Friday, October 18, 2019

During a tough season, the rosary has been a soothing balm...

Rosaries by Allison
So, I've been going through a period of spiritual dryness. It's been going on for quite some time, come to think. I had a brief respite in the late summer, but then as the dance competition loomed closer and the kids started back to school, I fell off doing the small bit of daily prayer that I had worked back into my routine, and things deteriorated once again. They weren't terrible, I still felt comfort from my faith and from going to Mass on Sundays, but that richness was lacking. It felt like I was trying to do everything myself, rather than letting God in to help me. The more that I was worried about (and the items piled up especially as September unfolded) the less I would seek out God. I knew He was there, but I had a difficult time asking for help.

About a week ago, my sister asked me about starting a daily challenge to pray a full rosary. I haven't prayed a full rosary in two years, and do you want to know why? Because of my car. I used to always pray the rosary in my car.

In September 2017, I had to replace my aged Honda Civic, and I wound up getting a 2017 Honda Fit that had a stick shift. I didn't know how to drive a stick shift, and thus I learned how. It was not easy, but I got it. However, the newness of the experience made me reluctant to give my hands something else to worry about when they were now so busy simply making the car go. And so for 2 years, I have not prayed a rosary with all 5 decades!

Shauna'h's query got me to thinking: I've been driving a stick now for 2 years, and I'm quite good at it. I also, of course, live in North America, and so I'm shifting with my right hand. My left hand is pretty passive, even when driving the stick. So last Friday, I got out my gorgeous new St. Jerome rosary and took it for a spin. I could easily keep count on the rosary tucked in my left hand while it was also placed on the steering wheel doing what it needed to do. I prayed half on my way into work, and half on my way home. I finished the entire rosary, with no impact on my driving the car.

Since then, I had prayed a full rosary every single day. Oftentimes in the car, but also before mass starts or in other spots throughout my day. I tend to not finish praying a rosary in a single sitting, but this works well for me with my contantly-on-overdrive brain.

I've noticed my anxiety abating a bit. I'm also feeling more positive about things that were previously eating me up inside. I look forward to getting into my car and going to work (where things have been quite stressful with teaching) so that I can have that quiet interior prayer time. I'm loving it.

It's really helped. And I'm hoping to keep it up. I know that sometimes I'll miss a day, things happen, and we're human. But the perseverence is what I need, especially as we move closer to Advent and the holiday season.

Do you have a daily rosary habit? Where do you pray it? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Reflecting on reflecting... ;-)

This week, I had a slight break in my busy teaching schedule (2 of the next 3 weeks are going to be quite unpleasant), and so I disciplined myself to work on my 2020 Gospel Reflections for CatholicMom.com. I've been a monthly contributor for Catholic Mom since 2015, when I met Lisa Hendey at the Catholic New Media Conference in Atlanta. I have such happy memories of that event, and everything associated with it, so that whenever I settle in to write one of my contributions, I think back on that time with a smile on my face. Some months, it's a rush to come up with an idea for a piece, but I've never missed a deadline.



I've also been a member of the Gospel Reflection team for the past several years. That involves taking on 3-4 short reflections that will appear on specific dates throughout the following year. I really enjoy those, because preparing for them means that I need to settle my mind a bit, read some scripture, and reflect on what that specific set of verses mean for my life at that particular point in time.

Each time I sit down to write a piece for Catholic Mom, I think about how lucky I am to have not only my faith, but the community that surrounds it. We are blessed to have a large, readymade group of friends to share our lives with. And each time I start typing up my contributions, I think about you all as I write them: What are we all going through right now, and/or what would you like to read about? I do tend to theme my pieces by the current season, liturgical and otherwise. Writing these really helps me to prepare and settle into the different milestones on the liturgical calendar, as well as the changing weather and seasons in my life: my kids getting older, changes in my job, etc. It seems like such a small writing gig, but it has been monumental for me personally as the years have gone by. You can check out all of the pieces I've written for them, including the Gospel Reflections, via my author page. :-)

This month, my piece isn't up quite yet (next week!) but it deals with birds. Yes, I know that must sound like a strange topic choice for Catholic Mom. :-0 But they give give us a lot of leeway on what to write about, because they want the pieces to be personal, and relatable. I wrote about birds because Anne and I love to birdwatch, and it's something that she and I share right now. Anne has been resistant to praying with me for a little while now, and I talk about that in the article. We share together when we watch birds, and it's an important bonding and emotional connection for us. I've also been finding it difficult to pray myself lately, as I've been experiencing a spell of spiritual dryness. This is cyclical thoughout my life, as I think it is for pretty much everyone. And it's lovely that I can express what I'm going through spiritually, even when it's not particularly exciting.

So be on the lookout for a piece on CatholicMom.com next week with an American robin as the featured photo. ;-) I love writing for them, and I can't wait to see what next year holds in terms of my writing inspiration! *beams*

Is writing a way for you to reflect on your own spirituality as well? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Uplifting fall vibes...

St. Jerome rosary, photo credit Rosaries by Allison
Happy Friday, friends, and although the weekend is here, my stress level continues to be high. :-0 There's been a lot going on for my family and I these past 6 weeks or so, and I'm just trying to manage it as best I can.

I've been trying to focus a lot on how much I love this time of year, when the air gets cooler and the leaves turn. I live in a beautiful part of the country to be able to enjoy it all. Often, as has been the case the past 3 years, work is busy and stressful for me right at this exact time (September through October) which has had the effect of me not taking advantage of the gorgeous fall weather and the fun activities that it can entail. This year, I endeavored to enjoy fall despite the stress, and I do think it's, for the most part, working. Even with the dance competition recently, some crazy teaching weeks, and increased concern about both kids at their adjustment to new school life, I've taken some moments to enjoy the beautiful fall we're having here in WNY. The skies are gray a lot, but for me, the fact that the air is crisp, the leaves are beginning to show color, and harvest/Halloween decor is out in abundance makes up for it completely.

It's definitely the little things, and the lack of uncomfortable heat and humidity, is a small, but important, joy for me. I've also been trying to really drink in the time that I get to spend on my hobbies: escaping to Hogwarts with Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, immersing myself in the combinations we're learning in my dance classes, the new flow segment in my lunchtime Piyo class on Mondays. I've never been good at doing this in the past, but something has changed. Does age really bring wisdom? ;-) I'm able to do it more so now, because I know how important it is to be able to recharge before tackling the stressful things again.

As you can see from the photo in this post, I commissioned my dear friend Allison to create a fall themed St. Jerome rosary for me, and I heart it so much I can hardly stand it. 😍 I have it tucked into the pocket on the driver's side door of my little Honda Fit, and I reach for it often to just hold, or pray a single decade. I may not get a whole rosary in, but I don't think that's anything to fret over. It comforts me to see the fall colors, and feel the smooth beads. St. Jerome is the patron saint of librarians, and so he's my buddy when I go off to teach a stressful 5 hour stretch of back-to-back classes. It's definitely the small things.

What are the small things you're grateful for this weekend? *heart* I'd love to hear about it in the comments!