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Friday, July 3, 2020

The Freedom of Having No Clothes Dryer

lavenderhousevintage.co.uk


A couple of weeks ago, my clothes dryer suddenly stopped working. The load in the dryer tumbled, but the dryer didn't get hot. I had already washed another load, so now I had two wet loads! I don't have an outdoor clothes line because of allergies, and we additionally have a lot of dirt in the air coming off our road, which was torn up for sewer reconstruction. 

Fortunately, after my husband's dad passed away, he brought home a large wooden drying rack from his house. I also have hangers on a metal bar in the basement, where I do the laundry, for clothes that can't be machine dried. To my surprise, the air drying system that I now must use has been liberating!

Before, I felt like I had to be constantly doing laundry, all day running down to the basement to check if a load was dry yet, and resetting the dryer when it wasn't. Now I can typically do only one load a day, and I wait until the following day to gather the dry clothes from the rack and hangers. I have to do smaller loads, so there is less laundry to deal with at once. I no longer feel overwhelmed. Sometimes things dry so quickly that I can even do two loads in a day. 

My new laundry situation has also made me more conscious to be sure that a load gets washed every day, so I don't have a constant mountain building up. If I had a large family, I might be very frustrated. But as it is, this experience of making due with what I have has resulted in the feeling of a simpler life. I even enjoy the creative outlet of determining how to arrange clothing and linens for maximum use of space! And there is, of course, also the saving of electricity. 

Towels and other items dry stiffly rather than soft, but it really makes no difference in their function. The acceptance of reality, of the way it simply is, helps me to let go of perfectionism. I am reminded of the principle in a book I read about doing less and taking longer to do it. Many people pack as much as they can into each day in an effort to be "productive." I do wonder how much joy is sucked out of the day with that type of approach, and what spiritual deficiencies are brought about with no margin built in, no time to just be. 

Maybe, if we actually did less in a day, we would find ourselves with a surprising abundance of time. And maybe that's precisely what we're afraid of. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

How to Let Go of Your Story (Part 2)


I thought about going back to the previous post and removing the "Part 1" from the title. I feel overwhelmed by this concept of letting go, or transcending, the story of what my life has been. It seems like this topic could have endless parts. Yet perhaps I can take it a bit at a time, not looking too far ahead, and just see where the path leads. 

Along the lines of Dr. Zach Bush's thinking, I do believe it's possible to set on the path to a whole new life in one day, to make not only a beginning, but even a dramatic shift; however, I don't think the change can possibly be completed in a 24-hour period. And that probably isn't what he was implying anyway. 

I found a place to start in today's Gospel reading, from Matthew 7:6, 12-14 (DRV), in the words of Jesus:

"Give not that which is holy to dogs; neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turning upon you, they tear you... All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets. Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!" 

The image at the top of the page shows a man weighted by the burden of sin, his baggage too broad to enter through the narrow gate. It seems that more and more people are daily choosing the wide, winding gate over the straight and narrow, pushing through it in misguided droves. The souls of many in our nation and around the world are in a dire state. I don't believe this is a time, during intense civil unrest, to advocate for positive thinking and merely hope for the best. I think the time is well overdue for calling a spade a spade. 

What we're seeing in America are the dogs and swine trampling on the pearls, tearing away at what is good, true, and beautiful. These people spit upon the Golden Rule. They do unto others what they would never accept being done to them. I will not associate with anyone who supports the violence and destruction. These villains don't want to go anywhere near the narrow gate. They despise what is holy. 

Black Lives Matter is a terrorist group with an open agenda of Marxism. They are narcissists who care for no one but themselves; opportunists with purely political motivations, without an ounce of understanding of human dignity. Not only do individuals need to let go of their own stories; but if this country is to be saved, we have to reject, as a people, the evil intentions of those who are violently thrusting stories upon us, shoving their narrative down our throats. If we do not swallow the bile of these stories, we will be called racists, white supremacists, bigots, and the list goes on. We will be persecuted. So be it.

I think that detaching from the Marxist narrative, turning our backs to it, dropping the baggage of their twisted stories, and pointing our souls toward the narrow gate is the only solution. If what Dr. Bush was talking about is a practice of detachment, and I believe it is, then we need to seek knowledge of what a Christian detachment looks like, which I believe to be a key element on the pilgrimage to sainthood. 

Like our spiritual ancestors, we must become, once again, pilgrims. It's horrific seeing the statues fall at the hands of felons. It's terrifying seeing mobs destroy lives, businesses, history, law and order. The only response I can cling to now is detachment. Their story is not my story. Their story is not the story of America the Beautiful. Their idea of utopia is a path of slavery. Oh, the irony. 

Dive into the Word. Receive the sacraments. Go to Confession and rid yourself of sin and guilt. Become clean, living in a state of supernatural Grace. Wear the pearl of great price. Detach from the efforts of persecution. Call evil what it is. Yes, slavery and racism are evil, and that is exactly the agenda of Antifa, Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, and all of their ilk. But we must remember to pray for those afflicted with malice and lies, both those who lead others astray, and the ones who are mislead. Prayer is the beginning, and the primary vehicle, of detachment. 

If enough of us transcend our stories, we will experience a sea change. Let the marauders do what they will, showing their true colors, and discontinue validating their stories with "diplomatic" responses. Allow them to reap what they sew. Silence is golden. And then, there will come a time to break silence...

Saturday, June 20, 2020

How to Let Go of Your Story (Part 1)

Zach Bush, MD

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Zach Bush, one of the very few triple board certified physicians in the U.S., on the Rich Roll podcast, #456, recorded at a retreat in Italy.

"The cubicle you're really living in is your story. You're gonna go back into an environment at home where everybody thinks they know who you are, because you have very carefully created a cubicle that you show everybody. You are a multi-faceted spiritual creature, that has innumerable facets and faces to you. There is such beauty and complexity in you, and yet you choose to show forth faces of a cubicle. And you have created that story of your life and who you are through training. And I would say that's the biggest problem that all of us face in this room, is the story that you now tell yourself of what your life has been. It's keeping you in a box."

Take a moment to breathe deeply and soak this in. 

I listened to the podcast weeks ago and have been thinking about how to do it, how to let go of my story, ever since. I don't have advice to give on how to transcend one's story, but I think I need to spend the rest of the summer trying to figure it out. I believe I was already in the process of doing this months ago, at the end of my grandparents' lives. I knew I would no longer have the key source of support and unconditional love that they had provided my whole life. Sure, I have other support systems and loved ones, but what my grandparents represented for me was unique and foundational to my story. 

I was somehow aware, through the grief and numerous mixed emotions I was experiencing, that I had been trained into a box of who I was supposed to be, and I felt the prison breaking open, turbulently, as I came to terms with my grandparents' passing. I knew that I must never apologize for being who I am. I owed no one an explanation, not for anything that came from my sense of dignity and the sincerity of my heart. It was okay for me to be weak. It was okay for me to be strong. It was okay for me to be myself. 

I do not believe that my grandmother lived in a cubicle. On more than one occasion, when I was thinking that the state of the world had grown so dark that there must have been a time in history that was better, that we could go back to, I asked Grandma what past era was her favorite. She was born in 1928. She would never choose, always telling me that she had enjoyed all of the eras of her life, including the current one. I understand now that she lived in the present. And because she did, because she wasn't boxed in by her own story, she could allow others the freedom to not be defined by theirs. I wish I could ask her how she managed to live this way. 

I had been told a story from my early childhood for many years, over a period of decades, that was always the same. It was a sweet story that I enjoyed hearing. And then the last time it was told, it was changed entirely. The new version cast me, as a small child, in a lurid light. What had been sweet turned suddenly sour. I knew logically that the revised version could not be true, as it was markedly different from what I had heard my entire life. After listening to Dr. Bush, I decided that not only must I let go of the version that hurt me, but the one which had made me happy as well. 

This was someone else's memory. It was not mine, and I did not have to hold onto it. It did not have to define me or have anything to do, either good or bad, with my present self. It was another person's story, that for whatever reason was altered, and it need not mean anything to me. When the story changed, I realized that it had always been an illusion. 

I don't think Dr. Bush was talking about "reframing" our experiences, though that could be a place to start. Rather, I think he was talking about a radical detachment. He doesn't even like the story that is told to introduce him in interviews about his rare accomplishment as a triple board certified doctor. These details of his life are not who he is. 

When we hang on to our story, we will find ourselves stuck. Our stories can play obsessively in our minds. Memory is not necessarily accurate, and the power of suggestion is strong. We have been trained by the stories others have told about us, and that they will not let go of, to hold onto our own stories as well. Curiously, my grandma didn't tell me stories of my childhood. Our relationship is not colored by her stories of me. For this I am profoundly grateful. 

What about you? I encourage you to take the time to listen to the whole podcast. It may sound a bit "out there" in places, but I think the basic idea of breaking out of one's cubicle is solid. Dr. Bush goes so far as to say that we can have a whole new life in a day! And I think the key is to start with small changes. 

Do you want to give up coffee, but tell yourself that you are a coffee drinking person? Do you want to be a dancer but tell yourself you are clumsy, because that's what you've always heard, and you have the bruises to prove it? Do you tell yourself that you are disorganized, a perfectionist, lazy, lonely, depressed, stupid, smart, fun, boring, offensive, nice... ?? What if you did start fresh, today, right this very moment, dropping every story? What a scary thought! Like standing on the edge of a cliff. 

But what if you could stand on the edge and not fall? 

These are the questions. 

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Quiet Revolution of Women | True Power

A revolution can be quiet. While the mob rules the streets, women can be home, quietly nursing babies. The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world. While children are being indoctrinated in Leftist government schools, where history is erased, women can homeschool their own and teach them in the Way they should go. While women of folly screech their abortions and emasculate men,  women of grace love their husbands and children, and quietly fill their quiver.

Women are the keepers--the guardians--of the home, and we are keepers of Beauty. While death and destruction seem to be ruling the day and America appears to be sinking in quicksand, there is an underground revolution that has already formed deep roots in the soil. And it is increasing. Many women were mandated to stay at home, and many men too, during the coronavirus lockdowns. If you can, stay there. Do not go back into the brutal world. This crisis was a blessing in disguise.

A woman's gift is holy Silence. That a woman should be silent is not that a woman should not speak. Rather, "She hath opened her mouth to wisdom, and the law of clemency is on her tongue" (Prov. 31: 26, DRV).  A woman's silence is in the repose of her soul. Because her words are honorable, she is honored, and she is heard by those with ears to hear.

Do not believe, dear women of God, that you are powerless. Follow His will, and your arms will be strong to do His work. Mold yourselves in the image of Our Lady, who is the perfect feminine image of the Lord, and you will be praised in the gates. And the enemy will fall. And the darkness shall not overcome us.



Saturday, June 6, 2020

Catholic Homeschool High School Curriculum Outline, 2020-2021

   
I got our homeschooling notification forms to the superintendent this past Wednesday, as I prefer to have that out of the way so I can enjoy my summer. As we are all too aware, this is an unusual year, and so much of the future is up in the air. Our homeschool co-op has postponed registration for fall until an undetermined date in July, so I was concerned about how to word my family's curriculum plans, without knowing for sure what classes might be available. Another mother wisely reminded me that we only have to submit our intended plans. I kept my outline very brief--only one page! This is the first year I've been able to condense it so much. My daughter will be an 11th grader, but this curriculum is general enough to work for various grade levels. Please feel free to use whatever you'd like from this outline and to request additional details in the comments. Godspeed! 

 Homeschool Curriculum Outline 2020-2021
Immaculate Heart Academy

I. Please note that resources and activities planned for this school year are subject to availability and change, as determined by the progression of mandates and procedures regarding COVID-19. The curriculum may include but is not limited to the lists provided in brief here. All required subjects will be covered and hours completed, within the framework of a Catholic Christian, liberal arts educational program. Also, for this phase of high school, we will be following student-directed, interest-based learning, implementing possible apprenticeships, travel, and experiential opportunities for credit. We believe in an integrated curriculum, so various resources will connect subject matter and overlap. Unless otherwise noted, courses will be designed using recommendations from the High School of Your Dreams manual and the additional sources listed below.

II. Resource List

* High School of Your Dreams course manual (Catholic Heritage Curricula)
* AmblesideOnline, Year 11
* Simply Charlotte Mason (simplycharlottemason.com)
* Homeschool Co-op classes, academic and fine arts
* Sauder Village Farm and Living History Museum
* Public and home library and online resources
* Navarre Bible

III. Subject Guide

Language Arts: The Good and the Beautiful high school language arts, including classic literature, vocabulary, grammar, poetry, and writing, plus honors book studies (jennyphillips.com); narration, copy work, and dictation; self-directed creative writing projects; Spanish; Shakespeare (SCM)

Social Studies (history, geography, and religion): American government, twentieth century history, geography (The Good and the Beautiful), saint studies, religious education (Saint Patrick Church), papal encyclicals, current world events

Mathematics: Concepts in algebra and geometry (MathHelp.com); consumer math (Money Matters for Teens); personal finance

Science and Health: Biology, environmental science/ecology, animal science, plant-based diet, nutrition, organic gardening and regenerative agriculture, composting, hygiene and self-care; The National Parks (Freeman Tilden); zachbushmd.com

Physical Education and Life Skills: Running, hiking, biking, swimming, home fitness program, home economics, Christian stewardship, driver's education, school sports teams

Fine Arts: Classes, lessons, and experiences in singing, guitar, musical theater, song writing; art appreciation and history, drawing and painting (The Good and the Beautiful); pottery

First Aid, Safety, and Fire Protection: JOY Co-op fire and safety programs, home safety and first aid instruction, self-defense classes and techniques

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The False Narrative of "I'm Not Fearful, I'm Smart" | Please Stop the Virtue Signaling!





It would probably be smart to ignore this topic, but I grew up at a time when it was bad to call people stupid or retarded. We no longer have a polite society, yet there are those of us who still hold to a higher standard of manners. And it's just as bad to imply that someone is an uncaring, irresponsible, grandma killing idiot as it is to come out and say it directly. In fact, I'd argue that the passive-aggressive approach rampant on social media is worse.

I'm reminded of Dr. Seuss's story of The Sneetches. Some sneetches had stars on their bellies, and some did not. The ones with the "stars on thars" thought themselves superior and ostracized the sneetches without. I suspect that Dr. Seuss was drawing an analogy to racism, but I'm applying it here to the virtue signalers, those who spread messages implying that they are the "smart" ones for following all the coronavirus "safety" protocols--face masks, social distancing, staying home, etc. They are too aware of political correctness to use words like stupid in reference to the sneetches without masks, but the superior attitude is transparently clear. And let it be known that their virtue is so great as to care nothing for themselves, but only for people around them that they valiantly protect. They are not scared! They are not scared! They are not scared! Please.

Let me state emphatically that I don't make fun of anyone who is scared. It's obvious if you look around you, if you leave your home and go to the grocery store and listen to the conversations on the street and the results of polls, that people are very fearful. The person driving in his car by himself with the windows rolled up, wearing a mask on his face, is terrified. You could argue that he's just uninformed, but that's an image of fear if ever there was one. I have compassion for those who are extremely anxious and wish to be a voice of light and reassurance in the prevalent darkness.

I'm sure there are some folks who are simply doing what they think is right by wearing a mask and all that jazz, and minding their own business in the process. I have no problem with that. Yet I doubt the complete absence of fear and singular altruism being insisted upon by the virtue signalers. If it were true, they wouldn't feel the need to keep shouting it so loudly.

Why has the mask issue become such a hill to die on? It seems to me that it's being used as a status symbol, a silent way of bragging about how smart, responsible, and caring one is, and how anyone who makes a different choice is not. Most of the news media, certain government leaders, and some doctors and scientists are encouraging the division amongst people, whether purposely or not.

I suppose it's our fallen human nature that causes such cattiness, and I believe this is rooted in insecurity and fear. People often double down on their narrative not out of conviction, but rather from lack of true confidence and the desire to control. If they are wrong, then they have been duped and mislead, and that is an even greater basis for fear. How about if we just live and let live?

Any and all of the coronavirus safety protocols, in my opinion, should be subject to context and taken on a case-by-case basis. I don't judge anyone for either wearing or not wearing a mask, or any of the other protocols. I do, however, discern that the shaming, on whatever side it might be, is objectively wrong. As Christians, and for others as well, it's important what we let into our lives, either on or offline. We have to screen the input so it doesn't divert us from our path and frog boil us into panic and inaction, leading us into error, stealing our energy and time. Steer clear of near occasions for sin and those things that shatter your serenity. I reject the ugliness that I'm seeing. As such, I am unfriending or unfollowing those on social media who are engaging in spreading the shame and prideful virtue signaling.

Humility asks us to consider the other point of view, if it isn't inherently in opposition to Christian faith and morals. And even then, it can behoove us to understand where the wrong thinking, or what we perceive to be the errors, of others are coming from. Are you so sure that the persons who disagree with the mask-wearing, home-sheltering, social-distancing narrative are wrong? Instead of shouting, "What's wrong with people?!"--a sentiment I often see accompanied by profanity--consider that maybe, just maybe, they aren't necessarily wrong. And if you have to drop an F-bomb, perhaps your argument isn't so strong after all.

Let it suffice for me to argue that for the majority of people, and in most situations, these COVID-19 protocols are likely doing more harm than good, and are counterproductive both to personal health and the goal of herd immunity necessary for the protection of everyone. As far as I'm concerned, science is decidedly not on the side of virtue signaling sneetches. Whatever you believe, let's all of us extend a little grace.






Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Spirit of Wisdom | How to Enlighten the Mind


Last week I was planting flowers in my window boxes when a man on a motorcycle stopped to chat with a couple walking down the street. The motorcycle man spoke loudly and lively about our coronavirus times. He talked about how everyone is so afraid, and how both his daughter and granddaughter who are nurses think the whole thing is overblown. I heard him mention the New World Order, Bill Gates' name, and a quote from a Facebook meme that I had also seen. He declared that he would not wear a mask, because "I don't believe in it." This man's remarks reflected the preoccupation of everyone, everywhere with COVID-19. 

One thing stood out to me as definite truth in what the motorcycle man was saying. He speculated that the media is inundating us with nothing but coronavirus news in order to control our thoughts. There's no doubt in my mind, all conspiracy theories aside, that the constant flood of information on this one topic gives more potent weight to it than it deserves. And because feelings always flow from thoughts, we are left in a state of perennial confusion, panic, anxiety, deep suspicion, and even despair. 

To be sure, our minds and emotions are being thoroughly manipulated. We are being taken advantage of, kept in a state of high alert by opportunists bombarding us from many angles. Like small children being led from one distraction to another, we are largely unaware that we've lost our center, our bearings, and we wouldn't know sound doctrine if it bit us in the behind. Divide and conquer. It's a classic tactic, and we're falling for it hook, line, and sinker. 

Yet at the center of a cyclone is perfect calm. This phenomenon is known as the Eye of Peace. What if we could sit in that center and be completely undisturbed by the havoc around us? We can. Jesus is our Eye of Peace. He chastised his apostles for fearing the storm when God himself was in the boat with them. We think we need to know what's going on, so we must watch all-the-news and debate everyone on social media. This gives us a false semblance of control. We are not in control. 

A quick glance at headlines will tell us the general state of things, and if there really is any earth-shattering news, we will undoubtedly hear about it. Otherwise, why not go about your day as if dwelling in the tornado's core? No one could see the truth of the storm more clearly than one smack dab in the middle of its peace. Am I right? But of course. 

We return, once again, to the gift of Wisdom. Without it, we are lost at sea. We won't receive this precious gift unless we have faith. St. Augustine said that faith must come first; only then will understanding follow. We have it backwards. We want certainties, guarantees, absolute proof of the thing before we will believe. But even when presented with the truth, many people will turn a deaf ear, because it doesn't align with the narrative they've chosen to follow and hold onto with the tenacity of a pit bull. 

Instead, let us immerse ourselves in right things, giving our finite energy to the tasks directly before us, which are in fact only comprised of this one day, today, and are without doubt not to be found in the storms of news and the internet. Note than in biblical terms, the mind is centered in the heart. What you choose to fill your mind with will inform the workings of your heart. From what place do your intentions flow? Are the tasks you set for yourself ultimately an offering for the infinite Kingdom? 

I'll leave you with this, from St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians, 1: 15-19, Confraternity Version:

Wherefore I on my part, hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and of your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may grant you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in deep knowledge of him: the eyes of your mind being enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of his power towards us who believe.