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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Rethinking the "Daniel Fast" and Refocusing on Lent



I am rethinking the "Daniel Fast." In trying to figure out how I would eat, poring over the recipes, and wondering if I'd be able to cook for my family since my previous post, anxiety set in. 
Anxiety is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

I liked the idea of giving up everything--sugar, processed foods, caffeine, alcohol, and dairy. (All meat, including poultry and fish, is also prohibited, but I'm a vegetarian, so that wasn't an issue for me.) But it's even stricter than that. Only whole grains are allowed (no white flour), and only flat breads. No yeast or fermented products. No beverages but water. Not even unsweetened fruit juices. 

Some of the recipes in Kristen Feola's The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast are very labor intensive. Many of the ingredients, such as strawberries and zucchini, aren't readily available. Even so, I could probably do it just for myself, but I don't think I could feed my family this way. Also, the "fast" does not emphasize organic, locally grown, and in season foods, so it isn't taking into consideration the poor nutrition content, chemical pesticides, and GMOs that may reside in the plants--which would certainly not be aligned with following the biblical approach to food that's implied.

When I told my husband that I was going to modify the "fasting" guidelines, he asked, "Then why bother to do it?"  "For God," I replied. And here is the crux of the matter. My whole reason for doing the "Daniel Fast" was to make it a part of my Lenten observance (and to follow the leading I feel toward a vegan diet). The purpose of Lent is to prepare oneself for Easter, the greatest feast in the liturgical year. This truth was getting lost in the shuffle. I'm finding that I need to refocus my efforts on putting my Catholic Faith first. 

During Lent we seek to weed out those things that distract us from God. Lent is a time of penance, and the faithful are encouraged to give up something. Typically this may include a favorite food, such as chocolate; a substance one is addicted to, such as cigarettes or caffeine; a sinful behavior; or media, such as Facebook. We deny ourselves something from which it is difficult to abstain, so that we may rely more completely on the Lord. 

The 40 days of Lent are in imitation of Jesus' 40 days of fasting and prayer in the desert. In a true biblical fast, he took no food or drink. No doubt such a fast requires extreme supernatural assistance. Most people would die. The Church does not ask such extremes of us. We have two days of fasting during Lent--Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. 

By the Church's definition, a fast in this instance means eating no more than two small meals and one larger meal, which is not bigger than the two smaller meals together. No snacking in between. I believe that the only beverage allowed is water on those fasting days, and no meat is allowed on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent. Fish is not considered meat and is permitted. 

Lent is also a time for concentrating on charity. We can give more to the poor and needy from the funds we save by fasting and abstinence, and more of our time is available via reducing our distractions. The "Daniel Fast" has become a huge distraction for me even before Lent has begun! 

I think that in my case, completely giving up caffeine, dairy, and wine (the only alcohol I drink) will be more than plenty. In addition, my family will be cutting out junky sweets and reducing added sugars and processed foods (we don't eat much that is highly processed anyway), as much as is reasonably possible. The sweets we do use will be sparing and natural--organic cane sugar, local honey and maple syrup, and agave nectar. We already eat mostly whole grains, except for pasta, which just doesn't taste good to us. However, we do buy organic pastas. I will probably try the unleavened bread recipe in the book, but I'm not going to follow the ordinance against yeast. 

I've asked my husband not to bring anymore candy, ice cream, or sugary cereals into the house for Lent. Our teenage daughter is not happy about this at all. But I think it's really important for her not to expect to have daily doses of chocolate cereal (even if it is organic!), ice cream, and candy. 

In a nutshell, I want to obtain a good balance this Lent, and I want most of my food observances to be a permanent way of eating. I will likely have a little chocolate now and then after Lent, and the occasional glass of wine at dinner, as I currently do. I want to drastically reduce my cravings for highly sweet foods. My hope is to continue abstaining from dairy, ultimately for the whole family-- though an occasional cheese pizza might be necessary for family harmony! As for the caffeine, I don't want coffee or tea to be a daily thing anymore, but if I have days where I need a little to get by, I might occasionally indulge after Lent. 

I think the most important thing is to prayerfully consider what God is calling each of us to do--and not to do--during Lent. The basic focus on prayer, fasting, penance, and charity is common to all, but the details will vary for each of us. The "Daniel Fast" sounded like an answer to my prayers, but we must always test the spirits. For one thing, I was too focused on the end goal of losing weight. I suppose one could "give up" ten pounds for Lent, but weight loss is not what Lent is about. The "Daniel Fast" is a spiritual practice and is not designed for weight loss either, but that element simply became too important to me.

It also doesn't appear that the "Daniel Fast" is even a biblical fast, which is why I've been putting it in quotes throughout this article. It's based upon the first chapter of the book of Daniel and chapter 10, verses two and three. In neither case do we find the word, fast. In the first chapter, a 10-day food test is described, and in chapter 10, a 21-day period of mourning is recounted. In both cases, we can only speculate of what Daniel's diet specifically consisted. 

In chapter 1, he eats only "vegetables" and drinks only water. Some scholars believe that "vegetables" refer also to fruits and whole grains. At any rate, this seems to be Daniel's regular diet. There is no period of fasting indicated here. And while one might fast during a time of mourning, one can fast without mourning, and one can mourn without fasting. 

Daniel does specifically fast in chapter nine: "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. I prayed to the Lord, my God, and confessed... We have sinned..." (verses 3-5).  So we see that there is a difference drawn between biblical fasting (traditionally going with no food or drink or consuming only water), and the other two cases of dietary restrictions on which the "Daniel Fast" is based.

The "Daniel Fast" guidelines seem somewhat arbitrary as well. Bible translations vary, making it even more difficult to discern exactly what Daniel was eating. In chapter 10 of my 1963 Confraternity Version of the Holy Bible, it reads: "I ate no savory food, I took no meat or wine..."  Savory means "pleasant to the sense of taste esp. by reason of effective seasoning" (ninth collegiate Merriam-Webster). (Notice also that during this time of mourning, Daniel did not anoint himself--did not groom/clean his body--for the duration of the three weeks. Yet this practice forms no part of the so-called fast!)

In the "Daniel Fast", according to Kristin Feola's book, you can use "date honey" made by boiling dates down to a sauce, but you can't use natural sweeteners like honey from bees or maple syrup. Why is this? You can use salt, herbs, and spices, which surely fall under the category of savory. Recipes in the book using date honey, cinnamon, and various herbs and spices, such as oatmeal raisin cookies and corn muffins, definitely have a savory quality. And why are herbs allowed, but not herbal teas?

My concern is that this Daniel diet is being billed as a biblical fast, which it is not, and being marketed as a specifically Christian practice. (Mega-church pastor Rick Warren's book, The Daniel Plan, has apparently sprung from the original idea. He and his co-authors all have dangerous, New Age associations, but that's a whole other can of worms!) 

The "Daniel Fast" was created by Susan Gregory, who bemoans that her plan has been hijacked (http://daniel-fast.com/hijacked/); and it appears that she has grounds for being upset. Though her intentions seem good, I'm concerned about her premise: 

'I started teaching Christians about the Daniel Fast in 2007. If you’ve read my book, The Daniel Fast: feed your soul, strengthen your spirit and renew your body, then you know that this all came about when I received a word from the Lord to “write about the Daniel Fast.” And my greatest desire is to support and guide men, women and teens so they can have a successful fasting experience.'

I don't doubt that some people benefit from following this plan. Yet if Susan's guidelines are not in reality based upon the biblical fasting of Daniel, if the idea is confused in the first place, as I've illustrated, then we should be wary of believing that it came from God. (Kristen Feola, likewise, believes that God inspired her to use her recipes in service of this plan.) 

The "Daniel Fast" appears to have become trendy, with many churches and individuals jumping on the bandwagon for various reasons. I think it will eventually fade and give way to the next, new thing. It has the potential to become a magical formula, and an idol. In and of itself, I don't think following this diet is harmful, but it does not constitute a biblically-based fast, and I would tread this path with care.

So, Catholics and other Christians, whether you practice Lent or not, do not feel obligated to follow this "Daniel Fast", at all or exactly as prescribed. It can certainly serve as an inspiration to make healthier choices and to treat one's body as the temple of the Holy Spirit that it is. The main benefit I'll take from the book is in using some of the recipes to help me with the transition to a vegan diet, which is a topic for another post. 

If you do practice Lent, follow the Catholic Church's guidelines and take advantage of her other spiritual offerings this season, and seek the Lord in prayer. Remember, on Ash Wednesday we are admonished to turn away from sin. The ashes rubbed on our foreheads remind us that from dust we come, and to dust we shall return. Don't be distracted by an overly scrupulous "fast" designed by man, not God. May the grace of the Spirit be yours this Lenten season. 





Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Daniel Fast and Lenten Plans



(Note to readers: After publishing this post, I did more research to learn the origins of this "fast" and looked more closely at the Bible readings associated with it. Please see the next post, Rethinking the "Daniel Fast" and Refocusing on Lent.)

Have you ever wanted to change your life entirely, all at once? I've had fleeting moments of inspiration in which I say to myself, Self, this is the day I'm going to change everything! Beginning with giving up coffee. Then later, say, two hours maybe, I can't stand it, and I grab a cup of java. Waste time on the Internet. Never take that walk that was going to be my first walk to begin a habit of walking every single day. The life I picture seems so close, and yet so far...

Enter the Daniel Fast. I just heard about this a couple of weeks ago. I was talking to a friend on the phone, and I asked her if she'd seen that horrible story about the Turpin family and their 13 abused and starving children in California. She said she had only glimpsed a headline of the story but hadn't followed it, because she was taking a media break during the Daniel Fast. 

Upon hearing "Daniel Fast," my mind suddenly latched on, and I had to know all about it. Evidently this is an annual practice based upon the fasting of the Old Testament figure, Daniel. Churches around the country participate. The official, three week period of the fast has ended, but I am gearing up to do it for Lent. Whether I do it only for three weeks or for the entire 40 days of Lent remains to be seen. 

Basically, I will be purging everything that I've been wanting to cut out of my life in terms of food--caffeine, sugar, dairy, and processed foods. If you are a meat eater, that goes too. And alcohol. I'd been considering going vegan but wasn't sure if I could take the plunge. The Daniel Fast is my chance to go cold turkey in a major way and finally make all of the changes I dream of. 

In The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast by Kristen Feola, you will find over 100 recipes and 21 daily devotions. The pictures of the food look very appetizing, and the recipes seem pretty simple. Feola includes shopping guides and weekly meal plans. The hardest part might be being limited to unleavened bread (whole grain bread without yeast, sugar, or preservatives). I'm going to learn to cook and eat in a whole new way! 

Am I scared? No. I'm terrified. The thing to keep in mind is that this is ultimately a spiritual practice. Lent is a time to cut out distractions and draw closer to the Lord. It's a time of sacrifice, charity, and penance. It's an imitation of Jesus' 40 days in the desert. Needless to say, I expect to be tempted. 

One benefit that I think will keep me going is the guarantee of weight loss. My friend lost 10 pounds in 21 days, and that was without incorporating exercise. I plan to walk and stretch daily. And if I do the fast for the whole 40 days, a loss of 20 pounds seems reasonable. 

I'm going to do a partial Internet fast during Lent as well. I receive at least one email per week from our homeschool co-op, so my plan is to only check my email the day before co-op meets. I want to blog about this process, so I'll probably be posting weekly. I will only use Facebook to share the blog posts. I will do my best not to look at the Yahoo News headlines, which unfortunately pop up when I close my email. Absolutely no Internet surfing!!

The last part of the equation is to finish my home decluttering and deep cleaning project. My mother-in-law is coming to visit early in May, so that gives me incentive to do this thing once and for all. 

Have any of you done a Daniel Fast? Please share your experience!


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Technology and the Lost Art of Listening



This morning at church Father Dave made an astute observation. The technology of texting and online social media has made communication fast and easy; but it has almost completely destroyed the art of listening. I sat in my pew amazed, because just yesterday I had a very nasty experience on Facebook. And only a few days before that, my daughter had her heart broken by a "friend" who betrayed her on a social media site called Hangouts. 

My daughter's tablet is taking a long vacation. And it's not just to avoid the problem of mean girls. I've seen that being on her tablet is addictive. Research has shown that internet activity stifles creativity and actually, physiologically rewires the brain, scattering our attention like nothing else and rendering us increasingly helpless against our impulses. This truth negates the belief that technology is morally neutral, that a person's heart is the problem, not the technology itself. Do we really have the control that we think we do over our use of the internet and devices like smartphones? As with any addiction, denial is rampant. 

Consider the observations of Rod Dreher, author of The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation:

   "We think our many technologies give us more control over our destinies. In fact, they have come to control us. And this opens the door to the more fundamental point about technology: it is an ideology that conditions how we humans understand reality. To use technology is to participate in a cultural liturgy that, if we aren't mindful, trains us to accept the core claim of modernity: that the only meaning there is in the world is what we choose to assign it in our endless quest to master nature...
   If we can use technology any way we like as long as the outcome results in our own happiness, then all reality is 'virtual reality,' open to construal in any way we like. There are no natural limits, only those that we do not yet have the technological capability to overcome. This point of view is ubiquitous in modernity but profoundly antithetical to orthodox Christianity." (emphasis mine)

Technology has become a worldview (the medium is the message) which trains us to privilege what is new and innovative over what is old, traditional, and familiar. Like listening. We've lost the ability to comprehend whether we should or should not accept a particular technological development. I've seen smartphones in the hands of babies. We need to wake up before it's too late! Society's addiction to television is bad enough, but when devices with internet access are appendages to our bodies, we have a serious problem. 

And what about me? I've given up Facebook before, largely due to cyber-bullying, and only set up a new account when my grandma died, and I wanted to keep in touch with fellow grieving family members. Now having my own mean girl experience, would it be letting evil win to throw in the Facebook towel again?

I think most of us are at least peripherally aware that our data is not kept private by Facebook (but we shove this knowledge into our denial folder). I was particularly perturbed yesterday because I was unable to remove unwanted, harrassing comments from a birthday fundraiser that I have set up on Facebook. And the "report a problem" option was not functioning! The offender could not be removed from the event. Facebook's guidelines on their page for reporting a problem were to do it at the initial site of the problem. I'm amazed that I didn't tear my hair out. 

There is also the issue of general dependency on the internet for financial reasons. My husband and I have a home-based business largely operated online, and Facebook is one of our avenues for generating income. FB has sometimes removed my husband's posts, and then they were negligent in communicating with him, leaving the issue unresolved. My husband also relies on Twitter to support our business. 

Is being a FB member not only often a monumental waste of my time and potentially damaging to my brain in a real, physiological sense, but is it also being complicit with a company which is negligent, does not guard my privacy--is, in other words, morally questionable? That is something I'm still discerning. 

I'm not saying that internet technology doesn't have many positive uses. For example, one reason I've stayed on Facebook is to respond to people's prayer requests. The internet is an enormous help to my homeschooling vocation (though, due to information overload, it's also a huge distraction and can result in much confusion.) The use of internet technology is not necessarily immoral in and of itself, but it very often presents what is called a near occasion of sin, which you can read more about here: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11196a.htm. Christians are obligated to avoid occasions of sin. The problem is, again, denial. Do we have the humility and self-awareness to admit that we are deeply addicted to smartphones, social media, and internet surfing? 

I now know the ugliness of a cousin's heart who I thought was very sweet, thanks to her posts in my charity fundraiser. I would rather not have known. Social media has an undeniable tendency to bring out the worst impulses in people and is notorious for the ruination of relationships. As science has confirmed, technology is not neutral. 

There is much more to be said on this topic, but for now I'll conclude with a few suggestions. 

1.  Just today I downloaded Chrome to my laptop and added their Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator feature. I now receive inspirational quotes instead of a newsfeed! This frees you up from distractions which impede your work productivity and concentration on managing your groups. I'm sure Facebook is mad as h*ll about this, because you don't see their advertisements anymore. You can also find many good suggestions for controlling your smartphone use online, which I can't personally advise you on, because I have a flip phone! Consider replacing your smartphone with a flip phone. I dare you. Double dog. Bet you can't do it, you addict, you. 

2.  Very few people have my cell phone number, and the message box is not set up. I do not text. Consider actually dialing up a number and talking on the phone. (Consider, even, having a landline with a cord! Bet you can't sit still for 5 minutes.) I can think of no circumstance in which texting would be necessary. And when you are on the phone, do not multi-task. First of all, multi-tasking is an illusion. The scientific reality is that we can't give adequate attention to more than one activity at a time which requires concentration. Don't surf the internet or watch TV while on the phone with a friend. Do not put people on speaker phone so you can do something else at the same time. I can always tell I'm on speaker phone. Turn off your phone when you are visiting in person. This is all a matter of basic manners, but we need to be reminded, because we are no longer a polite society.

3.  Our children, including teenagers, should not have smartphones, period. Get your kid a flip phone. Babies should not have smartphones in their hands. These, I believe, are unquestionably moral considerations. 

4.  Recover the art of listening. You can't listen when texting. You can't listen when using social media. This means you can't have deep relationships with people. Think about it. Do you usually send a text or FB message because you really don't want to bother calling someone, because it's more more convenient for you? Even if it's your mom, daughter, best friend, or sibling? The truth is, many of us don't really want to talk to people unless we have to. I am arguing here that we have to. If you aren't in the habit of listening, you lose the ability, and you aren't really in intimate relationship with other people. We are literally losing our humanity.

5.  Set a timer when you get on the internet and give yourself strict limits. Avoid falling into the black hole where you lose all sense of time--and with it, reality. Social media is not real life. It's a place where people create fantasy selves. Rarely do people present a realistic portrait of their lives. 

6.  So many people document their status on social media all day long. And what's worse, their children have no choice but to have their lives plastered all over social media too. This is dangerous. And it is a serious violation of your child's privacy. I actually got a bunch of flack when my teenage daughter did not want me to post her picture on FB, and I respected her wishes. People, you're just not getting it. Limit your children's pictures, your own posts, and the time you spend on social media, your smartphone, and the internet. Let's get back to Life. 



stepbystep.com


Compare this picture to the one at the beginning and seriously contemplate--which do you want to be the picture of your life?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Winter Deep Clean 2018



Happy New Year, everyone! I'd like to invite you to join me for a deep cleaning of our homes this winter. Typically you might think of spring as being the season for a thorough house cleaning, but I can't wait that long. Sure, some tasks, like washing windows and painting, will need to wait until warmer weather. But as it is so very cold right now, and you are not likely to be spending much time outdoors, why not clean the cabin and perhaps avoid cabin fever in the process? We'll be too busy purging and scrubbing to notice how cooped up we are, and we will be loving our homes again!

I spent Christmas and my birthday sick and in bed, so I had a lot of time to plan. I watched way too many youtube videos, but some of them did inspire me and helped me discern the tools I will need for this project. It seems that the minimalist challenge groups for this year are focusing on spending 15 minutes per day on a particular zone. A zone might be a room or set of rooms, or just part of a room. I decided to start with my upstairs bathroom. 

I gathered my supplies and set a timer for 15 minutes (see grimy vintage timer in pic at top!), planning to work on the medicine cabinet only. I figured it would take more than 15 minutes, but the idea is that once you get going, you build momentum. 

The first thing you want to do is throw away (or set aside to give away) whatever items need to go. I tossed expired medicines, products I wasn't using, and old nail polish. Unfortunately one of the bottles broke in the waste basket, creating a strong smell and making a mess. Dealing with this added extra time to the project, which leads me to the next point. Plan for your project to take longer than expected. 

Just the medicine cabinet took 55 minutes, and later I realized that I had forgotten to wash the outside of it, so it was really a full hour. I took everything out, discarded certain items, cleaned all the shelves and woodwork, and put the remaining things back inside, in an organized fashion. This is a built-in cabinet and has quite a bit of storage space. There is room to put some additional items in it, which may end up meaning that I need less storage space in other areas of the bathroom. 

 


Bring paper and a pen into the zone you are working on so you can take notes of anything you need to replace (like those expired medicines you threw away) and any additional supplies you may need to finish the job. I did the medicine cabinet on Jan. 1, then took my list to the store the next day. One thing I really needed was rubber gloves for cleaning. Yesterday's job, hanging a curtain on a new rod, cleaning the window frame, and cleaning the pedestal sink, also took longer than expected. 

Once you get started, you may feel more overwhelmed that you did initially, realizing how much work you actually have ahead of you. So just set that timer for 15 minutes. Do what you can in that time. Choose only a small zone to work on. When the buzzer goes off, set the timer for another 15 minutes if you still haven't finished the job. I'm not going to work past one hour each day, because I don't want to injure my back. 

Here's a recap of the steps:

1. Choose what zone you will begin with (think small).
2. Gather the supplies you will need, including your paper and pen for note taking.
3. Set your timer for 15 minutes (reset as needed).
4. Purge first. Pare down duplicates, throw away expired items, give/throw away products you don't use/don't like. Be relentless!
5. Thoroughly clean the area. 
6. Organize your remaining items.
7. Reward yourself with a break!

So who's going to join me? What zone will you begin with first? Imagine having your home decluttered and shiny clean by spring!!
 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Nature Study: The Basis of All Science



Happy 3rd Sunday of Advent! I wasn't going to blog on Sundays, as this is the day of rest; but for me, contemplation is restful. I was stunned to see that I haven't written a new post in almost a month. This is because I have been pondering many things and have been busy preparing for Christmas and enjoying Advent festivities. Last night at dinner, this repose of the soul enabled me to gain a valuable insight. 

My daughter's friend was visiting, and she lamented that although she was looking forward to her Christmas break from school, she was dreading the science exams that will precede it. She's an 8th grader who is in an advanced science class. This prompted my husband to comment that he was advanced in science in high school. He recalled timed chemistry lab tests. I was surprised to find myself quiet throughout the conversation, and I observed that my mind was fixed upon the phrase Nature Study.

Today I asked our guest more about her class, which is high school level. She described it as physical science but couldn't tell me what that meant. What topics were covered under that heading? All she could relay was that she had learned about energy.   

The only really excellent science class I experienced in public school was in the 6th grade. A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to tell the teacher, Miss Snyder, how much I appreciated her class. I explained that I remembered her class, that it made a lasting impression. (And I'm almost 49, peeps!) She brought science alive. It was hands-on, and guess what? We did Nature studies!




I made a leaf collection, relying upon my grandma's knowledge of natural history and her field guides. I caught some insects and drowned them in alcohol (in hindsight, yikes!), pinned them to a board, then researched and labeled them. I had to be outside, observing God's natural world, to complete these projects. I obtained some intimate knowledge of plants and creatures, especially because I lived in the country. 

I'm extremely grateful that as a child and teenager I had many opportunities to explore fields, woods, lakes, ponds, and creeks. My love of Nature has endured. In fact, I think one motivator for  moving away from the city and back to my hometown was the lure of the quiet rural environment and proximity to the memories of my idyllic childhood wandering in the woods and hopping on stones across water. Yet even with these advantages, I realized as an adult that I really had not obtained a strong foundation in natural science. 


If I had any science education in Jr. High, I don't remember it. I enjoyed learning the names of bones in high school, and I loved Moe's scale of hardness. I was extremely fond of the Periodic Table of the Elements, though chemistry alluded me almost entirely. Newton's laws of motion I found to be extremely intriguing. I did not like dissection and couldn't tell one internal organ from another, largely because the formaldehyde the frogs were soaked in caused everything to be the same color. 

Way back in the 1980s, God was still allowed a presence in schools. In one class in high school, probably geology or biology, the teacher showed us a Creation vs. Evolution film. His comment afterward, which surprised me quite a bit, was that he thought it took more faith to believe in evolution than in creation. This was the opinion of a man of science, and I never forgot what he said. Today, such movies would not be shown, and such comments would likely put teachers at risk of being fired. 



Before kids are introduced to advanced science, they should have many years of time spent intimately with Nature. They should be familiar with local trees, landscape features, animals, flowers and habitats; should know them by name. They ought to be able to distinguish the calls of neighborhood birds and the habits of many creatures. Direct observation, living books and nature journaling should take precedence, with textbooks and lab work taking a secondary role of reinforcement of key concepts. Nature Study is the basis of all science, and without such a background, advanced science classes are almost pointless. Most of all, the child should care about the world around him.

Though I don't enjoy the cold, I understand the importance of getting outside in winter, even for a short time, every day. I'm re-committed to a Charlotte Mason approach to natural science, which, by the way, is in harmony with Catholic tradition. The combination of nature deprivation and excessive screen time has lead us increasingly to being a nation of depressed, isolated, and unhealthy people, and children are the greatest victims. We are disconnected from one another, from the natural environment, and as it follows, from knowledge of God himself as a result. I would go so far as to say that we are losing our grip on reality and the wisdom of what it means to be human. It's time to reunite science with a sense of the awesome and the Divine. 






 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Home as Sanctuary.



Clutter is a bummer. So are crumbs on the kitchen counters and dust bunnies in the hallway. Between the clutter and the dirt, keeping house can just seem like too much. Here's the thing that we must accept: Housework never ends. It never, ever ends. It's an everyday pattern of doing the same things over and over again. Some would call that insanity. I call it LIFE, plain and simple. But there must be a better way to live.

Maybe my house is too big. But I knew a woman in Columbus who lived in a large Victorian with her husband and two small children, and it only took her about 45 minutes a day to clean her home. Having a smaller space means less to take care of, sure, but if we don't have good habits, we have the same exact problems, only crammed into a smaller space. Having a smaller place to live doesn't necessarily equal less stuff. 

One reason I can't let go of Charlotte Mason is her emphasis on habit formation. Good habits are key to enjoying life and living it to the fullest. What can we do?

On Sunday I returned the master bedroom to a state of sanctuary. I dusted and removed some items. I pared down the books again. It feels better. Today I'm considering that the entire house could be a sanctuary. Can you imagine?

That's exactly what we must do--imagine. Dream. See how we want our homes to be in our minds. See how we want our selves to be. 

I got caught up on the laundry pretty well since my last post, but today my goal is to finish all of it, even if that means that a load is not completely full. 

Yesterday we went to the city and unloaded what the used bookstore was willing to take. I sold some books at our homeschooling co-op and will have another chance at that when we next meet. 

Slowly but surely, it's happening. The key is to refrain from bringing more unnecessary stuff into our homes once we clear the clutter. 

With the holidays fast approaching, the time is now to get our homes in order. Wouldn't you love to live in a space that needs only to be maintained by good, daily habits?
 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Marisa Tomei as Aunt May



Last night for a family movie we watched the most recent Spider-Man installment on DVD. Spider-Man: Homecoming features Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, a much younger and very attractive version of the comic book character. This Aunt May was first seen in Captain America: Civil War, when the latest incarnation of Spider-Man was introduced. 

It seems that Marisa Tomei always plays a lovable character, and her Aunt May is no exception. She perfectly blends the maternal and the sensual, with a quirky, Bohemian style. 

I will soon be turning 49, and Marisa also has a December birthday and will be 53. Being four years my senior, she's my perfect style and beauty mentor. Marisa does not look like a victim of Botox or plastic surgery. I love her waist-length hair and not-trying-to-be-cool eyeglasses. Her clothes and jewelry are simple, and her trim waist is to-die-for. Marissa's Aunt May is totally a look to which I can aspire! I hope I can find some ugly glasses like hers at my next eye doctor appointment...