Tuesday, January 29, 2019

An assortment of winter thoughts and prayers...

That's currently my house, pictured left. ;-) We're in for a heck of a storm here in the Northeast, and apparently a Polar Vortex is coming to suck us all into another dimension, or some such thing. :0 The kids have school cancelled both tomorrow and Thursday, and we'll all be indoors for 2 straight days with lots of family togetherness.


I'm joking. It's good, it really is! But if my kids can't go outside to romp in the snow (which they won't be able to - wind chill will be well below zero, and I'm talking Fahrenheit) they get bored and miserable. We'll make do as best we can! For my part, I'm planning to knit and crochet non-stop, and perhaps I'll have enough time to make a full size afghan! 😃

I do have a blanket in progress, matter of fact:

The theme of the colorway is sweet pea flowers, and I'm so pleased with how this is coming out!

At any rate, the biggest thing on my mind right now are my kids. I mentioned Henry in my post a few weeks ago, and indeed, he was accepted into his first choice Catholic high school. The only thing is, you know...$$$$. We received financial aid, but I'm still losing sleep over how we will make this happen. I think it would be a wonderful environment for him, and I'm really praying that this works out. Your prayers, as well, are very much coveted and appreciated!

Sort of along this same line of thought, the age difference between Henry and Anne has finally, to me at least, become very obvious. My kids are 5 years apart in age, and that has never been a big deal to me. It still isn't, it's just that Henry is becoming a young man, while Anne is still very much in little kid mode. And she should be, she's 7. It's a changing time of our lives, and it's both wonderful and painful at the same time.

So I've been praying a lot. It's been hard for me to pray the rosary in my car since I got a stick shift, but now that I've become more experienced with that at this point, I've adapted to a model whereby I use a one decade rosary with big round beads in my left hand that doesn't interfere with my shifting. At the very least, I can pray a single decade, or the 3 Hail Mary's devotion. I did also sign up for a print subscription to Living Faith, like we talked about last week.

It'll be ok. But it's hard sometimes with the not knowing how things are exactly going to work out. That's where the faith thing comes in, I suppose. ;-)

Are you feeling extra contemplative this winter? What types of devotions do you add into your prayer routine when this happens? I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Daily devotionals, analysis #547 ;-)

Indeed, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. :) I have quite a love affair with daily and seasonal devotionals. I know that I've written about it quite a few times in the history of this blog, especially during Lent and Advent! But here we are in winter Ordinary Time, all fresh into the new year, and this is also a time that I think about dedicating myself to a daily routine with my faith. Especially lately, my kids have been on my mind quite a bit. Both are growing so quickly and going through many changes. A daily prayer ritual is exactly what I need right now to best pray and discern for them, and it always helps to hash things out with friends.


Below are two of my favorites. Are you familiar with these? Your thoughts are most welcome!

Living Faith is just the cutest little booklet ever. I first discovered it when I was in North Carolina visiting my sister, and her parish had the current issue available to try out. They are published in 3 month segments, and always have seasonal photography on the front, which I LOVE. Each day lists the daily mass readings (but does not include them in the text, you'd need to look them in your own Bible, fyi), and includes a short reflection on the theme from the readings for that day. You could read these reflections in well under a minute, if you weren't also looking up the scripture readings. I used to have a print subscription, and I have to say that I miss it. I bought the digital copy of the January/February/March issue, and it just isn't the same. Perhaps I should resubscribe? It's a great purse tucker.

Sacred Reading is a much larger book than Living Faith, but it is also available as an ebook. I do have this one in print form, but it doesn't carry around as easily as the other. You need to keep it at your desk. ;-) But I enjoy the format a lot more. It includes the text of the daily Gospel, and several other prompts to lead you in prayer and contemplation on the theme of the text. I like it a lot. It *does* require more concentration to read the entry, which is either a great thing or a difficult thing, depending on your state in life. Once I start teaching, I'm not at my desk nearly as much.

Thoughts? Sacred Reading seems idea for Lent, and indeed, they do have a separate volume just for that season. In fact, that volume is small enough to likely fit in my purse. I'm really thinking I'll use Living Faith every day if I just resubscribe in print. I really do want a daily commitment to something. What would you choose, or do you have another suggestion? 😃 I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

This Catholic parenting thing doesn't get any easier...

Happy mid-January, everybody! How is the winter treating you so far?

Things are great over here. We're still in winter term at the university for which I work, so the campus is blissfully quiet and peaceful. Classes don't begin again until January 28th, and I don't start teaching my library lab again until 2 weeks after *that*, owing to the drop/add period.

*praise hands*

This quiet winter Ordinary Time has had other benefits. January tends to be a performance lull for dancing, which is fine with me. One needs time to recharge and hone their craft, and I have a bunch of classes and workshops coming up. In faith stuff, I've been thinking a lot about the kids. For the first time, I have a teenager in my house, and I'm finding it a new challenge to think of ways to continue to share the faith with him aside from weekly Mass attendance. I touch upon sharing my faith with my maturing brood of youngsters, as well as this general post-Epiphany winter theme, in my piece over at CatholicMom.com for January:

This time of year definitely lends itself to contemplation for me. Ironically, it's *after* Advent, and yet still before Lent, but there you have it. This year, a big impetus is Henry's 8th grade retreat.

Somehow, my first baby is going to high school next year. 😭 And he'll also be leaving the school that he has attended for 8 years, and has shared with Anne for the past 3. I'm pretty emotional about the whole thing, as you can imagine. The 8th graders have a special retreat just prior to Catholic Schools week in late January, and just prior to when the Catholic high schools mail out their acceptance letters and financial aid packages. Parents were invited to write letters to their kids that they would read, privately, during the retreat. I wrote mine yesterday. Well.


Let's just say that I cried. A lot. There was so much that I wanted to say, but I also didn't want to overwhelm my 13 year old with the emotional baggage of a woman in her 40's. So it wasn't easy. But I wanted him to know how proud we are of him, how much we love him. How he reminds me so much of myself, and that it's more than OK to be introverted and reserved - he will only continue to blossom into the kind, sweet and empathetic young man that God has so clearly created him to be. How the most important things in life aren't grades or what high school or college you attend, but discerning and making good choices, seeking God's will, helping others, nourishing healthy relationships, and making an impact with the causes and people that you love.

It was a heavy task, both emotionally and spiritually. But one that I am privileged to have. Henry, in particular, challenges me to be a better person because he is my first and oldest child. Inevitably, when something new comes up with regard to his life and development, I have no idea what I'm doing. 😂I feel like I'm winging it a lot. And that's one thing with dance, and quite another when it's your kid, a precious, eternal soul given into your protective care!

This whole parenting thing is a journey, an adventure, and as my mom always said (and aren't moms ALWAYS right about these sorts of things?): "babies don't come with instruction manuals." You just have to figure it out as you go along, and you're going to make mistakes along the way.

I hope that we're doing a good job for Henry. I know that we're doing a good job *with* him since he's always been such a kind and good soul. But maybe that's not really our doing anyway, but God's alone. Deep thoughts for a Thursday morning. ;-)

This year for Lent, I want to single him out for some more mature spiritual time with me. Exactly what this will entail, I do not know. I will wing it. :0 But I'll figure something out!

Any words of wisdom to share for Adventures in Catholic Parenting? I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

New Year's Dancing amusements, 2019 edition...

A continued Happy New Year to you all! 🤗I'm really riding this New Year's wave to it's maximum, so just know this going forward. ;-) I miss the lovely visiting time of the holidays, but I'm really treasuring the freshness of January this year.

I promised last week a synopsis of my always entertaining New Year's Eve performance exploits, and I always keep my promises. You have your beverage with you to sip?

Rather than the sub-arctic temperatures of last Near Year's Eve, this year the temperatures were mild, and thus the chosen precipitation of the day was pouring rain. And it being the very beginning of the winter, it was pitch black outside when Claire arrived to fetch me, my big rolling suitcase and my sword at 5:30 pm. We hustled down to the restaurant, managed city parking like champs, and wrangled our wet stuff inside. It was about 6 pm.

The restaurant owner and staff were very gracious and happy to see us. They escorted us to our dressing room, otherwise known as the supply room. ;-) To be sure, we are very grateful to have a place other than the public restroom in which to change, so no complaints here. But it's always a comical game of Twister with 2 of us and our poufy costumes smashed into a small space, also occupied by various and sundry restaurant supplies: stacks of tablecloths, cases of takeout containers, and various candles. We wedged in there, and as we began to change, I quickly lost track of a shoe. I decided not to worry about that until we had to leave, and stashed Sword atop an open box of sugar packets.

Once changed and in our coverups, we scouted the Music Situation. No matter what, the music is always a Situation in these encounters. :0 They had a sound system, but it was up at the front of the restaurant behind the greeting/checkout counter, the opposite end of the building from our home base. We quickly conferred about aux cables and using each other's devices, and hurried back to our safe space. It wasn't yet 6:30, and they had wanted us to wait, but suddenly an employee appeared with the request that people were asking for us, and could we begin RIGHT THEN?


Claire hurried to the front to start my music, and I concentrated on sweating profusely and straining my ears to hear the music switch over to my entrance piece. I heard the first strains of the overture, thankfully, and burst out from the back room with my veil aloft. Well.

My music supports a grand and beautiful veil entrance, and let's just say that a crowded, small space does not support a grand veil entrance. :0 I had never danced at this restaurant before, but I've danced in restaurants with small eating areas. I've always been able to enter with a veil and find a spot at the front where you can do some veil work before discarding it. This restaurant is set up differently, and the 2 more open areas leading into the 2 seating spaces were crowded with servers moving back and forth with food and drinks, and with people waiting to be seated or to gather food from the buffet.

I swirled out and immediately was swallowed up into a sea of humanity. There was no room to do anything with the veil, or even lower it very easily. Every time I turned around, there was a server backing away from me carefully, balancing a tray of water glasses. I got up to where Claire was holding vigil with the music, and unceremoniously discarded Veil in her general direction. Things got a wee bit easier after that, but I have to say that this was the tightest space I've ever dealt with in restaurant dancing. The place was hopping, and the New Year's Eve menu was only buffet. So there were people up and about constantly, not just the servers. Me moving from place to place caused a ripple effect of gentle scattering of other bodies. The section with the buffet in it was almost completely inaccessible, and I had to give up trying to shimmy between tables over there and only dance at the small entrance spots. Even there, I risked accidentally slapping servers left and right.

In a nutshell, Set 1 featured:

  • Incredibly tight spaces and range of movement. Near disaster with Veil.
  • A baby who loved me and did a back bend in his highchair to watch me.
  • Lots of people moving around me, wide eyed and clutching plates, as I made my way around.
  • Music glitching in and out a bit in the sound system, but the general noise of the place was so loud I doubt anybody noticed but me.

When my drum solo finished up, I was relieved to have that set behind me and swirled to the dressing room. Claire and I conferred, and she confessed nervousness about the giant fan veils she planned for her set. 😬 The owner asked her to wait to start her set, because he was hoping some of the tables would clear out and turn over to new guests. So we waited. And waited. And eventually he came back to say that nobody was leaving. 😂 We took that as a sign that everybody loved us and wanted to see more dancing. 😇

Eventually, he asked Claire to start, and I hustled over in my coverup to set up her music behind the host counter. Immediately, people began asking me about their reservations and how long the wait was. I suppose hostesses in Indian restaurants often wear hot pink dance coverups? ;-)

I got Claire's music going, and the place was now even MORE crowded than it was for my set. People were up trying to pay their bill as new people were coming in and waiting. Her music was doing the glitchy thing too, and I kept trying to assure that the aux cable was attached as firmly as it could be.

After she finished, we changed for our second, and final, sets. We waited again for the tables to fully turn over at the owner's request. Our dressing room, formerly quite toasty warm with all of our necessary shenanigans to get into full costume, and then coming back sweaty from performing, had grown a tad chilly, and cold sweat was now my constant companion. I had decided not to enter with Veil this time, but Sword is featured in song 2 of the second set. He always brings a measure of anxiety in his wake. ;-)

The request for us to start anew came quickly again, and as Claire moved to the front to start my music, I readied and assured my costume was all smoothed. I heard my entrance overture, and got ready to burst out, only then noticing that I had an empty straw wrapper stuck to my bare foot. Glamour, glamour ALL THE TIME.

I danced out, and this time the restaurant was at a much more normal capacity, rather than bursting at the seams, which was a welcome relief. It was still tight over by the buffet, but not as claustrophobic as before. And the audience, because they were seated and eating for the most part, rather than standing in line, were very engaged and responsive. As well, Sword had his big moment, which is always a crowd pleaser.

Set 2 highlights:

  • A little brother and sister excitedly followed me around the restaurant.
  • Their mom stopped me several times to take pictures with them.
  • Their toddler littlest sister came over and burst into tears, I hope it wasn't me. :0
  • Their grandfather stopped me to take a picture right in the middle of my baladi song, that was a first.
  • Same baby still loved me.
  • Several women conversed with me *while I was dancing 😂* to tell me how much they were enjoying the show.
  • Sword behaved and I actually kept him with me for the entire second song. Early discard of Sword means that Tiffany is not having a Good Sword Day. ;-) 

It was great, I really enjoyed that set. Claire was able to start her second set soon after mine ended, and we both breathed a sigh of relief that all went well. The owner was very happy and wants to have us back next year. A win/win.

As I packed Sword up and looked for my shoe, spilling the sugar packets all through the open wire shelving unit, :0 I reflected on how much I enjoy my eclectic set of interests. Egyptian dance is much more to me than a hobby, truth be told - it's my passion, it's my (granted, secondary) profession, it is the creative inspiration for everything else that I do, and it gives me a significant sense of creative purpose and meaning. The dancing life is good, truly it is.

I'm signed up for two Egyptian folkloric dance workshops this winter, as well as a Turkish dance intensive in March. Turkish - I'm branching out. ;-) I am very blessed to be able to do what I love. This New Year is going to be a good one, I just feel it. 🤗 In terms of dancing, I want to work on studying and learning as much as I can, and challenging myself in new ways.

How is your January shaping up? Any New Year's resolutions that you're working on? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

New Year's gratitude

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!


I'm all aglow from my wonderful holiday season, and I hope yours was just as special. *hug*

This particular New Year's Eve was very meaningful to me. I was performing again (which I'll circle back to) and that makes the day both nerve-wracking and exciting, as I've experienced the past couple years. But it was more then that this year.

2018 started out pretty rough for me. Although I share a lot here on this blog, I don't share everything, and this is one of those times, as I'm sure you can understand. So forgive the vagueness, if you please, but last winter and early spring were very, very emotionally difficult. And although it got better and emotional healing took place, I carried the wound with me throughout the year. In that way, I was glad to see 2018 come to an end, and a fresh start with 2019 come to fruition.

HOWEVER. I realized something very significant as New Year's Eve crept up on me. I was allowing that one very difficult situation to remain at the forefront of my mind and in my assessment of the year, when in fact, many, MANY joyful developments actually crowded that single painful one out, but I was ignoring that bit of reality. In 2018:

  • My kids have both grown tremendously, with Henry becoming a teenager and Anne solidifying herself in second grade as a fully entrenched school aged kid. Henry made the basketball team and Anne started Girl Scouts, which she LOVES.
  • My husband wrote a novel that is going to be published by a traditional press! I am SO PROUD of him! This is a lifelong dream of his, and it is finally becoming a reality for him. 🤗
  • My own Bible study for women, which had been in the works for a year, finally became a reality, and working with dear Allison Gingras is a total joy. *heart*
  • A new and adorable nephew was born into my family!
  • I found a lovely Zumba community near my house that I attend on as many Saturday mornings as I'm able. The women there are warm, kind and absolutely WONDERFUL. The teacher is a woman named Sue who is am absolute treasure. I am so grateful to have found her and this community!
  • My dance career has taken a gentle turn to more opportunities to both perform and study. I am so excited to continue to see where this journey takes me, and I'm enjoying every single moment. I have workshop plans in 2019 that I cannot wait to dive into!
  • Last, but certainly not least, I had some cherished friendships deepen and strengthen this past year. Some were newer, others were established several years back, and in all cases they grew by leaps and bounds in 2018. I cannot possibly express how much these ladies mean to me.

And this January, on the 8th, Mike and I celebrate 14 years of marriage. Not quite a milestone, but it's an even numbered year, which I love! And we've been together fully for 16 years. That's a long time! :0 We're going away this weekend, just the two of us, to celebrate, and I am SO looking forward to it.

Life is GOOD, it truly is. And I learned an important lesson about not taking things for granted, and seeing them (and people) for what they are. Sometimes they're not good, but oftentimes they're *fantastic*, and seeing them in an honest light is so, so important. I should never again allow the negative to overshadow the abundance of positive.

And speaking of good (and never forget HUMOROUS!) I have fun dance stories from New Year's Eve! They're self-deprecating, they're somewhat ridiculous, and above all, I hope they make you laugh out loud! AND...

*drum roll*

...you will hear all about them next week!


Hey! I need to preserve good blogging fodder when I can. ;-) Eagerly anticipate this with me my friends, where else do you get such a strange eclectic mix of topics?! 😀

I'll chat with you then! In the mean time, how was your Christmas? What did you do for New Year's Eve/day? Did you choose a saint for the year? Mine is St. Francis of Assisi! I'd love to hear all about it in the comments!