Friday, April 21, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #93 - Spring into creativity!

Happy Friday all, and welcome to a very seasonally springy edition of:


Today I talk about what is bringing me creative inspiration this spring: dance, crafts, novenas, and some upcoming trips!





**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 "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
What creative things are inspiring YOU this spring? Don't forget to write in with your favorite genres of fiction for our chat next week about a summer book club!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Live Today Well, Chapter 13...

Well, looky here! We're into the Easter season, and into the final 2 chapters of our book club. Well done, yes?! We started back in February. I'm very impressed with us! ;-) I'm very excited about where we can go after this in terms of a summer book club. I have some ideas for that, and we can chat about them next week!

OK, but for now, we're set to talk about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, better known as Confession. We all dread this one just a wee bit, right? :-) At least you do if you're me! Let's dive in.

I know that I dread Confession because I feel so guilty about the things that I need to confess, and I feel like a perpetual failure since I seem to repeat things a lot. Does anybody else relate to this? Interestingly, St. Francis has this to say:

"confession and penance render a man infinitely more honorable than sin renders him blamable" and that "the greater our misery, the more is the mercy of God glorified." Our author notes: "With this attitude in mind, we might approach the sacrament more frequently and more profitably."

I like this positive spin. Instead of feeling guilt and despair, I should feel hope and gratitude. Since our approach to the sacrament actually highlights God's mercy, we should go MORE often, rather than our natural inclination towards less.

Our author also addresses preparing for Confession, reminding us of the daily practice of the Examen. As well, if we go to Confession for frequently, it will be MUCH easier to recall what we need to confess. If we wait too long, it gets impossible to recall everything that we should.

Crucially, in terms of what we should confess, St. Francis suggests:

"...that we not only confess what we have done (or failed to do), but, more importantly, that we acknowledge the reason for it and the motive behind it. These are what allow us to see ourselves as we really are and become the place where we focus renewed energy, with the help of divine grace, in becoming who we are called to be."

This selection really spoke to me. If there are things that I need to confess again and again, WHY am I continuing to do them? It's not simply a matter of resolving not to do it again, then eventually caving and doing it again, it's a matter of what is causing that temptation or weakness to be present. This was a very useful insight for me.

What were your thoughts on the Confession chapter? Next week is our final chapter, and it's about the Mass! I'm really looking forward to that one. I have very much enjoyed our endeavor together with this book, but now that we're at the end, I AM excited about moving on to something else. I can't wait to chat about it with you!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Journeying towards Pentecost!

Good morning all, and happy Easter! I had such a lovely Easter weekend, and am very much trying to carry forward the joy of the vigil and Easter Sunday. But as we know, Easter is a full liturgical season, and so we remain joyful for many days to come!

My Triduum was exactly as I hoped when you and I chatted about it during Tea Time last week: The Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday was moving and inspiring.I always tear up during the transfer of the Eucharist at that Mass. And then the dramatic leaving of the sanctuary by the priest and altar servers really sets the tone for the continuation of the liturgy on Good Friday. Anne came with me to the 3 pm Good Friday service at our parish, and that liturgy packs a punch every single year. When the priest and deacon lay prostrate in front of the bare altar at the start...makes me cry every time. Another reading of the Passion, the veneration of the Cross, the absence of the Eucharist in the sanctuary, all of this is so tangible for me. 8 pm on the vigil of Easter found both me AND Henry at Mass holding small taper candles. I relented and let him come with me, because he really wanted to, and I have to say, he held up his end of the bargain. No complaining about length or asking when it would be over. He did really good. And I LOVE that Mass. As usual, it was spectacular.

Easter Sunday, our house looked like a chocolate factory exploded in it. and we had family over for dinner. It was a beautiful and glorious day.

I was dreading coming back to work, but here I am, bushy tailed if not bright eyed. Fortuitously, I found out about something that really cheered my Easter spirits, and I thought I'd share it with all of you:

I talked back at the beginning of Lent about the Blessed is She devotional for that liturgical season.It was beautifully written and designed, and I got a lot out of it during Lent. Yesterday, I found out that they also have a journal for the Easter season leading up to Pentecost, called On the Way: Road to Pentecost Journal.

*bells chime*

I downloaded the e-book version real quick like the Easter bunny, since I wanted to start right away, but there is also a gorgeous print copy available (thought the numbers are low, so they may go out of stock any minute!). For the e-book, I recommend watching the video Jenna did on Facebook to explain how much to read every day (it's in the Blessed is She Facebook group, recorded on 4/17/17). The e-book lacks the journaling lines that signal the end of that day's selection, so it can be confusing as to where you should stop each time. There is also a special Facebook group devoted just to discussion of the journal during the Easter season, which I joined, and you may want to as well!

I'm very excited about this. We're almost done with our Live Today Well discussion (in fact, I just read the chapter on Confession that we're going to be addressing tomorrow!), and it's nice to have something else of the spiritual reading variety to focus on. Is anybody else reading along with Blessed is She for Easter? I'd love it if you'd let me know in the comments!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #92 - Triduum plans!

A blessed Good and Holy Friday to you all, and this is officially a Triduum edition of:

Today I talk about my Triduum plans, and how this Holy Week was a bit of a mystery for me. Please 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 "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
What are your Triduum plans? Do you have anything special planned for Easter Sunday and Easter season generally? I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Live Today Well, Chapter 12...

I cannot even believe that it is already Holy Week! And here we are in our little book club, about to talk about the chapter on virtues, and about to wrap up in just 2 short weeks! I hope you've enjoyed this process as much as I have, and have also gotten a lot of spiritual fodder out of our discussions! This is the most participation I've ever had in a Catholic Book Club series, and I'm just thrilled about it!

So today we are talking about "Living the 'Little Virtues.'" I wasn't sure exactly what this meant prior to reading the chapter, and here we find out:

"These 'little' virtues may be lowly in terms of not garnering great public esteem; practicing them is not something for which people are widely known. But they are not at all little in terms of being easy to do. Nor are they small in the value they they hold for those who practice them. In fact, these are the sort of good deeds that, from the inside out, change lives forever - not only our own but also those with whom we interact each day."

I just love that emphasis on the word "little," reminds me of St. Therese of Lisieux. And St. Therese, to me, emulates everyday holiness, I like those kinds of down-to-earth saints. :-) And what are these little virtues?

Humility - To St. Francis de Sales, this is "an honest estimation of who we are - in both the positive and negative realities of our personal identity." This one is painful, but we need to face it. :0 Especially when my patience is worn thin at work or with my kids, I know that negative qualities about myself come out. We have to be honest with ourselves about what these are if we ever want to overcome them.

Gentleness - "Gentleness invites us to be honest about, and accepting of, others." I like this. I can do that. Then I read this: "After all, the more we learn to embrace the truth that we are not perfect, the less we will expect or demand that others be perfect towards us. Yet how often do we expect things in life to be different?...We expect our work to produce positive results in proportion to the effort we put into it. We expect other people to act as we would in the same situation. All too often, and all too easily, we dwell in a world of 'should.' And when things do not measure up to the image we have in mind, when life does not go as we think it should, or people do not act as we want them to, we often get angry."

#whoa

Let's pause for a moment here to reflect on the powerful nature of the point made above. :0 I actually wrote: "!" in my book next to this passage. This is why I struggle, and have been struggling, since the fall semester began. I get exasperated with careless, inconsiderate people, because I expect and want them to behave differently. I can still want them to, but I can't expect them to. That is not for me to worry about. Regardless of their behavior, I have to react to them with the same kind and loving guidance as I would anybody else. When we react with gentleness, we will "...show docility toward those with whom we find fault, our natural passion gives way to a more reasonable response." This REALLY made a big impact on me. Gentleness. It comes naturally to me, but my work environment sometimes brings out those negative qualities mentioned up in humility, above. ;-) Going to be working on both of these!

Simplicity - By this, St. Francis means that our approach to ourselves, others, and life in general should be: "forthright, plain dealing, and otherwise free from pretense." I have a Scentsy warmer that says "Live Simply" on the front. I'll think of St. Francis whenever I turn it on. ;-) "To be simple...is to be cognizant of the opportunities afforded for good that take place in the ordinary responsibilities of our vocation."

Opportunities afforded for good in the ordinary places of our lives. I need to tape this to my forehead. :0

What did you all think of this chapter? There was a LOT of fodder in this one for me! Next week, we're going to talk about reconciliation!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"*gulp* What do I do NOW?!" Adventures in hafla dancing, April 2017 edition...

As ever, I bear amusing tales from our semiannual hafla, the Middle Eastern dance equivalent to the old fashioned recitals we all know and love. At least, *I* loved them. I'm sure my long suffering relatives sometimes wished they could have a break. 😂 And so here we have Current Day Tiffany, no longer a budding ballerina, but a full-time librarian and semi-professional belly dancer who dances even more than she did 30 years ago. Who would have thunk it?

Our spring hafla was a lot earlier than usual this year due to a number of factors, but despite that fact, it was still Heavens to Mergatroyd HOT in there for the duration of the show. Nevertheless, I straightened my hair with the hopes of it looking halfway decent by the end of the performance. As opposed to THIS, which is how we started off pre-straightener:

A rare behind-the-scenes hair look



With just a WEE bit of wrangling, we got to this:

Thank goodness for the miracle of modern technology


After packing up what felt like 100 costumes, I wheeled my handy dandy little orange suitcase off to the studio. I was nervous because not only would Mike and the kids be there, but also my in-laws, who have never seen me dance before.I wanted to do as good a job as I possibly could.

Set 1 included 2 group numbers for me. I was sweating as daintily as human possible waiting for our slots. The first number in any given performance always feels a bit rusty to me, but this one is one of my favorite pieces, and I felt like it went very well. I wasn't nervous, just like we were shaking off our cobwebs a bit. After that, was the piece from the Sunday choreography class I took over the winter, and that one went REALLY well. Set 1 ended on a high note.

But then came the part I was most nervous about. :0 My solo was the very first piece in Set 2. I changed into my baladi gown, sweating all the while. Even after all these years, I still get VERY nervous before I perform. I had practiced my heart out, and I'm pleased to say that it was all worth it. I've been working very hard to relax more when I dance, and to focus on projecting the emotion that the music evokes in me. I felt really good about the way it went (not perfect by any stretch, but my very best effort!), and the audience was super responsive. That's every dancer's best case scenario!

The solo behind me, I allowed myself the treat of breathing a bit, and changed into my next group costume. This is a piece that I've been having a difficult time remembering, which is totally not like me. Dance choreographies are usually the one thing I CAN remember. Office keys, crucial lesson plan details, directional navigation issues? Nope. Dances? Always.

So I had practiced this one based upon my nervousness about it, and during the show it went great! I remembered everything, including some last minute changes we had made. We had yet another group piece in set 2 (clearly, my most exhausting set of the night :0) which was a power-packed Shaabi/drum duo, and those also went quite well. My hair was expanding and curling quite a bit in the heat, but all in all, I was managing it quite well, I thought. :0

Then we get to set 3. I am nearly in the clear here, peeps. Everything had gone pretty much as good as it could for me, and I was already prophesying about the gigantic glass of Chardonnay that would be awaiting me upon my arrival home. I was tired, my hair was huge, but I felt good, and changed into the costume for our brand new Shaabi piece.

This was the last dance of the night. Everything started off fine. You're getting a sense of foreboding reading this, aren't you. ;-) You're not alone, friends! We get to the middle section of the dance, and herein lies the part that we changed the night before the show. Our venue is in the round, and Claire asked if my side of the line could face a different direction for that segment. It threw us all at first, because we've practiced it differently so many times, but when we tried it, it went fine and looked great. Well.

We get to that part, and I'm having an intensive conversation with my own self inside my head about what way to turn and face. Check, I remembered, no problem. But my mind was so preoccupied on that little detail, that BOOM! The music hit an accent, signalling the onset of our accent sequence near the end of the dance. And what happened? Nothing. I couldn't remember what came next in the choreography.

😱

The directional change had disoriented me enough that I blanked. It doesn't happen to me often when I dance, but when it does, let me tell you, it sucks. :0 But I have learned something from my years of performing, and that is the following:

A compelling dance performance is about so much more than dance ability. It's about putting on a persona. You gotta SELL IT, SISTER. If you can't sell it, they won't buy it!!

The music accents. I blank, and realize that I have blanked. Thus, I strike a snappy hip accent, while fixing a blistering smile at my immediate audience. The other half of the line is doing something different from my half anyway, by design, so I pray that it looks like I MEANT to do this. The music accents again. I'm still disoriented and cannot remember what the next movement is. To my left, I can see that my troupemate Lara is in the same boat as me. I strike a second accent that I pray is correct. It isn't.

*&$!

On the third one, I strike the correct accent but facing the wrong direction, and Lara manages to synch up with me facing the wrong direction. Which makes it the right direction, in my opinion. 😂

Lara and I beamed our way through our duo sequence at the end, which we both remembered, thankfully, but MAN. That was rough. :0 Back in the dressing room, my other troupemates were saying they forgot parts in the other choreography, the one I originally was so nervous about remembering, so the moral of the story is that it happens to everybody sooner or later. I hadn't even noticed that they had blank moments, so SEE. They sold it. 😀

All's well that ends well. My in-laws loved the show. Despite the Shaabi debacle, I felt really satisfied with our group pieces and with my solo piece. And hey, the Shaabi is a good story. ;-) I love the dancing life.

Book club tomorrow, and we're almost done!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #91 - Frantic week, & Holy Week preparation...

It's our vigil of Holy Week edition of:

Today I talk about the crazy week that I have been navigating, teaching drama, SQPN meet-ups, upcoming dance performances, prayer, and my plans for Holy Week!





**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 "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

 Items mentioned in this episode:


How was your week, dear ones? What are you plans for Holy Week? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Live Today Well, Chapter 11...

Well, I made it to Thursday. In a week like this, I consider that a win! Today, we move into the third and final section of Live Today Well, and herein we focus on specific sacred moments in our faith: prayer, virtue, Mass, Reconciliation. This first chapter focuses on prayer, so lets dive in!

I really needed this chapter, because although I think of God often throughout the day, I feel like I don't dedicate enough time to set aside, quiet prayer. My mind is always whirling, and I squeeze prayer time in (when I remember to) around all of that. Not exactly a stellar model. And so what does Salesian tradition have to say to help us out in this regard?

The Salesian model is based on meditation for prayer time. This is defined as:

"...a prayer of the mind and heart. It follows the example of Jesus, who at important moments in his public ministry would often go off by himself to a quiet place to pray and thus to be in communion with the Father and the Spirit...Conceived as a form of inspired imagining, it focuses more on listening to God than on speaking to God."

To prepare for this type of prayer, St. Francis recommends the following:

(1) Presence. We focus on God's presence by recalling that He is everywhere, that he is indeed present within us, and that He is gazing down on us from heaven. We should also picture Christ near us by imaging him walking beside us.

(2) Imagination. I love this step. We can use our imagination to focus on a particular place or scene in which God acts, such as in a biblical story. We could picture ourselves being present at the Last Supper, or the healing of the woman. This makes it easier for us to imagine Christ working in our own lives, in the present day.

(3) Consideration. Now, we allow the Spirit to guide us from thought and feeling, into action. Based upon what we just re-imagined in our minds of how God worked in the lives of other people, and knowing that He is present with us (albeit in a different way), how might He want us to act now?

(4) Affection. When we think of our affection for the Lord, it inspires us to act in holy ways.

(5) Resolution. With all of this in mind, we make a resolution to act in a certain way that aligns our human reality with the divine mystery we have envisioned:

"Devotion, according to St. Francis de Sales, is not simply a thought or a feeling. The good life is one that is lived!"

Amen, am I right?!

St. Francis also promotes a form of prayer called aspirations, in which you repeat short sayings to yourself as you move through your day. Such as "Jesus, I trust in you." I enjoy this form of prayer as well, since it lends itself nicely to my always preoccupied state of mind. ;-)

What did you all think of this chapter on prayer? Will you incorporate any of the suggestions into your day? I'm going to try and work on the imagination part more, and allow my mind to be quiet while doing so. For Holy Week, we move on to virtues! Please do post your prayer thoughts in the comments. :)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

"What day is it?!" Adventures in frenzied librarianship...

Wow. Where to start...You'll notice that today is usually Book Club Day. And well...I forgot the book. 😱 When you hear about my past 2 days you'll understand why.

Let's start with Monday. Grab your coffee!

Monday morning heralds a string of text messages from my colleagues. Our students have an automated quiz to complete this week, and there's been a problem with the course management system not granting them partial credit like we had intended. They are receiving either a 100, or a 0, and as you can imagine, this is generating some angst. I start class at 9 am on Mondays, so I rushy rushy at home to get into work and fix this before my first class begins. When I open my email I already have a half dozen questions about this problem, and I'd rather not accumulate more to have to deal with. The issue when we encounter a problem like this is that we're all teaching 10 sections of this same lab. When we have to change something in class #1, we have to change it in all 10. That's a lot of mundane mouse clicking for a Monday morning, but I manage. It makes me run a few minutes late, but I finish, and rush off to class in the other library building.

Immediately upon my arrival, my colleague that I teach with in that time slot informs me of yet another problem: there's a troublesome question in the quiz. She thinks we should remove it. I look at it and agree with her.

*long suffering sighs are heard throughout the land*

We have 3 classes in a row for this Monday stretch. Between each of them, she and I are on laptops, our fingers moving at lightening speed to eliminate that quiz question, and re-set up the partial credit option. For all 10 sections, it takes a LOT longer than we wanted it to.

Class 1 comes and goes with just some questions about about quiz problem #1. While the students are working on something, I send out emails to the other sections, alerting them that the problem has been fixed. Class 2 begins, and I immediately pick up on a vibe: there is tension and dissension amongst a table towards the back of the room.  They had a group project due last week, and there is apparently strife with regards to what was turned in and who did what. As the other students are working on something else, I hear shouting coming from that table. I.KID.YOU.NOT. They were in my colleague's section, and she had to EXTRACT them from the room to deal with the problem out in the hallway. We never signed up to be K-12 teachers, y'all. Good grief!

By Class 3, we were both emotionally drained and just hanging on to make it through the morning. This group was confused when we mentioned that they (assumedly) had to write a paper for their English class, and we were here to help with that. A paper in an English Composition class? This was shocking news, apparently. :0

After that, I headed to my regular fitness class, though every muscle in my body ached to just go back to my office and build a hermitage to live in for the remainder of the week. After that, I stuffed my lunch in my mouth while answering emails and dealing with assorted other work issues. I left at 5 pm totally exhausted.

Yesterday, I had the day off from work, but it was jam packed with social outings. If you've known me for any length of time, you know that I am an introvert, and that socializing, while I very much enjoy it, isn't exactly on my list of activities that induces *relaxation.* 😅 I visited with an out-of-town friend, and we walked to Canada (long story :0). We had lunch and did lots of lovely visiting. After a rushy trip home to shower, clean up the house and tend to the children, I had a date to go out to dinner and to see Swan Lake with my mother-in-law.

*collapses*

Again, lovely, but by the time I dragged myself home at 10 pm, you could have blown me over with a wisp of wind. Today, I'm back to my regular class schedule and feeling like a nap may overtake me at any moment. And of course, I forgot our book club book. :0 And I have to prepare for a dance performance this weekend. And a small gathering we're hosting for some friends to watch the Masters golf tournament. Hermitage, anyone?

Sooooooo, tomorrow we'll have book club! And Friday we'll have Tea Time!

How was the beginning of your week? Was it as frenzied as mine?

Friday, March 31, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #90 - Librarian identity crisis...

TGIF everyone! And welcome to a bookish librarian edition of:

Today I am talking about my recent crisis of faith with my treasured identity as official bun-wearing, glasses-bearing reference librarian, and how I have resolved this little midlife crisis of sorts.





**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 "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

No items mentioned in this episode today. Just lots of heart-to-heart!

Have you ever had a crisis of personal identity? How did you resolve it? How is your Lent wrapping up as we approach Holy Week? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Live Today Well, Chapter 10...

Happy book club day everyone! I could really use book club today to cheer me up, as my work week has a been just a wee bit long. Trying to keep my spirits up, and here we are about to sit down for a very serious discussion about detachment.

😂

But we press on. :-) Chapter 10 of our journey together though "Live Today Well" focuses on retiring for the night, and detaching ourselves from earthly worries in favor of an abandonment to God's Will and Providence. So, what exactly does this mean to St. Francis de Sales?

When we ready for for bed, we are faced with our last opportunity to live that particular day well. Man, I have been screwing this up my whole life. :0 I'm usually all absorbed in what to-do's from my list will carry over to tomorrow and busily worrying about those things.

"St. Francis speaks of the need to be attentive - to engage in conscious thinking about things that matter in a way that would otherwise not happen naturally. As with all progress in the good life, this, too, takes some effort, especially at the end of the day, after our minds have been focused on so many other matters."

Whew, he does understand. :-) So, we're doing our very best to redirect our attention:

"To facilitate this spiritual attentiveness, St. Francis suggests that we associate it with the nightly routine of undressing...in this way, the spiritual merges more easily with the material, and we learn to divinize even this ordinary need."

I like this. I like attaching spiritual significance to mundane, everyday tasks. When I was in my early 20's, I discerned whether or not I was called to the religious life. Obviously, we know how that ultimately turned out ;-), but one of the appealing things to me about religious life was (and remains) how each small thing in their everyday lives are dedicated to God. As laypeople though, we can have that too, if we are attentive to St. Francis is sharing with us here. Even the act of putting on our pj's can be a time to turn our minds to God and dedicate that time to Him.

"We should always try to fall asleep with some good thought."

*unladylike snort*

I'm usually falling asleep thinking something that is anxiety-inducing. And you know what's worse?

"If we awaken during the night, we will stir up our heart immediately with these words: 'At midnight someone shouted: The groom is here! Come out and greet him.' (Matt. 25:6)."

*solidarity fist bump*

When I wake up in the middle of the night, I have to consciously turn my thoughts away from things that worry me. Because at 3 am? Those things seem a QUADRILLION times worse than they do during the light of day. Now, I doubt I'll remember this exact Scripture verse, but that's not really the point. We should try and turn our thoughts to the fact that God loves us and will always take care of us and our worries.

"Psychologically, going to sleep invites us to let go of the cares and concerns of the day in order to get some rest. Spiritually, it calls us to let go of our dreams and desires, in the faith-based recognition that God's care for us is greater than anything we seek in this life."

Soothing, yes? I have endeavored to do this for a long time, and will re-up my resolve on it after reading this. I think that this statement sums things up nicely:

"Theological thinking does not happen easily during the day, let alone in the fitful hours of late night or early morning. Buf if we can attune our senses at these times to the meaningfulness of God's manifestations at similar times - his birth and deal and Resurrection - we open ourselves to the experience of divine grace and the power to overcome our deepest fears."

I related very much to the examples in this chapter. As a person who struggles with anxiety, the late night (and *early morning*, THANK YOU, glad I'm not the only one who feels this way about the morning! :0) moments can be when it's toughest to focus our thoughts in a positive direction. This chapter was a good reminder to me to keep vigilant on this.

If you can believe it, we only have 4 chapters left! And we're now moving into a new section called "Sacred Moments." For the next 4 weeks, we'll be discussing prayer, the Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and practicing virtues. Perfect for the end of Lent/beginning of Easter, yes?

What did you all think of Chapter 10?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A few Kindle deals for my fiction fans!

I've been very book happy since our chat last week during Tea Time. Sam alerted me to a title that I had mentioned that went on sale for Kindle, and that led me down a whole rabbit hole of other titles that I've been coveting that were also marked down. And so I'm sharing this wealth with all of you! Kindle deals can be either long or fast, one never knows, so if you see a title that you'd like, download ASAP! Consider this you very own Inspired Reads list for today, Catholic Librarian style. ;-)

I talked extensively during Tea Time about the cozy mystery series that are being turned into movies over at Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. One of these is Joanne Fluke's Murder She Baked series, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen series book 1), is on sale for Kindle today for $1.99!


I downloaded this one forthwith. 😇 Here's our quick description:

"Hannah already has her hands full trying to dodge her mother's attempts to marry her off while running The Cookie Jar, Lake Eden's most popular bakery. But once Ron LaSalle, the beloved delivery man from the Cozy Cow Dairy, is found murdered behind her bakery with Hannah's famous Chocolate Chip Crunchies scattered around him, her life just can't get any worse. Determined not to let her cookies get a bad reputation, she sets out to track down a killer. But if she doesn't watch her back, Hannah's sweet life may get burned to a crisp."

This is something else I mentioned in last week's Tea Time, though sadly this one isn't on sale. After a little librarian sleuthing of my own, I discovered that the Garage Sale Mysteries are in fact books!


First book is called Garage Sale Stalker, and here is our short intro:

"Jennifer Shannon lives in secure, affluent McLean, Virginia, where she stumbles into danger lurking in places she thought absolutely safe. Her passion for weekend treasure hunting at local garage and estate sales pulls her into a twisted world of crimes, child abuse and murder.

When Jennifer is forced to match wits with an antagonist bent on revenge, her family's safety and her own desperate situation hinge on her intelligence and resourcefulness."

This title is at regular price, $9.95, right now for Kindle!

All right, so the rest of these are books that have been resting on my Amazon shopping list for some time, and when I remember to check it, Amazon will bold price decreases. Here's what I discovered today:

Love Inspired Suspense A Match Made in Alaska (Alaskan Grooms series), dropped from $4.99 down to $3.99.

I have a real weakness for this Love Inspired Suspense line. These are wholesome, inspirational romances, and I love exotic (to me) domestic settings like Alaska. The heroine is a librarian in this one! I may have downloaded it. *halo*

"Librarian Annie Murray hoped participating in Love, Alaska's "Operation Love" would lead to finding a rugged bachelor to call her own.  But as her flight crash lands before reaching herdestination, she finds herself alone with her pilot, Declan O'Rourke.Annie's met charmers like Declan before--now she wants a man ofsubstance.  Forced to survive with him in the snowy wilderness, Anniediscovers Declan's depth--and he begins to see the shy librarian's heart of gold.  But once back in town, outside sources threaten their bond.It'll take all the bravery they had in the wild for Annie and Declan tofind love in small-town Alaska."

We looked at Ellen Carsta's The Secret Healer last year for our summer book club, potentially. This is historical fiction, featuring a midwife storyline. Marked down to $1 for Kindle, but free for Prime members!


"In the fourteenth century, opportunities for women are limited to the home. But spirited young Madlen finds her calling as assistant to the city’s trusted midwife, Clara. Working alongside Clara, Madlen develops a surprisingly soothing technique and quickly becomes a talented healer.
After Clara’s tragic death, Madlen alone rushes to assist the birth of a local nobleman’s child. But rather than the joy of birth, Madlen walks into an accusation of murder and witchcraft because of her extraordinary gifts. Forced to flee her own town, she establishes a new identity in the home of her aunt. Yet even though it endangers her life, she cannot resist the urge to help the sick patients who seek out her miraculous treatment. When she meets handsome Johannes—an investigator hired by the Church to bring her to justice for sacrilegious acts—she becomes drawn to the very man who could destroy her.
Will Madlen’s gifts bring about her downfall? Or can love and reason prevail in a time of fearful superstition?"

oooooo, this is a good one! I downloaded this too. :0 A Lighthouse Library Mystery, By Book or By Crook, marked down to $2.99 from $5.99.

"For ten years Lucy has enjoyed her job poring over rare tomes of literature for the Harvard Library, but she has not enjoyed the demands of her family’s social whorl or her sort-of-engagement to the staid son of her father’s law partner. But when her ten-year relationship implodes, Lucy realizes that the plot of her life is in need of a serious rewrite.

Calling on her aunt Ellen, Lucy hopes that a little fun in the Outer Banks sun—and some confections from her cousin Josie’s bakery—will help clear her head. But her retreat quickly turns into an unexpected opportunity when Aunt Ellen gets her involved in the lighthouse library tucked away on Bodie Island.

Lucy is thrilled to land a librarian job in her favorite place in the world. But when a priceless first edition Jane Austen novel is stolen and the chair of the library board is murdered, Lucy suddenly finds herself ensnared in a real-life mystery—and she’s not so sure there’s going to be a happy ending...."
Librarians AND lighthouses? Boom. Done. On my Kindle.

Finally, we have the Men of Lancaster County series by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner. I've read Mindy Starns Clark mysteries before, and have LOVED them. This entire 3 book series has been marked down to $2.99 per book! The first book is The Amish Groom.


"New from bestselling authors Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner, The Amish Groom (Book 1 in The Men of Lancaster County series) explores the men of an Amish community in Lancaster County, how their Amish beliefs play out in their unique roles, and the women who change their lives.

Born to an ex-Amish mother and an Englisch father, 23-year-old Tyler Anderson was raised as a military kid until the age of 6, when his mom passed away. His dad, shipping off to yet another overseas post, placed Tyler in the care of his Amish grandparents, an arrangement that was supposed to be temporary. It lasted a lifetime.

Rachel Hoeck is the young woman waiting for Tyler’s proposal. She senses that though he loves her and wishes to make a commitment to her and his Amish beliefs, part of him still wonders whether an Amish lifestyle is truly for him.

When an opportunity to connect with his father unexpectedly arises, a visit to California causes Tyler to question everything, including a future with Rachel. Will the new girl in his life, Lark, cause him to remain in the Englisch world? Or will he choose to be an Amish groom after all?"

You can get the entire series right now for $8.99, when originally these were close to $10 per book. Tempting, very tempting...

Are you downloading any of these titles? Tell me all about it!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Tea Time with Tifany #89 - Spring crafts & fiction reading!

Happy spring everybody! And welcome to a spring-themed edition of:


Today I'm talking spring knit-alongs and lots of cozy mysteries. Cozy? I love cozy things! 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 "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode


Do I have any knitters joining in the knit-along? Any other spring crafts ongoing with you? Do you love cozy mysteries as much as I do? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Live Today Well, Chapter 9...

It's hard to believe we're already at Chapter 9! This is really flying by. And I've been enjoying reading this book with you!

Today we review the chapter on the Examen: "Reviewing Our Daily Progress." As is usually the case, this chapter fell on the perfect week. Work has me a bit on edge right now, and when I get into that place where I notice myself being a lot less patient and uncharacteristically angry about things that annoy me, I know that I have some serious examining to do. :0 "Justified" righteous indignation really doesn't make one feel better, now does it? At least not in the long term. And so I've been thinking that some nightly reflecting on my reactions throughout each day may do me some good.

"...before the final act of going to sleep at night. St. Francis de Sales recommends that we take a few moments to consider how we have progressed along the way...the goal of this examen is simply to gauge our growth today so as to become aware of those things on which we need to improve tomorrow."

BOOM. I always need to work on things tomorrow. 😂 As we go through an examen, we should offer thanksgiving to God for the day, confess our faults, and ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit to know our faults clearly:

"Shining a spiritual light on our ourselves, we will see how we rationalize (:0) our shortcomings so as to give a more positive spin to the way we live; in this, we turn a blind eye to the truth about ourselves that should be our real concern."

*delicately clears throat*

I have no idea what St. Francis is talking about here. None at all.

!

There is a set aside section on facing temptations, and in it St. Francis notes that "with the single exception of sin, anxiety is the greatest evil that can happen to a soul."

We all know how I struggle with anxiety. And indeed, it ties very much into everything that I do in a day: how I react to people and situations, where I allow my mind to dwell. Indeed:

"This is especially true of thoughts that we purposely dwell on, which gives them power to grow and to influence what we say and do."

*gulps*

All.the.time. All the time! This is me.

And so what are we poor, sorry, anxious souls to do?

"We will make a firm resolution to correct ourselves with the help of God's grace, which we should request with all the love and devotion within our power."

This is all that God asks of us. It's really quite simple. We are the ones who make it complicated.

"After this, we will recommend our soul, our body, our whole being to the mercy of God. We will pray for the Church, our parents and relatives, and all those toward whom we have a special obligation; we ought not to forget the poor souls in purgatory. We should greet Our Lady, our guardian angel and holy patrons."

This is lovely, yes? It reminds me of childhood prayers before bed. And really, why do we give that up when we grow up? Childlike trust that God will take good care of us and ours is truly a good and holy thing.

What did you all think of this chapter? What jumped out to you? Next week, we're going to talk about detachment and retiring for the night!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Crafty Tuesday is back with a veneance!

As I write this, I am home from work with a sickly Anne. It is also the first day of spring. This combination means that spring crafting fever is back with a virulence in the Catholic Librarian household.

It happens every year. Spring comes, and suddenly I cannot stop ordering yarn in pastel and Americana colors. You know, in preparation for 4th of July gifts. (?!) I start to crave cotton, and look at dishtowel patterns until I can't see straight anymore (look at these beauties!). I desperately try to find summer pullover patterns that are amenable to worsted weight cotton yarn, preferably in heathered hues (*swoons*).

In preparation for all of this yarn shopping, :0 I have been taking a close look at my works-in-progress pile (heretofore referred to as wip's, or, even more mysteriously, ufo's, as in "unfinished objects"), and let's just say the situation is just a hair dire. I have unfinished projects scattered amongst multiple locations, with about a half dozen needles "in use" and out of commission due to being stranded in projects that I haven't touched in years months. Before I buy new yarn, I have to finish some of them up. This is what I tell myself, and this time I mean business. 😂

Contender #1: Entrelac Scarf:


This one isn't too embarrassing, because I only started it in January, and look how fabulous it is!! Entrelac is a fairly new technique for me, and I absolutely love how it looks. You need a color changing yarn with long repeats for entrelac, and the yarn makes it look like you changed colors for every square. Yarn that makes you look more talented than you actually are: this I can get behind!! AND, it moved along pretty swiftly for a scarf. With scarves, I usually start out all enthusiastic and get bored after about 5 inches of fabric. Great. Just 5 more feet to go. :0 When knitting entrelac, this doesn't happen. I keep getting excited to see the next square! Thus, I finished it and cast off this weekend.

*victory dance*

Now on to the next project. This one is a bit more embarrassing. Contender #2: Christmas Socks:


I know what you're thinking. Typical knitter getting a dreaded case of Second Sock Syndrome.  Mike thinks that I made that term up, but let me assure you that this affliction is very, very REAL and that many knitters come down with a case of it. But not this one. Usually.

Usually when I finish one sock I cast on right away for the second one. I mean, we have 2 feet. There is no sense in prolonging the inevitable and not starting the other sock. Despite the fact that you are now bored stiff by these socks and would rather knit a toilet paper roll koozie for your elderly neighbor, I try to avoid the temptation and just cast the second sock on.

Well, around Christmas I fell off the wagon a bit. I knit this first sock for Henry while in the throes of red/green/white festive fever, and then got distracted by rehearsing my dance repertoire for New Year's Eve, and then look what we have: a lone Christmas sock in March.

I'm happy to report that the second sock has now been cast on and has an in-progress cuff. This is my purgatory before the heavenly reward of a giant Easter colored Knit Picks order.

Contender #3: Anne's Summer Dress:


This one doesn't *sound* as embarrassing, but let me assure you that it is. I started this dress LAST spring in preparation for LAST summer. Oy. As soon as I finish the Christmas sock, I need to pull this back out. And hope that it still fits her.

😳

Today will afford me lots of knitting time. I've got this. I hope.

Are any of you feeling the spring crafting fever? I'd love to hear all about your ufo's as well as new spring projects. 😇 Don't forget that it's book club day tomorrow!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #88 - Snow days & Lenten...progress?

Happy Friday all! And welcome to another Lenten edition of:

Today I talk about our snow days this week, forging our way through Lent, and plans for the book club after Lent is over. 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 "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:


How is your Lent going? Do you have thoughts on a summer book club? I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Live Today Well, Chapter 8...

Happy Wednesday all! Guess where I am today? Yep, home again snowbound. With my bored children. Oh joy! And the IRONY of this being the day we talk about Chapter 8: "On Leisure: Interacting with Others,"when I secretly want to interact with *nobody,* is definitely not lost on yours truly. ;-)

#longsufferingsigh

This has been the least fun stretch of "time off" than I can remember in a long time. :0 And one would think that having a snow day would mean that my children would sleep in. One would think. Apparently the difference between them being half unconscious and in tears under their covers at the thought of waking up, and bounding out of their rooms wide eyed and bushy tailed, is 20 minutes.

😡

But here I am, taking a quick break to write in with my thoughts on Chapter 8. Once again, the subject of the chapter spoke quite directly to things happening in my own little world. Our author tells us that to St. Francis, our leisure time has as its focus:

"...more to do with the persons involved than with any particular activity."

I remember this from the eating chapter as well. It's not just about our food. It's about the people we're sharing it with.

"When we recreate, we will ask Our Lord for the grace to say and do only what contributes to his glory."

Immediately, my mind strayed over to my job, where I've been struggling for these many months.  In the moments between classes, when I have a few downtime interactions with students and my colleagues, have I always been keeping Our Lord in mind and responding only in ways that will contribute to his glory? Well, on the whole, I don't do badly in this regard. But 100% of the time? Nope. That's an easy answer. A definite Nope.

St. Francis emphasizes that it's important to take time for recreation, to relax our mind and body:

"These activities contribute to our overall well-being and, as such, should be considered valuable means for helping us become who we are."

I got this covered. Knitting, dancing, reading, writing, scentful research. The list goes on and on. ;-)

One interesting thing that he notes is this:

"All that is needed is the common prudence that gives due order, time, place and measure to all things...If we spend too much time on them, they are no longer amusements for tasks in which neither mind nor body is refreshed but rather stupefied. and worn out...If the stakes played for are too high, the players' emotions get out of control."

This definitely touched a chord with me. My personality is one that has a difficult time focusing on more than one thing at a time. I've found that very challenging about having children - they lack awareness of others around them and are constantly interrupting, thus it's difficult for me to think about the multiple things going on all at the same time. I notice that when I start to focus on something, I become engrossed. Then it's difficult for me to change my focus over to something else, and I can linger on things too long. Definitely something to ponder on how I can improve.

We need to take into account our *interactivity*.  These can be everyday encounters, but they are necessary for our virtue in our state in life. Apparently, the introverted St. Francis created a rule for himself that he should never avoid meeting or socializing with other people.

😱

Indeed. This is a tough one for us introverts. And how should we go about this?

"Let us not come to conversation with a sad and disagreeable countenance, but rather with a pleasant and affable one."

Oh boysies. 😂 When you're feeling out of your element, it's easy to approach social interactions with a guarded and disagreeable countenance. But when we bring a pleasant disposition, that bodes well for the interaction that follows. I need to continue to build myself up in this way.

There is a lovely set aside section on "True Friendship," and our author notes:

"Having good friends is necessary...so that we can 'encourage, assist, and lead one another to perform good deeds.'"

This made me think of my own precious posse of friends. Cristina, Allison, and Sam. *heart*

This chapter gave me a lot to think about. At the start of the semester, I feel like I was doing better with seeking out pleasant everyday social encounters and smiling at people more. Now, the semester has ground me down a bit and I'm avoiding people again. :0 But I'm going to work on it!

What did you think of Chapter 8, all? Next week we're talking about the Examen, and reviewing our daily progress! Clearly, I need this.

😇

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Snow day!

So, in an unexpected development, all 4 of us are home for a snow day today. The university that I work at was actually closed by the Governor (which *never* happens), and we're all kind of scratching our heads a bit. :0 We're Western New Yorkers. We're...hearty. 8-12 inches of snow really isn't a big deal around here. Not even really worth talking about. But we've had a very mild winter, and I think the Powers That Be panicked a bit when this snow was officially classified as a Winter Storm. Plus the K-12 schools have not yet had a snow day declared this winter, and so here we are.

I was planning a much needed vacation day from work today. Translation -> ALONE TIME. Dancing time. Hours of endless Hallmark mysteries time. Knitting time. Tea time. Now I have my precious children here with me. :0 They were super thrilled for about 20 minutes while they watched a cartoon together this morning. Then:

"Our TV time is over? Oh. We're booooorrrreeeed!"

Upon which time they were shooed outside in their snow gear to play. Which worked until they started fighting. Then they were forced against their will to play a board game together, which also worked until they started fighting. These snow days are not NEARLY as fun as I remember them from when I was a kid. :0

Let's pray everybody has school tomorrow. ;-) As for you and I, we have book club tomorrow! We're going to be discussing how to create holy leisure time.

😇

How are you spending your snow day today (if you have one)?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #87 - Fresh inspiration, devotions to devotionals, and Blessed is She...

It's a much more inspired edition this week of:


Today I talk about fresh spring inspiration for the blog and podcast, the power of friendship and community, my devotion to Lenten devotionals, and my new sign-up over at Blessed is She. 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 "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
Are you feeling any new spring inspiration this week? I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Live Today Well, Chapter 7...

It's hard to believe that we're already in the first full week of Lent. I can already get a gauge: A few things are going really well. Others are...not.

#typical

But onward we press, Christian soldiers! Today we are at Chapter 7, so about halfway through our book. And we're focusing here: "On Work: And Taking Spiritual Repose."

I thought it was an interesting dichotomy between the two parts of that title. When I'm at work, I'm not thinking about repose. I'm thinking about doing the things I need to do, which are decidedly *not* the things I would do in my free time, if given a choice. And my free time is when I think of repose. Relaxing. Unwinding. Doing the things that I enjoy. So what is it that St. Francis is suggesting about work?

"On entering the place of work, we should place ourselves in the presence of God, asking for his grace to make use of this time in accordance with the holy purpose for which it was instituted."

OK. So when we get to work, we should take a quiet moment to ask God to be with us and bless our work that day. That sounds like a great start to the work day. Then:

"When we begin our work, we should say interiorly: 'Speak, Lord, your servant is listening' (1 Sam. 3:9-10). O my God, make me worthy to accomplish your holy will."

I'm starting to pick up on a theme here. Even though we're at work with lots of things to do, and people around us, we can interiorly speak with God and ask for his help. Indeed, our author then chimes in:

"St. Francis de Sales counsels the use of silence, consideration and imagination. These acts enable us to make a little spiritual retreat during the day, which the saint characterizes elsewhere as 'one of the most certain means to spiritual advancement.'...there are likely times during our work, whatever it might be, in which we labor in silence. We can transform these times into precious moments by being quiet on the inside as well."

I LOVE THIS. The author also mentions that during our work day, we can "retreat into our inner world," and "take some sort of break, even if only in our minds." Now granted, I'm an introvert. Sometimes I worry that I'm tucked up inside my own head a little bit TOO much. But in those times, I'm really talking to myself, if you will. Thinking about things I need to do, or ideas that I have and how I want to implement them. I'm not talking to GOD. I think that's the crucial difference.

I also like the three buzz words for us to remember: silence, consideration, imagination. Reminds me of a few chapters back where we learned about ask, offer, accept. I still think of those three terms all the time and try to implement that throughout my day. So now we have silence, consideration and imagination. And we would think of these three things at work in particular. I absolutely love the idea of carving out silent time in our head even if our job is presenting us with a scene of chaos. As an introvert, I crave silence. And with consideration and imagination, we refocus our thoughts so as to become conscious of what we can do in that moment (and those coming up) to do better at our jobs, painting a mental picture of what we want that to look like. So, I could picture myself being this patient and understanding teacher, even if at that particular time I am feeling not so inspired.

"By practicing these spiritual exercises while we labor, the real work that takes up each day becomes not simply the accomplishment of secular tasks, but the sanctification of who we are, in view of the eternal work of salvation that God has worked for us."

Lovely, yes? Especially when I'm in class, I'm going to seek out those moments of silence in my head, and seek out God, rather than the crazy worries that would otherwise make their way through my little brain. I'm hoping that this eases the anxiety I struggle with every single day.

How about you all? What did you think of the suggestions in Chapter 7? Next wee we move on to our leisure time, and how we interact with others. Another introvert alert! :0

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The dichotomy between having a baby and having a "big kid"...

When I was a young adult, I pined to have a baby. I had a few friends who married much younger than I did and had babies in their 20's. Meanwhile, I was that wallflower teenager that never had a high school boyfriend, and didn't really get all that much more social in college. Thus I had nobody who wanted to marry me in my 20's. :0 It was a long stretch of vocational discernment during grad school and immediately thereafter before I finally met and married Mike at 30, and we had Henry just under a year later.

And I found that the reality of actually having your own baby is much, much different from coveting babies on TV, and holding the adorable babies of your friends. I loved my babies, don't get me wrong, but I found, much to my surprise, that I enjoyed them MUCH more when they were older - when they weren't waking me every 2 hours during the night to nurse, and they didn't require me to watch them every single second lest they throw themselves down a set of stairs or shove their finger into a forgotten electrical outlet. For me, it was such a relief when they reached 4-5 years of age, and everybody was sleeping better and playing a bit more independently.

But there are downsides to this idyllic Sleep Wonderland in which I'm merely interrupted every minute and a half rather than sleep deprived and frantic. Exhibit A: when I have an infant, I have to be honest and admit that sometimes, just SOMETIMES...I don't feel like holding the baby. I love holding babies, and right at this moment I LONG for someone to come and deposit a newborn with me for the next 2 hours wherein I would sniff their head and squeeze them til they couldn't stand it a moment longer. But when you have your own baby, occasionally you ache to use the restroom or stick something in the microwave cook dinner without having a baby clinging to your chest.

Then they get older and you can breathe again. A bit. But then...

"Anne! Can I hold you, honey?"

"NO."

*never breaks stride traversing the living room*

😭

I miss that extra snuggliness. Granted, she *does* consent to cuddling still, it's just on her terms and timeline. I miss the cuddly baby stuff. But then I got up to bed knowing I can sleep til the morning without dealing with midnight sobbing attacks and explosive poo diapers, and realize that maybe my current lot in life isn't so bad. ;-) For everything, there is a season.

How is YOUR Tuesday going, dear reader? Nostalgic like mine?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Tea Time With Tiffany #86 - A particularly ashy Ash Wednesday...

Lent has sprung, and how did it start off for your Catholic Librarian? In this week's installment of...

Today we talk frustrations with students and Tiffany in full-out Strict Librarian mode, a penitential (and late) start to Ash Wednesday, and Lenten devotionals. 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 "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
How did your Ash Wednesday go? How is your Lent starting out overall? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Live Today Well, Chapter 6...

Rain was falling as we all woke up this morning, which seemed fitting for Ash Wednesday, no? And we have a new graphic as we move into a new season with St. Francis de Sales and Live Today Well!

#exciting

So incredibly fitting that we're discussing Chapter 6 today, which is entitled: "On Meals: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary." The chapter talks about fasting, and indeed, we are fasting today!

#fortuitous

So what do we have by way of inspiration for meals?

"We should not go merely to eat, but to obey God and to take part in shared experience of community with one another."

Here, we read about a two-pronged approach to meals. God created our bodies such that we must eat to survive, thus we are obeying Him by eating. At the same time, a very routine and mandatory part of our day can be used as an opportunity to focus on others, rather than ourselves. We can talk to them and relate to them in their daily journey. If we re-intend our approach to meals in this way, we take an ordinary even, and make it extraordinary. The potential is there, if only we seize it.

On fasting, we learn:

"The practice of denying ourselves in some way at table reminds us that our personal instincts and existential needs do not control our freedom. Instead, we choose to forgo some delectable delight, such as a favorite condiment or a tempting dessert, or even a second helping. In this way, we can exercise a bit of mastery over our senses and thus give priority to the spirit over the flesh."

I love the relatable detail in here. It's very easy to take a second helping when you're really not all that hungry, simply because you are enjoying the food and think you deserve to continue to unwind after a long day. Changing our perspective on how we see meals overall - as an opportunity to focus on the needs of those we are eating with, and an opportunity to deny ourselves in a small way after eating (and enjoying, I think that's important) our food for sustenance - causes us to choose to be conscious of a small way to give back to God.

I like this very balanced approach to fasting. Fasting can be detrimental to one's health for any number of medical reasons, and St. Francis points out that fasting is really about our *attitude* more than anything else. On a day in which you're trying to fast, sacrifice the ketchup on your hamburger that you enjoy so much, or sacrifice having dessert. It's important to have a positive relationship with food. We should enjoy what we eat, but we can also exercise self-control in small ways to make a big difference in our spirit.

What did you all think of the suggestions in this chapter with regards to approach meals and fasting? Next week we turn to our attitudes at work. Oh boy. :0

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ash Wednesday is tomorrow. Are you ready?!

I'm not.

😂

And this day? With the way things are looking at work, it's a good thing I didn't decide to give up wine for Lent, let me tell you.

I do have a Lenten plan. Of sorts. I have an adorable little leaflet from my parish with what they call a simple 1-1-1 plan for Lent:

One sin. One add-in. And one give-up. It's simple and I love it.

I'm going to continue to work on my positivity, especially with regards to my job, over Lent. I suppose this means that I will be working on the sin of complaining. I'm adding in a daily Mass once per week and reading a small daily devotional. I'm going to give up loitering in bed for those precious extra five minutes in the morning and get up to pray a morning offering instead. Bam. Lenten Plan in a Nutshell. It's solid, I tell you. ;-)

Tonight I have to rush home to take Anne for an appointment to have her mop of hair trimmed. Henry will complain about accompanying us to within an inch of his life, GUARANTEED. Mike is picking us up a pizza for dinner, bless him. And then I need to make about 100,000 Scentsy samples and play a Frozen- themed card matching game with Anne for approximately the 700th time. Glamour, all glamour. :0

How is your eve of Ash Wednesday going? I'm planning to leave work early tomorrow to catch the 4 pm Liturgy of the Word service with ash distribution. How about you?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #85 - "Why is everybody looking at me funny? Aren't I supposed to be on this side?!" Birthday dancing & foibles...

It's a post-birthday weekend edition of:

Today I talk about dancing bloopers, my birthday weekend, and continuing to work on interior peace in my new teaching role. 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 "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
It's our last weekend before Lent begins! How are you preparing? I'd love to hear from you!  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Live Today Well, Chapter 5...

Well. Things had been going so good. :0 Let's just say that my euphoric little St. Francis-along got put to the test this past week. All of that business about praying upon rising, setting up a positive mindset for the day, and anticipating challenges and solutions before the fact so as to retain interior peace? All tested this week, for sure.

I didn't despair, and I didn't give up. And I didn't totally fail, which I call and out-and-out win. But it was harder. It started with apathy late last week. It was simply more difficult to feel joyful and enthusiastic in my classes. But I powered through it. I paused for a lovely birthday weekend, which I figured would recharge me. For all of its loveliness, I came in Monday morning feeling just as unjoyful and unenthusiastic about my classes as I had on Friday. I powered through it again, but much more weakly this time. And yesterday?

*shudders*

It was another of those: "Quick! We have to make these changes ASAP, so you need to do these 500 things in all 10 of your online course modules! Quick, before tomorrow!!" Next thing I knew, I was changing Week 5 documents to Week 6 documents, and vice versa, and clicking my mouse approximately 2,200 times per section, and I had myself all confused as to what went in what week, and what the heck I was doing:

"OK, This is the Week 5 quiz. I need to delete that one." *hits delete* "Wait. Was that actually *Week 6's* quiz but I changed the title too early?!" *CENSORED*

I made it. It was hard to stay positive amongst that nonsense again, but I didn't give in to the frustration that I have in the past. I pictured sweet tempered, uber positive Unikitty from the Lego Movie in my head, finally submitting to her signalling itchy horn and the fact that it IS possible for her to get upset and angry:

"THAT DOES IT! YOU ALL NEED TO BE *MORE FRIENDLY*!!!!!!!!"

And that satiated me. I was able to continue my mindless clicking in interior peace. 😇

And so here we are at Chapter 5: "On the Direction of Intention: The Key to Spiritual Perfection," and once again, this is perfect timing. This, all of this crap that I mentioned above? :-) I can resolve my intention to act in a certain way. I've improved, but I still have a long way to go. Let's see what St. Francis de Sales and Fr. Dailey have to offer us by way of wisdom on this issue:

"...the Direction of Intention is a simple prayer, uttered briefly at the outset of whatever we are about to do...creating in us a new spiritual habit - the habit of asking and offering and accepting before doing. By first directing the intention with which we act, we address what we do to God, whom we love. By fashioning our deeds in this way, we render indifferent acts good (rather than merely circumstantial) and good deeds even better (by adding a positive motivation)."

So, as we go about our day, we utter a simple prayer before embarking on something that does 3 things: asks, offers, and accepts. This is called "directing our intentions," and it means that we can transform our indifferent, circumstantial acts into good ones (like walking from one place to another, or attending a meeting), and our good deeds to even better ones (like when we interact with our colleagues or students). How does this prayer actually work?

(1) Ask for God's grace. "Asking shifts our focus of our attention away from ourselves and our natural self-centeredness."

(2) Offer to God all the good we will do. "...by intending to do what we do, not for our sake, but for God's, we trade the pleasure principle (acting out of self-interest) for a generosity principle (acting for the good of another). When we adopt this principle and direct what we are to do toward God, something natural becomes supernatural."

(3) Promise to accept whatever may come and bear with whatever may happen, even if this entails pain and suffering. "This act of abandonment puts into practice a 'providential' view of the world."

Asking, offering and accepting. "For St. Francis de Sales, living well depends not on positive circumstances or successful outcomes but only on the grace-filled transformation that occurs 'from the inside out.'"

On this, I need to be more consistent. So this isn't just in the morning after we pray our morning prayer, and set our mind to a positive attitude, planning for the challenges that may lie ahead. This goes for everything that occurs in our day. We offer this three-fold prayer (asking, offering, accepting) again and again and again. This could be a Lenten goal, for sure.

What are your thoughts on Chapter 5? Next week we turn to meals! Holy eating? How perfect for Ash Wednesday!