Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Not Alone Series: Selfish Singles

Hello ladies! I hope you're all having a blessed Holy Week!
I'm especially excited about this week's topic as it is something I've struggled with for a while now!


How do you combat being selfish with your time? As a single person, it's easy to get caught up in our own little independent world. There are those moments when we are needed for extra church things, hanging with our friend's kids, getting caught up with something on the one night you could stay in, etc. where we get frustrated that the needs of others are taking away from our own time. How do you avoid this selfish tendency and what do you do to avoid becoming frustrated with "sharing" you time with others?

Here's the thing, I've grown to LOVE my independence. The ability to do whatever I want, whenever I want is so liberating. And so when at the beginning of this year I resolved to make the most of my free time, I took full advantage.

My weekends were spent sleeping in, reading, watching movies, and doing....nothing. It was glorious.
But after a couple of weekends spent in this way, I began to feel empty. Like I could be doing something more than just serving myself.

So I began helping as a CCD aide on the Sunday mornings that I'm in town. And what's funny, friends, is that the more you give, the more you desire to give. I've found that as I give a little bit here and there, my desire to continue to serve and give of myself grows. As much as I love sleeping in on Sundays, it occurred to me this weekend that I want to give more! So I'm now discerning which grade level the Lord wants me to teach next year as the primary CCD instructor.

Look, these years of our lives are a blessing in that we do have a lot of freedom, flexibility, and free-time. But in sacrificing, I've found more fulfillment than I ever did doing nothing with my weekends.

I was telling a friend this weekend about my tank concept and how important giving back is to my "self-esteem tank". Upon hearing this, he exclaimed: "But Morgan! Your whole life is giving back!"
That might be true...my full-time job is one of ministry and involves much sacrifice and service.
HOWEVER. That cannot be an excuse for my lack of giving back in other ways.
Believe me, there's that little voice in my head every Sunday morning saying: "Oh, you don't really need to go help with CCD...you worked so hard already this week! Don't you deserve a break?" ....and I can't let that voice win. We are all called to serve, no matter our occupation or calling.

How about you? In what areas of your life can you shift from self-service to one of serving others?

Maybe you have friends who could use a babysitter a couple times a month so they can go out by themselves. Or maybe there's a soup kitchen you can help out with on Saturday mornings. Or what about your parish's Religious Education? There is always a need for teachers! Most parish's have the opportunity to usher or help in the nursery during mass. Can you find time to give back in some way?

I watched the following video on my retreat last weekend and AH. I encourage you to watch it, I was truly inspired to do whatever little things I can to make the world a better place.



And friends, frustration will happen.
This Sunday, I had CCD, a work meeting with my students, and I was booked to babysit for friends. AND I desperately wanted to be able to make it to brunch with friends. It was annoying to have to try to juggle everything and not resent my "giving" commitments. But our Lord is always faithful and helps to make it all work! In these times, I take a deep breath and ask that the Holy Spirit help me to be present in whatever I am doing. It helps!

Link up below with your post on how you combat being selfish with your time as a single person!

And check out our Facebook group!

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Next week's topic:
Marriage
Most of us here feel called to the vocation of marriage...but what is it exactly that you're attracted to? What have you seen in others' marriages that you've learned from or would do differently? (maybe this is from married friends or your parents!)




Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Not Alone Series: Goals and Lent

Remember our first post this year? How are the goals you set going? Regardless of how your goals are going, how are you utilizing this Lent to continue to strive for those goals?


Way way back in January, I wrote about my focus on humility this year. While I didn't set any specific goals, I definitely need to grow in this area. Natalie noted that in asking for humility, I'm asking for opportunities to be humbled. And surprise! she was right :) Well, it's a good thing I like a challenge!

The past couple of months have helped me to better analyze what parts of my life need pruning and shaping and some TLC. 

I struggle with humility, yeah? But what does that mean? How can I just "work on humility"?
It seems rather vague, don't you think?

But just last week I came to a realization that I'm excited to share with all of you.
I went into work on Wednesday feeling great. I was refreshed, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. I am NOT a morning person (be forewarned, Savannah NAS Trip ladies :) but for some reason, I was ready to take on the day! 
Preach.

Upon reflection, I chalked it up to the girls night out that I had on Tuesday evening with some really wonderful people. And I kept thinking "My social 'tank' is full! I need to be sure to keep that 'tank' full if I want to keep feeling this way!" But the truth is, I have more than one tank that needs to be filled....and because I like lists and tangible goals of how to complete something, And I'm a slight perfectionist....so if I can look at a list of things and say "oh, well I succeeded in most of my goals this week", that is so much better for me than not being able to tangibly assess my "success". So here are my "tanks" and how I'm keeping them full!

Faith Tank 
(ex: daily mass at least 3x/week, confession 2x/mo, etc.)

Social Tank 
(ex: at least 1 social event/week, at least 1 catch-up phone call/week, etc.)

Health Tank 
(ex: work out at least 3x/week, eat at least 3 complete, well-rounded dinners/week, etc.)

Self-Esteem Tank 
(ex: "give back" 1x/week, take time each morning to put myself together for the day, etc.)

Rest Tank 
(ex: get 7 hrs of sleep/night, take one weekend-day morning to relax, etc.)

Mental Tank 
(ex: do something creative 1x/week, read before bed each night, etc.)

Productivity Tank 
(ex: tidy up home every evening, only take 1 break before lunch and 1 after lunch, etc.)

Financial Tank 
(ex: check online account 1x/week, tithe every week, etc.)

Truthfully, the above "tanks" are simply needs that I have. My dominating temperament is Sanguine, so having social interaction in groups of all sizes (though I LOVE big groups!) is really important to me. And I struggle with Phlegmatic vices...procrastination and laziness are huge obstacles for me...which is why having lists and specific goals works for me. And this has become somewhat of a game these past few days, trying to see how many of my goals I can accomplish! To fulfill my Mental goals, I'm teaching myself how to play the guitar! For my Faith goals, I needed a push to go on a silent retreat this upcoming weekend - BAM! Let's do it!

I share this all with you because well, I know that YOU have tanks that need to be filled! Maybe your social tank doesn't need to be filled as often due to different circumstances (I work in my own office and with college students all day...I NEED adult interaction!), or perhaps your faith tank has different needs. But if you're anything like me, only a couple of these tanks are being well-maintained. Personally, I am good about keeping my Social, Mental, and Financial Tanks full....but the others? Not so much. 

But that's ok! What better time to make a change than during Lent? What a beautiful and generous gift from our Church! Who else has a whole liturgical season devoted to penitence and improvement?! I'm so grateful for this time to really focus on becoming the best version of myself for our Lord.

I think this relates to my goal for the year because it takes humility to be able to look at your life and evaluate areas where you need to improve...and while it wasn't easy coming up with specific goals for myself, posting some of them on here has a sense of accountability :) I posted this on the internet! Now I have to follow-through!

What about you? Are some of your "tanks" neglected? I challenge you to take an honest look at what needs you have and take the step toward change!

And how are your goals going from the beginning of the year? Have you had to make adjustments? Tell us about how Lent is helping (or not helping?) you to strive closer to your most authentic self! Link up below!

Next week's topic:
Do's and Don'ts of First Dates
What are those things that we should be doing, and the things that we shouldn't be doing? They can be from the physical parts (clothes to wear, places to go, things to say) or emotional parts (talking about it all the time, planning the future, etc). We can all learn something in hindsight, so what are your tips to share?

April 15th: Selfish Singles
How do you combat being selfish with your time? As a single person, it's easy to get caught up in our own little independent world. There are those moments when we are needed for extra church things, hanging with our friend's kids, getting caught up with something on the one night you could stay in, etc. where we get frustrated that the needs of others are taking away from our own time. How do you avoid this selfish tendency and what do you do to avoid becoming frustrated with "sharing" you time with others?

April 22nd: Marriage
Most of us here feel called to the vocation of marriage...but what is it exactly that you're attracted to? What have you seen in others' marriages that you've learned from or would do differently? (maybe this is from married friends or your parents!)




Thursday, March 27, 2014

Not Alone Series: Deal Breakers

tsk tsk tsk...tardy for the party again. Ah well, better late than never!


We have all thought about our list of qualities for our future spouse (and maybe even religious community), but sometimes those can be pretty limiting on who God has planned for you. Instead, maybe think about the few things that are so important to you, that if a guy you were considering dating (or community you were entering) didn't have those things, you would have to move on. Why are those things important to you? 

We've talked before about our ideal qualities in a spouse and to be honest, I stand by the ones I chose back then:

1. He must be kind and affectionate

2. He must be intelligent

3. He must be tall (at least 6'0'')


Hmmmm you might notice that "Catholic" isn't on that list. Well, I did have a disclaimer that I was assuming Catholic was a given...but to be honest, I'm not 100% sold on that being a deal breaker.

Before anyone starts flippin' tables, let me explain.

It is extremely important to me that whoever I marry has a strong relationship with the Lord. Being that my faith is such an integral part of my life, I cannot imagine marrying a man who does not understand that part of my identity.

Going into college, I never imagined that I'd ever waver on this part of my "list". I couldn't imagine ever being serious about anyone who wasn't Catholic. But then it happened.

I won't go into the details on this today, but in getting to know a young man who was "just" Christian, and a strong one at that, I began to wonder if I was pigeon-holing myself and not allowing the Lord to have true reign over my love life. After all, if I'm seeking His will, won't He lead me to the man he's prepared for me?

Nothing ever progressed with that guy, but it definitely got me to thinking that I should be open to whoever God had planned for me. This mentality was strengthened when a friend's ex-boyfriend ended up converting to Catholicism because of the exposure to our faith she'd witnessed to him. He is now studying at the Augustine Institute.

And just this past week, I attended a fundraising conference in North Carolina where I met so many amazing Christian men who are on fire for the Lord. I couldn't help but wonder if through situations like this, which I hadn't planned on experiencing originally (I mean, fundraising conference? really? who goes to things like that?), God might just bring my future husband and I together.

Ideally my future husband would be Catholic.
but....ideally I would be married already.

See, our plans don't always go as we expect....so while I will continue my "search" in primarily Catholic circles, I'm also open to whoever the Lord brings into my life. I have past experience with Him changing my plans and His are much better and greater than what I imagined.

So...back to my list. Well, there's definitely one thing I won't waver on: marrying a man who loves the Lord.
Aside from that, he also must be open to life...whatever that means for us. (2 kids? 12 kids? adoption?)
And if I'm pulling from my list above, I'd prefer a tall, kind, affectionate, and intelligent hubby.

But other than those things....well, anything else is negotiable. As long as that foundation of morals and ethics are the same, what else really matters?

If you haven't checked out the other responses to this week's prompt, head on over to Jen's and please link-up your post as well!

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Next week's topic:
Beginning of the Year Goals + Lent!
Remember our first post this year? How are the goals you set going? Regardless of how your goals are going, how are you utilizing this Lent to continue to strive for those goals?

April 8th: Do's and Don'ts of First DatesWhat are those things that we should be doing, and the things that we shouldn't be doing? They can be from the physical parts (clothes to wear, places to go, things to say) or emotional parts (talking about it all the time, planning the future, etc). We can all learn something in hindsight, so what are your tips to share?

April 15th: Selfish SinglesHow do you combat being selfish with your time? As a single person, it's easy to get caught up in our own little independent world. There are those moments when we are needed for extra church things, hanging with our friend's kids, getting caught up with something on the one night you could stay in, etc. where we get frustrated that the needs of others are taking away from our own time. How do you avoid this selfish tendency and what do you do to avoid becoming frustrated with "sharing" you time with others?

April 22nd: MarriageMost of us here feel called to the vocation of marriage...but what is it exactly that you're attracted to? What have you seen in others' marriages that you've learned from or would do differently? (maybe this is from married friends or your parents!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not Alone Series: Single Life Bucket List!

What are those things that you want to do before you get married (or enter the religious life)? Is there anything that you're excited to do, accomplish, etc. before engagement, marriage, and babies come along? Even if you feel that you've done everything you wanted to do pre-marriage, dig deeper and see if there isn't anything else you'd like to do!




If you go on Pinterest and search "bucket list", you'll find a lot of different crazy boards. Some of the pins are silly and (in my opinion) stupid. Like:


umm.....ok? Set your sights high, sista.

or:


I mean, that would be pretty awesome, but since they're an endangered species and all...not very probable.

But hey, I'm not knocking bucket lists, heck, I even have one of my own over on le Pinterest! In fact, I've become a huge fan of goals and lists and deadlines, which is why I'm also a fan of bucket lists! (I just prefer goals that are actually achievable :)

The hard thing with the single life is you don't quite know when it's going to end. At least for my "Before I'm 30..." bucket list, I know I have X number of years to accomplish what I hope to do. For all I know, this time next year I could be engaged. OR I might not meet Mr. Right for several more years.

Either way, I think it's still important to....say it with me: Live in the NOW.
Very good :)

And since we never know what's going to come a year from now, or 2 years from now, etc...why not try to do some of the things we've been desiring to do right now?

That's the point of this bucket list idea...to encourage you to not wait around until you husband arrives to start living. Because I'll tell you what, I hope my future husband is out there living his life and doing things that make him a better person. I don't want him to wait until we find one another to start experiencing life to the fullest!

So here's my list! Some of it overlaps with my list on Pinterest...ah well, it's my single life bucket list, yeah?

1. Take a trip with my siblings and our best family friends.

2. Go on another best-friends-from-college road trip vacation.


3. Take a pottery class.


4. Learn to cook a wider array of meals. (one new per week?)


5. Get into a routine of regular exercise.


6. Go overseas for the first time!


7. Take a road trip by myself!


8. Pay off my student loans. (AHH please before I'm married!!!)


9. Fly somewhere by myself. Eeek!


10. Go on a trip with just my best girlfriends.


11. Take a trip with my sister.


12. Learn to travel like a minimalist (I'm sure my future hubby would appreciate this one :)


I KNOW there are more, but this is a start, eh?

What things to do hope to do while you're still single? Of course, once marriage comes, your life doesn't end, but focusing on where you're at now rather than what is to come God-only-knows-when is much better for you :)

Link up your bucket lists below and check out our next few topics! Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas on the Not Alone Series Facebook Page!

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Next week's topic:
Deal Breakers
We have all thought about our list of qualities for our future spouse (and maybe even religious community), but sometimes those can be pretty limiting on who God has planned for you. Instead, maybe think about the few things that are so important to you, that if a guy you were considering dating (or community you were entering) didn't have those things, you would have to move on. Why are those things important to you? 


April 1st: Beginning of the Year Goals + Lent!
Remember our first post this year? How are the goals you set going? Regardless of how your goals are going, how are you utilizing this Lent to continue to strive for those goals?

April 8th: Do's and Don'ts of First Dates
What are those things that we should be doing, and the things that we shouldn't be doing? They can be from the physical parts (clothes to wear, places to go, things to say) or emotional parts (talking about it all the time, planning the future, etc). We can all learn something in hindsight, so what are your tips to share?

April 15th: Selfish Singles
How do you combat being selfish with your time? As a single person, it's easy to get caught up in our own little independent world. There are those moments when we are needed for extra church things, hanging with our friend's kids, getting caught up with something on the one night you could stay in, etc. where we get frustrated that the needs of others are taking away from our own time. How do you avoid this selfish tendency and what do you do to avoid becoming frustrated with "sharing" you time with others?

April 22nd: Marriage
Most of us here feel called to the vocation of marriage...but what is it exactly that you're attracted to? What have you seen in others' marriages that you've learned from or would do differently? (maybe this is from married friends or your parents!)




Monday, March 10, 2014

to the younger singles

**this post is simply an analysis of my own thoughts/feelings, not a response to comments from others**

Something's been bothering me for weeks now and I have to get it off my chest.

Recently, I've felt guilty for feeling sad or upset or forlorn about being single because I'm still "young".

I talk to other women (and men!) who are several years older than I am, and while they lament about their being single and their longing for their vocation, I nod along...completely understanding where they're coming from. I too feel that pain.
But then they look at me and say, "Oh, but you're still so young. You have plenty of time."

Ok, so I'm aware that I'm only 23. (I'll be 24 next month.)

But does that mean that my aching, my longing, for marriage is less valid? 
Does my age mean that I can't possibly comprehend how an "older" single must feel?
Does it prevent me from truly understanding your pain?

Is it because I talk of living in "the now"?
Is it because I attempt to find joy in the everyday, regardless of the fact that my life is not what I expected?
Is it because my "biological clock" still has time?
(By the way, that's totally insensitive to assume. You don't know the details of my biology.)

"You're so young. You have plenty of time."

Friend, that doesn't make me feel any better.
If anything, it makes me question whether or not I can be open and honest with you about my sufferings as I, too, am waiting to live out my vocation. If anything, instead of helping us to grow in solidarity as fellow singletons, I feel bad about my longing for marriage and everything that comes with it because somehow, you seem to be telling me that everything I'm experiencing isn't as bad as it is for you. Because I'm younger.

Now, I must clarify that these feelings of guilt aren't always perpetrated by someone older than myself. Occasionally, someone will express "oh, I thought it was bad when I was single in college/right after college/in my mid-twenties, but now that I'm {insert older age here}, oh, it's unbearable!"
I know they're only sharing their feelings, and they should! I'm glad they feel comfortable enough to express their raw emotions!
But in my head, I think, "oh my gosh, maybe they think that my feelings are silly...maybe they are silly, I mean, I'm not even 25...but I do desperately long for marriage...but if I share that will they think I'm silly?"

Granted, these thoughts can be created just by my own judgement of what I expect others to perceive of me. Though they might have previous experience linked to them, I'm positive that many of my friends who are older than I and unmarried rarely think this about me.
(I would say "never think", but "never" is fairly presumptuous)

But friends, as much as I attempt to live life to the fullest, and I write on this here blog about "living in the now" and "experiencing today"...well, it isn't easy. As much as I do believe all of that, and I pray that even if I am still single at 30, 35, etc. I will hold onto the same hope I have today, living this out isn't simple.
I do not mean to make it sound easy.
Living as a faithful Catholic who's desperately attempting every day to not be bitter and angry about not being married yet is a challenge. Nay, it is a complete struggle.
But if I tend to err on the side of "life is beautiful! go out and experience it!", I must admit that it might be due to the fear of being one of those "younger singles" who thinks her life is so "horrible".

I cringe at the thought of a 30-40-something reading my blog and scoffing at me as I pour out my heart...all because I'm "so young".

So this one goes out to all my young Christian sisters, whether you're in high school or college, in your early 20s or late 30s...if you are unmarried and feel called to marriage, no matter your age, your struggles, your fears, everything you feel is valid. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. And if you want to talk or blog about it, DO IT. We need to grow in solidarity with one another because we are not alone. If every young, single woman waited until she was of an "appropriate" age to begin sharing how much it sucks to be single when you want to be married, well, how would this be helping anyone?

And if you're reading this and thinking "oh man, I'm older than 25 and have likely said that to a younger single before", I encourage you to be better in the future. Embrace your younger single friends.
Help them to see that if life doesn't go according to their expectations, all is not lost.
Show them that life is worth embracing at every age.

Know of my prayers for each and every one of you and your vocations!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Not Alone Series: Bachelorette Parties!

Hello and welcome back! Today we're talking about something fuuun: Bachelorette parties!


It's inevitable that we'll attend or plan a friend's Bachelorette party at some point or another, but how do we make them fun without all the raunch? Give us your ideas for fun things to do with a bridal party without all the crazy!

I love everything about celebrating weddings. 
The dress fittings, the bridal showers, the gift-giving, the last minute emergencies, EVERYTHING.

However, the prospect of a bachelorette party makes me slightly apprehensive. Don't get me wrong, I love parties...but depending on who plans the night, it could be potentially uncomfortable.

Thankfully, I've never been to a stereotypical bachelorette party, although one of my cousin's bridesmaids did send her a box of "goodies"....thank God she opened that after we all got home.
Why would anyone want to wear a necklace or headband with genitals on it? No thanks.

The one and only tip I have for planning a bachelorette party is to tailor the night for your bride. My vision for every bachelorette party I've planned is the ultimate girls night out, with the specific bride in mind.

My dear friend J got married when we were 20, so bars and other 21+ venues were out of the question. So we all took the train into the city (Chicago) for a day at the zoo and hanging out with one another. This certainly wasn't a classic bach party, but it was perfect for us at the time. And really, it was what J wanted...she loved it because we planned it for her.

K's bachelorette party was right after we graduated from college. But even while we were in school, going out to bars and dancing wasn't in her comfort zone. So, again, we went into the city for the day, hung out at Navy Pier at night, and staying in a lush hotel suite for the night. It was so fun and the perfect post-graduation pre-wedding celebration.

Before my cousin's wedding this summer, we celebrated with dinner and attending an improv show. Low-key and chill, exactly what she wanted.

And in 3 months, when we celebrate the upcoming nuptials of one of my best friends, we'll be opting for a classic GNO bar-hopping with nary an anatomical headband in sight. Because this is what she's asked for.

When it comes down to it, bachelorette parties don't have to live up to any particular standard, just make sure you plan the perfect night for your bride. Perhaps it isn't the perfect night for everyone in attendance, but what matters is that the bachelorette has the night with her girls that she wanted.

 What are your ideas for non-raunchy bachelorette parties? Link up your post below!

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Next week's topic:
Why not both?
We've been hearing a lot that "married people and single people can't relate to one another". What is your perspective on this? In what ways can we bridge the gap between singles and marrieds? 

March 18th: Single life bucket listWhat are those things that you want to do before you get married (or enter the religious life)? Is there anything that you're excited to do, accomplish, etc. before engagement, marriage, and babies come along? Even if you feel that you've done everything you wanted to do pre-marriage, dig deeper and see if there isn't anything else you'd like to do!

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Please email us any topic suggestions you have! Jen and I want to select topics that pertain to your life! Help us plan the next topic schedule! :)