businesses giving back to the local community, supporting employees, etc.) All this being said, the thoughts I have where childcare access in concerned is not something I want to see mandated, or enforced to the point that local businesses buckle under financial costs. There is some research that supports CSR and the idea that happy employees are more productive. Take Patagonia as an example. In an effort to create happy employees, the company promotes a flexible work schedule, has on-site daycare, works to ensure their products are environmentally responsible, and gives back to the community on the individual and corporate level.  As a result, their employees work hard. They sift through more applications for an open position than other companies, even when times are good. Turnover is low.  Keeping this example in mind, here are my thoughts on increasing childcare access:

-          Onsite daycare/drop-in center: If we start to view employees as people, and people with families, this kind of an employee benefit can really help with lost hours and employee turnover. It also can create employee buy in, giving employees a reason to work hard for a particular company. Whether it be heavy manufacturing and hourly workers, or office work, access to childcare can benefit the employees and the employer. There are some financial and logistical aspects that can make this challenging, but I can envision this working a few different ways:

o   Onsite care where the providers are employed by the company, or

o   Onsite care or facilities provided by a separate entity where a partnership/contract is entered.  

The thought here would be that the upfront cost of a childcare contract would be smaller than the cost of lost hours and employee turnover. This sort of arrangement would help defray the costs for employees, thus freeing up wages to, you know, live.

-          Flexible schedules: While I realize business hours are business hours, rigid hours are not conducive to family life. A little flexibility goes a long way in allowing a parent time to take their child to the doctor, or pick them up when they are sick, etc. Flexible does not mean that there is no consistency, however.

-          Telecommuting/working from home: While this is something primarily for management or office jobs, allowing the flexibility for employees to work from home a few hours a week is also an option.

Family Unfriendly Policies

I know the above graphic focuses on extended, paid maternity leave, but there are a few other things to consider. Extended, paid leave might be available in other countries, but think about the burden on companies/employers that creates. They are set up to pay the wages of an employee that will not be there AND for someone else to do the work while they are gone. It can lead to discriminatory hiring practices, even if you create all the laws to keep it from happening. Why not go at it from a different angle? Infant at work policies will help get moms back to work sooner. This typically means that infants are welcome with new parents at work until the age of six months or so (AKA when they become mobile).  In manufacturing and service positions, this can be difficult, but if you have onsite childcare, problem solved!

There is also the tendency for policies to allow mothers some time with their new children, but paternity benefits are sorely lacking in America. I really feel that the truest of feminist ideals supports not maternity/paternity benefits but parent benefits.

To conclude, the things that the graphic draws our attention to are of the greatest relevance to me as not just a feminist, but a Catholic feminist. These issues strike at the very heart of the dignity of the worker Catholic Social Teaching strives to uphold. By reconstructing what our idea of employee benefits looks like, we can begin to chip away at pay discrepancies and the “un-liveable wage.”