Friday, February 21, 2020

Lenten planning 2020 - Catholic nerd alert!

Happy Friday everyone, and happy last full week of Ordinary Time before Lent begins! I am getting SO excited for this particular Lent! Maybe because Anne is making her 1st communion this year, maybe because I've been doing so much discernment lately about both of my kids and their schooling and hobbies situation. But whatever the reason, I want to be armed for a fruitful Lent!

This year, I feel called to do a lot of reading during Lent. I was contemplating tackling a larger spiritual work on non-fiction that I'd had in my personal library for quite some time, like perhaps the mammoth John Paul II biography. 🤔 But then I saw this at all of the entrances to my parish, next to the bulletins:

33 Days to Morning Glory
...and Father announced at Mass recently that anyone who completed this retreat by May would be able to participate in a special consecration ceremony that he would hold in the church sometime around the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. And I was inspired. :-) I have completed 33 Days to Morning Glory in the past, but it's been several years, so I figured this was an excellent opportunity to approach it anew and also connect with my parish community in the process. Win/win! In the past, I've used the full size book to complete the daily reflections, but these little guys that Father gave us are booklet size, nice and convenient to carry around with me in my daily routine. So I'm going to be starting this during Lent! But THEN...

*gleeful hand rubbing*

I saw this:

33 Days to Greater Glory
This whole 33 Days phenomenon by Fr. Michael Gaitley has it's own little fiefdom, and I'm FASCINATED:

Sorry about the glare! That middle one is 33 Days to Merciful Love

I AM SO EXCITED. Doesn't the Greater Glory book look PERFECT for Lent?! Look at all of this shouting I'm doing, I'm so excited!! :-0 I kept admiiring it online when I discovered it (it's fairly new), and next thing I knew, the Marian Helpers had sent me a review copy in the mail and I was like: "Holy cow, this is obviously meant to be!"

SO! It's going to be a consecration kind of Lent for me. I'm going to start with 33 Days to Greater Glory on Ash Wednesday, which will take me through to the 3rd Sunday of Lent. Then the following week, I'll begin 33 Days to Morning Glory, which will bring me into the Easter season, and to the first few days of May, depending on when I actually begin. I'm really stoked for the spiritual benefits that are to come, and think this will really keep me focused this Lent! I'm also going to single out each of my children to do something special with them this Lent of their choosing: Stations, adoration, they can pick. But I'll take them so that it'll just be the two of us, and then we can grab a bite to eat and chat about what we learned. :)

Super excited! Anybody want to join me with either of these 2 books this Lent/Easter? What are your Lenten plans? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Winter Wellness Series #3 - Water and other fun ideas!

Happy Friday everyone, and welcome to the conclusion of our Winter Wellness Series for 2020! I've enjoyed this little foray into a topic that I've become much more interested in over the past 6 months or so, and I hope that you enjoyed sharing it with me!


I thought this week we could chat about other ways we try to stay fit and healthy, outside of our nutritional goals and exercise. Please do drop your suggestions in the comments! For me, I try to drink more water. Water flushes your body out in a healthy way, and helps you to feel fuller, longer. I've also wanted to try and experiment with protein shakes, especially in the mornings when I tend to eat sugary breakfast cereals, but that hasn't really gone anywhere. Let's start with water!

I've always kept a water bottle chilling in the refrigerator for when I want a cold drink (it's always enticing for me when it's super cold and waiting like that!), and I'm pretty good about drinking water every day. But I knew that I could improve. So I bought a new bottle water with a new goal in mind. Never one to take the easy road when the impossible road will do, I purchased this:

Bottled Joy 1 Gallon Water Bottle
Yeah. That's a gallon jug of water. When it's full, I can hardly lift it. 😂 Maybe if you're going to be hiking through the wilderness for days at a time, you'd need this water bottle, but this suburban librarian does NOT need one. I'm curently keeping it in my office for ease of using my Keurig machine and calling it a day.

I reapproached Amazon, and then settled on this cute little number:

Bottled Joy 32 oz Water Bottle
Now this is a good water bottle. It's 32 oz, and has a little timeline along the side so that you can track your intake throughout the day. If you fill it up twice a day, you'll drink a half gallon of water, which is a very worthy goal. It's much more manageable to carry with me throughout my day, and I love it.


Then, when Anne and I were out shopping one day, I found these guys:

Fruit Slice reusable ice cubes
I mean, did you ever? These are reuseable ice cubes, and I love them so much I can hardly stand it. They really perk up your water, and keep it colder longer when you need to take your bottle on the go!

Isn't this SO ADORABLE?!
I'm just in love. I drink way more water now, and overall I feel much better throughout my day.

So, as I mentioned, I really want to experiment with protein shakes to take the place of the breakfast cereal I tend to quickly eat in the mornings. This experiment has not really gotten off the ground, but I had some protein powder leftover from a previous experiment, so I decided to use that instead of buying anything new until I found whether or not I liked it or not. Previously, I had just mixed with water and put shook it together in a regular water bottle. The result was: 😷

Oh my. It was not good. :-0 So, in an effort to further explore this topic, I bought this little guy:

BlenderBottle Classic Loop Top Shaker Bottle, 28 ounce, Clear/Blue
This comes with one of those wire balls that help to mix and distribute your powder and liquid better. I also used milk this time. I mean...

It was somewhat less pukey. But I have to say, it was still pretty chalky. I think the key is actually blending everything in a real blender, and also adding fresh fruit or other produce to add texture and taste. I have my eye on a little Magic Bullet thing for my birthday, I'll keep you posted. ;-) Does anybody drink protein shakes regularly and have products and/or recipes to share?

Also, I'd love to hear other wellness tips and ideas! Our little series of talks has really energized me as me move closer to spring, yay!

Next week, I'll be posting about some ideas for Lent and see if anyone would be interested in joining me for a fairly informal read or pray -along, or something of that nature. Stay tuned!

Friday, February 7, 2020

Winter Wellness Series #2 - Fitness!

Happy Friday everyone, and welcome back for week 2 in our Winter Wellness series! Today we are talking about exercise and fitness!


What I'd like to do is chat about our workouts or other ideas to stay active, and then talk about how the rest of the month will run here on the blog in terms of topics. Sound like a plan? :-)

So, I'm a pretty physically active person, but I have a confession: I hate gyms, and I also hate running. These are, of course, two big ways in which many people work out and stay active. 😂 Here, though, is something that I think is of utmost importance - when it comes to exercise, you should do what you know you will do. In other words, there's no use in trying to force yourself to do something that you loathe and have little chance of following through with longterm. If you like to take walks, you should do that, and challenge yourself to up your game a bit by adding distance and more challenging hiking paths. If you enjoy dancing, you chould try a Zumba class or other dance fitness. If you're not usually very active, try some different things to ferret out what you like best!

I really do hate running, btw. I hate how long it takes to build up endurance, and I hate the constant risk of injury doing something that I don't like doing anyway! If I get injured dancing, well, at least I'm doing what I love. :-) When I have tried running in the past, I would dread doing it, get frustrated when all of my hard word would get derailed by a single cold or something that kept me from running for a short stretch, and eventually I'd give up in a huff. This is what we don't want, for sure!

While it's true that I don't like the gym, I do like group fitness classes (which are often offered at gyms, I will grant). I love the community spirit, it keeps me motivated, and I so prefer a class format to lifting weights or toiling away on a treadmill (again with the running). I am a huge fan of Zumba dance fitness, and have a class in my regular rotation. I also take Piyo two times per week, which I LOVE. This is a yoga/Pilates fusion that works your entire body with your own natural resistance (no weights involved), and it is amazing and you will SWEAT! I've been wanting to challenge myself to try new things, and so this winter I have also added in a HIIT class (high intensity interval training). While it's not love like with the other ones (exercises involving running *snort* and jumping are not the best fit for this body with a bladder that has experienced multiple pregnancies 😨) the instructor is amazing and incorporates strength training with hand weights, and that part I do like!

In addition to specifically fitness classes, I also dance two times per week, and I walk when I can with friends or my husband. :-) Check out your town's community education class schedule, there are often new things to try in there in terms of dance, martial arts and other types of fitness classes. It's a great way to find new things, and try them out for a manageable and limited time frame so that you can see if if you like them! Community ed. is actually how I first discovered belly dance!

Planning a fitness routine is key, in my experience. For me, the best time to work out is during my lunch break at the campus gym/recreation center. For a lot of people, that time is right after work. Again, it just should be a time that is convenient for you, that you know you can stick to with some regularity. For walks, those are in the evening or on the weekends if I have Mike with me. Whatever works!

I also think a lot depends on what your goals are. Working with a personal trainer can really aid in establishing and working towards these, and that's something I'm interested in trying! If you're looking to build muscle and tone up, they will likely suggest a different track for you than for someone who is looking to lose a set amount of weight. I'm in my 40's, and looking to build muscle and generally get in the best shape of my life. I'm excited. 😁

So I'm going to keep trying new classes where I can, and look into the personal training thing. It's good to have goals, and to encourage each other!

What are your fitness goals? I'd love to hear about them! Next week, we're going to wrap up the wellness series with a talk about water intake, protein shakes, and anything else I can think of that we haven't covered already. ;-) Then the week after that is just before Ash Wednesday, so we'll be doing some Lent planning, can't wait! 😀

Friday, January 31, 2020

Winter Wellness Series #1 - Meal planning and prep...

Happy Friday everyone! Last week we had a fun chat about wellness goals for the year, and I was inspired to start a series to run for the end of January and into February on related topics. Here we have our first official post in the series, and today we're tackling meal planning and prep!

*praise hands*

Caveat: I don't have a background in nutrition, or any experience with specialized eating needs involving allergies or other food sensitivities. I'm just going to lay out what works for me, and new things I'd like to try. Obviously, we are all different, and what works for one will not work for all! But I think that sharing experiences provides ideas and inspriation in any number of ways, and that that is always a good thing. :-) With that said, let's get started!

Whenever I come to a place wherein I want to increase my overall physical health, the first thing I do is examine the fuel that I'm providing my body. If I'm not feeling as good as I have in the past, it's often because I'm not balancing my eating as well as I used to, and in my case, that *always* comes from a lack of planning.

When I meal plan, I provide structure for balanced family dinners, but also for the lunches I pack to take to work, because I use the leftovers as my lunch 90% of the time. For lunches, here's the key: put the leftovers you plan to use for this purpose into convenient to carry, lunch-sized containers RIGHT AWAY, as you're cleaning up from dinner that night. If you don't, the chances of you using your awesome leftovers become significantly reduced. Ask me how I know this. ;-)

If we don't have leftovers for lunch, I'll pack a salad, or what I call An Assortment, which is usually cheese, crackers, fruit, and whatever else I can scavenge from our fridge and cupboards. Having this Plan A and B for lunches helps me to feel organized, and to be better about planning dinners. And planning dinners is ever so important to our physical health goals. Here's how I do it:

Magnetic dry erase menu

Yep, I am a nerd, and I use a dry erase board. You can see that Anne has penned her very own meal ideas in the Groceries section of the board. ;-) I am a huge fan of this system, and have been doing it for years. When I slack off, things go bad quickly. This particular type of menu requires liquid chalk markers, not traditional dry erase, and I get those easily on Amazon:

Liquid chalk markers available from Amazon
I plan the meals over the weekend, usually Saturday or Sunday morning, for the entire week ahead. Sometimes, things don't work out as planned (we don't have enough leftovers on a day I have planned leftovers for dinner, or we're missing a key ingredient for a meal that I thought we had), and so I'll just shuffle things around, or add something new in mid-week, no biggie. The key is not to be too hard on yourself. We all try to be organized, and sometimes things don't work out as planned. We try again!

I meal plan using a variety of sources. I have a cookbook collection that I love, and I'll select things out of there. When I pick something, I add it to the menu, and I also added needed groceries to our grocery list. This cuts down on the Missing Key Ingredients, although it isn't 100% fullproof. ;-) One of my favorite series of cookbooks is 100 Days of Real Food:

I highly recommend the 100 Days of Real Food blog and cookbook series!
I also have a slew of recipes that I print out from blogs, or recipes that someone gave to me, and I keep these in folders divided into meal categories. You can really tell that a librarian is in charge of this operation, yes? :-0 These are usually family favorites, and I'll try to insert one of those into the weekly menu alongside the inevitable healthy, vegetable-laden new things that I'd like to try, but that the children will hate. ;-)

I also use recipes from a service that I subscribe to called Prep Dish. Prep Dish is an awesome company, owned and operated by a professional chef, that provides you with weekly meal plans, shopping list, and a plan for prepping the food for the entire week, so that each weekday your work to prepare the meals is minimal. The meal plans focus on a gluten free situation, or a Paleo eating philosophy, neither of which totally apply to me, *however* the meal plans are based on using whole, fresh produce, meat and fish (if you're a vegetarian, could easily eliminate these), and are just generally very healthy and flavorful. I use the Paleo recipes, and am always finding new ideas, seasonings, cooking methods, and general inspiration from them to try new things. I personally do not do all of the advance prep, but this is obviously another fantastic idea that you might want to try! I also don't use every meal idea on the weekly plan, but each week will simply select a few to try. Even though I'm not using all of the capabilities that this service provides, I still consider it VERY worth it to have built-in seasonal, healthy ideas every single week! I am an annual premium subscriber, and consider this an essential renewal every year.

Another recipe source for me is our local CSA (community support agriculture, a farm share of local fruits and vegetables, essentially), and this gets into an important point about meal planning: having fresh and healthy food in the house means that you are much more likely to use it in your meals, or snack on it when you feel hungry between meals. We have an awesome CSA that provides recipes for the produce that is included in that week's box, and they deliver it right to our door. They also have a webstore wherein you can add in a slew of other locally made goods such as dairy products, meat and fish, pasta, bread, jams and jellies, pickles, etc. I'm often adding yogurt and granola to my order, and sometimes chocolate milk that my children devour like they've never seen liquid before. I find having fresh fruit and veggies essential to my lunch options too, so if I'm out of leftovers, I'll cut up carrots, toss whatever fruit we have in there, etc.

I LOVE belonging to a CSA. I spend a little more than if I purchased the items at the grocery store, but the convenience, and the fact that we're supporting local farmers, makes it so worth it to me. Ours even runs all winter with root vegetables and hydroponic lettuce and tomatoes!

So for meal planning, that's all I got. :-0 I don't track what I eat, even if I'm trying to lose a few pounds, I just try to focus on balancing my meals with lots of healthy, whole food, and to not snack between meals aside from fruit or vegetables, and a protein, if needed. I know that a lot of people swear by tracking their food, so this might be something that works for you! I know there are tons of great apps for that out there now.

To me, it is SO, so essential that we enjoy our food, and have a healthy relationship with food. We shouldn't deny ourselves less healthy food that we enjoy, we can just try to control our portions of it and balance it out with healthier options. And sometimes if that doesn't happen, it's ok. We should treat ourselves sometimes, and be kind to ourselves. The fruits and veggies will be waiting for us Monday morning. ;-)

What are your meal planning ideas and/or system? Do you have tips that have worked for you in terms of healthy eating? I'd love to accrue some new ideas!

Friday, January 24, 2020

New year, new wellness aspirations...

Thank you to you all for the love on last week's post about how I'll continue to blog!


I really appreciate it, and it's good to know that the content I produce here is meaningful to others. Besides, you know, just me. ;-) I'll put up posts when I can, and just allow myself to be write about whatever is inspiring me that week or that season. That's how I work best, and I'm glad to know that this still brings value to all of you.

*group hug*

Right now, it still be January, I'm still in resolution mode. I wrote earlier this month about faith/family and dance goals, which I think fit into the larger picture I'm about to get into. Wellness encompasses a lot of different component parts, I think, and those are:

(1) physical,
(2) emotional,
(3) spiritual

Right? My birthday is in mid-February, and each year that goes by it causes me to re-examine a lot of different aspects of my life. Faith and family wise, I'm very happy. I'm hard at work on my list of goals for the year, and it's going pretty well. Not perfect, but pretty well. Dance is omnipresent in my life, also quite happily, and that's also heading along on it's steady course. Within that larger physical wellness realm, I've been thinking that I'd like to make some changes. I'm not at all unhappy with my physical form, but there are ways in which I'd like to do better.

I used to meal plan quite diligently, and the stress of the fall combined with the holidays has led to a complete meltdown in planning and preparing healthy meals. This affects not only me, but the entire family. Now, would the kids prefer if it stayed this way? ;-) Yes, they would be very happy without me pushing fresh fruits and vegetables on them on a daily basis, but they don't have the broadest of perspectives on this! I've gotten back into meal planning and prepping, as well as weekly deliveries from our CSA, and perhaps I'll devote a whole post to this coming up, as I have a number of methods that I combine that work quite well for us. But that's definitely a good first step!

I've also become much more interested in physical fitness. I'm pretty active, that's where dance fills part of this category, but I also enjoy walking and taking fitness classes. Although I'm not looking to lose weight per se, I'd like to tone up and become a bit stronger. I have some specific things I'd like to achieve, and things I'd like to try to mix things up in my fitness routine.

You know. I'm being inspired, Holy Spirit moment here. 😂 Let's make this a wellness series that I'll continue throughout the end of January and February, leading up to Lent. This is sort of the intro post, and I can write separately about mealing planning and prep, fitness classes/gym stuff, and dance. I've even become more into increasing my water intake, so there will be a water post. And the aforementioned chalky protein shake experiments. YES! I'm very excited about this!

*delighted face*

If there is anything specific within these wellness topics I've mentioned you'd like me to touch upon, just leave those ideas in the comments, and I'd be happy to include them. I'd also love to hear about your own wellness goals this winter if you'd like to share them. Yay!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Thoughts on moving forward...

So after the drama I caused last week ;-) I've been doing a lot of thinking and discerning about continuing to blog. I received some lovely feedback both in the comments on that post, and over in the Facebook group. To sum it up, people do still read my blog :-0 and enjoy it, though they understand that it takes time and effort, and sometimes you just don't have those things to give anymore. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that you all still enjoy the eclectic mix of topics that I write about, and I don't need to worry about that the way that I was.

My thoughts after weighing all of this is that the effort really isn't a problem - I still enjoy blogging. And time? Oftentimes, it is not an issue, but occasionally it is. The topic thing, well, this has always been a "life blog" wherein I write about whatever is on my heart that particular week, so we have family stuff, job issues, faith things, random funny happenings, and musings related to my hobbies (dance, fitness, crafting, reading). I still like writing about all of these things, and it seems you still enjoy reading about them and what each new week may bring.

So, in essence, I've decided to keep blogging.

It feels good to have made a decision about that, because it's been weighing on me for awhile. But with all things, I think it's good to refresh and recharge sometimes, and this is one of those times.

So this is the plan. At some point in the next year, I'll likely give the blog a fresh new look in terms of template and color scheme. I don't do that very often, and I'll wait to feel inspired. But I can tell that it's coming. In terms of timing of posts, I have been posting once per week, and I anticipate that continuing. There may be weeks where it doesn't happen due to my schedule or something unexpected coming up, and if that happens, I'm giving myself permission not to fret about it. I will post when I can, and I'm always very regular about that, so there's no need to pressure myself. It's more important to be able to sit down and enjoy the post, and write about what is making me inspired that week. I feel like that will give me a new sense of life with the blog.

I go in phases with themes in terms of what I write about, often related to the season, and I anticpate that also continuing to be the case. Right now, with it being wintry, I'm writing a lot about crafts. In fact, the piece I wrote for Catholic Mom this month about crocheting blankets in January has been my most commented on post over there! With Lent approaching, I'm sure spiritual reading, devotionals and liturgical good times are coming our way very soon.

What I'm feeling overall though, is that I'd like this blog to have a distinct wellness focus. Fitness is definitely something I've gotten more into this year, and I know I'll be writing about that coming up. But wellness encompasses emotional and spiritual well-being too, so I think it's a perfect fit for my little enterprise over here at Life of a Catholic Librarian. :)

Sooooo...that's pretty much it! Nothing is really changing, except I feel all rejuvenated, ha ha! I'm looking forward to giving the blog a slightly new look and exploring a fresh way of presenting my content. It's all good! So, you're stuck with me! :-0

I'm feeling a physical wellness post coming on (new fitness classes, accidental giant water bottles, and chalky protein shakes, can't wait!) so you can excitedly anticipate that late next week. ;-)


What's on tap for you this weekend?

Friday, January 10, 2020

Is it time for a change?

So, I've been going through some stuff. Nothing serious, but I've been under some stress since this past fall. Mostly, it's related to my kids, and the anxiety I've been experiencing from the changes in their lives as they both get older. Having my son start high school has been the greatest crisis in my life as a parent since dealing with epic sleep deprivation, postpartum depression, and temper tantrums from the infant and toddler years. I'm prone to anxiety by nature, and this ramped it up to a degree that for the first time, I've sought out a licensed therapist to help me to cope with it all better. That's a good thing, and it's helping, and I'm grateful for that. Overall though, I've noticed something about myself: my sense of self is much more defined than it's ever been, and my perspectives have shifted a bit. That comes from age and experience, I suppose. But I'm much more aware now of the things and people in my life that I treasure, and simultaneously I'm also much more aware of my own mortality. My birthday is coming up next moth, and well, YOU KNOW. I'm pretty sure this is the very definition of a midlife crisis. :-0

I have this increased sense of carpe diem, like now is the time to really savor my relationships and experiences, and really challenge myself within the hobbies and avocations that I enjoy. That's all good stuff, what I worry about is this deeper sense within me of: "But what is it all for? What is the ultimate purpose of pursuing this?"

Now granted, some of those are easy. Spirituality-wise, I know what the goal is, and am always working on that. Check. Relationships are the same. We want loving, happy, healthy relationships for obvious reasons. But other stuff is tougher. Dancing is my greatest creative endeavor, and I'm definitely going through a Midlife Dance Crisis. ;-) What do I want from dance, ultimately? Am I achieving that? Honestly, I don't know.

The other thing is this blog. I've been writing here, and sharing with you, for a long time, over 10 years now. And...why am I doing it? I was struck recently that blogging isn't exactly the "in thing" anymore. I've always written because I enjoy it (same goes for dancing, truly), and that's reason enough, to be sure. But midlife crises involve DEEP PURPOSES, know what I'm sayin'? Some weeks it's a challenge to come up with an idea for a post. And our community is small (but mighty!) so I do wonder to myself if it's time to try something new. Is blogging really the best way to achieve my goal to write for enjoyment anymore?

Another reason that I started this blog was to share my faith. I still enjoy doing that quite a bit. I write for Catholic Mom on a monthly basis, and I have to admit that I love writing those pieces because it's only every 30 days. Each one feels like a fresh new opportunity to share something interesting about my faith life because it's been a whole month since I last penned one. I write multiple Gospel Reflections for them each year too, and adore working on those, because they really challenge me to dig into the scriptures and discern how they apply in my own life. I also love the Facebook group related to this blog that I manage. Our weekly prayer threads, posts on interesting Catholic gifts or stories, the novenas, LOVE that stuff. Because it's low key and spontaneous, and also because there's a fuller sense of community there. I also truly enjoyed writing my book in the scripture study series put together by my friend Allison, because I had the opportunity to collaborate with a duet of lovely women and really extend myself creatively in the process. So I share my faith in these other ways, and wish to continue doing so.

So what does this all mean in terms of this blog? I don't know, lol! I would love to hear from YOU. Do you still find it meaningful to follow this blog and read my posts on a regular basis? I write about an eclectic mix of topics: religious faith; crafts; family; fitness; belly dancing; books and podcasts; random weird stuff that happens to me. I mean...:-0 What do you think?!

I don't really have any notion of alternatives. Perhaps a change of style, in which this were a website with a blog feature that I update when inspired? A website that is curated with ways to easily navigate into posts on the varied topics that I tend to write about?

I'm all ears. But I do feel like this blog needs some TLC. I think I've been going through the motions with it for quite some time because I'm very commitment oriented, and I'm also quite averse to change. This blog has always treated me well, and I'd hate to give it up. It's definitely one of my babies, and I love the people I've met through it (you!). But it doesn't feel right to keep doing something the exact same way just because that's the way you've always done it, especially when the platform doesn't feel as inspired as it used to.

All thoughts quite welcome in the comments! :-)

Friday, January 3, 2020

A fresh new year start, and soothing winter crochet -alongs...

Happy New Year everyone, I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season.


I did, it was very relaxing. I pretty much spent nearly 2 weeks in my pj's, knitting, drinking tea, and watching a Little House on the Prairie marathon. 😂 I really needed the down time, and I loved it. The fall was unexpectedly quite stressful, as I've written about before, and spending the time at home unwinding with Mike and the kids was just awesome. We also got to spend a lot of time with my parents, which was absolutely delightful. Now that it's the new year, I'm feeling all refreshed and excited to go on my goals for dance, faith and family! I'm starting off by taking a workshop next weekend that focuses on acting and stage presence for dancers - should be interesting, eeks! :-0

In other news, I'm terribly excited to be participating in another crochet -along (abbreviated as CAL in craft land ;-)) with the Attic 24 blog. She does one each January - March, and releases the color sequences a week at a time. This year's edition is called the Dahlia blanket:

I've participated in these CAL's the past two years, and the experiences have been so fun and soothing. I love being a part of a larger community, and there is a group on Facebook called "Hooked on Attic 24" dedicated to these CAL's and it's so lovely to be joined in there. The winter is a perfect time to have a giant blanket project going, and I love the challenge of finishing up the stripe sequence each week. She does offer options wherein you can pick either the varied color sequence that she favors, or a colorwash version wherein the colors fade into each more, or a mirroring stripes option. She puts together yarn packs each late fall through Wool Warehouse, but obviously you could use any yarn you like and either try to match up the colors, or come up with your own color scheme. It's such fun! The first sequence came out today, and I have to admit that I got up with an excited feeling in my stomach to go print it out. :-)

Do you enjoy having a community that goes along with your hobbies? Anybody tempted to crochet a blanket with me this winter? ;-)

Friday, December 20, 2019

Official goals for 2020!

So, last week I mentioned wanting to create some goals for the new year, and I enjoy doing this on an annual basis. This year, I'm all into themed lists, as I suppose this appeals to my very ordered sort of a personality. ;-) It's the way God made me, I can't help myself! And I also wanted to select a new patron saint for the blog, and a new word for the year. Lots to do!

Let's start with patronage. I use the Patron Saint Name generator to select a new saint for our little community each year, and really appreciate having this tool at our disposal. And so, big announcement time. Our blog patron for 2020 is...St. Catherine Laboure!


This is the saint responsible for the Miraculous Medal image (she's also the patron of pigeon fanciers, always something fascinating! :-0), and I couldn't be more pleased to have her and our Blessed Mother watching over our blog for next year. :) Maybe I should procure a new Miraculous Medal necklace in commemoration? 🤔 So much yay! I also used a similar tool to select a word for the year, but let's come back round to that at the conclusion. :-)

So I ended up coming up with 2 goal lists: dance and faith/family. To me, the faith and family stuff very much went together, so I combined them. And without further ado!

Dance Goals 2020

  1. Take online class with Aziza - Aziza is an internationally known dancer who now teaches online classes out of her home base in Montreal, and I've been wanting to study with her for years. I actually can already check this one off of the list, because these past 2 Wednesdays I've attended her online classes, so yay! She is *incredibly* nice, and extremely approachable, and I absolutely loved the classes. I will say that I was just the weensiest bit nervous to meet her because of her fame within my dance community, but she put everyone at ease right away. *beams*
  2. List used costumes for sale - Ugh. :-0 Swap meets are big in the belly dance community, as costumes are expensive, and after a time you want new stuff. I need to photograph my older costumes and list them for sale, but the financial motivation just has not been high enough to get over my fear of interacting with strangers online. This is definitely a goal for the new year!
  3. Buy new costumes - And this one is way easier. 😂 Once I sell my old costumes, I'll have the money to buy new ones! It's good to rotate through costumes if you perform professionally, as I do, but I tend to buy a new one or two each year yet still not sell old ones. I buy them used in the swap meets to keep costs down, ;-) but all the same. 
  4. Find new workshops - I love doing this, so it's hardly a hardship! Last year, I took some workshops about an hour from me with a fantastic Turkish style dancer, and so this year I'd like to find a different focus to keep on branching out from my comfort zone.
  5. Cross-training - I took a modern dance workshop this past November, and it kicked my you-know-where, LOL! It was HARD. I've been studying the style of dance that I perform for a long time now, and so I'm not used to feeling uncomfortable in a dance class. But you *need* to make yourself uncomfortable sometimes in order to grow. Ballet and modern are on my list!
  6. Have pro photos taken and look into creating website - I don't know about this one, but it's on my list for a reason. No reason to not look into something before you have a slew of information to base your decision on. So, we'll see.
  7. Expand Instagram presence - I have a dance IG account that I really love, and it's a budding project, to be sure. I've been trying to use hashtags more frequently to find additional dancers to follow and vice versa, and will continue to work on this. 
Faith and Family Goals 2020

  1. Continue praying a daily rosary - This has been going well and I'm so pleased. I love praying my rosary in the car, and I've developed a new habit whereby I reach for my rosary whenever I'm in the car by myself. Loving it, and I'd really like to keep it up!
  2. Work with Anne in Magnifikid - Anne is going through that "church is boring" phase, and I'd like to experiment with a few ways to help her to understand and enjoy it more. She has a subscription to Magnifikid that she uses sporadically, but she's gotten back into it more lately. 
  3. Anne First Communion prep - This is coming up in 2020, can you even believe it?! I'm not sure what I'd like to do with her yet in terms of prep at home, but I'm looking for ideas. 
  4. Henry and Lent - With Henry being the age that he is right now, he's not exactly chomping at the bit to talk about spiritual stuff. Or anything else, for that matter. ;-) In the past, I've used Lent as an opportunity to have one-on-one time to spend with him and share a spiritual experience (Adoration, Stations of the Cross, etc). 
  5. Family Lent project - Lent will be big this year. ;-) But I'd like to come up with an almsgivng activity that we could all participate in.
  6. Not worry so much! - Easier said than done. I might as well just put this on every goal list from now until the year that I die.
This was a productive exercise for me. Did you create lists as well? Looking to share?

And finally, I'm all excited about my word for the year. I used the Word of the Year generator and said my usual little prayer about wanting to receive whatever word God wanted me to have. Are you ready? My Word of the Year is...

I LOVE THIS. It just fits so well with what I have coming up in 2020! I actually squealed when the result appeared on my screen. :-0

All right, this will be our last post until the new year, as I (and you as well!) will be busy over the holidays visiting with family and friends. I'll see you all in January, and I hope that you have a WONDERFUL Christmas and New Year's! *hugging*

Friday, December 13, 2019

Goals, dance-related and otherwise, for the new year...

When the new year approaches, I get all excited about setting goals and making a fresh approach to the things that I enjoy or wish to reignite. This year, the approaching holidays have really snuck up me, with Thanksgiving having been as late as it could possibly be. And so Christmas shopping is barely happening as of yet, and New Year's resolutions were not really at the forefront of all of the things I was trying to juggle in my little brain.

But this past week they came to mind again. I usually write every year about my adventures being hired to dance at restaurants on New Year's Eve. This year, many of the restaurants that often hire dancers are cutting back a bit budget-wise, and so I don't have a New Year's eve gig lined up like I usually do, which I'm super sad about. I look forward to those gigs all year, they're lovely. But we don't accept less than the going professional rate for our area (especially on a holiday!) and so sometimes you don't have a gig even though you'd otherwise love to have one. But it's part of the business, to be sure. So that got me to thinking that I'd like to create a list for myself of some dance-oriented goals for the new year, to cheer myself up a bit. And that got me to thinking that I'd love to also create a list of other goals for the new year: faith-related, fitness-related, family-related. I love lists, they make me feel very organized and in control, even when that is not actually the case. ;-) How about you? Do you enjoy making lists? Do you create a list of New Year's resolutions for yourself?

And so I'm creating a deadline for myself via this blog: by the end of next week, I will create these lists and share them with you. I'll also select a new patron saint for the blog for 2020, and announce that then, too. That's saint, dance, fitness, faith and family. Perhaps these correspond with lists you'd like to make as well, and we could give each other some ideas. I'm planning to post them next Thursday, so be on the lookout! If you'll be creating your own lists, leave a comment below. :)