Friday, September 22, 2017

Tea Time #113 - Good changes afoot!

It's an important transitory edition of:

It's no mystery, I just discuss it in a lot more depth in the podcast itself: Tea Time is moving to a seasonal format. I will need to take short hiatuses throughout the year, and this made sense to me to break it up into seasons such that the podcast will STAY a weekly podcast when it is running. The alternative was to have it go to bimonthly or monthly, which just didn't seem to fit with the theme of the show very well. The show will return for a late Ordinary Time/Advent season in early November. Until then, I chat about all of the changes, and my fun plans for the blog AND podcast in this new seasonal structure. Join me, and chime in with your ideas!





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Feelin' Good" from http://www.purple-planet.com

Items mentioned in this episode:

New Facebook group 

I would REALLY love for you all to join us over at the Facebook group! There are 15 of us in there now, and I am finding it such a solace. So, do tell: what do you think of the seasonal format? What do you think about the Advent book club being a part of the podcast? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Because we all need more saints in our lives :0

I don't know about you, but I need a LOT of them. Like an entire army helping out my guardian angel in the background. I forgot to link over to my Catholic Mom piece for September which talks about our own personal list of saints. Baptismal saints, confirmation saints, saints who lift you up, saints who have your back. ;-) If you have your own list of saints, I'd love to see it!

Because seriously. This is my life right now:

"Please log in and check your group assignment. It is listed on the left navigation menu, in the blue section, as 'My Groups.' Select that link, and then you'll see the name."

*distracted silence*

"Wait, what? Where do we go?"

"Log in. Open up your English course. Look at the left navigation menu for 'My Groups.'"

*more distracted silence*

"Where? I don't see it."

*re-pointing occurs*

"Oh. It says My Groups."

"Precisely."

"OK, but how do I find my actual group?"

*prayer for eternal patience*

"You must *click* on it."

"ooohhhhhh!"

My week. My entire week. 8 times already, with 168 students. 3 more incarnatiions to go.

😠

Because the thing is, it's not that these students lack intelligence. They're just perpetually not paying attention, and/or using creative curiosity. Sometimes to figure things out and find things, you need to look around and try things. There is an unwillingness to exert any effort in that direction that myself and my colleagues find most frustrating.

Frustrating. Have I mentioned how frustrating this week has been?

I recorded a Tea Time, horray! Lots of news coming. It should be out on Friday!

Friday, September 15, 2017

No Tea Time this week, BUT...

...I have some ideas for it, and happily (especially amidst the craziness and stress I've been experiencing) I'm feeling inspired about this creative endeavor. I will chat about all of this in the next episode, which will indeed be next week!

To be sure, I've felt overwhelmed lately with life and work (and this is a "life blog," right? I always keep it real). But I think I know how to strike a better balance with this set of current challenging circumstances AND my creative endeavors, like this blog and the Tea Time podcast. I've been prioritizing my rosary time more, and trying to seek out God's voice amidst the noise. Sometimes, it's stressful stages that make us most attuned to this, no?

It's having a good effect. And I even feel cautiously optimistic about my job, which is saying a lot right now! :0

So we'll chat next week. Oh, and I am LOVING our new Facebook group! I'm going to post a weekly gratitude thread on Mondays every single week, and we can check in with each other and search in for what we are grateful for in a given week. I find this activity so soothing and energizing. I've also been inspired by a few books this week and posted about those. Any member is welcome to do the same with book recommendations, and to post requesting prayer. In fact, we should have a weekly prayer thread too, yes? I will start that next week!

I'm thinking that for Advent, we can schedule a live chat for our book club selection, and in Lent too. Did I mention that I am loving this?! It's very low key in there, nothing but happy thoughts. :) And I'm not putting pressure on myself to post x number of things in a week or anything. During crazy weeks, we may just have the gratitude and prayer threads. But hey, that's what that group is for!! It's a relaxing, spiritually nourishing environment. If you haven't already joined, please do head over, we'd love to have you!

All right, back to grading for me. What are you up to this weekend? Are you in the new Facebook group? What do you think? :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

So I did a thing :0

Let's just say it's been a long week. A super, duper long week. Insert visual image here of me teaching my students how to upload their newly minted collages into their ePortolio headers. Then picture 40 of them individually calling me over to explain it to them one-on-one because they neglected to pay attention while I was doing so.

!!!

Trying. Very trying. But I got some excellent feedback from my post last week about finding a place we could all hang out, chat, and support each other besides just the blog comment area. A little bit more real-time, if you will. ;-)

So I created a Facebook group! I'm not thinking this is going to be a hotbed of activity, to be sure. But if you'd like to join, have at it! We'll have weekly Gratitude posts to uplift our spirits, and you can feel free to post prayer requests in there too. It will be a lovely, supportive place for us to seek each other out when we need a friendship boost!


You can search in Facebook for CatholicLibrarianHangout, or use this link, and request to join. I have it set so that you can add people to the group, too.

We'll try this out and see how we like it! I'd love to have you in there! *heart*

***edited to add: I just had a thought!

Eureka!

When we have book clubs, we can do FB Live chats to discuss the book!

*virtual high five!*

Friday, September 8, 2017

Tea Time #112 - Spiritual journeys amidst the hectic everyday...

It's a cathartic edition this week of:

Today I talk more about my spiritual crisis relating to my job, how I am managing it, and why the podcast may not be weekly anymore. :-\ But hope springs eternal, and I have ideas for other ways we can connect during the week and offer each other prayer support. Join me!





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Feelin' Good" from http://www.purple-planet.com

Items mentioned in this episode:

My heart-to-heart post from earlier this week

On My Bookshelf - Super Girls and Halos: My Companions on the Quest for Truth, Justice and Heroic Virtue, by Maria Johnson


Prayer Corner - The rosary. I am currently obsessed with my St. Teresa of Calcutta rosary. :) Allison's rosary shop, if you'd like to message her to request a custom St. Teresa rosary!

Creative Commons - I finished the Rhinebeck sweater! 

Not the greatest photos, but I'll have Mike get a good one of me wearing it after it's blocked! For the time being, the front:

the back:


 and cable detailing on the back:




OK, let me hear from you! What are your thoughts with dealing with spiritual crises, and not overdoing things? Do you have ideas for an online chat place we can all hang out and ask for prayers?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

In which I finally admit to myself that I cannot do everything...

Hello all, and welcome to a brand new week! I wish I could report in for duty that I am having this glorious week in which I feel validated as a teaching librarian, that my job is so rewarding, and that I have been pert and chipper all week long. Well... :0

I'm going to just say it: I had a terrible weekend. Why, you reasonably ask? Because I allowed work to creep into my home life.

I knew that with this being the fall semester, the very first college semester for all of our students, plus the Labor Day holiday in which we wouldn't see some of them for week 2 of our content, this meant that we would receive a lot of emails with questions. I decided to check my email on Saturday afternoon to just clear the recent messages, to save myself some time when we all came back from the long weekend on Tuesday morning.

Dozens. Dozens of emails to field. Also, emails from my boss with instructions on how to fix various unforeseen technical calamities with our course management system. On Labor Day, I spent 2 hours  on my laptop manually changing due dates in assignments for all 11 of my sections, and answering yet more student emails.

It was...discouraging, to say the least. That type of work isn't meaningful in any way, and with the volume of classes and students that we have, the last minute, frantic nature of these types of problems just makes us all feel harried and frustrated.

Yesterday morning, I was downright dreading going into work. I haven't felt that way since last fall (which was an epic nightmare with our course being brand new in a revamped curriculum), and before THAT I hadn't felt that way since I was a practicing attorney writing a brief at the office at 1 am. It's not a good feeling. I'm a LIBRARIAN, my job shouldn't be this stressful. That's why I made the major career change that I did 12ish years ago.

I got in the car Tuesday morning and had a heart-to-heart with myself. Yes, I talk to myself sometimes, I see it as part of my charm. :0 And I realized something very crucial: I'm trying to do too much. I am simply trying to do TOO MUCH. Indeed, I work full time outside of the home. I'm a wife and mother. And I have all sorts of interests and hobbies that I enjoy. Some of those items need attending to on a daily basis, and others do not. I cannot do everything. I simply, for the good of my own health and well-being, need to prioritize better.

Obviously, my family comes first. Yes, I do need to go to my job, and to do my best effort with it. But I do not need to let it take over the rest of my life. If email and course management disasters build up over a weekend, so be it. I can deal with all of them, as expediently as I can, during the week. We are not paid to work on the weekend. So why am I taking on that burden?

I have felt for some time that God has been trying to tell me that I'm trying to do too much. I put pressure on myself to meet these daily expectations that I set for myself, but see the keyword in that sentence? *I* am doing this to myself. Nobody else is. I can feel less harried if only I allow myself to. So I'm going to try.

Before I left the driveway, I set up my phone in its holder and set my Divine Office app to play the audio for Morning Prayer. And do you know what happened? It wouldn't play.

😱

It really seemed to fit the theme of my life at that moment. :0 Because you know what? IT'S OK. I picked up my St. Teresa of Calcutta rosary and prayed that on my way in. And I felt WORLDS better by time I arrived.

There has been more chaos and gnashing of teeth throughout the land here at my university. But it's OK. Classes have been good! I've done well teaching, and I've been patient and charitable with the students. That's all that matters. Sometimes, my volume of email during the day, and my family time in the evenings, may mean that I can't get Tea Time out that week, or that I won't write a post when I usually do. But you and I have known each other long enough now that I have confidence you realize that I am always coming back to you - if a week goes by, send me a Tweet just to check on me. ;-) But I will *always* be back. This is my happy place, and I'm so grateful to share it with all of you.

How do you fare during busy seasons like this? How is your own September prayer challenge going? I would love to hear from you. *heart*

Friday, September 1, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #111 - "what day is it?!" Beginning of semester exhaustion...

TGIF everyone, and BOY do I really mean it this week :0 for a new installment of:

Today we talk about the back to teaching grind, how the 30 day prayer challenge is going, lots of creativity flowing, and bunches more. Join me! (I even look exhausted in this screenshot, don't I? :0)





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Feelin' Good" from http://www.purple-planet.com

Items mentioned in this episode:

Weekend dance post

On My Bookshelf - Murder Wears Mittens (Seaside Knitters Society), by Sally Goldenbaum.

Prayer Corner - I've been working on praying at least 1 office of the Liturgy of the Hours each day with my Divine Office app.

Creative Commons - I'm on the 2nd sleeve of my Rhinebeck sweater! But also, a Beachcomber Shawl in a fall-inspired colorway.  This is the yarn base I'm using, though the colorways I chose are no longer available. It's *divine*, and the dyer is incredibly talented!

How is your prayer life these days? What is your back-to-school season like? I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"I guess go ahead and start." *aura of unhappiness* Adventures in restaurant dancing, installment #6...

Well, today is the first day of class for the fall semester, but guess what? I don't want to talk about that. :0 Let's talk about something infinitely more enjoyable to me, and we can circle back to teaching another time. Because to talk about teaching right now would drain what little energy I have left to give. So there's that.

But Friday night, I had another dancing adventure, and those are always fun. Let's chronicle!

So, this shindig was about 90 minutes from where we live, and so Claire and I had a mini road trip to contend with on either end. 90 minutes isn't a big deal, but we definitely had to plan for it. We set off around 3:15 pm for our 5:30 set time and gossiped the entire way there.

We arrive, and find our destination in a mall. Not exactly what we were expecting, but no matter. We unload our gear (costumes, so many costumes, plus Sword, a candle tray, a cane, and a gigantic set of veil fans), and head in. I notice right away, and happily so, that the restaurant consists of 2 full rooms. It's much easier when you have multiple spaces to travel between, keeps things interesting. You're not marooned in one room with the same people for the entire 20 minute set. I did notice though, that there were no people seated in the second room. Nor was there an abundance of people in the other room. I am struck by a sense of foreboding.

*long suffering sigh*

We find the owner, and he has a real face on him. By which I mean he seemed to be somewhat annoyed by our appearance and existence. We hadn't talked to him prior to this, since we had been booked by his marketing person. He was just very hard to read. By the end of the night, we came to realize that this was just His Face. It just always looks like that, even when he's happy. :0 But we were unsure for a time.

We take a quick look around the place, and he pops us into this dank back hallway where supplies are kept, and which has been designated our dressing room for the night. Immediately, our shoes begin to adhere to the sticky floor.

😱

We creep to the end of the hallway, and carefully set up our stuff, trying not to get grease on anything in the process. I set Sword on a ledge and happen upon a squashed spider.

*shudder of revulsion*

We change into our first set of costumes, and head out to ask him when he wants us to start. There aren't many people there yet, just 4 tables full, and we'd be happy to wait until 6 pm to start, to allow for more people to fill in, we tell him. Once again, we are accosted by The Face:

"Go ahead and start."

OK then.

I'm up first (yayyyyyyyyyyyy!) and Claire sets up my music. I swirl out with my veil. I assess my 4 tables:

Table 1 - large, full of older people. They do not seem to have even noticed that there is a belly dancer waving a giant silk veil around in the middle of the restaurant.

Table 2 - a family with 2 young children. They are friendly, but the toddler appears to be terrified of me.

Table 3 - 3 other belly dancers that I recognize from Facebook. They enthusiastically came to see us dance, and establish themselves early on as the safe spot to refresh and recharge.

Table 4 - a couple who look up from their food and beam at me whenever I hip drop in their direction. They are also on my good list.

I make my way around the room. The belly dancer table is predictably very loud and raucous in the best possible way, and give me the energy boost I need to keep trucking. The couple table is just so sweet, and they also make me feel good every time I dance in their corner. The young family finishes up and leaves shortly after I start my set, so now I'm down to the two happy tables plus the older people table who still appear to not realize I am there despite my dancing several enthusiastic circles around them. There is only so many times I can bask in the glow of the belly dancer table praise and applause. Let's just say that the set began to feel verrryyyyyyyy.llloooooonnnnnggggggg....

Finally, I decide to take matters into my own hands. WHO IS GOING TO GET UP TO DANCE WITH ME?! Because it was going to be SOMEBODY. "No" was not an answer I was willing to hear.

I dance over to the cute couple, but they had just gotten back from the buffet. They both beam at me, but they were about to eat and I did not want to disturb them. I shimmy over to the belly dancers. The first woman I ask declines.

!

You're killin' me, girl!

I am not budging. I am hip circling over there until somebody gets up, and that was that. Realizing that I was not so easily dissuaded, one of them finally clamors out of the booth.

*angels sing*

We dance together for the remainder of the song, and as is always happily the case, getting people up to dance always raises the energy level in the room. She sits back down, and I steel myself to head back to the older people table.

This time I elicit a response. They seem to finally notice my existence, which is a pleasant change. I wasn't feelin' asking any of them up to dance, but they were now a friendlier crowd. Mercifully, this helps the set to pass faster, but I am still incredibly relieved to hear my drum solo queue up, and then finish off. I float away, awash in exhaustion.

I head back into our sticky dressing room to find some fresh air. Claire dances next, and comes back with a very long suffering expression:

"Good heavens. I really wish they had let us wait to start until later."

We change into our second set costumes and kill as much time as we can. It's about 7 pm, but the restaurant has advertised belly dancing until 8:30. Our sets are 20 minutes apiece, so as you can see, the math isn't really adding up on this one. Us peeking out from our little hovel finds us, once again, confronted by The Face:

"There are new people. Go ahead and start."

New people? *Two tables* 2. That's a TOTAL of 2, just to be clear. And one of them is the same older people table, just with a few new additions.

D'oh!

Sword and I nervously queue up as Claire starts our music. There is a big open space between the two tables, and Sword and I linger there. He gets a LOT of attention in this set, just for the sheer reason of using up some time. I swoop him around for a bit in that middle area, then troop him over to each table to balance. As is always the case, Sword is a crowd pleaser. Everyone is certainly now paying attention, and Sword actually accompanies me, ON MY HEAD, across the span of the entire room. He brought his A Game, that's for sure.

I keep Sword with me for the entire song before reluctantly handing him back to Claire. I now have 16 more minutes to fill with these same few people.

I will say this: when your situation is less than satisfactory, you're much more likely to drop your nervousness and perform better, because hey. What is there to lose at this point?

I dance over to the new table, a family with teenaged children. They are extremely attentive and I immediately deem them likeable. I overhear the girl mention something about loving dance, and that she used to tap dance, and I waste 0 zero seconds hip bumping over to ask her to get up and dance with me. She appears terrified and declines, which is disappointing, but you can't win them all. I dance back over to the older people, and there is now a woman at the end of that table who is extremely friendly and STARTS A CONVERSATION WITH ME WHILE I AM DANCING. While I appreciate interactivity, that's not exactly what I had in mind in this particular situation. I ask her up to dance:

"Oh no. I am a terrible dancer. I'm Italian!"

I inform her that I, too, am Italian, and this delights her to no end. She leaps up and begins to dance with me. The set has taken a definite turn for the better.

Her entire table is now watching us and clapping along, and it couldn't have come at a better time. I mean, there wasn't really anywhere else for me to go. :0

After she sits back down, I make my way back to the other family, and they are delightful and attentive, but good gracious, everyone must be sick of me by this point. I am like their personal belly dancer when they really didn't want one.

By the time my long drum solo for the end of the set finally starts playing, I am bathed in sweat and I can see the hair near my face sticking straight up in the air as a result. Sweat runs into my eyes, making them burn.

All glamour, all the time.

I love the drum song that I picked, but I was ready for this little shindig to be OVER. I move to the open area and am accenting my little heart out when I experience the sinking realization that the restaurant is silent. I glance nervously out of my arm formation and see that it is silent because everybody is watching me. They loved the drum solo. All 10 of them. 😂

We stalled as much as we could before Claire's set, but Face Guy really wanted her to begin, so she did. As she danced, closer to 8 pm, the restaurant began to fill in.

We told him so. :0

When Claire finished, there were a decent number of people there, although nowhere near enough to start filling up the second room. We change and pack up our belongings, very relieved to have this one behind us.

By the time I get home, it's after 10 pm and I am beyond exhausted. I am grateful to have a bit of a break from performing. For a few weeks at least!

Now I have classes starting. 😠 Not exactly fun times, but we do what we can. How was YOUR weekend, dear reader?!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #110 - STRESS

How's that for a relaxing title this month? ;-)

Today I talk about the semester starting, and how I'm finding it just a wee bit stressful. Prayer strategies, more dance gigs, fun books coming out this fall, and more!





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Feelin' Good" from http://www.purple-planet.com

Items mentioned in this episode:

On My Bookshelf - Same author as my Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries (just under a pseudonym), is a new series, Assaulted Caramel (An Amish Candy Shop Mystery).

Prayer Corner - I'm starting a 30 day Evening and Night Prayer challenge beginning Monday, 8/28. Would you like to join in?

Creative Commons - I started the sleeves on my Rhinebeck sweater! It's a miracle!

Are you going to pray along for the prayer challenge? Have any new book recommendations? Planning for Advent already the way that I am? ;-) Do write in!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

On headaches and 30 day prayer challenges...

Soooooooo, I had a totally different post planned for today about discernment. And then...today happened. It was not a good day, work-wise. The semester starts Monday, and as is our new normal, we're all running around putting out fires that NEVER start back in June. They only start 2 days before classes begin. Every.Single.Time.

I felt frustrated. I felt stressed out and harried. I felt like I was forgetting things from moment-to-moment, as is always the case when I'm trying to do too many things at the same time. I developed a headache.

As I popped an ibuprofen, I thought of the text string I had with Sam last night. As we were talking about the stress of the new semester approaching (Sam is starting a brand new job as a teacher in a combined 1st/2nd grade classroom!) I said that I was really feeling deep in my soul how important prayer was going to be for me this semester. So that I wouldn't sink back down to the abyss of anxiety and depression and happened last fall (we will heretofore refer to the fall of 2016 as "That Semester" and shudder whenever we hear it's name). I had an official "Fall 2016 Managing Stress Series" last year for a reason. It's painful to reflect back on.

At any rate, back to prayer. Sam, my sister, and myself are in the midst of a 30 day yoga challenge for stress relief and relaxation.Which may not seem to have anything to do with prayer, but stay with me! :0 I mentioned to Sam how I longed to get back into a routine with praying the Liturgy of the Hours, but it's just SO difficult to stay consistent with it (footnote: the Liturgy of the Hours is the official prayer of the Church; it is made up of hymns, psalms, and other short prayers relating to the liturgical season and/or feast day). She and I both then commiserated on just how many times we've failed miserably at keeping up with Morning and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. Then I had a eureka moment:

"We should do a 30 day challenge for *that*!"

Right?! For 30 days, we'll endeavor to keep up with this form of prayer. Now, Sam and I both agreed that Morning Prayer? It's just not happening. We're realistic, you see. We're up by 6 (Sam even earlier than that), I have kids out the door by 7:20, Sam has a 40 minute commute, we both have classes first thing...Morning Prayer just isn't going to fit in there. Doesn't mean we can't pray a morning offering, but official Morning Prayer would only make us cry. So what we thought we would try is for 30 days, praying Evening and Night prayer. Something to look forward to after our long days, and both are designed to be SO soothing for weary souls. Would you like to join us?

If you own Christian Prayer, or the 4 volume set of the Liturgy of the Hours, you're all set.  If you'd like to use an online tool, there is the iBreviary app, which is available for both Android and ios, or you can use Universalis. I have the Divine Office app, but I know that isn't for sale currently while they work out a copyright situation. It doesn't matter what you use, as long as it allows you to pray!

We're going to start Monday, 8/28. I can have accountability posts in here from time-to-time, so we can check in with each other and see how it's going. It made me feel SO much better to think of this today in midst of my Nightmare Day From The Pits Of The Evil One.

If you'd like to join us, or just have thoughts generally on helpful forms of prayer for stressful times, please comment below!

*heart*