Thursday, May 23, 2019

Springtime springs new-to-me devotionals :)

Hello friends! It's nearly Memorial Day weekend, how the heck did that happen?! I love these holiday weekends that fall during summer season. They are lovely times to spend with friends and family. And with the kids getting older...I'm definitely appreciating them more now than ever.

This spring, I am trying out a new missal/Sunday devotional, and since this is a favorite topic of mine ;-), I thought I'd do a little review. πŸ˜€

As of May, I am a new subscriber to Living with Christ. In the past, I have subscribed to Magnificat, and I LOVE that publication. Magnificat is beautifully illustrated, and very comprehensive. It is a daily missal as well as a daily aid to prayer. It is on the pricier side, though. It is absolutely worth it if you use it every single day, but I found that I was only using it on Sundays. And for Sundays, $50 a year was a lot. Granted, I used to do the multi-year renewal, which brings the price down a bit, but still even $40-$45 a year is a lot when you're only using it once per week. So I finally did not renew, and while I missed it, I felt like it was the right decision. I've been using a St. Joseph Sunday missal that cost like $1.50. :0

But then I saw a special for a free issue of Living with Christ, and decided to try it out. I definitely had been missing having something a little extra special on Sundays, and especially during Holy Week. Before Mass starts, I'm often there early owing to Henry altar serving, and I do like something devotional to stick my nose into that gets me ready for the liturgy. And during Holy Week, I used to devour the Magnificat special edition, since I attend nearly all of the liturgies that week.

I ended up adding the Living with Christ special Holy Week issue on (since my subscription didn't start until after Holy Week, they *do* have a Holy Week issue included with your regular subscription) and absolutely loved it. It's exactly what I wanted: nice little intros to the readings that breaks them down in a relatable way, some extra articles to dip into during the month when you're feeling the urge or sitting in a waiting room, and generally something to look forward to each month. AND, an annual subscription is just $24.95. Even if I only use it on Sundays still (though it does also include the daily Mass readings) that is a much more manageable price for how I use it.

I'm quite thrilled. I need to look into getting a protective cover for it for when I shove it into my purse. But I think it's the perfect solution for the on-the-go, short attention span, sort of gal that I am.

Do you have a favorite Sunday or daily devotional?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Dance updates and happenings, and has spring abandoned us?

Happy mid-May everybody! Usually, by this time of year, spring has sprung, but not this year. Weather here in WNY (and I think this is somewhat prevalent throughout the east coast and midwest this year) has been on average 15 degrees below normal, and this is the most rain we've had in a number of years. It has been a bit of a downer, if I'm being honest. You all know that I don't mind winter the way many of my compatriots do, but even I'm sick of it at this point. I love having 4 distinct seasons, I just wish they would all stay in their assigned months, kwim?

Fall: September/October/November (granted, a transition month, we can all live with this)
Winter: December/January/February
Spring: March (another transition month)/April/May
Summer: June/July/August

Is that too much to ask? Instead, the past several years, it's 85 degrees until late October, and winter starts in late January and goes through April. White Christmas? Who ever heard of such a notion. White Easter is the new thing. 😬

I enjoy each of the seasons, but it seems like summer and winter have been overstaying their welcome, while fall and spring have become nearly nonexistent. Yes, even summer can last too long. I don't want to be sweating while we're picking pumpkins.

So, at any rate, there's been some seasonal affective sluggishness around here. The diocesan track meet that Henry is participating in has gotten moved due to rain (you know, AGAIN), and my friends with kids playing softball have gotten nary a practice or game in due to either rain or sloppy field conditions. Nobody can wear sandals with bare legs yet, and everybody seems to be walking around in a confused and dazed state. :-0

But we're getting there. The kids' school year is winding down (they go until late June around here), and we're making summer plans. I've resumed dancing, following the calf injury I reported a few weeks ago. It's going well, the leg has continued to improve, but I'm very aware of the fact that it's not 100%, and it won't be, for probably 4-6 more weeks. I struggle with this, to be sure. I'm able to take my dance and Piyo classes (though I've skipped my Zumba dance fitness class for the past 2 weeks because I'm afraid all the twisting and hopping could potentially re-injure it), and I can pretty much do any movement I'd like now, but I have to be very careful. When I'm practicing everything is generally great, but attempting a full out rehearsal for the project I'm working on, with performance level energy, resulted in my leg reminding me that it's not 100% yet, which got me down a bit. I applied some ice last night, and am going to take it easy for a few days. I've been stretching daily, and using my foam roller on it, and I know that this is all I can do aside wait for the full 6 weeks for it to heal. I'm hating it. :(

But it's a reminder that we are not in control of everything, and that sometimes we have to be patient. This patience can even result in new opportunities, but it's so hard to let go. Today, I'm going to work on my upper body from a seated position, and this is an excellent little secret tip for dancers: When you're not thinking about what your legs and feet need to be doing, it's amazing how much you can train your torso, upper chest, hands, arms and face to do that you wouldn't ordinarily focus on. And I rarely take the time to do this, so this is the perfect opportunity to rest my leg and do it. It isn't easy to not be able to do everything that I want to, physically, but I'm doing my best to make the most of it.

So that's how it's going over here. How is spring in your part of the world? Donna, how is that snake bite coming along?! 😬

Thursday, May 9, 2019

A Catholic Librarian family update :)

Hello all, and I hope that your May is starting off well! It certainly is over here, though we are quite busy, but in the best possible way. Life is full and good. :)

Mike is in a community theater production of "Dial M for Murder" this month, and so with his rehearsals in the evenings, plus my dance classes and events, plus kid activities...it's been busy! But as I've always told the kids: everybody should have a hobby that they love and are passionate about. Ideally, one should balance a single commitment-heavy hobby at a time, because otherwise family dinners go by the wayside and a person can hardly catch their breath for the crazy evenings. But all of us (especially this introverted family!) having one hobby that we love is a good, good thing.

Our big star of late has been Henry ;-) who had his moving up day at school and is in full-on high school prep mode. HOW ON EARTH DID THIS HAPPEN?! Everybody tells you that this will happen, that the years when your kids are growing up will fly by in the blink of an eye, but you do not believe them until it actually happens to you.

😭

Henry has been much more into sports this year, and we're very proud of the effort and patient dedication he has been putting into practicing and playing. In the fall, he played on the school basketball team, which is definitely his favorite sport. Once basketball season wrapped up, he expressed interest in playing volleyball (this is my most hated sport from school gym nightmares of old :0, but I have to say that the games are very fun to watch!) and has been doing that for about a month now.

Next year, he will be going to a Catholic boys high school that is within walking distance of our house, and he is SO excited about it. We are very excited for him, although not for our checkbook, eeks! :0 But I do think that the school will be a good fit for him, and that he will thrive there. Happily, most of his friends are going there as well. He has physically grown in an *exponential* fashion this school year. I will create a little collage of his first day/last day of school picture, the difference is that distinctive!

As for our little Anne, she is wrapping up second grade. She got her ears pierced this spring, and is also looking more and more big kid-like. 😭She comes up to my chest now in terms of height. 😬 Anne is the most social member of our family. She's an introvert as well, but she easily enjoys socializing with her peers in a very non-awkward fashion that the rest of us envy quite a bit. :0 Her birthday is coming up, and she will be 8. My baby! She's participated in Girl Scouts this year, and has absolutely loved it. They had a horseback riding gathering this past weekend, and their end-of-year meeting is right around the corner. She wants to participate again next year, and I think she's making great friends, and learning heartwarming and useful new things. It's a keeper! She'll be in third grade next year, and will continue on at the Catholic K-8 school she and Henry have been at for many years now.

As the school year wraps up, Mike and I are in awe of where are kids are in terms of their growth, physically and emotionally. When you have kids, you tend to think of just the little years, and don't think ahead to when they start becoming independent young men and women. Henry has definitely started that phase, and it doesn't seem like that long until Anne will approaching that same point anymore. It's emotional, for sure.

At Henry's moving up dinner, a number of parents put together a tribute to one of the school administrators, who started at our school the year that this current graduating 8th grade class was in Pre-K. Henry wasn't there until first grade, but I found the entire thing very touching. By the time it was over, there weren't too many dry eyes out in the audience. When the kids are little, it's a bit exhausting, because their physical needs are so vast, and they have zero emotional maturity, which makes for quite a loud and chaotic experience for a number of years. And it seems like those days, when you're going through them, will never end. But then they do, and you find a whole host of new things to worry about, and then suddenly WHAM! They're a budding small adult person, and you're like "what the heck happened here?!" I quite literally can't believe it. And I hope we're doing a good job, because there is a lot at stake. I may start to cry again.

😭

It's a time of a lot of transitions in our family, due to the kids growing and becoming interested in new things and experiences. We're hanging in there, but I'm weeping buckets of tears along the way.

So.many.tears.

What is going on with you this May? How do you handle big transitions with kids, or in other arenas of your life? I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

A spiritual take on performing and making ourselves vulnerable...

It's hard to believe that Lent is over, and we're all settling into the Easter season already. I've been so focused on Lenten reading and other Holy Week related stuff on here, that I haven't talked about lifey things in quite a while, and that's what is inspiring me this week. So settle in for our wine time. :)


I've been dancing a LOT lately. As in, way more than I ever have before. I'm not performing any more than usual, that has remained about the same, but I'm working on my dancing a lot more on my own and through additional training with my 2 fabulous instructors. Dancing is the hobby I'm most passionate about, and life is short, you know? :-) I've actually been working on my own choreography for something, which is *very* rare for me, as I'm an improvisational dancer. But it's for a special project, more details to come as events unfold. ;-) I've been working on that since January, and also working on improving technique, and I have found myself practicing for a short bit every single day. I've also been watching videos while I eat lunch at work of dancers that I admire, and they have been inspiring me to keep working at what I love to do. It all started rather quietly, but I have come to treasure my daily dance fix.

This brings us up to this past weekend, which included our twice annual studio show. I was dancing with my troupe as well as dancing solo, and so in the week leading up, I broke off from practicing the other choreography I had been working on and devoted the time to the group dances and getting to know the music that I would be soloing to, as I would be improvising. My secret is that I film myself a lot when I practice (I have grown in clinical detachment over the months, and this does not make me cringe anymore :0) and thus work to eliminate any funky things I may be unknowingly doing with my arms, hands or face. Awkward transitions and their ilk are removed with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel, I take this all very seriously. ;-)

And so I was all ready on Sunday afternoon for the show. I had 2 group pieces in the first set, those went great. Then I had my solo and a group number in the second set, and one final group dance in the third and final set.

I sailed out for my solo to music that I absolutely LOVE, was dancing my heart out, and everything was going grand. Until about 3/4 of the way through the song when I did something that caused an immediate, and sickeningly familiar, pain in my left leg: I had strained my calf muscle, right then and there, and this is a frustrating injury that I have been struggling with for years now. I did my best to keep my face from showing it, and kept dancing, because you all know me by now, and thus know that I don't give up on things very easily. :0 Luckily, the song was almost over, and while I had been debating doing a fast turn sequence at the end, the decision was made for me that there would be the MUCH MORE SUBDUED TURN SEQUENCE put into play instead. I was pleased with how the piece went, but I was worried about my leg, because I had a group number to perform next with just a single dance during which to change, and then in the third set a Saidi piece, which is an Egyptian folkloric dance with lots of hopping.

Hopping 😭

I changed my costume quick like a bunny and headed out for the next dance, trying not to limp. I made it, but there were lots of painful twinges while I danced, letting me know that all was not well in Left Calf Land.

Then I had to dress and prepare for the Saidi. Remember the hopping?

Hopping 😭

This time I chose the route of mental and emotional denial preparation, as I had much more time before that number was up in the queue:

Me: "All right Leg, the Saidi is up! You're strong and you feel fine. We're doing this!"

Leg: "You're not very bright are you?"

😳

It was the last piece of the show, and I was determined that I would dance it. And I did, hopping and all. Thankfully, the worst of the hopping was on the right leg, but the left still had a cross to bear.

When the show ended and I had made it through despite the injury, I felt relieved and happy. Everything had gone beautifully. I figured that I would rest it up for the remainder of the day, take a nice hot shower, and lay on the couch a lot with it elevated. Based on previous experience, I knew that it would take about 6 weeks to fully heal, but I would likely feel mostly back to normal in 1-2 weeks if I took it easy. Well.

I woke up Monday morning and I COULD NOT WALK.

😭😭😭

I stupidly had not applied any ice to it on Sunday, and after sleeping on it, it tightened up like nobody's business. I could put zero weight on my left leg, and I didn't take it so well. In tears, I consulted Dr. Google, and got my ice pack out. I stayed home from work (because there was no way I could even make it from the parking lot into the library), parked my butt on the couch, and applied ice for 20-30 minutes every hour. By the second application, I could already feel a difference. Although it wasn't pretty, I could use my left leg again. I did that all day long until the evening, when I applied heat to relax it a bit.

Tuesday morning it was still sore, but a lot better. I applied more ice in the morning, and went into work. As of today, Thursday, I'm walking completely normally and only have minimal soreness when I first wake up. I'm well on my way back to my happy dance routine, but this taught me an important lesson, and not just about the importance of ice application to inflamed tissue. :0

Sometimes we take things for granted, and we should not. We should cherish every moment that we get to experience joy, and never forget that it could be gone tomorrow. Depressing in a sense, but also very freeing. Everything that we have God gifted us with. We obviously have to also work hard to hone the gifts that He gives us, but we should not take for granted that they will always be there. They won't. As my dance teacher always says to encourage us before we perform: "What are you saving it for? Give everything you have, right in this moment!" I suppose that's how I injured my calf to begin with right in the middle of a performance :0 and it actually makes me happy to think of it this way: that it happened because I was truly giving everything of myself in that moment, and in that performance. It's a whole new perspective on performing, putting yourself out there, and making yourself vulnerable in front of others, I think.

I knew how meaningful dance is to me, but having it taken away from me this week has given me a new appreciation for how much it forms my happiness and identity. I hope to always be able to do what I love, but it's possible that at some point I may not be able to anymore. In the meantime, I'm going to give it everything that I have, and not take it for granted. I'm also going to adopt a regular calf stretching regime, especially before I perform, eek!

What brings you joy in your life that don't want to ever take for granted? :) Feel free to chat with me, and the community, in the comments!